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OF 1848: 




Copyright, 1952, by Princeton University Press 
London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press 

Printed in the United States of America 
By Princeton University Press at Princeton s New Jersey 

To the memory of my father 3 


No one has ever numbered the revolutions which broke out in Europe 
in 1848. Counting those in the small German states, the Italian 
states, and the provinces of the Austrian Empire, there must have 
been over fifty. Out of all these outbreaks I have picked the ones that 
were most important in themselves and that showed most clearly the 
intertwining strands that made up the opinions of the age and the 
ways men acted. To have included the story of the revolutions in 
Prussian Poland, in Bohemia, even the one in Naples, would have 
repeated the same patterns without bringing in much that was new. 

This book is called a social history because its aim is to show how 
men lived and felt a hundred years ago rather than to describe at 
length other important factors like constitutions, battles, or Lord 
Palmerston's foreign policy, all of which have been adequately 
treated by other historians. My own purpose is to show what it was 
like to be a worker in Paris, or a student in Vienna, or an Italian 
patriot, or an aristocrat, or a king in those days. In a peculiar meas- 
ure the men who were alive then had to face, in a simplified, almost 
a laboratory form, problems which have beset their descendants dur- 
ing the subsequent century problems of socialism, nationality, 
power, and above all the meaning of democracy. I have tried to show 
how both sides looked quite reasonably it seemed to each at the 
same questions and came out with different answers. 

I have not emphasized leaders. No leader was really very im- 
portant in 1848 except as he typified for a while, and rode to power, 
the ideas current in some class or group. Because each one repre- 
sented only one class or group and was unintelligible to the other 
side, none of them transcended the age and formed (as great leaders 
do) a new synthesis of ideas at a different level. 

The people I have been most interested in, instead, are that large 
and paradoxical group who were for the revolution before it broke 
out and against it after it was over. Their dilemma derived, I think, 
from the conflict of their theories with the actual social conditions 
and unquestioned assumptions of their particular class or racial 
background. Nearly everyone was surprised at some phase or other 
of the revolutions, and that surprise is a measure of the miscalcula- 
tion of their theories. 

History is, after all, something that happened to people. No 

v 1 1 


"force" whether economic or political can act except as re acts 
through the minds and bodies of human beings. It is of course true 
that much human activity is the result of conditions which are un- 
known to the participants. Many economic forces work seemingly 
outside the awareness of the individuals affected by them, and to 
uncover these forces is exciting and rewarding. The revelation of 
this mystery is one reason for the smashing success of the economic 
interpretations of history. It is not only economic motives that work 
mysteriously, however. Many of the social reasons for our behavior 
are imbedded in feelings too deep ever to be clearly voiced ; and most 
prejudices, though partly conscious, create passions whose violence 
can only be understood by assuming that they go to the unconscious 
roots of a man's personality. 

The 1848 period offers a peculiarly interesting opportunity to 
investigate what happens when people suddenly find their compla- 
cencies challenged or their ideals too suddenly fulfilled. 

Looking at the year 1848 in this spirit some of the questions which 
have puzzled other historians disappear. Most students have found 
something "inexplicable" about the ferocity of the June revolts in 
Paris. Again it is impossible to begin to understand clashes within 
the Austrian Empire without untangling the different codes of loy- 
alty, the different concepts of freedom, which pulled and pushed not 
only one race against another, but, more than in previous periods 
of history, each man against himself. 

Since there was no revolution in England in 1848, I might have 
left the British Isles out of my story altogether. Instead I chose to 
put in some brief remarks which are intended to illuminate the con- 
tinental revolutions by contrast and contradiction rather than to 
afford a complete history of Chartism, Young Ireland, or the British 
genius for muddling through. 

I could never have written this book without the help, both physi- 
cal and mental, of many other people. A large share of both kinds 
of help has been given by the staff of the Library of the University 
of Louisville, particularly Miss Evelyn Schneider, its head, and 
Miss Virginia Winstandley, who spent five untiring years in locating 
books at distant libraries and procuring them for my use through 
the inter-library loan service. 

At the Harvard College Library, Mr. Robert H. Haynes has 

v 1 11 


smoothed my path as he has that of many guests at his incomparable 

I must also thank Harvard University for a generosity elsewhere 
unknown, in opening its facilities to the wives of that happy group 
of men, the Nieman fellows. The Curator of the Nieman Foundation, 
Mr. Louis F. Lyons, was possibly my severest critic, but I am grate- 
ful for his strictures as well as for his personal kindnesses. 

If it had not been for the insistence of Professor Ernest C. Moss- 
ner, of the University of Texas, this book would never have been 
finished. He has also read the manuscript with considerable benefit 
to its readability. 

Several historical scholars have been extremely generous with 
help; notably Professor Emeritus Sidney B. Fay, of Harvard, 
who advised me on the method of writing history as well as letting 
me draw on his wide knowledge of facts ; Professor Alma Luckau, of 
Vassar College, who offered me dozens of carefully thought out sug- 
gestions; and Professor Donald C. McKay, of Harvard, who has 
given me unstintedly both information and encouragement. Pro- 
fessor Helen Lockwood of Vassar and Professor David Maurer of 
the University of Louisville have provided valuable criticism. 

The maps are the result of the painstaking care of Mr. Edward 
Schmitz, of the Harvard Institute of Geographical Exploration. 

Vivian Graves put many thoughtful hours into helping me organ- 
ize the index. 

Mrs. Herbie Koch did an unusually understanding and careful 
job of typing the bulk of the manuscript; and I was lucky also in 
the typists who did the other parts, particularly Mrs. Pat Littell. 

As the mother of a young family I could not have pursued research 
without help in the management of my household and for this help 
at different times I am greatly indebted to Mrs. Annie Belle Taylor, 
Mrs. Emma Taylor, and their families. They have supported me 
with sympathy, understanding and cheerful assumption of responsi- 
bility. I am also deeply grateful to my niece, Nancy Easley Clifford, 
and my college classmate, Elizabeth Miller Davis. Each has run my 
home for a few weeks in order to allow me periods of study in a 
big library. 

Gary Robertson has most generously given to this book his great 
skill as an editor, and I only wish it were more worthy of his talent. 



It Is the case with, all my friends and advisers that they have added 
learning and judgment to a book whose faults are entirely my own. 

Thanks are due the following publishers for permission to quote 
from material copyrighted by them: Constable & Company, Ltd., 
Longmans Green & Co., Ltd., John Lane The Bodley Head, Ltd., 
Peter Davies, Ltd., Chatto and Windus, and Victor Gollancz, Ltd. 

Anchorage, Kentucky 
May 16, 1951 



Introduction l 


France 9 






Germany 105 




The Austrian Empire 187 













Conclusion 4*08 




INDEX 449 

X i 


Start of a Hundred Year Cycle 

WHEN the year 1848 broke upon Europe, everywhere men were 
waiting for the death of Louis Philippe, King of the French. When- 
ever or however it should occur, it was supposed to be the signal for 
the revolution which everyone was sure was coming, though some 
men looked for it with fear and some with hope. 

The poet Heine, living in Paris, said that the fall of the King 
would be like the projected taking down of the conspicuous and 
disliked statue, the Elephant of the Bastille: thousands of rats 
would be let loose. Other men loved to talk of the great conspiracy 
to kill the King that was supposed to have been, working for seven 
years. In Germany, too, the mounting fever of the 1840's was ex- 
pected to mark its crisis with Louis Philippe's death. And in South 
America Garibaldi was waiting for this sign to bring him back to 
liberate Italy. Even in Austria, where another monarchy hung on 
the aged Metternich's survival, men counted the days of the King 
of the French. 

As it turned out, Europe did not wait for the match to be applied. 
Louis Philippe was destined to die a natural, if unroyal, death in 
England late in 1850 after the outburst which his death was sup- 
posed to kindle had burned across Europe and had been extinguished. 
For Parisians were in a state of spontaneous combustion ; in a swift 
struggle they ousted their King ; and the university students of Ger- 
many, the plain patriots of Italy and Hungary tried to follow their 
example and make revolution. 

In the end they all failed. What they fought for was brought 
about under different auspices, often ironically by specific enemies 
of the 1848 movement. Could the bloodshed have been avoided? The 
argument is the same after many wars. Battles have been won or 
lost for centuries without winning or losing what they were ostensibly 
fought for. 

In the melange of 1848 Europe, Louis Philippe was certainly 
neither the most wicked nor the most hated ruler. If law and order 


seemed symbolically attached to his life, it was partly because his 
heir was a child, so that there would be a fine chance for a coup 
amid the arguments about succession and regency; but mostly be- 
cause ever since 1789 the rest of Europe looked to France as the 
natural source of revolutions. 

Germany and Italy at this time were both divided into such tiny 
states that no one of them, not even Prussia, could hope to give the 
cue. As a matter of fact, revolution did break out in Naples before 
it did in France in this year of 1848, forcing the Bourbon who hap- 
pened to be on that southern throne to grant a constitution* Yet no 
one paid much attention to the Neapolitan affair, while the news 
from Paris precipitated revolution in almost every other capital. 

The lands that were ruled by the Hapsburgs Austria, Hungary, 
Bohemia, northern Italy, and a large par,t of Poland were far 
more oppressed and discontented than France. However, the Aus- 
trian monarchy was commonly considered to exist behind a Chinese 
wall where no modern ideas penetrated. Even the Napoleonic ferment 
had disquieted Vienna less than any other capital. So it seemed al- 
most as hopeless to think of revolution coming out of Austria as 
of Russia, the great dark reservoir of reaction. 

The nations that were panting to be free from foreign rule- 
Poland, northern Italy, and Ireland were too severely repressed 
to start a revolution by themselves, but they were the watchwords of 
liberals all over the continent. Many besides their own citizens were 
hoping for the chance these countries would get with the first crum- 
bling of the regime that had endured, more or less unchanged, since 
1815, when the Treaty of Vienna attempted to undo the work of 
Napoleon and to strait- jacket Europe against another attack of the 
madness of 1789. 

Most men, however, suspected the truth, which was that condi- 
tions had changed since 1789. If Europeans were afraid of a revolu- 
tion in 1848 it was because their uneasy consciences whispered that 
sixty years of the swiftest industrial progress the world had ever 
known had created a new working class whose miseries were likely 
to be explosive. Plenty of other people were restive in the strait- 
jacket, plenty of businessmen both large and small resented the 
eighteenth-century restrictions which limited their nineteenth-cen- 
tury opportunities. But the moral question centered around the 
proletariat and what freedom might or ought to mean to them. 



Should they be given a vote, or would they use it immediately to 
destroy the whole precarious system by which even their own liveli- 
hoods were created? Or were they perhaps so much the creatures of 
their employers that only those who were what the Germans called 
selbstdndig could honestly be considered independent enough to 
vote? Or did freedom mean more than a vote? Was not productivity 
great enough for the first time so that society could now guarantee 
that no man should starve? Could not the state go further and guar- 
antee each man a job in order to protect the pride of its citizens 
and to make them selbstdndig? If some of these things were not 
done, would not the proletariat itself rise up in hideous strength 
and demand them? 

The social problem, then, was one to which most Europeans had 
given some worried thought, whether out of a desire for justice or 
out of fear. The other problem of 1848, the national one, which 
tangled with the social problem and almost smothered it outside of 
France, had not previously aroused nearly so much general appre- 
hension. The Germans wanted to unite but before 1848 they were 
not afraid of the idea, they did not yet know what there was to be 
afraid of. And similarly with the Italians. They did not foresee 
that they might have to choose between freedom as civil liberties and 
the greater opportunities that might come to them as citizens of 
powerful, unified, but autocratic states. Even in France the ques- 
tion arose, unexpectedly, whether they could have a revolution in 
one country or whether free France should not carry its arms to the 
oppressed of other nationalities. In Austria the ruling clique knew 
that it governed an uneasy hodgepodge of peoples but it is safe to 
say that it never dreamed how ferocious the clamor of these races 
to become nations would grow. 

e, the socialism of an era is naive so long as the term 
means only a concern wiffilHe ; social problem. There were even some 
groups calling themselves "conservative socialists." In 1848, as at 
present, a great many people wanted to be democratic and simply 
did not know how. The psychological and economic barriers were far 
stronger than they could have imagined. Indeed the social lines thai 
were drawn between classes did as much to make the revolutions take 
the shape they did as the more talked-of economic self-interest of 
those classes. An absurd example of how strictly these lines held oc- 
curred in the time of Louis Philippe, shortly before 1848. A group 



of political prisoners, charged with a common crime and serving 
sentence in a common jail, split into two groups which never spoke 
to each other. The only activity which the working class segment 
shared with their white collar prison mates, men who were being 
punished for defending workers 5 rights, was to sing the Marseillaise 
every day. After they had knelt together at the last verse the two 
groups always separated, and it was the occasion of remark when a 
good doctor strolled over from the side of the intellectuals to pass 
th time of day with the workers. 

/ Because of this almost complete separation of life and thought 
it was easy for the intellectuals to imagine that the workers would 
be far-seeing and generous about social reorganization, and they 
imagined they would follow happily the lead of their sincere well- 
wishers from the upper classes. Incongruous as it may seem, these 
white collar "socialists," many of whom had never gone so far as to 
shake hands with a worker, believed in the fusion of classes. 
" ^JCarl Marx saw that as society was set up they would not fuse, 
and in 1847 he had already laid down the doctrine of the class 
struggle in the Communist Manifesto. But the class struggle as a 
political actuality was rather the result of the 1848 revolutions than 
their cause. Hardly any of the leaders had had time or inclination 
to read the Manifesto, and they led their insurrections, some more 
and some less honestly, in the opinion that all classes could benefit 
together. Only after the liberals won power did they discover that 
they were afraid of the workers ; when the workers found this out 
they turned to the Marxian gospel. 

As for the^nationalism of the period, it too was romantic. Nation- 
ality could give character and a mission to every people, so men said. 
They revived dying languages and cultures which would better have 
been left to die, and stressed military glory even in countries like 
France where the right to nationhood had long been won. Interna- 
tionalism was made to seem materialistic and selfish, while the petty 
jealousies of Balkan nationalities, which have caused so much strife 
in a century, were made to seem like holy wars. Before 1848 Germans 
swam in a sea of vague patriotism ; during that year they crystallized 
their decision that they cared more about power than civil liberty, 
and that their Lebensraum lay to the east. In this year Hungarians 
and Irishmen showed that they would prefer autonomy to power, 
if power was to be had by remaining within the empires that claimed 

them. In this year also hitherto less vocal groups, Croats and Czechs 
and Roumanians, began to turn their cultural revival into political 
excitement. And in this year Italy showed that she would not let 
the nineteenth century cheat her out of either unity or liberty. 

It was therefore often difficult for a man to decide whether his 
greatest loyalty should be to his class or to his nation, but which- 
ever he decided, after 1848, his loyalty was buttressed by hatred of 
opposing groups. What was lost, in 1848, was the idea that classes 
and nations had anything to give to each other. 

It sometimes seems as if everyone who lived through the 1848 days 
wrote his recollections. A large part of the energy which might have 
been devoted to successful social action if the revolutions had turned 
out differently was cramped into the covers of books which purported 
to explain why so much hope, courage, and idealism had failed. 
Certainly part of the story as it has meaning for us today should 
tell what these men thought about themselves, what they wanted 
future generations to understand concerning these most beautiful 
days of their lives and their subsequent heartbreak. 

It is lucky for an historian, however, that not all the observers 
were participants. Particularly the occasional Americans who were 
in Europe at the time make a refreshing class of their own. From 
Richard Rush, the minister at Paris who took it upon himself to 
recognize the Second French Republic, to William Stiles at Vienna 
who coolly told Prince Schwaraenberg that the Austrian Navy 
might sink an American frigate when they could catch her, American 
diplomatic agents did credit to their republic. Andrew Jackson 
Donelson at Berlin illuminated his legation in tribute to the vic- 
torious people ; the American consul at Rome gave Mazzini a pass- 
port to escape. Untouched by the romantic dreams which kept 
Europeans of that period (as perhaps of most periods) from the 
direct perception of reality, they provide a touchstone which shows 
up the sickness of European society. These Americans were heartily 
in favor of peoples' movements, and they rejoiced at every victory 
over governments which they saw as stupid and vicious. Yet they 
could not but see that class distinctions in Europe, as well as a kind 
of wild impracticality in aims, prevented a happy outcome to the 
revolutions. With a healthy disgust they noted that the conditions 



of the lower classes in European capitals were so degraded that there 
were none to be found like them in the United States. 

However, the greatest commentator upon the revolutions was a 
Russian, Alexander Herzen, a socialist who came to Western Europe 
for the first time in 1847. He hoped to discover there all the comforts 
and culture befitting the center of civilization, and instead he found 
bloodshed and reaction. Upon this scene he looked with a detachment 
like the Americans', yet, being European, he felt a tragedy which 
was quite beyond their experience. When, after the June days of 
Paris, he writes of the desolation of his soul in which he had not 
supposed there was so much left to be destroyed, when he tells how 
his wife no longer dared to wish her children to live for fear there 
was a fate as awful as the revolution in store for them, Herzen seems 
like no other writer of his time. His memoirs read as if a twentieth- 
century intelligence had somehow been sent back to record for us 
the meaning of those struggles that seem in so many ways the birth 
pangs of our modern era. 

The insights which were choked off in 1848 were a real loss to the 
world. The psychologists, sociologists, and technologists of today 
continue to rediscover them. How many times have we heard, in the 
lingoes of these various disciplines, Victor Hugo's cry after the 1848 
adventure was over: "We are a predestined generation. We have 
bigger and more frightening tasks than our ancestors. We have not 
time to hate each other" ? 



The Wind of Revolution 

ON Sunday, July 18, 1847, the citizens of Macon, forty miles north 
of Lyons in southern France, spread a banquet for their favorite 
son, Alphonse de Lamartine. Lamartine was France's most popular 
living poet as well as Macon's representative in the Chamber of 
Deputies, and the banquet was in honor of his recent completion of 
a history of the Girondins of 1790 which was the literary sensation 
of 1847. 

The banquet place covered two acres, with 500 tables for 3,000 
guests, and there were grandstand seats for 3,000 more who, as far 
as the record shows, did not share in the menu. The day was fero- 
ciously hot, until a thunderstorm ripped the tent wide open and 
drenched the listeners. By this time Lamartine was talking and he 
did not stop, so nobody thought of leaving. They were all electrified 
by his words : "It will fall, this royalty, be sure of that. It will fall, 
not in its blood like that of '89 ; but it will fall in its trap. And after 
having had the revolution of freedom and the counter-revolution of 
glory, you will have the revolution of public conscience and the revo- 
lution of contempt.' 51 France was uneasy and this was what French- 
men wanted, some action, some word on which their restlessness 
could crystallize. 

The banquet was ostensibly in honor of a literary triumph, but 
the people who bought tickets did so as a political act. To put down 
money for a seat at the table and to put one's name on a list of sub- 
scribers to hear the government's most prominent critic, represented 
more political action than those who opposed the government had 
had a chance to show in a long time. And Lamartine himself gave 
them the word "the revolution of contempt" flew over France, 
making everybody realize what it was he had been feeling for the 
government of Louis Philippe. 

Louis Philippe was one of those kings who distinguished them- 

1 As reported by Daniel Stern, Histoire de la revolution de 1848, i, 21. 

1 1 


selves by being good men, and In the nineteenth century that meant 
being good to his wife and children. True, he had fought in battle 
on the side of the first French Revolution, taking his cue from his 
father, Philippe Egalite, the one member of the royal family who 
had voted to send Louis XVI to the scaffold ; true, he showed a wide 
eagerness to see the world, including the sorts and conditions of men 
to be found clear down to the Mississippi Valley. An American story 
said he had even proposed marriage to a young Philadelphian, but 
her father cagily pointed out that while the heir to the House of 
Orleans was an exile he was not a good enough match for the girl, 
whereas if he should be restored to his fortune she would not be good 
enough for him. He finally married the daughter of the King of 
Naples, and with the restoration of the Bourbons to the French 
throne in 1815 he was able to come to Paris as the first peer of 
France, under the title of Duke of Orleans, and to devote himself to 
restoring his fortune and bringing up his eight children. He also 
set to work to build up his popularity. Aristocracy was scandalized 
that his sons went to public school, but the Duke, though he may 
have been an aristocrat at heart, was clever enough to realize that 
the future of the country lay with the bourgeoisie, who were, in turn, 
enraptured by the informal manners as well as by the expensive 
parties to be found at his establishment in the Palais-Royal. 

Meanwhile the two dull old brothers of the beheaded Louis XVI 
who successively occupied the throne between 1815 and 1880 were 
becoming steadily more unpopular. At the end of this period Charles 
X flagrantly violated the charter of liberties which had been guar- 
anteed to the French people after Waterloo in order to induce them 
to take back the Bourbons; and his subjects, who had acquired con- 
fidence and some ability in the technique of revolution, rose in three 
famous July days and overthrew him. 

Apparently Louis Philippe was by no means surprised to find 
himself on the throne after those three days of 1880. He took scrupu- 
lous care not to engage in any of the fighting, but when it was 
over, when Charles X was being escorted out of the country, Louis 
Philippe allowed himself to be publicly embraced by Lafayette, the 
best guarantor to the people that the new king would enforce the 
Charter, that his would be a "monarchy surrounded by republican 
institutions," or even "the best of republics." To the bourgeoisie his 
fine, fat, pear-shaped figure seemed to promise that France would 
become rich, to the republicans his part in two revolutions held out 



the hope that she would become free. These promises he kept but 
indifferently well, while he ignored two other passions of his sub- 
jects completely, their love of glory and their need for social secu- 
rity. Although it was many years before France enjoyed either of 
these last satisfactions, events in 1848 showed how deeply she desired 

People who visited France under the regime of Louis Philippe were 
usually favorably impressed. Railroads were being built, gas lights 
were beginning to illuminate the cities, the semaphore, that wig- 
wagging system proudly called the "telegraph," carried messages 
over the country with splendid speed. Looms were moving out 
of homes into factories, and other industries were developing. 
Guizotj the King's chief minister, told the bourgeoisie to get rich, 
and they were doing so busily. There were even noticeable improve- 
ments in the condition of the poor ; one such sign was the quantities 
of wool and cotton which, thanks to machinery, they were now able 
to buy, so that poor girls could afford bright-colored cottons as 
well as the rich the first sign of visible equality. 

Furthermore, compared to other European countries, France was 
a home of liberty. The ministry governed through laws ; the press 
was startlingly outspoken a large part of its pages was given over 
to personal scurrility about the King and his family which would not 
have been allowed even in Britain with its theoretically wider toler- 
ance; and trial by jury was so well established that for years a series 
of would-be assassins were acquitted. The American Minister to 
Paris, Richard Rush, wrote in December, 1847, "If I looked to the 
country, instead of the newspapers or speeches at political banquets, 
I should have thought I had come to a country abounding in prosper- 
ity of every kind and full of contentment. France appeared as well 
off as could be expected of any country where opulence, prosper- 
ity and power, existing on a large scale, must have drawbacks." Still, 
in spite of the pleasantness, drawbacks there were enough, it 
proved, to make an eruption which blew Louis Philippe clear off 
his throne. 

The man who applied the metaphor of the volcano to his country 
was Alexis de Tocqueville, he who had studied democracy in America 
and had impressed European political thinkers by his analysis of 
the tyranny of the majority. Early in 1848 he rose in the Chamber 
of Deputies to warn his colleagues. Looking back a few years later 
he admitted he was not actually so alarmed as he had allowed himself 



to sound, but it happened that events overtook his prophecy almost 
as soon as it was out of his mouth: "The working classes . . . are 
not bothered by political passions; but do you not see that, from 
political, the passions have become social? Ideas flow through their 
breasts that will shake the basis of society : they say that everything 
above them is incapable and unworthy of governing; that the dis- 
tribution of goods to the profit of some is unjust. . . . When such 
ideas take root, they lead soon or late, I do not know when, to the 
most terrible revolutions. We are sleeping on a volcano. . . . Do you 
not see that the earth trembles anew? A wind of revolution blows, the 
storm is on the horizon." 2 

Tocqueville thus analyzed more acutely even than a sympathizer 
what was going on in the depths of society. He was observing, though 
more intuitively and less thoughtfully, the same phenomena which 
had caused Marx and Engels to get out the Communist Manifesto 
a few months before. Up to this time political revolutions had pro- 
duced fairly satisfactory results in England, France, and America. 
In 1848 for the first time the working classes were going to assert, 
unsuccessfully, their demands for redistribution of goods. 

The working classes were at the bottom of the volcano and Louis 
Philippe's government was on top. The first eruption, in February 
1848, would blow off not only the King but also, indifferently, the 
top layer of men who had hoped to reform the monarchy and who 
had by their criticism helped prepare for the revolution. The vol- 
cano would cool off temporarily with political democrats, headed by 
Lamartine, on the surface, while underneath the social passions 
boiled with only a little less pressure than before. When socialists 
discovered the republic was quite as eager as the monarchy to sup- 
press them, first a socialist newspaperman like Louis Blanc would 
try to crack the crust of the new government by stirring it from 
above and then a revolutionary, Auguste Blanqui, would try to make 
things boil up again from below. Finally, in June, there was to be a 
second eruption, one which just lacked the strength to carry the 
republicans down to destruction. 

None of these types of leaders reckoned with the strength of the 
others. The men who wanted electoral reform would not believe that 
Lamartine could make a republic; Lamartine did not believe there 
was a great demand for Louis Blanc's socialism; and Louis Blanc 

3 Quoted from Barret, Mtmoires Posthumes, i, 478. 



in turn could not see how workers might follow the cynical and 
sinister Blanqui rather than himself. 

It was easy to miscalculate the variety of the opposition because 
Louis Philippe's government made it expensive to publish news- 
papers and impossible to hold meetings of more than twenty people 
without police permission. Such repression of opinion naturally 
acted more heavily at the bottom of the social scale than at the top, 
where a political meeting could masquerade with wine and platters 
of cold veal. Those middle class citizens whose chief complaint was 
that they were not allowed to vote could voice their wishes more easily 
than the poor whose trouble was that they were starving. 

Among the bourgeoisie the loudest clamor was for electoral re- 
forms. The French election law of 1831 allowed only those persons 
to vote who paid a direct tax of 200 francs or more ; there were never 
as many as 250,000 qualified voters out of an adult male population 
of 9,000,000. The situation may have been even worse than the fig- 
ures show, but at any rate small and middling businessmen were 
excluded along with the learned and professional classes and, of 
course, the workers and peasants; and these disfranchised citizens 
began to look to England where the Reform Bill had passed in 
1832, and to hope naively that France could have an equally easy 
transition. However, Prime Minister Guizot was not the Duke of 
Wellington, who shuddered for the future of England yet used his 
influence to keep the more intransigent peers from voting against 
the Reform Bill rather than see his country disrupted by open^ 
revolution. To every proposal for electoral reform Guizot replied,^ 
"Get rich ; then you can vote," until even the advocates of reducing 
the electoral qualification to 50 francs (a mild measure which would 
very likely have saved the day) were forced to take extreme measures. 

The answer of the government to its growing unpopularity was 
corruption. If it could not placate the majority of the people be- 
cause it did not trust them, it could at least control its own minority 
by bribes. Its candidates were returned to the Chamber by promises 
of bridges, railroads, and hospitals to doubtful districts a practice 
which led, incidentally, to an extraordinarily spotty development of 
railroad connections in those first years when they were being pushed 
through. Another common favor was the issuance of pardons or of 
exemptions from military service. Public morals sank below any 

1 5 


recent remembrance. The director of the military bakery used state 
funds to speculate in wheat, leaving a tremendous deficit at his 
death. Two peers of France were actually tried and sentenced for 
dishonesty in a mining concession, and the case might never have 
come to trial if the principals had not quarreled and one published 
the other's incriminating letters. But the climax was the "affaire 
Petit," when Guizot himself, hitherto felt to be a rock of personal 
honesty, was shown to have paid 60,000 francs out of secret service 
money to recompense a man who had bought a place in the bureau 
o/ auditing and then not received the post. 

Pervading dishonesty seemed to filter down through all classes, 
for people complained constantly of adulteration and false weights 
on the part of small shopkeepers. French wine was so constantly 
adulterated that it was difficult to export. Commercialism seemed 
everywhere; even pleasure became measured by price and art by 

,32^^ Louis^ Blanc, put his finger on one aspect 

of this discontent when he complained that France was a nation of 
warriors doomed to impotence because it was governed by shop- 
keepers; in those days the poor were all jingoistic. The King's de- 
votion to peace won him the esteem of his brother monarchs in Eu- 
rope, whom, as a parvenu, he was anxious to impress; and this 
quality may have endeared nim to the Rothschilds. But in the breasts 
of the workers and peasants of France, of the liberal newspapermen, 
of the students in schools and universities, his policy aroused only 
shame and disgust. They recalled to each other the bright days of 
Empire when their fathers and grandfathers carried liberty across 
Europe on their bayonets. Yet, now, the Citizen King, himself raised 
to power by another revolution, calmly acquiesced in the treaties of 
1815 which deprived France of Nice and Savoy on the south and 
much the sorest point of her frontier on the Rhine. He hesitated 
to spend money to put the army in first class shape. Nor did he show 
the least sympathy for oppressed nationalities like the Poles, whose 
revolt every liberal Frenchman burned to assist. 

Jules Michelet, the historian of the great revolution, who was dis- 
missed from his chair in the Sorbonne just before the 1848 outbreak, 
did his best for years to make his students feel that France was the 
hope of Europe. Each day, he told them, there is less sun, as Ireland, 
Italy, Poland perish. Germany is about to follow them into a state 

1 6 


of reactionary oppression, and all the citizens of all these countries 
look to France, whose only true eternal name is Revolution. Michelet 
hoped that national feeling would grow stronger and deeper in every 
country, for did not the freedom of peoples seem part of the battle 
for freedom of the people? 

Even the depression of 1847 was blamed on "external weakness" 
and "idle pacifism," as Ledru-Rollin charged in the Chamber. Per- 
haps Guizot was right when he said, "While other nations hated 
war, France actually liked it. It is an amusement she is some- 
times forced to refuse herself, but it is always with regret. Peaceful 
policy is called and in one sense is anti-national. 55 But repub- 
licans, though they still measured the nations virtue by its military 
prowess, were beginning to feel that its arms must be used in a good 
cause. At any rate they had their past glory to capitalize on, and 
they played this tune as often as the Rights of Man. Their lunatic 
fringe shot at the King seventeen times in as many years, and the 
first reason, said the American Minister, for so many attempts at 
assassination was just that Louis Philippe wanted peace. 

In spite of their belligerency, the intellectuals were the first to 
recognize that peace hath her victories. One of the ideas of their gen- 
eration was that it was their particularfmission to solve the social 
problem, and that meant giving decent security to every family. 
They knew the times were out of joint, and it seemed to them not 
a cursed spite, but a privilege, that they were born to set it right. 

For France did not become the second industrial power in Europe 
without at the same time accumulating the second most miserable 
class of factory workers. England, of course, had the first, French 
orators were loud in the theme that France must not be allowed to 
sink to the level of Britain where squalor hit every passing eye, and 
where even eyes well chaperoned from misery were assaulted with 
books about the new problems of child labor, the inadequacy of work- 
ing-class homes, the degradation of morals, of intelligence, of hope. 
In France, too, there were numbers of such studies, 3 but the only 

*M. Georges Creveuil has made a careful study of the workers of Nantes under 
Louis Philippe. Those who earned over 600 francs a year, masons, carpenters and 
printers, were good workers, generally honest. They worked with spirit, often even 
joyously, because they were not completely deprived of every happy thought. By 
contrast, those who earned less than 300 francs showed physical suffering pushed to 
the limit. They raised only a fourth of their children, they lived mostly in under- 

1 7 


political action they produced during Louis Philippe's eighteen 
years was a single law against daytime labor by children under 
eight and night labor by those under twelve. Since this law was left 
to the enforcement of voluntary inspectors chosen from the manu- 
facturing class, its effect was unnoticeable. The government prob- 
ably agreed with Guizot that work was a desirable bridle to the 
ambitions of the lower classes, and the only effective one in the ab- 
saj.ce of those moral bridles whose lack he found deplorable. 

Along with poverty came unemployment, endemic throughout the 
reign and a new problem for the nineteenth century. When an inter- 
national financial crisis the first of many broke over Europe in 
1846, it made matters much worse, and caused French production 
to fall by a billion francs out of a total of somewhat less than three 
billions. Skilled workers found themselves hurled back into the lower 
brackets, and unskilled ones into the casteless group of the unem- 
ployed. The harvest of 1846 was notoriously bad in places other than 
famine-stricken Ireland; but though the French government tried 
to help their hungry people by eliminating the tariff on wheat, their 
action came too late. The transportation system of the country was 
still too limited to prevent starvation in some places and hardship 
everywhere. There were peasant revolts which were sternly put 
down; and some estimates had a third of the population of Paris 
on relief in 1847. The city had been swollen to almost a million by 
earlier prosperity and by the need for labor on the extensive fortifi- 
cations which Louis Philippe had pushed through in the early 1840*s, 
and these workers hung on in town. They were to become the fighters 
at the barricades. 

1 Socialism grew up to meet the problem of an industrial working 
"class, and by 1848 there were a number of schools. In France these 
were mostly based upon the hard thinking which Saint-Simon and 
Fourier had done a quarter of a century before. In the 1830's and 
5 40*s their socialist doctrines, watered down, became almost fashiona- 
ble, for their ideas were unusual enough to attract all literate classes, 
calling attention to evils which everyone saw in front of him. At the 

ground houses with no furniture or heat, and as the price of bread rose in the 1847 
crisis, a family of three or four children would eat over a franc's worth a day, while 
the father as a weaver could only earn 75 to 80 centimes. (See the periodical, 
tions de 1848, for February and June, 1948.) 

1 8 


same time, their solutions, though often bizarre, seemed innocuous, 
since they mostly involved the construction of ideal communities. It 
was not until the streets of Paris ran with blood in June 1848 that 
the potential hatred of bourgeois and peasant toward the workers 
was uncovered; after that experience, socialism would create a 
hardier doctrine. 

Of the socialist leaders just before 1848, Louis Blanc was the most 
popular because he seemed the most practical and was the author of 
the best-liked slogan of the period, *^the rightjo work." In a way 
it was hardly fair to introduce him as a jingo yet, that was part 
of his character, too. In 1848 the most earnest social reformers 
were usually the most nationalistic, and in this respect Blanc was 
only acting like Kossuth in Hungary or Mazzini in Italy. 

He was born in Madrid in 1813, the son of a French official there, 
and when he arrived in Paris seventeen years later he was so utterly 
without resources that he nearly starved for a while. Eventually 
he got a position as tutor to the sons of a rising manufacturer and 
became interested in the employees as well as the children of his 
patron. Blanc was surprised to find what a passion for education 
these workers developed. As soon as he could, Blanc moved into the 
wider field of journalism, 4 and in 1840 he offered to the people his 
biggest work, The History of Ten Year $, which was nothing but an 
expose of Louis Philippe's government in the light of its campaign 
promises. Nothing else did as much to open the eyes of Frenchmen 
to the shams of their politics, and the King himself called the book 
"a battering ram against the bulwarks of loyalty. 55 

Louis Blanc had taken "the oath of Hannibal, 55 as he said, against 
the unjust social order and for a contribution toward a just one 
he produced his most famous pamphlet on The Organization of 
Work, which he hoped would point the way to happiness for all 
classes. For he excoriated the idea of class struggle, and believed 
that the rich, who were "pale from fear, 55 would welcome his way out 
as joyfully as the poor who were pale from undernourishment. To 
his mind competition, especially as it developed under the new Eng- 
lish theories of free enterprise, was the source of incredible evil. 

Labor was to be organized, according to Blanc, by setting up 

* Blanc was a stickler for exactness. Once he insisted that a hurt dog does not 
"howl," it "yelps." Another time he refused to accept a patent medicine advertise- 
ment until the maker could produce one individual who had been cured by the product. 

1 9 


"social workshops," essentially producers' cooperatives, with state 
money. The state would not drive out capitalist enterprises directly, 
but would use competition to kill competition by offering employ- 
ment to all who wished it. This was the nub of "the right to work," 
and Blanc not only assumed that most workers would prefer the 
social workshops but that they would be more efficient because of 
good morale and the "cheaper communal life 35 they would offer their 
workers in the way of housing, laundry service, and so on. For Blanc 
was not free of the idea so common in his day that ultimate social 
happiness would be found in planned community living. 

It would be up to the government to keep prices from falling too 
low. Thus, though he talked about the possibility of the workshops' 
becoming independent of the state buying themselves free there 
w&s always in the back of Louis Blanc's mind something authori- 
tarian and absolute. Heine, as subtle a psychologist as any modern 
Freudian, felt that Blanc's aversion to eminent individualism came 
from jealousy in his hidden mind against any superiority, a complex 
based on Blanc's stature. For Louis Blanc, with his dark eyes and 
shining white teeth, was only a bit taller than a dwarf. 

Besides Heine one other person saw through Louis Blanc at the 
time of his popularity, J^rr<|^^ Two bons mots 

were thrown out whenever his name came up, <c ElflypfiJSjte theft" 
and "God is evil." These were always quoted out of context, but they 
sounded sufficiently bitter, not to say sinister, to make him a buga- 
boo. People who only heard of him were terrified, but those who sa^ 
him were always struck with his broad smile. It was said that Venus 
herself might walk past him without being noticed, but whoever 
talked to him was sure to come back with a good story. "I dream of 
a society in which I should be beheaded as a conservative," he re- 
marked to Louis Napoleon. Of all the societies existing, he liked 
the American system best because it governed least; in France he 
distrusted the republic atje^ 

from the top. As he watched the progressive failure of Blanc's sys- 
tem through the revolutionary days of 1848, Proudhon's sharp 
criticisms stick out like the chorus of a Greek tragedy. 

For the support of his principles Louis Blanc could rely on the 
most sophisticated working class leaders on the continent of Europe. 
For years French socialists and liberals had idealized the proletariat. 



Thejbistorian Michelet, "for example, wrote The People in 184*6, a 
little essay in which he described the condition of each class of French 
society, all of them cramped by the conditions of the time, the poor 
by mortgages and factory conditions, the rich by fear of the lower 
classes and by the necessity to lie and flatter. But he found the hope 
of the future in the common people, who not only seemed to have 
a goodness of heart very rare among the rich, but who represented 
all the future of art and science, all the aspirations of the race. 
(When the revolution of 1848 was over, poor Michelet was disil- 
lusioned like thousands of other liberals. He remarked that he could 
never have written The People after that experience.) George Sand 
was another writer who not only glorified the working class hero in 
her novels, but who took the trouble to discover several working class 
poets. Other intellectuals planned courses in workers' education, and 
in response to all this flattery and interest, the skilled branches, at 
least, of the Paris proletariat were comparatively well-dressed, well- 
educated and well-read. A group of them even edited a newspaper, 
L' Atelier; white collar friends were expressly forbidden to sit on its 
board, though they occasionally contributed signed articles. 

One result of the commiseration they received was that the workers 
grew used to having their sufferings described; they enjoyed feeling 
picturesque, and even snubbed Dumas because he refused to sound 
bitter enough about them. 

Another result was that Paris was the only city where a true 
socialist revolt was possible in 1848. Other European capitals lacked 
the working-class leadership for such a fight ; it is also true that their 
energies were more absorbed in the fight for nationality, which the 
French did not have to bother with. 

Besides Louis Blanc's group of educated and presentable workmen, 
there was another acti\e segment of the working classes far more 
revolutionary the secret societies on which Metternich blamed all 
the trouble in Europe. In France under the Restoration they had 
been republican groups whose members were bound by a ritualistic 
oath to wash in the blood of kings. The candidate took this oath 
blindfolded, with a poignard in his hands, sure that death would be 
his own punishment for disloyalty. 

After 1833 the laws against associations were made tighter it 
became a crime to belong to one without official permission. But the 



general conditions of living were made easier, so when the secret 
societies, broken up that year, began covertly to reorganize, they had 
few middle class members save students, and became for the first time 
essentially proletarian. The workers had always known something 
of Compagnonnage, the freemasonry by which young skilled crafts- 
men were initiated into the social life of their trade and often made 
the tour of France before settling down. During the 1840's, descrip- 
tions of this happy way of life became part of the intellectual cult 
of the workers. But the Society of the Seasons had a different char- 
acter. Two- young friends, Armand Barbes and Auguste Blanqui, 
undertook to set up in Paris a society with rational revolutionary 
aims. The plan of its organization was that six members were bossed 
by a man with the title of a Sunday: four complete weeks were 
grouped under a month, say a July ; and three months would make 
a season. (Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday is taken 
from this scheme.) 

The workers clung passionately to their old bloodthirsty rituals, 
somewhat to the dismay of their realistic leaders; but at the same 
time these leaders were able to extract regular contributions for the 
relief of political prisoners, for printing, and for laying up arms. 
Occasionally Blanqui or one of the others would hold a review. Sta- 
tioned in some obscure window he would memorize faces while his 
cohorts marched by with a secret sign to mark them, such as wearing 
their coats buttoned on the left or walking arm in arm by threes. 

In 1889 the societies made an abortive insurrection for which 
both Barb&s and Blanqui were sentenced to death. Public demonstra- 
tions against carrying out the executions were so powerful, added 
to appeals from the poet Lamartine and Barbes' stricken sister, 
and a protest from Victor Hugo, who heard the news at the theater 
and dashed off an appeal in verse to the King, that the soft-hearted 
monarch commuted the sentence. Thus it was that when the monarchy 
fell these two leaders were ready to step out of prison ; but during 
their incarceration the Seasons fell into the hands of less energetic 
guides and became thronged with stool pigeons. 

Perhaps the Seasons' most interesting connection, though it is a 
tenuous one, is in their German affiliate, the League of the Just, 
which Marx and Engels turned into the Communist League. These 
brother societies constituted "the specter which haunted Europe" 
in 1847. When people talked about communism in those days, they 



meant, so far as they knew what they were talking about, these 
materialistic non-religious socialists who were not afraid of the 
class struggle. All of these groups were in those days very small, 
however, numbering their members by hundreds rather than thou- 
sands, and if Marx had not used them as a springboard their influ- 
ence on history would have been hard to detect. 

To all the discontented groups in France, electoral reform seemed 
like a first step, one on which they could unite. It hardly seems in- 
evitable a hundred years later, when everybody either has the vote 
or is accustomed to dictatorship, that social reform should be tied 
so closely to suffrage, but in those days all republicans were to a 
certain degree socialists (for instance, they favored the nationaliza- 
tion of railroads) . And all but a few socialists professed to be republi- 
cans ; they described their common aim as "the democratic and social 
republic." The conservative republic is supposed to have been in- 
vented by Thiers in 1871, but by that time Bismarck and Napoleon 
III had worn a good deal of the silver plate off the idea of votes for 



The Revolution of Contempt 

THE campaign of banquets did not start nor did it stop with the one 
at Macon. Political banquets were an old English custom, and, faced 
with the prohibition against big public assemblies, the opposition 
members of the Chamber of Deputies adopted it in order to force 
the issue of reform upon the government. Lamartine, undecided as 
yet what party to help, was too cautious to attend more than one 
of these affairs his own. The others were in the hands of liberal 
deputies, those who wanted the English type of constitution, and the 
moderate republicans. The opposition that found its way into the 
Chamber under the existing election law was, as may be imagined, by 
no means the strongest anti-government force. But the Chamber was 
the place where infection could come to a head and burst, thus re- 
leasing other forces the students, the secret societies, the disaffected 
national guard and the unpredictable people of Paris. 

All this was far from the minds of the organizers of the first ban- 
quet, held near Paris on July 9, 1847, and attended by 1,200 Pari- 
sian voters. By "reform" they meant a loosening up of the election 
laws to include, not, indeed, the working and serving classes, but a 
far larger share of the substantial middle classes, together with a 
relaxing of the personal government of Guizot and Louis Philippe, 
so that there would be more commercial and intellectual freedom. 
The first banquet was such a success that the custom spread all over 
France and by the end of the year nearly every town had had one. 
Thousands of citizens pledged formal allegiance to the idea of re- 
form by buying a ticket. 

As might be expected, however, the more successful the banquets 
the more each faction wanted to claim credit and to urge its own 
propaganda. It was not long before the republicans and the liberal 
constitutional monarchists split over the question of whether 
there should be a toast to the King. Odilon Barrot, head of the 
constitutionalists, discovered that Ledra-Rollin, the leader of the 
republicans, would attend the banquet at Lille, where there would 



be no toast to His Majesty, so Barrot canceled his acceptance. The 
resulting quarrel seemed likely to put an end to the whole campaign, 
except that a new wind came along to rekindle the flame. 

For the authors of the plan for a culminating Paris banquet were 
far more radical than those that had planned the others : they were 
national guard officers and citizens of the 12th arrondissement of 
Paris. The 12th was on the Left Bank centering on the Pantheon, 
with the university near its fringes, and it had long been a center 
of working-class and student agitation a fact which caused the 
police to raise objections to a banquet there. Liberals who had been 
banqueting all over France felt called upon to support this most 
dangerous fruit of their campaign, even though with misgivings. A 
few of the opposition deputies took over the plans for the affair and 
arranged that that bone of "contention, the republican Ledru-Rollin, 
should be left out for he himself agreed that his name was not 
worth the twenty-four respectable ones who would join the com- 
mittee if he were not on it. Then as a further concession, plans for 
the banquet were postponed until the Chamber should have con- 
cluded a weeks-long debate on its reply to the speech from the throne. 

On December 27 the King in person had opened parliament with 
an extremely self-satisfied speech, touching on the recovery from 
the commercial crisis of 1846, the growth of savings banks, peace 
in Europe, and his own devotion to France. "In the middle of the 
agitation which blind or hostile passions are fomenting, one con- 
viction upholds me : it is that we possess in the constitutional mon- 
archy the most certain means for satisfying for everyone the moral 
and material interests of our dear country. . . . ?n The King's words 
were lost from then on. A glacial silence met his remark about blind 
and hostile passion, and every banqueteer, every member of the op- 
position felt an irrevocable, personal insult thrown in his face. 

Guizot, the chief minister, who, of course, wrote the speech, had 
insisted on the poisoned words for the very reason, he said, that he 
wished to carry the war into the camp of the opposition. 

So far it seemed as if the moderate forces in France were waging 
a clever campaign to win the moderate reforms that the middle 
classes needed. Whatever demands the working class may have had 
were being kept under, and the wishes, whatever they were, of the 

1 Quoted in Stern, Histoire de la revolution de 1848, i, 43. 



12th arrondissement were apparently being stalemated by the safe 
and sane party. 

Nevertheless, yeast was working. During the first weeks of 1848, 
Paris suffered from painful excitement. People in rags, with cadav- 
erous faces, such as were never at other times seen by sunlight in the 
streets began to march in groups "like thunderclouds over the frivo- 
lous Paris sky." They showed first sticks, then guns. One of their 
leaders, tall and strong, carried a child's drum around his neck on 
which he kept beating. Others simply carried the fire of fanaticism 
in their eyes. One landlady was sure revolution was coming because 
the people sang so much, and to clinch her argument she pointed to 
her water carrier who had five loaves of bread under his arm. "For 
the three days. We always do such things in three days." At the 
same time the soldiers who were about looked distracted, as if they 
were afraid they would be ordered to shoot their fellow citizens. 

Meanwhile, the banquet group was still concerned with its own 
small triumphs and did not delay to take up Guizot's challenge. On 
February 14 a new banquet committee was formed, including some 
leaders from each faction but few of the original 12th arrondisse- 
ment group. The deputies, eager to avenge themselves on Guizot 
without taking up the cause of the workers and students, removed 
the scene of the banquet to the Right Bank and raised the price of 
admission. The first date set was Sunday, February 20. As the work- 
ers showed livelier and livelier interest, however especially the in- 
furiated citizens of the 12th the time was moved to the following 
Tuesday when not so many working people could watch. A spot was 
engaged within four walls; a canvas cover was set up of a size to 
accommodate 6,000 guests ; and it was carefully arranged with the 
police that the banquet should not be forbidden by force, but that 
at the entrance to the hall a police commissioner should read an act 
forbidding the guests to go in. The banqueteers were then to go in 
anyway, eat a token meal, and listen to a single toast, to be given 
by Odilon Barrot, "To reform and the right of assembly." Having 
thus broken the law, they were to go peacefully home and try the 
case in the courts. 

Such a lily-livered scheme might have satisfied everybody. Gossip 
told the British Ambassador that the courts would have no choice 
but to declare the banquet legal. 

But there were impatient as well as patient members of the op- 



position, and Odilon Barrot, one of the eminently patient ones, 
describes the horror with which on February 20 he read in the re- 
publican paper, the National, a long formal announcement of plans 
for the banquet. It was just what the committee had decided on, but 
Armand Marrast, the National's editor, had managed to give the 
description an official and battling air. At 11:30 on Tuesday, the 
22nd, the deputies and peers, who wished to attend would meet at 
the Place de la Madeleine and start off for the banqueting place in 
a body. At the Place de la Concorde other banquet subscribers would 
join them, including a few workers and students who had been given 
tickets, and the procession would pass through unarmed files of such 
members of the national guard as were supporting the demonstra- 
tion. Everyone was urged to be peaceful, but everyone was obviously 
invited to watch, and the Ministry became scared by the evident 
size and discipline of the preparations. So the police announced 
hastily that it was illegal for any but constituted authorities to call 
out the national guard and that therefore they would prevent the 
meeting by force. Posters forbade the public to attend and threat- 
ened members of the national guard with severe punishment if they 
showed up in uniform. 

Faced with this threat and the possibility of their peaceful ban- 
quet turning into a meeting of bloodshed, the deputies involved in 
the preparations met at Odilon Barrot's house on Monday and de- 
cided to give up the whole affair. Marrast, the editor of the National, 
indeed proposed the grand gesture that all the opposition deputies 
resign as a protest, but this was too much for most of the group, 
who weakly agreed only to sign a complaint which Barrot was to 
hand to the president of the Chamber, Barrot, the perfect parlia- 
mentarian, would have been happy with a purely parliamentary 
success like this; he was one of those who never appeared in the 
Chamber except in black, very well brushed, and while speaking in 
the tribune, he always kept his left hand behind him in the most 
correct form. A few deputies, led by Lamartine, who is supposed to 
have volunteered to go to the banquet alone, if necessary, "accom- 
panied by his shadow," at first said they would go ahead with the 
plans anyway but by Monday evening they, too, had been per- 
suaded of the possibility of a massacre and abandoned the project. 

The King was overjoyed at this news. "I told you it would all 
disappear in smoke," he told one of his advisers. The government 



saw only the superficiality of the banquets still, while even the most 
superficial of the banqueteers began to see the depths of trouble 
they were kindling. If the administration had left a single channel 
open for the political emotions of its citizens, it might not have 
been completely destroyed. 

