To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."
Munich, August 3, 1864. Sirt,—I certainly would advise any Englishman who may still be curious enough about Germans and their doings to retain some wish to inquire into what is likely to happen to them, to go and spend a few weeks in the towns of the smaller and especially Southern principalities, for in that region is to be found the element of pliability or stubbornness of uhich the future of Germany will really depend. No place will afford a more favourable position for observation than Munich. Bavaria, from her dimensions, her history, and the character of her people, is the natural stronghold of what may be called the simple German feeling fur a Fatherland, irrespective of all national aspirations directly identified with a reconstitution of that Fatherland through a process of fusion either into Prussia or Austria. All the other secondary States, Saxony, Wurtemberg, &c., are bodies too much without any inherent strength of fooliug or tradition to be thought capable of successfully defying any attraction or pressure from either of the two great German power=, whenever these might be in a position to exercise them. But Bavaria is a firm, compact, stolid lump of very definitely local prejudice and pride, intensified by an infusion of religious bigotry which makes her in a very efficient degree an awkward stumbling-block in the path of German unification. Hence the power and influence of Bavaria. Whenever from either Austria or Prussia some mea- sure is threatened which menaces to wound the autonomies of the lessei Sovereigns, these immediately fly to shelter themselves in concert behind the stout frame of Bavaria like chickens flocking from danger under the old hen's wing. Practically Bavaria finds herself invested in the hour of crises with the hege- mony of all those German friends who know that, whenever a change does come it cannot possibly avoid involving the extinction of several amongst their number. That this con- cert remains unimpaired after the immediate danger has been warded off I do not mean to advance. German princes are far too touchy in their pretensions not to be horribly jealous of every neighbour. The capital fact is that whenever those moments of critical situation arrive which make the most affected become natural for a time, then Bavaria, in virtue of her position and lur superior power, has always by common con- sent been looked to as the real champion of all those German sovereigns who put the preservation of their autonomy before every other consideration, and that the sense of these favourable circumstances was not lost upon the two decidedly able men who have been the last two Kings of Bavaria. It was especially the Object of the late _King Maximilian to secure by happy combina- tion and rssoiute action that the direction of German. affairs should be plucked from out of the single-handed grasp of Austria or Prussia, and fall within the province of the Federal Diet, in which he himself, as protector of the smaller Princes, would thus practically enjoy the leading influence. In this sense it was that King Maximilian embraced the Schleswig4folstein question, and actively attempted to cause its settlement to be taken in hand by Federal troops. It was a bold game which he aimed at playing, and it is the opinion of many persons worthy of being listened to with respect, that his strangely sudden death was mainly due to the intense agitation of his mind when he saw the high-handed action of the two great German powers, and the destruction of his projects through the weakness of his allies the small sovereigns in the critical moment. It is indubitable that the King of Bavaria's death at that conjecture utterly disarranged all effective concert on the part of the German Princes for securing to them- selves a share in the direction of the war, and threw everything for a season into the hands of Prussia and Austria alone. The position of affairs was such at that moment that a man with the late King's abilities and experience would have been tasked to the utmost not to be overtaken by utter failure. It is not astonishing therefore that his successor, a raw youth of eighteen, and surrounded by most middling capacities, should have been quite un dile to chalk out a dignified and effective policy in so difficult a season.
