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Prussia did not enhance her military renown by the part which fell to her in the great revolutionary wars. At Jena and Auerstadt her armies were so utterly broken that for seven years she held no higher place than that of a subjugated and tributary country. In the campaign of 1814 she fought stoutly, but without important success. At Ligny her army yielded the honours of the field to an inferior force of Frenchmen; and at Waterloo she performed merely the useful but not glorious task of pursuing an already beaten enemy.

But although she gained few laurels, she was a member of a victorious association of powers, and she reaped the rewards of victory. Napoleon had stripped her of nearly one-half of her territory and population. All this was now restored, and the liberality of the Congress of Vienna added to it Swedish Pomerania, the Phinelands, and a portion of Saxony, whose king had been so injudicious as to maintain his loyalty to Napoleon after wiser potentates perceived that the time had come to abandon a falling cause. Prussia was again a great power, with a territory of over one hundred thousand square miles, and a population of ten million.

Even amid the humiliations and agonies of the war, the German people solaced their minds with the hope of constitutional government. Their wishes even then were not restricted to deliverance from French tyranny. They already in their hearts rejected a management of their national affairs in which they themselves had no voice. So well was this perceived that their princes stimulated them to efforts against the common foe by promises of reform. During the Hundred Days the King of Prussia explicitly promised "representation of the people." A few days later the same pledge was given by the German diet. Even when there was no actual promise, it was the general expectation of the people, tacitly sanctioned by their princes, that peace was to usher in the era of representative institutions (Thirty years after, it was asserted at a sitting of the three estates of Prussia that the country had risen in 1813 for the sole purpose of gaining a constitution. Bismarck denied this statement, and asserted that the uprising had no other motive than to rid the land of foreign tyranny. The house contradicted him by violent and prolonged marks of disapprobation. There is no room to doubt that the combination of the two statements yields the true explanation of the great movement of 1813).

It was not easy to devise convenient political arrangements for Germany. The old system - the combination of states under an emperor who was held to represent the Ceesars - had been dashed to pieces by Napoleon, and in its place had partially come the Confederacy of the Rhine. But that association had fallen with its author, and Germany was now an incohering multitude of independent and for the most part of petty states. The Congress of Vienna undertook the correction of a disorder so threatening to the general weal. Thirty-seven German states were united in one great confederation, under the presidency of Austria, This alliance embraced thirty million people, and had at its call three hundred thousand armed men. The states which composed it sent representatives to a diet which met at Frankfurt. The leading objects which occupied the diet were the internal peace of Germany and its defence against foreign attack; but an assembly of sovereign powers was necessarily at liberty to widen indefinitely the range of interests which it was pleased to regulate. When the war closed, the German people looked that their princes should redeem the pledges given in the hour of need. The wish for constitutional government was widely spread, not merely among the artisans, but also among the educated and influential middle class. In some of the smaller states - as Hanover and Wurtemberg - the people compelled the fulfilment of their desires. But in Prussia the government was too strong to be concussed, and it manifested from the beginning an indisposition to concede the popular demands. The liberal newspapers were suppressed when any pretext for severity could be found. When certain petitioners once ventured to remind the king of the promises he had made, they were angrily informed by one of his ministers that "those who admonish the king are guilty of doubting the inviolability of his word." Moved by the same impulse, the diet adopted certain measures which were intended to make it impossible for the small states to grant constitutions, and which, for a time, most fully served that purpose.

The revolutionary movements which agitated Spain and Naples awakened grave anxieties among the German princes. The Prussian government announced that there existed "a fermentation of ideas fitted to cause most serious alarm;" that there were numerous secret societies; that there prevailed among the people "a sentiment of hatred for kings and governments, and an enthusiasm for the phantom which they call liberty." To meet these alarming symptoms the diet adopted such measures of repression as were deemed adequate. The press was strictly bound. No word might now be printed in which the sharp eye of the censor discovered any sympathy with the threatening liberalism of the time. The more active reformers were silenced or driven away. Meetings in which the people presumed to criticise the acts of their rulers were prohibited. An enforced and reluctant silence prevailed. Prince Metternich was able to announce from Vienna that "the agitation has sensibly diminished."

To the severe conservatism of the German diet the proximity of France was eminently disquieting. Every throb of the great revolutionary heart went pulsing through the mass of German liberalism, threatening the overthrow of the order which was maintained so laboriously. But the idea of making the people contented by granting their reasonable demands was yet many years in the future. When the French overthrew the throne of the Bourbons, the agitation over whose subsidence Prince Metternich had rejoiced swelled out to alarming dimensions. But there was no hope for revolution in presence of a union of governments which commanded three hundred thousand available bayonets. The diet, with unshaken authority, betook itself to measures more sternly repressive than before. Political associations were interdicted; political speeches at meetings duly authorized were visited with heavy penalties; the states bound themselves to give up political offenders and to maintain a vigorous watchfulness over their subjects; the introduction of newspapers or pamphlets printed abroad in the German language was forbidden; workmen were no longer allowed to pass from states in which there were trades-unions into states as yet free from the taint of those objectionable organizations. The people petitioned for some relaxation of their bonds; but the diet had now assumed powers more absolute than ever in regard to such requests, and the people prayed in vain. A few riots which were intended to emphasize the popular demand were easily quelled. The German people cherished in silence desires which were steadily consolidating into a fixed and unalterable resolution.