Fury boiled in the 12th arrondissement and in the national guard, 
but the people no longer had any leaders. Of the republican news- 
papers, the National naturally reflected the decision Marrast had 
helped to make, while even the more radical Reforme counseled no 
action. Meetings were held at its offices, but even on the 22nd, when 
all Paris seethed with angry indecision, citizens could get no clue 
from the leading radical paper. Three days later the Second Re- 
public was practically to be born in their offices but before they 
could act the newspaper men had to draw courage from the people. 

Except in the Tuileries, where Louis Philippe laughed at the 
"storm in the teapot" that was brewing, Monday night was spent 
uneasily in Paris. Odilon Barrot was busy planning the storm in his 
teapot, the signed protest of the opposition to the forbidding of 
their banquet which he was to hand over to the Chamber. 

The workers, excited by hunger as many of their depositions 
show, as well as by inflammatory placards on the city walls, planned 
in large numbers to take the next day off and see what happened. 
They did not prepare for a battle. 

The secret societies, crowded with stool pigeons, assumed an air 
of watchful waiting. The British Ambassador was told they would 
wait for their old signal, the death of Louis Philippe. Lucien Dela- 
hodde, who was one of the top officers of the Society of the Seasons, 
secretly reported to the police that his society had positive orders 
not to move probably he himself had a voice in giving those orders. 

But there was an offshoot of the Seasons, formed by militants who 
distrusted Delahodde's soothing leadership of the old society with- 
out knowing his true connections as a stool pigeon. They separated 
into a club known as the Dissenting Society, a group which had at 
this time, according to Delahodde, about 400 members, among them 
the inevitable twelve police spies. We hear that these 400 men or- 
ganized the February revolution, spreading out during the night 
to all the suburbs, urging workmen to take the day off ; organizing 



columns of people to march down the boulevards the next morning ; 
and erecting the first barricades. 

The police, though warned by their twelve men of the Dissenting 
Society's intention (100 sous went to each informer), were on the 
whole so confident of their own strength that, with the approval of 
the military and the King, they countermanded orders for the troops 
to occupy strategic zones and told them to stay in their barracks. 
Also, in order not to antagonize the people, the police were told not 
to appear in uniform on Tuesday. A list of 150 key men to arrest 
was made up, but was carelessly forgotten. 

It is doubtful how much the Dissenting Society accomplished. 
Most witnesses, especially those having no contact with the working 
classes, loved to speak with horror of the vast underground net- 
work; Lamartine, who enjoyed making the best possible story, de- 
scribed hordes marching with a discipline that could only have come 
from practice; yet most of the depositions taken later from active 
fighters show that the people who took over the February revolution 
were swept away by enthusiasm and were totally unprepared to seize 
the power that fell into their hands. 

If anybody crystallized their feeling, it was more likely the stu- 
dents. When the student leaders, editors of the Latin Quarter papers, 
L'Avant-Garde and La Lanterne du Quartier Latin, heard that the 
deputies and the grown-up newspapers had given up the banquet, 
they decided it must then be held by the schools. (The medical and 
law students were the revolutionary ones no one could enlist the 
engineers until the third day, when they helped restore order.) All 
Monday night the students prepared for battle, collecting arms and 
casting musket balls, and in the morning, 700 strong, they marched 
to the Palais-Bourbon where the Chamber was sitting, and then across 
the river to the Champs Elysees all the time singing the Marseil- 
laise or the still more popular Girondin chorus, which came from a 
Dumas drama that had opened the previous summer. 

All that really happened on that Tuesday was the milling of 
steadily increasing crowds. They gathered at the Palais-Bourbon 
until some dragoons came out of their barracks on the Quai d'Orsay, 
at a trot and with drawn swords. When they reached the crowd, the 
soldiers reined in their horses and sheathed their weapons. The crowd 
cheered them wildly, and the dragoons saluted an ominous sign 
for the King. Later in the day the government decided to call out 



more troops and to summon the national guard, a step they had hesi- 
tated to take thus far because of plausible doubts of their loyalty. In 
any case, on this occasion the orders got mixed and the guard showed 
up in small numbers. 

"'The gamins of Paris, forever eager for excitement, found this a 
good day to practice their favorite sport of stone-throwing, and 
towards evening their older brothers got the fever and began to put 
up a few barricades. As the sun sank behind two broad red clouds, 
it glinted on a musket at every street corner. By this time everybody 
on both sides who had a uniform put it on. An Englishman says he 
was the only person in the street in mufti; in his restaurant the 
proprietor was in uniform, and "our fillet of beef was brought to us 
by a corporal and our coffee poured out by a sergeant." 

Nothing had happened the whole day, there was only one man 
dead. Yet the theaters were closed, and "when the Comedie-franfaise 
shuts its doors in perilous times it is like the battening down of the 
hatches in dirty weather." 

At seven o'clock the next morning (February 23) troops marched 
in and took their places at various points in the city the Place de la 
Concorde, the Hotel de Ville, the Porte Saint-Denis, and the Porte 
Saint-Martin. Then the drums went through all arrondissements to 
beat the rappel and summon the national guard. 

The national guard ought to have been Louis Philippe's most 
loyal defender, for its establishment was one of the triumphs of the 
July days of 1830. The right of citizens to bear arms was one of 
the most insistent liberal demands throiighout this period, and 
when Epiiis Philippe was ^jjijg*^ grant it, this seemed proof that 
IjisLjaw. .monarchy would, have . a, force to. guard its. .constitution. 
Since 1830 the guard had always responded to the call of monarchy 
in trouble, and it enjoyed the exclusive privilege of service at the 
Tuileries and attendance on the King's carriage. Eligibility was on 
a somewhat broader basis than suffrage, for any man between 20 
and 60 who paid a property tax could join. Each citizen supplied 
his own uniform, though this was theoretically optional, and the 
cavalry their horses as well, so there was a good measure of snob 
appeal in belonging. In spite of these attractions, by 1848 plenty 
of members were thoroughly bored with guard service. There is a 
tale that Balzac, a few years previously, neglected his duties so 



determinedly that officers hunted all over Paris to find him, and 
finally snagged him by pretending to deliver a handsome Italian 
vase to his suspected hiding place. When he signed for the parcel 
they ran in and dragged him off to prison for a week. Something 
similar befell Dumas. 

Added to the general boredom was the fact that the men enrolled 
in the guard were mostly of the self-sufficient middle class that was 
particularly conscious of the need for just such reforms as the ban- 
quet campaign had been pushing. On the very eve of the uprising 
a friend of Lamartine tried to puncture the complacency of a general 
officer by declaring that he belonged to the best company of the 
best battalion of the best legion of the guard and the spirit of all 
the men was detestable. 

Doubts were felt therefore even in the highest quarters, but the 
troops were supposed to fight better if they had the citizen guard 
beside them. Dumas says the first drum beat came to his ears about 
eleven, and "when we heard that cry of royalty we understood that 
affairs were serious." But the guard had its own mind. In the famous 
12th arrondissement it decided to gather in force in order to be able 
to act for reform ; the 8th pursued the opposite tactic of not obeying 
the call. By noon several legions had made their way to the Tuileries 
to petition the King for concessions. There is a legend that many 
guards gave up their arms and uniforms to the people, either from 
force or from sympathy. And as for the regulars, if any soldier were 
separated an instant from his line the mob immediately seized him ; 
he was embraced in the friendliest way, deftly disarmed and sent 

Barricades were building all this time and cries of "Vwe la 
Reforme" and "A bas Guizot" became louder. By two-thirty the 
King was talking to Guizot and saying he would rather abdicate 
than lose his favorite minister. Later the King said that Guizot 
abandoned him in this critical moment. Guizot, on the other hand, 
states that the King pushed him into it. Guizot was probably right 
about this, for he explained that he could not grant reform, with his 
record and though the King embraced him with tears, he listened 
to the cries outside the window and finally announced he would send 
for the reactionary Count Mole to return to office and form a new 

When Guizot went to the Assembly in the Palais-Bourbon to tell 

3 1 


them of his dismissal, Odilon Barrot had turned in his petition re- 
garding the forbidding of the banquet, and the president had re- 
ceived it in stony silence and refused to allow discussion. Then 
Guizot walked in, his face pale and contracted, his head thrown 
back for fear of seeming to lower it, and his tone of voice charging 
Louis Philippe with black ingratitude. The news hit the members 
of the majority just where it would hurt most. It seemed to them, 
accustomed to living on their votes, like treason and Tocqueville 
noted on their faces "surprise, anger, fear, avarice." 

At the fall of Guizot everything lapsed into worse disorder than 
everT^Sjess^7 tEe usually mild and able chief of police, urged the 
arrest of political enemies of the monarchy, the opposition deputies 
and such, but no one was in a position to give such a drastic order. 
Guizot was determined to let his successor stew in the juice that he 
had left simmering, and in view of the hotness of the pot it was many 
hours before anyone could be found. Count Mole sensibly refused; 
the voices of the people when they heard of Guizot's dismissal were 
enough to indicate that only a liberal ministry could possibly con- 
trol them. The news was all over the city by three o'clock, and the 
large bourgeois elements broke into immediate rejoicing. Women 
and children began to come out into the streets and bands of people 
went around forcing everyone to illuminate his house. Rothschild's 
mansion was lit up, and even Guizot's residence at the Foreign 
Affairs building, though Guizot himself had departed. 

The workers, however, were still distrustful. They had been badly 
disillusioned in 1830, having made a revolution then and let the 
bourgeoisie run off with the profits, and until Guizot's successor had 
been found they would maintain their barricades. An excitable 
young man named Marie-Joseph Sobrier, who was both radical and 
rich, "one of those light-headed young men whom the imprudence 
of parents allows to remain their own masters in Paris," ran from 
barricade to barricade until he fell exhausted, telling the workers 
that the fall of Guizot was not enough, that they should go to the 
Chamber of Deputies and demand their rights. 

In the middle of this double-edged excitement came a massacre. 
Along in the evening a column of singing people, with a red flag at 
the head, marched from the office of the republican National to the 
Ministry of Justice, where they forced the minister to light up his 
windows, then to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By this time the 



crowd around them was enormous, but the officer guarding the 
Ministry ordered his troops not to let them pass. The crowd was 
continually pushed forward from the rear ; to back up would have 
been impossible. The officer took his horse, which was scared by the 
red torches, behind the line of troops and ordered his men to fix 
bayonets. They had to step back a few paces to do this, and as they 
handled their loaded guns a shot went off. It was almost certainly 
an accident, although scores of fantastic stories were worked up 
later to explain the event to the satisfaction of either side. 

At any rate the soldiers reacted with a volley of musket fire 
straight into the crowd. 

People scattered in terror, leaving the street bloody and groaning 
with wounded. Fifty-two people were killed by this fusillade, and no 
one counted the number of wounded who were carried into apothe- 
cary shops and nearby houses. 

Afterwards the soldiers who had been in that company had the 
numbers taken off their hats ; they had to be mixed up with other 
regiments to save them from the anger of the people. 

That night the genius of revolution was working, as Odilon Barrot 
put it. Someone found a huge wagon with a white horse and piled 
the corpses on it. A man on the shaft of the wagon held a torch so 
that everyone might see the dead. Some witnesses described a young 
woman's body on top of the heap with her bloody breast exposed, 
while a workingman kept lifting the corpse and embracing it, cry- 
ing "Vengeance." 

This funeral wagon went all over Paris until dawn. Its followers 
knocked on the doors of poor homes and made people wake up and 
look at the bodies. Church bells rang out the tocsin; and people 
100,000, they say began to seize arms and build more barricades. 
New processions of fantastic nature filled the streets Dumas de- 
scribes a group whose leader was dressed only in blue trousers and a 
shirt. His bare arm held up a red flag, while two men beside him 
carried torches. Then a fourth man came along holding a straw 
image dipped in pitch, alight on a high stick. 

The students of L* Avant-Garde spent the night preparing to lead 
the struggle and making more powder and balls. Their editorial 
explained, "We understand that it is up to democracy to conquer 
or die." The people were in fact so well prepared that when Marshal 



Bugeaud attacked at five on Thursday morning (the 24th) his plans 
failed. He thought that Paris would not be awake so early. 

For Marshal Bugeaud, Duke of Isly, was the one leader who had 
been found to help the King. He received the appointment about 
midnight to command all forces in the fight against the insurrection, 
both the army and the national guard, and immediately took en- 
ergetic action. His very name heartened the men under him, who 
had been allowed to remain wet, cold, ill-fed, and ill-armed. Munitions 
were ordered from Vincennes, one of the nearest fortresses, to be 
pushed right through the rioting districts, and plans were made to 
occupy important spots. At last the military had the leadership it 
needed to quell the rebellion, or so it seemed. 

On the parliamentary front, the King finally summoned Louis 
Adolphe Thiers, the titular leader of the opposition, who had been 
prime minister in 1840 and was to become president of the Third 
Republic after 1871. Thiers told His Majesty that in order to form 
a ministry he would require the assistance of Odilon Barrot. It was 
a bitter pill for Louis Philippe to have to take into his cabinet one 
of the men most conspicuously labeled the month before as having 
a blind and hostile passion. (Thiers throughout the banquet cam- 
paign had carefully kept his coattails out, while instigating Barrot 
to involve himself as deeply as possible. It was Barrot's fate never to 
realize how he was exploited.) 

The new ministry, for Thiers was his last hope and the King had 
to give in, demanded two things, Bugeaud's dismissal and the dis- 
solution of the Chamber with a new election. The marshal had been 
one of the most hated men in Paris ever since he brutally repressed 
some riots in 1834, in what the working classes knew evermore as a 
"massacre." On the very day of his new appointment he declared in 
the Chamber of the Peers that he would still fire if he had 50,000 
women and children in front of him. No liberal ministry could have 
taken office with the odium of his name attached. The King de- 
murred, but realized he was in a corner and finally compromised by 
giving the order that Bugeaud should withdraw all regular troops 
outside the city while the national guard, which would now have to 
bear the defense of the monarchy, should be commanded by a more 
popular general. Thiers and Barrot, who only became ministers 
about eight in the morning of the 24th, signed an order to all troops 
not to fire. This order was printed and posted all over Paris as 



quickly as possible, but whereas it thoroughly demoralized the 
troops, the common people were afraid it was a trick, especially as 
no copy of the order had been sent to the official newspaper, the 
MoniteuT) nor were the new cabinet's names listed. (Guizot, though 
it was after his dismissal, had thoughtfully inserted the notice of 
Bugeaud's appointment in the Moniteur's pages.) 

By this time Paris streets were everywhere dammed with barri- 
cades, 1,512 in all at the final count. In small streets they seemed 
to rise almost every ten feet, while at important squares huge ones 
rose that were to become legends. Enthusiastic Paris citizens had 
used barricades ever since 1588 (against the Duke of Guise) and 
now they went methodically to work with crowbars to dig up the 
foot-square paving stones. They politely stopped omnibuses, un- 
hitched the horses, assisted the passengers to alight, and turned the 
vehicles over to be weighted down with stones. They tore iron rail- 
ings from houses, cut down four thousand trees along the boulevards 
and destroyed nearly as many lampposts, so that afterwards the 
streets looked as if they had been swept by a tornado. Between tKc 
barricades men crouched around huge fires casting lead balls. AT 
over town, houses had been ransacked for arms, and chalked or 
doors one could read, "Arms Given Up," some added, "With Pleas- 
ure." Through the incessant tocsin, the Marseillaise sounded every- 
where, or Mourir pour la Patrie, the Girondin chorus. Poor Heine 
who lived through these days, tried to hum old German folksongs tc 
himself to break the monotony in his ears, but utterly without 

Outside Paris the railways, stations, and bridges were destroyec 
for distances as great as thirty miles partly because people wer< 
angry at the speculative exploitation which had gone on in building 
them, but also because there were enough coachmen and other driven 
who felt the railroads were taking their jobs to direct this particula: 
destruction. Inside the city, too, many workers tried to destroy their 
machines, although a poster from some of their leaders was spread 
around saying that to do so was to "stifle the voice of the Revo- 

The worst fight came at the Chateau d'Eau, a military post on 
the south side of the square of the Palais-Royal. It owed its name 
to the large fountain where water from the Seine was piped to this 
section of Paris. Water carriers with their carts came every day to 



fill their oaken buckets there. On this 24th of February the crowd 
heard that troops were holding prisoners there and also that it was 
defended by a detachment of municipal guards. (The municipal 
guards were a kind of militarized police, in great popular odium 
not to be confused with the national guard.) The Chateau had a 
thick oak door which no effort of the crowd succeeded in breaking 
down, so they dragged eighteen carriages to the door and set them 
on fire. When the Chateau itself caught fire, the defenders had to 
surrender. And what happened then makes a study in the psychology 
of historical witnesses. Delahodde, the conservative police spy, would 
have it that as the municipal guards threw down their arms and 
marched out, the crowd shot every one. On the other hand the liberal 
Daniel Stern says that once they surrendered the crowd received 
even the hated municipal guards with open arms and, with chivalry 
typical of the working class, nursed the wounded as tenderly as their 
own brothers. What probably happened is that the first few out of 
the building, trying to shout that they were surrendering, were shot, 
but that the rest were spared, whether or not to be nursed no- im- 
partial witness remembers. 

As the fight moved from the Chateau d'Eau over to the Palais- 
Royal a woman led a band of fifty people to the attack. She was 
dressed in a chemise and a skirt, with stockings which fell spirally 
about her legs. Her brown hair fell to her waist, and her shoulders, 
arms and most of her breast were bare. As men rushed up to embrace 
her she brushed them off, for all her ardor was devoted to the revo- 

As might be guessed, the unhappy King was becoming every 
minute more discouraged. Marshal Bugeaud refused to obey the 
orders given by a civilian minister such as Odilon Barrot, and had 
to be told expressly by one of the King's sons to give the order not 
to fire, and to withdraw his troops. Thereupon Bugeaud placarded 
the walls with the order, signed with his name, not realizing that the 
public would not trust any conciliation coming from him. Still, by 
eleven o'clock the order was out everywhere and the trumpets 
sounded retreat. 

Barrot himself became a pompous walking placard, as he conceived 
it his duty to go from barricade to barricade explaining the new 
deal to the fighters. At first he felt his efforts were successful, but 
as the day wore on he became dusty and hollow-cheeked, and his hat 



became crushed down over his eyes. When the workers at the Porte 
Saint-Denis, behind their formidable two-story barricade, met him 
with derision, even he began to understand how the temper of the 
people was changing. For the first time men started to cry for a 

The policing of the city was now up to the national guard which 
took to marching around with drums, but they had voted heavily 
not to support the King with arms until he had granted reform. 
Most of its members probably did not want a republic, but by fail- 
ing to hold firmly to the monarchy, they decisively laid the path 
open for one. In the hope of building up their morale, the King, in 
the uniform of a general of the guard, reviewed them; but when 
some of the members began calling for reform from the parade 
ground, the King turned gray and went suddenly back into his 

The people meanwhile were seizing the Hotel de Ville with its 
cannon and beginning to converge on the royal palace of the 

There, the King was no more happy inside with his new cabinet 
than he had been outside with his national guard. Thiers kept insist- 
ing on the dissolution of the Chamber with new elections forthwith. 
When His Majesty demurred, he heartlessly proposed that perhaps 
he had better summon M. Guizot again. 

Abdication was the natural course of action for such an unhappy 
monarch, and towards the end of the morning it was put to Louis 
Philippe dramatically by Emile de Girardin, director of La Presse? 
who rushed in apparently unannounced and dared to tell the King 
to get off his throne. 

Now the heir was Louis Philippe's nine-year-old grandson, the 
Count of Paris, son of the Duke of Orleans, who had been killed in 
a carriage accident in 1842. His mother, the Duchess of Orleans, 

3 La Presse was the first cheap paper in Paris. In 1836 Girardin reduced its sub- 
scription price from 80 francs to 40 for the year, with the novel idea that ads would 
pay the expenses. Girardin was not disappointed. His paper had 60,000 subscribers, 
winning popularity not only by its price (which the other papers had to imitate) but 
by its general news coverage. Lamartine, Dumas, and Chateaubriand were among its 

Before he bought La Pr&se, in his early days of poverty Girardin made his start 
with a fabulously successful little sheet called Le Voleur (literally, The Thief) . Since 
he could not at that time afford to pay for contributions, Le Volewr announced that 
it would reprint in each issue the most interesting articles from all other publications. 



was a German princess who had been a friend of Goethe in his life- 
time, and was still one of Humboldt and Victor Hugo. She was 
young, beautiful, and serious, but not too popular with other mem- 
bers of the French royal family because of her Protestantism and her 

French law stated clearly that in case of the accession of the Count 
of Paris while still a minor, his oldest uncle, the Duke of Nemours, 
would be regent. Before his death the Duke of Orleans had specifi- 
cally stated that lie would not want a woman regent, on the theory 
that the head of the government of France ought always to be able 
to mount his horse within a quarter of an hour. Or, as Louis Philippe 
is said to have put it more vulgarly, "Ce qui accouche ne doit pas 

In spite of these hindrances many liberals were hoping that some 
way could be found to make the Duchess regent. 

The Duchess herself begged her father-in-law on her knees not to 
abdicate; the Queen told her husband to die at his place; but his 
sons urged him to get off the throne. Slowly Louis Philippe sat down 
and wrote that he abandoned the throne in favor of the Count of 
Paris. Not a word about the regency. The paper was snatched from 
his hesitating old fingers and Louis Philippe offered his arm to his 
Queen and led her into exile. Looking back afterwards he thought 
he had done right, since his motive was to spare bloodshed, but he 
took the step, he said, only after "a general abdication of the public 


The royal family had no difficulty in getting to England, even 
though Louis Philippe forgot to take the half -million francs he had 
gotten ready for just such an emergency. Lord Palmerston told 
British consuls to offer any aid they could, and the new provisional 
government that was soon set up in Paris also budgeted money to 
have the ex-king secretly kept safe, though this sum was never 

Louis Philippe was a humane and conscientious ruler, by no means 
proud of his office like Frederick William of Prussia or the Haps- 
burgs who felt God owed them a throne; but he became vain in his 
old age, and conceit put a veil between him and his people. He could 
not see what they wanted because he was so sure they ought to want 
just what he was giving them. 

At the end, therefore, support slipped away from him like the 



final caving-in of land that has been slowly washing away for years. 
His first active mistake in the catastrophe was to alienate what 
should have been his loyal opposition by branding their wishes blind 
and hostile, driving them into actions more daring and far-reaching 
than they would have wished. Then, by forbidding their banquet, he 
disorganized these moderate, not to say timid leaders. 

Royalty's next line of defense should have been the national 
guard, but to these men, too, the forbidding of the banquet and the 
appointment of Marshal Bugeaud over them seemed to cap a long 
age of restriction and autocracy. They were unwilling to assume 
responsibility for this kind of law and order therefore, Paris fell 
to the mob. 

The mob, in turn, was infuriated beyond any hope of pacification 
by the unfortunate shooting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Now came the real moment of blind and hostile passions, sweeping 
the old government out of ofRce, heedless of where a new group of 
leaders were to be found. Paris was luckier than Berlin or Vienna 
later that summer, for there had been enough political activity in 
France to create leaders eager and able to take command of the 
situation. To a large extent they came out of the republican news- 
paper offices, and when they consolidated their power, several mem- 
bers of the left wing of the reforming banquet group assumed office 
Lamartine, Ledru-Rollin, and Louis Blanc. 

Hardly had the King and Queen left the Tuileries when the people 
burst in. Finding the table set for lunch, a group of workers sat 
down and ate it with much hilarity and ironically elegant manners. 
Everybody sat on the throne in turn and began carrying off souve- 
nirs and breaking china, while someone put up a sign, "House for 
Rent." However, they did not touch the pictures, because (Dumas 
tells us) they obscurely felt they could never replace works of art, 
though it took ten wagons later to carry off chipped porcelain and 
burnt tapestries. They managed to break 23,000 pieces of glass- 
ware, and the gold leaf on the broken table china was still worth 
20,000 francs. 3 So the mob lived on for days in squalid splendor, 
using the palace servants, until finally the new government had to 
drive them out by force. 

Since it was up to the Chamber of Deputies to pass on the question 

8 A franc was worth about 18.6 cents in those days. 



of regency, friends of the Duchess of Orleans urged her to go thither 
in person and plead her case. Victor Hugo even tried to make her 
ride through the streets and appeal to the people, but she was too 
shy to do this. She did appear in the Chamber, dressed in heavy 
mourning, leading her two sons in short black jackets and pleated 
white collars, and made a sight so touching that Lamartine, who had 
just decided to support a republic, was afraid she would melt all 
hearts. He induced her to take a back seat and proceeded with his 
oration in favor of the republic, though he tells us his heart bled 
as he did so. When the Duchess asked permission to speak it was 
denied her, and when someone moved that a provisional government 
be established, everyone applauded, including the small pretender. 

The Chamber was filling up with citizens who poured in and over- 
flowed the galleries, the halls, the aisles. Before things became too 
dangerous the Duchess and her children were helped to escape, but 
the meeting soon became too rowdy for the president to manage, so 
he put on his hat, a sign of adjournment. The crowd refused to let 
themselves be cheated by this maneuvre and immediately raised an 
old and valiant republican leader, Dupont de PEure, to the chair. 
The duty before the house was to select names for the provisional 

Nearly every group of politically minded citizens in Paris had 
spent the afternoon preparing lists for such a government, but the 
two most important meetings for this purpose were held in the news- 
paper offices of the National and the Reforme. 

The National was the paper of the moderate republicans. It was 
the only paper in Paris that had refused to accept bribes of railroad 
shares in the 1830's. (At that time nearly all republicans were in 
favor of state-owned railroads.) Its editor was Armand Marrast. 
The Reforme, founded in 1843, was much more radical, but was 
considered less dangerous because it had barely 2,000 subscribers 
and was going on the rocks financially. Its editor was Ferdinand 
Flocon; its angel, Ledru-RoHin of banqueting fame; and it sup- 
ported the policies of Louis Blanc. 

On this February 24, the partisans of both papers gathered at the 
journals' offices and started writing out their tickets. Some names, 
like Lamartine and Francois Arago, the famous republican astrono- 
mer, headed both lists, but further down each group tried to inscribe 
as many of its own editors and contributors as possible. A hurried 



consultation was carried out between the two factions and the joint 
list and various reasonable facsimiles were hurried over to the Palais- 

Significantly the radical meeting at the Reforme took one extra 
precautionary step. They ordered two of their own men to take 
immediate charge of the police and post offices. Etienne Arago, 
brother of the astronomer, rushed to the post office and ordered that 
the mails should start moving immediately, barricades or no barri- 
cades. Subsequently, he helped popularize the republic by introduc- 
ing cheap postal service. 4 But far more important, since every revolu- 
tionary group at bhat time, as at this, recognized the importance of 
controlling the police, they sent one of their most efficient organizers 
to the Prefecture, Marc Caussidiere. 

Caussidiere had a tremendous heavy body with a sugar-loaf head 
sunk between his shoulders, and small pig eyes that shone with 
wariness and finesse. Otherwise his person betokened good nature, 
and many are the tales of how much he could eat and drink. He had 
earlier thought up several good ideas for starting in business, like 
lighting house numbers at night and developing a waterproof fabric, 
but he never worked hard enough to be financially successful. He 
lived off his friends, particularly Ledru-Rollin, who seems to have 
used his wife's fortune to keep half the republican party going, in- 
cluding the Reforme. But in jobs requiring less constant application 
than making a living, Caussidiere's success was sensational. In 1845, 
for instance, he joined and reactivated the secret society of Seasons. 
In 1847 he was sent all over France to raise money for the Reforme, 
and succeeded in keeping the paper alive. 

When he was given the congenial task of installing himself in the 
police headquarters, he met no resistance from the demoralized of- 
ficials. What he slyly calls "his only revolutionary threat" was to 
gather all the police captains and officers together and tell them he 
would shoot anyone who was treasonable to the new regime. 

His next move was to draw up a proclamation to the people of 
Paris, urging the citizens to keep their arms at hand and their 
revolutionary spirits up, reminding them that they had often been 
betrayed before. Since the police always regulated retail stores, he 
also decreed that food shops should stay open for the remainder of 

* Postal reform began in England, with a penny rate for letters set in 1840. The 
U.S.A. followed in 1847. In France, in August 1848, the rate was set at 20 centimes. 



the emergency, for he was anxious to make the new regime popular 
and that things should be easy and pleasant for the people. 

These duties attended to, he inspected his new office. First he 
found where the money was kept, then he discovered the records of 
police spies, which he was to find most interesting reading in the 
course of ensuing weeks. All his republican friends enjoyed coming 
in to look up their own names in the police record. 

(In spite of the irregularity of their appointments by a mere citi- 
zens' meeting, Caussidiere and Arago were to entrench themselves too 
well for the new legal government to do anything but accept them 
and keep them on. The chief of police was always willing to give 
jobs to deserving republicans and to help people out with friendship, 
advice, and money. His devotion to the party did not, however, go to 
the length of hiring republican cooks the excellent servants of the 
old regime were kept on, and they served up fine food for the revels 
which Caussidiere delighted in giving for his friends.) 

Back at the Palais-Bourbon the serious business of choosing the 
provisional government was in hand. The scene was tumultuous and 
doubtless would have lost all order if everyone there had not had in 
his mind a perfect picture of how a revolution should be conducted. 
Luckily the pattern was clear to all. They did not remember the 
history of 1830 in vain. After Dupont de PEure took the chair 
Lamartine sorted out the lists of names for a provisional govern- 
ment that were handed to him on behalf of various groups. After 
several false starts he got Ledru-Rollin, who was in the tribune, to 
read the names aloud. As each one was called, the crowd roared its 
applause Dupont de PEure, Lamartine, Arago, Marie, Gamier- 
Pages, Cremieux. But this procedure was only a start. Ritual re- 
quired the new provisional government to march to the Hotel de 
Ville, there to be consecrated by the people's applause. The new 
ministers set off together for this ceremony. On the way they passed 
a military post where some dragoons were sitting, apparently none 
too happy over the situation. Lamartine stopped, begged them for 
a drink of their red wine, and as he touched it to his lips recalled 
the almost forgotten beginning of the story : "Here is your banquet." 
The revolution of contempt was neither as bloody nor as pas- 
sionate as the revolution of freedom had been, but as far as its 
participants could manage it had been played along the same lines ; 
and like a good play, it produced its feeling of catharsis. 



The Republic of Intellectuals 

AT THE Hotel de Ville every room was full of people, wounded still 
lying on straw, orators making speeches from window sills, and the 
mass just watching to see what was going to happen. When the 
members of the provisional government arrived by ones and twos, 
for they could not keep together, they could hardly force their way 
in, and there seemed no place where they could sit down, let alone 
deliberate. At last someone found them a small private office where 
they barred the door with heavy furniture and posted a few well- 
disposed youths outside to guard them. Here they sat down to a 
session that lasted fifteen stormy hours. Crowds kept beating on the 
door with their demands, and seven times Lamartine had to go out 
and pacify the people with his "purple and golden" words ; some of 
the others took turns at this job, too. And more than once an in- 
ordinately obstinate republican forced his way into the very presence 
of the cabinet. 

The first of such interruptions was perhaps the most unwelcome 
to the seven men in conference. It consisted of Louis Blanc, borne on 
the shoulders of some workers or he could never have forced his small 
frame through the crowd, together with Ferdinand Flocon, editor 
of the Re-forme, announcing that they were also members of the pro- 
visional government, chosen by the meeting at the Reforme and 
consecrated by the people just like the seven gentlemen already 

"Consecration" of the new rulers was accomplished by the roar 
of the people's applause as each of them presented himself to the 
crowd at the Hotel de Ville and explained his principles. Each of 
the first group had done this, and now the newcomers also ; and it 
was true that in this probation the new ones were as popular as the 
others, probably more so. It would be dangerous if not impossible 
to exclude these radicals after they had been endorsed by the crowd, 
yet the original conservative seven felt reluctant to admit them. 
Then the practical Garnier-Pages thought of a formula: let them 



be "secretaries" to the new government, secretaries with consultative 
voices. This seemed to make Lamartine and his colleagues happier ; 
the new arrivals agreed, but said they must include also the name of 
Albert, a worldngman. For it had been decided at the Re-forme meet- 
ing that a worker should by all means have his name in the new 
government, and Albert was proposed though he was not present. 
Now Louis Blanc had explained about him to the crowd and they 
had consecrated him in absentia. Although the new cabinet accepted 
a working-class member, no one ever bothered to call him anything 
but Albert, which was his given name (his surname was Martin) a 
beautiful example of nineteenth century class feeling, and possibly 
one reason why Albert said he felt patronized and soon wanted to 

Somehow or other Flocon's rival editor of the National, Armand 
Marrast, was also included in the new government, and so the orig- 
inal seven became eleven. Within two days the pretense of secretary- 
ships was dropped and the new members were accepted, and acted, 
on perfect equality with the old. 

This was emphatically not because they liked each other. Tocque- 
ville, indeed, commented that it would be hard to find a body of men 
who mutually hated each other more sincerely, but the balance of 
power was so delicate that they simply could not allow resignations. 
Except for Albert and possibly Arago they were all conceited men ; 
by reading their memoirs it is easy to confirm the sarcasm of Odilon 
Barrot that it was as if Providence had deliberately thrown together 
all varieties of human pride, in order to show how little this senti- 
ment could accomplish. They were also suspicious. Ledru, Lamar- 
tine, and Marrast are known to have kept secret operatives to spy 
on the others ; and when the government fell, each delighted to hint 
in delicate Gallic manner which of his colleagues, in his opinion, 
should receive the blame. 

Decidedly this is to put the lowest estimate of them first. In the 
test they all proved honest. No later investigation could ever show 
either mismanagement of funds or even undue extravagance. And 
they all stuck by the republic and their own convictions, even if each 
one believed his own conception of a republic was the only possible 
one. What they lacked, what all the continental republicans of 1848 
lacked, was experience in the practice of democracy which lets men 



allow time for changes, and tolerance by which opposing sides may 
rub each others' corners off instead of splitting them into pieces. 

Here they sat, then, this uneasy fellowship, with the people still 
ready to burst in and demand immediate confirmation of all their 
wishes. The first demand was the republic. In its creation the people 
could understand no delay, and in fact set delegates of their own to 
remain in the council room and make sure the government did not 
equivocate. In vain the hesitant legalists around the table said they 
should leave the proclamation of a republic up to popular vote. Louis 
Blanc, with the masses at the door to back him up, forced the other 
members to decree that they "wished" a republic now, and decreed 
one, subject to immediate ratification at the polls. And to* quiet the 
crowd someone broke out a huge banner on which was written with 
a piece of charcoal, "The Republic one and indivisible is declared." 

When morning came the new ministers, who had spent the night 
drafting decrees and distributing portfolios, breakfasted on black 
bread and cheese left by the soldiers and drank red wine and water 
out of a cracked sugar bowl which they passed from mouth to mouth. 
"A good beginning for economy in government," remarked Lamar- 

All that first day of peace, February 25, things would not quiet 
down. Workers still circulated through the streets of Paris, not 
knowing exactly what to ask for next. About noon an armed man 
came into the deliberating chamber and pounded with his musket on 
the floor. "Droit au travail" he said, "the right to work." Blanc 
says he was handsome, pale, and savage, with the people's electricity 
in his eye ; and Lamartine for once felt himself at somewhat of a loss 
when he drew him aside, trying to remonstrate, and was told, "No 
more poetry." Meanwhile, Blanc was hastily drawing up a decree 
which he read to the man. It pledged the republic to give work to all 
citizens who needed it, but Blanc pointed out the impossibility of 
doing this overnight. "Very well, Monsieur," said the worker. "The 
people are waiting. They will put three months of misery at the 
service of the Republic." 

Next came the delegation that wanted the red flag adopted as the 
standard of the new republic instead of the tricolor which had been 
"dishonored" under Louis Philippe. The red flag had been used on 
some of the barricades and was accepted as the color of socialism ; 
now a passion hit the crowd to make it their own forever. It was a 



dark wet day, but when boys began distributing bits of red cloth, 
the street was soon brilliant with flashes of color. Once again the mob 
gathered around the Hotel de Ville and demanded a concession. But 
this time the provisional government did not give in because their 
financial advisor said the red flag would absolutely ruin their credit. 
So Lamartine, himself just barely convinced, went oub to face the 
mob again and even with their loaded muskets leveled at him he pro- 
duced an oration powerful enough to turn the emotion of his hearers. 
"The tricolor has gone around the world in triumph," he said, "the 
red flag has only been dragged through mud and blood around the 
Champ de Mars." He was referring to a famous "massacre" of the 
people that occurred in the Champ de Mars in 1791. Reminded of 
their national glory, the people accepted the tricolor. As a conces- 
sion, under the Second Republic, it was always to have a red rosette 
at its staff ; and members of the provisional government, who were 
already arrayed with large blue-white-and-red sashes over their 
shoulders, agreed to wear red rosettes in their buttonholes to remind 
themselves of the barricades. 

Having met this first slowing of their momentum, the multitude 
was willing to give up for a while and go home, leaving the new gov- 
ernment more or less at peace. For a brief moment, hardly long 
enough to be called a honeymoon, everyone was enthusiastic, from 
the wealthy inhabitants and diplomats living in the Faubourg Saint- 
Germain to the poorest ragpicker. Egoism seemed to have disap- 
peared; property was safe; someone was always at hand to help 
ladies politely over barricades, while every man that passed was 
asked to pull down one stone. Even Prince Louis Napoleon, rushing 
from England to put himself at the disposition of his country, per- 
formed this service. People were all called "laborer," and Trees of 
Liberty began to be planted over the city, affectionately decorated 
with flowers, flags, -and ribbons. 

In the Champs Elysees, boys in jockey jackets shot at a clay 
image of the King if they hit him in the eye, their prize was a 
statue of liberty. On Punch's stand "Egalite" was printed, and Judy 
wore a Phrygian cap. And the crowds that rode out to see the shows 
jammed the busses, for hackney cabs suddenly became unfashionable. 

It was mid-March before the first conservative notice dared to 
appear among the rows of friendly libertarian placards pasted on 
the walls of every street. It took the conservatives almost a month 



to rally their forces and begin to oppose the new government. By 
April the moderates began to doubt ; and by May, "society was cut 
in two ; those who possessed nothing united in a common greed, those 
who possessed something united in a common terror.' 51 In June the 
split ended with a bloodier battle than that of February. 

The members of the new government were all republicans why 
then did they not agree ? It was extraordinary how what had seemed 
like a small left wing under the monarchy should suddenly expand 
to include nearly all France, with as many views and interests as 
France itself. 

The biggest split was between the advocates of the social welfare 
republic and the democratic republic. By censoring the lists handed 
to him at the last meeting of the Chamber of Deputies, Lamartine 
had practically selected the names of the government members there 
chosen ; these seven he fairly dominated during their term of office, 
even Ledru-Rollin, by far the most radical of the group. But Ledru 
stood for property and order in the end, for his radicalism consisted 
mostly in more willingness than the others that the people should 
vote for what they really wanted instead of what Lamartine wanted 
them to want. 

The new members of the government, the four that burst in, 
headed by Louis Blanc and backed by Caussidiere in the police 
office, were the left wing of the government; yet they were only at 
the center of opinion as expressed by a very vocal Paris. The real 
left wing was to be found in the radical clubs, headed by Blanqui, 
just out of prison; and because these clubs were always threatening 
even more radical action, Louis Blanc's group were practically 
driven away from their social republic into the arms of the law and 
order democrats. 

The great questions before the government were the elections and 
the right to work. The elections were ardently awaited by the first 
group which hoped they would clearly establish the will of France 
as conservative, but the two more radical parties hoped that they 
could be postponed until "all the good that was to be done was ac- 
complished," in the words of Louis Blanc. 

By saying that they wanted to guarantee the right to work, 
Lamartine's group cleverly took the initiative for social reform 

1 Alexis de Tocqueville, Recollections, London, 1896, p. 132. 



away from Louis Blanc, who was, after all, the author of the idea. 

By quietly building up armed forces this first group likewise 
fortified itself against the real left, Blanqui and the proletariat 
of Paris. 

They hoped to make a unified country, but being without candor 
or tolerance they failed. When the right to work proved a sham, as 
organized by those not really sympathetic, when in June the armed 
force was brought out into the open against half of Paris, the coun- 
try was as disgusted with Lamartine as it had been afraid of Blanqui. 
All the February leaders equally lost authority, and by summer 
France had to look for a new name to cling to. 

But to get -back to the new government, which startled Europe 
by including a lyric poet, an astronomer, a radical lawyer, and a 
workman, Dupont de PEure had been given top position because 
nearly all his eighty years had been spent as a republican, but he 
was too old to take much responsibility. The real leadership fell on 
Lamartine in the ministry of foreign affairs. And Lamartine had 
only decided to press for the republic on the very morning of the 
day it was declared. 

During the 1840's everyone saw revolution coming as their grand- 
children foresaw war ninety years later, with intellectual pleasure 
at their own cynical intelligence together with a kind of hope that 
after all it would not break out tomorrow. But there were at that 
time on the French scene two individuals who were carefully prepar- 
ing themselves to take power, Alphonse de Lamartine and Louis 
Napoleon. Both won it, and both lost it, the one soon, and the other 

Lamartine was born an aristocrat, with more ties to the Bourbon 
than to the Orleans dynasty. In 1830 he seemed too conservative for 
the new government of Louis Philippe, and people expected that 
he would retire and write more of the lyrics that made him one of 
France's leading poets. But Lamartine wanted to be a statesmen, 
and in 1833 won election to the Chamber. When people asked him 
whether he would sit on the right or the left, he laughingly answered, 
"on the ceiling," for his design was to keep away from party in- 
trigues for a period, well out of trouble, while he polished up his 
public speaking. In order to learn how to make his words purple and 
golden (as Louis Blanc assures us they were in 1848) he practised 
on social and humanitarian subjects rather than on political ones. 

4 8 


It is no wonder that his colleagues did not know what to make of 
hum, or that when he formally entered the left in 1843 its members 
ivere alarmed. 

All this time he was busy writing, his climactic work being the 
history of the Girondins, the moderate republicans of 1791. It came 
from the press during 1847 in installments for which all literate 
France waited in fascination; for this he was tendered his ban- 
quet at Macon. It was a work which "gilded the guillotine/ 5 re- 
telling the story of France's most stirring period in such terms 
that it seemed the earlier revolution had failed not because it wished 
for too much but because it did not dare enough. Lamartine con- 
cluded by urging his readers to carry on that interrupted work. 

He once said of himself that he always appreciated events in the 
fashion in which they could be recounted; and indeed his imagina- 
tion, particularly regarding himself, showed very fancy touches. 
Tocqueville's judgment of the man was stern: 

"I do not know that I have ever . . . met a mind so void of any 
thought of the public welfare as his. . . . Neither have I ever known 
a mind less sincere. . . . When speaking or writing he spoke the truth 
or lied, without caring which he did, occupied only with the effect 
he wished to produce at the moment. . . . [He was] always ready to 
turn the world upside down in order to divert himself. [He was] 
capable of everything except cowardly behavior or vulgar oratory." 2 
And George Sand said that he handled all kinds of ideas and all kinds 
of men without believing a single idea or loving a single man. 3 

He was singularly handsome, tall, slender, with finely chiseled 
features, and an expression of subdued melancholy; there was no 
passion in his lips or in his eyes. In style he was the perfect gentle- 
man, and the master of those exquisite nothings which make for 
spontaneous elegance. 

Now this man, who had turned down embassies under Louis 
Philippe, assumed the congenial responsibility of Minister of For- 
eign Affairs. Since he was too polite to move immediately into the 
apartment vacated in such haste by M. Guizot, he slept the first 
night on the floor of his new office. There were plenty of problems 
to face in the morning. 

In the first place many people both in France and other countries 

2 Tocqueville, p. 147. 

8 George Monin, in Revolution frangaise, 1899, xxxvn, 58. 



assumed that a republican France would automatically start a war 
of conquest. The King of Prussia tried to use this fear to strengthen 
his control over the small states of Germany, mostly those near the 
Rhine. Metternich at Vienna felt Austria was not up to a war with 
Prance at the moment and sounded out the Czar as to possible aid. 
The Czar felt considerable scorn for Austria, but agreed to support 
her if she were attacked. 

French sentiment ran to the notion that the republic could only 
fulfill her destiny by helping enslaved nationalities like the Italians 
and the Poles. "The Republic seemed to open of itself the gates of 
war ; the army aspired to it; the people sang it; the superabundance 
of the idle and the active population furnished the motive for it," 4 
said Lamartine analyzing his own difficulties. 

For Lamartine himself had no more wish to enter a war than had 
the despised Louis Philippe, yet he had to step carefully to keep 
peace and still to disappoint as few hopes as possible. 5 He therefore 
drew up a Manifesto to Europe which shocked established diplomatic 
channels by its appeal to the peoples as well as to the sovereigns, 
but it relieved them by expressing the intention of France to remain 
at peace. They learned that France no longer accepted the hated 
treaties and boundaries of 1815 in law but would accept them in 
fact. And that France would "protect" legitimate movements of 
growth and nationality (referring to the Poles and Italians), al- 
though she acted as if she believed her example was almost help 

The Manifesto seemed tepid when published, but in the light of 
what was actually accomplished it was sufficiently energetic. Thus 
the people of Italy were led to hope they would receive support from 
France in throwing off tyranny, especially that of Austria in the 
north; but the agents of Rothschild, through their connections in 
all capitals, were able to assure the Imperial Government of Vienna 

4 Lamartine, History of the French Revolution of 1848, n, 12. 

6 The direct relationship between war and social progress (which seems curious to 
us) was deeply felt by most men of 1848, and shows its force as an historical tradition 
when A. J. P. Taylor- calls Lamartine's failure to intervene in Poland "the first step 
toward Munich." The French historian, E. Tersen, says Lamartine adopted this policy 
with full consciousness that he was thereby undermining real revolution within 
France. For him, as for Guizot before him, the price of peace abroad seemed to be 
using force to govern at home or was it that if they needed the force at home to 
preserve "order" they could not waste it abroad? 



that French non-intervention was a sure thing long before the Italian 
patriots had given up hope of active assistance. 

The United States of Axaerjca was the first country to recognize 
the young republic. Within a few days the American Minister, 
TiicKard Rush, broke with the diplomatic corps and on his own 
initiative announced that his country would gladly accept the new 
government. As soon as the news of his action reached Washington, 
he was enthusiastically backed by President Polk and the Senate. 
Great Britain did not immediately offer recognition ("the Queen 
could not write to the Constituent Assembly") , but Lord Palmerston, 
who hated Louis Philippe, privately assured Lamartine of British 
help in case France were attacked. 

In spite of his peaceful declarations Lamartine was determined 
to increase the army, and this apparently not only because of the 
danger of attack but because he very early foresaw the possibility 
that troops might be needed internally. He tells us how much hap- 
pier he was after he was able to get some troops back into Paris in 
April. He also arranged to call some of the forces from Algeria to 
strengthen the frontiers, and he laid the basis for the program 
which increased the army from 370,000 to 500,000 by the end of 
the year. In the time of Louis Philippe, any young man was liable 
to be chosen by lot for military duty for a seven-year term at pay 
of roughly a cent a day. Under the provisional government, the 
term was reduced to two years, and conditions in the service, includ- 
ing pay, food, and promotion by merit, were vastly improved. 

There was slight sentiment for disarmament in such a bellicose 
society, though someone noticed that when two Frenchmen got to- 
gether, they talked of the necessity for reducing the military budget 
but three Frenchmen would always talk of extending French in- 
fluence over Europe. In 184*8 one socialist (Cabet, who had sent off a 
group of colonists to found an ideal community in Texas) tried to 
have protection for conscientious objectors put into the law, but 
without success. Strangely enough Emile de Girardin, the hard- 
headed publisher of La Presse, advocated immediate and uncondi- 
tional reduction of the armed forces by 200,000, with the hope 
that France would also press for universal disarmament. No one 
else thought of such a thing, and they all considered Girardin a 

The armed forces, first the navy and soon the army also, were put 



into the hands of Fra^ois Arago, the distinguished director of the 
observatory. Though he was consistently known as a republican, 
his life and adventures up to this time had been in the service of 
science. Even in science, however, he had shown his democratic prin- 
ciples and had welcomed visits of workingmen to the observatory. 

In 1806, as a young man, Arago was chosen to run the meridian 
through Spain, and had to spend six months on a mountaintop with 
two Carthusians who broke their vow of silence to talk to him. At one 
time the natives thought his fires must be signals to the enemy, for 
it was during the Napoleonic wars, and he had to take refuge in a 
fortress for fear of being lynched. On the way home from Spain, 
he was captured by Corsairs, but he refused to try to escape for 
fear of losing his instruments and notes, which he was finally able 
to bring safely to Paris after more than a year on the journey. Later 
on he became interested in the polarization of light, and devised the 
demonstration which convinced the nineteenth century that light 
was waves, not particles. On the day when he showed this experiment 
to the Academy of Science, he rushed home, tramped on his wife's 
hat, tore his daughter's shawl in two, and said, "I have just solved 
the problem of light and I can very well buy you a shawl and a hat." 

Arago did not believe in God (incredible in an astronomer, com- 
mented Victor Hugo) but he was a strong believer in the republic, 
and now in its service he renewed his youth. He improved the navy's 
rations, and abolished flogging; and for a crowning achievement 
he was able to get the provisional government to abolish slavery 
in the French colonies, with an indemnity to the owners. 

Meanwhile, Ledru-Rollin, who had led the republican faction 
during the banquet campaign (he had been the first outspoken re- 
publican elected to the Chamber under Louis Philippe) was working 
twenty hours a day at the Ministry of the Interior to establish the 
republic solidly inside France. Ledru's first concern was to send com- 
missioners to each department to see that the regime was run right, 
and he had a hard time finding sufficient men who were both capable 
and loyal. Most of the commissioners were native to the districts to 
which they were sent and were not very radical, but an outstanding 
exception was Emmanuel Arago. This fanatical son of the as- 
tronomer was sent to Lyons, where he dissolved the religious orders, 
levied a huge property tax, and established the right to work with 
such radical vehemence that his name became a byword. In general, 



however, it was not the activity of Ledru's commissioners so- much 
as his instructions that stood conservative hair on end. "Your powers 
are unlimited. Agents of a revolutionary power, you are revolution- 
ary, too." To be sure, he added, "To us belongs the duty of reassur- 
ing the public," but alas, the public was far from being reassured. 

Ledru himself was a steady and consistent republican, more inter- 
ested in the political than the social trappings of the government 
and, therefore, not very close to the most radical party headed by 
Louis Blanc. But it seemed to be Ledru's misfortune to stir up 
more hornets' nests than his colleagues. A second furor came up over 
the Bulletins of the Republic. 