But now matters have reached a pitch when of itself an agi- tation is again afloat which instinctively knocks at the threshold of the Bavarian Cabinet, and obliges it, however unwillingly, to shoes some signs of a resolution. The immediate cause, —like many immediate causes probably a very secondary one,—for this agi:ation is the occupation of Reudsburg by the Prussians and the removal fro:n the citadel of the Federal garrison. This oc- currence coming at the moment whoa the war it practically over, and just as its results are being taken stock of at Vienna in a Conference to which no Federal Commissioner has been ad- mitted, as he was in London, has fired the truly national party in Germany—that party which is decidedly averso to the croa- lion of an United Germany by an over-increasing expansion of Prussia—with the vehement suspicion that it is intended, on the pelt of M. de Bismark at least, to turn the war into one of spcci
fically Prussian acquisition, and that in this arrogant proceed- ing at Rendsburg we have the first in-.talment of his resolutions to trample under foot all those German pretensions and claims which have been pht forward so very prominently in reply to remonstrances from foreign Powers. I am not prepared to say bow far this suspicion is founded. The last declarations of the Prussian Government decidedly indicate a disposition to conciliate ill-will by an explanation which has for object to take the sting out of the act which has given offence. But what no one can shut his eyes to is the fact that whereas during the campaign, while Prussian troops were apparently fighting for what is held all through Germany to be the vindiention of German nationality,Prussia and even M.do Bismark had come to be looked upon approvingly, now, on the contrary, a keen sense of olefin hes been publicly and popularly displayed in southern Ger- many against the supposed treachery of the Prussian Govern- ment, both by the press and in culaic meetings of great respecta- bility. One of these I had occasion-to attend here. It' was convoked in the open air by a written summons signed by per- sons of the best standing, and was attended by several thousands. As an instance of the degree to which the national feeling is excited on this Schleswig-Holstein question, I may mention that amongst the conveners of and speakers at the meeting was a well- known Munich professor, who has always been hi politics an Ultramontane Conservative. No meeting could have been con- ducted with greater decorum. Time point of importance, however; seems to me that this meeting, and it is one of many in the same sense, passed resolutions calling upon the Government to act with energy and determination to confront any ambitious projects contrary to the rights of the people of Schleswig-Holstein. Now the question is what will be the practical, result of this popular excitement. Will the Bavarian Government continue the same pas- sive attitude into which it has subsided since the accession of the young King. or is the moment really at hand, as some persons are disposed to think, when matters mast come to an armed collision between Prussia in pursuit of arrogant aggrandizement and German feeling led directly by Bavaria and allied with Austria? For my own part I myself cannot adopt the conviction that things are likely to come now to this virulent head. German transformation is of a slow and involved progress full of impend- ing co:nplieations that ward off crashing issues. But with all allowance the situation is a grave one, for Bavaria is a power that has traditions in Germany such as no Government can forsake with impunity, and a weight of authority which it is as
impossible to waive without abdication. - .
Under these circumstances it' is intelligible that there should be great dissatisfaction with the advisers of the Crown, who are charged with having through incapacity been the chief means of enabling M. de Bismark to assume his present overbearing attitude. But the Schleswig-Holstein question is not the only one on which the Ministers are accused of grievous shortcomings. It will be remembered that Prussia concluded a commercial treaty with France, which she then submitted for their adhesion to the States of the Zollverein, setting them the 1st October, 1864, as the term for such adhesion, with full participation in its benefits: Any adhesion after that date is to be matter of special negotiation. At present only Hesse Darmstadt, Wurtemberg, and Bavaria stilt stand aloof, although of the two former it may be assumed that before the 1st October they will hare joined the Prussian treaty: But the Bavarian Miuistry appear utterly incapable of coming to any distinct resolution. The ground on which the Prussian treaty was received unfavourably was really a political one,— namely, that it left no opening for taking Austria into the Customs Union, and that it therefore tended to promote that Prussian ascendancy which Bavaria particularly dislikes and fears; It appears that in Vienna the advances made by Bavaria for a closer commercial connection were met by very inadequate proposals, so that at this moment Bavaria sees herself with the prospect of exclusion from the Prussian Commercial Union with- out any compensation. It is-very certain that this is an un- tenable position in the long run, and that before long Baittria will have to request at the hands of the Prussian Government re- admission to the Customs League. What chance is there, then, of the Bavarian Government being able to start up and assume the bold initiative which those are 'clamouring for who wish to see Prussia missed ? I confess that I think the chance small. It is too late now to marshal the forces of Germany against Prussia, and at all events this can never be done without the cooperation of Bavaria, while the incompetence of the present Ministers is quite unequal_ to the necessary resolu-
/ tion. Indeed the clamour for their dismissal. is now so great that it is the burden of all conversation. Already rumour is busy with the names of their successors, and Prince Holienlohe Schilling Fiirst is spoken of as premier. Very probably this is premature, but events seem decidedly pointing in that direction. The 'Prince is a man of liberal politics, and decidedly in favour of the Prussian Commercial Treaty, which appears indeed not to be objectionable on financial grounds. The practical result of a change which appears inevitable will be therefore to confirm and strengthen the practical ascendancy of Prussia, and to exhibit anew the substantial weakness of even the stoutest bit of German autonomy to escape experiencing upon itself the effects of its superior weight of attraction and disintegration. Bavaria will be the hardest mouthful to swallow and digest, but I confess myself unable to indulge a belief that it will be able permanently to escape being eaten up, like its other German neighbours, by Prussia, unless indeed that operation will be kindly performed upon at least its old and original provinces by the friendly greed of Austria in the great final scramble for German spoil.