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Jan . 7 , i 860 . ] The Leader'and Saturdayt Analyst . 5
THE principle upon which most of our contemporaries proceed in the rare references they make to G erman politics , ^ appears tq . be the very convenient but dangerous one , that whatever is not int . once intelligible , must necessarily be absurd arid unimportant . Because the tangled web cannot be unravelled without the employment of more time and attention than helter-skelter writers are disposed to bestow upon it , the easy course is adopted of turning the struggles of a great people after a national life into the occasion of bad jokes at Teutonic beer-drinking , pedantry / and metaphysics , or second-hand banter about the Court of Pumpernickel , its half-a-dozen soldiers , and three or four thousand subjects . It would be much better forthem to candidly confess ioTiorance . It is almost as difficult to understand the dynastic . and local interests of each one of the nearly forty states amongst which the forty millions of Germans are ;; distributed , as it would be to master the genealogy of the different families which at various times have swayed them , or the-innumerable changes in their territorial limits . It is not discreditable to an Englishman to share an ignorance which is avowed by many educated Germans ; but it is a . sad misuse of tm important position when the leading journals of a country which has such intimate relations with Germany , and exercises so marked an influence upon the political tendencies of its people , instead of giving it the benefit of that calm unbiassed opinion upon the -questions ' agitating it which -they might well oiler , treat its earnest strivings with unfair and inopportune pleasantry . The signal failure which has attended all attempts at the . unity of Germany , even when made iinder the most favourable circumstances '' that could be hoped for , may , indeed , at first ^ . sjglit , seem ; to warrant the ; contemptuous conclusion that the proceedings of its politicians are always tainted by a dreamy , muddled impracticability . The more closely , however , the subject is regarded , the more unjust , appears that opinion . The difficulties with which the leaders of such movements have to contend , are immense ; difficulties too , be it observed , of which some of the , most serious are occasioned by the intervention brother , countries . The advocates of German unity ,, or of that approach to . it which is implied by the establishment , of a strong central power , have to contend with a diversity of interests and prej udicest which Appear almost insuperable . There are , first , the irrecoricileable - -pretensions . of Austria and Prussia , both of which , enjoying the rank of European powers , and possessing territories beyond the Emits of the confederation , seek to use Germany to advance their own special purposes , and can never be cordially united except at the expense of all the smaller states . A reorganization of the . confederation which should give the Hegemony ' of Germany to Austria or Prussia , must either provide for the exclusion of the defeated aspirant , Or grant . it some compensation , at the cost of- the petty sovereigns . Of this , these royal , princely , and ducal personages are well aware ,, and . shape their course with the view of averting such a catastrophe . The second rate sovereigns arc unwilling to bate one jot of their regal rights . Although the j name of king is new to them , they are greater sticklers for its I power and dignity than the wearers of the oldest European Crowns , as Germany knows to her cost . It was by the obstinate . refusal of the newly made kings o'f AVurtcmburg and Bavaria to give up any port of their privileges that the remarkably liberal constitution which Austria and Prussia proposed us the basis of the confederation , was rejected in 1815 , and the present jnarrow and illiberal Act adopted . Tho real friends of German freedom would be glad to got now that which , but for Bavaria , and AVurtcmburg , they might have had forty-five years ago . ^ Then , howcvei-j Prussia , Austria , and Hanover were on the . side of liberty ; now , the two latter , at least , will be found its determined opponents . It is often assumed that tho smaller states take the side of Austria in tho federal squabbles , solely from sympathy with her governmental system ; that , however , is an error . They ; side with Austria , because they have much less to apprehend ' from her supremacy than from that of Prussia , and because , without then : support , sho must y ield" to her younger rival . 'They know that if tho scheme of a central power is ever-adopted , Prussia is most likely to acquire it , and they feel that aueh a step would facilitate a cherished idea of that ' aggrandizing nation , their absorption within its territory . It is a contest of solfproservation on the part of these governments , and with all their faults , the sympathy of their subjects is , to a great extent , with them . The people of Germany , although they may speak tho isaiho language , and sing thej , same songs about Fatherland , are dividud by animosities oven wanner lluiu those they fool towards tho foreigner on their borders . There is little sympathy between north nncl south' ; tho subjects of one state would not deem themselves guilty of fratricide if they were onlled upon to kill in war thoso of another . And the feeling is strongest against the very country which puts forward the grcatost pretensions to supremacy .
