HISTORY OF GERMANY (cont.)
Ferdinand III. (1637-57) succeeded to the throne when the fortunes of his house were at a low ebb, and he continued the Thirty Years War, in the hope of re-establishing the Catholic religion or of restoring the imperial authority, but to undo as much as he could the havoc caused by his fathers recklessness. After the conclusion of peace nothing happened to make his reign memorable. His son, Leopold I. (1658-1705), was a man of narrow intellect and feeble will ; yet Germany seldom so keenly felt the need of a strong emperor, for she had during two generations to contend with a watchful and grasping rival. For more than a century it had been policy of France to strengthen herself by fostering the internal dissensions of Germany. This was now easy, and Louis XIV.made unscrupulous use of the advantages his predecessors had helped to gain for him. Germany as a whole could not for a long time be induced to resist him. His schemes directly threatened the independence of the princes ; but they were too indolent to unite against his ambition. They grudged even the contributions necessary for the maintenance of the frontier fortresses, and many of them stooped accept the bribes the offered them on condition that they should remain quiet. In his war with the United Provices and Spain, began in 1672, he was opposed by the emperor as ruler of Austria, and by Frederick William, the elector of Brandenburg ; and in 1675 the latter gained a splendid victory at Fehrbellin over his allies, the Swedes. At the end of the war, in 1678, by the peace of Nimeguen, Louis took care that Frederick William was deprived of the fruits of his victory, and Austria had to resign Freiburg in Breisgan to the French. Under the pretence that when France gained the Austrian lands in Alsace she also acquired a right to all places that had ever been united to them, Louis began a series of systematic robberies of German towns and territories. "Chambers of Reunion" were appointed to give an appearance of legality to these proceedings which culminated, in 1681, in the seizure of Strasburg. Germans of all states and ranks were indignant at so gross a humiliation, but even the loss of Strasburg did not suffice to move the diet. The emperor himself might probably have interfered, but Louis had provided him with ample employment by stirring up against him the Hungarians and the Turks. So complete was his hold over he majority of the princes that when the Turks, in 1683, surrounded Vienna, and appeared not unlikely to advance into the heart of Germany, they looked on indifferently, and allowed the emperor to be saved by the promptitude and courage of Sobieski, king of Poland. At last, when, in 1689, on the most frivolous pretext, Louis poured into south Germany armies which were guilty of shameful outrages, a number of princes came forward and aided the emperor. This time France was sternly opposed by the league of which William III. of England was the moving spirit ; and although at the end of the war he kept Strasburg, he had to give up Freiburg, Philipsburg, Breisach, and the places he had seized because of their former connexion with Alsace. In the war of the Spanish succession two powerful princes, the elector of Bavaria and the elector of Cologne, joined Louis ; but as the states of the empire declared war against him in 1702, the other princes, more or less loyally, supported the emperor and his allies Leopold died during the progress of this war, but it was vigorously continued by his son Joseph I. (1705-11). Charles VI. (1711-40) also went on with it ; and such were the blows inflicted on France by the victories of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet that the war was generally expected to end in her utter discomfiture. But the conclusion of the treaty of Utrecht by England, in 1713, so limited the military power of Charles VI. that he was obliged to resign the claims of Austria to the Spanish throne, and to content himself with the Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Naples and Sardinia. He cared so little for Germany, as distinguished from Austria, that he allowed Louis to compel the diet to cede the imperial fortress of Landan. At a latter stage in his reign he was guilty of an act of even grosser selfishness ; for after the war of the Polish succession, in which he supported the claims of Augustus III., elector of Saxony, he yielded Lorraine to Leszczynski, whose claims had been defended by France, and though whom France ultimately secured this beautiful German province. Having no son, Charles drew up in 1713 the pragmatic sanction, which ordained that, in the event of an Austrian ruler being without male heirs, his hereditary lands and titles should pass to his nearest female relative. The aim of his whole policy was to secure for this measure, which was proclaimed as a fundamental law in 1724, the approval of Europe ; and by promises and threats he did at last obtain the guarantee of the states of the empire and the leading European powers.
Germany was now about to be aroused from the torpor into which she had been cast by the Thirty Years War ; but her awakening was due, not to the action of the empire, which was more seen to be practically dead, but to the rivalry of two great German states, Austria and Prussia. The latter had long been laying the foundations of her power. Brandenburg, the centre of the Prussian kingdom, was, as we have seen, granted in the 15th century by the emperor Sigismund to Frederick, count of Hohenzollern. In his hands, and in those of his prudent successors, it became one of the most flourishing of the North German principalities. At the time of the Reformation Albert, a member of a subordinate branch of the house of Hohenzollern, happened to be grand master of the Teutonic Order. He became a Protestant, dissolved the order, and received in fief of the king of Poland the duchy of Prussia. In 1611 this duchy fell by inheritance to the elector or Brandenburg, and by the treaty of Wehlau, in 1657, in the time of Frederick William, the Great Elector, it was declared independent of Poland. By skill, foresight, and courage Frederick William managed to add largely to his territories ; and in an age of degenerate sovereigns he as looked upon as an almost model ruler. His son, Frederick, aspired to royal dignity, and in 1701, having obtained the emperorss assent, was crowned king of Prussia. The extravagance of Frederick drained the resources of his state, but this was amply atoned for by the rigid economy of Frederick William I., who not only paid off the debts accumulated by his father, but amassed an enormous treasure. He so organized all branches of the public service that they were brought to a point of high efficiency, and his army was one of the largest, best appointed, and best trained in Europe. He died in 1740, and within six months, when Frederick II. was on the Prussian throne, Maria Theresa claimed, in virtue of the pragmatic sanction, the lands and hereditary titles of her father, Charles VI.
Frederick II., a young, ambitious, and energetic sovereign, longed not only to add to his dominions but to play a great part in European politics. His father had guaranteed the pragmatic sanction, but as the conditions on which the guarantee had been granted had not been fulfilled by Charles VI. Frederick did not feel bound by it, and revived some old claims of his family on certain Silesian duchies. Maria Theresa would not abate her rights, but before she could assert them Frederick had entered Silesia and made himself master of it. Meanwhile, the elector of Bavaria had come forward and disputed Maria Theressas right to the succession, and elector of Saxony had also put in a claim to the Austrian lands. Taking advantage of these disputes, France formed an alliance with the two electors and with the king of Prussia against Austria ; and in the war which followed the allies at first so successful that the elector of Bavaria, through the influence of France, was crowned emperor, as Charles VII. (1742-45). Maria Theresa, a lady of a noble an undaunted spirit, appealed, with her infant son, afterwards Joseph II., in her arms, to the Hungarian diet, and the enthusiastic Magyars responded chivalrously to her call. To be more at freedom she concluded peace with Frederick, and ceded Silesia to him, although greatly her will. Saxony also was pacified and retired from the struggle. After this Maria Theresa, supported by England, made way so rapidly and so triumphantly that Frederick became alarmed for his new possession ; and in 1742 he once more proclaimed war against her, nominally in aid of the emperor, Charles VII. Ultimately, in 1748, she was able to conclude an honourable peace at Aix-la Chapelle ; but she had been forced, as before, to rid herself of Frederick by confirming him in the sovereignty of the territory he had seized.
After the death of Charles VII., Francis grand duke of Tuscany, Maria Theresas husband, was elected emperor. Francis I. (1745-65), an amiable nonentity, with the instincts of a shopkeeper, made no pretence of discharging importance imperial duties, and the task of ruling the hereditary possessions of the house of Hapsburg fell wholly to the empress-queen. She executed it with discretion and vigour, so that Austria in her hands was known to be one of the most formidable powers in the world. Her rival, Frederick II., was, if possible, still, more active. The bitter experiences of his youth, although they had soured his temper, had not quenched the generous aspirations which had been fed by study of the best writers of his time. It did not occur to him, any more than to the other German sovereigns of the 18th century, to associate his people with him in the government of the country ; he was in every respects a thoroughly sovereign. Even his ministers performed but the duties of superior clerks. But he shared the highest ideas of the age respecting the responsibilities of a king, and throughout his long reign acted in the main faithfully as " the first servant of the state." The army he always kept in readiness for war ; but he also encouraged peaceful arts, and diffused throughout his kingdom so much of his own alert and aggressive spirit that the Prussians became more intelligent and more wealthy than they had ever before been. He excited the admiration of the youth of Germany, and it was soon to fashion among the petty princes to imitate his methods of government. As a rule, they succeeded only in raising far larger armies than the taxpayers could afford to maintain.
Maria Theresa never gave up the hope of winning back Silisia, and, in order to secure this object, she laid aside the jealousies of her house, and offered to conclude an alliance with France. Frederick had excited the envy of surrounding sovereigns, and had embittered them against him by stinging sarcasms. Not only France, therefore, but Russia, Saxony, and ultimately Sweden, willingly came to terms with Austria, and aim of union was nothing short of the partition of Prussia. Frederick, gaining knowledge of the plot, turned to England, which had in the previous war helped Austria. At the close of 1755 his offer of an alliance was acceded to ; and in the following year, hoping by vigorously taking the initiative to prevent his enemies from united action, he invaded Saxony, and began the Seven Years War (1756-63).
