Monro His Expedition - The Colonel's Observation of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The Colonel's Observation of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Having had the honour to have dined with his Majesty at his table, then in the gorgeous, & pleasant palace of Fredensborg, taking leave of his Majesty, having kissed his hand, I retired to Elsinore; where I began to think, that this king could have said of his whole kingdom, as Scipio said, you see not a man amongst all those, but if I command him, he will from a turret throw himself into the sea: even so this magnanimous king, to my knowledge, was of absolute authority in his kingdom, as all Christian kings ought to be in theirs ever obeyed in the Lord, without asking the head a reason; Why do you command us thus? For we read that the favour of the Lord was in Judah, in giving them one heart in doing, and obeying the commandments of the king, and of their magistrates and principals, as I did clearly observe in this Kingdom of Denmark the goodness of government, for the flourishing of the kingdom; where Totus orbis componebatur ad exemplum regis. He commanding, they obeyed; both lived in prosperity, the ruler or king heroic, wise, noble, magnanimous and worthy.

The gentry, citizens and communalty obedient, which made their joy and felicity to continue, in despite of their mighty foes, and that by reason of his Majesty's government in military discipline, who doth entertain a great number of officers yearly, having good allowance for commanding of soldiers trained up in peace, against war, such as colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors, captains and other inferior officers, which are still entertained at the country's charge, in exercising of soldiers for his Majesty's employment, being alike ever ready in all provinces for peace or war. Would to God we were so well provided in our own country at home, and then we needed not to fear any foreign enemy, that are enemies to God, to our king, and to our religion.

And for the better maintaining of war, no kingdom or king I know, is better provided of a magazine, then this magnanimous king, for arms, brass ordnance (whereof every year his Majesty doth cast above a hundred pieces) being sufficiently provided of ammunition and of all sorts of fiery engines, to be used by sea or land, together with armour sufficient for to arm a great army of horse. His Majesty is also sufficiently well provided of shipping, and yearly doth add to the number, which ships are built by two worthy Scottish-men, called Mr. Balfoure, and Mr. Sinclaire, being both well accounted of by his Majesty, who in like manner hath a reprobane at Copenhagen, for making of cords and cables for his shipping and kingdom, where I was informed, that in twenty four hours time, they were able to furnish the greatest ship the King had, of cables and of all other tackling and cordage, necessary to set out the ship.

Likewise by his Majesty's artisans within the Kingdom, all sort of stuffs and silks are woven, sufficient to serve the Kingdom, and his neighbours that please to buy.

Moreover this Kingdom is worthy commendation, for the order of justice and laws, having their law-books deciding all controversies amongst them, and if it come to any great difference, the King's Majesty, as being above the law, sits in judgement as the interpreter and director of justice, and according to his princely dignity, mitigates as pleaseth his Majesty the law, and decides the controversy.

This kingdom also is praise-worthy, for the purity of their gentry, being as ancient and noble, as any other kingdom, and can brag of a purer and clearer blood of gentility, than many nations can: for they never ally or enter into marriage with any inferior to themselves, be they never so rich, if they be burghers or plebeians, they never marry with them; and if one of their daughters will, through love, miscarry in her affection, to marry a citizen, they will not thereafter do so much as to honour her with their company, but on the contrary, she loseth both her portion and honour, not suffering her to carry the arms of her family.

Moreover, this nation is praise-worthy for their entertaining of learning, and of the liberal sciences professed in their own universities, where their children are well taught and trained up, after a noble and heroic manner, within their own Kingdom, not only in their Studies of the liberal sciences, but also in their exercise of body, as fencing, dancing, singing, playing of instruments, and riding of horses, and what else are noble recreations, as learning of foreign languages, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, and such like, and afterwards their youth being well travelled, returning from their travels, they attend on the Chancellery, as under-secretaries to statesmen, to enable them to be profitable members in the commonweale. And being forisfamiliate, according to their gifts and qualities, they are preferred to government and charges under his Majesty, in all provinces of the Kingdom of Denmark, Jutland, Holstein, and Norway.