One of his workers was George Sand, then no longer young, but 
an extremely emotional republican who rushed to Paris from her 
country home at the first news of the revolution and settled in the 
Ministry of the Interior, devoting herself to the writing of propa- 
ganda. The stories passed around Paris about her included every 
scandalous possibility and went to such fantastic lengths as that 
she sent roses dipped in blood to Ledru. Her actual sentiments were 
expressed in her own words : "I have seen the people, grand, sublime, 
generous, the most admirable people in the universe." 6 (A few 
months later she was to reverse herself : "The majority of the French 
people are blind, credulous, ignorant, ungrateful, bad, and stupid ; 
bourgeois, in fine !" 7 ) Largely from her pen came the Bulletins which 
were posted every other day all over France. An effort on the part 
of the government to explain its doings to the citizens, these bulletins 
at various times urged faith in the possibility of a republic; they 
explained in fatherly terms why an extraordinary tax was necessary ; 
in tones considered unduly moving by some, one number analyzed 
the plight of girls driven to prostitution ; but it was Number 16, on 
the subject of the elections, which blew off the lid: 

"The elections, if they do not lead to the triumph of social truth, 
if they express the interests of a caste . . . the elections which ought 
to be the salvation of the republic will be its damnation. . . . There 
will then be but one way of salvation for the people who made the 
barricades ; that will be to show their will for a second time and to 
eliminate the decisions of a false national representation. 558 

6 Quoted from John Charpentier, George Sand, p. 218. 

T Charpentier, p. 222. 

8 Quoted from Wallon, La Presse de 1848 . . . , p. 39. 



This threat of new barricades played up the very aspect of the 
revolution which the respectable members of the government were 
desperately trying to hide. All that Lamartine and his partisans 
wanted was to pilot the country safely through to the elections, and 
the possibility that the workers of Paris would not accept the results 
from the rest of France was their nightmare. Bulletin 16 got printed 
by accident, for the proper censors, including Ledru, were not on 
their job that day but afterwards it was agreed that every min- 
ister would have to see each bulletin before it could be printed. 

Another function of Ledru's department was to foster art. For 
the first time in Paris free theater tickets were distributed. The 
government granted money so that twenty theaters could send 
tickets to the Hotel de Ville and to police headquarters, where they 
were given out to factories, clubs, and schools, and the poorest citi- 
zens had a chance to draw them by lot. On the first night for these 
performances, Ledru-Rollin sat in the orchestra, not in a box (al- 
though the provisional government maintained a box on the left at 
the Theatre Franfais, the opposite side from the old royal box) . 

Most of the rich people had left Paris, so the theaters might have 
had to close if it were not for such efforts. Dumas went to great 
expense to keep the Theatre Historlque going out of his own pocket. 
The hit of the season was Le Chiffonier by Felix Pyat, the story of 
a ragpicker, which had opened first in the spring of 1847 and had 
been so popular that it had played every day, contrary to Paris 
custom. Queen Victoria is said to have wept when she saw this drama 
of the lower classes and to have asked Frederic Lemaitre, the leading 
actor, whether there were really such poor people in Paris. "There 
are many, Your Majesty; they are the Irish of Paris." Now, under 
the republic, Lemaitre put back passages that had been censored 
under Louis Philippe, and even added touches so that when the rag- 
picker sorted out his pile of junk on the stage, he now dragged out 
a royal crown to the great hilarity of the masses. Satires about the 
new regime were also welcomed. In the Guignol, Punch beat up the 
provisional government's policeman as thoroughly as he ever had a 
royal officer ; and Proudhon himself is said to have laughed heartily 
at a show entitled Property is Theft, showing Paris turned to a 
desert by socialism. 

The ministry also tried to encourage republican art and poetry, 
offering prizes for suitable examples, but the blight that always 



attends such efforts hit this one. Even their most ardent partisans 
admitted that the results of the competitions were disappointing. 

Victor Hugo was asked by Lamartine to accept the portfolio of 
education, but Hugo was not certain that he wished to become a 
republican and declined. So the job was given to Hippolyte Carnot, 
son of one of the figures of the first revolution. Carnot was a Spartan 
republican. He entered his ministry with a single trunk on the back 
of a porter, out of which he lived for many weeks. When he departed 
he had but to carry the trunk out again. His accomplishments in the 
field of public instruction included instituting a course for women at 
the College de France, starting schools for agriculture and for civil 
service, opening public libraries and public lecture courses. But he 
did not, or could not, push fast enough his program for free com- 
pulsory schools for children up to fourteen ; and in the end he became 
so entangled with the Catholic church, which was fighting against 
him to make education "free" in the sense that would allow it to 
extend its large teaching establishment, that his ministry was com- 
monly accounted a failure. Like George Sand he had a penchant for 
tactless remarks. At the time of the elections he hoped the schools 
would be centers of republicanism. "Let us make new men as well 
as new institutions,' 5 he cried. But he let fall the suggestion that an 
honest, sensible, uneducated peasant would make a better deputy 
than an educated rich man who was unaware of what was going on. 
This remark was taken up by his enemies as an attack on education 
itself and proved a potent weapon. When the Assembly was finally 
elected the education committee was one of two which the Catholic 
party was careful to control; it soon reintroduced the use of the 
catechism and did away with the policy of education for everybody 
at state expense. 

Using their new-found freedom of the press, the people of Paris 
started 479 newspapers between February and December of 1848, 
and plastered the whole city with wall placards. It soon became a 
hobby to collect a copy of each paper; and by the end of the year 
not only were there several catalogues with lists and descriptions 
for collectors, but there developed a tidy little business in issuing 
reprints so cheap as to be profitable if bought only by ten or twenty 
collectors apiece. 

The government forbade private persons to use white paper for 



posters, in order to distinguish its own bulletins and proclamations, 
but other colors were open to all. So the advocates of rights for 
women spread their views on yellow, old age pensions were proposed 
on blue, some favored eating more meat in lilac. An especially ubiqui- 
tous poster in bright pink demanded divorce ; deaf mutes reminded 
the world of their problems in green. By February 26, three members 
of the Bonaparte family already had letters on the walls. Various 
workers' groups publicly offered one day's pay to the republic. And 
a group called VSsuviennes recruited unmarried girls from 15 to 
30 for a year's semi-military training. 

When the elections approached, all the earlier posters were 
smothered under election appeals every one, they would have it 
believed, coming from convinced republicans, all glorifying the 
heroic people. Yet, there was one telltale word by which conserva- 
tive candidates could be distinguished, "order." At first this word 
appeared hesitantly, hedged with apology, but it became more fre- 
quent and bolder until it fairly dominated the streets. 

The actual comfort of living in Paris depended more on Caus- 
sidiere than any other one man, and he set about genially to make 
the police an agency for conciliation rather than terrorism. All 
Paris was pleased by the general good humor of the gendarmes 
during this period. Caussidiere sent agents to the country to get 
in more wheat, so he was able to lower the price officially on March 2. 
By the middle of April he abolished duties on meat entering the 
city, and he fixed wine duties so as to encourage more sound wine. He 
wanted to start regular inspection of meat and wine, and to spread 
sand on the streets to keep them from being slippery, and to disinfect 
the sewers which let horrible smells rise through the city every night 
but these reforms required more money than his department had 
to spend. 

In checking crime Caussidiere was highly successful. During his 
three months in office there was only one murder in the city, and 
theft was greatly reduced. He closed many gambling places, and 
tried to get amateur and uninspected prostitutes off the streets, for 
he favored big legalized houses under the responsibility of a matron, 
where the girls would not be exploited by pimps and could be in- 
spected for disease. (Anti-republicans complained that one reason 
why prostitution was increasing was the high wages paid to the 



various new republican police forces, Caussidiere's and others. A 
whole new class of smart young men had money to spend.) Venereal 
disease increased markedly during the gaiety of the first weeks of 
the republic, but in April and May it went down again under the 
police campaign. Even for criminals Caussidiere did his part; he 
improved the prisons, which he took pains to inspect personally, by 
improving the diet, and created more work especially for the younger 
prisoners who, he felt, would deteriorate fast from enforced idleness. 

Labor arbitration, too, devolved on the broad shoulders of the 
chief of police. His office opened free employment agencies, getting 
rid of an old-time racket among bakers 5 and butchers' helpers ; and 
he corrected other abuses. This done, he would not allow strikes. 
To the cab drivers and bus drivers he issued peremptory orders not 
to strike, pointing out that the government had given them a wage 
increase and that they must show their gratitude by setting a good 
example to other workers. Likewise when the bakers complained 
too violently against long hours, Caussidiere told them that although 
their complaints were justified, violence was not the part of good 
citizens, so he would postpone the edicts they desired for a month. 

All the time he was building up a force of young men, 2,700 in 
all, called Montagnards a most picturesque police, uniformed in 
blue blouses with red belts, paid the high sum of 2 francs 25 a day, 
and provided with arms and barracks. The entrance requirements 
for this force were that a man must have fought on the barricades, 
or have been a member of one of the secret societies, or have been a 
political prisoner. 

Caussidiere thus offered one of the few openings where a political 
prisoner could get a good job, for most members of the government 
distrusted them and preferred to give them jobs such as the care of 
parks where their radicalism would not become contagious. These 
prisoners had been let out of jail the minute news of the republic 
reached the prison doors, and a fierce rivalry grew up between them 
and the men who had been lucky enough to do the actual fighting 
on the barricades of February. The prisoners made the same sort 
of problem for the provisional government that the returning 
emigres had for the Restoration in 1815. 

While nearly everyone was grateful for Caussidiere's reforms, he 
sat in his office and amused the world by his antics. Lamartine's 
wing of the government was afraid of his militarized police, to be 



sure, while the radical clubs considered him materialistic; but his 
Montagnards called him affectionately "the big sun of the republic/ 5 
and used to beg him to sing* the one song he knew at all their ban- 
quets. He showed his good humor on countless occasions, as once 
when some national guards arrested him unknowingly for walking 
on the streets at two in the morning. When they all reached the police 
station, Caussidiere invited them to stay and drink with him. It 
seemed hard to believe that this friendly benefactor had been schooled 
in the secret societies and still believed in their discipline. 

Caussidiere, however, spent many hours over the records of the 
secret police of Louis Philippe, and finally became convinced that 
his friend, Lucien Delahodde, had been passing information about 
the secret societies for years. Delahodde was not a man to cashier 
lightly, for at the very time he was discovered he was holding down 
an important job at police headquarters giving out passports 
and he was also known to have a number of friends both armed and 

It was in the tradition of the secret societies, accordingly, that the 
chief of police gave a rendezvous to Delahodde and other people 
who might be interested at the Luxembourg palace at midnight. All 
the important officers of the secret societies were there. Delahodde 
suspected that someone was going to be tried but did not believe that 
it could be himself, since he trusted to the elaborate system of num- 
bers and false names he had used in his dealings with Caussidiere's 
predecessors. Nevertheless he carried a pistol to the meeting and 
stationed friends who were to come to his aid at the sound of a shot. 

Caussidiere opened the meeting by reading the indictment, then 
presented his proofs that Delahodde had been a traitor. The accused 
had become a high officer in the Seasons, and not only kept the gov- 
ernment informed about its doings, but had endeavored to turn its 
activity into safe non-revolutionary channels. Now his judges gave 
him a chance to defend himself, but Delahodde knew with sick cer- 
tainty that there was nothing to say; and he knew that every one 
of his listeners had been sworn under such circumstances to bring 
about his death. First they urged him to shoot himself but his hand 
faltered. Then Caussidiere drew poison from his own pocket, but 
Delahodde refused to drink it. Nobody seemed quite willing to 
murder him on the spot, and finally Albert, the worker member of 
the government, spoke up and reminded the group that after all 



Delahodde had fought at the barricades in February. Let him live, 
but in chains. So during the rest of Caussidiere's term of office there 
was a secret prisoner in the cellar of the Prefecture. 

Partly because the Montagnards seemed dangerous and partly 
because he was worried about the general attitude of the people of 
Paris, Lamartine persuaded Marrast, now the mayor of Paris, to 
set up the Garde Mobile. This force, which reached 15,000, was 
composed like the Montagnards of young men from the working 
classes, but they were to be kept loyal and uninterested in social 
problems. Marrast worked hard to prepare them to defend the 
government by military drill and to cultivate their loyalty by pro- 
viding flashy uniforms and pay at the rate of six times what the 
regular army received ; thus he effectively siphoned them away from 
the interests of their fathers and brothers. 

The government was clothing everybody, remarked Delphine de 
Girardin, poetess wife of the editor, Girardin. Students, policemen, 
guards, representatives, and cabinet ministers all had their uniforms 
everyone, in fact, but the poor. 

All the time that the bright young unemployed were being re- 
cruited as Montagnards or Gardes Mobiles, the national guard was 
also being rapidly expanded. Every adult Frenchman was now sup- 
posed to be a member, and 90,000 new ones were actually clothed 
and armed in Paris. But soon a great division began to appear be- 
tween those who had been in the force for a long time and the new- 
comers. The old members already had uniforms, paid for by them- 
selves, and they knew their way around; so the new members, mostly 
proletarians who were waiting for government issue uniforms, felt 
excluded in spite of the fact that in some companies they outnum- 
bered the oldtimers ten to one. 

Some of the old bourgeois companies arranged to parade to the 
Hotel de Ville on March 16, to beg the government not to dissolve 
or dilute them. They were proud of their appearance, especially of 
their huge bearskin caps, and they tried to explain to the members 
of the government and to the new members of the guard that they 
had no wish to be snooty, but they had drilled together for many 
years and wanted to keep up their old friendship and esprit de corps. 
On the day this demonstration was to take place, Caussidiere massed 
long lines of workers so the bearskins had to march between them, 



and when they arrived at the Hotel de Ville they were informed 
coldly that the original plans for breaking up their companies would 
be pushed through. 

The workers now felt that it was necessary for them, too, to stage 
a demonstration. It may have been Louis Blanc's idea originally so 
that he could show off his popular backing and get the power he 
needed to do good (at least that was Proudhon's analysis) . His nerve 
failed, though, when 100,000 workers, marching with incredible 
discipline on March 17, the very day after the bearskins, arrived at 
the Hotel de Ville and stared Blanc in the face. The marchers were 
organized by Blanqui, the greatest secret society leader, as his first 
bid for attention after his release from prison, and Blanc tells how 
their faces appeared sinister and menacing as he gazed into them. 
On this day, significantly, Caussidiere, no friend of extremists like 
Blanqui, had ordered his Montagnards to stay around and protect 
the lives of Louis Blanc and his colleagues. 

The demands of Blanqui's cohorts were that the election for 
officers of the national guard be postponed until April 5, in order 
to give the new members a chance to get acquainted ; more impor- 
tantly, they wanted the elections for the Constitutional Assembly 
to be put off till May 31, so as to make time for democratic propa- 
ganda in the province. As a matter of fact, a great many socialists, 
including Louis Blanc himself, would have preferred to postpone 
the elections indefinitely until they had had a chance to set up their 
reforms. The marchers' last demand was the removal of the remain- 
ing troops from Paris. 

Lamartine, who had secretly arranged for extra troops to be sent 
from Lille in case the radicals succeeded in seizing the city, fclandly 
reassured the crowd on this occasion that the republic would never 
use arms against the people. Nevertheless, it was not he but Louis 
Blanc who was finally able to talk the marchers into going home, 
aided by the mobilization of the national guard, after the govern- 
ment had decided to refuse all their demands. As the delegates left 
the council chamber, one worker called out bitterly to Blanc, "Then 
you are a traitor, even you." From this moment the working people 
no longer felt they had a friend in power, since Blanc proved to be 
so easily intimidated and Proudhon called this day "the reaction 
of Louis Blanc." 



The great crowds that could now be mobilized for any occasion 
were partly the work of the radical clubs. Determined to enjoy 
liberty of association as well as liberty of the press, Parisians formed 
hundreds of clubs representing every conceivable interest, and all 
meeting places were crammed with people every evening. The mayor 
was instructed to find and rent rooms to them for a nominal sum, and 
any group was free to apply. Karl Marx, for one, set up a new 
headquarters for his Communist League that spring in Paris. But 
people talked more about a woman's club at which, so the story went, 
in a clumsy attempt to favor woman suffrage, it was moved to "abol- 
ish all age and all sex." 

The two best-known clubs belonged to Blanqui and Barbes. 

Blanqui, released from his imprisonment on February 25, had 
come immediately to Paris, where he was enthusiastically welcomed 
by his old admirers and at once set up the Central Republican So- 
ciety. Blanqui at first rather expected to summon his followers to 
make another insurrection on the heels of the first, enforcing a more 
radical program, but within a few hours he decided to give the pro- 
visional government a chance, tore up his proclamation and re- 
strained his partisans from an immediate coup d'etat. 

Blanqui was the most mysterious and sinister figure in Paris, a 
disagreeable ghost to those in power and a fascinating spectacle to 
gaping crowds. Every evening from eight until eleven except on 
Sundays, and then at two, the Central Republican Society met for 
discussion. Only affiliated members could vote and discuss from the 
floor, and to become a member one had to have two backers and sign 
a profession of faith but the public was admitted to the gallery, 

which was always full of both sexes. 


In appearance Blanqui was small, with white hair and white lips 
and deeply lined cheeks. "He seemed to have passed his life in a 
sewer and to have just left it," wrote Tocqueville, who saw him in 
those days perhaps because he always wore the same clothes he had 
had in prison. They were black, in mourning for his young wife who 
died while he was incarcerated, with no shirt, no speck of white linen 
showing. Even his hands were always encased in black gloves. 

In doctrine he was the most complete revolutionary of his time, 
even more than Marx who felt the temporary domination of bour- 
geoisie over the proletariat was inevitable and so did not oppose it. 
Thirty-seven years of Blanqui's fairly long life were spent in prison, 

6 1 


but on each release he was more determined to destroy society than 
before. "Society is nothing more than organized cannibalism," he 
said, and, "Hunger is slavery." And, more bitterly still, "Every pro- 
tection to weakness against the holy rights of force is an attack on 
social principles, on liberty, on the natural order, on the essential 
nature of man." 9 Nothing in the existing system seemed worth re- 
taining or repairing, the social order must be started over again 
from the bottom with a proletarian dictatorship. No one has re- 
corded a more genial emotion from Blanqui than irony; he repaid 
love with disdain, admiration with sarcasm (said the sentimental 
Victor Hugo), but nonetheless he inspired an extraordinary de- 

Such a character could not long remain content with the tem- 
porizing provisional government, and soon he began to attack it in 
his club and organize his workers against it. In this labor he was in- 
credibly active, and a result was the demonstration of March 17 
which struck such terror into all members of the government. It was 
obvious after March 17 that even Blanc would not support Blanqui 
and that he could no longer hope for anything from anyone in power. 

Although Barbes was customarily mentioned in the same breath 
with Blanqui, and was his prisonmate for years before and after 
1848, he was actually Blanqui's complete opposite and his enemy 
'personally and politically. Barbes was handsome, and according to 
Delahodde, he consciously modeled himself on a James Fenimore 
Cooper hero. In gratitude to Lamartine for having saved his life 
nine years earlier, he threw himself into support of the provisional 
government. He was also a great friend of Ledru-Rollin and used to 
hang around the Ministry of the Interior along with George Sand 
at Ledru's midnight periods of relaxation. At the request of these 
friends, he opened the Club of the Revolution in rivalry to Blanqui's. 
He also accepted the colonelcy of the 12th legion of the national 
guard or, as Blanqui put it, put his blind passion at the service of 
the bourgeois circle which exploited his vanity and animosity for its 
own benefit. 

In the scare after March 17, the administration began to prepare 
its revenge on Blanqui, which they accomplished by printing an un- 
signed document from their old police files containing details of the 
plot of May 1839, when Blanqui and Barbes had both been im- 

9 Quoted from Dommanget, Blanqui, p. 49. 



prisoned. Ledru-Rollin had thrown open the Orleanist archives to 
a newspaperman named Taschereau who kept himself alive by dig- 
ging up and publishing juicy bits of scandal. Sainte-Beuve among 
others was tarred with this brush, as having received money im- 
properly. But Taschereau's greatest sensation was this anonymous 
paper from the secret societies, for as soon as they showed it to 
Barbes he swore publicly that only Blanqui could have composed it. 
Blanqui was therefore branded a traitor and a police stooge. 

The day after this publication, Blanqui resigned from his club, 
but he was immediately reflected and carried home in triumph by 
600 members. Nevertheless, his prestige was hurt with many people 
who were not his immediate followers, and the scandal hung like a 
shadow over the rest of his life. The authenticity of the document 
was never proved, since it was not in Blanqui's handwriting, and in 
any case all it amounted to, if true (and it probably was) , was that 
Blanqui, when sick and broken in prison after the plot had failed, 
gave the police a too detailed account of how it had been planned. 

Blanqui did not help his own case by refusing Barbes 9 "jury of 
honor" to try him, but he wrote a defense which sold 100,000 copies, 
in which the most telling proof of his innocence was evidence that he 
had gotten nothing out of the deal. 

"Who among my companions has drunk as deeply as I of the cup 
of anguish? After a year my wife died of despair. For four years, in 
the solitude of my cell, I lived alone in this Dante's Inferno. When I 
left it my hair was white, my heart and my body were broken. Now I 
hear in my ears, 'Death to the traitor, let us crucify him ! . . . You 
have sold your brothers for gold, 5 they cry. Gold? To- go to a slow 
death in a tomb on black bread and water ? . . . I live in a garret on 50 
centimes a day." 10 

The workers trusted him and did not forget him. In 1871 the Paris 
Commune made an offer to Thiers, then head of the Third French 
Republic, to exchange all their hostages for Blanqui alone, and 
were refused. 

Ledru may have let fear get the better of him in allowing the 
Taschereau piece to be published, but Lamartine never lost faith 
in his own power to win anybody over. He prevented Blanqui's ar- 
rest, and arranged that he should call on him at six one morning. 
"Well, M. Blanqui, you have come to assassinate me. . . . You see I 

M Quoted from Stewart, Blanqui, p. 121. 

6 3 


wear no cuirass," said the head of the government to open the con- 
versation. They talked for a long time, and though he extracted the 
story of Blanqui's life, Lamartine was utterly unable to change his 
mind. Later, accused of conspiracy with such a dangerous character, 
Lamartine defended himself by saying, "Yes, I conspired with him 
but only as the lightning conductor conspires with the thunderbolt. 5 ' 



The Right to Work 

THE records of the struggle against the Paris depression of 1848 
read something like dispatches from Washington in 1932, even to 
the arguments of their enemies. 

The number of businesses in Paris declined during 1848 by 54 
per cent, partly because, when the rich fled the revolution, luxury 
trades were killed, partly because many small shops could no longer 
obtain credit. When Richard Rush, the American Minister, went 
to buy a pair of gloves in a fashionable shop shortly after the re- 
public was established, he was the only customer in the entire day. 
Victor Hugo described in detail how a small businessman, a maker 
of figurines, met the crisis when no one wished to buy these wares 
any longer, the man had to sell his knickknacks, to pawn his watch. 

Every day some of the unemployed, offering various things for 
sale, showed up on the Champs Elysees, where under the monarchy 
they had been allowed only on holidays. Dentists' chairs, side shows, 
and stalls where cutlets were fried filled the walks, also weighing 
machines although people did not like to get weighed because they 
were all thinner. Life was so gay that many of the thoughtless rich 
assumed that the workers were having too much fun, with their clubs, 
demonstrations, and military duties, to be in any hurry to return to 
their workshops. Stories passed around that under a republic one 
could live for nothing, that even rent need not be paid and house 
owners who refused to remit their rents found the buildings decorated 
with black flags and piles of straw suggesting arson. 

Among serious students of the workers' needs there were, as usual, 
two lines of thought. One group believed in helping the workers di- 
rectly, another argued that the best way was to put the employers 
back on their feet. Many small businessmen were begging the govern- 
ment to take over their enterprises just so they could discount their 
paper for in the absence of the yet unknown bank checks, com- 
mercial bills of exchange customarily passed from hand to hand as 
commonly as money, but now no one would take them. 

The portfolio of finance was first entrusted to a worthy Parisian 



banker. He told the provisional government that their position was 
hopeless and that he would commit suicide rather than carry the 
responsibility. Almost in despair the cabinet turned to one of their 
original members, Louis Antoine Garnier-Pages, who was big and 
honest and imperturbable, looking something like a cherub, with his 
long gray hair curling behind his ears. This gentleman succeeded in 
restoring credit by two great measures declaring the notes of the 
Bank of France to be legal tender, not redeemable in specie, and 
raising the land tax. 

The provisional government would have preferred an income tax, 
which suited their philosophy, but in their immediate need for money 
they had not time to set up the machinery for a new tax. The tax on 
real estate was already in working order, so in desperation they de- 
creed that for every franc in taxes that had been paid the year before 
an additional 45 centimes should be paid in 1848. Such a tax fell 
hardest on the peasants, and it made almost the only change they 
could see in their lives from this revolution. In the great revolution 
they had received land, and thus became a strong support for the 
republican regime. Now, however, they were violently prejudiced 
against this new republic. Since the money was to be used partly to 
establish the famous right to work for city dwellers, the peasants 
felt they were paying to keep the Paris workers idle, even though 
the Bulletin of the Republic explained that while private charity 
degrades, state responsibility rehabilitates the unemployed and 
makes of them a national asset. So many people complained of the 
tax that the provisional government made the extraordinarily silly 
rule that the mayors in each town could make out a list of those 
persons for whom payment of the tax would constitute a hardship, 
and they were to be exempted. Naturally this made the tax very 
hard to collect, and its total revenue to the treasury was only about 
half what Garnier-Pages had estimated. 

The 45-centime tax may have saved the republic from bankruptcy, 
but it also killed it by arousing the hatred of the countryside. From 
that day all the propagandists, including Louis Napoleon, who tried 
to win the peasants, promised its repeal, though when Louis Na- 
poleon came to power he found it too useful to give up. 

The House of Rothschild, which was quite friendly to the new 
government, helped to avoid a large-scale panic by getting in ship- 
ments of specie from its London office. To raise funds for meeting 

6 6 


a run of depositors, the Rothschilds took huge losses, selling at 33 
French government 3 per cent securities which had sold at 73 the 
day before the revolution. They also donated a sum to be used for 
the families of the men who had fallen in the February battle. 

To help the credit of small firms, Garnier-Pages ordered public 
warehouses to be set up all over France where goods could be stored 
and graded, so that their receipts could be used as security. Un- 
fortunately these became unpopular, since it was assumed that any- 
one whose credit was otherwise good would not resort to the ware- 

This was what was done for capital, and it was enough to convince 
Karl Marx that the intentions of the government were thoroughly 
bourgeois. Still, the republic could not get out of its promises to 
labor. If the regime of Louis Philippe was "a monarchy surrounded 
by republican institutions," the new republic intended to be a re- 
public surrounded by social institutions. Thus the affairs of labor 
were now turned over to Louis Blanc, though in a rather left-handed 

He was given the Luxembourg palace (which had housed the de- 
funct house of peers) to live in, and was directed to set up a confer- 
ence to study working conditions. Garnier-Pages, who had earlier 
thought of making Blanc a "secretary" instead of a regular mem- 
ber of the government, now thought of this solution to avoid giving 
him a regular portfolio as "Minister of Progress," which the workers 
had requested. Another member of the cabinet later explained that 
Blanc had been given the Luxembourg so that he could "disorganize" 
labor only in theory, not in practice. 

And in fact Garnier-Pages 5 strategy worked. When Louis Blanc 
accepted the job at the Luxembourg he took an opportunity to talk 
instead of to act, cutting himself off from power. Incidentally, the 
Luxembourg meetings turned out to be quite large, and took so 
much of his time that he carried less of the responsibility of the 
provisional government than he had up to this time. People said he 
began to look like a beaten man, one who knew he had not lived up 
to his expectations. 

Nevertheless the Luxembourg Commission, as it was called, the 
first workers' congress in the world, had a certain aura of excitement. 
The very first day they met they ordered the working day to be 
reduced to ten hours in Paris and to eleven in the provinces, where 



it had been as high as fourteen or fifteen. At the same time they voted 
to abolish the practice of subcontracting in house building, a system 
that had long operated to reduce wages, since the less each subcon- 
tractor paid his laborers the greater his own profits. 

Employers were invited to separate sessions at the Luxembourg, 
and the second day they met and accepted both these reforms. Soon 
a joint committee was set up, consisting of ten workers, chosen by 
lot a favorite method with the equalitarians and ten employers 
chosen the same way. This group settled a great many disputes on 
wages and hours, a task which had been handled up to this time by 
the police and upon which Caussidiere had prided himself. 

There was never another large-scale victory so easy for the Lux- 
embourg workers, though they tried to abolish work in prisons and 
convents as competitive with free labor, and to establish public re- 
sponsibility in industrial accidents. 

Each industry in Paris was invited to send three workers as dele- 
gates. The methods of their choice were apt to be informal. Some 
women sat as representatives of women's trades like copper burnish- 
ing. Altogether there were three or four hundred members who met 
to debate and to hear speakers of all shades of opinion. 

Blanc called his commission "a school where I was called to give 
a course in hunger in front of famished people/ 5 He was not unaware 
that many of the delegates, who were unpaid, lost their jobs because 
of the time they gave to the work of the commission and were subse- 
quently blacklisted from further employment. Other members of the 
government objected that when Blanc reduced the food allowance 
for his office help, from 6 francs apiece at each meal to 2 francs 50 
for lunch, and 3 francs 50 for supper, this seemed like a reproach 
to his colleagues. Blanc answered that they had to eat with bankers 
and diplomats but he, face to face with workers lacking many of the 
necessities of life, could not insult their misery by the display of a 
feast. (He was still spending on food three times a workman's daily 

When the Luxembourg Commission finally drew up its report, it 
off ered a plan for moving toward state socialism that not unnaturally 
took in many of Louis Blanc's ideas. It proposed setting up in each 
department of France an agricultural colony for a hundred families, 
having a common laundry and a big kitchen where wholesome food 
would be prepared for everybody. Other colonies could be formed by 



industrial workers, who would borrow enough money from the state 
to enable them to become self-supporting. All these projects were to 
have a full system of social security for illness and old age. 

During this spring of 1848 Blanc actually succeeded in founding 
one such cooperative, the Clichy tailors. The government was un- 
willing to grant him money but it let him have the use of the Clichy 
prison which had been used for debtors and now was vacated, since 
the republic had abolished imprisonment for debt. He then obtained 
for his 2,000 journeymen tailors a contract for the uniforms of the 
national guard, and with this help the group were able to make a 
modest profit, enough to raise their wages to 2 francs 15, as com- 
pared with the flat 2 francs which the national workshops paid for 
a day's work. One of Blanc's favorite plans, which he vainly hoped 
the Luxembourg Commission could implement, was to build four 
model housing projects where four hundred working class families 
could save in rent, fuel, food, and also enjoy the privileges of a com- 
mon library, nursery, school, garden, and baths. Lamartine's re- 
public was indifferent ; it remained for Napoleon III and the Second 
Empire to start workers' housing. 

But what, meanwhile, of the famous organization of labor? What 
of the right to work ? Blanc was only allowed to theorize, while un- 
employment and the state's solemn promise toward it stared the 
government in the face. The man with the musket who broke into the 
first meeting of the government had voiced the most insistent need 
of the Paris workers. 

On February 26 the government decreed that national workshops 
be set up immediately to give employment to out-of-work persons, 
and on February 28 the workers who wished to apply were directed 
to register at the mayors' offices. 

Unfortunately, advertising the guarantee of the right to work 
irresistibly lured Frenchmen from the provinces to Paris. Probably 
100,000 arrived during the three spring months to dump themselves 
upon authorities who were already at their wits' end to find work 
for as many as 10,000. On June 20, the day before the national 
workshops were ordered dissolved, there were 120,000 men enrolled 
in them and 50,000 more unemployed hanging around Paris who 
had been refused admission. 

During the first few days there were enough problems facing 



those in charge without their worrying about extra numbers. Ob- 
viously the provisional government promised employment to its 
citizens without having given any thought to the practical set-up, 
though determined to keep the management out of the dangerous 
hands of the member who had thought about it most, the author of 
the Organisation of Work. 

In this circumstance it devolved upon the suspicious and gloomy 
Minister of Public Works, Alexandre Thomas Marie, whose opposi- 
tion to Louis Blanc was well enough known to make it certain that 
he would never let socialism in at the back door of his project. 

Though possessing the requisite negative qualifications, Marie 
had few positive ones and got nowhere in the first few days while 
angry mobs gathered around the mayors* offices to register. So he 
fairly embraced a young engineer named Emile Thomas who pre- 
sented himself at the ministry and announced that he had worked 
out a plan to keep order by organizing the national workshops along 
military lines, using the polytechnic students of the Central School 
of Arts and Manufactures as officers. Thomas himself was a graduate 
of this school, only 26 years. old at the time, and his student friends 
and he were chagrined over the noise and disorder at the central bu- 
reau for the workshops, which was right across the street from his 

Marie was hardly willing to give Thomas the four days he said 
he would need to get his organization started. The government do- 
nated one of Louis Philippe's small chateaux, the Pavilion Monceaux, 
for an office, whither Thomas moved with his staff and his mother to 
keep house for them. 

Thomas 5 plan, briefly, was to organize the men in the national 
workshops into squads of ten who would elect a squad leader. Five 
squads chose a brigadier, four brigades a lieutenant; over four 
lieutenants and 800 men was a commander who was to be one of the 
engineering students. The men ^ ere to receive 2 francs for every 
day that work was found for them and 1 franc 50 in case there was 
no work, later reduced to 1 franc. Brigadiers received 3 francs and 
all student officers 5 francs. Since this was the first money many of 
the students had ever earned they entered the project with enthusi- 
asm. The system of paying the rank and file was worked out in such 
a way as never to provide an occasion for more than ten of them to 
get together when they were not working one small example of the 



innumerable precautions taken to keep the workshops politically 

In addition to their officers the squads elected "delegates" who 
combined the functions of spies and grievance committees. They 
were expected to report complaints, but also to check up on ad- 
dresses, number of children, and other facts on the registration 
cards of the members. 

Like everyone else in Paris the national workshop members had a 
uniform, or at least insignia a golden bee to adorn their caps. 
Their officers also wore woolen armbands, while the students wore 
silk armbands with silver or gold fringes. 

The chief trouble with the workshops was that they never had 
work for more than 10,000 men. As the numbers increased, it came 
to be the custom to pay each member as if he had worked for two 
days in the week regardless of whether even that much work had 
been available. 

Their projects mostly required unskilled labor, such as leveling 
the Champ de Mars and planting trees on the boulevards to replace 
those cut down in February. Thomas put his skilled workers to 
mending equipment or to making shoes and clothes for the members 
of the workshops in spite of the objections of his shoemakers and 
tailors against working for only 2 francs. 1 When he received a con- 
tingent of 600 out-of-work artists, actors, and bank tellers (who 
wore coats instead of the habitual blue working-class blouse, but 
who were just as needy as the others, Thomas found to his surprise) 
he made them paymasters. His plan to set up a studio where the art- 
ists might paint republican propaganda pictures was not adopted. 

To Emile Thomas' fertile mind, it was easy to think up projects 
that would have kept his men busy if only he could have obtained 
the government's approval ; but this kept being mysteriously denied. 
He would have liked to have them work on building railroads, on an 
underground canal to join the Seine above and below Paris (in 
Marseilles the workshops labored on a canal that everyone felt was 
needed, and they became much more popular than in Paris) and on 

1 The cost of living in Paris was not high". A member of the Hungarian Choral So- 
ciety wrote in May, 1848, that it would be easy to live on a franc a day. He never saw 
such fruit or such harvests in Hungary, a good lunch could be had for 10 sous, a 
luxurious one for 14. The best meat was 8 cents a pound. In three months in Paris 
he spent 194 francs of which 70 went for clothes, the rest for food, lodging and laun- 
dry. But of course he was not trying to support a family. (Bouteiller, 131.) 



housing projects with community centers. He hoped builders would 
be allowed to contract for the labor of some of his men for socially 
useful structures, paying half their wages, and earning the right to 
tax-exemption on the buildings. He would have approved govern- 
ment loans to employers so they could take workers back, and he 
wanted to make a study of seasonality of employment. 

In short, Thomas disapproved of payment for idleness and of the 
centralization that kept so many unemployed in Paris, but the gov- 
ernment obliged him to continue these two characteristics of his 
organization. Marie suggested why on March 23 by asking Thomas 
if he could count on his workers. Thomas replied that he thought he 
could, though the numbers grew so fast it was hard to exercise the 
personal influence he would have liked. Marie then told him as far as 
money was concerned not to worry, for he would provide any sum 
Thomas required out of secret state funds. Apparently it was the 
policy of the government to keep yet another semi-militarized, loyal 
force in Paris. Three quarters of the members joined the national 
guard and were given the same pay for days with the militia as for 
work days, and they were able to drill even in the rain in the Mon- 
ceaux riding school. It was frankly Lamartine's hope that the work- 
shops would justify their existence by becoming a counterweight to 
the "sectarian workmen of the Luxembourg, the seditious workmen 
of the clubs" and in the back of Lamartine's mind a counterweight 
was always military. 

Another time Marie told Thomas he hoped the workshops would 
disgust the workers with socialism. Although Louis Blanc felt that 
the workshops perverted everything he believed in, he was ingen- 
iously made to seem responsible for them as if the government of 
which he was a member were trying out his ideas. Marx thought the 
confusion of the workshops with socialism was half naive, only half 
intentional. In any case, they were pilloried together. 

For there was no doubt that they failed. They scandalized the 
good citizens by their boondoggling. The workers themselves either 
raged at a government whose promise of work turned out to be a 
lie or laughed contemptuously at it for paying good money for idle- 
ness. After the elections their morale became so bad that the director 
had to spend every day figuring out how to calm them on the mor- 
row. On May 16 a Representative Dupin in the Assembly stood up 
and declared that "good Paris" wanted the end of the worshops ; the 



next day he received a moving plea signed by members of the work- 
shops saying that they did not like living on charity the govern- 
ment should blush at giving them only alms. They said they wanted 
to work at their own trades, and that those who did not work, in- 
cluding bureaucrats, should not eat. 

In one aspect alone were the workshops successful, in the social 
services they offered. They not only distributed extra food, bread, 
meat, and soup to members, depending on the size of their families, 
but put some of their members to work making shoes and clothes 
which were sold to other members for the cost of the material. Many 
of the men enrolled could hardly come to work, especially in the rain, 
for lack of clothing. But since it was hard for an individual to save 
up as much as four francs for a pair of shoes, for example, every 
member was asked to put in two or three sous a day out of his pay, 
and this jackpot went to buy shoes for the neediest members first. 

More than this, members of the workshops and their families were 
entitled to free medical service. Twelve doctors served the project 
and in the forty-one days the plan was in operation they treated 
14,000 patients at an average cost per case of 51 centimes. The 
doctors involved were very much pleased with this arrangement and 
pointed out that this sort of medical care, including office calls, house 
visits, free medicine, and even cash donations if needed, was much 
cheaper than the maintenance of hospital care. They urged that the 
project be continued. 

Thomas also planned for a club for the recreation of his workers, 
though whether this should be classed as a social service in view of 
his purposes is doubtful. For he used the club as a sounding board 
to detect and eliminate the most dangerous thinkers and orators. 
Since there was not room for everyone, delegates were elected to this 
club by the members and given cards of admission, to the number of 
about 400. All the engineering students also attended. Thomas asked 
the group to think how to help their brothers, but to exclude political 
or social subjects from their discussion. They were to be given no 
chance for political action, although they were as politically-minded 
as any workers in the world at that time ; no chance, in spite of the 
democratic procedure of electing their officers, to have a voice * in 
their own affairs. The workers of Paris were coming to know what 
they wanted, but it was almost too much to expect that one set over 
them like Thomas should go much beyond the nineteenth-century 



idea of how to dispense charity. It was nearly a hundred years be- 
fore social workers and personnel officials discovered the importance 
of letting people help themselves, of giving them status by real re- 
sponsibility, and it was a hard lesson even in an age which set work- 
ers apart less class-consciously. 

On April 16 the Luxembourg Workers 5 Commission planned an- 
other huge demonstration. They were to march to the Hotel de Ville, 
bearing a gift of money to show their gratitude for the republic, but 
at the same time to press a petition for the true organization of labor. 

The great question about this day is whether there was behind it a 
radical plot to destroy the government. Lamartine, who got the news 
from his spies, was sure that there was, and he prepared for it by 
making his will and burning his compromising papers, for he barely 
expected to survive. George Sand told later how she, with Barbes, 
Flocon, Louis Blanc, and Caussidiere planned to use this occasion 
to get rid of the conservative members of the government and to put 
Ledru-Rollin at the head of a more radical one, and she asserted 
that they showed Ledru ahead of time some of the measures they 
imagined such an administration should adopt. However, when this 
group heard that Blanqui was going to exploit the demonstration, 
they decided they preferred to keep the government that existed 
and to continue as the left wing themselves, rather than run the risk 
of having Blanqui as the new left wing in power. According to this 
side of the story, Ledru spent the night in a sweat wondering on 
which side to play ball ; when morning broke he rushed to Lamartine 
to teU him all he knew. 

On the other hand, Marx says that this was all a sham, that the 
government arranged a frightening show in order to "defeat the 
shadow" of working class revolt. 

The right to call out the national guard was the exclusive pre- 
rogative of Ledru as the Minister of the Interior. To Lamartine's 
immense relief, at noon Ledru ordered the rappel beaten through 
the streets. This was his decisive action. 

It was still uncertain in how large numbers the guard would show 
up, but to the admiration of the friends of order they turned out 
100,000 strong, surrounded the parading workers with bayonets, 
and were congratulated on "saving France." Most of the national 
workshop members of the guard went out with them for the gov- 



ernment, but a few marched with the Luxembourg. Barbes, induced 
by his hatred of Blanqui, also appeared at the head of his 12th 
legion ; but he later became ashamed of this action and his club felt 
they had been duped into- supporting the wrong side. 

When the demonstration collapsed, Lamartine felt it was the hap- 
piest day of his political life. Crane Brinton, who examined the great 
revolutions of history in The Anatomy of Revolution,, awards La- 
martine, for his energy, a distinction which no moderate in any of the 
big outbreaks achieved that of using force to stop the left. Prou- 
dhon, however, dubs April 16 "the reaction of Ledru-Rollin." 

The elections so long and hotly fought over were finally set for 
Easter Sunday, which came late that year. The date was two weeks 
after the one Lamartine had hoped for, a postponement that might 
seem like a concession to the radicals, but was also needed to complete 
the arrangements. Frenchmen were to be allowed to vote under the 
broadest election law the world had ever seen, even including classes 
like domestic servants that had been excluded in 1789. 

Voting was by slates. Every department was given a certain num- 
ber of representatives according to population, so that in the De- 
partment of the Seine, the Paris district, everyone voted for 34< 
candidates, in the Upper Alps for only three. Various parties drew 
up lists which they busily passed out for days ahead of time on 
busses, at street corners and polling places; for this service Emile 
Thomas engaged 500 members of the national workshops, at 5 francs 
a day, to distribute the lists which were approved by the Depart- 
ment of Public Works. 

The most active electioneering agency was the Luxembourg, 
which sent out worker propagandists all over France at government 
expense. For their Paris list they interviewed seventy candidates on 
their attitudes about everything from the right to work to divorce, 
and finally made a list of thirty-four which coldly excluded Lamar- 
tine. They offered, however, to put Emile Thomas' name on their list 
if Thomas would let the workshops support it a deal which Thomas 

To judge by their posters, all candidates who solicited votes were 
sons either of delegates to the Convention of 1792, or of workers or 
peasants. One Negro son of slaves advertised that he had been con- 
demned to the galleys for life but was pardoned, and had fought on 



the February barricades. One man was elected after describing him- 
self as a worker, but when it was discovered he was really a function- 
ary of Louis Philippe his election was annulled. More flagrant deceits 
were more successful. Monarchists like the Vicomte de Falloux ran 
as republicans; Louis Napoleon, later to be crowned emperor, de- 
scribed himself (for the June election) as a socialist. (He did not 
run in April, but was a candidate in the by-elections six weeks later.) 
The worst reactionaries got in on the most advanced platforms ; all 
candidates either explained their past or explained it away. Some 
stressed order, as we have seen, but all shouted for liberty, equality, 
and fraternity. The placards make very monotonous reading. 

George Sand was proposed as a candidate by a ladies' club, but 
she publicly disclaimed any relationship with them and expressed 
the hope that no one would be so foolish as to waste a vote on her, 
and no one did. 

Emile de Girardin, publisher of the Presse, was the only one who 
dared come out with a one-line campaign. "I am not an old-line 
republican" was his response to' Ledru's request for that sort. Most 
conservatives were more mealy-mouthed, but by asking the double- 
edged question, "If the Assembly votes to restore a monarchy, what 
will you do?" they tossed the old-liners on the horns of dilemma 
fundamental in republican philosophy. 

On Easter Sunday priests all over France sang mass at dawn and 
urged their flocks to vote. Eighty-two per cent of the eligible voters 
did so, and the result was a complete vindication of Lamartine's 
opinion that the elections would save property. As Caussidiere put 
it, the peasants voted for their landlords, the workers for their em- 
ployers, small merchants for bankers, and small owners for usurers. 
The radical oratory and patriotic protestations had pleased every- 
body as show-window dressing, but France was not really ready to 
give in to the Paris workers. Only one in twenty of the Luxembourg 
worker candidates was chosen. 

Still, Caussidiere himself was elected, and handsomely, both in 
the Easter voting and again in the run-off elections which were held 
on June 4 to compensate for duplications and annulments. The sec- 
ond time he got more votes than any other candidate, twice as many 
as that cloud now first appearing on the horizon, Louis Napoleon. 
In these June by-elections it was shown that the Parisian work- 
ers could profit by their mistakes. The Luxembourg and the 



national workshops stood much closer together by that time and 
elected four out of eleven successful candidates, instead of one out 
of twenty. But for that rapprochement there were reasons. For if 
France was not ready to give in to Paris, neither were the Paris 
proletariat willing to be balked in their expectations by the slow- 
moving, property-loving provinces which did not even try to under- 
stand their problems. 

As soon as the Constitutional Assembly and the Paris workers 
saw each other they hated each other. On the opening day, May 4, 
the workers immediately made a threat by placarding the walls of 
the city with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and soon began 
to think of arming themselves once more. Though the Assembly was 
not so quickly bellicose it proved in the mass to be ignorant, in- 
transigent, and tactless, very far from that force which should unite 
France in brotherly love. Thus society, the organism whose two 
nuclei had been pulling against each other since early March, was 
splitting at last ; and the process led, in June, to the first real class 
war of modern times. It was, of course, unfortunate that the As- 
sembly had to meet in Paris, the only place where the two groups 
would have been sufficiently equal to fight each other. No one pro- 
posed another city, however, perhaps remembering how during the 
great revolution the magnetism of the capital had forced the As- 
sembly of 1789 to move in from Versailles. 

The great mass of the French people hated the national work- 
shops, feared Louis Blanc, and were beginning to distrust Lamar- 
tine because he had not been strong enough to oppose these socialistic 
forces. They had very little notion of the temper of the Paris work- 
ing class, or perhaps they would have appreciated Lamartine's 
finesse in keeping them divided and at bay. Naturally, the other 
half of Paris, the well-to-do half, was pleased at the Assembly's 
arrival. At last, they hoped, here was an authority capable of en- 
forcing order, for they were sick and tired of watching members 
of the workshops idling on the streets or performing useless labor 
at the expense of the taxpayers. The national guards, which had 
betrayed Louis Philippe and wavered under the provisional govern- 
ment, were to prove, except for a few of the new labor contingents, 
consistently loyal defenders of the Assembly. 

Although a representative body elected by universal suffrage 



ought in theory to represent all classes, there were more landlords 
and noblemen than in any of Louis Philippe's chambers, and many 
more ecclesiastical members. Two-thirds of the members were con- 
sidered moderate republicans for the republic "pure and simple 55 
rather than for one "social and democratic." Among the delegates 
were only eighteen workers, and the whole revolutionary left barely 
totaled sixty, although a noisy and voluble sixty. 

Actually few new leaders had been shaken out by universal suf- 
frage. The old parliamentary left of the monarchy, Odilon Barrot 
and Tocqueville, moved over to the right, while on the new left sat 
such figures as Barbes and Proudhon (who remarked that the other 
members were surprised he had neither horns nor claws), Albert, 
and Louis Blanc. On the extreme right a Catholic who would even- 
tually suffer excommunication. Viscount Frederic Pierre Falloux 
(du Coudray), trod quietly the path of the Jesuits, boring secretly 
but irresistibly against secular education and the national work- 
shops, the two accomplishments of the republic which were felt as 
a threat by the Church. 

These were the leaders, but the bright minds were almost lost amid 
the "stupid faces, the greedy eyes, the big noses, the rapacious 
provincialism" 2 of the rest of the Assembly. Most of them did not 
know how to talk or how to listen; they often voted and unvoted the 
same proposition several times, for they were unused to parliamen- 
tary procedure. And the huge oblong building hastily erected for 
them in the courtyard of the Palais-Bourbon did not make it easy 
for them to hear or see one another. Someone asked Tocqueville 
how the Assembly of 1789 succeeded with equal numbers and equal 
difficulties. "Ah, they had the cream of France, we have only the 
skim milk. 553 

Lamartine remembers the whole nine hundred springing to their 
feet with cheers when the provisional government was presented to 
them for the first time, but Lamartine was always over-responsive 
to praise; the British Ambassador's contrary observation that the 
government was received coldly is buttressed by the fact that the 
vote of thanks to the government was passed by only twelve votes. 

For president, the Assembly nominated Philippe Joseph Buchez, 
a moderate Christian socialist ; and they gave him an editor of the 
greatly admired workers' paper, L 9 Atelier, for a vice-president 

2 Herzen, Letters, 236. 8 Nassau Senior, i, 106. 



this was one way for the Assembly to show it was not hostile to labor 
without truckling to the Luxembourg Congress or to Louis Blanc. 
To make the other side happy they also made a vice-president out 
of Antoine Marie Jules Senard, a national guard officer who was 
responsible for the Rouen "massacres" an election affair in which 
some workers, rioting because they had been deprived of their votes, 
were shot down. Senard was widely touted as a champion of order 
for this service, though, of course, he was execrated by the class- 
conscious proletariat. 

The deputies listened perforce to the whipped cream of Lamar- 
tine's oratory, glorifying his term of office in words in which he was 
careful to explain, for the left, that the troops in Paris were only a 
"guard of honor," for the right, that the Luxembourg was only "a 
laboratory of ideas." But they voted down a proposal to retain the 
provisional government intact because that would have meant keep- 
ing on with Louis Blanc and Albert. It might have been better if 
they had listened to Louis Blanc's speech in which he predicted "a 
revolution of hunger," but he was utterly unable to move them. 
They also wanted to drop Ledru-Rollin, but here Lamartine drew 
the line and astonished everybody by saying that he, Lamartine, 
would not serve without Ledru. 

Ledru's manner was so easy, his bearing so confident that it was 
hard for his friends to imagine that in the salons he was called an 
ogre, in the provinces a Bluebeard, that the Assembly itself, "this 
compact mass of bald prudence," regarded him as the criminal 
author of those incendiary proclamations which had resulted in its 
own election. The members obviously felt no gratitude, for they 
finally chose an executive commission of five members, of whom 
Arago got the most votes because of his popularity with both sides ; 
then Gamier-Pages ; then Marie, for his services against the work- 
shops, then Lamartine who was pulled down by his loyalty to Ledru- 
Rollin, and finally Ledru himself. 