The result of this war was to confirm Prussia for ever in the possession of Silesia, but it was followed by still greater indirect consequences. Prussia now took rank as one of the leading European powers, and by her rise a new element was introduced into the political life of Germany. Austria, although associated with the empire, could no longer feel sure of her predominance, and it was inevitable that the jealousies of the two states should lead to a final conflict for supremacy. Even before the Seven Years War there were signs that the German people were tired of incessant imitation of France, for in literature they welcomed the early efforts of Klopstock. Wieland, and Lessing ; but the movement received a powerful impulses from the great deeds of Frederick. The nation, as a whole, was proud of his heroic courage, his splendid military qualities, and his beneficent rule, and began, for the first time since the Thirty Years War, to feel that it might once more assume a commanding place in the world. This stir of life ultimately revealed itself in the outburst of philosophic and literary activity represented by the names of Kant, Goethe and Schiller. By the time Germany had not only asserted intellectual independence, but had become thoroughly tired of the national disunion and of the petty despotisms it imposed upon them.
In 1772 the necessities of Fredericks position compelled him to join Russia and Austria in deplorable partition of Poland, whereby he gained West Prussia, exclusive of Dantzic and Thorn, and Austria acquired West Silesia. After this he had to watch closely the movements of the emperor Joseph II. (1765-90), who, although an ardent admirer of Frederick, was anxious to restore to Austria the greatness she had partially lost. The younger branch of the Wittelsbach line, which had hitherto possessed Bavaria, having died out in 1777, Joseph asserted claims to part of its territory. Frederick intervened, and although no battle was fought in the nominal war which followed, the emperor was obliged to content himself with a very unimportant concession. He made a second attempts in 1785, but Frederick again came forward. This time he formed a league for the defence of the imperial constitution, and it was joined by the majority of the small states. The memory of this league was almost blotted out by the tremendous events which soon absorbed the attention of Germany and the world, but if truly indicated the direction of the political forces which were then at work beneath the surface, and which long afterwards triumphed. The formation to make herself the centre for the national aspirations both of northern and of southern Germany.
The French Revolution was hailed by many of the best minds of Germany as the opening of a new era. Among the princes it excited horror an alarm, and in 1792 the emperor Leopold II. (1790-92), and Frederick William II., the unworthy successor of Frederick the Great, met at Pillnitz, and agreed to support by arms the cause of the French king. A more important resolution was never taken. It plunged Europe into a conflict which cost millions of lives, and which overthrew the entire state system of the Continent. Germany herself was the principal sufferer. The structure which the princess had so laboriously built up crumbled into ruins, and the mistakes of centuries were expiated in an agony of disaster and humiliation.
The states of the empire joined Austria and Prussia, and, had there been hearty co-operated between the allies, they could scarcely have failed of success. While the war was in progress, in 1793, Prussia joined Russia in the second partition of Poland. Austria considered herself overreached, began negotiations with Russia for the third and final partition, which was effected by the three powers in 1795 Prussia, irritated by the proceedings of her rival, did as little as possible in the war was in progress, in 1793, Prussia joined Russia in the second partition of Poland. Austria considered herself overreached, and began negotiations with Russia for the third and final partition, which was effected by the three powers in 1795. Prussia, irritated by the proceedings of her rival, did as little as possible in the war with France ;and in 1795 she retired from the struggle, ceding to France her possessions on the left bank of the Rhine. The war was continued by Austria, but her power was effectually shattered by blow after blow that in 1797 she was forced to conclude the peace of Campo Formio. Napoleon Bonaparte, to whose genius the triumph of France was mainly due, began separate negotiations with the states of the empire at Rastadt ; but, before could be agreed upon, war again began in 1799, Austria acting on this occasion as the ally of England and Russia. She was beaten, and the peace of Lunéville added fresh humiliations to those imposed upon her by the previous war. France now obtained the whole of the left bank of the Rhine, the dispossessed princes being compensated by grants of secularized church lands and of mediatized imperial cities. The contempt of Napoleon for the empire was illustrated by his occupation of Hanover in 1803, and by his seizure of the duke of Enghien on imperial territory in 1804. In 1805 Austria once more appealed to arms in association with her former allies, but in vain. By the peace of Presburg she accepted more disastrous terms than ever, and for the moment it seemed as if she could not again hope to rise to her former splendour. In this war she was opposed not only by France, but by Bavaria, Würtermberg, and Baden, all of which were liberally rewarded for their services, the rulers of the two former countries being proclaimed kings. The degradation of Germany was completed by the formation, in 1806, of the Confederation of the Rhine, which was composed of the chief central and southern states. The welfare of the empire was asserted to be its object, but a body of which Napoleon was the protector existed, of course, for no other purpose than to be a menace to Austria and Prussia. Francis II., who had succeeded Leopold II. in 1792, now resigned the imperial crown, and thus the empire and the German kingdom came to an end. The various states, which had for centuries been virtually independent, were during the next few years not connected even by a nominal bond.
Frederick William III. (1797-1840) of Prussia, the successor of Frederick William II., had held selfishly aloof from the struggle of Austria with France. Alarmed by the Confederation of the Rhine, he suddenly resolved on war. Napoleon gladly accepted the challenge, and Prussia was so ill-prepared for the contest she had invited that the first serious battlethe battle of Jenaprostrated her at his feet. Aided by Russia, the king held out some time longer ; but when, after the battle of Friedland, in 1807, the czar was detached from the alliance, Frederick William had to sign the treaty of Tilsit, by which he was deprived of the best part of his kingdom and of more than half his subjects.
In 1809 Austria made one more attempt to retrieve her fortunes, and at first not without success. After the battle of Wagram, however, Napoleon dictated peace from Vienna.
Germany was now thoroughly in the grip of France, and the French emperor proved how absolute was his power by annexing, in 1810, the whole northern coast as far as the Elbe. The completeness of the humiliation of Germany was the means of her deliverance. She had been taught self-respect by Frederick II., and by her great writers in literature and philosophy ; it was felt to be intolerable that in politics she should do the bidding of a foreign master. Among a large section of the community patriotism became for the first time a consuming passion, and it was stimulated by the counsels of several manly teachers, among whom the first place belong to Fichte. The Governments responded prudently to the national movement. Even in Austria timely concessions were made to her various populations. Prussia, under the guidance of her great minister Stein, reorganized her entire administration. She abolished serfdom, granted municipal rights to the cities, established an admirable system of elementary and secondary education, and invited all classes to compete for civil offices ; and ample means were provided for the approaching struggle by drastic military reform. Napoleon had exacted an engagement that the Prussian army should be limited to 42,000 men. This was fulfilled in the letter, but in spirit set aside, for one body of men was trained after another until the larger part of the male population were in a position, when a fitting opportunity should occur, to take up arms for their country.
The disastrous retreat of the French from Moscow in 1812 gave Germany the occasion she desired. In 1813 Prussia formed an alliance with Russia, which was ultimately joined by Austria, and in the great battle of Leipsic the issue was virtually settled. The first peace of Paris was soon followed by the escape of Napoleon from Elba ; but in the battle of Waterloo he was decisively overcome, and Europe had no more to fear from his ambition. The Germans believed that by the second peace of Paris they ought to have received back all the lands which had ever been taken from them by France, but they had to content themselves with the recovery of their boundary as it had existed in 1792.
Between the conclusion of the first and the second peace of Paris the congress of Vienna had met and finished its labours. It was hard to reconcile the conflicting claims of so many states, and no party was fully satisfied with the compromise arrived at. The kingdom of Westphalia, and several other states set up by Napoleon, were brought to an end. Prussia was compensated for her losses by receiving a part of Saxony, the Rhineland, and Swedish Pomerania ; and to Austria were restored Salzburg, Vorarlberg, and Tyrol. Most of the members of the Rhenish Confederation were either left alone or deprived of small portions of territory ; Hanover was made a kingdom ; Weimar, Mecklenburg, and Oldenburg became grand duchies ; and Lübeck, Bremen, Hamburg, and Frankfort were declared free cities.
In regard to the political constitution of Germany, the people were prepared for great and far-reaching changes. The need of union had been impressed upon them by the bitter experiences of nearly a generation, and they would have welcomed the establishment of a vigorous empire. But the jealousies of Austria and Prussia, and the hostility of the petty princes, prevented the popular policy from being adopted. Instead of an empire the congress formed the German bund or confederation. It was composed of 39 states, each of which was to be independent in regard to its internal affairs, the confederation taking cognizance only of matters of common interest. A permanent diet, in which was to sit in Frankfort, and to be presided over by the Austrian plenipotentiary. This body was to settle all disputed questions between the various states, each of which engaged never to make on any of the others, nor to form alliances which should be injurious to a member of the bund.
The events which arose from the French Revolution had awakened in the German mind not only a passionate desire for unity but an equally intense wish for freedom. Growing intigence had revealed to the people that personal rule is ill-adapted to the wants of a civilized community, especially the personal rule of such men as the majority of their princes, who clung obstinately to every kind of abuse, and regarded their functions as a means rather of glorifying themselves than of promoting the general welfare. Humiliating as had been their submission to France, it had done something to deepen this conviction, for in the districts ruled by French officials a higher idea of human rights was introduced than had before prevailed, and what was great and attractive in the principles of the Revolution stirred general sympathy. So urgent were the the demand for free government, that, while the struggle with Napoleon remained undecided, the princes made lavish promises of concession after peace should be restored. The act of confederation contained a positive decree that in each state should be established a constitutional system.
