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independence on his colleagues, than in encroaching on any Royal power which was real or practicable. Under so wretched a pageant as the King of Denmark, Struensee showed his folly in obtaining, by a formal order, the power which he might easily have continued to execute without it. But this order was the signal of a clamour against him, as an usurper of Royal prerogative. The guards showed symptoms of mutiny. The garrison of the capital adopted their resentment. The populace became riotous. Rantzau, partly stimulated by revenge against Struensee, for having refused a protection to him against his creditors, being secretly favoured by Count Osten, though then a minister, found means of gaining over Guldberg, an ecclesiastic of obscure birth, full of professions of piely, the preceptor of the King's brother, who prevailed on that Prince and the Queen-Dowager to engage in the design of subverting the administration. Several of Struensee's friends warned him of his danger; but, whether from levity or magnanimity, he neglected their admonitions. Rantzau himself, either jealous of the ascendant acquired by Guldberg among the conspirators, or visited by some compunctious remembrances of friendship and gratitude, spoke to Falkenskiold confidentially of the prevalent rumours, and tendered his services for the preservation of his former friend, Falkenskiold distrusted the advances of Rantzau, and answered coldly, Speak to Struensee.' Rantzau turned away, saying,
He will not listen to me.' Two days after, on the 16th of January 1772, there was a brilliant masked ball at Court, where the conspirators and their victims mingled in the festivities (as was observed by some foreign ministers present) with more than usual gayety. At four o'clock in the morning, the Queen-Dowager, who was the King's stepmother, her son, and Count Rantzau, entered the King's bedchamber, compelled his valet to awaken him, and required him to sign an order to apprehend the Queen, the Counts Struensee and Brandt, who, with other conspirators, were then engaged (as they pretended) in a plot to depose, if not to murder him. He is said to have hesitated, from fear or obstinacy, perhaps from some remnant of humanity and moral restraint. But he soon yielded; and his verbal assent, or perhaps a silence produced by terror, was thought a sufficient warrant. Rantzau; with three officers, rushed with his sword drawn into the apart. ment of the Queen, compelled her to rise from her bed, and, in spite of her tears and threats, sent her, half-dressed, a prisoner to the fortress of Cronenbourg, with her infant daughter Louisa, whom she was then suckling, and lady Mostyn, an English lady who attended her. Struensee and Brandt wero in the same night thrown into prison, and loaded with irons: On the next day, the King was paraded through the streets in a carriage drawn by eight milk-white horses, as if triumphing after a glorious victory over his enemies, in which he had saved his country. The city was illuminated. The preachers of the established church are charged by several concurring witness es with inhuman and unchristian invectives from the pulpit against the Queen and the fallen ministers; the good doubtless believing too easily the tale of the victors; the base paying court to the dispensers of preferment; and the bigotted greedily swallowing the most incredible accusations against unbelievers. The populace, inflamed by these declamations, demolished or pillaged from sixty to a hundred houses.
The conspirators distributed among themselves the chief of fices. The King was suffered to fall into his former nullity. The formality of his signature was dispensed with. The affairs of the kingdom were conducted in bis name, till his son was of age to assume the regency. Guldberg, under the modest title of Secretary of the Cabinet, became Prime Minister. Rantzau was appointed a Privy Councillor, and Osten retained the department of Foreign Affairs; but it is consolatory to add, that, after a few months, both were discarded at the instance of the Court of Petersburgh, to complete the desired exchange of Holstein with Oldenburgh.
The object of the conspiracy being thus accomplished, the conquerors proceeded, as usual, to those judicial proceedings against the prisoners, which are intended formally to justify the violence of a victorious faction, but substantially aggravate its guilt. A commission was appointed to try the accused. Its leading members were the chiefs of the conspiracy,—men who could not acquit their opponents without confessing themselves to be deeply guilty. Guldberg, one of the members, had to determine, by the sentence which he pronounced, whether he was himself a rebel. General Eichstedt, the President, had personally arrested several of the prisoners, and was, by his judgment on Struensee, who had been his benefactor, to decide, that the criminality of that minister was of so deep a dye as to cancel the obligations of gratitude. To secure his impartiality still more, he was appointed a Minister, and promised the office of Preceptor of the Hereditary Prince,--the permanence of which appointments must have partly depended on the general conviction that the prisoners were guilty.
The charges against Struensee and Brandt are dated on the 21st of April 1772. The defence of Struensee was drawn up by his counsel on the 22d; that of Brandt was prepared on the
23d. Sentence was pronounced against both on the 25th. On the 27th it was approved, and ordered to be executed by the King. On the 28th, after their right hands were cut off on the scaffold, they were beheaded. For three months they had been closely and very cruelly imprisoned. The proceedings of the commission were secret. The prisoners were not confronted with each other; they heard no witnesses; they read no depositions; they do not appear to have seen any counsel till they had received the indictments. It is characteristic of this scene to add, that the King went to the Opera on the 25th, after signifying his approbation of the sentence; and that, on the 27th, the day of its solemn confirmation, there was a masqued ball at Court. On the 28th, the day of execution, the King again went to the Opera. The passion which prompts an absolute monarch to raise an unworthy favourite to honour, is still less disgusting than the levity and hardness with which, on the first alarm, he always abandons the same favourite to destruction. It may be observed, that the very persons who had represented the patronage of operas and masquerades as one of the offences of Struensee, were the same who thus unseasonably paraded their unhappy Sovereign through a succession of such amusements.