No one could quite figure out why Lamartine stuck to Ledru. He 
himself said he felt it was important to have Ledru's sort of repub- 
licanism represented in the new executive. He may have felt the 
currents running too fast towards the conservatives, and he may 
have been grateful to Ledru for his support in calling out the 
national guard on April 16. It was certainly not personal friend- 
ship, for their natures were too far apart and after a month their col- 



laboration ceased. It is interesting, however, that Ledru was still a 
political force to be reckoned with a year later when he was thunder- 
ing against an invasion of the Roman Republic by the French army, 
while Lamartine never recovered any influence after the idolatry 
with which he was held in the spring of 1848 had melted away. 

The Assembly then turned to the problem of costuming itself. 
They decided at once that a mere ribbon in the buttonhole was not 
showy enough, and spent some time debating whether a tri-colored 
sash was more effective over the shoulder or around the waist. After 
both had been modeled in the tribune, the shoulder style won. At 
one point it was proposed that they should adopt the costume of the 
Convention the white waistcoat in which Robespierre was familiar 
on the stage but Caussidiere was the only member who was unin- 
hibited enough to appear in this outfit. 

This was exactly the kind of Assembly against which the Paris 
workers had predicted new barricades. If their friends like Louis 
Blanc were to be pushed out of power, the workers would make 
another revolution; and on May 15 they did so though if the 
February assault seemed like play-acting in the light of the past, 
this one was farcical. Again the Assembly Hall was invaded by the 
mob, again a provisional government was formed, this time with 
Barbes at its head, and again there was a march to the Hotel de 
Ville where proclamations of revolt were issued. 

The occasion for this outbreak was a parliamentary debate on 
Poland, that favorite subject of the left. The radical clubs ar- 
ranged to meet at the Place de la Bastille at the time the debate was 
scheduled and to prepare a petition demanding war with Prussia 
and Russia if these countries refused to restore Poland within 
twenty-four hours. As usual they were swayed more by slogans than 
by possibilities. From this meeting, 20,000 men marched silently to 
the Assembly Hall; then with one terrible shout they demanded ad- 
mittance. General Courtais, who was in charge of the national 
guards defending the Assembly, refused to fire on the mob and 
agreed to admit twenty-five to the Chamber to present the petition. 
Once the door was open he could never get it shut again and thou- 
sands poured in. The galleries filled up and began to break under 
the weight of humanity, and as men began to drop to safety over 



the sides of the galleries to the floor of the house the noise was 
like cannon fire. 

The leaders of this invasion were Aloysius Huber, a former police 
spy, now even on this day accused of working for the government to 
make the demonstration fail, and the young Sobrier who pranced 
so gaily along the February barricades and who had spent the 
intervening time gathering a supply of weapons at his Rue de Rivoli 
house, perhaps with Lamartine's connivance. (Lamartine's con- 
fidence in his own power over human nature was unbounded, if 

Barbes had been opposed to the whole idea of the demonstration, 
possibly because he was a member of the Assembly. His club had 
voted against it the evening before and refused to take part. Now, 
with the mob actually in the Assembly Hall, Barbes leapt into the 
tribune and tried to get the petitioners to go away, while he also 
moved to the Assembly the war for Poland. But as soon as Barbes 
saw Blanqui in the crowd he lost his head, determined not to let his 
archenemy get ahead of him ; and when the sound of the rappel being 
beaten for the national guards penetrated the Assembly room, 
Barbes cried "We are betrayed !" and led the march to the Hotel de 
Ville. Ledru had promised Barbes not to beat the rappel, but Presi- 
dent Buchez had slipped out an order to General Courtais. 

Blanqui also, it appears, was opposed to the demonstration, careful 
revolutionary that he was, on the grounds that the times were not yet 
ripe. His club, however, was for action, and because of the Tasche- 
reau scandal he was afraid that if he didn't participate he would lose 
influence, so he led them in the parade and into the Assembly. Once 
there he was forced into the tribune and began to orate about 
Poland. Gradually he tried to switch, to get to things nearer home, 
the election massacres ordered by Senard at Rouen, the sufferings 
of the unemployed, but the people's minds were on a single track. 
"Talk about Poland/ 5 they yelled. 

The tumult became more and more frightening, though Tasche- 
reau, who had exposed Blanqui and, therefore, had a personal fear, 
was the only representative who fled from the building. Every pos- 
sible spot was filled with sweaty, bare-armed workers wearing red 
sashes. President Buchez was pulled out of his chair, and finally 
Huber called out in his terrific voice that the Assembly was dis- 
solved. The people cheered and cried, "To the Hotel de Ville." 



Barbes and Marrast, whose job was that of Mayor of Paris, ran 
a race to get there first, and installed themselves in different wings 
when they arrived. Barbes had time to make two proclamations. One 
was the conventional declaration of a provisional government and 
the other sent an ultimatum to Russia and Germany on the Polish 
question. Barbes also announced that if Blanqui came in he would 
break his head. He did not use, perhaps did not even know, the seven 
decrees that had been printed ahead of time at Sobrier's house, one 
stating that the workers had been fired on a revolutionary expec- 
tation which General Courtais had steadfastly failed to gratify. 
Marrast, meanwhile, in the other end of the Hotel de Ville was print- 
ing a counter-proclamation on a small press and dropping it from 
the windows to the crowd below. Before very long he was rescued by 
the national guards who came to arrest Barbes. 

At the Assembly Hall guards and deputies were embracing each 
other, happy to have escaped without bloodshed or injury. Louis 
Blanc was the only member who ran any real danger. During the 
invasion of the Assembly Blanc looked like a snake having its tail 
pinched. His thoughts were various : he was angry at the way the 
Assembly had tossed him out of the government, yet scared by the 
mob. Later he started to go to the Hotel de Ville with the rebels, 
then thought better of it and returned, only to be seized by national 
guards who almost tore him to pieces, since they, like most con- 
servatives, blamed him for the whole affair. With his coat in rags, 
his hair a tangle, he finally managed to reach the tribune, where he 
defended himself so bravely that even his enemies were impressed. 

That other famous radical, Caussidiere, had maintained a more 
than prudent inactivity during the day, saying he had a sore leg. His 
Montagnards were not allowed to help guard the Assembly, and 
revenged themselves on the national guard by feting and releasing 
the prisoners the latter brought into the police station. After this 
day the Montagnards were immediately disbanded adding to the 
forces of disaffected radicals in Paris. But Caussidiere, like Louis 
Blanc, pleaded his case so well that he won over his enemies. The 
executive commission was at first unanimously determined on his 
dismissal; he convinced a majority of his good faith, and then re- 
signed anyway, both as police chief and as deputy. Only two weeks 
later he won a brilliant reelection in the by-elections. 

The unhappy results of May 15 were that the workers were left 



almost leaderless for the graver crisis ahead, for Barbes was thrown 
into prison immediately, Blanqui was caught after two weeks and 
the other leaders were silenced. The Assembly, meanwhile, looked at 
the bootmarks on its velvet seats and became convinced that measures 
to curb the spirit of Paris could not come too soon nor be too drastic. 

It was arranged that on May 21 the Assembly should review the 
armed forces in a ceremony incongruously called the Feast of Con- 
cord. For the occasion Paris was brilliantly illuminated, with rows 
of lights picking out the lines of all buildings along the Place de la 
Concorde and for a mile and a half up to the Arc de PEtoile. A 
huge statue of the republic guarded by four lions was set up in the 
Champ de Mars, while floats representing agriculture, commerce, 
arts, music, and even international friendship went by. The last was 
represented by France, Germany, and Italy hand-in-hand. The 
richer and uniformed national guards went by crying, "Long live 
the National Assembly!" some of the poorer ones still in blouses 
cried, "Long live the democratic and social republic !" while troops 
of the line marched past in silence. 

Concord may have been present if so, it was most certainly for 
the last time in Paris that spring; yet the Assembly lacked faith. 
Most of the members secretly strapped a pistol or dagger under their 
coats before entrusting themselves to this contact with the people. 

On June 4< occurred the by-elections already mentioned, at which 
the sensation was the election of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew 
and heir of the late Emperor. This prince had dashed to Paris in the 
first days of the republic, butLamartine, who hated Bonapartism in 
every form, was so inhospitable that the young man returned at 
once to London and settled down to watch events with his usual 
cynical, cautious, and patient eye. He positively refused to run in 
the April elections because, he told his friends, he was waiting for 
the illusions of springtime to fade before he placed himself before the 
people as a man of order. For the June elections these devoted parti- 
sans covered Paris with tiny posters they could not afford big 
ones and stimulated working class support by songs, medals, and 
little flags for buttonholes. 

At least five Napoleonic papers were circulating in Paris in June 
one conservative, one demagogic, one historical, one literarily 
pink, and one stressing military glory. As usual, Louis Napoleon 



played all sides. Just as kings had at one time sought the support of 
the middle classes against the feudal nobility, so in the nineteenth 
century they often came to courting the workers against the middle 
class. Napoleon III as Emperor, and Bismarck, both did this later; 
in 1848 Radowitz advised the King of Prussia that it was the policy 
he ought to follow. 

The Prince was the author of a work entitled The Extinction of 
Pauperism and he loved to quote from his uncle at St. Helena, "I 
wish for the worker to be happy and to earn his six francs a day" 
(three times the pay of the national workshops). On this basis Louis 
Napoleon was made to seem almost a socialist and he won the sup- 
port of large numbers of the workers. The ex-Luxembourg Com- 
mittee endorsed him, and Louis Blanc and Emile Thomas both 
became Bonapartists, although it is only fair to mention that some 
members of both the Luxembourg and national workshops signed 
posters against him. 

But Louis Napoleon was one socialist the Assembly was not afraid 
of, even with Louis Blanc's endorsement. Perhaps the party of order 
can recognize its champions under any disguise. Lamartine and 
Ledru fumed against the Prince, urging not only that he should 
not be allowed to take his seat but that he should be banished and 
on the very day after Lamartine's oration against him the delegates 
voted to seat him. Louis Napoleon, however, declined the honor 
sensationally, and in so doing seemed to reproach the Chamber. He 
had said that if people imposed duties on him he would know how to 
fulfill them, but now, since his name, which ought to unite France, 
caused dissension, he would remain away. Perhaps he was discour- 
aged at the opposition, perhaps he felt his tide was not yet at the 
flood, but for a while longer he remained inscrutable in London 
while the crisis of the national workshops grew more acute. When 
France was really ready he would emerge again. 



The Revolution of Despair 

THROUGHOUT the country nearly a million francs a day were now 
being spent for the wages of the unemployed, and this fact alone 
was sufficient to harden the hearts of an Assembly devoted to order. 
Order in the streets is not enough, an orator told them, what we 
need is order in ideas. This is impossible so long as the poor are 
being demoralized and the rich bankrupted. 

As early as May 13 the executive commission decided to abolish 
the workshops. As a first step they instructed Emile Thomas, on 
May 24, to enlist the young unmarried members in the army, to 
pay the traveling expenses home of those workers who had not lived 
in Paris for at least six months, to fire the members who refused jobs 
in private industry, to send some units remaining on the payroll to 
the country for public works projects outside Paris, and to pay 
those still working in Paris at piece rates. Some of these measures 
seemed designed simply to infuriate the workers, especially the one 
forcing men into private industry, which gave employers a fine 
chance for wage-cutting, and the one decreeing rural public works, 
for the first group of workers to go out of Paris was known to have 
been sent to the unhealthful swamps of Sologne. 

Thomas, now in charge of 120,000 workers, was appalled at this 
series of orders and begged for delay. He was angry that none of 
his constructive measures had been discussed, and he knew that 
violence would result from the governmental program. But he soon 
learned how much in earnest were the cabinet. On May 26 he was 
summoned to the Ministry of the Interior and ordered to resign 
on the spot. He was also informed that he must leave Paris at once, 
under police escort, for Bordeaux, where he was to "study canals. 5 * 
The post chaise was waiting outside the door and he was not al- 
lowed to see his mother or even to write to her before taking off. 
He was kept at Bordeaux, under surveillance, until after the June 
elections a procedure so high-handed that Louis Philippe's police 
would never have dared to try it. 



No one at Thomas' office at Monceaux believed that their beloved 
director had been, sent on "an important mission/ 3 and when the 
Minister of the Interior showed up at the Pavilion, they tried to 
kidnap him in protest. Failing in this, the workshop members be- 
came steadily more aggrieved, willing now -for the first time to listen 
to the words of their more sophisticated rivals, the Luxembourg 
workers, from whose contaminating propaganda Thomas had so 
carefully preserved them. 

So long as Louis Blanc had been a member of the government, 
and Thomas kept the workshops working, labor, however uneasy, 
was divided by its various and almost justified hopes; Marie's and 
Lamartine's efforts to keep it compartmented into Luxembourg 
and workshops succeeded in fooling part of the people part of the 
time. Now at last the two groups united, first for electioneering, 
and soon, finding ballots did not give them what they wanted, for 
fighting behind new barricades. 

As a protective measure early in June, all the clubs were ordered 
closed, and the penalty for attending an armed meeting was set at 
twelve years 5 imprisonment. So ferocious was the law that to stand 
unknowingly next to a person bearing a concealed weapon became 
a crime. The monarchy's decrees seemed mild in comparison. Never- 
theless, outdoor meetings, the "clubs of despair," were common in 
spite of the law, and the workers began making cartridges again in 
their suburbs. National guards were kept in uniform during the 
month and made all their business and pleasure engagements with 
the proviso, "if they don't beat the rappel" The rich guards, too, 
in a burst of fraternity, began giving parties for the poor guards, 
to keep them loyal. 

During these days Tocqueville met George Sand for the first time, 
at a dinner party. He did not expect to like her, having a prejudice 
against women writers, but discovered in her the natural simplicity 
of great minds, and he was impressed in spite of himself by her stories 
of her working-class friends. They were desperate, she said, ready to 
fight to the death, and she begged him to try to keep his side from 
forcing the issue. Unfortunately, for minds on opposite sides to 
meet like this was the rarest thing in the Paris of that day. 

Adolphe Blanqui's young servants showed a simplicity of mind 
that must have been fairly common. (This Blanqui was a perfectly 



respectable economist in spite of being the club leader's brother; he 
is said to have been the one who invented the term "industrial revolu- 
tion.") Just before the outbreak, these servants were heard remark- 
ing, "Next Sunday we shall be eating chicken wings and wearing 
silk clothes," an incident much quoted in histories of the period. 
What is not so often told, though it is almost more significant, is that 
their master did not dare to fire them for saying this until after the 

The Catholic party in the Assembly was determined to abolish 
the workshops even before the government's preliminary measures 
to diminish them had time to take effect. In the public mind they 
were socialistic, and that meant that they were an attack on the 
Church and the family. No other issue, except education, seemed 
nearly so important. 

Falloux, the workshops' archenemy, exploited every parliamen- 
tary trick to rush first the Committee on Labor, then the Assembly 
itself, into a precipitate vote against the workshops. 

Falloux had chosen to work in the Committee on Labor, he tells 
us, because the Committee on Public Instruction was already under 
the influence of as good a Catholic as himself, Vicomte de Montalem- 
bert. Falloux also pointed out that whereas most people were not 
interested in labor, he felt he understood the problems involved be- 
cause of the large amount of charity work he had done among the 
poor. Being a legitimist, he had not been distracted from good works 
by parties and social life under the Orleans regime. 

Although the platform on which Falloux ran for the Assembly 
was one of undiluted democratic sentiments, his earlier writings 
had glorified the Inquisition. "Liberty," he said, although not to the 
electorate, "is the instrument of modern centuries to reestablish the 
institutions of the age of faith. Tolerance is not a virtue except in 
ages of doubt." 

He was clever enough in his attack to convince, temporarily, both 
Proudhon and Victor Hugo, and Hugo made his maiden speech in 
support of Falloux's bill. Proudhon later said he felt as if he had 
been an imbecile, and as for Hugo, he was so ashamed of his speech 
that he altered the text when he printed his papers. 

The executive commission realized that they were all playing 
with explosives and tried once more to slow down the process of dis- 
solution. They suggested taking a census, as one expedient, and they 



hoped to work out a way to use the men on state-owned railroads. 
Caussidiere rose to echo this plea let us do important things, let us 
clear land, let us use this labor to make Prance happy. But no pal- 
liative would subdue Falloux's tireless hatred. On June 23 he insisted 
on presenting a decree to dissolve the workshops within three days, 
reading without emotion in spite of the fact that barricades were 
rising even as he spoke. However, the Assembly voted him down. 

Later Falloux was cool enough to say that his report could not 
have been responsible for the street battle because it was read after 
the fighting began ignoring the fact that for days ahead all Paris 
knew his bill was coming. But even though the Assembly had wished 
to temporize, by this time the people were unwilling to wait for 
whatever mollifying laws their representatives might be planning. 

On June 18 the Luxembourg commission, which had kept its 
organization intact after being officially dissolved, and the leaders 
of the national workshop members issued a joint proclamation in 
favor of the democratic and social republic. On the 21st the two 
worker groups had a meeting to plan a demonstration against clos- 
ing the workshops, and the following day a lieutenant in the work- 
shops, Louis Pujol, led a group of men to interview Marie on the 

"If the workers don't want to go to the provinces," declared 
Marie, "we shall make them go by force. Do you understand?" 

"By force," said Pujol. "Good. Now we know what we wanted to 

"And what was that?" 

"That the Executive Commission never sincerely wanted the 
organization of labor." 

Pujol emerged from Marie's office to report to the crowd in his 
apocalyptic manner that they would be forced to join the army or 
to leave for the provinces, and cried to them, "Swear vengeance." 
"We swear it," they replied in chorus. And Pujol gave them an 
assignation, "Tomorrow at six o'clock" the day army enlistments 
were scheduled to start among workshop members. That evening 
Maxime Du Camp, Flaubert's friend, walking in from dinner in the 
country, met 2,000 unarmed men marching by threes, crying mo- 
notonously, "Bread or lead." He noticed that shop windows and 
doors slammed shut as the marchers passed. 

Pujol came to the fore at the start of this insurrection because 



all the men who had planned the earlier demonstrations were in jail 
like Barbes or powerless like Louis Blanc. He was a mystic of sorts 
and had written a Prophecy of Bloody Days in Biblical style which 
had the power of strangely moving the people. Perhaps now he felt 
a responsibility for making his prophecy come true. In his subse- 
quent career, he was pardoned by Napoleon after his part in this 
June uprising, but found that he was persecuted in France for his 
ideas. He fled to Spain, kidnaped a woman, took her to London, 
became a teacher, abandoned the woman, married an Englishwoman, 
and carried her to the United States, where he opened a girls' school 
and eventually fought for the North in the Civil War. 

At six o'clock on the morning of Friday, June 23, the workers 
who wished to fight for their rights met at the Pantheon as pledged, 
and marched solemnly to the Place de la Bastille. Pujol ordered 
them to uncover and to kneel in honor of those who had died here 
for liberty. When they arose they set to building barricades. Though 
it was a stormy day with thunder in the air and rain falling, it was 
not the weather that made these barricades more forbidding than 
those of February. Wet, gloomy, determined figures, with women 
and children among them, dragged the stones, making structures 
that were thicker, sturdier, and neater than those of February, built 
with more determination and less verve. Those June barricades were 
systematically built with small openings for passage near the houses. 
Even mail wagons were upset this time, even water wagons. And 
when a flag was raised over a completed barricade, the very Mar- 
seillaise sounded mournful, though the singing was almost drowned 
out by the alarm bell ringing from the tower of Saint-Sulpice to 
call the builders 5 brothers to guard duty. 

For a few hours the barricade builders worked almost unopposed, 
since the government had decided to let the insurrection get its head 
so that it could be more effectively attacked with troops. This policy 
must have been a favorite one among friends of order, for it had 
been advocated by the military party in the outbreak of 1830, and 
by Thiers to Louis Philippe in February 1848; in the Paris Com- 
mune of 1871, Thiers was to put it into action again. Now, in June 
1848, it was insisted on by General Eugene Cavaignac, though bit- 
terly opposed by the Executive Commission. Lamartine and his 
colleagues argued all night that it would be more humane and 
civilian in spirit to attack each barricade as it was built. The Com- 



mission, which was still the governing organ, had asked for 60,000 
troops for Cavaignac, which he had failed to provide. It was a bitter 
disillusionment to them to find that he still continued reluctant to 
send for reinforcements and that there were not enough troops in 
Paris to attack all the vital places. Finally Ledru-Rollin telegraphed 
to other cities for troops and ammunition. 

The rappel for the national guards was, of course, beaten early, 
but by mid-morning this was changed to the generate, a mixture of 
drums and trumpets in double quick time which was used only in 
the greatest emergencies. Tocqueville never heard it before or after- 
wards. Now the guards poured out of their houses and ran to duty 
while the workers watched them cynically and listened to the cannon 
which were beginning to boom. 

Shortly after noon the first blood was shed near the Porte Saint- 
Denis, where the national guards summoned a barricade to sur- 
render and were met with fire. Thirty guardsmen were killed in a 
bloodthirsty volley from the defenders; and for their part the at- 
tackers shot down in succession two beautiful, disheveled young 
prostitutes who stood atop the barricade, lifting their skirts up to 
their waists and screaming in unprintable language, "Cowards, do 
you dare to fire on the belly of a woman?" 

Ledru's summons brought immediate help, professional and ama- 
teur, from all over France. The first day the government sent a man 
who passed himself off as an Englishman in order to get to the rail- 
road station, which was in the hands of the insurgents. He carried 
his orders in the sole of his boot. Once there he managed to mount 
a locomotive and drive it to Amiens, whence he returned in five 
hours with 3,000 national guards. Other towns sent reinforcements. 
Peasants and shopkeepers and nobles could now get their revenge 
on the workshops, and they poured into Paris until by the last day 
of fighting they were coming from 500 miles away. From Brittany 
came 1,500 who had had to make their way over 200 miles where 
there were as yet no railroads. There was no doubt what the rest 
of France wanted, no doubt that the Paris workers suffered a com- 
plete ideological separation from the country. 

The new Minister of War, General Cavaignac, came from a fam- 
ily long prominent for its republicanism and all his life had had 
to suffer from social pressure on that account. It was hard for him 
as a boy to get into Polytechnic School, and later in the army he 



found promotion slower than it might have been for an officer of his 
ability with somewhat more flexible principles. His military fame 
was gained in Algeria, then undergoing pacification by France ; his 
formula for governing was never to seem to admire the boldness and 
courage of the natives, but to make them feel inferior by impressing 
them with French force and stability. Another of his rules was to 
give the French colonists private property to defend. His long de- 
votion to republicanism, if not to democracy, found its natural 
reward when the provisional government summoned him to Paris 
in April to take over the War Office. 

In character someone described him as a surly drill sergeant. A 
fanatic on obedience, he disliked final responsibility and wanted to 
get orders from the Assembly an attitude which charmed those 
worthies after their dealings with the self-sufficient Executive Com- 
mission. Cavaignac's face was rigid even in repose, his eyes were 
mean; he was the sort of general who could give orders to storm 
the particular barricade behind which one of his officers was held 
as hostage. Yet, when the insurrection was over he was found sob- 
bing at the knees of his mother, to whom he was deeply bound. 

Concerning the honor as well as the comfort of his troops, he was 
a perfect fussbudget. Before he would allow them to attack, he laid 
in ample supplies, so that every soldier had four days' provisions ; 
and he preferred to let national guards police the city and attack 
what barricades were necessary because he heard that in February 
some troops had been disarmed by the people. Cavaignac said that 
he would blow his own brains out if that happened to a single soldier 
under his command. His contempt for the insurgents surpassed his 
hatred for a foreign enemy, for he insisted he could never make 
terms with rebels; he must receive an unconditional and formal 

The workers, under Cavaignac's policy of temporary laissez- 
faire, had managed to win control over the eastern half of Paris, 
and inside their territory they performed prodigies. They opened 
indoor communications from house to house over long distances to 
make getting around less dangerous. In one of the city's foundries 
they cast a cannon, and to cool it quickly they hung it in the air 
and rocked it while children threw sand against it. To get munitions 
to the barricades women sometimes carried sacks of powder in such 
a way as to make themselves look pregnant, and men carried rifles 



in coffins. Meanwhile, civil order was perfectly maintained. No rape 
or theft was committed in the insurgent area; even jewelry shops 
were safe, though gunshops were ransacked. When the crowd swept 
through Victor Hugo's house, probably looking for arms, they left 
everything untouched down to the unfinished manuscript of Les 
Miserables which was lying on a table. (Eventually, the work was 
revised and became a masterpiece in the light of those June days.) 
Taxes were collected at the city gates as usual, and even the stations 
of the semaphore telegraph within the area wigwagged all dispatches 
forward except about the battle. The insurgents were so eager to 
show they were good citizens that they often set prisoners free, even 
lent them blouses to cover their uniforms until they reached safety. 

The Assembly was in permanent and agitated session all this 
time, comparing themselves to soldiers who kept their posts on the 
barricades all night. Senard, who was now president, possibly for 
the very reason that having quelled the election riot at Rouen he 
was supposed to know how to handle such affairs, voiced the general 
opinion. The insurgents are not asking for the republic, he said 
they have one ; they do not ask for suffrage they have it ; they are 
only looking for anarchy and pillage. Thus, when Caussidiere pro- 
posed treating with the insurgents he was howled down. 

Arago felt it his duty to walk to the barricades and to talk to some 
of the people on the other side. All they told him was, "Ah, M. 
AragOj you have never suffered from hunger." He came back from 
this encounter convinced of the need to use force. With tears in his 
eyes he ordered the troops to attack. Lamartine likewise went out 
to parley and was told, "We are not bad citizens. We wish to live 
and die for the republic." But he was not moved to take their side 
either. It seemed almost impossible for anyone who had ever owned 
property to extend his sympathy across those June barricades. 

The best the government could think of to do was to continue to 
pay the members of the national workshops, a policy which un~ 
doubtedly kept many workers neutral. Later on Sunday the As- 
sembly voted three million francs to be used for relieving the unem- 
ployed, a sum which seemed to naive members of the party of order 
(and they were as naive as the workers) to prove complete and 
indeed overwhelming generosity on the part of the Assembly. Then, 
just as if to prove that there was no use offering the insurgents 
anything, a brave officer, General Brea, was killed when he tried to 



carry this news to the insurgents. The workers took him inside a 
barricade to parley, and there, because some of them had heard that 
he ordered prisoners killed, they shot him. 

Atrocity stories, however, were not all on one side. The young 
firebrands of the militarized police, Lamartine's garde mobile and 
even Louis Philippe's hated municipal guards (which Cavaignac 
ordered back from the country, where Emile Thomas had sent them 
to the ironworks to save them from Parisian wrath after February) 
now found the chance to cut loose, and horrified the insurgents with 
their barbarity. No matter how the tales about them are toned 
down, it seems that they shot a good many prisoners (one story was 
they threw them into the Seine and shot them while swimming) and 
left a thousand more in the Tuileries without food and water. When 
asked to have these latter removed to a more decent place, President 
Senard said he simply could not guarantee their safety if they 
were marched out, the national guards were so inflamed as to shoot 
them en route. Even Cavaignac, the disciplinarian, said his orders 
would be ineffective in stopping atrocities. 

On Saturday (June 24) the Assembly decided to take power 
away from the Executive Commission and to make Cavaignac dic- 
tator. Up to this point the Commission had shown considerable 
sense and energy they had at least tried talking to the workers, 
and they had sent for reinforcements yet apparently the deputies 
rejoiced at the chance to get rid of the five men who had so many 
ideas of their own that they paid too little attention to the As- 

By Sunday morning the government forces had succeeded in 
freeing the left bank of the Seine, but the working-class districts on 
the right bank seemed more tightly organized and more hostile than 
ever. It was impossible to exchange parleys any longer, until in the 
afternoon the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Denis Auguste Affre, 
offered to carry a message from Cavaignac to urge the workers to 
come back like repentant brothers. The good Archbishop had long 
been concerned with the social problem, particularly with the de- 
christianization of workers, and to counteract this tendency he had 
opened history classes in church, and started a medical insurance 
society which had 15,000 members in 1845. After the revolution, 
he supported the provisional government at every step and ordered 
his curates to sing "God save the people" instead of "the King." 

9 3 


Now he was a member of the Assembly. Cavaignac warned him that 
he could not offer to send a military escort to protect him at the 
barricades, but Monsignor Affre went ahead anyway. Unfortunately 
the parley to get him behind the barricades turned into a fight, and 
he was hit by a bullet from a window in one of the insurgents' houses. 
Other workers gathered around. They begged him to come into their 
houses and let them nurse him, they brought clean linen to him and 
kissed his hand. But Affre knew he was dying and raised his voice 
in one final prayer, "May my blood be the last that is shed," a wish 
that almost came true. 

For by the following morning the workers held only the Faubourg 
Saint- Antoine ; but no news had reached inside their sixty-four 
barricades for three days and they did not know that theirs was 
the last stronghold of revolt. Cavaignac gave them a truce until 
ten o'clock, time for the Faubourg to send a delegation out to the 
Assembly and to spread news inside their own lines of the govern- 
mental victory. But there were still so many workers unwilling to 
give up that they kept on arguing past the deadline when the truce 
was to end. At ten minutes past the appointed moment firing began. 
This time the battle was short and quick. Within an hour it was 
all over. 

That night Alexander Herzen and his family were sitting in their 
house when they heard shots being fired at short regular intervals. 
"We glanced at one another, all our faces were livid. . . . 'They are 
shooting prisoners,' we said with one voice, and turned away from 
one another. I pressed my forehead against the window pane. Such 
moments provoke ten years of hatred, a lifetime of revenge : Woe to 
him who forgives at such moments" 1 

After complaints were received about the shooting (so the story 
went) General Lamoriciere gave orders in the future to use bayonets. 
(Like the inmates of modern concentration camps, officially these 
prisoners were shot "while attempting to escape.") 

In all, these four days of fighting cost 1,460 lives, counting 150 
as the number of prisoners who were shot or bayoneted. Four gen- 
erals were lost as well as four Assembly members. Somebody figured 
that in no victory of the First Empire were so many French officers 
killed as during these June days. 

Not more than 50,000 took active part in the insurrection, by no 

1 Herzen, M y Past and Thoughts, rv, 3. 



means a large proportion of the working population of Paris if one 
remembers that 120,000 were registered in the national workshops 
alone. The morale of those who fought came not from enthusiasm 
this time, but from despair, yet it was so fierce that they did not give 
up the Faubourg du Temple until they had fired their last cartridge. 
No other possibility seemed open to them than to fight over again 
for what they thought they would win in February, protection 
against poverty, which they believed was contrary to morality. 
Women fought as fiercely as men, for the comfort of their husbands, 
the education of their children. What the insurgents asked for when 
they attempted to treat with the government was continuance of the 
workshops, withdrawal of the army from Paris, release of their 
beloved leaders who had been imprisoned since May 15, and assur- 
ance that the "people" should make the constitution. Naive these 
suggestions may have been, but they were certainly not bloodthirsty 
nor vengeful, and they form a painful contrast with the double 
dealing and determined misunderstanding with which their troubles 
were always handled by the other side. 

Paris was left with houses smoking; many rooms broken open 
by cannon fire were visible from the street, with smashed furniture 
and scattered glass ; inhabitants, of course were gone. Soldiers were 
bivouacked on the streets, lying on straw, making soup in the 
gardens of the Tuileries, their horses tethered to iron palisades or 
left where they could nibble trees on the Champs Ely sees. As for the 
Luxembourg Gardens, they were closed until after the first big 
storm, which washed away (people said) the blood of the executions 
that took place there. Boys of sixteen swaggered through the streets 
boasting of the men they had killed while shop girls of the same age 
ran out and pelted them with flowers. The city was quiet, however, 
though ears still rang with the echoes of shots, the tramp of cavalry, 
the heavy rumbling of cannon wheels. Herzen, again, told how he 
felt, and in so doing summed up perhaps for the first time the sort of 
shock intellectuals were to suffer in many future decades: 

"Byron has a description of a battlefield at night ; its bloodstained 
details are hidden in the darkness; at dawn, when the battle has 
long been over, its traces a sword and bloodstained clothes are 
seen. It was just such a dawn that rose now in the soul, it lighted 
up a scene of fearful desolation. Half of our hopes, half of our 
beliefs were slain, ideas of skepticism and despair haunted the brain 



and took root in it. One could never have supposed that, after pass- 
ing through so many trials, after being schooled by contemporary 
skepticism, we had so much left in our souls to be destroyed. 

"Natalie wrote about this time to Moscow: 'I look at the children 
and weep, I am terrified. I no longer dare to wish them to live, per- 
haps there is a fate as awful in store for them, too. 5 " 2 

On June 28 Cavaignac, the perfect republican, resigned Ms 
powers to the Assembly, which voted them right back to him with 
the decree that he deserved well of the country. 

For vengeance on the workers, the Assembly declared subject to 
transportation without trial all who were caught with arms in their 
hands or who worked on the barricades. Louis Menard insists that 
they picked up women in childbed, paralytics, and some who were not 
even in Paris at the time of the fight. Of 15,000 prisoners, 6,000 
were released after a few days, and batches of others were freed at 
intervals stretching over a year and a half. By January 1850, 468 
were still held and nearly all these were actually sent to Algeria at 
this time. Some of them turned into colonists, some returned home 
when they were pardoned in 1859. Only 12 had escaped. 

Blanqui, the economist, spoke of the heart breaking distress, and 
Lamennais, the unfrocked mystic, reproached middle-class women 
especially for their indifference. Louis Blanc quotes from the police 
report concerning the president of the Luxembourg delegates, who 
was sentenced without trial, that he was "of incontestible integrity, 
of peaceful disposition . . . well-informed . . . well-liked, and for this 
reason very dangerous in the propagation of socialist ideas." 

The only place in the whole city where families of insurgents 
could go for relief that summer was the office of Proudhon's news- 
paper (supported by Herzen, incidentally), for Proudhon was 
deeply ashamed of the way he had been taken in by the Assembly's 
propaganda during the fighting. 

To Cavaignac goes the distinction of setting the first example of 
permanent martial law, so effectively copied at Berlin and Vienna 
later in the year. Paris was officially considered "in a state of siege" 
until October 19, with 50,000 troops encamped there, and a law 
against the press more restrictive than under the monarchy. Eleven 
presses were closed, and what publications kept running had to put 

2 Herzen, op. tit. 



up such a huge guaranty sum in advance that this rule decreed 
"silence to the poor." The working day was set back at twelve hours, 
imprisonment for debt was reestablished, and those deluded souls 
who thought they would not have to pay rent under a republic and 
for whom Caussidiere had kept trying to negotiate some gentler 
settlement, were now thrown out into the streets with their pos- 

The first draft of the new constitution had been written with the 
right to work guaranteed. After June this right was torn out, and 
the "right to support" substituted. 

In education the Catholic party worked more slowly but no less 
thoroughly; in 1850 they laid down a law which made it possible 
for the Church to control most of the schools of France. 

The flight to reaction made Proudhon laugh, and deceived Marx 
and Engels into thinking, temporarily, that capitalism had not much 
longer to live. The great gain, as they saw it, was that the June 
defeat freed the revolutionaries from "pre-revolutionary traditional 
appendages 55 of personages, illusions, and ideas. But the bour- 
geoisie too had lost illusions, all those friendly thoughts about the 
noble worker and the solidarity of classes which led them to the same 
side of the barricades in February. Now, these workers, these prop- 
ertyless individuals whom they had helped to free, had ungratefully 
turned on their betters in irrational and dangerous fury; the fear 
that gripped the upper classes was like that in Rome at the invasion 
of the barbarians. 

Society hurled itself backwards (said Daniel Stern) as if it 
wanted to return to the forms which it had just destroyed, when 
all at once a name appeared that gave form and energy and a new 
existence to revolution. 

This name, of course, was Louis Napoleon 5 s. As his uncle had 
taken over the F;rst Republic, using power for both liberal and 
illiberal ends, so the nephew, now ready to emerge from obscurity, 
bestrode the Second Republic. He took what strength it had for his 
own and abandoned the shell when it was empty. 

After Napoleon had turned down his seat in the Assembly, he 
doubtless congratulated himself (or would he think it only natural?) 
that he escaped contact with the June battle. His attitude toward 
the revolution is as mysterious as everything else about him, only 



one may be sure that he would have capitalized on it equally if the 
workers had won. However, he was not bloodthirsty, and it seems 
almost certain that he did not try to start this particular trouble, 
loud though he was in sympathy for the members of the workshops 
and bitter in denunciations of the law forbidding public meetings. 
But as the trouble grew nearer he ordered his partisans to play dead. 
If one-third of the insurgents were Bonapartists, as was estimated, 
they were without active leadership in the battle, and the new Na- 
poleon who emerged in the fall was far less demagogic and far more 
the man of order than the one who had campaigned for election in 
June. In the middle of Cavaignac's summer-long dictatorship, the 
prince remarked that the general was merely clearing the way for 
him; a Bonaparte could hardly have been sorry to watch odium 
piling up on another's reputation while the Napoleonic ideal was 
kept shining and untarnished. His was the only one whose promise 
had not yet betrayed the people. Louis Napoleon came as the bearer 
of a new fantastic hope of peace and liberalism. 

In September he at last allowed himself to be elected to the As- 
sembly, though he told his friend and campaign manager, Fialin de 
Persigny, that he did not feel his place was in that body and he 
would try not to take his seat. Nevertheless, once elected, he arrived 
in Paris on the 24th and two days later made his appearance at the 
Assembly hall, where he responded to the moderate acclaim which 
greeted him with a short speech (in a pronounced German accent). 
After that he seldom appeared on the floor but let his two cousins 
who were also members speak for him. In his first days at Paris 
he arranged talks with several socialists, including Proudhon. And 
he instructed Persigny never to let any private or public conversa- 
tion intimate that he had any other ambition than to serve France 
in legitimately established channels. 

In October the Assembly created the berth for which he aspired, 
one both legitimate and eminent. If the new constitution, in creating 
a four-year presidency and forbidding the incumbent to succeed 
himself, hoped to erect a barrier against monarchy, four years would 
at least give the country a chance to see how it liked a republic and 
Napoleon a chance to work peacefully from the top. 

The great question in drafting the constitution was whether to 
elect the president in the Assembly or by popular vote. The As- 
sembly at that date would unquestionably have chosen Cavaignac, 



and, knowing that, Lamartine threw himself into a passionate ap- 
peal for universal suffrage. The purple and golden words worked 
once more. It was Lamartine's last parliamentary victory, and 
one cannot be sure whether he made the effort out of vain conceit 
that he himself would be the people's candidate for he spent the 
rest of his life in self -admiration, and kept nine portraits of himself 
in his living room or whether he recognized that Napoleon would 
win and cynically felt that that was what the country deserved. 
"The more I see of representatives of the people, the more I like 
my dogs," he is supposed to have said, and he may have felt that 
way about the presidency. 

The constitution was quickly ratified; it turned out to be ex- 
cessively cumbrous, drawn so that if the president and Assembly 
got into a deadlock there was almost no way they could get out 
again. Also, it was almost impossible to amend it. It was these 
provisions which, Napoleon's apologists say, made the coup d'Stat 
of 1851 in which he took power into his own hands, coupled with his 
later crowning as Napoleon III, the only possible way to break the 
log jam. This would be easier to believe if the Napoleonic dream had 
not been an imperial dream from the beginning ; and this Napoleon 
was certainly clever enough to outsmart any constitution whatever. 

A proposal was introduced to the Assembly to bar pretenders 
from the presidency, but even Cavaignac felt this idea showed 
lack of trust in the electorate and opposed it. The Prince himself 
was asked to explain his position, and said in a few sentences that 
he just wanted to be a French citizen and wished people would stop 
calling him a pretender. He spoke so haltingly that the member who 
introduced the amendment withdrew it in scorn, saying he perceived 
it was not needed. He grossly underestimated the Prince, but then 
so did nearly everybody else who knew him. That was part of his 

Shortly after the presidential elections were arranged, the Central 
Bonapartist Committee set itself up in Paris to push the Prince's 
candidacy. The elections were to take place on December 10. Per- 
signy, warned by having been imprisoned in June, slept every night 
in a different bed but between naps was indefatigable in electioneer- 
ing. Emile de Girardin, also furious at having been thrown into 
prison in June, supported Napoleon in the Presse; and Thiers, 
whose eye was on the presidency for himself in four years, supported 



him on the theory that this was a weak scion of the Bonapartes 
whose course he, Thiers, could direct. For weeks it was a private 
joke between Napoleon and Persigny that Thiers, who was short, 
came to the Prince begging him not to wear a uniform in office lest 
his successor happen to be a very small man whom the military garb 
did not become. The truth was, Napoleon was nearly everybody's 
candidate. Conservatives did not dare name one of their own men, 
radicals were furious at Cavaignac and would support anybody to 
beat him, socialists were misled by Napoleon's apparent sympathy, 
peasants adored his uncle, and workers wanted to live and eat with- 
out another battle. Also, he was the candidate of other millions who 
felt that Napoleon was a synonym for national glory. Persigny 
explained that his candidacy did not exclude any party but called 
eminent men from all parties ; and for many people, including Per- 
signy himself 3 the cause was like a religious faith. It was Heine who 
noticed that the pictures of the first Napoleon which decorated every 
peasant's cottage usually showed him either visiting the sick and 
wounded, or lying on his deathbed of expiation, and he was struck 
by the religious connotations of these two poses. 

Yet the campaign was not all sweetness. Persigny knew how to 
appeal to hatred and envy and ambition. (He even tried, unsuccess- 
fully, anti-Semitism.) Napoleon explained to the friends of order 
that he wished to discipline the workers, for his projected workers' 
colonies were more like the labor camps of Hitler than the coopera- 
tives of Louis Blanc. To the workers he explained that though he 
was going to run the country cheaply, the few little moneys that he 
did require would be extracted from the rich. "The Napoleonic cause 
goes to the soul," said the Prince at one time, and no one knew 
better than he that souls have evil passions as well as good. He be- 
lieved in exploiting all depths. 

In Louis Napoleon's mind, ends were more important than means, 
and the end was that France should be Napoleonic once again. It 
seems fair to divorce his ambition this far from personal advance- 
ment. If one were to ask what he really believed beneath his almost 
impenetrable reserve, his statement that he would put efficiency 
ahead of liberty, and that the chief thing France needed was pros- 
perity, seems more to agree with his actions than some other 
remarks. His uncle, he said, would have planted liberty in France 
if he had been given more time, because he had already planted "all 



that ought to go ahead of liberty. 55 Tocqueville found in the young 
man no real taste for freedom, only "a sort of abstract adoration 
of the people," whom he genuinely wanted to be happy on their six 
francs a day. Because he wanted to be a great ruler he had to make 
France a great nation and one unified in spirit ; unlike the hereditary 
rulers of Germany and Austria, he had brains enough to see at least 
some of the things that were required. 

With such an ambition and such an ideal he felt no loyalty to 
friends nor to his own statements. Many persons complained of his 
disloyalty, but never while they were still useful to him. When he 
dropped them he became, not unfriendly, but indifferent. The 
strength of his character lay in his immense self-possession. No one 
ever saw him angry, or excited, or depressed, or impatient; yet 
though he rarely gave his confidence to anyone, people who talked 
to him came away heartened and excited. 

The extraordinary effect of his personality is best described by 
an Englishman who met him about this time : 

"Though I had not the slightest ground for expecting to see a 
fine man, I did not expect to see so utterly insignificant a one, and 
badly dressed into the bargain. . . . When Prince Louis Napoleon 
held out his hand and I looked into his face, I felt almost tempted 
to put him down as an opium eater. Ten minutes afterwards I felt 
convinced . . . that he himself was the drug, and that everyone with 
whom he came in contact was bound to yield to its influence. " 3 

It was this man who drafted as a campaign pledge, "I will make 
it a point of honor to leave to my successor at the end of four years 
power consolidated, liberty untouched, and real progress accom- 
plished." Some of his friends asked him why he insisted on promis- 
ing to get 1 out of office. Napoleon turned to Einile de Girardin and 
asked his opinion whether to take this out or not. The editor told him 
to leave it in if he meant to act on it, otherwise to take it out. The 
promise stayed in, but it was not kept. 

Napoleon's only serious opponent in the election was Cavaignac, 
who was busily flooding the country with campaign biographies and 
portraits of himself on horseback. When asked whether he believed 
the country was sincerely republican, the general replied he knew 
it was not, but he was seeking office solely with the object of making 
it so. One of his gestures was to send 3,500 troops to Rome to sup- 

8 Vandam, An Englishman in Paris, u 9 7ff. 



port the Pope and to escort Mm to France if revolutionary troubles 
in Italy made him flee. However, this gesture (though it was fol- 
lowed up energetically by Napoleon) got Cavaignac nowhere with 
the voters. The Pope, perhaps partly because he disliked Cavaignac's 
publicity, took refuge in Naples instead of France. 

Hardly anyone was surprised when Napoleon drew 5,434,266 
votes to Cavaignac's 1,448,107. Lamartine's complete discrediting 
showed in his 17,910. To avoid a demonstration the Prince took his 
oath as president a day ahead of schedule, on December 20, and at 
once installed a ministry including Odilon Barrot, Falloux, and 
Tocqueville the old left, the Catholic right, and the cynical student 
of democracy. 

To his opponents Napoleon tried to be generous, though Ca- 
vaignac almost refused to shake his hand and turned down the grand 
cordon of the Legion of Honor, and Lamartine refused a portfolio 
under the new regime. Though he was deeply in debt, the poet also 
refused to let the Prince pay his debts. Later on Napoleon was se- 
cretly able to save Lamartine's face by giving him a house, the 
origin of which Lamartine never knew. And three times during his 
first six months as president, Napoleon tried to pardon the June 
insurgents condemned to transportation ; but each time his ministers 
threatened to resign or the Assembly blocked him. It was like him 
to feel strong enough to make this gesture, and it formed a heart- 
warming contrast to the executive powers throughout the rest of 
Europe when they faced their defeated 1848 revolutionaries. 

Inevitably, however, the Napoleonic promises came to prove as 
false as Louis Philippe's or Lamartine's. A professed democrat and 
nationalist, the future emperor was to kill democracy and national- 
ism in the Roman republic ; a boastful friend of peace, he led France 
into several wars ; though he publicly courted socialists, he used re- 
actionary ministers and soon cut off his left-wing friends. 

Universal suffrage, then, did not give a very good account of itself 
in its first try in nineteenth-century Europe. Marx, to be sure, 
thought votes for all were a good thing because they would unite all 
the bourgeoisie into one camp against the lower classes and thereby 
unchain the class struggle ; but Marx was an optimist. Proudhon, 
who was a pessimist, expressed the opiziion that universal suffrage 
means counter-revolution. "Put an end to our quarrels by taking 
away our liberties," he apostrophized Napoleon, "come and complete 



the shame of the French people." Herzen was the only observer on 
the French scene who believed that something specific rather than 
something general was wrong with the elections in France. He felt 
that local self-government was an essential foundation for national 
self-government, and that the French had had no practice in either. 
For centuries they had expected all initiative to come from the top 
(except for a few months after 1789), had supposed the state would 
solve all their big problems. Those who had power, like both Na- 
poleons, and those who wanted power, like Louis Blanc, envisaged 
its use in this way. They used the electorate as a tool for mass emo- 
tion, and although Napoleon never equaled Hitler's percentages, 
he made a good first try in this direction. There were not many places 
in Europe to test Herzen's theory of local self-government as a 
foundation, but in Hungary, where local politics were the liveliest 
and most responsible, the 1848 revolution was carried through with 
the least bloodshed and the most sensible program of reform. 




King of Prussia by the Grace of God 

FREDERICK WILLIAM IV of Prussia was one individual who could 
scarcely conceal his satisfaction at the fall of Louis Philippe. 
Though he deplored revolutionary activity anywhere, that it should 
strike in France against a monarch who had not scrupled to take ad- 
vantage of it in 1830, seemed to Frederick William only the revenge 
of a just God. That the same providence barely gave him three 
weeks to indulge his complacency before letting revolution strike in 
Berlin might suggest to a more candid eye that even strict Prussian 
legitimacy had its faults and miscalculations but since Frederick 
William was still on his throne at the end of the disturbance, his 
faith in himself may have been justified to a certain extent. 

He occupied accordingly the positions of both Louis Philippe and 
Louis Napoleon, in respect to the revolution, and he shared some- 
thing of the weakness of one and the strength of the other. Like 
Louis Philippe he shrank from bloodshed even at the moment of his 
greatest danger; like Louis Napoleon he was confident in his des- 
tiny. Both French rulers had knocked around the world enough to 
respect the power of its new ideas, so that one succumbed to the new 
age, the other manipulated it to his own fashion. But Frederick 
William consistently ignored it, and by ignoring it succeeded in 
driving it back for twenty or a hundred years. 

In this effort he was helped by the nature and backwardness of 
the Prussian state, but a large share of the credit must go to his 
own character. By temperament he would have made a better sub- 
ject than ruler, so deep was his reverence for himself and his office, 
so mystical his approval of his own royal course of action. His reign 
began in 1840 with a deceptively idealistic policy which seemed 
liberal for a while because it was friendly, but whose object was to 
cultivate old-time religion, morals, and customs. He was consciously 
working against not only the then widely held ideas of the French 
Revolution, but against the ideas of the English Revolution which 
he deemed responsible for the French Revolution. This was his atti- 



tude especially because many German reformers were advocating 
the British kind of constitutional monarchy for Germany. 

Like Louis Napoleon, Frederick William lived in a dream about 
himself. But Napoleon believed he needed and should win the people, 
whom he "adored abstractly" ; Frederick William could do without 
them, since he had the grace of God behind him. Both men felt that 
they themselves were the incarnation of their own ideal. 

All this was not immediately easy for Frederick William's sub- 
jects to notice. In the first place, observers agreed that his personal- 
ity was rich and charming, so that many great men like Humboldt 
and Radowitz, his chief adviser, were fascinated by him. When he 
broke all precedent and spoke to his people in person at his corona- 
tion he was rewarded by a thunderous popular "J&." And then, 
wishing to rule by confidence, he pardoned many distinguished 
political prisoners and exiles, among them the poet Moritz Arndt 
and famous old Turnvater Jahn, who had stirred up the youth of 
the 1810's to fervent patriotism by gymnastic exercises. He was 
kind to many poets, among them the revolutionary Georg Herwegh, 
to whom he remarked in an interview in 1842, "I love a convinced 
opposition." Nevertheless when Herwegh protested because a news- 
paper he was editing was suppressed, he was exiled. 

As only one sign of how the honey dripped away the treasury's 
handsome surplus, left by Frederick William III, was spent within 
two years on court festivals and grants to the nobility, while the 
unhappy middle class soon saw that modern trade had neither the 
understanding nor the sympathy of their medieval-minded monarch. 

