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CHAP. V.

GERMANY, INCLUDING AUSTRIA AND PRUSSIA.

It is one of the anomalies in the political constitution of the German confederacy, that it comprehends several powers, which are wholly independent in regard to the government of the greater part of their dominions, and have subjected only a small portion of them to the laws of the union. It would be worse than simplicity, not to see in this arrangement a mere pretext for the interference of England, Austria, and Prussia, in the affairs of Germany proper.

These states are nominally members of the league, but really masters of it; and the union, considered in distinction from the independent possessions of the principal members, can hardly be said to enjoy a real political existence. It is fortunate, therefore, for the interests of the smaller states, that its general operation is as feeble as it is unjust ; and that it leaves the members, as separate sovereignties, in possession of every thing essential to independence either in form or substance. - The interval that has elapsed since the peace of Paris, has been marked in these states by important and interesting events. It has been the epoch of the introduction of representative government. This important revolution has been effected without bloodshed, or violence, under the influence of an enlightened public opinion, and with the free consent of the sovereigns of these countries; some of whom have distinguished themselves by a truly liberal and magnanimous spirit. Such events are sufficiently curiousto merit particular attention ; and as they had not perhaps, at the time of their occurrence, the immediate notoriety which belongs almost exclusively to military transactions, some notice of them in detail may not be wholly superfluous. This will form the principal subject of the present section. As the history of the confederacy is intimately connected with that of the separate representative governments, it will be necessary to commence by stating some of its principal points. It is only in this part of the subject that I shall have occasion to touch upon the affairs of Austria, which has not been the theatre of any important domestic occur.

Those of Prussia will require particular attention, not only in their connection with the league, but from the interesting nature of the discussions in that kingdom in regard to the new constitution, which has been so long in preparation, and so frequently promised.

At the close of the war, the principal powers of Europe, and most of the inferior ones, fell, by the mere operation of the change of circumstances, into a settled and easy position. But there re

rences.

mained in the centre of this great body politic a mass of territorial and political interests, which, by the effect of repeated revolutions and counterrevolutions, had been thrown at last into a state of complete chaos. The principal of these interests, were those connected in different ways with the German states. To adjust them on the broad principles of natural justice might not have been extremely difficult; but it was necessary to reconcile, and satisfy, as far as possible, individual pre- . tensions of the most various and opposite characters, infinite in number and boundless in extent. There were the great states demanding indemnity and increase of power; and the small ones insisting on security and independence. There were the secularised clergy, and the mediatised nobles, clamouring for a restoration of their exclusive privileges, and confiscated property : emperors obstinately refusing the hereditary right to be elected ; and electors bent upon resuming the right of choice, whether there were any body to be chosen or not. *

There was a confusion of the greatest and the smallest interests, requiring to be settled at the same time, a vast confederacy to be organised, and the balance of power in Europe to be secured; while the antichambers of the congress were be

* The Elector of Hesse actually retained this title, and his successor has, in like manner, assumed it at his father's death.

sieged by the representations of a thousand private concerns, down to those of the very mechanical trades. Besides all these, and though last, it is to be hoped, not considered as absolutely least in importance, was the interest of the people, the public good, which could not be wholly overlooked, though unfortunately it was found impossible to make it the first and principal object of attention. To introduce something like a principle of order into this scene of wild confusion, was the most difficult task that devolved upon the congress ; and the accomplishment of it, even to the imperfect extent to which it has been effected, was assisted very much, if not wholly produced, by accidental events.

The Holy Roman Empire had disappeared; the Emperor had abdicated his dignity; and the confederation of the Rhine, which succeeded, had sunk into nothing. The first question, therefore, in regard to Germany, was to fix upon some general principle of reorganịzation. Shall the states into which it is divided be left unconnected and independent? If not, shall the old empire be re

: stored, or shall a new general system be established ? If the latter, what shall be its principles; and shall it resemble most nearly the constitution of the empire, or that of the Rhenish confederation ? Had these questions been decided on grounds of mere expediency, and regard to the public good, it would probably have appeared very clear, either that the idea of a general system should be entirely abandoned, or that the new government should be much more consolidated than either of the former leagues. A federal system, wbich acts merely upon the sovereign states that compose it, and has no operation upon individuals, has been ascertained by experience to be worse than useless. In proof of this remark, if its correctness were doubtful, might be quoted the examples of the republic of the Netherlands, and of the old confederation of the United States of America :. but that of the German empire was still more striking than either, and was quite sufficient for the decision of the question. The only way therefore in which the new system could have been made really efficient, would have been to establish a consolidated government, acting directly upon individuals, and exercising exclusively the functions of general sovereignty ; while the separate states retained their power merely for municipal purposes, as with us.

The foundation of such a system in the centre of Europe, had it been possible, would have done more than any thing for the security of the public tranquillity. A confederacy of this kind, though strong for all useful objects, is in its nature pacific and unambitious; and could not of itself have caused any alarm ; while it would have interposed the best barrier between the two great sections of the European commonwealth, which, under the present arrangement, will pro

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