The volume before us contains the written answers of Struen, see to the preliminary questions of the commission, the substance of the charges against him, and the defence made by his counsel. The first was written on the 14th of April, when he was alone in a dungeon, with irons on his hands and feet, and an iron collar fastened to the wall round his neck. The indict. ment is prefaced by a long declamatory invective against his general conduct and character, such as still dishonour the cri, minal proceedings of most nations, and from which England has probably been saved by the scholastic subtlety and dryness of her system of what is called special pleading. Laying aside his supposed connexion with the Queen, which is reserved for a few separate remarks, the charges are either perfectly frivolous, or sufficiently answered by his counsel, in a defence which he was allowed only one day to prepare, and which bears evident marks of being written with the fear of the victorious faction before the eyes of the feeble advocate. One is, that he caused the
young Prince to be trained so hardily as to endanger his life; in answer to which, he refers to the judgment of physicians, appeals to the restored health of the young Prince, and observes, that even if he had been wrong, his fault could have been no more than an error of judgment. The truth is, that he was guilty of a ridiculous mimicry of the early education of Emile, at a time when all Europe was intoxicated by the writings of Rousseau. To the second charge, that he had issued, unknown to the King, an order for the incorporation of the Foot Guards with the troops of the line on the 21st of December 1771; and, on their refusal to obey, had obtained an order from the King on the 24th for their reduction. He answered, that the draught of the order had been read and approved by the King on the 21st, signed and sealed by him on the 23d, and fin nally confirmed by the order for reducing the refractory guards, as issued by his Majesty on the 24th ; so that he could scarcely be said to have been even in form guilty of a two days usurpation. It might have been added, that it was immediately fully pardoned by the Royal confirmation; that Rantzau, and others of his enemies, had taken an active share in it; and that it was so recent, that the conspirators must have resolved on their measures before its occurrence, which reduces it to a mere pretext. He was charged with taking or granting exorbitant pensions; and he answered, seemingly with truth, that they were not higher than those of his predecessors. He was accused also of having falsified the public accounts; to which his answer is necessarily too detailed for our purpose, but appears to be satisfactory. Both these offences, if they had been committed, could not have been treated as high treason in any country not wholly barbarous; and the evidence on which the latter and more precise of the charges rested, was a declaration of the imbecile and ima prisoned King on an intricate matter of account reported to such a tribunal by an agent of enemies who had determined on the destruction of the prisoner.
Thus stands the case of the unfortunate Struensee on all the charges but one, as it appears in the accusation which his enemies had such time and power to support, and on the defence made for him under such cruel disadvantages. That he was innocent of the political offences laid to his charge, is rendered highly probable by the Narrative of his Conversion,' published soon after his execution by Dr Munter, a divine of Copenhagen, appointed by the Danish government to attend him ; * a composition, which bears the strongest marks of the probity and sincerity of the writer, and is a perfect model of the manner in which a person, circumstanced like Struensee, ought to be treated by a kind and considerate minister of religion. Men of all opinions who peruse this narrative, must own that it is impossible to touch the wounds of a sufferer with more tenderness, to reconcile the agitated penitent to
* Reprinted by the late learned and exemplary Mr Rennell of Kensington. London, 1824,
himself, to present religion as the consoler, not as the disturber of his dying moments, gently to dispose him to try his own actions by a higher test of morality, to fill his mind with indulgent benevolence towards his fellow-men, and to exalt it to a reverential love of boundless perfection. Dr Munter deserved the confidence of Struensee, and seems entirely to have won it. The unfortunate man freely owned his private licentiousness, his success in corrupting the principles of the victims of his desires, his rejection not only of religion, but also in theory, but not quite in feeling, of whatever ennobles and elevates the mind in morality; the imprudence and rashness by which he brought ruin on his friends, and plunged his parents in deep affliction; and the ignoble and impure motives of all his public actions, which, in the eye of reason, deprived them of that pretension to virtuous character to which their outward appearance might seem to entitle them. He felt for his friends with unusual tenderness. Instead of undue concealment from Munter, he is perhaps chargeable with betraying to him secrets which were not exclusively his own. But he denies the truth of the political charges against him ; more especially of peculation and falsification of accounts. (Munter, 112. 113. 122. 129. 130, 160, particularly 166 and 167. 171. 190.)
The charges against Brandt would be altogether unworthy of consideration, were it not for the light which one of them throws on the whole of this atrocious procedure. The main accusation against him was, that he had beaten, flogged, and scratched the sacred person of the King. His answer was, that the King, who had a passion for wrestling and boxing, had repeatedly challenged him to a match, had severely beaten bim five or six times; that he did not gratify his master's taste till after these provocations; that two of the witnesses against him, servants of the King, had indulged their master in the same sport; and that he received liberal gratifications, and continued to enjoy the Royal favour for months after this pretended treason. The King inherited this perverse taste in amusements from his father, whose palace was the theatre of the like kingly sports. It is impossible to entertain the least doubt of the truth of this defence. It affords a natural and probable explanation of a fact which would be otherwise incomprehensible.
A suit for divorce was commenced against the Queen, on the ground of criminal connexion with Struensee, who was himself convicted of high treason for that connexion. This unhappy Princess was sacrificed, at the age of seventeen, to the brutal caprices of a husband, who, if he had been a private man, would have been deemed incapable of the deliberate consent which is