21 JULY 1866, Page 13



Ladenburg, July 16, 1866. THERE is a strange and powerful Nemesis in the affairs of men. The German Diet, which since 1815 has so often persecuted and driven away the most high-minded and generous of German thinkers, has now been compelled to yield likewise to unscrupu- lous force, and to flee before the danger of solitary confinement. LastSaturdaythe few Ministers of the States which remain still faith- ful to the Bund left Frankfort for Augsburg, and reached Heidel- berg in the same train which carried away the radical editors of the Neue Frankfurter Zeitung, together with Dr. Frehse, the Prussian deputy, and Dr. Kolb, the Bavarian member of Parliament, who all fled before Bismark's victorious needle guns. The sightwould indeed have been comical, if the thought that the last vestige of Federal right, however bad and reactionary it may have been, has now been destroyed, were it not so sad ! Just as the Frankfort Rump Parliament was obliged to leave the German capital for Stuttgart in 1849, just so their former persecutors are now going to form a Rump Diet at Augsburg. " This is the curse of evil deeds," as Schiller has it ; and if the unwise Plenipotentiaries who neglected to appeal to the people till the last moment were the only sufferers, we might applaud just as the Parisians applauded in 1815 when they heard that the implacable Reactionists had been thrown into prison in the night of the coup d'itat. But here, as there, now, as then, the people themselves will lose the last faint glimmer of individual liberty, and become mere units in a powerful but despotic State. Those Germans, and they are still many, who prefer freedom and intellect to national extension and military glory, sigh even for the Bander- Versammlung.

At all events it was a strange feeling to sit at the table d'hote between the Bundestags-gesandte of Saxony and the clever Dr. Frehse, opposite a member of the Military Committee of the Diet, and one of the most radical of German journalists. Such things happen sometimes to cosmopolitans. It was stranger still to take a stroll on the Heidelberger Schloss in the evening, and to discuss the probable intentions of Louis Napoleon in such great company, while students and ladies quietly listened to the strains of a not over harmonious band. To see a Hanoverian and a Hessian Minister indulge in Bavarian beer, like any other democratic exiles, was an interesting, though uncomfortable sight. There we sat, while every hour brought some apocryphal news of the struggle which was going on in the neighbourhood of Aschaffenburg, between the Prussians and the Federals. There we disputed about the strange infatuation of our time, when liberty is every- where sacrificed on the gloomy altar of national greatness and might. And when the Diet and the Military Committee set out for Augsburg, we, that is Dr. Frehse and Dr. Kolb, the Heidelberg democrats, and your correspondent, went to the sitting of the local Volks-Verein.

They are a sober, industrious, liberal-minded, and generous people, these Badish burghers. The professors and thinkers in the town rave for the Prussian great State ; the clergy dream of Austrian supremacy. But the citizens, although Bismark's sol- diers may be at their very gates to-morrow, if the Federals are defeated, as usual, remain staunch and firm. In the teeth of a wavering Government, on the eve of an invasion, they call for a mass meeting of the people next Sunday, and openly declare that, even if they prove unable to resist overwhelming strength, they will still continue the struggle, and fight, inch by inch, for every bit of liberty (the expression was used by a rich and popu- lar brewer). I again began not altogether to despair of mankind, when I heard that in the midst of pressing danger a dozen or more of new members had that day joined the League. These men are worthy of freedom, and it is to be hoped that they will at least retain some degree of independence.

The Badish independent party refuse to believe that the ques- tion is merely to be Prussians or Austrians; they wish for neither, but for a free German Confederation, the sole condition of liberty, as they declare. They are right, so far, but. I apprehend they will in their turn be either absorbed, annexed, or divided. It is a sorry sight to see how much all Germans are anxious about the doings and intentions of the " hereditary enemy,"—France, or, as they prefer, not without reason, to say, Napoleon. I almost doubt whether the Democrats, and they are numerous, could abhor the French more than they do the Prussians. The latter, it cannot be denied, are most hateful invaders, even when they pretend to be in neutral or friendly countries. I have read private letters from Saxony. Whole families, grandmother and grandchildren included, had to leave their homes within five minutes, because the Prussians thought they might want the suburbs of Friedberg for strategical purposes, —an utterly vain assumption. Along the Rhine, in the neighbourhood of Wurtzburg, and especially in Bohemia, they act as if they were the conquerors of the world. The villages have become so thoroughly afraid of them, that fifty men who rush into a parish may quietly ransack larders and cellars, and carry away a hundred of hams and several hogsheads of wine. On the other hand, the Austrians have committed so many sad blunders, they are so backward in military organization, that the Federal Germans despise them. Then they mistrust their own Governments, and not without sufficient motives, as it would appear. The Badensers especially have little confidence in the good faith of Prince William, who commands their contingent. Besides, whenever a paper gives a slight hint, it is confiscated, as in France. The soldiers are stout of heart and strong of limb. But what can they do between the encroaching Bismark and the stupid Hapsburg, who does not address a single word of freedom to his people, in this terrible occurrence? What can they do, sur- rounded by traitors, and scarcely trusting their leaders ? Alas,