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Germany page 3

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Austria was forced to yield all that her conqueror was pleased to demand. She paid a heavy contribution towards the expenses of the war; she surrendered the duchies which she had helped to seize; she sanctioned the union of Venetia to Italy; above all, she consented to a new organization of Germany, from which she herself should be excluded. Prussia absorbed Hanover, Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfurt, and reigned without a rival in Germany.

These momentous changes were looked upon by the Emperor Napoleon with an evil eye. France was accustomed to regard herself as the arbitress of Europe. The emperor could boast with truth that when France was tranquil Europe was satisfied. But now, at no greater distance than the width of the Rhine, there had arisen a power whose sudden greatness threatened to dim the grandeur of France. The emperor reminded Bismarck of his "friendly inactivity" during the war, and suggested, as an acknowledgement of the same, that Prussia should bestow upon him certain frontier towns which he had long coveted. Bismarck, with much frankness, refused to yield a single foot of German soil, and even allowed it to be said to the French ambassador that, if these demands were insisted on, grave complications might be expected. The emperor, deeply chagrined, retired, with some loss of dignity, from the position which he had too hastily assumed. Henceforth there was reason to fear that the unity of Germany involved war with France. But it was for the interest of Prussia to delay, if she could not avert, that fiery ordeal. The northern states were already in full accord, but the cause of unity was less advanced in the south. It was the aim of Bismarck to avoid a rupture with France until he could reckon upon a union of the whole German people to resist their ancient enemy. Meanwhile Prussia made herself ready for the expected struggle.

King William returned from the war with France emperor of a united and satisfied Germany. The long-deferred vengeance due for centuries of French aggression had been exacted with terrible completeness. The divisions which had enfeebled and wasted the nation were cancelled. Germany, which had been little more than a geographical expression, was raised to the position which her strength and intelligence entitled her to claim. She was supreme in central Europe; and discerning men everywhere recognized in the greatness of this peace-loving and industrious people a new guarantee that the tranquillity of Europe would not in the future be so lightly disturbed as it had been in the past.

For upwards of fifty years Prussia had been patiently and silently preparing for this supreme effort. The cost had been to her incalculably great, not in money alone, but still more in the wasted years of her sons and in the false direction given to the national mind by the prominence necessarily assigned to that lowest form of power - military force. Now the harvest of her great self-denial was reaped. Had her chiefs been wiser, the error of maintaining her preparation for a work which was fully accomplished would have been avoided; a milder and more liberal spirit would have pervaded the administration of the new empire. But the king and Prince Bismarck had grown old - too old to change - in massing the forces of the nation for the purpose of striking down France and vindicating the unity of Germany. The spirit which nerved Prussia to the toilsome and gigantic accumulation of forces needful for the success of her enterprise still animates the men who rule the powerful and peaceful German empire. The despotic energy of the German executive still restrains the wholesome freedom which the constitution ought to secure. This undue prolongation of the dominion of force will probably continue during the lives of the emperor and his chancellor. Not till the men who have contributed so largely to the greatness of Germany have passed away will the nation which they have made enjoy the full advantage of the service they have rendered. The German people have submitted to the abridgement of their liberties in order to gain their unity. Under a new and weaker executive it will be easy to regain the rights which they have temporarily relinquished.

The population of Prussia is now twenty-eight million; that of the other twenty-four states which make up united Germany is eighteen million. The Prussians are governed by two chambers, - one of which is almost wholly nominated by the king, and the other is elected by the people. For electoral purposes the people are divided into three classes, according to the amount of taxation paid by each. Each class has equal influence in the election, and thus the vote of a rich man who is heavily taxed is greatly more powerful than the vote of a poor man whose taxation is light. Indirect election is practised, - the people choosing electors, who appoint the representatives. The members of the lower chamber are paid about one pound sterling per day, acceptance of which is compulsory.