The history of the next period is little more than a history of the elaborate and pitiful devices by which the German sovereigns evaded their engagements. Within a few years, indeed, the rulers of Nassau, Weimar, Bavaria, Baden, and Würtemberg granted constitutions, but even in these countries absolutism was only in a slight degree modified. In Austria, where Prince Metternich was the controlling spirit, the most diverse nationalities were governed as if they had been a single people, and the methods of rule were as despotic an harsh as could be tolerated in a modern community. Although Frederick William III. of Prussia could not act upon quite so antiquated a system as Francis I., he resisted popular aspirations. The utmost concession he made was to appoint a number of provincial diets, which tended rather to foster than to allay the general discontent. Every opportunity was seized by the various Governments to repress the free movement of ideas. A number of student were guilty of some follies at a festival in the Wartburg, and some time afterwards a fanatical youth stabbed Kotzebue, the play-wright, who had sided with the reactionary party. These incidents were held to be symptoms of a grave peril ; and in 1819 a conference of ministers at Carlsbad issued what were called the Carlsbad decree, placing the universities under police supervision, reviving a rigid censorship, and opposing the cession of state constitutions. A central commission of inquiry was also appointed for the purpose of hunting out secret societies, the very existence of which was merely subject of conjecture. In the diet, whose authority was slighted by these, there were several members favourable to a conciliatory policy ; and in the small states liberal politician continued to demand parliamentary representation. The reactionists, however, were united and determined, and succeeded in thwarting political progress until 1830. Even in that year the Prussian and Austrian Governments were able to hold on in their old path, but the French Revolution caused so loud an outcry in countries in which the police were less powerful, that Hanover, Brunswick, Saxony, and Hesse-Cassel received constitutions, and in the lands where parliaments already existed the Governments granted freedom of the press, and promised more liberal legislation for the future. The two leading powers looked upon these changes with extreme disapproval, and they soon made use of the diet as a means of virtually annulling every measure that conflicted with their own aims. When the diet was instituted, it had been hoped it would ultimately lead to closer national unity, and to establishment of modern political institutions. It was now seen to be a mere instrument in the hands of the enemies both of unity and of liberty. Soon did the princes pluck up courage that in 1837 Ernest Augustus, who succeeded William IV. of England as king of Hanover, abolished the constitution which his predecessor had sanctioned, and set up another of an earlier period and of a far less liberal character. This unlawful act met with resistance which had to be put down by force. An appeal on behalf of the constitution was made to the diet, but with the result that was to be expected from its previous action ; it declined to consider the question.
During this dismal period almost the sole political event on which Government can look back with pleasure is the formation of the Zollverein or customs union. As in all other respects, the bund had failed to realize the expectations it had excited respecting the abolition of injurious restrictions on commerce. Several attempts had been made by groups of states to regulate their customs, but none of them had been attended with much success. At last Prussia arrived at an understanding with Bavaria, Würtemberg, and several other states, and between 1833 and 1835 the union thus formed was joined by all German countries with the exception of Austria. It happened that about this time railways began to be introduced. The customs union enable the nation to derive from them the utmost possible benefit, so that the prevalent confusion did not hinder the population from attaining to considerable material prosperity. The obvious advantages of commercial union deepened the desire for unity in every great department of the national life, and at the same time raised the position of Prussia, which had been wise enough to associate itself with a most important movement.
It was not only by its relation to the customs union that Prussia attracted the attention and awakened the hopes of German liberals. In 1840 Frederick William IV. (1840-61) succeeded his father, and, as he was known to be a thoughtful and cultivated prince, there was a general expectation that he would abandon the arbitrary ideas of Frederick William III. He began his reign well. For some years the Government had been in conflict with the Catholic Church ; the struggle was at one ended by graceful concessions The king pardoned political prisoners, restored to their offices certain proffessor who had been degraded during the previous reign for supposed revolutionary tendencies, and welcomed to the Berlin University the brothers Grimm, who, with five other professor, had been driven from Göttingen for protesting against the violence of Ernest Augustus. But it soon became manifest that Frederick Williams favourite conception of "the Christian state" did not include any genuine exercise of political power by the nation ; he wished to rule in a more enlightened spirit than his father, but not less absolutely. It was arranged that the provincial diets established by Frederick William III. should meet periodically, but this was a poor substitute for the great positive measure which had been anticipated And within a very few years "the Christian state" was found to be compatible with a strict censorship, with the arbitrary punishment of schoolmasters, clergymen, and judges who did not meet the approval of the Government, and generally with incessant and irritating interference with the private life of the individual. The king lost all the popularity he had acquired in the early days of his reign by vaguely enthusiastic promises, and impartial observers saw that he and his people must sooner or later enter upon a serious struggle. A like state of things existed all over Germany. The German, Hungarian, Slavonic, and Italian subjects of the emperor Ferdinand (1835-48), who succeeded Francis I., were all agitating for reform ; and in Bavaria, Hesse-Cassel, and Baden reactionary ministers were confronted by opponents who daily acquired increased influence among the masses of the population.
In so many threatening forms of did the rising spirit of the Prussian people reveal itself that om 1847 the king summoned to Berlin a united diet composed of the representatives of the provincial diets. This assembly truly expressed the popular feeling, but with so much moderation, and accompanying its demands by so many shore sincere assurances of loyalty that it could not alarm the most timid. Frederick William, however, was offended by its tone, and haughtily proclaimed that he would never abate the rights which, as a lawful prince, he held by a higher than human authority.
Such was the condition of Germany at the breaking out of the French revolution of 1848. Its effect upon the public mind was immediate and profound. It had been made clear that no dependence was to be placed upon the engagements of the sovereigns, and that if anything was to be done it must be done by the people themselves. At a convention in Mannheim four demand were formulatedfreedom of the press, trial by jury, national armies, and national representation. These demands were universally adopted as the liberal programmed ; and within a few days there were a liberal ministry in every one of the small states. In Bavaria, King Louis, whose well-meant efforts to make Munich a centre of art had not induced the nation to forget its political rights, resigned the crown to his son Maximilian. The popular excitement in Austria became so intense that Prince Metternich was dismissed, constitutional government was promised, and the Hungarians received a new cabinet. Still more vehement was the revolutionary movement in Prussia. Scenes of great violence occurred in the streets of Berlin, and on the 18th of March the king who had previously tried to allay the storm by announcing that the united diet should meet periodically,a concession he had refused to make at the proper moment,declared that the national desire for a constitution should be satisfied. There was, however, a general feeling of distrust, and a conflict, which continued till the following morning, broke out between the troops and the population. Frederick William, who, although an ardent upholder of the divine right of kings, was too kind-hearted a man and too timed to approve of a struggle of this kind, laid aside his high pretensions, changed his ministers, and asserted that he would place
Himself at the head of the national movement. By those means a more pacific temper was restored, and, after the united diet has passed an electoral law,t he country was called upon to choose a national assembly.
It was not only reform in the individual states that was demanded in 1848; the majority of the people felt that the time had come for sweeping away the effete bund which had done service only to the enemies of freedom, and for replacing it by a system of national representation which should maintain the dignity of Germany abroad and foster enlightened institutions at home. There was, indeed, a general conviction that only by means of a great central movement could the special agitations lead to enduring results. A number of deputies, belonging to different legislative assemblies, taking it upon themselves to give voice to the national demands, met at Heidelberg, and a committee appointed by them invited all Germans who then were, or who had formerly been, members of diets, as well as some considering the question of national reform.
About 500 representatives accepted the invitation. They constituted themselves a preliminary parliament, and at once began to provide for the election of national assembly. It was decided that there should be a representative for every group of 50,000 inhabitants, and that the election should be by universal suffrage. A considerable party wished that the preliminary parliament should continue to act until the assembly should be formed, but this was overruled, the majority contenting themselves with the appointment of a committee of 50, whose duty it should be in the interval to guard the national interests. Some of those who were discontented with this decision retired from the preliminary parliament, and a few of them, of republican sympathies, called the population of Upper Baden to arms. The rising was put down by the troops of Baden, but it did considerable injury by awakening the fears of the more moderate portion of the community. Great hindrances were put in the way of the elections, but, as the Prussian and Austrian Governments were too much occupied with their immediate difficulties to resist to the uttermost, the assembly was at last chosen, and met at Frankfort on the 18th May. The old diet broke up, and the national representatives had before them a clear field. There is no reason to doubt that if they had acted with proptitude and discretion they would have succeeded in the task they had undertaken. Neither Austria nor Prussia was for some time in position to thwart them, and the sovereigns of the smaller states were too much afraid of the revolutionary elements manifested on all sides to give way to reactionary impulses. But the Germans had no experience of free political life. Nearly every deputy had his own theory of the course which ought to be pursued, and felt sure that the country would go to ruin if it were not adopted. Learned professors and talkative journalists insisted on delivering interminable speeches, and on examining in the light of ultimate philosophical principles every proposal laid before the assembly ; Thus precious time was lost, violent antagonisms were called forth, the patience of the nation was exhausted, and the reactionary forces were able to gather strength for one more asserting themselves The very first important question brought out the weaknesses of the deputies. This related to the nature of the central provisional executive. A committee appointed to discuss the matter suggested that there should be a directory of three members, appointed by the German Governments, subject to the approval of the assembly, and ruling by means of ministers responsible tot he latter body. This elaborate schemes found favour with a large number of members, but others insisted that there should be a president or a central committee, appointed by the assembly, while another party pleaded that the assembly itself should exercise executive as well as legislative functions. At last, after a vast amount of tedious and useless discussion, it was agreed that the assembly should appoint an imperial vicar who should carry on the government by means of a ministry selected by himself; and by the decision of a large majority, the archduke John of Austria was chosen for the office. With as little delay as possible he formed an imperial cabinet, and there were hopes that, as his appointment was generally approved both by the sovereigns and the people, more rapid progress would be made with the great and complicated work in hand. Unfortunately, however, it was necessary to enter upon the discussion of the fundamental laws, and subject presenting many opportunities for the display of rhetoric and intellectual subtlety. It was soon obvious that beneath all varieties of individual opinion there were two bitterly hostiletendenciesthose of the republicans, and those of the constitutionalists. These two parties attacked each other with constantly growing animosity, and in a few weeks sensible men outside the assembly gave up all hope of their dealing satisfactory with the problem, they had been appointed to solve.