His Majesty also is praise-worthy, for his economy in keeping of storehouses to feed oxen, and stalls for keeping of milch cows, whereof is received yearly great income of moneys, for butter and cheese made in great quantity by Hollanders in Denmark, Holstein, and Jutland: which parts abound also with all sorts of fish, which enricheth his Majesty's treasure infinitely, together with their trading by sea to the fishing in Greenland, bringing great commodity to the subjects, in serving themselves, as also in bringing of money into the kingdom, by furnishing of others. Also this land abounds in corn, which makes great cheapness in this kingdom, where I have lived nobly entertained with two servants for twelve shillings sterling a week, being a whole winter in garrison at Malmö in Skåne. Where I did see and observe the custom used by the Danes' gentry in their house-keeping, wherein they are not prodigal, but yet very noble, not differing much from our own customs at home, entertaining many persons attendant, but not with costly or dainty fare, but abundant in meat and drink; obliging also they are in entertaining strangers of fashion; they keep long tables, at which there sit sometimes above thirty persons: ordinary tables they use besides, ordained for the attendants of the family, who sit not till their masters have half dined or supped: they keep also many horses, hounds and hawks, with attendance answerable, which makes their families great.

Here I did observe, that the subjects do follow the example of their king, in their apparel, in their virtues, and economy, where I did see virtue to have been alike habitual in king, gentry, citizens, and country, being all in their degrees extraordinary rich, not only in money, but also in jewels and plate; nothing inferior, in my judgement, to any neighbour country. It was observed in the court of the Emperor Maximilian the second, a good prince and a virtuous, that many lords and great seigneurs not only clad themselves according to the colour he wore, but also had the same vessels and movables: the greatest ladies also followed the Empress; so that those kinds of clothing that before were disdained and out of request, were then followed, all being clad with skins and leather. The Emperor and the Empress not disdaining to carry and wear them, the rest followed: the pearls and precious stones did rise to the great price, that they are now at by the rich, that made the price so high, that the poor could not attain unto them. To show this by example, we read of Sabina Poppaea, to whom nothing was wanting, but shame and honesty, being extremely beloved of Nero, had the colour of her hair yellow, like amber, which Nero esteemed much of, in singing verses made on her on the cithern: and from this came that the whole damsels of Rome and Italy did like best to have that colour of hair in their buskins, bracelets and clothing, and the amber, which before was in no esteem, became very dear, seeing Nero esteemed of it; which makes Pliny report, speaking of the comedians' apparel, that they carried so much amber, that it was admirable to behold; which shows, that the examples of great personages have great power, in matters of moment and consequence, as it hath in things of less importance.

For as Villeius Paterculus spake of the Emperor Augustus, a good prince teacheth his subjects to do well, and as he is the greatest in estate, even so he is the greatest in example, the people casting their eyes on their prince, sitting high, in sight of all, they delight narrowly to consider all he doth and saith, and they look unto the most hidden things of his actions, as through little holes: and therefore before all places, the king's court ought to be holiest, and clearest of all vices, and endued with most honesty, which betimes will make the whole kingdom conform. To confirm this, we read in our own story a memorable example; how the King Josina took pleasure and delight to discourse much with physicians and chirurgians; in a short time the lords and gentry did accommodate themselves to the prince's humour, that many ages after, there was no noble family in Scotland, that was not expert and well taught in dressing and healing the wounds of the body. A knowledge very necessary for men of our profession, that oft-times are lost for want of good cure. And we read, that King JAMES the Fourth, following the laudable custom of his ancestors, was very expert in this kind, in healing of wounds. A noble knowledge of so noble a prince, and so great a captain, as he was! And the common proverb is, that the little pretty dogs or puppies do anything to please their mistresses; and we say, he smells of the pot he hath licked. Here then you see the power of good and bad examples.

To conclude then. Let us learn by the good examples aforesaid, to follow the virtuous examples of our noble master and King, not neglecting the service and duty we owe to the King of Kings, since our lives here are but like bubbles of the water, now seen, now vanisht.

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