« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
his Parliament had reached a climax, Westernal political situation. The phase in left the Prince-Regent of Prussia deter- which Prussia found herself was one insepa mined on bringing about a radical reform rable from all Parliamentary systems reof his army, and concentrating his entire cently introduced, and where sufficient time activity on this object and that of the re- has not elapsed to reconcile and harmonize form of the Federal army. The death of the old absolutist traditions with the new his brother and his own accession to the popular franchises. A school of Parlia throne had not tended to diminish his con- mentary orators and debaters had started viction that the army and all that affected it up into precocious life, but as yet there had was wholly within the province of his pre- been neither time nor opportunity to form rogative, and wholly outside the sphere of a school of Parliamentary statesmen. The the Constitution. The Liberal majority of Crown had no choice but to surround itself the Lower Chamber, on the other hand, with professional Ministers, who, even when backed up by the country, were determined they professed Liberal opinions, were not to assert the constitutional right of voting of Parliamentary growth-were not flesh the blood-tax, as well as the money taxes of its flesh, or bone of its bone. Throughimposed on the people. They, no less than out the conflict it was clear that the Parliathe King, desired a reform of the army, and mentary ability, and even the legislative insisted upon a large increase of the mili- capacity, resided in the Liberal majority; tary power of Prussia by the bona fide en- but it was equally clear that that majority, forcement of the tax of universal service ; had it succeeded in carrying its point, could but in return they claimed a curtailment of not have accepted the logical consequence the term of service.
of its victory by installing a Ministry of its It may safely be asserted that there were own in power. Consequently, throughout no insuperable difficulties in the way of a the entire contest there runs a thread of compromise between the views of the King unreality. We feel that in the ablest and those of the Chamber. The real con- speeches and in the most consistent votes test was whether such organic changes could the inajority are not acting with the Damobe made in virtue of the prerogative, or cles-sword of responsibility over their whether the Parliament had come to years heads, and that the regulating force of Parof discretion, and acquired in practice as liamentary life-the having on the morrow well as in theory the right to legislate on to give practical effect to the vote of yestersuch matters. It was a contest for power. day--is wanting. We are involuntarily That from the constitutional point of view reminded of the Chorus in the Greek play. the Chamber was in the right and the There is much excellent talking, and a clear Crown in the wrong, no one who recollects insight into the situation, but a barrier, not the incidents of the conflict will deny. Cer- the less impassable that it is invisible, abtain fundamental constitutional principles solutely precludes the grave and venerable were at stake, which were asserted and de- citizens in front of the stage from joining in fended with an ability, a determination, and the action of the piece. a perseverance plainly denoting how the We are not minded here to make a postLiberal party in Prussia had ripened in mortem examination of the Auerswald MiParliamentary training, and how sound it nistry, or to consider the immediate causes was in constitutional doctrine,
which led to its fall. It was a well-meanNevertheless, viewing the conflict in its ing, but a weak Government, at a time connection with the external position which when a strong Government was a question Prussia occupied at the tme, and the work of vital importance to the existence of the which the Würzburg Coalition had cut out Prussian State-and it fell; and this is a for her, it may be doubted whether, as a sufficient epitaph. question of political opportunity, the Cham- There were two real forces alive in Prusber was wise in pushing the constitutional sia,--the party of Progress, who had now doctrine to its logical consequences. The got the monopoly of the Lower House, and safety of Prussia as a State was at stake, the Conservative, or, as it is more correctly and imperatively demanded that she should called, the Feudal party, who had got the be at one with herself; and, above all, monopoly of the Upper House. pointed to the absolute necessity of a strong
The former was strong, as representing Government. But the necessary conse- the people and the future; the latter as quence of the conflict was to shake the po identified with the Crown, and representing litical fabric of Prussia to its foundation. the traditions of the past. We do not, however, lay the blame of the The former designated itself the German conflict so much to the account of the Li- party of Progress, to express its solidarity beral party as to the vis major of the in- with the National party, and to proclaim
the German mission of Prussia as the first | boldly proclaimed himself the Minister of article of its faith. The latter never missed the King, in the literal and unconstitutional an opportunity of letting the world know sense of the term, i, e., the executive officer that their patriotism was a purely Prussian of the irresponsible element in the Consti
. patriotism, and that beyond the line of tution, and made no attempt to reconcile black and white posts which mark the Prus- the two lines of policy which he simultasian frontier they know of no Fatherland. neously took up. At home he brought the They were, to borrow the barbaric term by whole power of the Conservative party to which in Germany the party corresponding bear against the National and Liberal parin America to the States' Rights party is ty. In taking up his position against the designated, the “Particularists" of Prus- Würzburg Coalition, he spoke and wrote as sia.