In the midst of these disputes the attention of the nation was occupied by a question which had arisen before the outbreak of the revolutionary movements,the so-called "Schleswig-Holstein question." In 1846 Christian VIII. of Denmark had officially proclaimed that Schleswig and the greater part of Holstein were indissolubly connected with the Danish monarchy. This excited vehement opposition among the Germans, on the ground that Hostein, although subject to the king of Denmank, was a member of the German confederation, and that in virtue of ancient treaties it could not be severed from Schleswig. In 1848 the German party in the duchies, headed by Prince Frederick of Augustenburg, rose against the Danish Government. Frederick VII., who had just succeeded Christian VIII., put down the rebellion, but Prussia, acting in the same name of the confederation, despatched an army against the Danes, and drove, them from Schleswig. The Danes, who were supported by Russia, responded by blockading the Baltic ports, which Germany, having no navy, was unable effectually to defend. By the mediation of England an armistice was concluded, and the Prussian troops evacuated the northern districts of Schleswig. As the Danes soon afterwards took possession of Schleswig again, the Prussians once more drove them back, but on the 26th of August an armistice of seven months was agreed upon at Malmoe.
The new Frankfort Government disapproved the conditions of this armistice ; but, as it had empowered Prussia to act for it, it was obliged to accept what had been done. The majority of the assembly, furious at an arrangement which was denounced as a national humiliation, decided that the armistice should not be sanctioned. The ministry resigned ; but, a new combination being impossible, it was replaced, and the assembly unwillingly agreed to accept the armistice, on the understanding that the Government should lose no time in negotiating for peace on fair terms. A large minority, however, was intensely dissatisfied. It was composed of the republicans and other radical sections ; and when defeated, they appealed from the assembly to the people. The Government kept its place, but was unable to prevent a rising which led tot he murder of two unpopular representatives. There were also temporary republican agitations in Baden and Würtemberg.
While these events were in progress, it seemed not impossible that the Austrian empire would fall to pieces. Bohemia and the Italian states were in revolt, and the Hungarian strove with passionate earnestness for independence. Towards the end of the 1848 Vienna was completely in the hands of the revolutionary party, and it was retaken only after desperate fighting. A reactionary ministry, headed by Prince Schwarzenberg, was then raised to power, and in order that a strong policy might be the more vigorously pushed forward, the emperor Ferdinard resigned, and was succeeded by his nephew, Francis Joseph.
The prospects of reform were not much more favourable in Prussia. The assembly summoned amid the revolutionary excitement of March met on the 22d May. Demands for a constitutional system were urged with great force, and they would probably have been granted but for the opposition due to the violence of politicians out of doors. The aristocratic class saw ruin before it if the smallest concession were made to popular wished, and it soon recovered from the terror into which it had been plunged at the outbreak to the revolutionary. Extreme antagonism was excited by such proposals as that the king should no longer be said to wear his crown "by grace of God;" and the animosity between the liberal and the conservative sections was driven to the highest pitch when, in the midst of the struggle between the populace and the Government in Vienna, it was proposed that Prussia should support the cause of freedom. The motion, although at first rejected, was passed in a modified form. Before this, ministry after ministry had been appointed, but none had been so decidedly reactionary as to preclude the hope of a settlement. Now the king resolved to break finally with the liberals, and, notwithstanding a solemn warning addressed to him by a deputation from the assembly, he called to office a cabinet about whose intentions there could be no misunderstanding. On the pretext that fair deliberation was impossible in the capital, the assembly was ordered to meet in Brandenburg, troops were concentrated near Berlin, and a state of siege was proclaimed. In vain the assembly protested and continued its sittings, going even so far as to forbid the payment of taxes while it was subjected to illegal treatment. It was forced in the end to submit, but the discussions in Brandenburg were no more successful than those in Berlin. At last, on the 5th December, the king dissolved the assembly, granted a constitution about which it had not been consulted, and gave orders for the election of a representative chamber.
About the time that the Prussian parliament was thus created, and the emperor Ferdinand resigned, the Frankfort assembly succeeded in formulating the fundamental laws, which were duly proclaimed to be the fundamental laws of Germany as it was now to be constituted The principal clauses of the constitution then began to be discussed. By far the most difficult question was the relation in which Austrian should stand to the Germany of the future. There was a universal wish that the Austrian Germans should be included in the German state ; on the other hand, it was felt that if all the various nationalities of Austria formed a united monarchy, and if this monarchy as a whole were included in the confederation, it would necessarily overshadow Germany, and expose her to unnecessary external dangers. It was therefore resolved that, although a German country might be under the same ruler as non-German lands, it could not be so joined to them as to form with them a single nation. Had the assembly adopted this resolution at once, instead of exhausting itself by pedantic disquisitions on the abstract principle of jurisprudence, it might have hoped to triumph ; but Austria was not likely to submit to so severe a blow at the very time when she was strong enough to appoint a reactionary Government, and had nearly re-established her authority, not only in Vienna, but in Bohemia and in Italy. Prince Schwarzenberg took the earliest opportunity to declare that the empire could not assent to any weakening of its influence. Bitter strife now broke out in the assembly. Two of the ministers resigned, and one of those who took their place, Herr von Gagern that, since Austria was to be a united state, she should not enter the confederation, but that her relations to Germany should be regulated by a special act of union. This of course meant that Prussia should be at the head of Germany, and recommended itself to the majority of the constitutional party. It was resisted by the Austrian members, who were supported by the ultramontanes and the democrats, both of whom disliked Prussia, the former because of her Protestantism, the latter because of her bureaucratic system. Herr von Gagerns proposal was, however, adopted. Immediately afterwards the question as to the character of the executive was raised. Some voted that a directory of princes should be appointed, others that there should b a president, eligible from the whole German nation ; but the final decision was that the headship of the state should be offered by the assembly to some particular German prince, and that he should bear the title of emperor of the Germans.
The whole subject was as eagerly discussed throughout the country as in Frankfort. Austria firmly opposed the idea of a united German state, insisting that the Austrian emperor could not consent to be subordinate to any other prince. She was supported by Bavaria, but on the other side were Pussia, Brunswick, Baden, Nassau, Mecklenberg, and various other countries, besides the Hanseatic towns. For sometime Austria offered no counter scheme, but she ultimately proposed that there should be a directory of seven princes, the chief place bring held alternately by a Prussian and an Austrian imperial vicar. Nothing came of this second reading of the constitution. It was revised in a democratic sense, but the imperial title was maintained, and a narrow majority decided that it should be hereditary. Frederick William IV. of Prussia was then chosen emperor.
All Germany awaited with anxiety the reply of Frederick William. It was thought not improbable that he would accept the honour offered him, for in the early part of his reign he had spoken of German unity as enthusiastically as of liberty, and, besides, the opportunity was surprisingly favourable. The larger number of the North-German states were at least not unwilling to submit to the arrangement ; and Austria, whose opposition in ordinary circumstance would have been fatal, was paralysed by her struggle with Hungary. Frederick William had not, however, the courage of his opinions ; the deputations which waited upon him was dismissed with the answer that he could not assume the imperial title without the full sanction of the princes and the free cities.
This answer was in reality a deathblow to the hopes of German patriots, but the assembly affected to believe that its cause was not yet lost, and appointed a committee to see that the provisions of the constitution were carried out. A vigorous agitation began in the country for the acceptance of the constitution by the Governments. The king of Würtemberg was forced to accede no to it ; and in Saxony, Baden, and Rhenish armed multitudes kept the sovereigns in terror. Prussia, which, following the example of Austria, had recalled her representatives from Frankfort, sent her troops to put down these risings, and n the 21st May 1849 the larger number of the deputies to the assembly voluntaryily resigned their seats. A few republican members held on by it, and transferred the sittings to Stuttgart. Here they even elected an imperial Government, but they had no longer any real influence, and on the 18th June they were forcibly dispersed by the Würtemberg ministry.
