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Effects of the French Revolution - Europe page 5


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The Frankfort Parliament had spent a year doing nothing but talking. They came, however, to the important resolution of offering the imperial crown of Germany to the King of Prussia. As soon as the Prussian Assembly heard this, they adopted an address to the King, earnestly recommending him to accept the proffered dignity. They were deeply interested by seeing the house of Hohenzollern called to the direction, of Fatherland, and they hoped he would take into his strong hands the guidance of the destinies of the German nation. On the 3rd of April, 1849, the King received the Frankfort deputation commissioned to present to him the imperial crown. He declined the honour unless the several Governments of the German states should approve of the new imperial constitution, and concur in the choice of the Assembly. As soon as this reply was made known, the second Prussian Chamber adopted a motion of "urgency," and prepared an address to the King, entreating him to accept the glorious mission of taking into firm hands the guidance of the destiny of regenerated Germany, in order to rescue it from the incalculable dangers that might arise from the conflicting agitations of the time. The address was carried only by a small majority. The King had good reason for refusing the imperial diadem; first, because Austria, Wiirtemburg, Bavaria, and Hanover decidedly objected; and, secondly, because the King required changes in the Frankfort constitution which the Parliament refused to make. These facts enabled His Majesty to discover that the imperial supremacy was an "unreal dignity, and the constitution only a means gradually, and under legal pretences, to set aside authority, and to introduce the republic."

The Prussian Cabinet, therefore, recommended that the Frankfort constitution should not be accepted by Prussia. On this point, however, the Government were defeated in the Chamber, which accepted the Frankfort constitution by a considerable majority. The Chamber further showed its independence by declaring the state of siege at Berlin illegal, and calling upon the Government to put an end to it. Immediately upon this, the King, without a word of explanation, declared the second Chamber dissolved, and the Upper Chamber adjourned. The members were astounded. They could scarcely trust their ears till the decree was read a second time. In the evening the Gazette contained an explanation to the effect that the second Chamber had gone beyond its province in condemning the state of siege which the Government considered indispensable for the preservation of order. The abrupt dissolution caused tremendous excitement in Berlin. The people turned out in large numbers; collisions with the military took place, and seven persons were killed. At length, in July, the state of siege was terminated at Berlin. The new elections went in favour of the Government, and the Prussian Parliament met again on the 7th of August. On the 20th of December, the same year, apparently sick of the empty dignity, and of the Assembly of which he was the organ, the Archduke John resigned his office as Regent, and the plenipotentiaries of Austria and Prussia resumed their old places. 4'Thus ended the year 1849. Thus ended the grand scheme for the regeneration of Germany. The flame slowly flickered in the socket, and burned so low, that at last no one quite knew when it went out.

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Prince Metternich
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