4 AUGUST 1866, Page 7


riEmass of Englishmen, it seems clear, have made up their minds that the triumph of Prussia is an almost un- mixed blessing. The old dislike and distrust of Austria, which had been mitigated by the Emperor's proclivities towards free trade, revived when she was found to be powerless, when Venetia was slipped to Napoleon as the foot-pad slips a watch to his "pal," and when Austrian governors, with incurable meanness of spirit, punished Italian cities for rejoicing at an official Austrian act. The antipathy felt to Prussia disappeared when it was found that her arrogance had a basis, when it was seen that North Germany would supply an irremovable barrier against Russia, when, above all, it was understood that Napoleon had lost through Prussian successes the dictator- ship of the Continent. There remain a few Liberals neverthe- less, who though they do not doubt that the war has produced much good both to England and Europe, doubt very strongly if its result will not be unfavourable to freedom. It is Msmark, they say, who has devised this policy, and the army which has carried it out, and both Bismark and the army believe in despotic administration. The resistance to personal, rule, already languid, must be diminished by its great and most dramatic success, and a conquering army sympathizes always with its leaders more than the people. The annexations having been effected by war and not by moral conquests, the Hohenzollems have an excuse for maintaining an attitude of armed watchfulness, the flower of the people are in the ranks, and the army, very numerous, very formidable, and very obe- dient, can and will secure an other in the State not readily to be distinguished from despotism. The King will not be less of a soldier because he has triumphed in the field, and the Minister who against Parliament has done such wonderful things is not likely to believe more in Parliament and less in his own capacity. Unless some unforeseen change occurs, Bismark will have the power to carry on the adminis- tration without asking the people's consent, to suppress meet- ings, to hunt down journalists, to reduce North Germany to the position in -which the French now are, a position which would in Germany more than in France be incompatible with the free -development of the national life. France will not

solidify under pressure, any more than quicksilver will ; Ger- many may, just as powdered rock would do. An united Ger- many, directed by a single despotic will towards aggressive ends, would be a most dangerous organization as regards Europe, a distinct descent in the scale of humanity as regards the people themselves.

Those arguments are worth hearing, for they are all prima Jade true, and it is with a conscious doubt as to the justice of a conviction we nevertheless entertain that we venture to point out the facts which tell upon the opposite side. In the first place, then, we cannot allow that the unity or partial unity soon to be realized has directly lessened the chances of free- dom in Germany. It has increased Count von Bismark's power and that of the Royal House, but it has not increased that of the Junkers, much more dangerous because more permanent enemies of German freedom. Indeed it has diminished their power very perceptibly. The little principalities and Austria were the bulwarks of that bad caste, and while Austria has been turned out of Germany, the little principalities are gone, merged in an empire so great that its very greatness will force its rulers to be impartial among their subjects. A man of six feet seen from a window looks much taller than a man of five feet five, but seen from a pyramid the disparity is entirely imperceptible. Great kings cannot like or believe in aristocracies, at least of the Prussian type, and the Hohen- zollern has now become a great King. The army has in- creased in prestige, but under fire men are equal, and the Vere de Vere who has seen Hodgson as far in front as him- self cannot snub Hodgson again. The nation has been in the army, and cannot afford to despise itself. With a dozen new provinces to consolidate, and three more States to attract in which the Courts are hostile, the ruling spirit in Prussia, be it King, or Minister, or Parliamentary leader, will feel that he must rely on the people rather than on a caste, shows already a readiness to appeal to the mass in a style which would be dangerous but that this mass is educated, is urgent to guarantee to the people once for all the ultimate control of the purse. He has reason. Marvellous as Prussian economy is, and that side of her organization has not been half suffi- ciently studied, great governments are very expensive,—for example, half the existing revenue must be spent on the fleet before Germany can have a great marine—and if the war has shown anything, it has shown that taxes cannot be profitable if levied by military force. If they are moderate, the soldiers eat all they gather, and if they are immoderate, they excite the resistance they met in Frankfort. Tax-gatherers cannot bombard their own towns, and, save by bombardment, General Manteuffel did not see his way to get a great contribution out of unwilling Frankforters. The Government even yet has not ventured to levy an illegal tax, and a power of taxation which yields nothing is a power useful only to sell to those who can make it yield. We take it to be most probable, so pro- bable as to be certain, that one concession made to the people will be a real control of the budget, which control, if con- ceded, involves the ultimate control of all undertakings and arrangements whatsoever, That the Executive will retain immense power even after that principle is established is true, but a nation which is organized as it desires has a free organization, and we cannot perceive that as yet Germans desire either a weak or an abstinent executive. They desire that it should be kindly, but they also desire to enforce very severe laws, such as the conscription, and to lead that protected or sheltered life which of necessity involves a great deal of official interference. No doubt they also wish that judges should be independent, and officials subject to action for mal- feasance, and military officers made liable to civil Courts, and the press released from persecution, but assuming that they possess a free budget, they are not less likely to gain all these things than they were before, but more likely. These ends must be gained by the steady exertion of their single but irresistible prerogative, and in exerting it they will have as good a majority as before, for the Conservatives who will support Count von Bismark's external and military policy no more want to be tyrannized over than the Liberals, who will have the additional support of all the Liberals and most of the Conservatives from the new States, and the immense help of the Court's new locus standi. The Government will want to attract the South to itself, and the way to do that is to show that absorption into Prussia involves not annoyance, but relief from annoyances. The Ultramon- tames of Bavaria, for example, as they will be in a minority, can be conciliated only by full religious liberty, the Liberals only by the prospect of greater influence over the new