Although Frederick William had refused to become emperor, he was unwilling to miss altogether the opportunity afforded by the difficulties of Austria. He invited the states of send representatives to Berlin to discuss the condition of Germany; and he concluded a treaty with the kings of Saxony and Havover. Two days afterwards the three allies agreed upon a constitution which was in many respects identical with that drawn up by the Frankfort assembly. The functions of the executive were, however, extended, the electoral law was made less democratic, and it was decided that, instead of an emperor, there should be merely a supreme chief aided by a college of princes. This constitution was accepted by a number of states, which assumed the name of the "The Union," and on the 20th March 1850 a parliament consisting of two houses met in Erfurt. Both houses accepted the constitution ; and, immediately after they broke up, the members of the Union assembled in Berlin, and provisional college of princes was elected. By that time, however, the whole situation of Germany had changed. In the autumn of 1849 Austria had succeeded, by help of Russia, in quelling the Hungarian insurrection, and she was then in no mood to let herself be thrust aside by Prussia. Encouraged by her, Hanover, and Saxony had severed themselves from the Union, and Saxony, Würtemberg, and Bavaria arrived at an understanding as to a wholly new constitution. Afterwards all four states, with several others, accepted the invitation of Austria to consider the propriety of re-establishing the Conferation. The representatives of the states favourable to this proposal came together in Frankfort on the 4th September 1850, and acted as the restored diet.
Thus the issue to which the events of about a century had been pointing was apparently raised ; Germany was divided into two hostile parties, one set of states grouping themselves around Austria, another around Prussia. A difficulty which arose in Hesse-Cassel almost compelled the powers to bring their differences to the test of war. In this small state the liberal movement of 1848 had been followed by reaction, and the elector ventured to replace Hassenpflug, the unpopular minister who had been driven from power. Hassenpflug, being detested by a chamber, dissolved it in June 1850 ; but the new one was not less hostile, and refuse to sanction the collection of the taxes until it had considered the budget. For this offence it also was dissolved, and orders were issued for the raising of the taxes without its consent. Many officials refused to obey ; the judges remained loyal to the constitution ; and when attempts were made to solve the difficulty by the army, the officers instructed to act resigned in a body. Meanwhile, Hassenpflug and appealed to the representatives in Frankfort who claimed to be the restored diet, and under the influence of Austria they resolved to support him. Prussia, on the other hand, announced its determination to carry out the principles of the Union, and to maintain the Hessian constitution. Austrian and Bavarian troops having entered Hesse, a Prussian army immediately occupied Cassel, and war appeared to be imminent. Prussia, however, shrank from the conflict. Radowitz, the foreign minister, who had so far pursued a vigorous policy, retired, and was replaced by Manteuffel, who, although the whole Prussian army was mobilized, began by making concessions. The Union was dissolved ; and after Austrian had despatched an ultimatum formulating her demands, the new minister met Prince Schwarzenberg at Olmütz, and virtually yielded everything he insisted upon. The difficulty in Hesse was to be left to the decision of the German Governments; and as soon as possible ministerial conferences were to be held in Dresden, with a view to the settlement of the German constitution.
These conferences began in the days of 1850. The Austrian Government strove to secure the appointment of a strong executive than had hitherto existed ; but its proposals met with steady opposition from Prussia. Every Prussian scheme was in like manner resisted by Austria. Thus, from the sheer inability of the assembled ministers to devise a plan on which all could agree, Prussia and the states that had joined her in the Union were compelled to recognize the Frankfort diet. From the 12th June 1851 its sittings went on as if nothing had occurred since it was dispersed.
This wretched fiasco was hardly less satisfactory to the majority of Germans than he manner in which the national claims in Schlewig-Holstein were maintained. The armistice of Malmoe having expired in March 1849, the war with Denmark was resumed. A considerable army was despatched against the Danes by the Frankfort Govenent, but on the 10th July an armistice was signed at Berlin for six months, and a year afterwards Prussia concluded peace. The inhabitants of the duchies, however, continued the war. During the interview at Olmütz between Count Manteuffel and Prince Schwarzenberg it was agreed that, like the affairs of Hesse-Cassel, those of Schleswig-Holstein should be submitted to the decision of all German states, but that, in the meantime, Prussia and Austria should act together. By the intervention of Austrian troops peace was restored ; and when, early in 1852, the Government of Denmark, in providing a constitution for the whole monarchy, promised to appoint separate ministers for Schleswig and Holstein, and to do equal justice to the German and the Danish populations, the two powers declared themselves satisfied, and the Austrian forces were withdrawn. The diet also, after some delay, professed to be content with this arrangement. While it was discussing the subject, a conference of the European powers met in London, and settled that Frederick VII. of Denmark should be succeeded by Christian, duke of Glücksburg, and that the duchies should be indissolubly united to the Danish monarchy. Austria and Prussia accepted the protocol setting forth these results, but it was not signed by the diet.
In all these later events the first place had been taken by Austria. The temporary dissolution of the customs union in 1851 gave her an opportunity of trying to extend her influence ; she demanded that a union should be formed of which she should be the leading member. A congress of all German states, with the exception of Prussia and one or two states which sympathized with her, was held in Vienna; and it was followed by several other congresses favourable to Austrian pretensins. Prussia, however, being here on strong ground, refused to give way; and not only was the customs unions restored in accordance with her wishes, but Austria concluded with the in 1853 a treaty of commerce which embodied some important concessions.
Germany had now fairly entered a period which, although it did not last very long, was, in some respects, as humiliating as any in her history. The popular movement, from which great things had been hoped, had on some occasions almost touched its goal; and, as might have been expected, the fullest advantage. The Austrian Government, after the subjection of Hungary, withdrew every concession it had made under pressure and established a thorough despotism, trampling upon the rights of the individual nationalities, and forcing all its subjects into a common political mould. It Prussia the parliament, summoned by the king on the 5th December 1848, met early in the following year. Although the democrats had declined to vote, it was not conservative enough for the court, and not till the 31st January 1850 was an understanding arrived at respecting the constitution. The system thus established was repeatedly revised, and always with the same object to reduce to a minimum the power of the national representatives, and to exalt and extend that of the Government.
At the same time the ministry persecuted the press, and allowed hardly a whisper of discontent to pass unpunished. The smaller states followed with alacrity in the steps of the two leading powers. The liberal ministries of 1848 were dismissed, the constitutions were changed or abolished, and new chambers elected under a severely restricted suffarage. Had the battle been fairly fought out between the Government and the people, the latter would still have triumphed ; but the former had now, in the Frankfort diet, a mightier instrument than ever against freedom. What it could do was seen too clearly from the case of Hesse Cassel. After the settlement of Olmütz, federal troops occupied that country, and federal execution was carried out with shameful harshness. Martial law years was everywhere proclaimed ;officers, and all classes of officials who had incurred the displeasure of the Government, were subjected to arbitrary penalties ; and such was the misery of the people that multitudes of them were compelled to emigrate. The constitution having been destroyed by the bund, the elector proclaimed one of his own making; but even the chamber elected under the provinsions of this despotic scheme could not tolerate his hateful tyranny, and there were incessant disputes between it and the Government. The bund interfered in a like spirit in Hanover, although with less disastrous results, after the accession of George V. in 1851. For the whole of Germany this was emphatically the period of petty despotism; and not only from Hesse but from all parts of the country there was a vast stream of emigration, mainly to the New World.
The outbreak of the Crimean war profoundly moved the German nation. The sympathies Austria were necessarily with the Western powers, and in Prussia the majority of the people took the same side ; but the Prussian Government, which was at this time completely under the control of Russia, give its moral support to the czar. It did, indeed, assent to treatyafterwards singed on behalf of the bundby which Prussia and Austria guaranteed each other, but it resolutely opposed the mobilization of the confederate army. The Prussian people were keenly irritated by the cordial relations between their out and the most despotic power in Europe. They felt that they were thus most unjustly separated from the main stream of Western progress.
During the Crimean war the political reaction continued with unabated force. In Prussia the Government appeared resolved to make up for its temporary submission to the popular will by the utmost violence on which it could venture. A general election took place in the autumn of 1855 and so harshly was the expression of opinion restrained that a chamber was returned with scarcely a single liberal element of serious importance. The feudalists called for a still further revision of the constitution, and urgent that even the reforms effected by Stein should be undone. In Bavaria a chamber elected about the same time as that of Prussia was rather less docile; but the Government shared to the full the absolutist tendencies of the day, and energetically combated the party which stood up for law and the constitution. The Hanoverian government, backed by the Frankfort diet, was still more successful in its warfare with the moderate reformers whom it was pleased to treat with the moderate reformers whom it was pleased so completely gained the upper hand that on the 18th August 1855 the Government signed a concordant, by which the state virtually submitted itself to the control of the church.