if he had the whole of the National party at The programme of the former was in the his back. highest degree positive. As regards inter- It is no part of our intention to criticise nal politics, they wished to make Prussia a M. de Bismarck's public life, or to discuss model constitutional and liberal State, and the question of the political morality or thus tò effect the moral conquest of public immorality of the means by which he obopinion in Germany. As regards the ex- tained the results which so much astonished ternal, or, more correctly speaking, the Europe. A part, however, from his tactics German policy of Prussia, they inscribed on the political field, we are inclined to seek the Constitution of 1849 on their banner, the cause of his success mainly in his harand aimed at seeing the King of Prussia ing from the first more correctly estimated exchange the crown of Königsberg for that than any of his contemporaries what he of Emperor of the Germans.
might term the specific gravity of PrussianThe programme of the latter was essen- ism amidst the various forces at work in the tially negative. As regards internal mat-German Cosmos. From the death of Fredeters, their object was to resist all progress rick the Great, the policy of Prussia had in a consitutional direction, and to destroy been singularly deficient in that self-confias much as possible of the Stein and Har- dence which had in so remarkable a degree denberg foundations of the Prussian State, characterized that monarch's reign. Tentawith a view to recovering the feudal privi- tive, vacillating, and not clearly conscious leges of a past period. Ås regards foreign of its own ends, it contrasted strangely with politics, the ideal to which they looked back the traditional assurance and outrecuidance was the period of the Holy Alliance, and a inherent in the manner and external forms hearty understanding with Austria and Rus- of Prussian statesmen and diplomatists
, sia with a view to combating the revolu- which have contributed so much to the intionary spirit of the age was the dream ternational unpopularity of Prussia. With which they wished to see realized. Indeed, the accession of the new Minister to office, so strong was the anti-revolutionary feeling, the self-confidence returned, and, as it then that, if we judge the party out of the co- appeared, in an exaggerated form. lumns of its great organ, the Kreuz Zeit- M. de Bismarck was before all things 8 ung, it must appear even to overrule their Prussian minister, serving a Prussian sovespecific Prussian patriotism. At least, dur- reign, and ruling a Prussian people with ing the crisis which ended in the battle of the clear conviction that if he succeeded in Bronzell
, there can be little doubt that the compassing bona fide Prussian ends, in addjoy at the defeat of the national party by ing to the glory and increasing the power the battalions of Austria and Bavaria was of Prussia, he would have with him not only greater than the sense of Prussian humilia- the sovereign whom he served, but the peo, tion.
ple whom he governed. “Particularism” Hence the two legacies bequeathed to was mean and despicable only in so far as M. de Bismarck by his predecessors were it was of Lilliputian proportions ; let it asthe conflict of the Crown with the Lower sume the Brobdignag dimensions of 700; House, i. e., with the Constitutional and 000 bayonets, and it would approve itself National party throughout the country, and to the conscience of the most fastidiously the conflict with the Würzburg Coalition. national mind. And here lay the secret
Had he assumed the post of Premier in lever of his power. The education of his accordance with Parliamentary custom, i.e., own party was comparatively an easy task. as the nominee of his party, he would have | A few high-handed and arbitrary found his action hopelessly crippled by the against the Parliament sufficed to secure the Particularist sympathies of the party he allegiance of the feudalists, and to make represented for the Particularist heroes of them abandon, one after the other, every the Würzburg Coalition. As it was, he distinctive tenet of a creed hitherto adhered
to with the apparent fervour of religious brought about in opposition to the will of
Berlin, he put the case with a plainness and
standing that for many years Austria had On the 14th of December the committee never had an anxious thought in regard to delivered its report.
