THE CRISIS AT FRANKFORT.
THE despatches of Count Von Bismark illustrate exactly the meaning of that strange expression of St. James, a "super- fluity of naughtiness." In his despatch to the Senate of Frankfort commanding them to prohibit the meetings of Ger- man political delegates, it is the very superfluity of naughtiness in which he indulges. There was not the faintest necessity for all that insolence of menace. From the moment when Prus- sian Liberals refused to join in the Frankfort protest in favour of the independence of Holstein, the Prussian Premier must have known that as far as Germany was concerned the game was in his own hands, that he had only to obtain his Sovereign's consent to be master of the situation, that any order issued from Berlin must be obeyed in Hanover or Dresden as readily as in Konigsberg or Dantzic. Only last week he became aware that he had nothing to fear from France, Russia was conciliated during the Polish revolt, and Austria the Premier assumes to be temporarily paralyzed. Even in the States whose independence is menaced he is sure of some support, for on the publication of Herr Twesten's letter many of their representatives declined to attend the Com- mittee. Prussia must lead, they said, if they were to follow. Yet knowing all this, aware that the " protest " had fallen through, conscious that its failure had immensely strengthened his own hands, Count Von Bismark seizes this opportunity to strike a deadly blow at the independence of a powerless State. In a despatch the insolence of which is almost without a pre- cedent in diplomatic literature, he declares that a meeting of delegates from the different German Parliaments in the central city of Germany is "a scandal," such as "even in the form of a discussion leading to no result cannot be permitted," that the "Senate of Frankfort is evidently willing to allow its city to be the source of senseless schemes," that similar meet- ings must be prohibited, and that if they are not so pro- hibited the two German Powers "will intervene to prevent the consequences of an indulgence already carried too far." Frankfort, an independent State, is in fact ordered to alter her laws under a threat of military occupation, so little obscure, that when the President inquired if this were intended the Prussian Envoy declined to answer. The outrage is the more gross because it is directed not only against Frankfort, but the Bud. By the twenty-sixth clause of the Treaty of Confederation every complaint preferred by one German State against another must be referred to the Diet, and this overt menace to one State is in truth a defiance of the authority of all. Count Von Bismark, in threatening Frankfort, announces to Germany that henceforth the strong power will not address itself to the combination of weak powers, but attack them if it see fit ofte by one. It will acknowledge no law but that of force, and treat Saxony, or Hanover, or Baden as it has treated Schleswig-Holstein. Moreover, it will pursue this policy in the most insulting manner, precede con- quest by taunts, and embitter defeat by the insolent pride victors, when once acknowledged, think it shame to display. And it will do all this without object, or as a mere mode of proclamation, will inflict wrongs equivalent to invasion without securing the great results invasion might produce. The independence of Frankfort is as much destroyed as if she had been occupied by a Prussian garrison, without the unity of North Germany being a step nearer. Prussia could have seized Frankfort a month before the despatch as
from the infinite mercy of God than the narrow standards of easily as a month after, and the object of insolence is there- fore only the manifestation of power and willingness to wound. It is not by such means that statesmen prepare an- nexations, not by intended insults to Parma that Cavour paved the way to the occupation of Central Italy. The conduct of Austria in the affair is if possible even worse. Count Mensdorff Pouilly, it is true, recollects that Emperors are expected to be gentlemen, but Austria has not the political excuses Berlin might adduce. She has no great policy to carry out in Northern Germany, nothing to fear from a protest against the absorption of Holstein, nothing to hope from a warning to the Bund that the day of its power has passed by. On the contrary, she eagerly declares that Austria and "Germany" are indissolubly linked together, and was till 1860 protectress of all smaller German States. In endorsing Count Von Bismark's despatch she plays the part of the bully who threatens to advance to the aid of the braver garotter, and the only excuse her friends can offer for her conduct is that she is secretly promised a share in the plunder to be obtained. And she does this, supports an aggressive power in insulting a strictly allied and powerless State, at the moment when she is trying to induce Hungary to believe that • her privileges will henceforward be respected. The Kaiser pledges himself to Liberalism while threatening to destroy a free State, because it has "permitted a discussion without result."
There has not been so open an appeal made to force since 1815, and it is with hearty pleasure that all freemen in Europe, even when favourable to the division of Germany between two powers, will read the answer of the Free City. The Senate of Frankfort has addressed an identical note to both powers, couched in language unusual in diplomacy, declaring that their despatches are assaults on her inde- pendence, and appealing to the Diet for aid. Of course the Diet is practically as powerless as the city. Its members, had they dared, would have interfered for Holstein, and are not likely to run for the sake of a city the risk they refused to incur for that of a province. Frankfort herself could not resist the Prussians for a week, and if the Diet once threatens resistance, Austria as well as Prussia will, as she always has done, appeal to her separate position as a great power, and summon her troops into the field. Overt resistance seems impossible, but it is better nevertheless to risk all than submit to orders which if obeyed are equivalent to subjugation. Frankfort can in the last resort only be compelled to obey the dictates of Berlin, and may as well risk that last resort as obey them without a struggle. A generous self-devotion to liberty may call friends to her aid within the great States themselves, and Count Von Bismark's own career shows the power which resides in political audacity. To march openly on a State of the Confederation for not obeying an illegal order is in fact to declare it dissolved, and from this contingency Austria may shrink, at least until she is in a better position to claim her share of the great spoil. The policy of Count Von Bismark is clearly to attack the small powers in detail, and in marching on the garrison of Frankfort, which is Federal, he marches upon all. The next act in the drama will be watched with singular interest, for if Prussia does not act, her menaces will have been made ridiculous, and if she does, the Confederation which has kept Germany inviolate for half a century comes suddenly to an end. The first step is, as an- nounced in the telegram, to appeal to the Diet, but in the Diet the two powers are no longer in a majority, the cause is the common one of all the Princes, and if outvoted Prussia has but one alternative—to conquer a State of the Bund by force, or confess that her threats are words. The conquest of Denmark brought about by the Diet may yet have for first consequence its own extinction, for ultimate result a war be- tween the invaders in which Denmark will be miserably avenged.