THE revolution of March 1848 has wrought extensive and per- manent changes in Germany. The territorial divisions and the political institutions of all the states remain substantially as they were before ; but in each of them the representative system has been more or less modified, and each has had its relations to the rest of the Confederation materially altered. The successes of the Princes and their armies have not reestablished them in their old positions. The German rulers find that the hurricane which has passed over has left them amid the ruins of their former power, to reconstruct the edifice as they best may out of the readiest materials at hand.
Austria is busy devising constitutions for each of the nations
subject to the Imperial sceptre, and a central organization to make the federate kingdoms move harmoniously in one system. The Xing of Prussia and his people are squabbling about the division of power in a new unitarian constitution, not quite completed. The secondary States are either employed in constitution-tinkering, or undergoing a succession of Ministerial crises and Parliamentary dissolutions according as the popular or the princely power gains a momentary advantage. No one political institution is at this moment regarded in Germany as definitively settled ; nothing but interimments are to be met with. The gaerZZeorganization of confederated Germany is the most unsettled of all. The old Diet has disappeared ; and the Vicar of the Empire, and the National Assembly or Frankfort Parliament, have already followed it to the tomb of all the Capulets. In their stead is to be seen the shadow of an interim Executive at Frank- fort, and the shadow thrown before it, by a Parliament yet to be elected, at Erfurt. The interim Commission of the Confederation is composed of two Austrian and two Prussian Ministers ; whose sole function appears to be that of thwarting, counteracting, or undermining each other. The Commissioners disagree in the views they take of the source, nature, and extent of their power ; they disagree in their views as to the authority that will be entitled to call upon them to make place for it ; they are not recognized, or are only recognized under reservations, by the secondary and mi- nor German States ; and, worst of all, they have no money. As for the Parliament in posse, it is admitted on all hands that it will represent, not Germany, but only the populations of the territories subject to the three allied Sovereigns and such Princes as shall ad- here to them ; and how many these may .be, or whether even the three will remain true to the league, remains to be seen.
Amid the inorganic heavings and commotions of this political chaos, the most conspicuous and widely felt is the contest between Prussia and Austria. The old struggle between the houses of Haps- bnnrrggLorraine and Hohenzollern, which began when the first Frederick placed a kingly crown on his head with his own electoral hands, is still in progress. The Austrian Monarch is still ambitions of exercising over Germany the power which the Emperor Francis renounced when, on the constitution of the Confederation of the Rhine, he declared the Empire dissolved, and drew back into his hereditary states. The Prussian, after having added first one ter- ritory and then another to the Mark of Brandenburg, till his pos- sessions extend from the Vistula to the West bank of the Rhine and from the Maine to the Baltic, is ambitious of incorporating all Germany into his dominions. An incessant sleepless war of posts and observation is each is determined waged by diplomacy either obtain r to obta the ascendant in united Ger- many, these two powers: many, or to clutch the largest share of it in the event of a par- tition.
At present the game has rather the appearance of going against Austria. Her finances are in a state of utter dilapidation. Her miscellaneous populations impart a non-German character to her policy. She has in Germany none but half-hearted and distrustful allies, except the ultra devotees of. the Jesuit party in.the Church of Rome. The Princes of South Germany would throw themselves into the scale of Austria, but only as a counterpoise to Prussia, not to give Austria any real power over them. The Protectionists of South Germany dread almost alike the semi-free-trade propen- sities of Prussia and the protective system of Austria, whit; would expose them to Italian and Selavonio competition. The Constitutionalists of South Germany hate and fear Austria. In the North of Germany, the Kings of Saxony and Hanover retain, it may be, a hankering after an Austrian alliance ; but in all other quarters Austria is detested.