On the other hand, he was more careful of his poor people than 
one might have expected, for he felt it was his kingly duty to protect 
them. For instance he honored the Association for the Welfare of 
the Working Classes with a gift of money, thereby endorsing its 
program of education and savings banks. Nevertheless, when he 
said he was a father to his people he had in mind a distinctly Prus- 
sian type of fatherhood. He would be just to his children and pro- 
tect them from unrighteous laws and officials, but it was not his duty 
to listen to their ideas. The King's friend, Baron Bunsen, remarked 
that he was like a child who was glad when the bird he held by a 
string acted like one that was free ; nevertheless, at no price would 
he cut the string to make it really free. And another friend, the 
brilliantly conservative Radowitz, explained that the Prussian state 



existed not to further people's material or intellectual welfare but 
to help them lead earthly lives that would prepare them for heavenly 

Greece had lost its leadership, according to the historian Lorenz 
von Stein, by the victory of the lower classes over the upper ; Rome, 
by the triumph of the patricians over the plebeians. The German 
way was to prevent either catastrophe, with the King as an umpire. 
Naturally this idea was far from pleasing either to the middle class, 
just beginning to feel its power in Prussia, or to the infant prole- 
tariat, stimulated by ideas of the rights of man and the first rumors 
of socialism. 

Most of the King's notions and his duty-ridden conscience 
stemmed from a profound though not precise religious conviction. 
He seemed to one French observer to float between Protestantism 
and Catholicism, as between feudalism and parliamentarianism. But 
the fuzziness was superficial. His beliefs came out clearly to Bettina 
von Arnim, who was pestering him with letters about liberalism. He 
said that although the Bible was for her a partly interesting, partly 
objectionable human product, for him it was the real work of God, 
commanding obedience. 

And kings had special insight into the mind of God. Frederick 
William verily believed he knew things no statesman could know, 
things which had been dark even to himself as crown prince hence 
he did not care to govern through ministers. He presided at his 
cabinet meetings and tartly set down any contradiction as pre- 

Thus he spent his first eight years on the throne in a gradually 
increasing fog of misunderstanding. Austria and Russia were both 
terrified at his appearance of reform liberalizing press laws and 
so on which they could only interpret as desire for aggrandize- 
ment by winning the favor of the small states. His own subjects soon 
found these reforms were in appearance only, and they came to 
despair of explaining anything to a ruler so despotic and so dreamy. 

It takes two sides to make a revolution, and if the Hohenzollern 
temperament was better fitted to withstand attack than the house 
of Orleans, at the same time Prussian subjects were by no means so 
wide awake or articulate as the French. The peasants were mostly 
silent, not from having their wishes satisfied as the French had been 



in 1789, but from not yet realizing their grievances; the city work- 
ers made a picturesque fringe to the outbreak, but never managed 
to voice effectively any separate demands. The class that was able 
to ask something from the government in 1848 was the middle class 
which needed civil rights, a constitution which would give them a 
share in running the country and greater opportunities for carrying 
on business, some of the same things the French had revolted for 
in 1830. 

Unlike the bourgeoisie of France and England, however, the Prus- 
sian middle class had been so surrounded by dictatorial members of 
the nobility, the army, and the bureaucracy that they had never quite 
made of themselves a ruling class. In Prussia they always needed 
the support of either those below them or those above them, and the 
history of 1848 is partly a story of their being pushed from one 
camp into the other. When they felt their property was being threat- 
ened by worker support they turned back to their King. It was all 
too easy to induce them to prefer "order" to the "freedom" they 
thought they wanted at the beginning of the period. And since the 
workers by themselves were even weaker than their employers, things 
in Berlin never reached anywhere near the point of the June insur- 
rection in Paris. They would have had to d.efeat the absolute mon- 
archy before they could quarrel about their share of the spoils. 

Three-quarters of Prussia was rural, and though serfdom was 
legally dead there were parts of the country where the Junkers still 
dispensed justice and, claimed all their old feudal dues, even the 
jus primae noctis. The nobility were everywhere provincial, and 
though they sat in their provincial diets, the provinces were kept 
apart ; there was no central organ of government in Berlin to draw 
them together, and little else there to attract them in the manner of 
Vienna or Paris. 1 

Indeed, Berlin was described at that time as a magnet which at- 
tracted only poverty. What high society existed was luxurious but 
inelegant, the streets were broad but dead, the opera house pretty 
but uncomfortable. The brilliant Rahel von Ense complained how 
everything there sank into the commonplace; even the Pope him- 
self, she thought, would sink there to the standard of a groom. The 

1 Herzen found the possibility of living comfortably in Europe in those days started 
at the Rhine. He was enchanted at the conveniences of Paris, especially the numbers 
of quick efficient services, from catering to house-cleaning, which made it unnecessary 
to employ private servants. 



well-to-do citizens were stuffy, frightened by intellect. They coveted 
friendship with the police so that if their sidewalks were not cleaned 
promptly it would be overlooked, and so that they might obtain 
passports for their relatives from out of town to visit. 

Of the 400,000 inhabitants, only 712 were large merchants, while 
something over a tenth of the population worked in factories and 
could barely live on their earnings. Six thousand received alms, in- 
cluding soup, bread, and land to raise potatoes; six thousand got 
sick relief; and there were three or four thousand beggars. Housing 
too was wretched. In seven big new tenements 400 rooms held 2,500 
people. The labor of children was forbidden under nine years of 
age, and until sixteen it was limited to ten hours, supposedly to give 
the children a chance to go to school and learn what was needful in 
their station of life. But only 55 per cent of school-age children 
actually attended these classes (a much lower percentage than in 
any of the Prussian provinces) and there were many heartbreaking 
stories of working children's suicides. 2 

Guilds still controlled the labor in many handcrafts, and in these 
fields a man could theoretically rise to become an artisan or shop- 
keeper. But the number of apprentices was increasing faster than 
the general population which meant statistically that their chances 
of rising were growing less, and this, as well as the competition of 
textile and printing machinery made the young men of the guilds 
restless and angry. 

The common people nevertheless had the reputation of being very 
gay in every way in which they were allowed to be by the police. 
They adored picnics, bonfires, parades, festivals. Berlin popular 
wit, with its love of puns, was famous. 

The leaders of the workers, furthermore, were beginning to be 
trained to think about their problems. A fair number of them trav- 
eled to France and Switzerland in their Wander jahre, bringing 
back ideas which were overrunning western Europe. At home a series 
of organizations, each one short-lived, seems to have kept their minds 
busy. The Worker's Club, for example, used to exhibit samples of 
its members' craftsmanship; and in different years were instituted 

3 The strikes of the Silesian weavers, about whom Hauptmann wrote his famous 
play, had taken place in 1844. These workers were Prussian subjects. Sunday work 
was so common in Silesia in this period that many workers promised their pastors to 
work from Friday noon until Saturday night at nine in one unbroken stretch in order 
to avoid laboring on the Sabbath. 



a workers' chorus; club meetings where workers could meet poets 
and intellectuals; workers' classes in geography, history, physics, 
architecture, and literature ; and in 1846 a newspaper reading room 
and lending library. 

About 1840 the houses of prostitution, formerly under police and 
medical supervision, had been closed, and some people attributed 
the city's new nervousness partly to this fact. Certain it is that the 
year after the revolution they were reopened. 

In April 1847, the worst disturbance which any Berliner could 
imagine up to that time occurred. Crowds of women, enraged be- 
cause everything became more expensive that spring, began raiding 
the markets and food shops. They swept through the streets clean- 
ing out the food but not hurting the other property of merchants 
who showed themselves good-natured. In bakeries they weighed the 
loaves, and if they found a certain product up to standard they con- 
gratulated the maker and wrote on his door that he was honest 
signs that were respected by the crowds that came along later. A 
number of substantial citizens offered to serve as extra police to 
keep order in the city, but the government was afraid to trust any 
of its civilians with arms, and on the fourth day ordered soldiers to 
clear the streets. In the wake of this disturbance, a hundred people 
were imprisoned, to be released only in 1848 in the revolution's 

This affair, like the Silesian weavers' strike of 1844, was a blow to 
the Prussian conscience, and people began everywhere to do what 
they could to better the condition of the poor. But not much could 
be done while Prussia was ruled by its army and its bureaucrats. 

All the hatred which in Vienna was concentrated on Metternich, 
in Berlin found its object in the Prussian army, the proudest in 
Europe, and deliberately organized to keep the people down. Each 
big city had its garrison Berlin, for instance, quartered 15,000 
soldiers but maintained only 209 policemen and the policy was to 
move each regiment every four years to prevent any great friendli- 
ness or attachment to special localities even in the ranks. As for the 
officer corps, it was open only to aristocrats and was as famous for 
its contempt of the lower classes as of civil affairs generally. The 
arrogance of both officers and troops made them detested so bitterly 
that no concession during the revolution could make the citizens 
happy until the soldiers had been completely withdrawn. 



Prussian bureaucracy had aroused Cobden's praise ten years 
earlier by its progressiveness and incorruptibility. Nevertheless, 
most Germans, both above and below on the social scale, hated it. 
Frederick William particularly felt the dangers of letting "sala- 
ried, lettered, uninterested, unpropertied officials" (the phrase was 
Stein's, the great reforming Prussian statesman of the Napoleonic 
period) run his country for him and this was one reason for the 
King's appearance of liberalism. 

In the various parts of his country the popularity of the new King 
waned at different speeds. The Rhinelanders never had liked being 
under Prussia, to which they had been attached only since 1815, 
often openly preferring the French Napoleonic rule. Carl Schurz 
tells how in his boyhood "the word Prussian served for an oppro- 
brious invective, and when one schoolboy flung it out at another it 
was difficult to find a more stinging invective to fling back." 3 It was 
the adults of the Rhineland, middle-class burghers who needed prog- 
ress faster than it was coming their way, who supported young Karl 
Marx in his early efforts at editing the Rheinische Zeitung in 1842. 

By 1847 only the feudal nobility and their loyal ignorant peas- 
ants stuck wholeheartedly to the King. 

Even Frederick William knew something had to be done. Pro- 
posals for reform ranged from the ideas of the French Revolution 
to those of German Catholicism but Frederick William as usual 
had his own peculiar revelation. Partly because under a law of 1820 
he could not get any taxes to build railroads without the consent of 
a representative body which Prussia had never had, and partly be- 
cause he imagined it was going back to the old German way, he sum- 
moned the eight provincial diets of the kingdom to meet in Berlin 
as the "United Diet." It was a solution which proved to be neither 
old German nor new German, and besides it did not give him his 

The provincial diets consisted only of landowners, in two cham- 
bers according to their rank, and although they were more orna- 
mental than useful to the body politic, most of them had pulled 
themselves together sufficiently during Frederick William's reign to 
petition the crown for a new constitution, or a constitutional assem- 
bly. Such an innovation had been promised by Frederick William's 

8 Schurzj Reminiscences, i, 72. 



father in the wake of the Napoleonic struggle, but had never come 
to birth. As early as 1841 Frederick William refused to accept a 
fete as he was passing through the city of Breslau because the local 
diet had been so presumptuous. 

United, the diets proved more rather than less refractory. The 
King opened the meetings with a speech complimenting the mem- 
bers on their organic unity with the crown. Prussia, he was confident, 
like England, would never need a scrap of paper to come between 
the ruler and his subjects. And as if he suspected that these remarks 
would rub his subjects the wrong way, he added that he was going 
to act in such a way as to deserve the thanks of the people whether 
he got them or not. The effect was so uncompromising that the 
Crown Princess of Prussia retired to her chambers and wept. The 
Diet exhibited a more masculine rage. It announced to the King 
that unless he granted them the right to regular periodical meetings 
it would not feel competent to guarantee the money for his railroads. 
Naively, however, they begged the King not on that account to stop 
work on the construction ; but naturally the furious monarch ordered 
all work stopped immediately. In fact, he almost had to. Even the 
House of Rothschild had refused to lend money to the railroad 
project without the Diet's confirmation. 

The question of periodicity was crucial, because the members of 
the Diet felt if they were assured of being summoned regularly they 
would be able to keep watch over the interests of the country and 
force some modern rights out of the King. This was what Metternich 
had cynically prophesied that even though Frederick William 
thought what he was summoning was only the old diets, they would 
leave Berlin as a regular representative legislative body. 

With this problem still unresolved, in late 1847, the King's mind 
went on to something else. He liberalized the press laws of his king- 
dom to allow for discussion of another of his pet projects turning 
the German Confederation into a federal union. "The word Ger- 
many," said the King, "has sent thrills of ecstasy for fifty years 
quivering through my soul." Imagine his disappointment to find 
that his subjects at the moment quivered more easily. to the notion 
of a constitution for Prussia. 

Nor were the two ideas quite so unrelated as they seem. In the 
minds of most Germans at that time was the fixed idea that a liberal 
Prussia was the only state that could lead the rest of Germany into 



union. Later in the century Bismarck and Marx both showed in their 
separate ways that there was no necessary connection between free- 
dom and nationalism, but this was not apparent to the patriots of 
pre-1848. The American Charge d j Affaires in Vienna remarked 
acutely that in 1848 both Germany and Italy could have won either 
unification or liberalism, but because they tried for both, they did 
not win either. 

The picture in the mind of the King of Prussia as March 1848 
approached was not the same as his compatriots'. He was consider- 
ing plans for both a congress of German sovereigns and a congress 
of representatives from all the German diets, neither of which ever 
came off. But his picture, fixed in such detail that his mind could 
hardly accommodate to any other, was medieval. He wanted to 
restore to the House of Austria the crown of the Holy Roman Em- 
pire, defunct since Napoleonic times, but he also imagined there 
might be room for a "King of the Germans," or just for an heredi- 
tary Imperial Military Commander to run the Empire's armies. 
Either of these posts he would have been glad to fill, even while 
carrying a silver basin in the coronation procession of the Emperor. 
The King's mind had evidences of practicality after all let the 
old German forms be mystically preserved, yet let Prussia be the 
real executive, "compelling Austria," with its millions of other 
races, "to be German." 

The fall of Louis Philippe was the catalytic agent that precipi- 
tated revolution in Prussia. Paul Boerner, a university student at Ber- 
lin, tells us how the news hit him. When he first heard of the events 
in Paris he had to go out in the cold and walk until he was exhausted 
in order to quiet his blood. He says he could have embraced anybody. 
After that for many evenings he would go and listen to the papers 
being read aloud in Stehely's cafe. One group would listen and go 
away and another would come in, but Boerner would sit through all 
of the readings, waiting until late so that perhaps he could then 
snatch a look at the papers himself. 4 

* Carl Schurz, who was a student at the University of Bonn, describes in a classic 
way what happened to him and his friends at the news of the French outbreak: "The 
first practical service we had to perform turned out to be a very merry one. Shortly 
after the arrival of the tidings from France the burgomeister of Bonn, a somewhat 
timid man, believed the public safety in his town to be in imminent danger. In point 
of fact, in spite of the general excitement there were really no serious disturbances of 
the public order. But the burgomeister insisted that a civic guard must at once be 



The revolutionary students in Berlin never numbered much more 
than a hundred out of 1,500 enrolled. But these few immediately 
sent a delegation to General von Pfuehl, governor of the city, to ask 
that they should be armed, as a student wing of the citizens' militia 
that all were hoping for. The general sent away the bodyguard that 
had come along to protect the leaders, and turned the leaders over 
to the police for grilling. 

Other and more important groups were forming. Spring was early 
that year, with March evenings as warm as May, and the citizens of 
Berlin began to congregate in increasing numbers in their favorite 
outdoor spot, the Zelte. The Zelte had at one time been real tents, 
as the name indicates, but long before 1848 permanent buildings 
were erected in the park along the Spree cafes, concert halls, 
amusement stands among the trees, overlooking the water. While 
old women sold cucumbers in vinegar, sausages, white beer, and 
cherry brandy, revolutionary news and views spread and people 
began to organize informal public forums. For the first time in 
Prussian history huge groups of citizens began to talk over meas- 
ures of their government, now that it seemed at last as if the King 
were trying to catch up with the times. 

On March 6, 1848, for instance, he dissolved the committees that 
were still sitting as a hang-over from the United Diet, and gave the 
long-awaited promise that he would summon the full Diet regularly. 
Meanwhile, with smaller German regimes on every side collapsing or 
capitulating to reform, he exhorted his own subjects to gather 
around him like a wall of brass. On March 7 a great assembly in the 
Zelte mulled over this concession and drafted a petition to the King 
asking for immediate calling of the Diet, and freedom of the press. 

organized, to patrol the city and the surrounding country during the night. The 
students too were called upon to join it, and as this forming of such a guard was part 
of our political program, we at once willingly obeyed the summons, and we did this 
in such numbers that soon the civic guard consisted in great part of university men. 
. . . Armed with our rapiers, the iron sheaths of which were made to rattle on the 
pavement to the best of our ability, we marched through the streets. Every solitary 
citizen whom we met late at night was summoned with pompous phrases to 'disperse' 
and to betake himself to his 'respective habitation,' or, if it pleased him better, to 
follow us to the guardhouse and have a glass of wine with us. Whenever we happened 
to run across a patrol not composed of students, but of citizens, we at once denounced 
them as a dangerous mob, arrested them and took them to the guardhouse, where 
with cheers for the new empire we drank as many glasses together as there were 
points of reform in the political program. The good burghers of Bonn fuUy appreci- 
ated the humorous situation and entered heartily into the fun." 



They wanted to send a deputation to the King with these requests, 
but were told the King would never receive such representatives. So 
the petition, read out loud and signed by thousands, was sent 
through the mail. 

On March 8 the government came out with a pious hope for free- 
dom of the press some day, meanwhile pointing out that the rules of 
the German Confederation forbade Prussia to grant it at present. 
(The Confederation was a league of German states, dominated by 
Austria, which felt that censorship was as important to national 
defense as an army.) 

This was countered, as might have been expected, by a still bigger 
crowd at the Zelte. Berlin was beginning to be hard to police. The 
soldiers, on whom officialdom counted for keeping order, began to 
feel unsure of themselves as the officers censured them for irritating 
the people when they were only obeying previous commands. By the 
13th, it was noted, the public began to whistle and hoot at the mili- 
tary for the first time, and to talk openly of getting them out of 
the city. The city gates were closed against mobs pushing in from 
the suburbs, yet nevertheless the tumult was great enough to drive 
the audience away from the new ballet at the Opera House. At this 
point someone asked a high officer if the soldiers would really shoot 
at civilians and got the answer, "If the King commands, we shall 
shoot, and gladly." Indeed, on this very day some of them proved 
their willingness by attacking women with broadswords to dispel 
the crowds. Fury rose on both sides. The soldiers in Berlin were 
mostly new recruits with many grievances, and they probably under- 
stood very little of what was going on. But the entire hatred of the 
populace in Berlin was concentrated on the military machine that 
had shoved them off the streets and given them insolent orders for 
so many years. 

On March 16 two people were killed by a volley from a group of 
dragoons trying to clear a square. That was the end of the chance 
for peace in Berlin, though the real battle started two days later. 
The King was fussing around with two proclamations, one of them 
to call a constitutional assembly, and the other broader and vaguer. 
In it His Majesty talked of revision of the Confederation, the idea 
of a German flag, a German fleet, common German law, and freedom 
of the press. Many people thought that he was trying to snatch the 
leadership of Germany away from Austria at this critical juncture, 



although his later acts made this hypothesis hard to prove. But this 
was just exactly what the burghers, at least the prosperous ones, in 
Berlin wanted to hear. Bodelschwingh, retiring Minister of the In- 
terior (a change of ministry being one of the conventions of such 
an occasion, in spite of the fact that Bodelschwingh had been trying 
to work in a constitutional direction for years while the King would 
neither let him go ahead nor let him resign) Bodelschwingh re- 
marked on the eve of March 18, "Prussia has already had her 

By eleven o'clock the next morning the streets were crowded with 
people waiting to hear the reading of the happy news that had been 
promised. Well-dressed women sat in shop windows to observe the 
goings-on, and nearly everybody was cheerful and eager. In the 
restaurants collections were taken for the poor. Some workers, it is 
true, began to mutter, "This sort of thing won't help us poor people 
at all," but their betters warned them to be quiet. Shortly after one 
o'clock the proclamations were read to a mass of openly enthusiastic 
people. In the city council room citizens came up to embrace the 
councillors. Near the palace greater crowds collected to cheer the 

In the middle of this rejoicing came the two mysterious shots that 
seem like the hallmark of the 1848 revolutions. To please the army 
the King had that day appointed General von Prittwitz, an old- 
fashioned martinet, to be Governor of Berlin, and ordered him to 
clear the square. A squadron of dragoons trotted out and rode right 
into the crowd with drawn swords. Then some foot soldiers began 
marching toward the square and the two shots rang out into the 
air. No explanation has ever sounded plausible. 

No one was hurt, but the people were terrified and began to spread 
rumors. Within an hour barricades began to rise. The first one was 
made of two hackney coaches, a carriage, a sentry box, some curbing 
and a few barrels. The main ingredient of another was a fruit stall, 
of another, fire pumps. People brought bedding and sacks of flour 
out of their homes to help. It seemed to the newly arrived envoy from 
the French republic that these Berlin barricades were far more 
tragic, built with far more passion, than the ones he had seen the 
month before in Paris. 

The turning of joy into rage was so swift that later people asked 
themselves how it could have happened. One young man whose first 


thought was to get to his mother, who had gone to watch the pro- 
cession when everything seemed quiet at noon, could not get across 
the city. Already pavements were torn up, the boards and planks 
that reached across the gutters lifted from their places, and vehicles 
overturned. A number of university students galloped on horseback 
through the city gate to summon the locomotive builders in the 
suburbs, and 900 workers marched back, carrying heavy iron bars. 
Bullets were molded in the streets, and women came out with coffee 
and sandwiches for the barricade fighters. That night, in bright 
moonlight, with most of the city's windows illuminated, the sentry 
boxes near the city gates were set on fire, and these shone red all 
over the city. 

Troops were called out, of course, and, led by General von Pritt- 
witz, they made a good beginning of conquering the barricades. 
They would have done better in this job if the King had let them. 
But the unhappy Frederick William met the first news of the upris- 
ing with, "It can't be. My people love me." All through the night, 
whenever his permission was asked to take a certain barricaded posi- 
tion, he would answer, "Yes, but do not fire." 

Nevertheless, the fighting on all sides was fierce. The soldiers were 
particularly embittered by some of the improvised weapons used by 
their opponents one soldier received a shot of steel pens in his face, 
and others complained of having boiling oil poured on them from 
above. Meanwhile, the people were taking out old grudges. "People's 
justice" was supposed to consist in not stealing anything, but 
breaking and burning the property of "enemies of the people." A 
glove maker named Wernicke gave coffee to the troops an ex- 
tremely rare offense, apparently and for this his shop was burned. 
Years later it became fashionable in conservative circles to buy his 
gloves, although they were both bad and expensive. 

By morning the principal streets were red, not only with blood 
but with piles of roof tiles. All the windows on the Konigstrasse, for 
instance, were broken, and most of its roofs left open. 

Army men liked to think their contempt for the rebels was justi- 
fied. A dashing young officer, Prinz zu Hohenlohe Ingelfingen, com- 
plained that the rebels were such cowards they stopped fighting in 
the Konigstrasse as soon as one of them was wounded, and that they 
only defended their houses at the entrance, and possibly, out of 
desperation, on the top floor. But in contradiction to this, he com- 



plained of the insurgents' ferocity, which he attributed to a decoc- 
tion of tobacco mixed with brandy that was supposed to be passed 
around their lines. 

On the other hand a liberal like Varnhagen von Ense would write 
of the same rebels as follows : "Never have I seen greater courage, 
a more resolute contempt of death, than in those young men who 
were beaten down and lost beyond all hope of rescue. Well-bred 
students in fine clothing, men-servants, apprentices, youths, old 
laborers, all went to make up a single company and vied with one 
another in courage and endurance." In the histories of the liberals, 
feats abound like the one of the poor student who picked up a metal 
boundary marker for a barricade and took it across the avenue. An 
hour later three soldiers could hardly get it back into place. 

The King was the one whose courage and endurance gave out 
first. His night was poisoned with doubts and horrors, and he spent 
a large part of it composing an appeal "to his dear Berliners" : 

"It is up to you, inhabitants of my beloved native city, to prevent 
greater evil. . . . Turn back to peaceful ways, clear the barricades 
that are still standing and send to me men full of real old Berlin 
spirit with words such as are seemly to address your" King, and I 
give you my kingly word that all streets and squares shall be cleared 
of troops at once and the military occupation shall extend only to 
necessary buildings, palaces, arsenals and a few others and even 
there only for a short while. Hear the fatherly words of your King, 
inhabitants of my loyal and beautiful Berlin and forget what has 
happened as I will forget it. . . ." 5 This poster, printed in haste, 
was spread around the city during the first hours of the morning in 
a truce which had been arranged to allow people to go to church, it 
being a Sunday. It met an ill reception. The people would believe 
no word of kindness while troops were still in the city, and were 
afraid to parley with the King for fear of the army. They tore copies 
of the proclamation to bits, and where it was being read aloud they 
interrupted with bitter comments. 

When his officers, possibly trying to scare the King into more 
decisive action, exaggerated to him the possibility of a people's vic- 
tory, the King reacted in the opposite way and told the appalled 
generals to retire the troops. This was the suggestion of the liberal 

6 Klein, Der Vorkampf, 178. 



party. Its spokesman for the moment was Georg von Vincke, a 
modern-minded Westplialian aristocrat who had posted many hard 
hours to reach the King and was received in audience on this morn- 
ing of March 19 in his travelling clothes, an unheard-of concession 
in etiquette. Vincke's idea was that the troops were the main sticking 
point in the people's confidence in their sovereign; hence for the 
King to show that he trusted his people by sending away his troops 
would increase their loyalty. The King's usual advisers began to 
laugh when Vincke expounded this plan, but he turned on them. 
"Today you may laugh, gentlemen. Tomorrow perhaps you will 
not laugh." 

The actual chance of success of the rebels in a military way at this 
point in the struggle was probably not great. But certainly they 
had not been defeated. Many years later Engels warned workers not 
to assume from the apparent victory of these Berlin fighters that 
mere citizens, no matter how brave and well organized and armed, 
could ever win against trained military forces. The Prussian troops 
at this time, he said, were exhausted, bedraggled, and hungry, and 
the rulers learned enough in this battle not to allow such conditions 
to occur again. 

The King, in any case, made up his mind, and at noon Bodel- 
schwingh, although he had resigned his portfolio, had to give the 
order to the army to withdraw in the face of the still standing bar- 
ricades. The Prince of Prussia tried to stop him, throwing his sword 
on the table in anger. Bodelschwingh, his face on fire, said, "We 
cannot change the words of the King." High officers of the army 
refused to take such orders from a civilian, however, and finally 
Prittwitz himself had to give the order. 6 Prittwitz, who had given 
several signs of bad temper already, became even more careless and 
spiteful. When his maneuver of withdrawal was completed, there 
were not left on the streets of Berlin enough troops to guard the 
palace. The King did not know that no soldiers at all stood between 
him and the mob. 

People pressed in, closer and closer to the palace, and suddenly, 
perhaps remembering stories of Paris, Berliners decided to have a 

6 The whole army was in low morale. Hohenlohe, for instance, tells us that he re- 
fused an offer of civil dress after the order for withdrawal had been completed, he- 
cause he hoped to he killed walking around. A few stones were thrown at him, hut he 
also received kisses from other citizens, leading him to the disgusted opinion that 
Berlin was an insane asylum. 



parade of their fallen heroes. Only, remarked the French envoy, the 
Germans had the poor taste to attempt it in the middle of the day. 
The bodies of those killed in the fight were called for, and as they 
were put on biers, someone called out their names and where they 
were killed. In a few cases only the latter fact was known, and some 
of the corpses were first recognized and claimed at this time. Half- 
naked, many of them, bloody and covered with flowers, they were 
held up to stare at the mob. Soon someone called out loudly, "The 
King ought to come, he must see the bodies," a cry which became a 
clamor. Prince Lichnowsky appeared at the palace window and told 
the people the King was in bed. "Bring him out," the people shouted, 
"or we will throw these dead right down in front of his door." So the 
King appeared, and the Queen too, clinging to his arm. As the 
corpses were brought closer the King was forced to take off his hat, 
while the Queen fainted. The crowd burst into a dignified chorale, 
and when they were through singing, seemed satisfied and willing to 
move away. One story says that Prince Lichnowsky appeared again 
and hurried them off by telling them all their demands were granted. 
"Smoking, too?" he was asked. "Yes, smoking, too." "Even in the 
Tiergarten?" "You may smoke in the Tiergarten, gentlemen." 
And with this small easing of a pinching restriction, the revolution 
in Berlin was really over. 

That night the American legation was most brilliantly illumi- 
nated, not only in tribute to the noble and gallant people, but also, 
it was explained, in justice to the King, now that he was on a firmer 

Afterwards the King remembered the parade of the dead with 
particular disgust. "We all crawled on our stomachs," he said. Still, 
at the time he made his concessions they came from apparent good- 
will. Chagrin, suspicion, anger wer.e to come to him all too soon, but 
for a few days yet, the days when he still believed in his pan-Ger- 
manic destiny, he played his revolutionary role with spirit. 

On March 21 he rode through the streets of his capital wearing 
the German tricolor, protected by the newly armed citizens' militia, 
the troops having left the city. The veterinarian, Urban, a famous 
figure with his long white beard and unkempt hair, walked near 
him carrying a painted imperial crown. When the King met the 
officers of the new militia he told them he could not clothe in words 
his gratitude to them, for it had been this force, armed in a hurry, 



which had finally cleared the streets and restored order on March 19. 
They answered him, shouting "Long live the German Emperor! 5 ' 
Frederick William bowed his head. "Not that," he said. "That I 
will not, may not, have." 

This remark only proved that the King was stimulating hopes 
which he was actually unwilling to gratify. For the black-red-gold 
colors were the colors of united Germany, the ancient colors of the 
Empire to which all German hearts were looking back. They were 
being displayed all over Germany that year as the colors also of 
liberty, in the common ecstasy which imagined nothing less than a 
united, free, and constitutional Germany. 

To confuse his compatriots still more, the King of Prussia that 
day chose to make an appeal to the German nation, that he was 
willing to take the leadership of all Germany for the period of 
danger. Alas, the period of danger (from French aggression) was 
over as he spoke, and the other princes and their subjects became 
more afraid of being devoured by Prussia than attacked from across 
the Rhine. 

Frederick William's delicate way of phrasing his plan was that 
Prussia would "merge into" Germany, which might have been pos- 
sible if Prussia had been willing to separate into her eight provinces, 
which would then be units comparable in size to the other states that 
were expected to join with them. Such, however, was not the inten- 
tion of the King by the Grace of God. The grand gesture began to 
seem ridiculous, and the King snapped miserably out of his delusions 
of moral grandeur into fury at the citizens who had watched and 
abetted him. 

On March 22 the barricade fighters were buried, 230 civilians (as 
compared to twenty soldiers, who enjoyed a separate and incon- 
spicuous funeral). Their battle must have seemed justified, for on 
that day the King expressed a royal wish to consider a new consti- 
tution with popular representation, possibly even including minis- 
terial responsibility. It was to be his last concession, but it seemed 
like a conclusive one. 

Shortly after this the royal family left Berlin for Potsdam. Such 
a move had been ardently pushed by the officers, some of whom had 
even planned to kidnap the King and carry him out of the reach 
of the revolutionaries. But until the great funeral he was kept in 



Berlin by the new liberal civilian ministers whose appointment had 
followed the battle and the resignation of Bodelschwingh. 

Prussian prestige sank to a low level after the March days. The 
rest of Germany felt the King had given a poor example of leader- 
ship, and also it seemed that a stronger, constitutional Prussia would 
be harder to "merge" into Germany than ever. For many months 
after this those who wanted to revive the Empire looked everywhere 
else than toward Prussia for possible leadership, and when a year 
later they came back to Prussia as their only practical hope, it was 
too late. 

In the new, soldierless Berlin, the job of guarding the palace was 
given to students, who relaxed cheerily in the King's guardroom, 
discussing democracy over the coffee, bread, butter, and sausages 
which he ordered sent to them from his own kitchen. Their self-im- 
portance and conspicuousness were enhanced by their uniforms of 
white hose, Calabrian hat with a high feather, cloak and sword. 

Other divisions of the militia had compensations also, though they 
did not look so snappy. The fat, middle-aged, middle-class citizens 
looked, in fact, rather silly in their uniforms, often improvised, so 
that some people felt the simple green blouse of the handworkers, 
and the blue blouse of the factory workers, the best-looking turnouts 
in the streets. Sights like a stout butcher, whose equally stout wife 
brought him lunch while he was on guard at the Brandenburger Tor 
and then carried his gun back and forth while he ate, struck Berlin 
wits as frightfully incongruous. But the wives were so delighted with 
the new titles lieutenant and such of their husbands, that they 
were reconciled to their absence at the somewhat merry guardhouses. 
It was remarked, however, that under the new policing, drunken 
fathers of families and prostitutes were hauled in much more ruth- 

Prussian workers, too, found a certain new dignity in those weeks. 
The Brandenburger Tor no longer saw princely carriages roll 
through, but the plain people walked by with as proud a step as any 
sovereign, since that was what they felt themselves to be. Some of 
them even expected to be called "sie" instead of "du," which com- 
pletely changed the character of Berlin street life. 

Some of the wounded barricade fighters were housed in the palace, 
the Queen providing bedding. Others were in hospitals, where they 



were visited by the wife of the French Ambassador, who was sur- 
prised to find this custom unknown among upper class Berlin women, 
for she considered it "a measure of prudence as well as charity." 
She found the wounded smugly sure they had won a great victory, 
and naively happy. 

Printing presses began to test their new freedom, and were so 
successful that boys who had formerly sold cakes, flowers, or matches 
now found they could make more money peddling papers and 

Public works in the pattern of Paris were quickly set up for the 
unemployed. The first assignment was to cultivate and plant "a 
small America on the Spree." Unemployed artists formed an or- 
chestra to play to the men at work on the project, and when the 
magistrates complained that not enough work was done, the workers 
staged a funeral, complete with orchestra, for the Berlin Municipal 
Board. When the board sent militia to stop such nonsense, the 
workers invited them to a joint ball which lasted late into the night. 
The matter was settled, rather bitterly for a joke, by shipping the 
headstrong workers off into the country to build the new railroads. 

However, in spite of such merry stories (Engels pointed this out) , 
the tragedy of the Berlin revolution was that everybody, even the 
liberals, was scared by the power of the workers. The reaction ex- 
ploited this terror to the full, so that if a group of workers so much 
as carried a flag, they were described as wishing to found a republic, 
and the militia were called out against them. Having society par- 
tially armed, by class, was a sad substitute for the armed citizenry 
that all liberals demanded, but admittance to the militia in Prussia 
required a special citizen's certificate which workers could not get. 
The members of the Prussian militia were horrified to learn that 
workers were now admitted regularly to the national guard in 

The Democratic Club, a small middle-class group, worked tire- 
lessly to stop this mood of mutual distrust, with word and with deed. 
It fed a hundred unemployed workers for three weeks, giving each 
man a loaf of bread and a quarter of a pound of fat every day, but 
the authorities disapproved, because they could not control the giv- 
ing, and denied the club supplies, saying that all relief must be 
handled by the local poor authorities. The locomotive workers also 
announced that they stood for peace. Once, after things had come 



to bloodshed between the militia and the mob, they declared that 
they would go unarmed between them to stop the fighting, and one 
of their members was killed as a result of carrying out this policy. 

Still, fear made many liberals turn suddenly toward the King. 
After all, the bourgeoisie were trying to set up in Germany the kind 
of regime which the French had just destroyed. There are ridicu- 
lous stories about the funk of the ruling classes. Police chief Duncker 
was so afraid of the plain citizens that he closed all the apertures 
to his apartment, including the flue of his stove, and then began 
burning papers. He made so much smoke that the plain citizens 
thought it was a fire and broke in to save him. The serious side ap- 
pears in the fact that 70,000 people left Berlin because they were 
afraid to be left there without any soldiers to protect them. There 
was fear of a general communist movement. By March 30, when the 
first troops returned, solid citizens wept for joy and crowned with 
garlands one regiment, which had not been involved in the recent 
unpleasantness-, and in which many Berliners served. 

Here we see how dependent the Prussians were on their army, 
since the troops at the barricades had actually behaved abominably. 
Because they were angry at the uprising, and at the citizens' refusal 
of food and drink during the battle, they whipped, starved, and 
even shot at prisoners taken on the barricades. They treated the 
King's orders, and all civilian influence, with contempt. One old 
officer is said to have killed himself rather than put the German 
black-red-gold colors above the black-and-white Prussian cockade 
which he had always worn. When the King, safe in Potsdam, ad- 
dressed his officers only to tell them that he had felt as safe under the 
protection of his good Berlin citizens as he did in the midst of them- 
selves, there was such a murmuring and rattling of sabers as no 
King of Prussia had ever heard from his officers. Hohenlohe tells us 
that most of them immediately began to consider taking up other oc- 
cupations, Hohenlohe himself a career in scientific agriculture. 

They need not have been so concerned, for Frederick William, 
isolated in Potsdam, began to take a new view of the revolution he 
had just been through. One so consciously pious, and so convinced 
of his own rightness, can hardly be accused of open hypocrisy, 
but it is certain that his attitudes were for a while ambivalent and 
ended up by being hostile. "The people of Berlin have behaved to 
me so nobly and magnanimously that it could hardly have happened 



in another big city in the whole world," he declared to a deputation 
of citizens on March 31. Yet the previous day he had written in a 
letter to his new liberal minister, Ludolf Camphausen, "So long as 
Berlin is not cleared of the clubs and murder-rings, I cannot and 
will not return there." He began talking of the barricade fighters 
as riffraff and the opposition to the return of the troops as childish; 
and gradually he became convinced that his dear and lovely capital 
had risen against him as the result of a plot by foreign agitators. 
Were there not barricades where no German words were heard? 
Were there not many unidentifiable corpses among the dead? His 
friend and envoy to London, Baron Bunsen, lightly rallied his 
master on seeing ghosts and received in return a hot letter on 
liberalism, which Frederick William diagnosed as a disease, as 
much so as disease of the spine. Disbelief in conspiracies, he said, 
is the first infallible symptom, and the only medicine is the sign of 
the holy cross on breast and forehead. 

Against protests from the more obstreperous radicals, who were 
afraid that it would prove too conservative, the United Diet was 
summoned, as had been promised, and quickly finished its work of 
granting the long awaited loan and of drawing up plans for the 
elections of the new Prussian Assembly. For convenience this As- 
sembly may be called a constitutional assembly, but its legal powers 
were carefully limited by the King who described it as a parliament 
to "agree" with the King upon making a new "constitution for 

The law for voting was fairly radical, although young Otto von 
Bismarck managed to get expunged from the draft actual con- 
gratulations to the barricade fighters. Every man twenty-four years 
of age and six months in residence could vote in the first election, to 
be held May 1. In order to avoid the supposedly great dangers of 
universal suffrage, the first voters would only choose electors, to 
meet on May 8 and select representatives to the Assembly. 

Hans Viktor von Unruh, subsequently president of the Assembly, 
described just how his own election went. Because of his belonging 
to the small nobility, he took it for granted that he would not be 
wanted by the voters in his area, but he went along to the meeting 
in his precinct and was shocked at the confusion among the voters 
and candidates. Unruh lost his patience though he was careful to 
explain that he was unaccustomed to public speaking, being a rail- 



road man and told them sharply to explain what they meant by 
terms like unlimited monarchy, the republic, and a constitution, the 
kind of veto power they wished the King to have, and so on. He 
modestly defined his own position as favorable to a constitutional 
monarchy, and everyone was so pleased that Unruh found himself 
chosen elector, one of six. In the electors' meeting things went the 
same way. By asking definite questions of the candidates Unruh 
showed them up ; and though he did not announce himself as one, he 
was asked to run. He received some liberal votes, and all the con- 
servative ones, since these were unable to elect their own man. So he 
was elected, along with another liberal and a radical from that 

The representatives, finally assembled, proved to be quite an as- 
sortment. There were many peasants from Silesia who could not 
read nor write, but who kissed the hand of the man who paid their 
expense allowances. These members often voted blindly in absolute 
contradiction to the way they had voted before, because they were 
confused by the issues. Then there were Polish noblemen, who always 
voted from patriotic motives with the democratic faction, though 
their sympathies lay far away. Unruh was shocked to see one of 
them let his highly educated secretary kiss the hem of his robe. The 
cities sent no member of the working class, though there were a num- 
ber of artisans, and some of the democratic demagogues, the Wilde 
Rotte, who wore fur caps and long beards. A few sported sixteenth- 
century student costumes, in black velvet, with feathers in their hats, 
and tried hard to look fierce, says one reporter, like cows at a bull- 

The Prince of Prussia was the most distinguished single member. 
He had used his election as an excuse to return from London, where 
he had fled early in the revolution, and where he had ostentatiously 
studied constitutions. He appeared once on the floor of the Assembly. 
The members of the right rose, while the left cried, "Keep your 
seats." After a more or less gracious speech, His Royal Highness 
retired, never to return to the floor. 

It was a gathering all too easy to make fun of, and all too hard 
to weld into a parliament. With the possible exception of the Prince, 
there was no single member of the Assembly who had ever in his 
wildest imagination dreamed that he might some day be called to 
help draft a constitution for his country. Yet the difficult thing was 



done. With all the dead wood, there were enough bright and hard- 
working representatives to create a constitution; andLJLj^^ 
a good one,,tha4"tteSing r himself took ovelFTinosr^^ 

They met for the first time May 22, with an address from the 
throne in the White Room of the palace. There had been some talk 
among the democrats that the King should present himself at their 
place of meeting, like the King of England, but this disagreement 
was composed and the mountain went to Mohammed. If they had 
not done so, the choleric monarch threatened to dissolve them. He 
privately determined to do the same thing if the Assembly tampered 
with the King's relation to the army (even the American constitu- 
tion did not require democracy in control of the army) ; if they med- 
dled in the question of succession ; if they declared the sovereignty 
of the people; or, of course, if they declared a republic. In case 
things went too far and the revolution seemed to be taking its head 
again, Frederick William was already turning over the idea of get- 
ting troops from the Czar. 

None of these emergencies arose. From now on Frederick William 
was destined to endure nothing worse from the revolution than the 
"pain, mortification and indignation" that it cost him to attend 
meetings of his new cabinet. "I thought I would die, 55 he said when 
the ministers were discussing the draft of a constitution of their own. 
For, he wrote to his prime minister, it makes the King look undig- 
nified and unworthy for the ministers to come out with a concerted 
plan before the King has spoken. 

The new prime minister was Ludolf Camphausen, a well-to-do 
Rhineland business man, strong for railroads, customs union, and 
parliamentary reform, but devoted to moderation and the monarchy. 
The romantic King, for his part, often addressed him in letters as 
"Best and dearest Camphausen," but privately thought him too 
practical, without ideals. 

Camphausen was appointed out of the March crisis ; hence he had 
already been in office two months when the Assembly met, and owed 
nothing to it. Nor had anything yet been put on paper about making 
ministers responsible to the parliament or the parliament actually 
responsible for anything at all. It turned out that Camphausen 
could not manage the Assembly, and after a decisively hostile vote 
he tried to resign. The King urged him to pin his faith on the con- 
servative strength of the country and to ignore the mobs of Berlin, 



who, said the King, were intimidating the conservative members of 
the Assembly into staying away from meetings. Camphausen hung 
on for a few days, then, realizing that his position was hopeless, he 
resigned anyway, on June 20. 

To the people of the time, Camphausen's failure was an added 
proof that the Berlin Assembly was running wildly to the left. All 
the oratory and all the imagination seemed to be on that side, while 
the monarchists were scorned even by the King for maintaining 
what he considered an obvious position and for being so easily scared. 
The actual concrete proposals put out by the Assembly were greater 
than it was commonly given credit for. It considered a tremendous 
number of laws, many of which, concerning taxation, workers, serv- 
ants, were put into force by the Weimar Republic seventy years 
later but it passed only a few of these laws, and the King signed 
only eight. 

In September another ministry fell, on a resolution passed by the 
Assembly declaring that any army officer who could not wholeheart- 
edly support the constitution they were going to draft had a duty of 
honor to resign his commission. The incoming minister was a con- 
servative, General von Pfuehl, and the court party were horrified 
that he made an honest effort to carry out the wishes of the Assembly 
in regard to the army's loyalty. But by this time the King was al- 
most through governing with the aid of an Assembly. King, in 
Potsdam, and parliament, in Berlin, carried on without seeing each 
other and almost without communication. Conditions seemed so dis- 
orderly and hopeless that the Princess of Prussia, who had been the 
court liberal, said she would rather see the land attacked by cholera. 
As for the King's conservative intimates who had watched affairs 
nervously for so long, they were more than ever eager to convince 
the King that what he needed were armies, not diets. 

There was actually no hope of democratizing the army, but the 
democrats realized the problem was crucial. They never let up in 
their letters "To our brothers, the soldiers," and in their insistence 
on getting the officers sworn faithfully to the hypothetical con- 

We have mentioned the King's complaints that the Assembly kept 
giving in to threats by the mob. The mob was feeling its oats, and 
according to the point of view of the observer, was either trying to 
disrupt all orderly government with impossible demands, or was 



trying to see that the fruits of the barricade fight should go to those 
who were in the battle. 

For purposes of broad generalization, perhaps the mob after 
March 18 can be divided into the followers of Stephan Born and 
the followers of Friedrich Wilhelm Alexander Held. 

Born was a printer who in 1848 was still too young to be eligible 
for either of the parliaments of that year, in Berlin or at Frankfurt. 
He was only twenty-three but he had already quite a history behind 
him. While his brother was studying to be a doctor at the University 
of Berlin, Stephan was a printer's apprentice, and every day during 
his two-hour lunch period he would steal over and attend lectures at 
the university. By 1845 he was working hard to carry education to 
workers' circles in Berlin and had published a pamphlet on justice 
to the working class. In 1847 he took the year of travel that was still 
customary for up-and-coming young craftsmen. He worked his 
way to Brussels, Paris, and Switzerland, meeting the far more class- 
conscious workers of western Europe. In Paris he was taken up by 
Engels and introduced to Marx; and this pair, who were busy or- 
ganizing the Communist League, supported him all through 1848, 
although they later turned against him with the peculiar bitterness 
they saved for ex- friends. 

Born got back to Berlin just in time to throw himself into organ- 
izing the workers' party. Incidentally, the Prussian police could 
not conceive of a genuine working-class leader, and always referred 
to Born in their reports as a "helper" of the more advanced workers. 
They did not know that Born himself was particularly opposed to 
using such helpers, or Menschenfreunde. "We take our affairs into 
our own hands," was his motto, and he was determined for the work- 
ers to build up their own treasury, no matter how little each one 
earned. Out of small but regular contributions he foresaw eventually 
housing developments and libraries built by the working class alone. 
"Germany is not so poor that part of her children must be in need," 
he cried. 

All crafts were organizing in Berlin at this time, grocers, hair- 
dressers, factory workers, the German cooks who issued a manifesto 
against the custom of hiring French cooks, the cab drivers who com- 
plained of the use of busses. They asked for higher wages and they 
asked that the shops be shut at eight instead of ten at night, so as 



to make their day only twelve hours long. On March 29 a workers' 
deputation even waited on the King, petitioning for a ministry of 
labor, popular education at the expense of the state, and economical 
government. "They go well together," muttered the King under his 
breath, and stalked out of the audience chamber. 

But the workers would not be stopped. A chain of workers' clubs 
began to form all over Germany. They began to meet in congresses 
and to consider politics and the long view. Considering the short 
view also, they managed several strikes. 

Of all their efforts, the most appealing was the tiny Workers' 
Congress in Berlin in August. The clubs spent months discussing 
who should be eligible to vote, and who to come ; the call, when it was 
finally issued in June was signed by members from Berlin, Hamburg, 
and Konigsberg. Forty delegates finally assembled, representing 
thirty-one clubs from many parts of Germany. It was their intention 
to compose a people's charter, copying the English Chartists, and 
their plans were so inclusive that they worked out nearly all the 
reforms which were granted in the next fifty years unemployment 
insurance, consumer cooperatives, free secular schools, with free 
books, and teachers who, though licensed by the state, were to be 
elected by the community in which they served. They demanded 
workers' housing, equality for women, income taxes, a ten-hour day, 
and foremen with some technical knowledge. 

Such were the reforms which labor felt would benefit them, not the 
free press, the armed rnilitia, and commercial reforms which were 
the revolutionary demands of the middle classes. The workers' 
groups were splitting off from their co-revolutionists in perfect 
Marxian form. Yet Born wrote to Marx that he would be laughed 
at if he called himself a Communist, and the Communist League 
could not get a foothold in Berlin. 

Held's followers cut a much wider swath than Born's thoughtful, 
skilled craftsmen. Held fitted the popular notion of what a dema- 
gogue should be he was a blond giant with a voice that could be 
heard from the Brandenburger Tor to the Belle- Alliance-Platze. He 
won his influence over crowds, not with hackneyed flattery but with 
wit and sarcasm, tricks he had learned in his varied past as lieuten- 
ant, actor, and newspaperman. He left the army to run away with 
an actress, left the stage when he did not get enough recognition to 
suit him, and finally started the first cheap newspaper in Germany, 



the Lokomotive, which became immensely profitable until it was 
suppressed. The government could not bear to have a paper which 
would bring for a year, to all who could afford one thaler, news, wit, 
and countless digs too subtle for the censors. When the revolution 
broke in Prussia, Held was in prison, but he was freed in the general 
amnesty of political prisoners and immediately took up the Loko- 
motive again. 

There was no doubt that he became the idol of Berlin. His por- 
trait seemed to be in every house, his bust in every restaurant, women 
flocked to his club to hear him and showered him with love letters. 
He was the only man allowed inside the Democratic Woman's Club, 
which spent its time on such projects as how to take care of unem- 
ployed servant girls by womanly work. When a scandal developed 
between Held and one of the ladies, he was ejected. He had a body- 
guard of 4,000 well-armed locomotive shop workers who were pre- 
sumed ready to obey his slightest command. The King and the 
friends of order were frantic to get Held out of the way. And yet 
he was one of the safer demagogues, since he had no definite plans 
to offer, except that he was intensely nationalistic. On at least two 
occasions he used his immense prestige with the masses to prevent 

Held's influence was finally killed by what seems like an absurdly 
small incident. A meeting, which Held expected to be a private tea 
party, was arranged between him and one of the conservative min- 
isters. The news, by fair means or foul, was publicized everywhere, 
so that people lost their trust in him. In October his fame was at its 
peak ; by December his lion's voice was subdued to a puppet's, for 
he was last heard of running a Christmas marionette show in the 

As in Paris, the progress of the revolution was marked by workers' 
demonstrations, the first of which in Berlin was caused by a cabinet 
order in May to recall the Prince of Prussia from England. Now the 
Prince, though later to become William I, the first German Emperor 
and a, figure of pride for his country, was at this time so cordially 
hated that his name was omitted from public prayers. He was the 
King's brother, and heir to the throne because Frederick William 
and his queen were childless ; but he was far more military and far 
less dreamy than the King "leathery" he caUed himself, and "prac- 
tical." His wife was named Augusta, a princess whose life was con- 



sistently unhappy from an unloved childhood through an unloved 
marriage but she had been brought up by Goethe in a liberal court 
and was considered in Berlin the advocate of liberal measures. Her 
husband twitted her on the common saying, "If Prince William ever 
comes to the throne, the Princess will see to it that Prussia gets a 
constitution," and he was indifferent to her pleas against bitterness 
in his handling of the people. A king, he replied, must show that he 
is master. 