Prussia is, in her religion, Protestant to the extent of nearly two-thirds of her people, and Roman Catholic to the extent of rather more than one-third. Government endows partially both denominations. It appoints the consistories or provincial boards which rule the Protestant Church, and reserves a right of control over the election of the Catholic clergy.

Education is compulsory, and in practice almost universal. Four million eight hundred thousand children, or nearly one in every six of the population, attend the elementary schools. A small fee is charged, - one penny per week in the country, and threepence per week in towns. The balance is contributed by a local tax. The minister of public instruction is at the head of the educational system.

All Prussians are trained to military service. Every young man enters the army at twenty, and serves for three years. For the next nine years he is in the reserve, liable to serve in offensive war. Thereafter, for another eighteen years, till he has attained the age of fifty, he may be called on to serve at home in case of invasion. This system dates from 1814, and has been copied from Prussia by most of the other great powers of Europe. Speaking strictly, the Prussian army has now no separate existence. It forms a portion of the forces of the empire, of which the King of Prussia, as emperor, is the commander-in-chief. In time of peace the German army numbers four hundred and ninety-two thousand, and can be raised in time of war to a million and a half, available for foreign service. So perfect is the organization that this vast force can be made ready for the field in fourteen days. In the war of 1870 with France nearly the whole army was on the PJiine within that time. So well has the empire prepared herself for all untoward possibilities that, out of a population of forty-seven million, she can place three million armed and disciplined men in the field, and still leave a force at home for defensive purposes.

In respect of debt, Prussia is the most happily circumstanced of all civilized countries. Apart from money borrowed for construction of railways, she owes no more than thirty million sterling. Her total revenue, upon which she lives, like a prudent nation, without running further into debt, is only thirty-two million. One-half of this comes from her crown lands, her forests, her railways, mines, iron-works, and other industrial enterprises. The national taxation levied from her people is no more than ten million. In addition to this, the Prussians have something to pay towards the expenses of the empire. The imperial revenue is drawn mainly from customs and excise duties, of which Prussia pays a large share. The revenue is not always equal to the imperial expenditure, and in such cases the deficiency is made up by the several states in proportion to their population. The Prussian contribution is about one million five hundred thousand pounds.

Prussia is rich in minerals, and prosecutes this description of industry so diligently that nearly four hundred thousand persons are employed in her mines, smelting-works, and foundries, which deal with the products of these mines. She raises annually fifty-eight million tons of coal, - about one-third the production of Great Britain. She yields also iron, zinc, lead, arid copper in considerable quantities. One-half of her people depend upon agriculture; and about one in every five has a proprietary interest in the soil. Land is so much subdivided that there are a million of proprietors whose possessions are under three acres each.

For purposes of foreign commerce Prussia is merged in the empire, and keeps no separate accounts. Germany sends to England all manner of agricultural produce, including flax, wool, and timber; glass-ware; toys, to the value of nearly a quarter of a million sterling; sugar; and even spirits. She takes from us coals (although in lessening quantity) and iron; cotton, woollen, linen, and silk cloths; herrings; leather; chemical products. She is one of the few customers who take from us more largely than we take from them. Her imports from Britain are over twenty-three million pounds, and her exports under twenty-two million pounds.

Prussia has fifteen thousand miles of railway, nearly one-third of which are owned or administered by the state. It is probable that, ere long, all Prussian railways will pass into the hands of the government (In four of the youngest American states, - Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, - with a population of three million, there are ten thousand miles of railway, - two-thirds of what Prussia owns).

The German people are indifferent correspondents. They write annually seven hundred million letters; while the British, who are only two-thirds of their number, find occasion, for over eleven hundred million. Their diligence in letter-writing scarcely exceeds that of their neighbours, the French, who, with a population, one-seventh less, write six hundred million letters. The Germans are great readers of newspapers, and the imperial post-office carries annually as many papers as the post-office of Great Britain does. They use the telegraph more freely than the French do, but their messages are in number little more than one-half those of Great Britain.

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