The majority recom- her external relations, and that Prussia had mended the convocation of the Assembly; been able to call such institutions into life the minority, consisting of Prussia and as the Zollverein. Since the reconstruction Baden, voted against it.
of the Diet in 1851, this policy had been The dilatory forms in use at Frankfort departed from, and Austria had placed herrequired that some weeks should elapse self at the head of all the influences hostile before the Dịet itself pronounced its ver- to Prussia in Germany. The climax of this dict upon the committee's report, but the policy was reached when she identified her. Coalition now felt assured that they would self with a Coalition the avowed purpose of obtain a majority, and that by this simple which was to "majorize”. Prussia at the expedient the reconstruction of Germany according to their
* By a shallow device the Coalition had sought to could be programme
circumvent this provision of the Constitution by pro
posing merely to summon the delegates ad hoc, and * The 20th of September, 1862, was the day on
for the discussion of a certain limited number of which the Bismarck Cabinet took office.
laws, and therefore not as a permanent institution.
Diet, and to bring about an organic change maintain the communication between her in the constitution of Germany, in direct Eastern and Western Provinces, to occupy opposition to the wishes and interests of Hesse-Cassel and Hanover. Prussia. If Austria persisted in this policy, The language of M. de Bismarck could she must be prepared to take the conse- not be plainer. An eventual alliance of quences. Prussia, thwarted in Germany by Prussia with Italy, if the Imperial Cabinet her, would become the natural ally of any did not withdraw from the Coalition, was non-German Power hostile to her, The the prospect held out to Austria. Immeyear 1859 should serve as a warning. The diate war with the Middle States, if they estrangement brought about between the persisted in their Frankfort policy, was the two Governments by Austria's German prospect held out to the latter. policy during the preceding eight years had The warning was lost on Austria, who made itself telt to her detriment. There voted for the project, but the threat prowas not that hearty coöperation and good duced its effect on the rest of Germany, and will such as between intimate allies would in February Prussia found herself in a have precluded all idea of misunderstand majority at Frankfort. ing. That Prussia had, nevertheless, not The plans of the Confederates to force the availed herself of the opportunity to ad- hand of Prussia by means of Federal mavance her own interests, but had armed chinery had broken down; they resolved to with a view to assist Austria, was owing to play out their trump card, the mise en the lingering traditions of the former good scène of the Congress of Sovereigns. The understanding. Were similar circumstances Prussian Government had been obstinate
, to occur again, however, Austria's German and had refused to give way. The Prussian policy remaining the same, the alliance of Sovereign in person should be challenged. Prussia with the enemies of Austria was a On the 2d of August, 1863, the Emperor contingency that should not be lost sight of. of Austria had an interview with the King
to the results of a hostile vote at of Prussia, then at Gasteiu, and left with Frankfort, M. de Bismarck's explanations him a memorandum on the German queswere yet more explicit. Prussia, he said, tion. It was a strange document, when we would regard the acceptation by a majority consider out of whose hands the King of of the Diet of the proposal to convoke an Prussia received it. The entire fabric of Assembly of Delegates as an illegal pro- 1815 was condemned as utterly rotten and ceeding, and therefore as a formal breach of worthless. Germany was described as in a the contract by which the States of the Con- state of chaos, the several members of the federation were bound to each other, and Confederation as practically no longer would at once withdraw her Minister from united by any common ties, but as merely Frankfort, and cease to consider herself as living on beside each other, awaiting the a member of the Confederation. The im- moment when some tremendous revolution mediate consequenceof this step, M. de should bring down the tottering walls about Bismarck observed, would be that the Prus- their heads. Under these circumstances sian garrisons in Mayence, and other Fede Austria had resolved boldly to take the ral fortresses, would no longer be Federal initiative into her own hands, and to protroops under Federal orders, but remain pose a searching plan of reform. where they were in the capacity of soldiers The
evening an aide-de-camp of His Majesty the King of Prussia. brought an invitation to the King to attend