The German people seemed to have lost both the power and the will to assert their right ; but in reality they were deeply dissatisfied. And it was clear to impartial observers that, in the event of any great strain upon the power of the Governments, the absolutist system break down. The first symptom that the reaction had attained its utmost development displayed itself in Prussia, whose attention was for a time distracted from home politics by a quarrel with Switzerland. The Swiss authorities had imprisoned some foolish royalists of neuchâtel, in which the house of Hohenzollern had never resigned its rights. War was threatened by Prussia, but when the prisoners were set free, the two states entered upon negotiations, and in the summer of 1857 King Frederick William withdrew all claims tot he principality. Soon after this, the mental condition of the king made it necessary that his duties should be undertaken by a substitute, and that his duties should be undertaken by a substitute, and his brother, the Prince of Prussia, took his place for three months. In October 1858 the prince regent ;and as he was unfavourable tot he policy which had hitherto been pursued, he appointed a new ministry of a moderately liberal charter. A general election was ordered ; and, the free action of the constituencies being in no way interfered with, they returned a parliament in which the feudalists held the place that had belonged to the liberals in the previous chamber. No more thorough proof could have been given of the liberal sentiments of the population, and the effect was soon seen in the growing hopefulness of the liberal party in every German state.
The Italian war of 1859, in which Austria found herself opposed by France and Sardinia, excited vehement interest in Germany. A section of the liberal party would have been pleased had Prussia taken the occasion to reconstitute the confederation by excluding Austria ; but Prussia was so far from attempting this that she put herself in state of readiness for war with France. After the battle of Magenta she mobilized part of her army, and gave her assent to the placing of confederate troops on the upper Rhine. These measures induced the emperor Napoleon to conclude a hasty peace ;but Austria was bitterly offended because she had not received the open support both of the bund and of Prussia.
The misfortunes of Austria in this war brought to light the instability of the absolutist system which had been maintained since the crushing of the revolution of 1848. The army had fought without enthusiasm, and after the restoration of peace voices were everywhere raised for reform. Petty concessions were at first attempted, but in December 1860 the emperor his ministers, promising that the constitutions of the various provinces should be revised, and that a Reichsrath, with the right of initiating legislation, should be freely be elected by the provincial diets. Although this arrangement was far from pacifying the populations, it was a great advance on any previous proposal, and stirred the hope of still larger concessions.
Another result of the Italian war, of far greater importance for the general progress of Germany, was the revival of the old desire for national unity. The Germans could not persuade themselves that which the Italians had attained was unattainable by them ; and they believed that if they acquired the same measure of unity, there would soon be an end of despotism. After the war, a number of leading politicians, having held repeated conferences, founded what they called the National Union, an organization intended to promote the national cause ; and it had a profound effect in maintaining and stimulating public interest in its object. The Governments, seeing the strength of the movement, sought to give it a direction suitable to their own interests. Prussia and Austria entered into Saxon ministers, Baron Beust, then came forward with a proposal, whose aim was to play off the two great states against one another, and to enable the smaller states to hold the balance. Austria was not unwilling to be persuaded : but Prussia would have nothing to say to a scheme which would have effected a change without improving her position. In 1863 the emperor Francis Joseph invited the German princes to a congress in Frankfort, for the purpose of settling the question. A settlement proposed by him was unlikely to be acceptable to Prussia; and she held aloof. When the Austrian emperors plan was unfolded, its aim, as every one expected, was seen to be the confirming of his won authority. It was, therefore, with equal decision, rejected by the Prussian Government and by the German liberals.
Meanwhile, changes had taken place in Prussia which were destined to lead to a solution of the long-discussed problem, as complete as it was unexpected. On the death of Frederick William IV. on the 2d January 1861, the prince regent assumed the crown of Prussia as William I. Within ten years Germany united, and this amiable king was proclaimed emperor.
This result was the issue of a vast series of historical causes ; but it is indissolubly associated with the name of King Williams great minister, Bismarck, who was made Prussian premier in 1862. No more remarkable figure has arisen in the history of Germany. Before he became prime minister he had acted as Prussian plenipotentiary at the confederate diet, and as Prussian ambassador in Paris and St Petesburg ; he was, therefore, familiar with the conflicting political currents of the time. When raised to the highest post in the state under the crown, he soon formed the fixed resolution of adding to the power of Prussia, and placing her at the head of unitted Germany. Having something of Cromwells superstition as well as Cromwells strength, he apparently regarded this as a sort of religious mission ; and in many respects he could hardly have been better adapted to the task. A rough, despotic, vehement nature, he was undeterred by scruples which might harass ordinary statesmen ; having set up a goal, he marched to it by the strainghtest path. The solemn tradition of diplomacy, to the astonishment of Europe of Europe, he laughed out of court. He respected treaties exactly in so far as they were capable of being defended, and produced by boisterous frankness the effects which other men achieve by mystery and deceit. With little faith in the action of moral causes, he took care to have behind him those big battalions which destiny is said unduly to favour. Prussia at once recognized that she had in him a statesman of commanding type,a bold and resolute spirit, with narrow but intense vision, and a will created to go crashing through difficulties, and to fashion a world to its liking.
When Bismark was nude premier the Government was engaged in a hot dispute with the representative chamber. The latter refused to
Sanction a great scheme of military reform, and the ministry was compelled, in direct opposition to the constitution, to trust to the upper house for supplies. Bismarck carried on the contest with cynical audacity ; and he was in no way shaken when the country, over and over again, proved that its sympathies were with his opponents. The military reforms were executed, and the nation was tolerably told that its approval was of secondary importance.
An opportunity for stirring up the chaotic elements from which the Prussian premier proposed to evolve a cosmos of his own was soon afforded by the revival of that most complicated of "questions," the question of Schleswig-Holstein. Ever since the settlement of 1852 it had from time to time engaged attention. The tendency of Danish policy, according to the Germans, was to subject Holstein and Schleswig to wholly different treatment, and, in the application of the general constitution of the kingdom, to pay insufficient respect to the rights of Holstein as a member of the German confederation. Soon after the duke of Glücksburg, in accordance with the London protocol, mounted the Danish throne (1863), federal troops were despatched to the duchies, nominally to secure that the new king should fulfill his predecessors engagements. In reality, however, their presence gave rise to demostrations among the German population in favour of Prince Frederick of Augustenburg, who, although his father renounced his rights, claimed to be the true duke of Holstein. Prussia and Austria, having signed the London protocol, professed to disapprove his pretensions, and towards the end of 1863 proposed in the diet that they should be empowered to occupy Schleswig, so that justice might be done both to the Danish king and tot he duchies. The proposal was rejected, and had Austria been acting alone, there is no reason to believe that she would have pushed her demands farther, if indeed she would ever have advanced so far. But Prussian policy policy was determined by a statesman who had vast ulterior ends to serve ; and by his influence Austria was induced to join Prussian in declaring that, since the bund would no follow their counsel, they were forced to act independently. In the war which followed the Danes distinguished themselves by their courage and military skill ; but they could not very long contend single-handed with two such enemies, and on the 1st August 1864 a treaty was signed in Vienna, by which Denmark ceded to the conquerors Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg. All Europe disapproved these harsh conditions ; but the Prussian minister did not trouble himself about disapproval which found utterance only in words.
Before the outbreak of war, Prussia had engaged in a serious dispute with Austria. In 1862, in the name of the customs union, the former power had concluded with France a treaty of commerce, based mainly on the principles of free trade. Most of the small states, strongly objecting to the treaty, refused to sign it ; and they were supported by Austria, which had never given up the hope of taking precedence of Prussia in the commercial as well as the political relations of Germany. She protested against the treaty, and demanded admission into the customs union. Prussia maintained her original position, insisting that if the treaty with France were rejected she would regard the union as no longer existing. After the war Bismarck not only succeeded in obtaining the signatures of the small states, but induced Austria to conclude a commercial treaty, essentially the same as that of 1853 ; and about the same time treaties were signed, owing to his exertions, between the union and England and Belgium. These triumphs unmistakably indicated the rising influence of Prussia.
It was not long before grave difficulties sprang from the results of the Schleswig-Holstein war. Prussia was of opinion that there was no longer any need for the troops of the bund in Holstein ; and although this view was hotly contested, the diet was compelled in the end to act upon it. Still more important was the question, what should now be done with the duchies. Austria favoured the claims of the prince of Ausgustenburg ; and the bund by a small majority decided to request the two powers to invest him with the sovereignty of Holstein. Prussia protested that the matter was beyond the competence of the diet. What she herself intended was plainly shown by the fact that the Prussian war minister explained in the Prussian parliament, in connexion with a special demand for money, that it was to be devoted tot he erection of a harbour at Kiel. Austria, which had the same right as Prussia to Kiel, refused her assent to this proposal ; and an interchanged of angry despatches took place, which made it highly probable that the spoilers of Denmark would soon be at each others throats. War was for a time prevented by the Gastein convention, by which Austria handed over Lauenburg to Prussia, and it was agreed that the former state should in the meantime Holstein, the latter Schleswig.