Government than they have over the old, greater freedom of speech, and writing, and assembly than Munich can be induced to allow. It will for the future be the interest of the dynasty to leave Prussia decently free just as it was the interest of onr dynasty to abandon the old claim to reign by • divine right.

Again, it is always assumed by those who distrust Count von Bismark that the reigning family really wish to be despots, but that is not quite so clear. They are not foreigners, to begin with, like the Italian Dukes, sure to be dismissed in the end, however popular they may become, are not out of sympathy with the people or certain to misunderstand them. No doubt the King wishes to be much more really the head of the Administration than our Queen is, and would probably resist any demand for ministerial responsibility. But England was free under William III., when the King was his own Prime Minister, and the United States are free, though the Secretaries of State are responsible only to an irremovable President. The King wishes of course for respect, and on that point a severe press law may be passed, German criticism altogether passing the bounds fixed by opinion in England, and wishes to order instead of sanctioning orders, but he has no conceivable motive to be a tyrant. He cannot be, and is not in the least likely to try to be, a Cassar of the Napoleon type, a man arrogating to himself the monopoly of initiative. He has not the capacity, wants a veto on everything, not the right of beginning everything. Then he cannot, even in his own mind, deny that if the right divine is the foundation of thrones his claim to Hanover, and Hesse, and all the duchies, and grand duchies, and principalities which he has annexed must rest on immoral grounds, on the mere right of force, which, as a rebelmight claim it, he habitually denies. He has no fear to urge him to repression, for if ever dynasty was safe from its subjects that of Hohenzollern is safe at this present moment. Universal suffrage and an absolute Parliament would still leave him on the throne, and still the centre of all the bureaus. It will be much more comfortable for him, and conduce much more to his prestige, to come to an arrangement with his Parliament, and govern as he did before the late quarrels, through a Ministry very independent of Par- liament, but still administering in the main according to the wish of the nation. His great Minister, on the other hand, who is perhaps fonder of a power which must be temporary than the Sovereign who knows he has a life lease, perceives clearly the strength to be derived from popular support, has conquered half Germany by that, evidentlylooks to gain over the remaining half through that. If he can lead in Parliament as well as advise the King, that will suit him perfectly, and he is just the man to believe that he can combine those functions. It is he, by every German account, Who is now advising con- cessions, in opposition to the military household and the extreme Conservatives. It certainly does not seem impossible under such circumstances to frame a compromise which shall leave the Executive strong and the King its actual head, yet make the nation also free.

And finally, there is the North German people. Why is it assumed that nearly thirty millions of persons belonging to one of the highest races of mankind, all of them educated, all of them accustomed to arms, and all of them full of the Teutonic desire for liberty, should either consent not to be free or be unable to secure their freedom ? The war, so far from diminishing, has immensely increased their self-respect, and self-respect does not encourage slavishness. It has im- mensely increased also the coherence between the people and the army, the citizen in the landwehr having fought side by side with the citizen in the army, and neither therefore being at all willing to fire upon the other. Above all, it has greatly increased the physical power of the civilian class, which will be recruited within three years by some 500,000 soldiers, who having been victorious in the greatest campaign of modern Europe, return within that time to the occupations of civil life. That they can be forced to submit to oppression we do not believe, all attempts to tax them or limit their intellectual freedom having invariably failed, and why should we assume that they will like to be oppressed ? That they will be slow to resist is certain, for that is in the national character, and they are just now very contented and proud. That when they resist it will be in a mode Englishmen will not approve, will possibly not understand, is also probable, the blackcoats dreading a conflict with themselves in dull blue, and not see- ing very well how to work the Parliamentary lever. But that they will, if oppressed, resist, and find sufficient means of resistance, just as they have found means to secure their unity, we have no doubt whatever. The army is very strong and the bureaucracy very numerous, but the army is of the people, and the bureaucracy are Liberals, and where those 'circum- stances exist the people has only to will to be free, Sove- reigns knowing that in the last resort a serjeant can be a Liberal as well as any professor. The German nation, if we may believe itself, the evidence of its acts for twenty years, and all analogy, does so will.