Such was the burden of this eventful con- a Congress of the Sovereigns of Germany, versation, as recorded by the Prussian to meet at Frankfort on the 16th of the Prime Minister in a circular despatch ad- month (i. e., a fortnight from that date), dressed to the Plenipotentiaries of Prussia and to which his Imperial Majesty in perat the Courts of Germany. But a version son would submit his programme of recurrent at the time, and undoubtedly au- form. The King was taken altogether by thentic, added several important particulars, surprise, as profound secrecy had been obamongst others that the Prussian Premier served in regard to the preparations for this had very plainly told the Austrian Minister last coup. He replied by an antograph that Austria was an Eastern, and not a letter to the Emperor, in which he expressWestern Power, that her capital was Pesth, ed his readiness to take into consideration not Vienna, and that the sooner she seceded any scheme that might be submitted to him from Germany the better for herself and by his Imperial Majesty for a reform of Germany. Also, that in the event of Prus- Germany, but in which he declined to atsia being forced by an adverse vote at tend a Congress of Sovereigns before he Frankfort to quit the Confederation, it had been made acquainted with the meas, would be necessary for her, in order to lures proposed to be discussed, and had
submitted them to that mature examination superadded the positive attributes of a body
and independent part in the affairs of Eu-
organs which are to replace the Fedethe remaining Sovereigns of the Confedera- ral Diet are four in number:-1. A Dition had been despatched the day before the rectory; 2. A Federal Council ; 3. An invitation was delivered to the King, and on Assembly of Delegates ; 4. An Assembly the 16th of August the Parliament of Sove- of Sovereigns. reigns assembled in the old imperial city on The Directory was to consist of five the banks of the Main.
Powers — Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, and For the purposes of a Parliamentary de- two more, to be elected respectively by the bate to be carried on by some thirty crown- States whose contingents make up
the eighth ed heads in their own august persons, the and ninth Federal army Corps. Austria is Austrian programme, now for the first time to preside. made public, was sufficiently complicated. The Federal Council was to consist of the Even at the present day it is not easy to diplomatic Plenipotentiaries of the States thread one's way through its complex pro- of the Union, voting as they did in the visions, or to get an altogether clear idea of “Restricted Council ” of the old Diet; only the political
cosmos ” which it proposed that Austria and Prussia are in the new to substitute for the existing“ chaos." We Council to have each three votes, so that inshall be materially assisted, however, in our stead of the seventeen votes, the total numendeavours to do so, if we bear in mind ber would be raised to twenty-one. that, dating from the year 1859, the moving * The Assembly of Delegates was to conspring of Austria's activity in the work of sist of 302 members, supplied in equal proFederal reform had been the recollection of portions by the Upper and Lower Chamher position during the Italian war. Had bers of the local Parliaments; Austria to the question of Germany's immediate par- send 75; Prussia, 75; the remaining States, ticipation in the war with France been one 152. which could have been decided by a vote of The Assembly of Sovereigns was to conthe Sovereigns of the Confederation, a large sist of the Sovereigns and the Plenipotenmajority would have decided that Lombardy tiaries of the Free Towns of the Confedera was to be defended on the Rhine. A Ger- tion. man National Assembly, elected on the Now, in which of these bodies were the basis of population, with the preponderance sovereign attributes of Germany as an inin such an assembly which Prussia's fifteen dependent national unit to reside ? millions of Germans gave her, would prob
The Assembly of Sovereigns inay at once ably have led to a different result.
be dismissed from consideration. Except The objects of the new Confederation as for the harmony of the thing, and to convey compared with those of the old are clearly something of the impression of a very auexpressed in the first paragraph of the gust House of Peers, the functions of this project. The Act of Vienna almost went Assembly were a sinecure. out of its way to insist upon the essentially The functions of the Assembly of Deledefensive character of the association. In a gates were strictly legislative, and all politiline and a half the object of the Union cal activity was carefully excluded from its was described to be the external and inter-competency. It was to meet once in three nal security of Germany. As described in years at Frankfort, and to occupy itself the corresponding paragraph of the Imperial with the framing of laws on such subjects draft, the objects proposed are manifold and as the scheme specified to be of common complicated, but the first sentence is conclu- Federal interest. sive. It is no longer the security merely It therefore not in this body that the of Germany that is confided to the care of political Germany of the future was to be the new Confederation, but her position as found. a political Power (Machtstellung), i.e., to If, on the other hand, we examine the the negative function of defence are to be istitution of the Federal Directory and of