Count Bismarck did not intend that the Gastein convention should serious interrupt the development of his policy. He had made up his mind to force a quarrel on Austria, and to settle once for all the question, first raised by Frederick the Great, whether she or Prussia should prevail in Germany. The opportunity was so favourable that the like might never again offer itself. Although the Government and the parliament of Prussia were still engaged in a struggle which called forth much indignation on both sides the mass of the population was thoroughly loyal ; and, as events proved, the army had been reorganized with splended skill. Never, perhaps, in the history of the world, were there better fighters than the Prussian soldiers of that day ; and they were led by officers full of patriotic ardour, with almost unlimited influence over their men, and trained in the best schools of military science. In the Austrian empire, notwithstanding the reforms recently instituted, discontent was still almost universal. The Hungarians sullenly demanded independence, and among the Slavonic populations there were also dangerous agitations for local self-government. Although the army was composed of magnificent material, it was far behind that of Prussia in the mode of its administration, and grave doubts were entertained whether confidence could he placed in its loyalty. In these circumstances, no one familiar with the facts could hesitate as to the side on which victory would declare itself in the event of war, and to Count Bismark the facts were intimately known. With well-considered boldness he advanced rapidly to his aim. The Austrian governor of Holstein encouraged, as he had a perfect right to do, the pretensions of the prince of Augustenburg. In January 1866 Count Bismarck made this the subject of a bitter despatch to the Vienna Government ;and Count Mensdorf, the Austrian foreign minister, replied in the same tone. Both powers now began to make active preparations for the worst. The majority of the small states sided with Austria ; but Prussia found means of more than counterbalancing this advantage. Now that Italy was partially united, the Italians felt humiliated at Venetia remaining in the hands of Austria. Count Bismarck offered, if she would conclude an alliance with Prussia against their common enemy, to obtain for her this magnificent prize. The Italian Government saw that it could never have a better chance, and signed the proposed treaty.
The occasions for which Count Bismarck waited presented itself when the Austrian governor of Holstein summoned the assembly of the states. Holstein was at once occupied by Prussian troops, and those of Austria were driven from the duchy. The Austrian Government indignantly protested against this outrage ; and on the 14th June 1866 its proposal that the forces of the bund should be mobilized against Prussia was adopted by a majority of the diet. The Prussian plenipotentiary withdraw after submitting a scheme for the reconstitution of Germany ; and the war immediately began. Its events followed each other with startling rapidity. Within a fortnight Prussia had in her grasp Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, and Saxony ;and on the 3d July was fought the great battle of Königgrätz, which laid her chief enemy at her feet. The power of Austria was shattered by the swift and mighty blows directed against it ; and on the 26th July she was glad to accept the preliminaries of Nicolsburg, which were soon afterwards followed by the peace of Prague.
The result of this war the final exclusion of Austria from Germany. Prussia annexed Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, Frankfort, and Schleswig-Holstein. By the fifth clause of the treaty of Prague, indeed, the inhabitants of the northern districts of Schleswig were to be reunited to Denmark, if, when freely consulted, they expressed a wish for this result ; but the engagement, which was never seriously intended, was abrogated by secret treaty between Austria and Germany on the 11th October 1878. All states to the north of the Main, including the northern half of Hesse-Darmstadt, were compelled to form a North-German confederation under the leadership of Prussia. The four South-German states, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Würtembeg, and Bavaria, were left independent, but with the right, if they chose, to form a South-German confederation and to unite with that of North Germany. By secret treaties, as Count Bismarck announced at a critical moment soon afterwards they undertook to place their armies at the disposal of Prussia in time of war.
King William, who had accompanied his troops, returned in triumph to Berlin, and the nation was so elated by his victories that the newly-elected house of representatives willingly consented to forget past disputes. On the 24th February 1867 the constituent diet of the confederation, elected by universal suffrage and the ballot, met in Berlin, and soon accepted in its essential features the constitution submitted to it. It was arranged that the headship of the confederation should be hereditary, that it should belong to the king of Prussia, and that legislative functions should be exercised by a federal council, representative of the various Governments, and by a diet elected by the whole people.
The confederate parliament began at once the task of consolidating the new institutions. In the sessions of 1869 and 1870 it established a supreme tribunal of commerce, sitting in Leipsic, and passed a new penal code. Great as were these results, they did not satisfy the aspirations of patriotic Germans, who, having so suddenly and so unexpectedly approached unity, longed that the work should be completed. A party called the "national liberals" was formed, whose main object was to secure the incorporations of south with north Germany, and it at once entered into peculiar relations with the great minister at the country. The members of this party, believing, as sincere liberals, that the German people were ripe for free institutions, desired from the outset to give larger power to the popular elements of the constitution both in Prussia and in Germany. With these ideas Prince Bismarck had no sympathy. Throughout his career he has consistently manifested contempt for parliamentary forms of government. He cannot tolerate that a minister should be thwarted or hindered by political critics, and fancies that the community would be much better off if it allowed itself to be directly governed by the statesmen who are good enough to devote themselves to its service. But his achievements in the cause of German unity have more than counterbalanced, in the esteem of the liberals, his dislike of national freedom.
An important step towards complete unity was supposed to be taken in 1867, by the conclusion of a treaty with the southern states, by which it was agreed that all questions of customs should be decided by the federal council and the federal diet, and that, for the consideration of such questions, the southern states should send representatives to Berlin. In reality, however, the customs parliament was of no service beyond the strict limits of its special activity. The mass of the South Germans were bitterly opposed to the idea of union with the north. The democrats detested Prussia more than any other country, and looked upon Count Bismarck as the incarnation of all that was most objectionable in its aristocratic and military system of government. Among the ultramontanes there was a not less vehement dislike of a nation which continually boasted that it was the headquarters of Protestantism and free thought. Hence, in the election to the customs parliament in 1868, Würtemberg did not return a single deputy who was favourable to the national cause ; in Bavaria the anti-nationalist had a large majority ; and even in baden and Hesse-Darmstadt, where the opposition to Prussia was less severe, a powerful minority of the deputies had no liking for the Prussian premier. Thus the customs parliament was kept rigidly to the objects for which it was founded, greatly to the disappointment of patriots who had not doubted that it would become an effective instrument for the attainment of far larger purpose. Even in regard to the army, notwithstanding the secret treaties giving Prussia the command of the southern forces in the even of war, a spirit of bitter opposition to the northern confederation was manifested. Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt reoganized their-armies in accordance with the Prussian system, but Bavaria and Würtemberg were more obstinate, and in both countries there was an agitation for military arrangements by which the secret treaties should be virtually annulled.
Had the completion unity depended wholly on internal causes, it certainly would not have been soon achieved ; but other forces, not altogether unexpectedly, came to Count Bismarcks aid. France had been irritated by the enormous increase of Prussian power, and even before the treaty of Prague was signed the emperor Napoleon III. indicated a wish to be "compensated" with the left bank of the Rhine. Not being in a position to make war, he was compelled to suppress this desire. Soon afterwards he proposed a secret arrangement by which Belgium was to fall to France, while Prussia was to have free scope elsewhere. Finding that if not decisively rejected his plan was at least not accepted, Napoleon next sought to restore the balance by concluding a treaty with the king of Holland, in 1867, for the purchase of Luxembourg. Prussia protested ; and it was on this occasion that Count Bismarck first made public the secret treaties with the South-German states. War appeared almost inevitable, but emperor, being still uncertain as to the state of his forces, allowed the question to be settled by a conference , which declared Luxembourg a neutral state, its neutrality being guaranteed by the great power.
The ideas of a war with Prussia was not given up by Napoleon. Whether he felt the necessity of strengthening the claims of his dynasty by military glory , or whether, as many Germans believe, he was urged forward by a powerful utramontane intrigue, he seems to have resolved in 1870 to undertake the long-delayed struggle. A pretext was found in a proposal of the a Spaniards to raise to their throne Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern. There is no evidence that the French people were in the least disturbed by this scheme ; certainly, if they had been left to their own free judgment, they would never have thought of going to war about it. But the imperial ministry, managing to get up a little artificial excitement among a noisy section of the Parisians, angrily protested; and Prince Leopold announced that he would not accept the Spanish crown. Stimulated by this diplomatic triumph, the emperor next required that Prussia should give a general engagement that no Hohenzollern prince should in future become king of Spain. Prussia declined to humble herself so far, whereupon, on the 19th July 1870, France declared war against her. A telegram from Ems, falsely stating that the French ambassador had been publicly insulted by King William, caused considerable sensation in France; and enemies of Bismark often assert that he caused that he caused it to be despatched for the purpose of making war unavoidable. Although this is a mere assertion, he was not unwilling to accept the challenge, coming as it did in a manner that would have rendered any shrinking from it disgraceful. He believed that, whatever policy she adopted, Prussia would one day have to defend her conquests ; and he could not but foresee the enormous advantages which would spring from a triumphant war with France.
Napoleon, as we now know, had reason to suppose that he might trust to the aid of Austria and Italy, and his diplomatic agents in South Germany had left no doubt in his mind that the South Germans would hail his approach as that of a deliverer. He was cruelly undeceived. After his first reverses, Italy and Austria resolved to hold aloof ; and the South Germans did not for an instant hesitate; they loyally kept their engagements with Prussia. The French emperor did not realize how bitter, in South as well as in North Germany, were the memories of the sufferings caused by his uncle. However energetically the various states might fight among themselves, in the presence of "the hereditary enemy" their disputes were forgotten ; they remembered only their common origin and their common speech. There is no parallel in German history to the enthusiasm called forth by the French declaration of war. Its absolute universally was a new phenomenon, and its intensity probably could not surpassed.
The course of the war went far beyond the expectations of the most sanguine patriots. In battle after battle the armies of France were smitten to the ground ; her strong places, one after another, delivered themselves to the enemy ; and her brave sons were sent by hundreds of thousands as prisoners to Germany. At last, on the 1st September, after the disastrous battle of Sedan, the emperor yielded his sword to the Prussian king.
