Sunday, 26 March 2017

Reiersen the Second



Pages for a new History of Political Cartooning in Denmark 



Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 88. November 13, 1852.
The sun rising in the name of King Christian IX, who had just been chosen
as successor to the throne according to the London Treaty.
The sunflowers turning their heads are all loyalists among the press.


Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 14, April 7, 1866.
The ultimate bending over was s favorite
from the first cartoons before democracy
Springtime in the second half of the 19th century was the season of the King's birthday and consequently the highlight of the year for anyone aspiring to an order. It was the highlight alike for any satirical magazine worth the acid of its tongue.

1865 brought Heyman. In 1866 the brothers Otto and Frederik Algreen Ussing were appointed chamberlains to the king. The brothers were members of Augustforeningen (i.e. The August Society) and identified themselves as The Black Brother and The White Brother according to their hair color.

According to Folkets Nisse they were thus fittingly born with the Prussian colors.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 79,
September 11, 1852.
Some seek protection from the rain,
others expose themselves to it.
Back to 1866, the ill-fated magazine Pjerrot had sprouted a new magazine, Pjerrot Junior, which was published for the first time at the beginning of May 1866 and by the end of that month it was sued. Pjerrot Junior had declared how being a member of The August Society was the worst crime of the state and that The Society was exaggerating the number of its members.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 34, August 25, 1866.
Celebrating the second anniversary of The August Society. The Brothers
are posing (citing a popular novel of the time) as "Guards to the Queen".

Two months later the case was rejected for formal reasons by the court, since The Brothers Ussing had sued the magazine in togetherness. The Ussings were told to pay the publisher 10 Rigsdaler.

But before the ruling, the then publisher or rather he who just happened to have his name on the magazine at that time, the bookseller F.V. Thomsen was already in trouble.

The Brothers Ussing had by way of the General Procureur Association made Thomsen sign an agreement that if the magazine in word or image, directly or indirectly were to comment in an improper manner on the King, Queen or their descendants of which the Ussings would be the judge, Thomsen would pay The Ussing Brothers 250 Rigsdaler.
Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 43,
November 10, 1866.
"Dressed up to be seen by their majesties,
maybe having the joy of being spat at,
if only they would overlook the donkey ears".

An agreement so outrageous that... but let us tell the tale of Thomsen first: In return, The Ussing Brothers would dismiss the court case. Thomsen was poor and he had got the reassurance that he needed.

Just about a week after the signing of the agreement, Pjerrot Jr. was of course overstepping the line stated - and the Ussing Brothers dragged Thomsen to court. Unable to pay 10 let alone 250 Rigsdaler, Thomsen ended up in debtor's prison.

Thomsen was jailed in October and was meant to be imprisoned for a year before the debt would have been paid off. He was released in November, however, in that in the meantime voices in the press spoke unequivocally: The Ussing Brothers were the guilty party. They had executed censorship.



Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 15, April 14, 1866.
The white brother and the black brother sucking up to the royal slipper.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 15, April 14, 1866:
"The picture album of the young daughters of a baronet
showing The Ussing Brothers in their new uniforms".
For one thing they had as private citizens established a court agreement. As private citizens too they had declared themselves the protectors of the King.

The Ussing Brothers were in other words the old censor Reiersen all over again and were given the nick name Reiersen the Second.

The name was apt, but their enterprise was a serious matter.

It was private censorship.

Private censorship executed as a question of honor, which in fact could be turned against the King and Queen and their descendants considering an impoverished man was imprisoned in their name.

Given the opportunity The Ussing Brothers had set themselves above the King, running the country as they found it fit, deciding what was permitted and what was not.


Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 35, September 1, 1866.
The new crest of the realm according to The Brothers Ussing.
They are dressed in loyalist papers
and their clubs are written in Danish with a thick German accent.



Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 36,
September 8, 1866
Dressed as Russian censors for the wedding festivities
of the Kings daughter, Dagmar marrying the Tsar.
This was the first time The Ussings were visualized
as censors.

The present cartoons are all from Folkets Nisse (i.e. the Elf of the People, he who is illuminating the people with his lamp). Folkets Nisse may have been contacted by The Brothers too, but that magazine was an old player of the game.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 36,
September 8, 1866.
The royal censors created nobility at
the Queen's birthday, taking the name
Hans Sachs, (i.e. His Scissors).
This shall be their family crest.
Folkets Nisse ran a continued story on how two gentlemen in uniform, speaking German, approached the magazine during an editorial meeting, bending over in reverence resembling the digit 9.

The Ussing Brothers - still according to Folkets Nisse - would then ask if the magazine would enter The August Society since it would vastly improve the numbers of its members. The mention of the dwindling society, of course, had been one of the first grievances against Pjerrot Jr.

The Brothers would if so take up work for Folkets Nisse, offering to act as Reiersen the Second, paying Folkets Nisse 250 Rigsdaler every term for their trouble, if only they might censor and cut anything not to their liking and according to their sympathies for the royal court.


Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 46, November 17, 1866.
"Portraits of the outer part of Chamberlain Ussing and the nether part of student N.N.
presented in the format of a call card".


The story then took on how the editors of Folkets Nisse were winking at each other and joining in on the joke, for one it would be marked on the official calendar from then on that an unbelievable tie had been created between The August Society and Folkets Nisse.

The magazine would be allowed to continue writing as long as what was written was tasteless as water.

In return it would bring 300 new members for the otherwise failing August Society. Drinking into the night, it was decided that The Brothers would thenceforward be known as Reiersen den Anden or Reisersen the Second.



Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 46, November 17, 1866.
The Last Will and Testament of Folkets Nisse, the week following the release of Thomsen.
The chamberlains shall prove where their loyalty is, cutting open their stomachs to reveal its contents.
The Black and White Ussings in sorrow of (in case of) the ending of Folkets Nisse.  


Folkets Nisse would continue to mock The Brothers, giving them the best answer to an attempt to undermine a democracy: writing openly and critically about those, whose enterprise in a weaker society might have been a dangerous one.

Frederik Algreen-Ussing was removed from a research project as a direct outcome of the revelation in the public. He was a corrupted man. He died a few years later.

The Ussing Brothers would soon be forgotten. It is perhaps the beauty of the tale.



Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 52, December 29, 1866.
HOW COULD YOU! Hr. Sørensen dealing with The Year 1866
when for one thing The Ussing Brothers were made chamberlains.


Carl Ploug wrote on Thomsen's predicament in his daily Fædrelandet, October 10, 1866.


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