Prussia has many advantages. In the first place, the Govern- ment and its policy are essentially German. Next, Prussia with a large army and tolerable financial condition, surrounds, as it were, the territories of all the secondary and minor Sovereigns of North, Germany. She has been fighting (after a fashion) the battles of the people of Schleswig-Holstein ; by an armed interven- tion she has put down revolt in Baden and Wiirtemberg, and esta- blished pecuniary claims against the Governments of these coun- tries ; she has garrisoned the free town of Hamburg. Except in Bavaria and the Austrian-German dominions, Prussia possesses a large amount of real power. This power, though based principally on the military strength of Prussia, is increased by the position of that Government as possessing most territory and wealth of all the members of the Zollverem. The Princes involved in her toils struggle in vain against her preponderating influence. There is in every one of their states a party of moderate Constitutionalists, disposed to side with Prussia, as not thoroughly- and inveterately hostile to constitutional government, and as sufficiently strong to maintain an efficient executive amid the contests of popular as- semblies and democratic agitation.
The counteracting influences which impair the power and pros-
peots of Prussia are derived principally from the personal charao- ter of the present King and the Councillors to whom he listens. With more of a mystical imaginative disposition, he has much in common with James the First of England. He is a despot in prin- ciple and disposition, without the persistent energy required m a despot. Then he is bewildered by fantastical dreams of being in his kingly capacity a s special vicegerent of the Almighty upon earth, and bound to uphold o what he believes to be Divine laws against all popular opposition. He imagines that he stands in some such relation to the Divine authority on the one hand and his peo- ple on the other as the Governor of an English colony does to the Crown and the colonists. To much instinetivebenevolence and love of approbation, and an ambition of being thought energetic and con- sistent in action, Frederick William adds much of that mis- chievous sophistry which enables mystics to suit their professions to circumstances and palliate to themselves and others the grossest -violations of promises. The King, cursed with this unhappy mo- 'rill constitution, has gathered around him a circle of congenial spi- r its, who confirm him in his extravagant views and conduct. Hence the wretched policy of the Prussian Government ; ever rash and ever vacillating, and so shameless in its tergiversations that " Pa- lace-fides " is an inadequate phrase to express its falsehood. The strength of the Prussian Government is derived from the .social condition of Prussia and Germany ; its weakness from the personal character of those who are now at the head of affairs. Were the King a man whom the moderate Constitutionalists, the moderate Free-traders, and the liberal Religionists could trust, he might rally: around km a Prussian and German party, strong enough to insure the establishment of a central government for "Germany, (with the exception perhaps of the Austrian dominions and Bavaria,) mere united and more powerful than Germany has ever enjoyed. The most intelligent merchants and politicians of the secondary and minor States feel that the interests of their re- spective countries demand a more centralized and powerful go- vernment than existed either under the Empire or the Confedera- tion. The imaginations and sentiments of the scholar class —a numerous class in Germany—harmonize with the prac- 'tical views of these men of the world. The educated classes in Germany are in the main predisposed to second the ambitious views of the Prussian Government, as the most likely means of obtaining German unity. The Sovereigns of Baden and Wiirtemberg are debtors to the Prussian Government ; the Prussian Government holds military possession of Hamburg ; fear of his subjects holds the King of Hanover in subjection to the Prussian Government ; the Princes of both the Hesses and of Old- .enburg expect personal advantages from a plan for arranging the Sohleswig-Holstein controversy proposed. by Prussia ; the minor Dukedoms must follow, and are in many instances disposed to fol- low, the lead of their betters. Saxony and her Nang alone are un- certain: the King is disposed to court the Austrian alliance;' the national pride of Saxony, which since the Seven Years War has seen her importance diminishing and that of Prussia increasing, revolts against the idea of being entirely absorbed into Prussia. All these circumstances are in favour of the Prussian scheme of assembling a Parliament in which the greater part of Germany shall be represented, at Erfurt. If such a body can be brought together and if the Prussian Government can be brought to net along with it in harmony and good faith, the Austrian half of the shadowy interim Commission at Frankfort will not be able to offer much resistance to it. But the silly mysticism of the King of Prussia inspires such general distrust, that the possibility of bringing a decent show of German representatives to Erfurt is sti.11 extremely problematical.