It was the opinion of many impartial observers that the war ought now to have stopped, and there were Germans who had the courage to express this conviction. But the nation as a whole wished to see France thoroughly humbled, and applauded the advance of Paris. In vain M. Gambetta sought to infuse into his countrymen his own impulsive and vigorous spirit ; they did what they could, but the German armies were irresistible. On the 28th January 1871 Paris surrendered, and on the 10th May the peace of Frankfort was signed. By this treaty France engaged to pay the enormous indemnity of five milliards of francs, and to restore to Germany Alsace and the German portion of Lorraine.
Amid the glowing pride of the Germans in the unsurpassed achievements of their armies the difficulties which had hitherto prevented complete unity seemed altogether to vanish. In the autumn of 1870 negotiations were opened between the southern Governments and the northern confederation ; and in the course of November treaties were signed by which the North-German confederation became the German confederation. Bavaria insisted upon some highly important reservations, such as the maintenance of her own diplomacy, of her postal, telegraph, and railway system of her military administration, and of certain valuable taxes. Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Würtemberg also maintained special rights. But all this was thought of comparatively little moment; and the treaties were readily sanctioned both by confederate parliament and by the southern parliaments. Thus Germany became a united state. The king of Bavaria then proposed to the other German sovereign and to the free cities that the head of the confederation should be declared emperor. The suggestion was approved ; and on the 18th January 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors in the palace of Versailles, the king of Prussia was proclaimed, in presence of a brilliant assembly of German princes and officers, emperor in Germany.
On the 21st of March 1871 the first diet of the empire met in Berlin. The constitution on the northern confederation was extended so as to be applicable to the changed circumstances of Germany, but no alteration was made in its essential character.
Since the conclusion of the treaty of Frankfort Germany has been at peace, but as she believes that the French may one day seek to regain their lost provinces and to avenge their recent humiliations, she has maintained the vast military system to which her victories have been due. The main object of Prince Bismarks foreign policy appears to have been to isolate France. While not unfriendly to England, he has assiduously cultivated the friendship of Austria and of Russia. In 1872 the czar and the Austrian emperor visited Berlin, and during their stay the three emperors concluded an alliance, the exact limits and conditions of which are not known. Soon afterwards Victor Emmanuel, the Italian king, also visited the German capital, and the emperor William went for a short time to Italy, where he was received with manifestations of hearty friendship. It is understood that after the reopening of the Eastern question in 1875 Prince Bismarck made repeated attempts to enter into close relations with England ; but in his public acts, both before and after the signing of the treaty of Berlin in 1878, he mainly supported Russia. He also encouraged Austria to extend her influence in the west by occupying Bosnia.
In her home politics the attention of Germany was for some years mainly occupied with a great struggle between the state and the church in Prussia. After the close of the Franco-German war-in the course of which the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimedPrice Bismarck persuaded himself that the empire was imperilled by ultramontane intrigues ; and with his usual promptitude he took vigorous precautions against his supposed enemies. He began in 1872 with the expulsion of the Jesuits. This was followed in 1873 by the famous May Laws, introduced by Dr Falk, the energetic minister of public worship. By these laws it was required that candidates for the clerical office should undergo a certain amount of secular training at the universities, and that every ecclesiastical appointment should receive the sanction authorities. A royal tribunal for ecclesiastical matters was also set up. This legislation, which the pope denounced as invalid, was disregarded by the Catholic bishops; and Prince Bismarck, supported by Dr Falk, imposed penalty after penalty in order to establish the supremacy of the state. Refractory bishops were imprisoned, deposed, and banished ; the contributions of the Government were withdrawn from the clergy who incurred its displeasure; religious orders were dissolved ; the administration of church property was taken from the clergy and invested in bodies of laymen. It may be that stern measures were rendered necessary by facts of which the world is insufficiently informed ; but they have alienated from Prince Bismarck, and from the empire founded by him, the sympathies of the vast majority of the German Catholics.
The period which has followed the war with France has been remarkable, not only for the ecclesiastical struggle in Prussia, but for the rapid growth of socialism throughout the empire. Socialism first became a power in Germany through the labours of the ardent scholar and publicist, Ferdinard Lassalle. He began his brief and noisy public career by addressing large audiences of workmen in Berlin and Leipsic in 1862, and in less than two years he had formed a party which regarded him with boundless reverence and admiration. He hemself was a man of for tune, with luxurious habits ; but he had in an unusually intense degree the desire, shared by all truly modern men, for the elevation of the depressed and suffering masses. The theory of which he had convinced himself was that, with existing social relations, workmen as a class can never improve their position ; that their sole chance is to form productive associations which shall enable them to secure the whole benefit of their labour; and that it is the duty of the state to provide such association with capital, to see that justice is done to their members, and to regulate the markets of the world. After the death of Lassalle, this theory became a sort of evangel his followers ; but many of them stated it in violent terms, and openly aimed at the equal division of property, if possible by peaceful agitation, if necessary by revolution . At the time of the formation o the party Herr von Bismarck was engaged in his struggle with the liberals in the Prussian parliament, and he did not scruple to damage his opponents by encouraging Lassalle, who detested them more vehemently than did the premier himself. Soon after the war with France the condition of the country was in the highest degree favourable to the progress of the movement. Intoxicated by the national triumphs, and having a vague impression that the French indemnity must be an inexhaustible source of wealth, many of the German middle class indulged in wild speculation, and contracted habits of reckless expenditure. At the same time the resources of the nation were drained by the costly military system the world has ever seen. The inevitable result was that in a short time trade was depressed beyond all recent experience ; wages fell, and large numbers of workmen were deprived of employment. Socialism found its opportunity ; multitudes of the sufferers eagerly listened to instructors who depicted for them a brilliant future that might be easily attained. In England no considerable body of men has ever been deeply impressed by socialist schemes; but in Germany the conditions of political life are altogether different. There the Government is the greatest of all powers. At every stage of a mans life it makes itself felt ; it creates around the community a sort of political atmosphere from which there is no escape, in which every one moves and breathes. Thus to an uninstructed German there seems to be hardly any limit to the feats of which the state is capable. It professes to be so nearly omnipotent that he appears to himself to be written his right in asking it to make all poor men suddenly rich.
As each successive general election the numbers of socialist deputies to the imperial parliaments increased ; and in 1877 it was calculated that, although only twelve members of the party were returned, about a tenth of the entire body of voters were socialists. Some alarm was excited by these facts, but no son thought of putting down the movement by force until one day in May 1878 a shot was fired at the aged emperor in Berlin, as he drove along the Unterden Linden with his daughter, the grand-duchess of boasted of his socialist opinions and aims. A were of anger swept over the nation ; and the reactionary party, fancying it had on opportunity of laying a rough hand on far more than socialism, succeeded in inducing the imperial Government to draw up without delay a severe measure, directed nominally against the socialists, but in reality against all politicians obnoxious to the conservatives. The bill was hurried through the federal council and submitted to the diet. By that time the majority of the liberals had recovered their self-control ; and with the aid of the centre party they threw out the proposed scheme by an immense majority. Parliament was prorogued, and it was uncertain whether there would be any further attempt at repression.
Suddenly the announcement came that he emperor had again been shot at, and that this time he had been wounded. For some days Germany was convulsed with rage and horror, and on all sides the cry was raised that now at last socialism must be sternly dealt with. Taking courage, the Government dissolved parliament, and pressure of every kind was put upon the electors to secure a thoroughly reactionary diet. The country, however, reflected that although it was necessary to protect society, it might not be necessary to sacrifice the liberties which it had with so much difficulty conquered. Accordingly, when the new parliament assembled in August 1878, it was found that the liberals had not sustained very serious losses. The progressists bitterly opposed the measure the introduced by the Government ; but by some means Prince Bismarck managed, as he had often done before, to overcome the objections of the national liberals. By their support a law was passed which gave the police of the empire, for two years and a half, enormous special powers. These powers were at once rigidly enforced ; and socialism appeared to vanish from the land. Whether, however, it may not spring up in some great national crisis, all the stronger for the sufferings of its adherents, is a point that can be determined only when some great national crisis occurs.
The socialists and the ultramontanes, without having anything else in common, have joined in opposition to measures for promoting the national unity. They have been aided by the Polish deputies, by the members for Alsace and Lorraine, and by the so-called particularists, conservative politicians ardently attached to the ancient customs and rights of the individual states. Notwithstanding this formidable band of allies, considerable progress has been made in the task of transforming a loose confederation of countries into a true nation. Between 1872 and 1875 utter anarchy in important department of life was brought to an end by laws relating to imperial coinage, imperial paper money, and the system of banking. And in 1877 thorough investigation resulted in the appointment of a supreme imperial tribunal (Reichsgericht). It was proposed that this tribunal should sit in Berlin ; but many liberals having no desire that the city should assume in Germany the place which belongs in France to Paris, a large majority decided for Leipsic. This was taken as a hint that, while Germany wishes to be united, she will not voluntarily see herself transformed into a magnified Prussia.
In spite of their military strength, their victories and the establishment of their empire, the Germans are not, politically, a contented people ; and the reason is that they have outgrown their institutions. While a statesman of extraordinary genius and authority stands in the way, a progressive system may be impossible ; but the more intelligent classes have never lost the desire to add to the hardly-earned national unity the crowning triumph of unfettered representative government.
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