In the wild days of March Augusta asked Bismarck, then the most 
promising conservative member of the United Diet, to wait upon 
her, and begged for his support for her young son in case Frederick 
William could not hold the throne. But Bismarck, who had started 
to arm the peasants on his estate and bring them to Berlin to save 
the King, repudiated her notion so flatly that she never liked him 

While in England, the Prince of Prussia had been bracketed by 
cartoonists with such deposed exiles as Louis Philippe, Metternich, 
and Lola Montez. This was too much for his royal brother to stand. 
Hence the command for his return early in May. Fifteen thousand 
workers met in the Tiergarten to protest, and it was Held who 
managed to get them to disperse peaceably. 

A month later a more serious outbreak occurred. The democrats, 
led by Held, had been demanding arms for all the people, not just 
those with the correct police endorsement of property or income, 
and they soon found out that the government's countermove was to 
withdraw arms from the Berlin arsenal. On the moonlit night of 
June 14 they marched up, beat a roll of drums in front of the gate 
of the arsenal, and told the commandant and his two hundred soldiers 
that the revolution had broken out in Potsdam so he could expect 
no relief. Then they ran a ladder to the second floor and created 
such a panic that soldiers began running out of the second story 
windows. As they ran along the cornices to the fire escapes each one 
considerately brought a gun, of which he was relieved at the bottom. 
The only casualty was a soldier who jumped right out of a window. 

This affair created a perfect storm among the reactionaries; it 
was a lucky turn of affairs for them, since they could now clearly 
claim that Berlin needed soldiers and more rigid control. Indeed, 
Stephan Born, who rather looked down on the locomotive shop 
workers and the others that attacked the arsenal as plunderers, also 


brought evidence to show that the reactionary party had stirred 
them up. 

No doubt the reaction was gaining in unity, coherence, and 
emphasis. Its course might be graphed by the flags on the Hohen- 
zollern palace. In March & big black-red-gold tricolor flew alone 
this was the symbol both of German unity and liberty which Fred- 
erick William adopted in the first flush of yielding. In April a small 
black-and-white Prussian flag appeared beneath the new standard 
and seemed to grow gradually bigger. On August 6, a big black-and- 
white standard flew above a small tricolor. 

Some intellectuals began to remember the quiet of the police state. 
David Friedrich Strauss, for one, voiced his feelings about the whole 
revolutionary process. He was the author of a radical and rational- 
istic life of Jesus, one of those who had done the most to stir up new 
thought in Germany. - 

"To a nature like mine it was much better under the old police 
state, when we had quiet on the streets and were not always meeting 
with excited people, new-fashioned slouch hats, and beards. In so- 
ciety a man could talk a bit of literature and art, of odd characters 
and such things, he could let himself go, which is no longer possible 
... I simply don 5 t go out any more. ... I have learned to know 
myself better in these days than ever before, that I am one of those 
decadent hang-overs from the period of individual education, of 
the type Goethe describes, and beyond these limits I neither can nor 
wish to go. To all this effusion on the part of boys and girls, to this 
pouring out of wisdom on the streets, I can only respond with cut- 
ting irony or disdainful contempt. 557 

Just before the outbreak Strauss had declared himself in favor 
of liberal ideas^, but he was not the Qn jJjG;^S^..,^^P^ ove( ^ to 

.when they came. 

were forming an association to protect their rights, 
while peasants wrote (or were quoted as writing) threatening letters 
urging Berliners to restore decency in their "damned hole, 55 not to 
butcher the peasants 5 sons in the army and not to abuse the King. 
The army officers, of course, still smarting under their March 
humiliation, were the most dangerous single reactionary force. 

Frederick William was the leader of all the reactionary groups, 

7 Klein, 118. 



gradually pulling their strength together around himself. By leav- 
ing the city in May he cut himself off completely from both his 
ministers and the Assembly from any possible liberal influence. 
He even refused to let his ministers consult him as often as they 
needed to, "in order not to take up their time. 55 His chosen friends, 
the men he was really sympathetic to, closed around him in a 
camarilla and would only let trusted persons be received in audi- 
ence. Prince Consort Albert of England, who took a lively inter- 
est in German affairs, tried to explain to him that democracy was 
not un-German, but instead of listening even to this high source, 
Frederick William began to say, "Only soldiers can help against 

He himself might not have felt strong enough to bring in a full 
complement of soldiers against the democrats immediately, but his 
new commander, Count von Wrangel, ordered a military review to 
be held in September. Von Pfuehl, the more moderate prime min- 
ister, although he was a general and was picked as a conservative, 
was doing his best to carry out the wishes of the Assembly in forc- 
ing loyalty to the constitution on the army, and he felt that a review 
would be the worst thing to stir people up. Hotly, Wrangel offered 
to resign rather than give up the review so it was held, embellished 
with a speech to the citizens of Berlin in which Wrangel commiser- 
ated them for the grass growing in their streets, for the empty 
shops, the unemployed workers, and promised, by bringing back 
a full garrison soon, to restore true liberty, order, and with order, 
all that was good. "The swords are sharpened to a point, the balls 
are in the guns," he said. 

Immediately Berlin wits announced a "grass auction,' 5 to sell 
off the grass in the streets. Every customer was to receive a picture 
of a small man riding through tall grass as a gift, and the proceeds 
were to go into buying powder and lead for the "sovereign Linden 
Club 55 (which was their name for the public meetings held unter 
den Linden.) 

In October more people than ever before went to the Linden 
clubs. Held reached his zenith, the Democratic Club called meetings 
so packed that no leaf could have fallen to earth between the people, 
meetings with the serious intent of forcing democracy to mean 
something to the masses of the people. Huge placards covered the 
city providing news and opinions from every side ; and night after 
night was made hideous with Berlin 5 s special contribution of 



Katzenmusik in front of the houses of reactionaries, a shrieking, 
whistling, squeaking, bellowing, grunting, howling, miauling, hit- 
ting of kettles and shouting up the downspouts. Agents provoca- 
teurs were known to be active among the mob, which became wild. 
On the 20th they threatened to hang members of the Assembly 
who did not vote for sending troops to help the democratic party 
in Vienna, then under siege. Next day the King, disappointed in 
plain conservatives and acting on Bismarck's advice, asked his 
uncle, Count von Brandenburg, to form a truly reactionary minis- 
try. Brandenburg was an illegitimate son of Frederick William II, 
and was a cavalry officer with no experience of affairs beyond the 
army. The outraged Assembly worked more feverishly than before 
on the constitution with which they hoped to bind the King, but 
instead of baiting the trap, they went out of their way to eliminate 
"by Grace of God" from his title. So infuriated was His Majesty, 
when the Assembly sent a deputation, headed by Unruh, to ask for 
a ministry with whom they could work, that he stamped impatiently 
out of the room without so much as a refusal. An excitable deputy 
called after him, "That's the trouble with kings, they won't listen 
to the truth." Unruh was almost as deeply offended by this out- 
break as the King, because by protocol none but himself was sup- 
posed to address the throne in such an audience. Unruh wanted 
a constitution and he wanted reform, but he was as easily shocked 
by a violation of etiquette as a society climber. As long as big 
businessmen could show such sensitivity towards the feelings of 
royalty it was no wonder they shrank from the rougher manners 
of the lower classes who might have supported them in their 

The final excuse, so ardently desired, for bringing back the 
troops came after a wild and disorganized effort of the democrats 
called the Second Democratic Congress. (The first had been held 
in Frankfurt.) The meetings of this body were so noisy that the 
president asked for a brace of pistols to keep order instead of his 
bell, and so unrealistic as to pass a resolution "that the German 
people by a great majority desire a repubKcT'FoF^r^^ it 

organized a hug^mass meeting and bBsfeged the Constitutional As- 
sembly. No one knows whether anyone received for this the 25,000 
thalers 8 that Held declared had been offered him if he provoked 
a disturbance great enough to call the troops back. In any case 

8 Equivalent to $32,000 U.S. 



the army marched in to music dismayed, according to Hohenlohe, 
that it was not a battery of guns that led them into the city. 

The Assembly meanwhile realized that it was going to be dis- 
solved, and as a protest conceived the idea of drafting a resolution 
urging Prussian subjects not to pay taxes to their high-handed 
ruler. Unruh did not want any "revolutionary" or "disrespectful" 
(the two words were synonymous in his mind) acts on the part of 
his Assembly, and refused to call a meeting to discuss this subject 
until a majority signed a petition for it, signatures which despite 
his attitude were quickly obtained. 

While this meeting was in session, the militia rallied around the 
hall to protect the Assembly. It was reasonable to expect a big bat- 
tle. All the militia had served in the regular army, and all were 
sworn to defend the Assembly with their lives. Someone who watched 
them said they made sour faces, some with fear and some with joy. 
Wrangel rode along the Charlottenstrasse and greeted them po- 
litely, but they did not respond, except that their commander said 
they would yield only to force. Wrangel answered pleasantly that 
he had plenty of that, and that in fifteen minutes the Assembly 
would be dissolved. 

Inside the hall a staff officer was telling Unruh that he had au- 
thority to close the session, but that it would save trouble if Unruh 
would do it for him. This Unruh refused, though he was privately 
gratified that the matter of nonpayment of taxes would not come 
to a vote. The members, however, clamored for a division and before 
the soldiers could get back they passed the resolution by acclama- 
tion. Then they filed two by two down the steps of their hall and 
disappeared. The militia likewise disappeared. It was less than 
fifteen minutes after WrangePs ultimatum. 

The appeal to Prussians not to pay taxes aroused tremendous 
interest all over Germany. Radicals felt that the Prussian As- 
sembly had at last justified itself and looked for a chance to start 
a new fight for democracy. Carl Schurz tells how he and his fellow 
students at Bonn tried to help by driving the revenue officers from 
their posts at the city gates so that the peasants could bring goods 
in duty-free. When soldiers came up to take charge, the peasants 
rallied to defend their student friends, and were kept from blood- 
shed only by student remonstrances. 

A good deal of the bite of this action of the Prussian Assembly 
was taken away when the Frankfurt Parliament, representing the 



people of all Germany, denounced the tax-withholding idea, even 
though with the same breath they deplored the forcible dissolution 
of the Prussian body. 

The Frankfurt Parliament, which was engaged in trying to 
unite all the states of Germany under a single constitution, rather 
looked down on the Berlin Assembly. Its members also felt that a 
strong separate Prussian constitution would only enhance Prus- 
siandom, splitting Germany so that it could never be united. They 
wanted no constitution in separate states until their federal one 
was completed. In the back of their minds was still another idea, 
that they could win Frederick William's support for a German 
Empire by supporting him against his own Assembly, and that in 
this way the King's victory would not be entirely one of bayonets. 

Unfortunately they underestimated the depth of the royal con- 
tempt for parliaments. The King of Prussia was as indifferent to 
the help of Frankfurt as to the hostile resolutions of the Assembly 
he himself had summoned. With his army behind him and his con- 
science made up, he was able to cope with any situation out of his 
own resources. 

A day or two after the Assembly was closed, Berlin found itself 
under martial law. All clubs were closed, all strangers that looked 
queer were made to leave town, no papers or posters could appear 
without official sanction. 

Also the citizens' militia was disbanded. Thirty thousand rifles 
had been issued to them in March; in November all but 150 were 
returned, in spite of the fact that the officers burned the member- 
ship lists to make disarming more difficult. This figure reveals the 
depth of Prussian passivity. How could a revolution ever have been 
successful? In the same spirit the citizenry went right on paying 
their taxes. There is no record that the Assembly's hot insistence 
on the illegality of these taxes made any difficulty for the collectors. 

The working classes naturally were left totally without allies 
or power. When the printers of the shut-down opposition papers 
complained that their livelihood was taken away, General Wrangel 
contemptuously sent them forty thalers' relief. Democracy was 
stopped in its tracks. 

The final blow, on an almost insensible body politic, was the con- 
stitution which the King promulgated in December. When people 
read it they were at first astonished at its similarity to that which 
the Assembly had worked on. Whenever possible the King's ad- 



visers had taken over the words and even the liberal ideas of the 
Assembly. Later they noticed that the King received an absolute 
veto, that elections were subtly made indirect, and that the power 
to levy taxes was ambiguously placed. On the other hand, religions 
were free, the church was to be disestablished, letters were to be un- 
censored, the press was to be free under restrictions, and feudal 
privileges were curtailed. 

The Assembly, formally reopened at Brandenburg and slightly 
purged, agreed with the King on this document. After all, this had 
been their original duty to agree. Then the Assembly expired. 
The elections, which followed in January 1849, took a reactionary 
turn, but the resulting legislative Assembly was dissolved in April 
for daring to protest against the martial law which had never been 
relaxed in Berlin. 

After that show of independent spirit the electoral law was 
changed so that those who paid one-third of the taxes elected one- 
third of the representatives. According to this scheme, electors of 
the first class, with a third of the power in the Assembly, numbered 
three per cent of the population; electors of the second class ten 
per cent; of the third eighty-seven, which included those who paid 
no taxes at all. The government showed that it had learned to rely 
on property rather than on censorship. With this change, the con- 
stitution, promulgated in January 1850, remained in force until 
1918 during which interval Prussia suffered no more revolu- 
tionary attacks. 

The truth of the matter was that the middle classes who made 
the revolution in Prussia were satisfied by what they got out of it. 
Unruh himself, in summing up the events of the year 1848, ad- 
mitted that he and the other liberals had been naive to think that 
what they needed was a better constitution. They found out in prac- 
tice that what they really needed was a better administration. And 
Prussia shortly developed the best administrative system in the 
world. 9 

8 The Germans in 1848 seemed peculiarly loathe to develop what sociologists call a 
"role conflict." They hated to get into a position where their duties to their class, as 
businessmen, or to their professional honor, or to their personal wishes as private 
citizens, were at variance with their obligations as subjects. The French historian, 
Vermeil (see the book edited by Fejto), pointed out that Adam Smith's demarcation 
between state and private interests went against the German grain. Goethe and Stein 
both realized the importance of responsible individuals as the basis for a state built 
on cooperation of its citizens but they were almost unique in Germany. It is, after 



Frederick William, after 1848, lived in an increasing cloud of 
bitterness which ended some years later in madness. The Prince of 
Prussia who succeeded him and became the first German emperor 
forgot his 1848 lessons no more than Frederick William. He placed 
no reliance on the constitutions he had studied in England. In- 
stead he had learned to rely on his army. 

The immediate drama in early 1849 turned to Frankfurt. In 
spite of Prussia, there still seemed some hope in that city that a 
liberal German Empire might be created. 

all, out of role conflicts that creative solutions to social problems come. (See W. 
Mommsen on German citizenship.) 



A Crown from the Gutter 

PROFESSOR DABXMANN, the constitutional historian, remarked in 
1849 that Germans had found out that their thirst for freedom 
could only be satisfied by power. Though this was almost like saying 
their thirst for water could only be satisfied by schnapps^ Dahl- 
mann here puts his finger on the nationalism that characterizes, 
one might almost say corrupts, every one of the 1848 revolutions 
outside of France. 

To be sure, the Prussian revolution seemed like a copy of the 
Parisian though twenty years behind the times. The same sort of 
orderly legalists demanded the same sort of orderly change; these 
groups split similarly from the working classes, though with less 
noise in Prussia ; and in the end all hands gave in to military dic- 
tatorship and skillful repression. 

But only half of German energy went into efforts of reform, 
even though nearly every one of the thirty-odd German states 
yielded to demands for constitution, militia, free presses, and lib- 
eral ministers. The other half of German idealism showed up in 
the fierce insistence from every section that now, 1848, was the 
time for Germany to unite, for a German Empire to be created. In 
the light of the hundred years since, when national feeling has 
caused so much trouble, it may be hard to realize how noble na- 
tional freedom seemed before it had been well tested. Dahlmann was 
probably unconscious of any cynicism in his remark about Ger- 
man thirst for power. It only seems cynical to us. Dahlmann 
watched 1848 liberalism fail through its own weakness and leaped 
to the simple conclusion that any strong Germany would satisfy its 
citizens' desires. Perhaps, also, the freedom that had been fought 
for and lost in 1848 began to seem, a year later, less desirable than 
the power which seemed momentarily within the Germans 5 grasp. 

Early in 1848 a group of Germans from many states was work- 
ing on the problem of uniting all Germany into one grand new con- 
stitutional empire. These patriots succeeded in calling a parliament 
of the entire German speaking population of Europe which drafted 



a constitution for their huge, hoped-for fatherland. If Austria had 
not chosen to withhold its German subjects from such a combina- 
tion, preferring to add them to its other subjects, Slav and Mag- 
yar ; if Prussia had not refused to consider the work of mere upstart 
common citizens, the parliament would not have failed. As it was 
the parliament has remained a dream to liberal Germans ever since, 
a stepping stone on which they hoped to build; its debates throw 
light on all Germany's subsequent history. 

Napoleon had, of course, abolished the Holy Roman Empire of 
the German people, and there was in 1848 no such thing as Ger- 
many except in the hearts of its patriots. The German-speaking 
people were divided among some thirty-nine sovereignties, topped 
by the giant states of Prussia and Austria; and tapering down 
through the kingdoms of Bavaria and Saxony, into princedoms, 
grand duchies and free cities such as Hamburg and Frankfurt. 
The list took in moreover two or three territories like Alsace and 
Schleswig-Holstein that every German soul claimed for the father- 
land although they were under the rule of foreign countries. 

The same German souls as a rule did not throb at all for the 
national aspirations of non-German subjects of Prussia and Aus- 
tria. Yet Prussia's huge minority of Poles and the Hapsburgs 5 huge 
majority of Slav and Hungarian subjects were to prove the most 
upsetting of the obstacles to German unification. French liberals 
we have seen agitating for Poland ; German liberals began by sing- 
ing the same tune, along with the other French catchwords, but 
soon the Germans caught themselves and realized that to give up 
their Poles meant to weaken the fatherland. 

Much as they wanted to unite, most Germans hated the single 
political bond that tied German states together in the period after 
1815. They had been organized by the Congress of Vienna into a 
Confederation whose members promised not to make war on one 
another. It was also part of the original plan that each state should 
be guaranteed a representative constitution, but these promises 
which had been made originally by rulers in order to induce their 
subjects to fight Napoleon had become halfhearted even by 1815. 
In 1848 not half the members of the Confederation had paper con- 
stitutions, and neither Prussia nor Austria was among those that 

The Confederation was intended for pure Germans alone, so only 
one-third of the Austrian monarchy and only the German parts of 



Prussia were included. And still more curiously, even some Germans 
under foreign rule were represented. One bit of Switzerland, one 
piece of Holland, and the Danish duchy of Holstein were all inside 
the line. 

But the Confederation represented only the princes of Germany, 
not the people and it was admittedly dominated by Austria which 
used it as an instrument to impose her own dark standards on other 
German peoples. The organization was designed to be weak too 
many foreign statesmen were afraid of a strong Germany but 
by using the press laws Austria was able to keep the other mem- 
bers gagged, and she did her best to discourage constitutionalism 
throughout the other states and even to control such small matters 
as freedom of movement among the working classes. For workmen 
who were allowed to see the world brought back all kinds of ideas, 
like Stephan Born of the Berlin Workers' Congress. 

The organ of the Confederation was a diet which met at Frank- 
furt. Its meetings were secret, and so often ended up in bad news 
for the German people that a man in the 1848 parliament compared 
it to the Inquisition: 

"There are institutions which are so hated, and rightly so hated 
that no modification can appease public opinion. They can only be 
rooted out, trunk and branches. The Inquisition was such an insti- 
tution ; the censorship was such an institution ; such an institution 
is, I would gladly say was, the Federal Diet. . . . Have not most 
of us seen with our own eyes the living ruins of men whose strength 
of body and character the abominable government of the Federal 
Diet completely destroyed through years of imprisonment?" 1 

Up until March 1848 the Diet seemed so well entrenched and so 
lethargic that nothing could move it. Frederick William IV, indeed, 
had asked his friend and councillor, General Joseph Maria von 
Radowitz, to work out a plan of reform, but the German people 
did not realize this when they heard one March day, like a spring 
hurricane, that* those separate governments that wished to abolish 
censorship were now free to do so (with restrictions) ; that a black- 
red-gold flag (the colors of German union) was now flying over 
the Diet itself; and that a constitutional assembly for the whole 
German people was to convene at Frankfurt. 

Actually it was the people, not the Diet, least of all the Prussian 

1 Quoted from Petzet and Sutter, Der Geist der Pauhkirche, p. 47. 



King, that was creating the hurricane. The Diet made these con- 
cessions in the spring of revolutions before being swept out of ex- 
istence but the people were taking things into their own hands 

The division of Germany seemed to most Germans their chief 
grievance. It was a condition which hampered their progress which- 
ever way they turned, intellectually, commercially, and patrioti- 
cally. Their pride and their pocketbooks were equally offended. 

The censorship, which Metternich persuaded the Confederation 
to impose on all the petty states, was so severe that all the brightest 
men in Germany were persecuted. Some lost their jobs; some, like 
Heine and Herwegh, were exiled; a shocking number were actually 

Those intellectuals that stayed at their jobs were deliberately 
separated from public life even before 1848, though later Bis- 
marck was to make this separation a fine art. No one could get 
a state appointment unless he professed to believe in absolutism, and 
it was hard for a university graduate to live any other way since all 
the universities as well as administrative positions were controlled 
by the governments. Censorship also tended to make the intellectuals 
lose their sense of proportion by exaggerating unimportant items. 
The effects of these tendencies showed up all too plainly in the de- 
liberations of all the popular assemblies called during 1848, espe- 
cially in the great parliament at Frankfurt. 

Students, on the other hand, were the freest part of the com- 
munity. Though the government was always trying to put them 
down they were irrepressible, and the festivals which they arranged 
at intervals may be compared to the French banquets as the nearest 
preparation of the public to act upon public affairs. The first and 
most famous of these celebrations was at the Wartburg in 1817, 
when a great mass of young men climbed the mountain, lit a huge 
bonfire on top, and swore to each other to believe in kings but not 
in officials, not to fight other Germans, not to become censors nor 
members of the secret police. The most recent such affair had been 
held in Hambach in 1842. 

The businessmen, the class which in Prussia agitated for reform, 
in the smaller states needed a bigger country even more than they 
needed reform. The tariff union, headed by Prussia, was the first 
considerable help they received, for it included three-quarters of 



the German population, although Austria and a few other states 
did not belong. Trade had been much easier ever since January 1, 
1834, on which date long wagon trains, backed up at many fron- 
tiers, were allowed to carry their goods across free for the first time. 
In 1835 the first big railroad was built in Germany, and by 1848 
there were 3,000 miles of track. 

Naturally a country so burgeoning with fast transport and free 
trade was not going to be hampered forever by an oldfangled con- 
federation, nor with the innumerable systems of weight, money, and 
commercial law to be found in the various states. Either Prussia or 
Austria could easily have taken over all the rest of Germany by 
granting a few reforms, as Bismarck demonstrated later. 

But as it happened, in 1848 the rulers of Germany lagged be- 
hind their subjects. They almost had to be anti-patriotic, that is, 
anti-German in order to maintain their separate thrones, and they 
clung to their expensive little courts, their small evidences of sov- 
ereignty with an eighteenth-century tenacity. And indeed the 
loyalty of their subjects proved, in the test of revolution, to be 
strong enough to keep most of them on their pedestals ; no German 
dynasty was unseated. Nevertheless the princes were jealous and 
afraid of each other and their subjects. Even the King of Prussia, 
who held the center of the stage with his attempts to save Germany, 
failed more bitterly even than the professors and radical revolu- 
tionaries who had the same aim at heart. 

But their class structure was also a handicap for it was rigid 
in a way that is hard for an American to understand. Carl Schurz 
tells how his grandfather, a well-to-do manager of a large estate, 
yet classed as a peasant, could go to town or ride out to pay visits 
in a two-wheeled chaise but not in a four-wheeled carriage ; while the 
women in his family could have caps or hoods as pretty as they 
pleased, trimmed with expensive lace or even jewels, but never a 
bonnet such as city women wore. After the daughter of a tenant 
with certain rights to the use of the land married a cottager who 
had only the use of a house, no tenant families would speak to her. 

The middle classes were beginning to be able to rise through 
money or education, and were sometimes ennobled. Still, the old 
aristocracy stuck to its pedigrees, and it seemed as undesirable to 
them that a ruling house should lose its prerogatives of sovereignty 
as that anyone else should change his station in life. Europe was 
in fact full of ex-princes who had lost their tiny territories when 



the Holy Roman Empire was abolished, and yet who were treated 
with all the etiquette, the forms of address, the backing out of com- 
moners from their presence, that they had been entitled to when 
they were actually sovereigns. 

Of the thousands of men who had been thinking hard about a free 
united Germany, two groups were especially vocal. First there was 
a group of liberals from the smaller states, led by Heinrich von 
Gagern, Prime Minister of Hesse-Darmstadt, which included a 
large number of prominent liberals from Baden, the most advanced 
of all the German states. The second group consisted of repub- 
licans, led by Friedrich Hecker and Gustav von Struve. These 
gentlemen turned out to be such ardent revolutionaries that they 
preferred to lead an army for a republic rather than to compromise 
with the commonplace ideas of the first group. 

Heinrich von Gagern was the son of a German diplomat who 
happened to be in the service of the Netherlands, a man whose deep 
broodings on German unity were passed on to his sons. The eldest 
of these was General Friedrich von Gagern, also employed by the 
Netherlands, though the main interest of his life was Germany. 
After profound thought he came to the conclusion that Prussia 
was the only natural center for a free Germany, though he seemed 
to hope that Prussia would be willing to separate into its eight 
provinces and lose its national identity in a greater Germany. 
Widely discussed throughout the country, these views had their 
deepest influence on Friedrich's brother, Heinrich, who was a mem- 
ber of the left in the Hessian chamber until, in March 1848, the 
revolutionary turn of things made him minister of that small state. 
On March 24 he made a speech to the Chamber which was almost 
a call to arms for all Germany, urging freedom and unity, and 
expressing the view that Germany must turn in the immediate 
future to Prussia (at that very moment rapidly giving in to liberal 
demands) without, however, permanently cutting off Austria. 

In the early spring of 1848 the two groups, constitutionalist and 
republican, met together fifty-one strong at Heidelberg and agreed 
to ignore their differences for the moment in the effort to organize 
a parliament to represent the entire German nation. Their first 
step was to invite to Frankfurt on March 31 all the past and pres- 
ent members of legislative bodies of German states together with 
prominent intellectuals and friends of the committee. 



This preliminary parliament was a haphazard gathering since 
attendance depended on how the individuals who were invited hap- 
pened to feel. Only two Austrians showed up, 114 Prussians, and 
from tiny little Baden 72. The debates likewise were of a miscel- 
laneous character; one observer said they were like a musical com- 
position combining Rule Britannia with the Marseillaise. Gradu- 
ally, however, Heinrich von Gagern clinched the victory of reform 
over revolution by his simple statement that most Germans were 
not ready for the republic, a remark in which all non-fanatics 
agreed. Struve, the republican, gagged by a rule limiting speeches 
to ten minutes, barely had a chance to read out the radical de- 
mands; cursing the moderates, he stamped out of the meeting to 
raise an army. Prom this moment the parliamentarians were purged 
of their left wing and became mere liberals. 

The preliminary parliament's only accomplishment was to call 
for elections. The German people had never had an election before 
and the preliminary parliament could not lay very good claim to 
the authority to set one up, but bravely took the chance, and de- 
clared that every 50,000 Germans were to choose one representative 
by direct universal suffrage. (The preliminary parliament voted 
unanimously for universal suffrage. The word limiting the vote 
to individuals who were selbstandig was lost in a stenographic 
error, but most people felt that such a qualification was never- 
theless "implied.") In May, they boldly stated, this Assembly was 
to meet, with the right and duty to draw up a constitution for 
all Germany. The beaten-down Federal Diet (whose members were 
appointed by the separate governments) concurred in the call for 
the Assembly, giving it its only show of legality, but only because 
the Diet realized that control had slipped out of its hands. 

On the sly, nonetheless, the Diet sent out suggestions to the 
various governments to influence the elections as they could. In 
some states residence requirements and the necessity of being an 
"independent" citizen kept large numbers of servants, workers, and 
apprentices from voting. Some states even went ahead and ar- 
ranged for indirect voting, and in Bavaria a tax-paying require- 
ment was used. But these attempts at evasion had little effect in 
most places. More decisive in the composition of the body was the 
varied interest shown by different sections. Many Austrian Ger- 
mans failed to vote, so their country was badly underrepresented. 
Some people who were elected refused point blank to take part in 



such revolutionary swindles, among them Baron Alexander von 
Humboldt and Prince Hohenlohe's father. Incidentally, both these 
gentlemen fell into disgrace with the King of Prussia for their 
refusal to serve. Frederick William came to hate the Assembly, 
but at first, apparently, he thought some good might come of it, 
especially if enough of his own. supporters took seats. On the other 
hand Friedrich Hecker, the idol of the democrats, was elected but 
not allowed to sit, on the ground that he had recently led an armed 
rebellion in Baden for a republic. Perhaps the fact that General 
Friedrich von Gagern was killed in the battle against him stimulated 
distaste, in a parliament led by Gagern's brother, for seating such 
a rabid republican. When his application for the seat was refused, 
Hecker sailed for the United States. 

This was the German people's first and, as a matter of fact, only 
parliament. Five hundred and eighty-six members were finally 
seated, including at least isolated specimens from nearly every rank : 
one small sovereign prince on one hand, and on the other, a single 
Silesian peasant who was (perhaps poetically) credited with having 
built his homestead with his own hands, and who seemed not unable 
to hold his own in debate on the miseries of his countryside. However, 
the overwhelming majority were educated men, 95 lawyers, 104 
professors, 124 bureaucrats, and 100 judicial officials, together with 
34 landowners and 13 businessmen. Nearly all the famous names 
in the field of thought were there old Turnvater Friedrich Ludwig 
Jahn showed up, the man who had rallied a generation of German 
youth toward patriotism and health by his gymnastic meetings in 
the 1810's, work for which he suffered in prison. He was almost too 
old to function when he got to Frankfurt, but he looked handsome, 
with a white beard to his waist and a black velvet cap on his snow 
white hair; and he reminded the others of the ideals of the first 
movement of German youth for freedom. Jacob Grimm, the story 
teller and philologist, was another distinguished and distinguished- 
looking member. Moritz Arndt was another ancient, an ornament 
to the body because everybody there knew by heart his patriotic 
poetry and was grateful for it. 

The man universally wanted for president of the Assembly was 
Heinrich von Gagern because he had done such a fine job of con- 
ciliation in the preliminary parliament. His talent was to rule the 



meetings not like an assembly of enemies but like a group of friends 
with differing opinions. "It is always easier for me to love than to 
hate, 55 he said of himself, and in fact he was so trusting, modest, and 
unselfish that he began to seem like a medieval knight fighting for 
German freedom. Women tore his gloves into ribbons for souvenirs, 
and rumor said that an admirer set one of his buttons in diamonds. 

The members of the left soon began to realize that in spite of his 
charms he lacked any decisive originality. His oratory grew mo- 
notonous once one got over its almost irresistible pathos ; and though 
he was brave and talented, he could not see over the rather low fences 
which bounded the range of vision of the average imagination of 
1848. "I can be a republican, for I have learned to live simply, but 
I will have no mob rule," 2 he said, betraying the common confusion 
of the period. In Frankfurt all the aristocratic forces in his nature 
pulled him away from his first sympathy with the left, where he had 
sat so long in the Hessian chamber. The death of his adored brother 
Friedrich in combat against the republicans in Baden had a painful 
effect on his mind, too. 

Possibly the most popular member of the Assembly, certainly the 
unchallenged leader of the left, was Robert Blum of Leipzig. The 
son of a servant girl and of a cooper who had died when he was eight, 
Blum lived through desperate poverty in his childhood. He remem- 
bered standing in a long line at a bakery at five in the morning be- 
cause cheap bread was so scarce in those days; once when he was 
robbed of it on the way home his mother and sisters had nothing to 
eat all day long. Apprenticed to several masters in turn and not 
liking any trade particularly, he did manage nevertheless, like 
Stephan Born, to attend a few university lectures in off hours and to 
get around Germany. In 1840 he became cashier for the Leipzig 
theater, and since Leipzig was the center of the book industry he 
fell in with a group of intellectuals and became extremely popular 
both with them and with the working classes. But when he was elected 
a city councilor in 1847 the Saxon government would not let so 
dangerous a liberal serve, even though he had on several occasions 
used his strength to maintain order and the authorities should have 
been grateful. 

At Frankfurt Blum was acknowledged to be the leader of the 
whole working class. He dressed in a blouse, which some wit called 

a Quoted from Legge, Rhyme and Revolution in Germany, 247. 



the cowl of the period, and he seemed to have the exact knack of 
charming his hearers by talking of his own early straggles without 
dragging them into the deeper and deeper waters of revolution. The 
women of Frankfurt must have been peculiarly impressionable, for, 
as Blum afterwards described their actions to his wife, they pelted 
him with flowers, kissed their hands to him, and sometimes almost 
swam in tears. It was only by looking in his mirror, to see that he was 
an unhandsome forty, and by remembering that it was his party 
they were applauding, not himself, that he kept his head, he said. 
His own sex were less easily overwhelmed, and eventually people 
noticed that his speeches all sounded like Antony's in Julius Caesar , 
only he never quite brought the excitement of his hearers to a head 
he was always willing to leave the door open for a compromise. 
Engels called him shallow, ill-educated, and impractical, but also 
added that at the end, when he went to fight and die in Vienna, his 
sound instincts and energy raised him far above the usual standard 
of his own capacities. 

The intellectual power of the right had much less public appeal. 
Joseph Maria von Radowitz, probably the most sophisticated in- 
telligence at Frankfurt, made people think of a magician like Ca- 
gliostro, with his small round head, dark brown eyes, and such an 
uncanny knowledge of history that it was easy to imagine he must 
have been alive in many previous epochs. He was born in Hungary, 
educated in France, had fought with the French army in 1814, and 
subsequently became instructor of military science in a small Ger- 
man city. Technical education, he found, left him spiritually empty, 
but after he came to Prussia, in 1823, he suddenly found the two 
lovalties that absorbed his genius for the rest of his life, the Prussian 
throne and the Catholic church. He became one of the closest ad- 
visors to Frederick William IV, who used him in various delicate 
missions to Austria and Frankfurt. But when Radowitz reported to 
his royal master his election to the Frankfurt Assembly, Frederick 
William's congratulations were cool. His reply voiced the fear that 
Radowitz would be wasted at the Assembly, for "Satan and Adrame- 
lech have their headquarters there. 55 

The liberal party felt that those two personages were adequately 
represented in Radowitz himself, listen as thfcy might to his en- 
chanted oratory. He was considered the evil genius of Prussian 
politics, and Radowitz wrote to his wife how much he was hated and 



feared. Many people came to consult him, he said, but they always 
begged for secrecy. And no one understood what he was really driv- 
ing at. As a matter of fact his ideas were far from blackly reaction- 
ary ; they were in many respects the same ones by which Bismarck 
and Napoleon III later won success. His advice to the King of 
Prussia was to make an ally of labor, as a bulwark against the middle 
class; having labor laws, social security, and progressive income 
taxes would be as far as the workers cared to go, he thought, whereas 
the bourgeois liberals were after the essence of kingly power. For 
Germany, he tried to achieve a united nation under Prussian lead- 
ership, with a close relationship to a separate Austria (like Bis- 
marck again) ; he drafted a free press law for Prussia, and though 
he wanted a conservative power on top, he felt that the Frankfurt 
Assembly would be justified in compelling all the states to accept 
the constitution. 

For a constitutionalist, the Assembly turned to Friedrich Chris- 
toph Dahlmann, from whom everybody expected more than he 
could perform. He had been one of the seven professors at Gottingen 
with the courage to protest when the Hanover constitution was 
abrogated by the new ruler. This was in 1837; the Kingdom of 
Hanover was separated from Great Britain because Victoria could 
not succeed in the German state. Dahlmann, living under liberal 
British rule at Gottingen, had acquired an immense admiration for 
British institutions, and his careful study of the English Revolution 
had had an immense sale throughout Germany. He also studied the 
French Revolution, with far less sympathy. It was the British system, 
with local autonomy, hereditary monarchy, and a strong represen- 
tative legislative body that he wished to adapt for his fatherland. 
He and his six colleagues had been expelled from their chairs in 
Hanover for their courage and convictions, and were, therefore, 
considered martyrs to liberty. Dahlmann, however, and some of the 
others, were taken in and treated rather generously by the King 
of Prussia ; by 1848 Dahlmann was teaching at the Prussian Uni- 
versity of Bonn. In the Assembly he acted like a doctrinaire, and 
once remarked acidly that while he demanded of no one that he 
should have read his books, still, he would like those that quoted 
from them to have perused them. At the same time he was brave 
and incorruptible, and the only fault of the constitution he produced 
(for the job of drawing up the document was more or less given 



into his hands) was that it did not suit the passionate kings of Ger- 
many nor their passionately revolutionary subjects. 

Frankfurt, the meeting place of the Assembly, as it had been 
of the Diet, was one of the famous free cities of Germany. The 
Rothschilds had a branch there, for it was a natural financial capital, 
and other banks too throve on changing the seven monetary sys- 
tems then circulating in Germany. Of the 58,000 people who lived 
inside the city, barely half had citizenship rights, and of course 
none of the several thousand suburbanites held them. Only sons of 
citizens could become masters in trade and could get permission 
to marry. The other people who lived in the town did so only by per- 
mission and under severe restrictions. The Jewish community, for 
example, had been granted equal rights in court with Christians, but 
could only celebrate fifteen marriages a year. But against this 
antique respectability new forces were pushing. Just at the time of 
the opening of the Assembly in May, the city council banished two 
"foreign 55 labor agitators from another German state who were 
accompanied to the city gates by a huge procession of workers. At 
first the workers were as enthusiastic about the Assembly as every- 
body else, but when they found it was neither radical enough nor 
patriotic enough to suit them, they were ready to riot against it, 
and it took only four months to change their minds. 

In Frankfurt, then, on May 18, the Assembly opened, adored by 
the German people, and set off with great panoply. The meeting 
place was St. Paul's Church, the altar covered with a huge picture 
of Germania and the galleries crowded with journalists from scores 
of papers, even French and British ones. Ladies were also in con- 
stant attendance. If reports can be credited the ladies leaned far to 
the left; even many wives and daughters of conservative members 
preferred to stand for several hours on the left rather than sit in 
the box which Prince Lichnowsky had arranged for them on the 
right. After the split with Austria the following year the Prussian 
ladies, ostentatiously attired in black and white, moved over to the 
left in a body. 

An unaccustomed democracy was practiced in these sessions. Only 
generals and ministers were honored with their titles ; everyone else, 
even professors, was addressed simply Herr. Radowitz wrote his 
wife how hard aH the members worked, saying that he often sat from 



nine to six in unbroken session, and then from eight to midnight the 
various blocs would meet in their clubs for more talk. Blum, too, 
wrote of getting only three or four hours' sleep a night. Each shade 
of opinion had its own inn, and parties were identified by the names 
of the hostelries where they foregathered. In St. Paul's Church 
itself there were no committee rooms, so the members had to use all 
kinds of makeshifts when they wanted to get together in small 
groups. Sometimes important consultations had to be held outside 
even in pouring rain. 

The second day Heinrich von Gagern was chosen president; he 
made a moving address on national sovereignty and the great posi- 
tion waiting for the German people. A committee of thirty was 
chosen to work on the constitution and a committee of fifteen to 
think about a provisional government, which seemed essential if the 
parliament was to achieve authority. So far, freedom and power 
seemed to be moving along hand in hand. 

The constitution was not to be ready for months, but by June the 
question of the executive came to a head. Some people declared the 
Assembly itself was the German republic, even if it did not want to 
be ; others denied its competence to set up a ruler for Germany. It 
was Gagern who proposed the formula of salvation. He told the 
members they must make a bold stroke and themselves establish a 
provisional government, and he proposed the name of the Archduke 
John of Austria to be the Imperial Administrator. This prince was 
to have executive power over the whole territory 3 represented in the 
Assembly for security, welfare, defense, and the right of exchanging 
diplomatic representatives. And he was to work through a ministry 
responsible to the Assembly. 

The nomination of this particular Archduke was a minor stroke 
of genius because, since he was a Hapsburg, the princes would feel 
a certain hesitancy about repudiating him, while he had married a 
postmaster's daughter and was supposed to be democratic. In Vienna 
he had made a good first but bad final impression on the discerning 
Radowitz, who found out his character was weak though his ambi- 
tions were high. 

When he arrived at Frankfurt to take office he was escorted to St. 
Paul's Church on foot to show how democratic he was. He wore black 

a The territory represented was almost the same as that in the confederation; but 
representatives from Schleswig and Prussian Poland were also welcomed. 

1 54 


civil dress with no gloves and no orders, though he wore the German 
black, red, and gold cockade prominently. In the Assembly, though 
he was gracious, he carefully did not sit down on the throne which 
was placed a bit below the president's chair ; and during the winter, 
though he gave weekly receptions to the Assembly members, he would 
not partake of food at their parties. Robert Blum noted that his face 
was expressionless and effete and felt that it was horrible to entrust 
Germany to such a man. 

Almost everybody else went momentarily wild over what seemed 
like an enormous step forward. It was as if united Germany were 
being born painlessly ; no one knew yet that the child was too weak 
to live. Even the Federal Diet dissolved itself, the last link of the 
old Germany, feeling that it would be entirely proper to give over 
its power into the hands of an imperial and royal highness, even 
though it could not succumb before the plain people. And with the 
Diet gone, the conquest of freedom seemed deceptively easy. Now 
for power. 

First the Prussian and Austrian governments, however, and later 
all the others that considered themselves graced by God, treated the 
new Imperial decrees with contempt. One of the supposed homages 
to be received by the new authority was the swearing of allegiance 
by all troops in the service of any German state. Hohenlohe's story 
of the way this maneuver was carried out in Prussia is that the 
troops were assembled, the bulletin was read to them telling them to 
obey the Archduke; and then instead of swearing to it they gave 
three cheers for their own king. It was the same everywhere; even 
in Austria, weakened that summer by the worst civil war of any 
German state, the government at Vienna in which Archduke John 
served as regent refused to comply with the decrees of Archduke 
John the Imperial Administrator. 

Undeterred by such signs of weakness, the Assembly went ahead 
with its plans for aggrandizement. There was no doubt about what 
the French Ambassador noted, that a spirit of vertigo filled the 
Assembly at the idea of conquest. Even the most cosmopolitan Ger- 
man and all liberals were cosmopolitan insisted that Trieste and 
Danzig must belong to the fatherland. Persons as various as Rado- 
witz and Karl Marx felt that a big war would be the only way to 
clear the air. So the Assembly devoted a fair amount of its time to 
the nurture of the new German army and fleet. They ordered the 



armies to be increased by conscription to two per cent of the inhabit- 
ants of each state. 4 A navy was also commissioned although the As- 
sembly's only funds for this purpose came from voluntary subscrip- 
tions. 5 Lord Palmerston said he would order British ships to treat 
the black-red-gold flag as a pirate's; and the United States would 
not allow a ship being built for the new Empire in the Brooklyn 
navy yard to leave New York until Germany promised not to use it 
in the war against Denmark which was going on at the time, the first 
of the efforts to expand German territory. 

But within Germany the protests against war were few. Even 
Blum, who realized that the money spent on an army would be better 
used in making Germany industrially self-supporting, at one time 
looked forward to a war with Russia as a means of driving Frederick 
William IV from his throne. Only two members of the Assembly 
spoke for peace. Arnold Huge, who had been a collaborator of Marx, 
tried to explain to the Assembly that armed peace is barbarous and 
that it would block the new democratic freedom they hoped to estab- 
lish; but in vain. Karl Vogt, the free-thinking zoologist who later 
propagandized Darwin's theories on the continent, felt that the most 
important goal of Frankfurt policy would be the setting up of a 
disarmed peace in Europe. Everyone admired Vogt's intellect, which 
distinguished itself again in the debate on the church in relation to 
schools; nevertheless, people did not listen to what he had to say 
because he was considered "unhallowed by moral worth." In the 
1830's and 1840's the exact sciences were at war with what was 
called philosophy, one of the symptoms of German idealism, and 
though science was supposed to be on the democratic or radical side 
(Vogt and his friends made a point of writing in a clear direct style 
for the benefit of the common people) , most democrats and radicals 

* The middle class liberals who advocated war as an instrument of progress in those 
days felt that it was a means of arousing people to take their share of responsibility 
in the state. Arndt wrote a "Soldier-Catechism" designed to show conscripts their 
duties as citizens. (For this reason Metternich and the Czar felt that universal mili- 
tary training would be revolutionary.) How far the patriots realized that war and 
military preparations could also be used to control and limit the freedom of the 
lower classes is not clear ; that effect certainly followed it was noticed by Proudhon 
and, consciously or unconsciously, was not unwelcome to the middle class liberals who 
at the same time excoriated the idea of social welfare legislation. 

Later on, social welfare laws were indeed turned against the middle class, by 
Bismarck and others, who saw how thus to limit the freedom of that class which to 
them was more dangerous to the state than the lower class. 

5 The salaries of the Archduke and his ministers were paid out of funds collected 
by the confederation in 1840 for common defense. 



were still too idealistic to welcome support which they deemed 

The Assembly enjoyed not only excitement and popularity in its 
first few months but also a small war for freedom, to help it forget 
that it was only playing at power. For a short while it moved ahead 
unchecked. To the people of Germany who expected salvation from 
it the Assembly was sovereign. So great was their faith in it that 
when the Neue RJieinische Zeitung, then being edited in Cologne 
by Karl Marx, expressed contempt for the meetings at Frankfurt, 
the paper lost half its subscribers. 

In July the King of Prussia invited the whole Assembly to 
Cologne, where the cathedral was being dedicated. This was the 
high point of the golden illusion, when the representatives sailed 
down the Rhine by boat in summer heat and were greeted and dined 
by the King and Archduke. The latter created a bad first impres- 
sion by appearing in a Prussian general's uniform, but he quickly 
changed. Frederick William on the other hand added an ominous 
and unchangeable note to the party when he inserted in his sup- 
posedly gracious speech the remark, "Do not forget that there are 
still princes in Germany and that I am one of them." 

By the end of the summer the Assembly was beginning to find 
this out, although in their first quarrel Frederick William was the 
one who seemed unkingly. 

The source of this particular trouble was in the two duchies of 
Schleswig and Holstein, which were under the rule of the King of 
Denmark. Schleswig, it is true, was partly Danish and had not been 
admitted to the German Confederation, but Holstein was pure Ger- 
man and did belong. Furthermore, the duchies, right at the neck of 
the Danish peninsula and possessing the fine harbor of Kiel, were 
strategic territory for any future German empire if it was to de- 
velop a fleet and become a North Sea power. The hearts of all true 
Germans yearned after their kinsmen in this country, and since the 
King of Denmark had no direct male heirs, it seemed like a good 
time to pry them loose from Danish suzerainty by applying a kind 
of Salic law. King Christian VIII of Denmark had tried to prevent 
this with a decree, but when on March 23, 1848, the duchies revolted 
and set up a provisional government, and when shortly thereafter 
Prussian troops came in to support the insurgents, all Germany 



went wild with excitement. Representatives from both duchies were 
enthusiastically welcomed and seated at Frankfurt, volunteers from 
every quarter of the fatherland thronged toward the battle, and it 
seemed as if Denmark had no chance to hold the territory. A goodly 
number of radical proletarians and students were drained out of 
Berlin (one of whom invented submarine mines to defend the harbor 
at Kiel) ; and cynics said that to get rid of these inconvenient citizens 
was one of Prussia's purposes in fostering the war. But Marx, the 
unconscious nationalist, considered this the first war of revolution- 
ary Germany; it took the French ambassador at Berlin to note that 
the Schleswig revolution contradicted all the others of its time in 
being led by the aristocracy and including almost no liberal de- 
mands. But the enthusiasm of the other revolutionaries showed how 
beautifully easy it was to mix up "Germany" and "liberty" in their 

The shock of the news that Prussia had granted an armistice at 
Malmo in this holy war without consulting the gentlemen at Frank- 
furt was a stunning blow both to the Assembly's feeling for German 
manifest destiny and to its self-esteem. Great Britain and Russia 
had both come to the side of Denmark, for obvious reasons of policy. 
Not only that, but the conscience of the King of Prussia had been 
disturbed at the thought he was supporting a revolt against a legiti- 
mate ruler, and that it was among his own liberal subjects that the 
war was most popular. Besides, the war had not been going very 
well for Prussia in a military way. 

While the common people of Frankfurt prepared to riot at this 
example of royal perfidy, the Assembly tensely listened to Dahlinann 
on the subject of German honor, which he told them would never 
recover if they ratified the armistice. Robert Blum, hoping at any 
time for a break with the Prussian ministry ("never with the Prus- 
sian people"), was one of Dahlmann's loudest supporters. Further- 
more, the people, Blum's people, were pressing. "If you want to 
create an uprising, ratify the armistice," he told his colleagues. 
For the working class was especially chauvinistic here as it was in 
France. So though calmer heads feared to crack the still unfired 
bowl of German unity, the Assembly voted to denounce Malmo. 
Blum's face at this moment radiated sinister joy (so we are told by 
a conservative witness), old Jahn acted like a caged wolf, while 
Radowitz's features registered masculine sadness. Radowitz, Fred- 



erick William's confidant, was the only one who knew the reasons 
of policy behind the act. 

This vote took place on September 5. The Imperial Ministry 
handed in their resignations to the Archduke John, just as if they 
were well-trained British parliamentarians, and he then dumped in 
Dahlmann's lap the duty to set up a new ministry. In a few days 
poor Dahlmann had to give up the responsibility again, so impos- 
sible was it actually to go against Prussian power, and on Septem- 
ber 16 the Assembly reversed itself and endorsed the armistice. 

The governments changed their minds, but nothing had happened 
in the interim to make the patriotic people change theirs. As soon 
as the news of the Assembly's reversal reached them a furious mob 
gathered near Frankfurt which lost no time in declaring the ma- 
jority of the Assembly to be traitors. With red feathers in their 
hats and pistols in their belts, 10,000 listened to an orator who urged 
them to make barricades of their bodies. Next morning they attacked 
St. Paul's Church. 