! Austria may be despised in the north , but Prussia is most cordially hated in the south . It is , indeed , impossible that Bavarians or Austrian Germans , could submit to its domination , whilst the feeling is almost as intense in some of Hie smaller states ^ lit addition to these prejudices , the bulk of the people of the ; minor states would not like to give up their individuality , and be merged in a great Prussian or Austrian state ,. as Germany must become if its direction is confided to the one or other power . How are these contending interests to be settled , and this tenacious opposition , which has stood the strongest shocks , to be overcome ? That is the point about which the Germans are at their wits' end . How great the difficulty has always appeared , is evidenced by the numberless projects of a new constitution , which , during 1 S 4 S , 1 S-1-9 , 1850 , and 1-851 , were put forward as its solution . AYe do not refer to the schemes of journalists and pamphleteers , the number of which is legion , but to the proposals of the German governments themselves . If , however , all these new constitutions attest the difficulty of change , they prove still niore strongly tho general feeling that some change in the federal relations is absolutely necessary . : The feeling , indeed , is as old as the institution of the Federal Compact . In 184 S , it found an irresistible expression , and the old Diet was got rid of . The task of organization , however , was above the men who undertook it ; and the Diet resumed its fauctions to undo , amidst the cowardly apathy of the people , all that liberal work of the revolution . The war in Italy , has again nuule Pederal lleform the question of the day in Germany ; and strange to say , that feeling , ' of .. patriotism and energy which Austria evoked in her own defence ., now threatens to consummate her ruin . The old Gotha party , which desires the . ascendancy of Prussia , lias commenced an agitation for the -replacement of the . Bund by a " fixed , strong , . and permanent " central power , and the convocation ' , of . a German national assembly , the central power to be : conferred upon Prussia . - Of course Prussians eordi-¦! " ally support a prograninie' which , secures their own aggraiidisc-: nie-nt , and it has . equally- , found uirreserveft sii ]) pprt in many , parts j of Northern 'Germany , despite , the severe measures taken by the I governments , particularly that of Hanover , to discountenaneo it . One sovereign , the Duke of Sax © Coburg , has likewise given / his ' adhesion . .. Elsewhere , the programme , has been accepted , wit it the omission of Prussian ascendancy ; and sufficient noise has been made by the movement , to . alarm the rulers of the smaller states , ! who , upon the old plan of throwing-oil-fa tub to catch a whale , ' have lately laid before the Diet some proposals of a q ? iasi-¦ liberal character , determined uponat conferences held at AYimdmrg .. In these proposals , . Bavaria ,-Saxony , AVurteinburg , - the Ilesses , and th ' e '/ 'Mec'hlenb'urgs , with , two or three smaller states , a , sk for I the publication of the proceedings of the . Diet , a common law of j domicile and settlement , a common civil and criminal code , some ; alterations in the military arrangements of the Confederation , 1 and the ' fortification of the coasts of the . Baltic and the-German 1 ocean . It—hr-im possible to suppose that . such questionable reforms as these will satisfy tlje agitators lor national unity . The , struggle must continue until the governments become involved in ¦ itj and then will commence an exchange of-protests and recriminations , more fruitful of . solid advantage , let us trust , than those which were ¦ penned in ift-AU and 1- ^ 50 , If , however , this one . aim of national unity and a central power is slil . l obstinately adhered toby the German Reformers , we cmisee but little prospect of results corresponding-to their hopes and exertions . It is strange that a . nation which reads the futuni in the past , as Germany does , should thua pant after a unity which has never existed in * its ' history , The unity of Germany iiiomis a eomplete . revolution , and tint only parties which can pumas it with anything like a . chance of success , are either that small but determined one which desires one indivisible republic , juul will ¦ not scruple about the bloody work to be done in form ing it , or that hirirer but much less resolute , one , which asks the incorporation of all the states of Germany in the Prussian monarchy . The time has not yet come , if indeed it ever comes , for either of those solutions / All that can ' be achieved by the special agitation nowgoing on , will be an increase of the attributions of the Diet , with , perhaps , a greater iniluence in its decisions on the part of Prussia . That result would be a loss rather than a gain to Germany . "With such powers as the Diet now has , its net ion upon Germany has been a clog and a eur . se , and with extended power it would be ' niore mischievous , .. . 11 b chief business , for the last nine yearn , has been to suppress Ihe liberal constitutions granted bythe different sovereigns i , n 1848 ; and to force thoroughly obnoxious , ' Jawu upon a struggling people . A uniform legislation emanating from the Diet would be a sad infliction . Nor would niattura he mended by giving a greater power in it twPrussia . Sho has . shared in tho guilt of ' all the wrongs which the Diet has oonimillud , and the mere fact that the men now at ilio hood o hw affairs ore a shade more liberal than their predecessors , is no
Leader (1850-1860), Jan. 7, 1860, page 5, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2328/page/5/