A habitual submissiveness, while it did not prevent the growth of such desires in Prussia, made their progress slow, and enabled the nation to suffer their frustration patiently. Every man had been for three years a soldier, and carried with him into civil life the soldier's habit of obedience. Nearly every man could read, but the faculty was not generally exercised. The people had no newspapers, and few books. They were without the educational agencies which develop the mental powers of a free people. They had no acquaintance with the proceedings of their government; they had no part in any description of public business. They were held in a condition of pupilage. Everything was compulsory. There was no free exercise of mind. Government undertook everything, and expected from the people the unreasoning obedience of children ("The power of the government presses upon the partially developed faculties of the youth as with a mountain's weight. When the children come out from the school they have little use either for the faculties that have been developed or for the knowledge that has been acquired." - Horace Mann, 1843). Government interference and popular submission extended fully even into the province of religion, - a domain in which intrusive rulers have ordinarily encountered the obstinate resistance of their subjects. Protestantism in Prussia was divided into Lutheranism and Calvinism. The Lutherans held a modification - now scarcely intelligible - of the doctrine of the real presence, which the Calvinists rejected. The Calvinists believed in predestination, which the Lutherans abhorred. Divergences vastly less important than these have generally been deemed sufficient to keep Protestant churches apart. But the King of Prussia intimated to his people that the separation was maintained altogether about outward things, and ought to cease. He compelled the union of two specimen congregations, and himself partook of communion in the united church, expressing emphatically the hope that his example would be followed. It was followed. A majority of the churches submitted to union, not because they themselves wished it, but because the king wished it (Predestination was left an open question. In the celebration of the Lord's Supper the officiating minister was directed to indicate no opinion on the question of real or symbolical presence, but simply to relate the historical fact that Christ said, " This is my body," &c). A multitude of educated Prussians accepted from the royal hand what was to them virtually a new religion with no greater apparent hesitation than if the matter had been one of mere police or customhouse regulation.

The confederation of 1815 looked only to political interests, and had no regard to the commercial welfare of its members. Each state was left to impose and levy its own duties. The result was a series of barbaric arrangements, according to which goods required to pass through twenty-seven custom-houses upon the Rhine alone. The removal of these vexatious hindrances to commercial intercourse must largely promote the interests of German trade, and crown with public favour the state under whose auspices a reform so valuable was established. The rivalry between Prussia and Austria, which closed forty years later by the defeat of Austria at Sadowa, already powerfully influenced both. Prussia saw her opportunity. She organized a commercial league of all the German powers with the omission of Austria. The internal trade of the allied states was now freed from restriction. Foreign goods were subjected to a uniform scale of duty; the amount collected was divided among the several states in proportion to their population, as ascertained by a triennial census. Every state, great or small, had an equal voice in the council of the league. The duties imposed were intended to protect domestic manufactures, especially against English goods, and in avowed retaliation for the English corn law of 1815. Under the fostering influences of this league the commerce of Germany made progress so rapid that in ten years the receipts of the custom-house had doubled.

Among the liberals of Germany there grew up slowly during many years a desire for a closer union than the loosely-knit confederation supplied (This desire, which, was all the time acquiring increased strength, burst out with redoubled vigour when circumstances drew special attention to the evils of disunion. This was notably the case when the Franco-Italian war broke out in 1859. Germany smitten as England has so often been, with sudden fear of France, became vehement in her demand for union). There were forty million Germans, occupying fertile territories in the centre of Europe. Effectively united, this population would form one of the most powerful of European states. But their influence was neutralized by their separation into a multitude of petty states, and by the jealousies which resulted from an arrangement so unhappy. Nor was it found that voluntary alliance in a confederation sufficed to cancel the manifold evils of division. The people saw with ever-growing impatience that the power of Germany was frittered away by a foolish political system, and the cry for unity waxed ever louder.

The great factors in recent German history gained increasing prominence as the years passed. Steadily growing among a population of average intelligence and of notable steadfastness of purpose, there was a desire for national unity and also a desire for government according to a constitution, and no longer according to the pleasure of a few individuals. There was further a rivalry between Austria and Prussia for pre-eminence in Germany. These causes, more powerfully than all others, have contributed to mould the political system of Germany into its present form.

In Prussia the antagonism between the opinions of king and of people was so complete as to give assurance of a stubborn conflict. The people had persuaded themselves that, like their neighbours of France and of England, they possessed of right a voice in the management of their own public affairs. The king, on his part, claimed to have received from Heaven an exclusive control over these affairs. Bismarck, afterwards chancellor of the German empire, defines with much clearness, in one of his early speeches, the royal position. "The Prussian sovereigns," he sets forth, "are in possession of a crown, not by grace of the people, but by God's grace; an actually unconditional crown, some of the rights of which they have voluntarily conceded to the people - an example rare in history." The adjustment of a divergence of opinion so grave might well be attended with difficulty.

The smaller despotisms of Germany, smitten with fear by the tidings of the revolution in Paris, yielded instantly to the demands of their people. The kings of Saxony and "Wurtemberg hastened to grant constitutions. The King of Bavaria was troubled at this inopportune moment by an insurrection, whose object it was to expel from his palace the fascinating but unworthy Lola Montes. Encouraged by the news from Paris, the insurgents widened the scope of their movement, and exacted from their reluctant king liberty of the press and parliamentary government. A crowd of less considerable princes entered with equal haste and equal reluctance upon the work of erecting liberal institutions. Even the German diet, lately so irresistible and so arrogant, was fain to bend to the storm, and cancel some of its more offensively despotic edicts. To the King of Prussia (Frederick William IV., crowned 1840) it seemed, after the first days of alarm had passed, that he might hope to gain advantage by assuming the direction of a movement which he perceived to be irresistible. He hastened to announce numerous liberal measures, and to indicate a purpose of shortly increasing the number. But above all he proposed the union of Germany into one federal state, of which federation it was obvious that his majesty desired to become the head.

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