Up until this time the Assembly had distrusted military protec- 
tion and there were only a few troops in the city. When trouble 
seemed at hand the Imperial Ministry sent to Mainz, where Austrian 
and Prussian troops were garrisoned, and these arrived (the Aus- 
trians looking handsome with their white coats and gleaming mus- 
kets) just in time to prevent the mob from beating in the front 
door of the church. A few did break in the back door, partly because 
the Czech soldiers on guard there did not understand German, but 
Gagern adjourned the meeting with his customary dignity, leaving 
the troops free to quell the people. 

As usual the soldiers were particularly brutal with their civilian 
enemies. Their prisoners were stowed away in what threatened to be 
another black hole of Calcutta without air, water, or medical atten- 
tion until one of the members of the Assembly telegraphed the Gov- 
ernor of Mainz and had them removed from the city by railroad. 

The riot at Frankfurt was remembered longest for the murder 
of Prince Felix Lichnowsky and his companion, General Hans von 
Auerswald, both members of the Assembly on the right. Lichnowsky 
was a brilliant, spoiled, and perverse Prussian officer who had fought 
for the legitimists in Spain, sided with the Silesian weavers in Berlin, 
and seemed too giddy to be trusted by his own party in the Assembly. 
They enjoyed his tormenting of the left, however. He used to adore 



to call out in his shrill voice "Name, please," whenever Robert Blum, 
the best-known man in St. Paul's Church, rose to speak. On the fatal 
day of the riot he borrowed a horse to go and look at the shooting, 
along with AuerswalcJ, and the insurgents began to pursue them. 
One excuse was that they mistook Lichnowsky for Radowitz. The 
two friends fled to a house where Auerswald was given a nightshirt 
to make him look like the man of the house, while the Prince was 
hidden in a fruit cellar. Unfortunately, the people searched even 
there, and found him by a corner of his coat hanging out. He was 
dragged forth and through the streets, wounded by bullets, and by 
the time he was rescued he was dying. As he expired he uttered a 
deathbed will leaving his fortune to a duchess. 

Later in the fall, a far more tragic death occurred. After the 
riot was suppressed, Robert Blum began to have premonitions of 
the failure of the democratic party. He gave his last penny to help 
the victims of the riot and their families, so that he did not even 
have money to send to his wife and four children in Leipzig. His 
letters show how deeply he suffered from persecution in the As- 
sembly and from watching the waste of forces which he believed 
could transform Germany. Sometimes, hiking in the country on 
Sunday, he would see his own picture in a remote peasant's hut; 
the sense that he got in this way of the confidence of the common 
people, and of their loyalty to his party, was all that kept him on a 
job he found more and more disagreeable and hopeless. When the 
chance came to go to Vienna, then in the final stages of its revolu- 
tionary battle against Austrian Imperial troops, he welcomed it. 
He was supposed to carry greetings from the left-wing clubs of the 
Assembly to the embattled students of Vienna, but after he reached 
Vienna and made his speeches to the students (who elected him an 
honorary member of their famous Academic Legion) and to the 
committee of the new Austrian Diet, he wrote that he had never 
seen such a fine city, and stayed on to fight. In fact, he lost his 
former caution so completely that his old friends could hardly recog- 
nize him. The former peacemaker realized that democracy for all of 
Germany would be won or lost on the Vienna barricades, not in any 
parliament. Nothing in Frankfurt could reverse the verdict of these 

When Vienna fell he was arrested by the victorious Austrian 



troops, and though he pleaded parliamentary inviolability, the new 
prime minister, Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, gave special orders 
to have him shot. The news of the sentence came as a complete sur- 
prise to Blum one morning at six, so that he had barely time to write 
a few heartbroken words to his wife before he was executed. 

The Assembly at Frankfurt declared a holiday in respect to his 
memory and directed their shadow ministry to punish those re- 
sponsible, but nothing was done nothing could be. The success of 
the Austrian army against the democrats put an end to more im- 
portant liberal hopes than that one and gave courage to counter- 
revolution in more places than Vienna alone. 

Meanwhile work on the federal constitution was pushed slowly 
forward, undeterred by the Assembly's lack of success in fields of 
power politics. The almost interminable debate on the bill of rights 
was deliberately prolonged by parties who felt they could not get 
in 1848 the kind of constitution they wanted. No constitution 
putting Prussia at the head of Germany could have passed in those 
early days, nor was there any chance of a republic to suit the left. 
So while waiting to see if their chances improved, both sides talked 
of common citizenship, freedom of speech, writing, printing, and 
making pictures, all of which were written into the document ; they 
abolished the nobility and all titles except professional ones, and the 
special rights of police and justice which landowners still possessed. 
(A favorite cartoon of the period shows Jacob Grimm as a monkey, 
saying, "Man is abolished. We are all of one race. 55 ) They tried to 
loosen up other parts of German life too ; many more minutiae were 
included than are covered in the American constitution, like hunting 
rights and the question of free emigration. Also, education. It is 
stated in the Frankfurt bill of rights that learning and teaching 
were to be free, though supervised by the state ; that no tuition was 
to be charged in elementary schools; and that parents might not 
leave their children uninstructed. German schools were clamoring 
loudly for reform; teachers wanted more science and modern lan- 
guages and German history, and there was a long debate on this at 
Frankfurt, as well as on the relation of the school to the church. 
(The school, said one ingenious separationist, is the daughter of the 
church but marries the state, which knows that a mother-in-law 
should not live with a couple.) But, significantly, the motion to 



guarantee to non-German-speaking subjects their own schools and 
cultural rights was defeated. 

The right to work was voted down in spite of numberless petitions 
from proletarian groups, all of whose petitions were ignored so 
regularly by the political economy committee that the working 
population lost its confidence in the Assembly, 

The vote for direct, secret, and universal suffrage was, on the 
other hand, a triumph for the left. To win votes for this measure 
they had to swap support for an hereditary monarch. Many true 
democrats, quoting Thomas Jefferson, who had said that votes for 
everyone would not work in Europe, felt that servants and factory 
workers would vote only as their masters told them and destroy 
democracy. A look across the Rhine, where Louis Napoleon was 
maneuvering, tended to confirm this suspicion. It is a tribute to the 
drafters of the constitution that they were willing to take the risk. 

These lectures on political science, as one bored member called 
them, could not forestall forever consideration of the more funda- 
mental German problem how to handle a monster with two heads. 
To lop off the Austrian one and accept Prussian hegemony over the 
rest of Germany was an operation no one was willing to face at first 
particularly the small states, which were sufficiently terrified by 
Prussia's power though they needed her army, but also those who 
felt that Austria was a "lantern for the East," Germany's path to 
the Black Sea as well as to Venice and the Adriatic, the necessary 
and only direction for expansion (later called Lebensraum) for the 
greater Germany that was to be. Idealism made its customary neat 
tie-up with imperialism, though the problem of forwarding both 
future interests and present political possibilities wrenched even the 
most lucid and practical intelligences at Frankfurt. 

The Confederation had ruled with such a loose rein that Austrian 
Germans were scarcely conscious of suffering double authority, 
especially as Metternich had made things go Austria's way ever 
since the union was started. But how to fit this fraction of Hapsburg 
subjects into a new, tight federal union with a representative as- 
sembly, the very idea of which was an abomination to their govern- 
ment, and with power over their army and to some extent their laws 
that would be a different question. The alternative, however, was 
bitter : leave Austria out and accept Prussia as top dog. It was bitter 
but it began to seem inexorable. Radowitz, the conservative, who 



wanted lines of power kept open to the south (he always took the 
long view) , and the liberal Gagern, who had hoped that the people 
along the Danube who "have neither vocation nor claim to inde- 
pendence" could be set up as satellites around the German planetary 
system (he was always a sentimental kultur man) both these lead- 
ers came around to the idea of Prussian hegemony. Gagern would 
couple this with a complicated alliance between Hapsburg and 
Hohenzollern lands, to keep Austria on the German side instead of 
letting it fall to the Slavs ; while Radowitz toyed with a system of 
rings within rings, a small, Prussian-led Germany within a larger 
union of German-speaking peoples within a larger union including 
all the Slavic and other satellites. Only the left still stuck out directly 
for a big Germany against a little Germany. But in taking the first 
step toward separation the right and center broke the mechanical 
deadlock. A clause in the new constitution was drafted to prohibit 
the union within one state of German and non-German peoples. The 
Hapsburg emperor could, by this proviso, still be king of Hungary 
and other dominions, but he must rule these lands separately from 
his German territory with a personal union in the crown only. 

Once this question was settled the problem fell apart of itself. 
When a vote on unity (in connection with a motion which would give 
the Frankfurt ministry power to treat with Austria as a separate 
power) came up in January, emotion during the roll call was tense 
but the conclusion was inevitable. Every man in turn was called to 
announce his vote, and when the old poet Arndt's choked "yes" 
came, the left broke out into an ironical chant Das Ganze Deutsch- 
land soil es sein ("It must be all Germany") one of his most famous 
lines. But the motion carried. 

On March 4, 1849, Austria herself settled the whole subject even 
more definitely by promulgating a constitution declaring the entire 
Hapsburg Empire to be an indivisible monarchy with a common 
army, revenue system, and administration. No personal union in the 
crown alone for her. At last there seemed to be no room for doubt in 
anybody's mind at Frankfurt that Prussia would have to take over. 

This was the point at which Dahlmann made his discovery about 
power and freedom; the whole debate turned unconsciously more 
toward strength and less toward liberty. In 1848 it was quite com- 
monly felt that Prussia was too big to be a single state and ought to 
divide into its eight provinces which would be comparable in size to 

1 63 


the other states which would join the new union. This was one of the 
notions of Friedrich von Gagern, Heinrich's dead brother, who felt 
that even the Prussian name must be given up for the German one. 
There was also talk of keeping Prussia from being too powerful by 
rotating the job of emperor among different ruling houses, or by 
putting a committee of five at the head of Germany. By 1849 people 
seemed glad of Prussian protection and glory; perhaps they were 
tired of revolutions, though the left was still against Prussia and the 
vote was close. 

Things began to move faster now. By March the constitution 
was all ready to be voted on, complete with a clause giving the 
hereditary kaisership to some ruling German prince. Dahlmann felt 
this would give the state the warmth of family life as well as guar- 
antee the power he craved. Someone moved to accept the document 
as a whole and offer the crown to the King of Prussia, and when this 
enthusiastic motion failed many of the strongest men broke down 
and wept. It must have been a tearful month in St. Paul's Church, 
after such long exertion for later, when they started to vote on the 
constitution section by section and one of the important paragraphs 
was lost, the leaders sat there stunned with their heads on their 
desks. "Oh, let us die," said one to which Gagern replied, "I am 
already dead." But still, miraculously, things came to life again, the 
constitution was passed in sections, and 290 votes were cast for 
Frederick William IV as emperor, against 248 who abstained from 
voting. Bells and cannons greeted the news all over Germany, and 
the first long electric telegraph wire in the world carried the news 
from Frankfurt to Berlin within an hour. 

Gagern had already talked to the King in November on the sub- 
ject of his election, which he had hoped could be put through even 
so early if Frederick William were willing. Gagern's interest at this 
time had been to prevent a separate Prussian constitution, one such 
as the Prussian national assembly was busily drafting at just that 
moment, which Gagern felt would increase the difficulty of German 
amalgamation. At that time the King told him plainly that the only 
election he would consider valid would be to be chosen by the other 
princes. Gagern assured him this formality could be arranged a 
promise which to the King was more like a threat. He called Gagern 
his friend publicly, remarking privately that he hoped he would 



never need such friendship. Gagern's attitude was, "the King must 
whether he wants to or not," and so he kept working at the idea. 
Nothing in the King's remarks warned him that His Majesty would 
become hysterical when the crown was formally proffered. 

Frederick William, indeed, gave signs of ambivalence in wanting 
the crown. He would have liked an election in the medieval manner, 
like Emperor Conrad's, made while the German nations were en- 
camped at Worms, under their dukes, ready to acclaim the choice. 
Was the Assembly a substitute for this encampment, ironically asked 
the King's friends? The King actually went so far as to write to 
Schwarzenberg, Austrian Prime Minister, in April, asking if he 
could be made Imperial Administrator instead of Archduke John 
a suggestion which offered a neat way out of many difficulties. Fred- 
erick the Great, remarked his descendant wistfully, would have taken 
the gift as offered by the parliament and made what he wanted of it, 
"but I am not a great ruler." 

Even when the formal delegation from Frankfurt waited on him 
(after having been extensively feted on its way from Frankfurt to 
Berlin), Frederick William's refusal was so ambiguous that the 
members could not be quite sure that he meant to turn them down. 
They stewed for a while, trying to get ratification from the various 
states while the King's anger boiled up. All his loyalty to Austria, 
his horror of the humiliations which the revolution in Berlin had 
piled on him, his moral and religious convictions poured over him 
until he reached the point of calling the Assembly's crown a dog's 
collar, a pig's crown, a fictitious coronet baked of mire and clay. 
"I want neither the consent of the princes to the election nor the 
crown itself. Do you understand the words underlined?" 6 

His friend Baron Bunsen, his most liberal advisor, could not but 
feel that the King's character had been changed by the events of the 
Berlin revolution. Bunsen, lately from England, was horrified at 

6 Letter to Bunsen, December 13, 1848. In a letter to Arndt, Frederick William 
made things still clearer. "What is offered me? Is this birth of the hideous labor of 
the year 1848 a crown? The thing which we are talking about does not carry the sign 
of the holy cross, does not bear the stamp *by the Grace of God' on its head, is no 
crown. It is the iron collar of servitude, by which the heir of more than twenty-four 
rulers, electors and kings, the head of 16,000,000, the master of the most loyal and 
bravest army in the world, would be made the bondservant of the revolution. . . . The 
revolution is the abolition of the godly order, the despite, the setting- aside of legiti- 
mate order, it lives and breathes its deadly breath so long as bottom is top and top 
is bottom." Quoted in Legge. 



the atmosphere of the Prussian court, where everybody seemed to be 
choking from suppressed rage. Even the palace servants refused to 
give a glass of water to the president of the Frankfurt Assembly 
when he arrived for his audience. Bunsen felt the King's mind had 
been systematically poisoned until he had lost his old conviction of 
right, and all his energy seemed to expend itself in talk. (During 
the next decade Frederick William actually lost his mind, so that 
the Prince of Prussia had to assume the regency ; but it seems doubt- 
ful whether the symptoms of that later illness showed up as early 
as 1849.) 

The King's close advisors, of course, were dead against compro- 
mise with either the King's medievalism or the Assembly's democ- 
racy. Most officers, including the Prince of Prussia, felt that for 
Prussia to merge into a reconstituted Roman Empire would be a 
step down, and they were sure that in the natural course of things 
the country would achieve dominance by its own force. "It cannot 
be done a la Gagern," said the future first Kaiser in a way that 
showed he knew he was right. The politicians at Berlin were willing 
to use their monarch's fancies to play against the Gagern policies, 
just as they wanted to play Austria and St. Paul's Church off 
against each other, without, however, encouraging the latter's lust 
for sovereignty. 

Meanwhile, all the separate parliaments of Germany, including 
that of Prussia, voted for the Frankfurt constitution and for a 
Prussian emperor. So did most of the rulers, especially in the small 
states. Frederick William wrote grateful letters to the King of 
Bavaria and some of the others who had prevented unanimity among 
the princes by not endorsing him, but at the same time he made 
them angry and jealous merely by his having been offered the job 
of emperor. As for the German people, their rage was mingled with 
despair. After sporadic fierce rebellion, especially in Baden and 
Saxony, they settled back into a period of greater and more skillful 
repression than they had yet known. In the end Bismarck took over 
some of the 1848 Assembly's ideas without its idealism, either for 
liberalism or for pan-Germanism and without its weakness. 

The Assembly, naturally, appealed to the people to support their 
constitution the center hoped by legal means, the left by revolu- 
tion. But members kept drifting away or being recalled, so that it 
was a much diminished body that moved from Frankfurt to Stutt- 



gart, deposed the imperial administrator, and elected five of their 
own number to be a regency. On June 18 Wiirttemberg troops drove 
these die-hards out of their chamber. The Assembly was dead, killed 
by its own inexperience, by the jealousy of states and rulers, and, 
paradoxically enough, by the very constitutions of Prussia and 
Austria, which established those states so firmly as conservative 
entities that they could never be amalgamated into any liberal 



Light Cases of Fever 

OF ALL the states of Germany the tiny Grand Duchy of Baden was 
the most liberal politically. Apparently it was also the most revolu- 
tionary corner of Europe in temperament, for while other countries 
were having one or possibly two outbreaks during 1848 and 1849, 
Baden had three. The first was a gay little affair inspired by the 
news of the republic in Paris. The second came at the time when the 
Frankfurt Assembly seemed to be turning away from the people's 
demands, at the time of the September riots. The third and most 
important was a fierce battle in the spring of 1849, which revolu- 
tionists hoped would spearhead a gigantic protest all over Germany 
to force the acceptance of the Frankfurt constitution. There were 
plenty of men in Germany sore with disappointment when the 
Assembly collapsed, and it seemed as if there ought to be plenty of 
support for an armed movement. Only it turned out that most Ger- 
mans would rather suffer in silence. 

In the southwest corner of Germany, Baden, like other Rhine 
territory, was greatly struck with so-called "French ideas." After 
1815 its citizens had maintained a constitution, and in 1831 even 
dared to establish freedom of the press, a step which other members 
of the German Confederation forced them to take back almost im- 
mediately, since one free state was almost as dangerous to Met- 
ternich's system as many. From that time on, however, Baden states- 
men were leaders in all liberal plans for German unity. In numbers 
out of all proportion to the size of their state they helped set up 
the Frankfurt Assembly, and the die-hard republicans who were 
frozen out of this organization were also mostly Baden subjects. 

When the news of the Paris revolution was announced, Carl 
Mathy, the leader of the liberal opposition in the Baden Chamber, 
foiled the revolutionary party for the moment by getting the govern- 
ment to grant their demands before they had a chance for a demon- 
stration. But the idea of revolution was in the air, and to the dismay 
of both Mathy, the liberal, and Friedrich Hecker, the republican 



leader, the peasants in the whole Rhineland began to seize land, to 
burn castles 1 and tithe-books, and to persecute Jews wherever they 
could find them. This was far from the ideal of human brotherhood 
that the would-be remakers of Germany had set themselves. 

Hecker was called the most popular man in Germany at this time 
certainly he was the idol of the republicans. He was a generous, 
hot-headed fellow of good family, tall and handsome, and he always 
wore a blue blouse with high boots and a couple of pistols in his belt. 
He had been head of the most liberal party in Baden for years, and 
during the revolutionary period the common greeting throughout 
the whole Rhineland was "Hecker hoch I" When he retired to Switz- 
erland after his defeat in the spring of 1848, crowds used to come 
across the border every Sunday just to look at him occasions 
which he laughingly called "menagerie day." But in spite of his 
good humor and enthusiasm he was no more easy to work with than 
most of the republican leaders, for he was untrained and obstinate. 

His best friend and partner at this time was Gustav Struve, whose 
principles dictated that he should leave out of his name the von to 
which he was entitled. Struve was a newspaper man; he was small 
and bloodless, the sort that ate no meat, drank no wine, and took 
cold baths. His face showed the moral rigidity of the fanatic (said 
Alexander Herzen) with uncombed beard and untroubled eyes. At 
one time he devised a special calendar for German meditation, with 
every day devoted to two human leaders, such as Washington and 
Lafayette. Every tenth day, however, was given over to two human 
enemies, like Nicholas of Russia and Metternich. He was also a 
phrenologist, and (so swears Herzen) deliberately chose a wife who 
lacked the bump of passions. But she had beautiful eyes, whose 
luster induced more than one volunteer into Struve's army, and 
she was tactful and shrewd and loyal. During the three Baden revo- 
lutions she bought supplies for the army and organized a nursing 
corps. Alas, her husband was hardly her equal as a leader, for he was 
so careless about details like burning incriminating papers that he 

x The poor peasants were beginning to feel more insecurity by the middle of the 
nineteenth century than at any time since the time of the Peasants' War in a way 
reminiscent of the American sharecroppers in the twentieth. After 1807 they were no 
longer tied to their land and one natural result was that many of them sold it or lost 
it and had to turn to the still lower status of day laborer. This process was far more 
evident around the Frenchified Rhineland than in East Prussia. This is why we hear 
of castle-burning in Baden while Bismarck's peasants were so loyal to the King that 
they would have liked to march on Berlin to crush the revolution there themselves. 



landed his friend Gottfried Kinkel in prison, so naive that he fell f 01 
stories cooked up for him by spies, and so impractical that he was 
capable of ordering men with scythes to attack regular troops. Wher 
his rebellion was finally beaten, he kept thinking that it could have 
succeeded if this or that detail had been different. 

The first idea of Hecker and Struve was to declare the German 
Republic, to match that of France; this they accomplished in the 
Baden town of Constance. Then they traveled around Baden trying 
to arouse the people. "Who is unripe for the Republic?" asked 
Struve, cleverly taking the question out of the mouths of the con- 
servatives ; and of course his answer was that the kings and princes 
were unripe, the timid constitutionalists, and those professors and 
pastors who lived on scientific and religious superstition. For allies 
they counted on winning the army, the large numbers of unemployed 
workingmen who were being sent back from France half -starved, 
and the peasants who wanted to keep the land they had seized. 

To meet the army which the republicans were raising, the Baden 
government summoned Friedrich von Gagern, brother of the man 
about to be chosen president of the Frankfurt Assembly, from his 
job as general in the Dutch service. This Gagern was as patriotic 
as his brother Heinrich and had given even deeper thought to the 
problems facing Germany; when he received a letter from the 
Netherlands which he suspected might recall him, he left it un- 
opened and went to command the Baden campaign in civilian dress. 

The republicans were counting hard on winning over the soldiers. 
"Don't shoot your brothers," they called across the lines, and with 
enough success to make the troops waver. Gagern and Hecker had a 
personal meeting just before the battle (which took place April 20) 
and in a high-minded conversation each accused the other of fanati- 
cism. Finally, Gagern, realizing the danger from his uncertain 
soldiers, ordered the attack. He was killed on the field the same 
day, but his troops easily overpowered the poorly armed republicans. 
Struve was captured and jailed, along with 3,500 others, until the 
prisons overflowed. Hecker fled to Switzerland, and from there, 
after finding out that his armed revolt had cost him his seat in the 
Frankfurt Assembly, he went to Illinois and bought a farm. In 
America he became a strong Republican, fought in the Civil War, 
and made orations against slavery which were famous among all 
German-speaking people in the United States. 

1 70 


The little history of the romantic and disorganized Germ 
Legion of Paris, which tried to march to the help of Hecker a 
Struve in those days, is an epitome of the whole German revolutic 

Among the Paris clubs during the spring of 1848 was, natural 
one for Germans, the German Democratic Society. Its members we 
mostly workingmen who had been employed in France and who 
jobs failed with depression and revolution. The French Repub 
was anxious to relieve its own unemployment situation by getti 
rid of the foreigners, so it agreed to pay transportation expen* 
plus a daily allowance for each man to go to his own home. Seve] 
thousands of these men who had fought on the Paris barricac 
were enthusiastic about carrying the revolution back to their o^ 

For president the society elected a poet named Georg Herweg 
a despotic and dreamy young man who hated to be forced to expls 
his large and vaguely idealistic ideas. As a youth he had fled frc 
Germany to Switzerland to avoid military service, and throuj 
publication of some best-selling poems gained an enormous rep 
tation. He was called the iron lark, the songbird of war, for 1 
Poems of the Living were all political, urging his Germany to stret 
her limbs. His wife Emma, the daughter of a rich Jewish bank 
of Berlin, was a young woman of outstanding common sense ai 
devotion who was able to pour her father's fortune into the Germ; 
Legion. She deserved better than she got out of life, for Herwe^ 
disintegrated completely a few years later in a love affair wi 
Alexander Herzen's wife. 

While Herwegh was still in Paris his chief faults were mere 
bossiness in the management of his supposedly democratic co] 
mittee, and ineptitude in running either financial or military affai: 
He paraded through the streets with his Germans, carrying 
huge banner labeled "German Republic 55 which amused everybo< 
greatly, while he appealed to French citizens to turn over to him t 
arms they were laying down. Yet he was unwilling to allow his legi< 
to be subjected to military discipline. 

In appealing for help from the French government to arm 1 
little band and dispatch it to the Rhineland, Herwegh had to de 
with Flocon, the official in charge of relations with foreign repu 
licans, who was one of the most amicably disposed radicals in t 
government. One day Flocon summoned the poet to ask him h< 



much money he would require for his legion, and as a hint to th< 
recipients he held fifty 1,000 franc notes in his hand and lightly 
ruffled through them. Herwegh gulped and replied he could us< 
2,000 francs. Flocon counted these out, with a look of disgust on hi 
face at such lack of realism, and when Herwegh's equally disgustec 
comrades went back the next day to ask for the rest of the money 
Flocon told them it was gone. 

At the end of March the legion began to march to Strasbourg 
in small groups. There was no railway yet. The French people witl 
whom the legion was quartered were so enthusiastic that they mosth 
refused money and offered their best food for nothing; but when th< 
travelers arrived at the Rhine they seemed to be stuck. Emma Her 
wegh went twice to hunt for Hecker in Baden and offer him the helj 
of the 800 fighters who were ready, but Hecker was not very eagei 
to use what he considered French support especially unarmec 
French support. The legion had never succeeded in finding gun; 
for its men. Likewise the Frankfurt Assembly turned down Her 
wegh's offer to provide a military force for its defense ; and no Ger 
man government was willing even to let the legion go through iti 
territory and fight in the war with Schleswig-Holstein. The Badei 
government, to be sure, offered to pay the way of any unarmed in 
dividual to his own home, but only 16 members accepted this offer 
The rest were determined not to go home without tasting battle 
Finally Hecker was talked into naming a date and place on the 
Rhine for the legion to cross over to Baden, and he promised tc 
have an escort ready to meet them at the Baden shore. Unfortu 
nately, by the time the date had come, Hecker's army was def eatec 
and he himself was in Switzerland. The legion crossed the river ir 
ignorance of this and tried to figure out what had happened. 

The Herweghs marched at the head, Georg with his "sinister- 
looking Italian brigand's face" topped by a black peaked cap, anc 
wearing a wide black cloak ; Emma in black trousers, a black velvei 
blouse and broad-brimmed hat. She carried two small pistols and 
dagger in her belt. The uniform of the legion consisted of white 
or light gray blouses, gray hats with feathers, and as they marchec 
through the valleys with their black-red-gold banners beating 
against the scythes which were almost their only weapons, thej 
looked as if they had come out of the Thirty Years' War. 

By this time troops from Wiirttemberg were policing the whole 



area, since the Baden army was demoralized by the fight with 
Hecker. Much to the pleasure of the legion, they had one skirmish 
with the regulars, in which the legion came out very creditably. 
Herwegh and his wife sat on a cart and passed out gunpowder to 
those who had guns, but it turned out that what really scared the 
Wiirttembergians were the scythes, of which they had heard tall 
tales. After this incident the legion made its way to the Swiss border 
as best it could. The Herweghs were sheltered en route by a kind 
peasant couple, who lent them native clothes and let them work in 
the fields for a day while the soldiers were searching for them. 

The second Baden revolution began September 21, after the 
Frankfurt riots. Struve, who had gotten out of prison, walked with 
a dozen unarmed friends across the bridge from Switzerland to the 
small town of Lorrach, took possession of the Rathhaus, and once 
more proclaimed the German Republic. They seized the printing 
press and immediately began to print republican proclamations, all 
headed : 


They issued appeals for troops, gave instructions to burgomasters 
to gather provisions for the new army, and ordered officials to leave 
lights burning to guide the troops. They declared that feudal dues 
and most other taxes were abolished and that a progressive income 
tax would be levied. The program and its leaders seemed radical 
enough to scare all the liberals, yet the true socialists of the time 
laughed at Struve and pointed out that his program was basically 
not much more than what the professors at Frankfurt were after. 
The truth of the matter was that the unlucky Germans in 1848 had 
to struggle at the same time for things which Anglo-Saxon countries 
got in the seventeenth and in the twentieth centuries. Lumping 
everything from habeas corpus to social security in one set of de- 
mands makes those demands occasionally very old-fashioned, oc- 
casionally startlingly modern; invariably, however, the rebels were 
biting off more than they could chew. 

Volunteers kept streaming in, and thirty-six hours after the 
republic was declared its army of 10,000 was able to march toward 
Freiburg. Unhappily the fighting men consisted largely of riffraff ; 
the light-hearted adventurers of the first uprising had almost dis- 

1 73 


-ppeared. So when they were beaten by troops in a few days hardly 
nyone was sorry. 

Struve was imprisoned in the fortress at Rastatt after this affair, 
,nd his wife at Freiburg. She was released April 16, 1849, and went 
mmediately to Rastatt, where she stayed to arouse the townspeople 
ind garrison on Struve's behalf. But by this time the third Baden 
evolution was gathering. 

The failure of the Frankfurt efforts for an empire and a constitu- 
;ion brought renewed outbreaks of revolution all over Germany, but 
mly in Saxony and along the Rhine did they become spectacular. 
Democratic clubs had been forming everywhere since the danger to 
iberalism had begun to seem imminent, specifically after the debacle 
)f the Prussian Assembly in November. In Baden these groups were 
especially successful, where they were led by Lorenz Brentano, a 
.awyer who had the courage to defend Struve and the other revolu- 
tionists of the first uprising. Over half the male citizens of the 
3-rand Duchy were enlisted openly in the democratic cause, includ- 
ing many soldiers. 

What they hoped for, of course, was that all over Germany people 
would fight for the Frankfurt constitution which the King of Prus- 
sia had rejected. Most people except Struve realized that the spirit 
for creating a republic in 1848 was missing in this spring of 1849 ; 
but a fight for the constitution occurred all over the Rhineland not 
Rath the same hope, not with ecstasy, but with a sense that the duty 
was inescapable. No one who took part, of course, knew for sure that 
the rest of Germany would not rise too. When the Cologne outbreak 
was put down, Marx and Engels printed the last edition of their 
Neue RheiniscJie Zeitung in red ; and Engels went off to fight in the 
Palatinate, where he was soon disgusted by the amateurishness of 
bhe effort. Carl Schurz was also in this fight, and tells us that since 
the rebels had no uniforms they dressed so as to look as wild as 
possible, an effect which they could have achieved, he says, if their 
faces had not been so strikingly good-natured. 

Meanwhile in Baden, on May 1, the committee in charge of the 
people's clubs issued a call to be ready with arms. Shortly another 
lotice went out to the soldiers, exhorting them to stand by their 
Brothers. On May 13 a people's congress met, in which many soldiers 
delegates. It voted not only to support the Frankfurt constitu- 

1 74 


tion, but also favored a pension fund for workers who were incapaci- 
tated, and included several other touching humanitarian reforms on 
its list. Then the army suddenly mutinied ; the Grand Duke, finding 
himself without a carriage, fled on the ammunition chest of a cannon ; 
a crowd freed Struve from Rastatt; and a permanent State Commit- 
tee of the People's Clubs took power and moved into Carlsruhe. In 
one breath it organized general elections for Baden and set up the 
pension fund. 

On May 15, Prussia declared war on the Baden revolutionaries. 

Most officers in the Baden army remained loyal to the Grand 
Duke, while the soldiers went over to the revolution in a body. These 
soldiers were supposed, in revolutionary theory, to elect their own 
officers, which they proceeded to do, usually choosing their own non- 
commissioned officers. At the same time the new government adver- 
tised in newspapers for trained military men to fill the higher ranks. 
For a commander-in-chief they sent to Paris for the Polish officer, 
Mieroslawski, who was recovering there from a wound. After his 
release from prison in Berlin in the general enthusiasm for Poland 
which the March days brought even to the Prussian capital, Miero- 
slawski had gone straight back to Posen where within a week he 
began to lead a revolt against Prussia; when that was quelled he 
moved on to Sicily, where he received his wound. Now he seemed 
happy to be invited to Baden. He arrived in red trousers, a blue 
overcoat heavily trimmed with brass, a golden sword belt, his blond 
hair carefully parted and combed. He seemed almost too picturesque 
to be useful, but when his first review was held his troops surprised 
everybody with the evidence of spirit and discipline which he had 
instilled into them. 

The financial machinery of the Grand Duchy also fell untouched 
into the hands of the revolutionaries, and only ineptitude kept them 
from using it fully. The new finance minister, however, did not know 
where to look for several millions in paper money that was lying 
around, and he would not coin silver because the only stamp available 
had the Grand Duke's image on it. But the new government pledged 
the pig iron owned by the state against new paper money, and it 
decreed a forced loan at five per cent interest. 

The elections on June 3 chose a constitutional assembly for Baden 
which set up a dictatorship with Brentano at the head, much against 
his wishes. Though at first he won confidence by his moderation, he 



lacked both resolution and training. On June 26 he resigned and fled, 
and wrote a letter full of recrimination back to Baden from Switzer- 
land. From there he emigrated to America and was eventually 
elected to Congress. 

Brentano's mistake (though his cause was doomed anyway) was 
to neglect the rest of Germany. He believed in revolution in one 
country, while Struve was the Trotsky of this little world and kept 
pushing for a general uprising. It is probable that an attack into 
Wiirttemberg would have brought that small state into the fight as 
an ally; and a plan was even drafted to unite Baden with another of 
its neighbors, the Bavarian Palatinate, into one single country a 
first step toward world government. The plan fell through because 
Baden, which was richer, haggled about divisions of financial re- 
sponsibility until the unhappy Palatinate fell to the Prussians, 
leaving Baden's own flank completely uncovered. 

The Prussian army naturally kept on. Into Mannheim they shot 
red-hot cannonballs, seeking to fire the houses or the cotton bales 
which were used for gun emplacements. The water supply was so 
well organized, however, that not a house burned; and a certain 
shoemaker's apprentice spent all day putting out sparks in the 
cotton bales. 

On July 1 Mieroslawski resigned, feeling that nothing more was 
to be gained from carrying on the fight. Among the conditions that 
he blamed for his failure at arms was that neither the citizens nor the 
soldiers knew what they were fighting for. They stood for no exact 
revolutionary aims, and were inclined to interpret "freedom" in a 
way that meant fulfilling their own whims. Mieroslawski himself 
escaped safely, and was still leading revolutionary battles in Poland 
in 1863. 

As the Prussians swept through the rebels were driven back until 
most of them were inside the fortress of Rastatt. This was one of the 
so-called imperial fortresses, whose up-to-date defense works had 
been commissioned by the German Confederation and constructed 
by Austria after the threat of war with France in 1840. In fact, the 
work was not quite finished, but even so it was strong enough to with- 
stand an almost indefinite siege. On June 25 men and horses crowded 
inside its walls together, pellmell, sleeping on the streets, in the 
schools, wherever there happened to be a spot to lie down. When 
organized and counted, the garrison proved to contain about 6,000 



men. Another equally strong revolutionary army, under General 
Sigel, was still outside, and had promised to relieve them before their 
provisions gave out. By July 2 the Prussians had completely sur- 
rounded the fortress and began urging the garrison to surrender, 
but they took pains not to tell them, nor let them find out, that the 
Grand Duke of Baden promised amnesty to any of his rebel subjects 
who gave themselves up by July 15. Inside the fortress discipline was 
good, food seemed adequate, though the military leaders could not 
extract a definite statement about provisions from the civil authori- 
ties; and when the supply of leeches for their wounded gave out, 
the Prussian surgeon general handsomely sent in a boxful. A news- 
paper was published, and even a branch of Struve's radical club 
established. So the besieged force could not bear to surrender or to 
believe that hope was lost to them. It came as a sharp surprise to the 
military commanders to learn on July 21 that only three days' food 
supply was on hand. Still hoping for relief, they arranged to send 
Otto von Corvin, the commander, and another officer on tour of the 
country to look for the relieving army. Prussian officers courteously 
escorted these two wherever they wished to go, but it did not take 
them long to be convinced that the Prussian stories were true Sigel 
and his army had fled across the Swiss border, throwing down their 
arms, two weeks previously, and had forgotten, or been unable, to 
get word into Rastatt. Corvin had to report to his staff that except 
in distant Hungary, Rastatt was the only place in Europe where the 
revolutionary flag still waved. 

Surrender was therefore dictated. The officers expected no mercy 
for themselves, but they requested and believed that their men should 
be treated leniently. In the negotiations they pointed out to the 
Prussian officers that the rebel rank and file were mostly Badish 
soldiers who were fighting for the constitution which they had been 
sworn to defend, and that the Grand Duke's proclamation and 
promise of amnesty had never reached their ears, probably because 
Prussia was unwilling for so many democrats to escape. The 
Prussian negotiators seemed to promise clemency, although their 
formal demand was for unconditional surrender. This was unwill- 
ingly agreed to, and the Rastatt garrison laid down their arms on 
the glacis and marched out of the fortress straight into courts- 
martial. The promise of leniency uttered by a Prussian general had 
not, it seemed, been signed by him, and Prussia was determined to 



execute as traitors any of her subjects who had resisted her arms. 
To his own subjects the Grand Duke might have been kinder had 
his ally allowed it, but Prussian army men sat as judges in the 
Baden courts-martial also, and from their sentences there was no 
appeal. The Prince of Prussia, who had commanded the attack, 
and who turned his back on the defeated army when it marched past 
him, deliberately separated himself from any appeals for mercy. 
The soldiers who had to carry out these death sentences, however, 
came away pale and shaken from executing most of the fighting 
democrats left in Germany. 

A few bold souls escaped. Otto von Corvin, a subject of Saxony, 
had his death sentence commuted to six years in a common prison, 
even though he had been in charge of the military defense of Rastatt, 
because one Prussian sergeant (soon afterwards removed from the 
duty of sitting on the bench of a court-martial) had voted to spare 
his life. Carl Schurz hid in a sewer in Rastatt and finally got out 
unnoticed and managed to cross the Rhine. 

No one who stayed in Germany was safe. Hunting for suspects 
went on for months, even years. Heine in October 1849 depicted 
the German people starting nervously in their enjoyment of nature 
or of home on hearing shots that killed their friends. Boerner, the 
Berlin student who was in such ecstasy in March, 1848, felt now 
as if he and his friends were on an old wreck in the darkness of night 
with the sea all around them. All the liberal parties were killed, 
together with the innocence and idealism of 1848. 

Even the conservatives smiled at the irony of a reaction which 
brought back the worst mistakes of the old regime. When the Con- 
federate Diet reopened in 1850, it reintroduced press censorship, 
with rigid control over each separate state; and it devoted an un- 
usual amount of attention to the school system. In Prussia Fried- 
rich Froebel's kindergartens were forbidden, for they were said to 
spread atheism and socialism, and FroebePs sister had advocated 
the advancement of women. Primary schools were taken over by the 
church, and special attention was given to teachers' loyalty. Teach- 
ers, in fact, were turned into black-uniformed masters, while the 
children were stultified with the deliberate hope that as adults they 
would feel politically incompetent. They were led to believe that 
parliamentary systems were a weakening form which let amateurs 
into government, while in their efficient monarchy they had a dis- 



tinctively German type of state. The intellectuals too were har- 
nessed to the Germanic ideal. The wonderful system of the German 
university which, since it practiced academic freedom, protected 
itself by picking very carefully the men who were to speak freely, 
began to be worked out. Instead of applying a property qualification 
to voting, this was now used, subtly, on professorships. After 1848 
the techniques of controlling society by terror, flattery, and well- 
placed inefficiency developed rapidly. Most liberal movements were 
either killed or maimed, and only the uncompromising members of 
the Communist League, few as they were, were left as an opposition 
force. Marx considered this one of the gains of the revolutionary 

One of the most famous prisoners after the third Baden revolution 
was Gottfried Kinkel, who had been a professor of art at the Uni- 
versity of Bonn, almost the first man to secure university status for 
his subject. He married a woman whom he had saved from drown- 
ing in the Rhine, and before 1848 their soirees were famous for 
mixing princes, workers, artists, and middle class persons without 
distinction. When the revolution broke in Berlin, Kinkel led the 
parade of Bonn students to celebrate, and later he attended the 
democratic congress at Berlin, but he saw no fighting until he en- 
listed as a private in the 1849 struggles over the constitution. He 
had, however, forwarded to Struve a plan for organizing the revolt 
of the Rhineland, and it was this unburned piece of paper which 
earned for Kinkel his sentence in a civil prison. Such a sentence 
involved loss of civil rights and the chance to read and study during 
his term, and it shocked the conscience of all Germany that one of 
its learned men should be forced to labor with his hands in ignominy. 

By February 1850, the government was ready to bring Kinkel 
from prison to Cologne, where he was to be tried, along with several 
other persons, including Carl Schurz in absentia, for an additional 
crime, that of having participated in the armed revolt. And here, 
haggard from the physical and mental strains of prison, he made 
such a powerful speech about the duty to defend democracy that the 
people who were in the courtroom thundered cheers and the court 
voted acquittal. This, however, did not exonerate Kinkel himself 
from his former sentence, and he was sent back to a prison near 
Berlin. In order to free him, young Carl Schurz traveled to Prussia 
on a false passport and finally succeeded in finding a jailer who 



thought Kinkel's sentence so shameful that he agreed to let the 
prisoner down by a rope to the street, where Schurz met him with a 
carriage and carried him off to England. Kinkel, unhappily, became 
conceited after the revolution and never justified the bright promise 
of his early years. Butl Carl Schurz, who "long before he had ever 
seen America, bore the spirit of the New World about with him in 
his heart," became the greatest of all the citizens America won from 
the struggles of 1848 in Europe. 

Revolution in some form struck nearly every state in Germany 
either in 1848 or in 1849. In Bavaria it took an unusual character 
because the King's mistress, Lola Montez, had for a year or two 
been working for the liberal cause, and she was so unpopular that 
the Bavarian revolt was a demand for a return to the reactionary 
Catholic policy of her enemies. 

Bavaria, anyway, seemed happier than most European countries, 
less pushed toward change. Land was held on easy tenure, the gov- 
ernment expenses were small, there was full employment, and the 
King was patriarchal. Even the evils of priestcraft were checked 
by the kindly Bavarian spirit. 

King Ludwig I was an art patron who had made Munich a famous 
capital by skimping on everything else. He bought no winter over- 
coats for himself and he underpaid all his civil servants. Lola's first 
interference in politics was to beg for higher salaries for teachers. 

When the Catholic ministry, headed by Karl von Abel, refused 
to grant her citizenship, she was instrumental in bringing in the 
first protestant prime minister in Bavarian history, a man who set 
about reforming the administration of justice and improving the 
university curriculum, which could conveniently be done by dismiss- 
ing the professors who had stood up for Abel. 

The King swore his friendship with Lola was purely platonic. 
("That makes his folly all the greater/' commented the Prussian 
foreign minister.) Their companionship was seemingly devoted to 
reading Thomas a Kempis aloud to each other ; and the King wrote 
poetry for her which he did not hesitate to publish. Though the 
Queen herself received Lola, solid Munich citizens were furious. 

At the university, which became the center of trouble, a special 
student corps, the Alemannia, was formed to defend Lola by some 
students who were expelled from the Palatia corps for drinking 



with her and letting her try on their corps hat. All other students 
hated the Alemannia and petitioned to have it disbanded, a move 
which led to such an outbreak on February 9, 1848, that Lola had 
to find refuge in a church. The enraged King ordered the university 
closed, but he failed to realize how many Munich citizens lived off 
the spendings of the students. People whose business would have been 
spoiled forced him to reopen the school and dissolve the Alemannia. 

Meanwhile, on February 12, Lola fled. But Munich was too 
aroused to be pacified by such a sacrifice. On March 6 the King 
granted a free press and responsibility of cabinet ministers, and 
promised to have the army sworn to the almost defunct Bavarian 
constitution. But cries for an immediate assembly kept coming. 
Rather than face this demand, the heartbroken King abdicated on 
March 16 and Bavaria returned to its earlier, peaceful, conserva- 
tive ways. 

In the nineteenth century Lola Montez was universally excori- 
ated. Metternich, exiled at the same time, congratulated himself 
that he did not have to ride to England on the same boat ; and no- 
where, save in her lover's lyrics or her own forthright letters to the 
London Times, did she find any apologist. The twentieth century 
has been more liberal, often inclined to idealize her because of her 
courage, affection, and liberalism. Unfortunately, she was unedu- 
cated, so her liberalism was half-baked; she was ambitious, having 
freely announced her intention of catching a king some years before 
her advent in Munich; and as for her courage, it too often showed 
itself with a riding whip, or by drinking champagne from her bal- 
cony when her students were howling in the streets. She forsook 
Europe for the gold coast of California, and died eventually in 
America, penniless and allegedly contrite. 

Of all the 1848-1849 uprisings in Germany, possibly the best 
known is the one in Saxony for the simple reason that it involved 
Richard Wagner. 

The government of the kingdom of Saxony was essentially as 
tyrannous as any other in Germany, but Leipzig, the biggest city 
in the kingdom, happened to be the center of the book trade, and 
therefore the home of an unusual number of intellectuals. By an 
unspoken agreement these literati did not oppose or criticize the 
Saxon regime but used Leipzig as a center to attack other German 



states, while the local authorities let them alone. It was an uneasy 
compromise. Saxony maintained many inhabitants it would have 
liked to be rid of were it not for the fear of hurting trade. 

The death of Robert Blum, who had been a bookseller as well as 
theater cashier in Leipzig, before a firing squad in Vienna not only 
deprived Saxony of one of its great stabilizers but it made the com- 
mon people feel betrayed and restless. During 1848 they had been 
fairly quiet, largely because of Blum's eloquence ; but when the King 
of Saxony tried to keep the Saxon Diet from discussing the Frank- 
furt constitution which Robert Blum had been working so hard 
f or an( j when on April 28 he ordered the Diet dissolved, the people 
were ready to rise. It was commonly believed that the King had 
promised to accept the Frankfurt constitution, indeed even had the 
proclamation to that effect in the press, when his mind was changed 
for him by Frederick William of Prussia. For it was on this date that 
Prussia offered military support to< any German king who needed 
it in order to resist the common danger of the constitution. 

The Saxon Diet did not separate, on April 30, without a loud 
cheer for the constitution; and on May 2 the Leipzig militia also 
voted for it unanimously. 

Now Wagner was at that time conductor of the royal orchestra 
in Dresden, the capital, and he was dissatisfied with his position 
because it did not allow him time enough for creative work. It was, 
he tells us, his despair over art which led him into politics, and his 
pamphlet, Art and Revolution, which he wrote the following summer 
in Switzerland, is full of an account of the commercialism and sordid 
taste which were an artist's milieu in nineteenth-century Europe, 
a milieu, he said, only revolution could purify. "My business is to 
make a revolution wherever I go," he stated at one point. Still he 
feared the masses. He had worked with the party of progress not 
only because it was the party of the future but because it was the 
one which needed to be controlled or so he said in a letter to his 
superior at court. 

However, he did not make the Saxon revolution. He simply 
enjoyed it. 

There was one other famous figure who had been haunting Europe 
during its year of revolutions and who here in Dresden got at last 
the chance to run one Michael Bakunin. Bakunin was a Russian 
who was totally indifferent to the problems of German unity and 



the constitution ; in fact, he felt that parliamentary democracy did 
not represent the people at all, a novel point of view for that period. 
His enemy was the Czar and in so far as he had an ideal, it was 
to use a revolutionary Germany against that fountainhead of evil. 
But mostly he just loved the sound of battle against authority. In 
1847 he wrote to Herwegh, "I wait upon my, or, if you prefer, our 
common wife the Revolution. Only then shall we become happy; 
that is to say: we ourselves will be, if the whole earth is in flames." 2 
Upon news of the first outbreak in Paris he had rushed to that city 
and earned from Caussidiere the quip, "On the first day of a revolu- 
tion he is a perfect treasure ; on the second he ought to be shot.' 5 As 
soon as things calmed down, Flocon was instructed to give him 
money to get to Poland, where he and the French hoped he would 
find more excitement. Apparently he just happened to be in Dresden 
in the spring of 1849, though some people said it was because he had 
a nose to smell out coming trouble. Stephan Born (who had moved 
from Berlin to Leipzig to edit the new workers' paper which his 
clubs had set up) describes how Bakunin used to make Russian 
punch for his friends, with his coat off, his sleeves rolled up, his 
great lion's head sweating over the blue flames from the rum which 
seemed like the fires of hell. Rather than use water he extinguished 
his fire with Rhine wine, and the resulting concoction had the quick- 
est effect of any alcohol that Born had ever tasted. 

Bakunin was present at Wagner's last concert in Dresden, on 
April 1, of course at the risk of his life, for he was understandably 
wanted by several sets of police. Wagner conducted Beethoven's 
Ninth Symphony, a work which he had been the first to perform and 
for the recognition of which he had struggled hard. After it was 
over, Bakunin walked up to Wagner and remarked that when every- 
thing else was destroyed in the flames of the future, that work of art 
must be preserved, even at the cost of their lives. 

On May 3 the citizens of Dresden stormed the arsenal, or tried to. 
Troops were called out, and also the militia, which had often been 
used to quell riots before. Wagner had just resigned from the latter 
force because he was pleased neither with "the standing army" nor 
"the recumbent militia." On this third of May, despite Ms bad 
opinion of them, the militia stood up and took the side of the people, 
even though their efforts were ineffective since the authorities had 

2 Quoted in Klein, Der VorJcampf, 98. 



deprived them of ammunition. When the troops fired on the unarmed 
crowd, the people could reply only with stones. Many civilians were 
killed but the arsenal did not fall. That night the first barricades 
were erected, and the next day, May 4, Wagner, on his own initia- 
tive had posters printed for distribution to the army asking, "Are 
you with us against the foreign troops ?" For what made the Saxon 
civilians really frantic, and they hoped it might incense their sol- 
diers, too, was the thought of the Prussian army coming toward 
them. The appeal failed, because the Saxon troops had been issued 
too much wine to respond, though later in the fight whenever one 
was captured he was immediately released by the civilians on the 
theory that he did not really want to fight against his brothers, and 
in no case apparently did one of them break his parole. 

On this same day, the King having fled at the behest of his cabinet 
who were afraid he might yield, a provisional government was formed 
in Dresden. Its inauguration was a ceremony swearing the people 
to defend the Frankfurt Constitution, amid bell-ringing and more 
barricade-building. And in order to delay the Prussian arrival, citi- 
zens tore up as much railroad track as they could. 

The provisional government consisted of a triumvirate, no one of 
whom knew much about the conduct of revolutions, so they leaned 
heavily on Bakunin. He organized everything he deployed men, 
arranged for their relief, scoured the cafes for Polish officers and 
attended to a thousand details in his sleepless days and nights. Wag- 
ner's job, so far as he had any, was supervising the convoys that 
brought in provisions and reinforcements from the countryside, 
which was enthusiastic in its support of the city people. In fact, be- 
fore the battle was over, help and militia were streaming in from all 
parts of Germany, all the men who wanted desperately one more 
chance to fight for their precious Frankfurt constitution. 

The Prussian forces kept growing in number too, and by May 9 
the defenders were worn out. Their eyelids were red, their voices 
strained. Bakunin proposed blowing up the town hall where the 
stores of powder were kept, and themselves with it, as one last gesture 
of defiance ; but the provisional government more cautiously ordered 
the powder to be removed, and the church bells to ring the signal 
for retreat, three times three. It was the wild intention of the de- 
fenders to retreat to Chemnitz or Freiberg and carry on the fight 
from there. Peasants provided wagons and shelter as they tried to 



move their forces across the countryside, but nothing could prevent 
the rapid evaporation of their fighting effectives, and soon the pro- 
visional government itself was captured. Wagner escaped to Switz- 
erland, where he became "entirely an artist" again. Stephan Born 
also was lucky enough to reach Switzerland, where he became a 

Four years later the Saxon government was still trying insurgents 
from this rebellion, and they deemed it clemency to commute a death 
sentence to life imprisonment. Bakunin was tried in these courts but 
he was turned over to the Czarist police and exiled to Siberia, whence 
he escaped around the world in time for the next batch of European 
revolutions, in 1870. 



The China of Europe 

ACCORDING to what little Western Europe knew of the Austrian 
Empire in the early nineteenth century, it was supposed to be as 
impenetrable and reactionary as China, to which it was occasionally 
compared. Its only European rival in absolutism was Russia, and 
even Russia did not have so many dissatisfied races, classes, and 
nationalities. When the citizens of Vienna revolted in 1848, they 
thought they were copying the Paris of that year, yet they would 
have had to skip two revolutions and go back to the France of 1789 
to duplicate the social conditions they wished to change. At the same 
time, so many new drives had come into being in the nineteenth cen- 
tury, such as nationalism, that after they had won their social re- 
forms, they began to wonder if those were what they had wanted 
after all, and they did not quite know what to ask for next. There 
was, indeed, no single system of either politics or ethics that would 
embrace the many divergent wishes of the subjects of the Empire. 

At the beginning of 1848, Ferdinand, the absolute emperor, was 
feebleminded, epileptic, physically impotent. 

Some wit said that the governmental machine had been wound up 
like a clock by Ferdinand's father, Francis, and in the thirteen years 
since his death it had not completely run down. Francis had been 
dubious about allowing Ferdinand to sit on the throne, but he did 
not feel that he, of all rulers, could upset the principle of legitimacy. 
So on his deathbed, he entrusted his son to the care of his friend and 
chief minister, the famous Prince Clemens Metternich, who prom- 
ised Francis never to abandon Ferdinand. 

It might have seemed intolerable to a nation of thirty-eight mil- 
lions to be under the absolute rule of a half-wit, but as a matter of 
fact the new emperor was very popular. "Der Giitige" he was called 
by his loyal Viennese, who trusted his friendliness and adopted the 
legend that he was the victim of his bad advisers. He was indeed 
watched by his friends and family as if by jailers, because they 
knew he would sign anything anybody asked though it was easy to 



govern, he remarked, the hard job was writing one's name and 
whatever he signed was law. Several times during the revolutionary 
days various groups were able to break through his chaperonage 
and come away with his incontestable, though painfully lettered, 
signature on their documents. Before the revolution, the court was 
more concerned with keeping Ferdinand out of trouble than with 
governing Austria, and they were always afraid that he would sur- 
render privileges which his successor would regret. While a mentally 
competent king might make concessions to his people, they felt, the 
trustees of an incompetent one ought not to give away a single un- 
necessary tittle, or allow him to do so. There could be no worse 
attitude with which to face a revolution. 

Under old Emperor Francis things had been different. Though 
he was not popular, and would never have been called gutig 9 he was 
a demon for work, and kept his country going almost singlehanded. 
By seven every morning he was at his desk, having heard Mass, 
ready to read the reports which his spies and secret police had pre- 
pared for him including copies they had made of the diplomatic 
pouches of foreign envoys and even private letters of his family 
and high officials. Then he was ready to meet them. He had no 
cabinet, only separate offices for war, justice, administration, and 
foreign affairs, and he wrote instructions to each department sepa- 
rately, so that no one but himself knew what the results of one de- 
partment's act would be on another. Things were made even worse 
by the etiquette of absolutism which forbade an Imperial and Royal 
Majesty to give reasons for his decisions. To explain might have 
been a step in the direction of democracy does a German father 
explain commands to his children? Therefore, the bureaus had no 
way of knowing whether their plans were vetoed for big or little 
reasons, for policy or for technicalities and they had no basis at 
all for revising their arrangements or for making later decisions. 

The safety valve of this regime lay in the right of every subject, 
however humble, to appeal directly to the throne, either in writing 
or at special weekly audiences. No grievance or injustice, no favor, 
was too small to be worthy His Majesty's attention a conscript 
wishing to be relieved of service could explain his case, or a landlord 
who wished to buy a few square yards of ground from his tenant 
(since the land laws forbade the diminution of peasant holdings). 

It had been very hard to like Francis in spite of his conscientious- 



ness, for he was cold, indifferent to art, science, indeed, any form of 
enthusiasm; opposed to industry, opposed to machinery because 
hard work seemed healthier for the minds and bodies of his subjects. 
He refused to allow steam railroads to be laid down in his territory, 
though a few rails were laid for horse-drawn vehicles which could 
carry steam after his death. 

Naturally, poor Ferdinand could not hope to keep up his father's 
pace. Under his regime the departments of government kept moving 
like animals whose brains have been removed the police, the army, 
the censorship officials. Even Metternich and the governing arch- 
dukes stuck to their own duties. Metternich, the Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, and Count Francis Kolowrat, the Minister of Finance, the 
two most powerful men at court, hated each other to the point of not 
speaking. What they had to say to each other they wrote. Thus 
those who had power at their disposal were at cross purposes and 
there was no one in the whole Empire to take final responsibility. 

Of course, it was said that Metternich was the real power behind 
the throne, and perhaps he might have been more of one in 1848 if 
he had not been seventy-three years old, getting deaf and talkative, 
more and more inclined to live in the past, hashing over to his listen- 
ers stories of the great days when he had outwitted Napoleon. For 
forty years he had been the most important person in Austria, but 
he had the temperament of a diplomat rather than a statesman. His 
greatness lay in weighing advantages, devising compromises, hold- 
ing down and covering up the new passions of the nineteenth century. 

To his contemporary opponents burning with their new zeal for 
freedom, Metternich seemed the incarnation of evil. Everything they 
stood for he opposed and they had the same trouble attacking him 
that true believers always have with cynics for Metternich had a 
refined dislike of abstract principles, principles which so often lead 
to violence, though he had a well-thought-out Weltanschauung of 
his own. He wanted to keep peace in Europe and to hold Austria 
together, and he knew what his excited enemies forgot that nation- 
alism would break up his conglomerate empire, and that democracy 
was more of an intoxicant than its lumbering old form would stand. 
Modern historians, on the other hand, are apt to like Metternich, 
for they see the agonies that came out of nationalism and the weak- 
ness that sometimes followed democracy. Also, they fall victims to 
his personal charm. His real faults were great, for he lacked compas- 



sion, but his sense of irony kept him from seeming nasty and often 
made him appear quite as clever as his twentieth-century judges. 

Yet, even by his own pragmatic standards, he failed to meet what 
he saw coming. He had as much power as anyone in the monarchy, 
and more brains; therefore it is more his fault than anyone else's 
that 1848 found the people he had governed "emasculated and de- 
moralized, ignorant both of their rights and their duties," in the 
words of the American Charge d'Affaires. Furthermore, in the 
circles in which he moved he left no honest and able successor. At his 
departure, the men left at court lacked firmness, kindness, honesty 
or even knowledge, qualities any one of which would have saved the 
country unbearable bloodshed and financial disorder. Even a little 
of Metternich's irony might have helped, but this he was unable to 
transmit any more than his long view, suave manners, and great 

There was, however, one person in imperial circles who knew what 
she wanted, and that was the Archduchess Sophia, sometimes called 
"the only man at court. 55 She was the wife of Ferdinand's brother 
and heir, a prince who, though not quite so deplorable as the Em- 
peror, was still so subnormal that even Sophia did not look forward 
to his accession to the throne. All her hopes were centered in her 
sons, especially her eldest, Francis Joseph, who was to turn eighteen 
in September 1848. (Later in life she had a great part in getting 
her second son, Maximilian, crowned as Emperor of Mexico, a pro- 
digious and ill-considered venture which shows again what strength 
lay in her maternal determination.) In early 1848 she was already 
wondering how soon she could hoist her Franzi to the throne of 
Austria and even consulted Metternich, though not her own hus- 
band, on the possibility of getting Ferdinand to abdicate and her 
husband to renounce his rights. Metternich told her she would have 
to wait at least until Francis Joseph came of age. From her point 
of view the revolution, in March, broke just six months too soon. 
- Sophia's passionate desire made her seek help from any quarter, 
and for that reason she played with the Viennese liberals. She re- 
membered that her father, the King of Bavaria, had given a con- 
stitution to his people without curtailing his own will, so she felt 
that in Vienna a few gracious concessions would increase her popu- 
larity without cutting off Franzi's future power. Perhaps the reform 
she looked forward to the most was the resignation of Metternich, 



who did not enjoy her temperament and who besides had sworn to 
look after the interests of poor Ferdinand. When the revolution 
arrived and could not be stopped, Sophia's bitterness was over- 
whelming, but until that time the liberal party counted her their 
friend at court. 

Beneath this pinnacle at the top of society the Empire's 38,000,- 
000 subjects were arranged in varicolored striations. They were 
set off from each other by race and by class, and at the time we are 
speaking of both sets of division seemed more important to a man's 
life than they ever had before. Hapsburg territory had grown 
slowly, and in the main peacefully, through centuries when religion 
or dynastic connections seemed more vital than did race, for land 
had come easily under the sway of the ruler who bore the title of 
emperor. Though the Holy Roman Empire had died under Na- 
poleon, the Austrian monarch was still, in 1848, the only emperor 
in Europe (though his title was aped later by the sovereigns of 
Germany, France, and England). He ruled over eight kingdoms, 
including Lombardy, Hungary, and Bohemia, and eight other ter- 
ritories bearing such less pretentious titles as duchy or grand duchy. 

The German-speaking Viennese knew little of the non-German 
provinces. Galicia, they knew, was completely under military con- 
trol, especially since the Polish revolt of 1846 ; Bohemia was half- 
Germanized; the groans of Lombardy seemed only part of the 
habitual and fruitless emotionalism of an Italy divided among many 
corrupt rulers. As for Hungary if Austria was like China, Hun- 
gary was like Tibet. Hardly anyone except the Magyars themselves 
realized the vigor of their local political life or the determination 
rising among Hungarians to revivify their ancient constitution. 
Yet all these lands had their own pride, their own history, in some 
cases their own religion to which they were far more deeply attached 
than to any possible conception of Austria as a nation. The Haps- 
burgs would even have it so ; their best trick in mastering the country 
seemed to be that they could use one faction to trump the other. 
The late Emperor Francis remarked, "My peoples are strange to 
each other and that is all right. They do not get the same sickness 
at the same time. . . . From their antipathy will be born order, and 
from the mutual hatred, general peace. 5 ' In 1848 they all got sick, 
yet as the Emperor had foretold, not with the same sickness. The 



currents of the year democracy, liberalism, nationalism were so 
various that nearly every Hapsburg subject was touched by one 
of them. Yet, out of their antipathy was born again a certain sort 
of order, a certain uneasy peace. Francis in his narrow view had 
been right. 

If the Vienna of 1847 cared little about the other parts of the 
Empire, it defined sharply the class divisions inside its own walls. 
At the top were the nobles who considered themselves the only group 
worth noticing. The human race starts with barons, said one of 
them. Then there were the big businessmen who wanted to buy 
their way into the human race ; the little businessmen ; the poor but 
proud intellectuals; the students who were still poorer and still 
prouder ; and the workers who were poor and had always been very, 
very humble. 

The philosophy of the Hapsburgs was like that of a tyrannical 
father who is ruthless to his adolescent children even though he may 
indulge his babies. Austrian intellectuals were kept under daily 
supervision, but the peasants were given a gentle if unimaginative 
justice, while in the cities amusement prices were kept low by law. 
Vienna was accounted the gayest capital in Europe, where Styrian 
capons and Strauss waltzes were supposed to keep the burghers 
from thinking about the adventures which were opening up to their 
brothers in France and the Rhineland under the capitalistic system. 

In a large and satisfied family, the dust kicked up by a few ob- 
streperous members is particularly noticeable. The classes in Austria 
whose grievances might possibly become vocal and the class revolt 
which started in Vienna was separate from the nationality revolts 
such as broke out in the rest of the Empire were the industrialists 
who felt cramped by absolutism, that section of the middle class 
which was not siphoned off into the bureaucracy, 1 the new class of 
factory workers about whom the regime had hardly begun to think, 
and the students and intellectuals. 

The nineteenth century opened up so many new ways to make 
money that Austrian industrialists could not help wanting to share 
in the profits. As is always the case, government was slow to catch 

1 Of the twelve million non-peasant subjects of the Empire, it was figured three- 
fifths had some vested interest in the maintenance of the existing government they 
were either nobles whose privileges were protected, served in the army, were members 
of the enormous bureaucracy, lived on pensions, or were members of the clergy whose 
revenues were guaranteed. 



up with technology (is this not a common criticism of our twentieth 
century?) in this case extremely hostile to free enterprise. The 
Empire was protected by a tariff so high that it practically cut off 
all competing imports, and there was a system of licensing small 
businesses so that there would not be more tailors, butchers, or 
leather workers than the market could support. Both of these meas- 
ures were designed to protect industry, but the new liberalism was 
against them. And, incidentally, the licensing system made it easy 
for the government to control any outspoken tradesman either by 
revoking his license or by sending him a nearby competitor. 

Businessmen wanted elbow room. They wanted a government that 
would give them sound finance, that would build roads, railroads, 
and encourage commerce. Instead of this, every step they took was 
tangled up by the bureaucrats and studied by spies. 

It was not very easy to grumble in Metternich's Austria, but in 
the 1840 ? s the upper middle classes found a few vents. One was in 
the provincial assemblies, or Estates. Money was being made in 
Austria, but there were relatively few opportunities for investment. 
So many big bankers and railway men bought land in the country 
and earned the right to sit in the Estates. 

Now as in other countries, the Austrian Estates were a holdover 
from ancient times for which recent monarchs had little use. Their 
job was to "consider" but not to disapprove measures of the crown, 
especially financial measures, which meant that practically their 
office was limited to apportioning the taxes in their own districts 
(there was no "Estates General' 5 or "United Diet" in Hapsburg 
territory), or to regulating the internal local affairs. 2 Under 
Emperor Francis, at a time of famine, the estates of one province 
ventured to petition the crown for a temporary lowering of the 
tariff on wheat. The Emperor punished such effrontery by refusing 
relief to that province even after he came around to helping the 

2 The public debt doubled in nominal value, quadrupled in effective value between 
1815 and 1840, during twenty-five years of peace. This was contrary to all nineteenth- 
century theories of sound finance but matters were handled with such secrecy that 
no one knew exactly how weak or how strong the central bank was. European liberals 
made a great point of the weakness of Austrian finance but only in the first weeks 
of 1848, and then among the little people, not the big, did a movement start to turn 
paper into coin all over the Empire. 

It was known that government security prices were kept up artificially at great 
expense to the state, but to the enrichment of some individuals, just as the state kept 
the ownership of one unprofitable railroad, while the lines that were making money 
were turned over to private enterprise. 



During the 1840's, the Estates of Lower Austria, the province 
containing Vienna, met periodically in that city and, perhaps as 
a symptom of a new age coming, discussed rather freely such ques- 
tions as agricultural credit, representation in their body for towns 
instead of just landowning nobility, and even their right to advise 
on new laws. 

The government, less ferocious than in Francis' day, watched 
all these doings with the utmost suspicion. Newspapers were never 
allowed to report the debates, and the members were given the at- 
tention of personal spies. A certain Baron Doblhoff was under 
special surveillance. Though a baron he was willing to talk to mem- 
bers of the middle class, and used to give parties for the mem- 
bers of the Estates to which businessmen and professors were in- 
vited. It was the first time in Vienna that the two classes had ever 
met on terms of social equality. DoblhofPs body servant received 
orders to spy on all his mail, note all his visitors, and listen to his 
conversation. The servant, who was an old soldier, broke down 
under this assignment and confessed to his master. Being a noble- 
man, Doblhoff had the courage to- demand angrily an explanation 
from the authorities, but all the satisfaction he could get was to 
learn that an archduke, one of the governing council, had personally 
ordered this information. 

For informal discussion, the lawyers, businessmen, professors 
and even a few civil servants in Vienna founded a reading club. The 
police granted a charter to this group once in 1842 when Metter- 
nich was on vacation, and though he disapproved of it he did not 
break it up when he came back. Instead, the police kept lists of mem- 
bers (many people were afraid to belong since it might damage 
their careers) and lists of the books in their library. Nevertheless, 
all prominent foreigners who visited Vienna were welcomed by this 
group and pumped for news, ideas, and literature. The club's 
opinions were decidedly independent. When the United States Con- 
sul proposed a toast to Metternich at one meeting, he was met with 
stony silence. 

It was when they tried to reach beyond their own circle that they 
were frustrated. They gave one public lecture on prisons and 
met with such a popular ovation that they were forbidden to hold 
any more. Their next attempt was to establish a soup kitchen in the 
depression of 1847 (in this way they were acting like the Demo- 



cratic Club in Berlin) and though they were not actually forbidden 
to do so, their efforts could not begin to reach the tremendous pov- 
erty of the capital city. 

For the situation of the factory workers was so miserable that 
as the American Charge d ? Affaires put it any change at all would 
be a change for the better. The United States, he smugly added, 
had never known a class so degraded and he believed that the west- 
ern frontier would prevent the formation of one for centuries to 
come. By opposing railroads and steam engines, the Hapsburgs 
tried to prevent the formation of a class they instinctively felt 
would be dangerous, but in spite of their preferences there were 
469 locomotives, 76 steamboats, and 469 stationary steam engines 
within their domain. Vienna became a center of machine making, 
at first repairing machines imported from England, then copying 
them. But the handcraftsmen did not enjoy being turned into mass 
producers. They hated their machines and they hated big shops 
with a raw hatred devoid of social theory. Apparently, the ideas 
of the French working class never got through to them, and they 
joined the revolution because they were hungry and angry, not 
because they wanted socialism. 

Of course, there were no trade unions in Vienna, and as late as 
1835 the simple efforts of a few printers' apprentices to form a 
club to make a sick-benefits pool was forbidden on the grounds it 
was not needed. By 1842 a second effort was successful and the club 
had 500 members in 1847 but of course this was almost nothing 
in comparison with the clubs, newspapers, and free discussion which 
workers enjoyed in Paris or Berlin. The Viennese workers acted 
instinctively with such perfect revolutionary form that Karl Marx 
had great hopes of them and spent a week in Vienna in September 
1848 at the end of the revolutionary summer. But when he met 
them he was discouraged by their intellectual backwardness and 
decided they were not ready for the social revolution after all. 

The 1847 depression was no kinder to Austria than to other 
countries. Even in 1846 there was an alarming increase of robbery, 
murder, and beggary, and factory girls began hanging around 
the glacis which separated the inner city from the suburbs, carry- 
ing benches and pillows with them to make prostitution easier. By 
the winter of 1847 casual travelers could feel that gayety had been 
killed in Vienna. A grim story passed around of a widow who killed 
one child and fed him to his brothers and sisters, at the same time 



that a banker gave a dinner featuring strawberries which cost 1 
apiece. As prices rose from the bad harvest, a factory worker could 
not even keep his family in potatoes on his average wages while 
the numbers of shoemakers, cabinetmakers, and tailors who were 
forced out of business by the commercial panic only added to the 
press of people looking for factory work. The suburbs of Vienna 
in 1847 were filled with people so dirty that their rags stuck to 
their bodies. Their houses were small and smelly, with wet walls and 
broken windowpanes, and were filled with broken furniture. Even 
the servant girls and apprentices who lived in the homes of their 
employers were commonly given cold kitchens or unheated attics 
to sleep in, and they lived more like slaves than the factory workers, 
for they were underfed, overworked, forced to carry heavy loads 
of wood and water, and paid practically nothing. 

When the authorities had to raise the official price of bread and 
meat in 1847, this decree seemed so explosive that the garrison was 
strengthened at the same time. 

The Hapsburgs dreaded the workers as if they were eight-year- 
old children, careless and destructive maybe, but not a real threat to 
authority. The intellectuals, however, were like fifteen-year-olds, 
burning with dangerous curiosity and a still more dangerous feeling 
that their time of submission was nearly over. But the rulers believed 
fatuously that they could keep bad thoughts away. 

Therefore, every single book, paper, or even advertisement 
printed inside the Empire had to be approved by the censor. In 
Vienna, twelve men were able to handle this work, which shows how 
little printing went on. (In 1839 less than six per cent of the books 
in the catalogue of the Leipzig book fair were Austrian, though 
Austria was the biggest German state.) If the subject concerned 
the army, church, or high politics, it had to have a second scrutiny 
from the institution covered, or the ministry. 

The importation of foreign books was so strictly watched that 
even the Academy of Sciences had difficulty getting books from the 
outside world. Whenever a traveler entered the realm with a danger- 
ous book in his baggage, customs officials sealed it. 

All kinds of subjects were forbidden criticism of the state 
theater equally with discussion of state policy. In Mozart's "Don 
Juan" the chorus "Let Freedom Live" had to be changed to "Let 
Pleasure Live" ; while Rossini's march for the newly elected Pope, 



Pius IX, could not be played in 1846 because His Holiness was 
thought of as a liberal. A history of the Napoleonic War might 
state that the French advanced but not that the Austrians retreated. 
And since one censor felt it a slight upon the great ally Russia to 
read that the Cossacks rode small horses, the passage was altered 
to read that the Cossacks rode horses. Even such a simple joke as, 
"What is the way into your bedroom, miss?" "Through church, 
sir," suggested an affront to religion to one literal-minded official. 

It was much easier to smuggle than to print something in Aus- 
tria, so a great deal of effort went into getting news from abroad. 
Some of the frontier officials winked at book importation, and 
Viennese booksellers were always running risks far greater than 
any profit they could hope to make in their clever and heroic 
schemes to spread forbidden wares. (Their only public effort was 
rebuffed. In 1845 they ventured a petition for the relaxation of 
censorship which Metternich refused to- accept, saying that the 
right of private citizens to petition was not recognized and that 
he did not know what a committee was in Austria.) As soon as a 
private citizen got his hands on a forbidden piece of literature, it 
was the duty of no particular official to inquire how he got it, so in 
intellectual circles it was quite safe and fashionable to quote from 
the Grenzboten and assume that everyone present had read it. The 
Grenzboten, or News From The Border, was considered one of the 
best papers in all Germany, though it was specially angled for Vien- 
nese eyes by some young Austrian editors in Leipzig. As for the 
Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading German paper, its prestige was such 
that officials hardly dared to forbid it to come into the country 
even when its news was contradicted by the official Vienna press, 
so that a few lucky Viennese could learn something about Europe 
in their cafes. 3 

Austrians who were determined to express themselves usually 
managed to get their books printed in Germany, particularly in 

8 Another possible source of news for Vienna might have been from cities within 
the Empire like Prague or Budapest, for the censorship was lighter everywhere than 
in the capital. Prague published the only paper in the realm that carried a decent 
amount of world news. (It made a particular feature, for one thing, of the miseries 
of Ireland, which everybody but the censor understood to mean Bohemia itself, where 
the agrarian problem, as weD as the sense of foreign domination, were similar.) And 
one young Viennese looking back later said that he and his friends could have listened 
to free words coming out of Pest, for Kossuth was writing there during most of the 
lS40's but before 1848 Hungary seemed too far away from Vienna. Viennese ears 
were cocked to the West. 



Leipzig where a regular colony of Austrian expatriates wrote for 
the contraband trade. This began back in the reign of Francis when 
a professor at Vienna got his manuscript back from the Austrian 
censor with such absurd and extensive suggestions, that he took the 
book to Germany and had the whole thing printed, censor's mar- 
ginalia and all. Later on Metternich hired special spies to keep 
track of the Austrian thinkers in Leipzig. 

Austria had no martyrs before 1848, which was the reproach 
cast against her by a Germany boasting that historian Dahlmann 
preferred to lose his chair, that poet Arndt and journalist Struve 
chose prison and poet Herwegh, exile, rather than change the words 
they had written. But even the most supercilious Germans had to 
admit that by the late 1840's the Austrian intellect had revived. 

The censorship of mails was even more bumbling, picayune, and 
rigid than that of books. Clerks worked all night to open, read, 
and copy letters of diplomats and bankers, archdukes and suspected 
liberals. Using very thin hot knives, they cut through sealing 
wax and in the case of important suspects like Mazzini, they kept a 
forged seal on hand. If the process took too much time sometimes, 
the date on the letter would be moved up to conceal the delay. Even 
private couriers of foreign governments were bribed. When the 
Prussian diplomatic pouch reached the Austrian border, it was met 
by officials who operated on it in the coach itself while the horses 
galloped at high speed toward Vienna. Next morning the Prussian 
envoy and Metternich in the Hofburg read the same dispatch at 
the same time. 

Highest rates of pay went to code breakers in this service, but 
all concerned were well paid and incessantly watched by the police. 
No public acknowledgment of their services could ever be made 
and they all had to pretend to be doing something else. 

The police were ready to watch anybody, of course, as witness 
the case of Baron DoblhofL They gathered their information from 
mistresses, waiters, visitors to brothels, needy nobles and even, it 
was charged with some show of evidence, from the Jesuit confessors 
who were supposed to pay unto Caesar this price for the privilege 
of operating in the country. (The Jesuits had been expelled by 
Emperor Joseph, recalled by Francis who wanted their conserva- 
tive influence, and were currently the anathema of liberals. Schu- 
selka, a leader of the Austrian colony in Leipzig, considered them 



the worst single evil of the Austrian state, especially because of 
their throttle hold on secondary education.) 

With all their snooping, the police were more of a nuisance to 
the public than a prop to the regime. Intrigued by all the small 
points of their detective work, they overlooked important currents 
of opinion, and in 1848 proved even more helpless than their Paris 

For in spite of everything, political thought was loosening up, 
especially at the University of Vienna. A student caught reading a 
forbidden book was not only supposed to be expelled, he was for- 
bidden to matriculate at any other school. Yet, the nine fraternities 
founded between 1843 and 1847 busily circulated Dahhnann's 
studies of constitutions and the works of Rousseau. Professors' 
morals and ideas were constantly checked, and the rules stated that 
they might not treat as controversial any subject not so treated in 
the prescribed books yet they invited students to their homes to 
discuss the new ideas in small groups, and lent the contents of their 
illicit libraries unstintedly to their student friends. In public lec- 
tures students cocked their ears for double meanings, and were as 
pleased by a hint of freedom as a modern burlesque audience is by 
an allusion to sex. By 1846 enthusiasm was so strong that the 
police decided it would be wiser not to prosecute when Professor 
Hye publicly compared to murder the destruction of a small state 
by a large one a very pointed reference to the recent absorption 
of the tiny republic of Cracow, the last vestige of free Poland, by 

There were about two thousand students at the university, many 
of them sons of peasants, many of them desperately poor. Some of 
them lived in unheated rooms on bread and water and there was 
a famous case of one who had no lodging at all, only the "sky in 
summer and some farmer's haystack in winter. Others came from 
the middle classes, but there were no aristocrats. The Austrian 
nobility were either taught at home or attended the Theresanium, 
a special college to train diplomats and army officers, requiring 
for admission that a boy be a baron or better. 

The university must have been alive, or else the students would 
not have taken over the revolution as they did in 1848 , 4 Especially 

* Though one graduate complained that the system of regular examinations at the 



the medical school was famous, partly because Metternich loved 
science and failed to realize the connections between science and 
the modern spirit. It was, therefore, left the freest of any college 
in the university and attracted students from other countries who 
brought with them the taste of liberalism. For another thing the 
clinical work in the Vienna hospitals gave the medical professors a 
fine chance to teach students individually and discuss social con- 
ditions which showed up there at their worst. 

Foreign students as a general thing were not encouraged any 
more than Austrian subjects were allowed to study abroad. In most 
cases certificates from a non-Austrian university were invalid. Only 
the Saxons of Transylvania, the eastern tip of the Empire, were 
issued passports to study in other German universities, for their 
ancestors had been induced to colonize the East, centuries before, 
by promises that their ties with the home country should never 
be cut off. 

The police tried to watch extra-curricular activities as carefully 
as the contents of lectures, but they had a hard time keeping up 
with the students. Gymnastics and mountain climbing were of- 
ficially dangerous, of course, because they were part of the German 
nationalist program. Old Jahn had started his Turnverein move- 
ment in Germany after the Napoleonic wars with a double purpose, 
and when Hans Kudlich as a student joined one of these gymnastic 
groups in Vienna, he said he could actually feel his German senti- 
ments growing strong with his muscles and his will. 

The student fraternities, when they came along in the 1840's, 
were even more dangerous than the gymnastic groups, for the boys 
not only climbed mountains and read books together, but kept up 
correspondence with students in other German universities. The 
University of Vienna was passionately pro-German. 5 

Most startling of all the students' activities were their efforts to 
reach the workers. They began to make friends with the working 
class systematically in the years before 1848, going into their homes 
and taverns, trying to help them to an understanding of their 

end of every semester, prescribed by the rules, prevented the formation of truly 
creative or deeply educated men. 

5 When Schuselka, the most famous Austrian pamphleteer, went into exile in 1842 
before the first fraternity was formed at Vienna, and ran into his first student society 
at Jena, he wept for his lost student days at Vienna where he had never had that 
much fun or that much sense of purpose. 



Thus, when 1848 rolled around, all kinds of people had begun 
to talk about reform, from Archduchess Sophia down through the 
estates, the businessmen, the university, and even those workers 
whom the students and the reading society had been able to reach. 
Nobody had acted, however, and no one quite realized how different 
action would be from words. 

Vienna, they were all sure, was to lead the Empire. If they could 
only get a constitution, like France, and reforms like France, then 
Austria would move ahead like France and become the same sort 
of country. The reformers were German in blood, from the Arch- 
duchess down to the students, and they all assumed they were being 
generous in offering to get for other races the same liberties they 
were asking for themselves. Thus, in Prague, in the first flush of 
revolutionary excitement, Germans and Czechs worked out a common 
platform. Yet, it was only a few days before that the two races 
had split hopelessly because the Czechs went on to demand auton- 
omy, to the Germans 5 great surprise and chagrin. 

The truth was, four great races were coming into national self- 
consciousness under the Hapsburg dominion. Germans were the 
governing race, but there were important bodies of Hungarians 
and Italians who did not want to be governed by Germans any 
more, and half the Emperor's subjects were Slavs. However, so 
many of these were peasants, and the rest were divided into such 
small groups (except in Bohemia) that they could do little more 
than echo the cries for nationhood which the master races were 
screaming for loudly. 

Vienna was a German city. It felt itself as much a part of Ger- 
many as any town on the Rhine. And this put the German popula- 
tion of the Empire in the most difficult position of any of the three 
master races. At least, the Italians and Hungarians knew what they 
wanted, independence from Vienna. But the pan-Germans were un- 
willing to give up either form of possible greatness, the unity of the 
great German fatherland as the Frankfurt professors saw it, or 
their own position as the "German soul" of the Austrian Empire 
whose mission it was to civilize the other races. Without these Ger- 
mans, Germany would be incomplete (as Hitler reminded them 
ninety years later when the Anschluss was consummated) . Without 
them, too, Austria would fall apart, and they were not ready for 
that. The dramatist Hebbel described their dflemma vis-a-vis other 



Germans as if two people who wanted to kiss each other wanted to 
turn their backs on each other at the same time. 

Their dilemma might have made them sympathetic to the prob- 
lems of the other races, but instead the German Austrians seem to 
have ignored them. For one thing they were not encouraged to 
travel or see Austria first. "Do you think the Empire is a dovecote 
where everyone can fly around as he pleases?" Hans Kudlich was 
asked by a police official when he applied for permission to go home 
for his vacation from the University of Vienna by a slightly longer 
route than he had taken on the way up. He had been sick and wanted 
to walk home, with some mountain climbing for his health. But even 
if they had been allowed to get about more, Austrian Germans 
would still have learned little from the peoples whom they were, 
after all, out to teach, not be taught by. Their ears were tuned 
to Western Germany, where the program of a liberal and united 
Germany was being broadcast with all the two Gagerns' learning 
and pathos. 

Of course, these liberal mentors copied their ideas from France. 
It took the Frankfurt Assembly a year of storm and stress to de- 
cide that the French ideas did not work for their territory, that 
they preferred power to freedom. In Austria the French ideas 
filtered through German minds, were at two removes from reality. 6 
This misconception is what brought drama to the Austrian revolu- 

* Cribbing of French ideas by Austrian liberals shows up most amusingly in the 
Austrians' attitude toward Poland and Italy. The French, of course, were strong 
for Polish and Italian independence. Even though parts of Poland and Italy were 
under their own emperor, it took a revolution, with the possible threat of having to 
put their ideas into action, to make the liberals of both Frankfurt and Vienna think 
up reasons why it would be better for Poles and Lombards to remain subject to the 
enlightened domination of Germans. 

In 1847, Franz Schuselka, a pamphleteer, whose works on Austria, written in exile, 
were smuggled in and widely read inside that country, described the Austria he would 
like to see. He called himself one of the few who held the entire Empire to be his 
fatherland, and even he excepted Galicia and Lombardy. His point was that the Slav 
burden which Austrian Germans were called upon to carry was too heavy. In order 
to increase the proportion of German-speaking Austrians, he was in favor of giving 
Galicia to a reconstituted Poland. He also felt that Poland's years of struggle to 
become a nation entitled her to sympathy. Italians also seemed an unassimilable race; 
he believed the Hapsburgs would be stronger without Lombardy. (This was, inci- 
dentally, Lord Palmerston's opinion, in the British Foreign Office.) Himself a Ger- 
man from Bohemia, Schuselka felt his Czech neighbors would make loyal Austrians, 
and he would give short shrift to the national aspirations of Croats, Serbs, Rouma- 
nians and other groups scattered through the Empire. 

But, in 1848, when Schuselka became a member of the liberal Diet, with the power 
to treat with the various provinces, it occurred to him sharply how dangerous it would 
be for Lombardy to fall under French influence, or Galicia under Russian. 



tion. The radicals went right ahead copying Paris, telling them- 
selves they were fighting the worst absolutism in Europe, the worst 
censorship, the most stringent economic controls, until they ran 
smack into other problems they had never calculated* These prob- 
lems came from the peculiar nature of the Austrian Empire; the 
doctrinaires could have studied them but did not. The court and 
the army always knew they were running an empire ; Vienna forgot, 
in her struggle against that court and army, that she was not, like 
Paris, the only spot of political importance in a homogeneous 


Student Government in Vienna 

No ONE in Vienna believed that the capital would get through the 
1848 epidemic of revolution unscathed as it had the 1830 outbreak. 
Still, even after they heard about the revolt in Paris, the Viennese 
could not imagine just how to begin. Early in March they began to 
crowd the cafes for the sake of a look at a newspaper which might 
give them a clue for action. Meanwhile, paper money fell thirty 
per cent and banks which formerly did business through two win- 
dows had to open ten to change paper into gold. Meat prices rose 
again, and a thousand men were added to the secret police force. 

Out of this general uneasiness the liberal party began to pluck 
up courage. The businessmen's association was the first, taking the 
small dare of asking the government for expansion of credit. (The 
year 1848 was the last time that business could seem radical.) Every- 
one watched to see what would happen. The Council of State con- 
demned this action as a matter of routine, but when no one was 
actually punished, other people's bravery increased. 

The best hopes of the liberals up to this point had rested in the 
Lower Austrian Estates, the provincial assembly which met in 
Vienna. Its scheduled meeting day was moved up to March 13 to 
answer the excitement, and everyone prepared to present all griev- 
ances to this body in the hope that it could ask for a great deal 
with impunity. Its o-wn committee, too, was busy preparing a list 
of modest concessions to beg from the crown. 

The idea of a student petition may have begun as a joke in an 
inn, but it soon got to be the most serious business of the entire uni- 
versity. On March 9 forty men from all the fraternities met, swore 
an oath of brotherhood, called each other "du," and pledged loyalty 
to the German fatherland. A group of them, medical and engineer- 
ing students, met secretly at night after that, posting sentries 
against police intrusion, and made a draft of a student petition 
whose main point was abolition of censorship together with freedom 
of teaching. They worded it carefully and had a sharp debate on 
whether to provoke the authorities by using the word "liberty." 



Since their blood was up, they decided it would be worth it to their 
own morale to publish this almost unheard word. 

To speak of freedom had often cost students of the Empire dear. 
The least punishment these young men could expect was revocation 
of their permission to live in Vienna. They must also have remem- 
bered those Prague students who, some years before, had been in- 
ducted into the army as common soldiers and required to do the most 
despicable labor, hauling baggage trains. Nor was the regime sof- 
tening with the times for in January 184*8, the same punishment 
was given the Milanese students who started the tobacco riots in 

In the face of such possibilities, a student meeting was publicly 
called for Sunday morning, March 12. 

The police were worried but wished to act tactfully, so they asked 
the rector of the university whether he would like their help to rule 
the meeting. The rector was convinced that if the police came, the 
meeting would end in a massacre, so he promised instead that he 
and the other professors would go and try to quiet the young men. 

On Sunday morning the students first went to Mass, where they 
listened to a sermon by their theology professor, Anton Fiister. 
Fiister was one of those excitable radicals whom the church has 
often attracted into its work with young people or into heretical 
fringes, and almost as often cast out later. Fiister was a huge priest 
of enormous energy, opposed to celibacy of the clergy, 1 tireless in 
leading the young men whom he idealized and in whose company he 
spent the happiest hours of his life. The March days were like a 
shot of adrenalin to his already energetic disposition, so that when 
the authorities asked him to change his text for this particular Sun- 
day, he told them a sermon could not be altered at the last minute. 
In church he told his eager hearers that truth would conquer, that 
better times would come, and he exhorted them to act with courage 
and to hope. Frantically, the students streamed from church to the 
Aula, the great hall of the university, where someone read the 

1 There was a strong movement among Austrian clergy to change the dogmas of 
Rome. In advocating married clergy and the use of the vernacular in church, Fiister 
was not alone. A body of Catholic clergy in Hungary voted for these reforms during 
the revolution. The danger that the Austrian church might actually secede from Rome 
was apparently so great that Pope Pius IX believed it would happen if papal troops 
fought against Austria in the war to free Italy, and this was one of the reasons 
which kept the papacy at peace during 1848 although moral reasons were probably 
even stronger in Pius* mind. 



petition for freedom. The moment it was finished a great cry for 
pens rose up and the whole audience crowded around the desk to 
sign the petition. The professors could not do anything with them 
except that finally Professor Hye (the one who had spoken out for 
Cracow two years before) got the students to give the document 
into his care. He and another professor had to swear to take it that 
very evening to the Emperor and to report to the Aula at another 
meeting early the next morning. 

Etiquette at the palace had broken down so far that the profes- 
sors were indeed received that very evening. His Majesty accepted 
the petition and graciously replied that he would take it under 

The professors realized that to the students this reply was as 
bad as an outright refusal. The young men knew perfectly well that 
if they failed to win everything, they would lose everything, and 
many of them were afraid to sleep in their beds that night. And 
indeed there was plenty of work to keep them awake. In planning 
how to meet the crisis, they knew the workers would be their most 
valuable allies, so a large group of students went to the suburbs 
and systematically aroused the workers from their beds and tried 
to form them into a guard for the next day. 

For that was the day, Monday the 13th, that the Estates were 
to meet ; and everyone was sure it would be a fateful meeting. The 
diplomatic corps, eager for a view of Vienna in revolt, collected at 
the Belgian Legation, conveniently across the street from the Land- 
haus, where the Assembly was to meet. Citizens took what vantage 
points they could find, ready to gape, to mock, to cheer as their 
more sanguine friends got ready their petitions. An assembly repre- 
senting just one small province was not the proper place to dump 
the problems of an empire, but in default of a better one everyone 
was counting on it. 

Long before eight o'clock in the morning, the university was like 
a beehive with coming and going. Among the crowd there were many 
characters who did not commonly show up in that part of town; 
their appearance now seemed like a presage of bad weather. In the 
eight o'clock statistics class, the window was opened from the outside 
and someone hurled a proclamation inside. No one paid any atten- 
tion to the philosophy class because the doors kept opening and 



voices called through them, "Get out and go over to the Aula." The 
redoubtable Fiister, teaching logic, tried to make things as interest- 
ing as he could, but still he told the class that anyone who felt he 
must go might depart with his blessing. He assured them the Em- 
peror would listen, and at the mention of the Emperor's name, there 
was a great hissing and scraping of feet. The physics class was 
taught by a professor who had taught at Lemberg in Poland, where 
he had seen his young men led off by soldiers and thrown into prison 
for revolutionary talk. As he told his Vienna students the story, he 
wept and they listened, but when the class was over they went out 
and promptly forgot all about it in the press of excitement, 
v At nine everyone crowded toward the Aula to hear Professor 
Hye's report about Sunday's petition. He implored the students 
to wait for the Emperor's answer before they did anything rash, 
and tried to show them how much trouble they would make by 
lawlessness, both for the city and for their own parents who, he 
said, would be childless and destitute if these boys should be executed 
or imprisoned. His only answer was a "No" thundered by every 
voice at once, so imperative that no one who heard it ever forgot it. 
Then they began to yell "To the Landhaus, let us march to the 
Landhaus" and they pressed to the doors and out in a long stream 
toward the building where the Estates were to meet. A policeman 
who tried to stand in their way was just picked up and set aside. 
As they passed, many people trembled at their bravery, many more 
laughed at them. And many followed along to see what would hap- 
pen or give them support. 

The members of the Estates had been told by the police to wear 
plain frock coats instead of their usual fancy uniforms, so it was 
easy for a few non-members to slip inside their hall with them, but 
naturally, most of the crowd remained outside in the courtyard, 
moving in and out, looking from above like a sea of heads. They 
wanted news of how their petition was getting along without even 
giving the Estates time to call themselves to order. 

In the crowd was a young doctor, Adolf Fischhof , who felt as if 
he could not bear it if this moment slipped by without action. Was 
there no single soul who dared to speak up ? You are no better than 
the others, he said to himself, so, not knowing exactly what he 
wished to say, he raised his voice and began, "Gentlemen." Immedi- 
ately, there were cries for silence and he was raised on the shoulders 



of some students. People who looked up at him saw a pale handsome 
face frarted in black hair and beard, with something about his far- 
gazing "features and expression of quiet earnestness that showed 
him unmistakably as the Jew that he was. "Gentlemen," he said 
again, "This is a great day." And he went on to tell the people that 
they must force their demands on the Estates, free press first of all 
and as he continued he listed most of the other wishes of Aus- 
trians, winding up with an appeal for unity in the whole Empire, 
the wisdom of which no one at the moment appreciated. 2 

Just then a young man came plunging through the mob, joy 
beaming from his face, waving a paper and crying "Kossuth's 
speech. Kossuth's speech." The moment was electric. For ten days 
rumors had been going about town concerning a speech which the 
great Hungarian had given to his countrymen at the moment when 
he was inspired by the news of the Paris revolution. Everyone had 
heard of this speech, but very few had actually read the copies 
which were smuggled in and translated and passed from hand to 
hand. Now the mob hushed so that people as far away as possible 
could hear the magic words. For Kossuth was not afraid to use 
the word liberty. Hungary was a free country, he said, with an 
age-old constitution, and he demanded that the Hapsburgs should 
give her back her ancient rights. But Hungary could never count 
on her freedom, he insisted, under a king who was at the same time 
an absolute emperor to the rest of his dominions. Austria must have 
a constitution, too. (Hungary persisted in this demand right 
through 1867, when the system of the dual monarchy was set up 
and Austria then received a constitution at the hands of her sister 

When they heard this part of the speech, the people began yell- 
ing in spite of themselves. A constitution hardly anyone in Vienna 
had dared to think of such a thing, not even the students. 3 Here 

2 Fischhof was an assistant physician in obstetrics at the Vienna General Hospital 
at this time, an institution that at times cared for 3,000 patients, but had only 36 
physicians on its staff. Fischhof received 40 kreuzers a day, or less than 40 cents. 

He had been raised in Hungary, the freest part of the empire, and entered medical 
school because Jews were excluded from other branches of the university. Fischhof, 
however, employed his spare time, while a student, in studying politics and history. 
He even gave up the tutoring job which supported him so as to have more time to 
read, although he almost starved as a result. In this way he laid the groundwork for a 
career which earned for him the title "the deepest political thinker of the period" 
from the great historian of the Hapsburgs, Oscar J&szi. But in 1848 he was only 
three years out of school. 

*One reason the students of Vienna were not ready to stress a constitution for 



was courage, here was progress, pushing them beyond their dreams. 
As the young reader drew toward the end of his paper, a w>ice from 
a window in the Landhaus cried "From the Estates," and a fmndred 
arms passed a piece of paper toward the young man who was stand- 
ing on a fountain. But the mob would not let him read the news 
from the Estates until he had finished every last word from Kos- 
suth. Then he opened the new paper and read a somewhat humble 
request to the Emperor to call a united diet (like Prussia's) to 
consider reform. 

"That's nothing. Tear it up," people yelled, and the Estates* 
document was torn into a hundred pieces and scattered down on 
the heads of the crowd. "We want deeds, not words. No wishes, no 
prayers. We demand. We have the right to do it." A young man 
with dark face and flaming eyes climbed arrogantly on the fountain. 
"Dismiss the minister everyone hates," he cried. "What's his name? 
Tell us his name," roared the people below. "Metternich." This sally 
was met with bravos. Finally the crowd elected twelve representa- 
tives to enter the Assembly Hall and chaperon the debate, as in Paris 
the mob had sent observers to watch deliberations of the first session 
of the provisional government. Even under the severe eyes of these 
critics, the Estates could not lose their old habit of respect. Never- 
theless, they decided, or were forced, to carry their platform to the 
Emperor. When this decision reached the crowd, joy broke over 
every face. A path opened up for the chosen delegates to march 
through as when the waters of the Red Sea parted for Moses. Even 
the grenadiers opened their ranks. The committeemen were met 
along the whole road to the Hofburg with handkerchief wavings 
and greetings. Some delay was occasioned when the president could 
not lay hands on a black dress coat appropriate for an audience, 
but finally the deputation reached the throne of the All-Highest 
and received the tidings, already familiar, that their wishes "would 
be taken under consideration." 

All this time the press outside was getting thicker, if that were 
possible, and the good citizens who hoped for peaceful reforms were 

Austria was the fear of upsetting plans for German unity which they so much desired, 
The Frankfurt Parliament had not yet met, in March 1848, but rumors were plentiful 
about it, and good German-Austrians were reluctant to push their country into a 
path of possible separatism. It was, indeed, the constitution given to the whole of the 
empire in March, 1849, that killed any hope at Frankfurt that part of the Austrian 
Empire might be included in their German Reich. 



considerably surprised to find themselves mingling with a number 
of those workers from the suburbs whom the students had engaged 
to come and help them. With sudden shrinking, many burghers felt 
they would rather keep on with tyranny from above than be caught 
fighting on the same side as the rabble from the factories. 

Ordinarily, the two classes never mixed, for the inner city of 
Vienna was still surrounded by its ancient walls and moat, and out- 
side was a broad grass-covered glacis which separated it from the 
suburbs where the workers lived. 

During the morning of March 13, the city gates were ordered 
shut, so that all but a few hundred workmen were successfully kept 
out of the city. Some students who happened to be shut out too were 
almost frantic at missing the excitement. One bribed a mail coach 
to let him hang on an axle and rode inside that way. But even the 
few workers who got in heartened the radicals and students and 
terrified the milder citizens to the point where they began shrieking 
for arms, a national guard to protect property. Up to this point, 
the national guard had seemed a very radical demand, stemming 
straight from Paris, but now it became one the government was al- 
most eager to gratify. For the government was losing self-confidence 
rapidly and hoped the burghers would forget their other wishes in 
their excitement of being under arms. 4 

For perhaps the first time with misgivings, the Hapsburgs called 
out their troops. Grenadiers were ordered to the Landhaus; they 
swam through the crowd rather than marched to their places and 
when the people yelled "Sheath your bayonets," they did so. Ap- 
parently, the people did not believe the guns could be loaded, and 
to convince them that they were, an officer commanded the soldiers 

* In their demand for citizens to bear arms, the 1848 revolutionists were fighting for 
a right Americans already possessed, one for which the drafters of our Bill of Rights 
felt it was important enough to amend our Constitution. A hundred years ago it still 
seemed like a right which gave the common man some hope of power. A regular 
army could always be counted on to beat the militia, but it could not always be 
counted on to want to try. The army was still thought of as an instrument of internal 
repression as much as a defensive force against foreign countries. In Paris the de- 
mand had been to widen the class base of the national guard. In Berlin it had been 
to set one up. In Vienna there may have been a skeleton force already, for Helfert 
describes the March IS demand as being to let the guard patrol the inner city. If 
this were not the case, how were they organized so quickly that they could defend the 
arsenal that night? Only the students were issued arms, as if the citizens already had 
them. And if there had never been a guard in Vienna, how would the g6n6raU, beaten 
to call them out that day, be recognized? 



to put the ramrods in the barrels of their guns and march across 
the square. The press became tighter and tighter, and a citizen got 
so close that he was able to burn a grenadier's beard with his cigar 
and blow smoke in his face. The Archduke Albert, the military com- 
mandant of the city, rode by on a horse. People hated him because 
he would not let them smoke in the streets, so on this disrespectful 
day only a few hats came off as he rode by, and soon a piece of wood 
flew by his head and knocked off his eyeglasses. He turned and rode 
away. From the Landhaus people started throwing furniture down 
on the grenadiers. They were ordered to fire a salvo into the air 
and then one aimed lower, right into the crowd. They killed five 
people and wounded more the wounds were washed in the same 
fountain on which the students had climbed to harangue the crowd. 

The center of the crowd, by this time, was no longer at the 
Landhaus, but had followed the parade of petitioners toward the 
Hofburg, the Emperor's palace. The mob hooted at the rows of 
dragoons and the cannon busily being arranged. Stores around 
that part of town closed, householders barred their doors, and the 
frightened cabbies fled, sometimes leaving their horses hitched to 
their posts. The usual thing happened when the mob began pressing 
close an archduke ordered the troops to fire. In this case, however, 
the soldiers were surprised and hesitated. One cannoneer, later court- 
martialed, testified that he had refused to fire because the order had 
not come from his proper superior. The archduke, some said, was in 
civilian dress and had not been recognized as an officer. After a sec- 
ond most of the soldiers responded to their old discipline, but that 
moment's delay was to be enough to cause the court to go into a funk. 

The people were enraged. They saw the first victim fall, a bril- 
liant eighteen-year-old mathematician; then others were killed and 
wounded around them, and they grabbed whatever weapons they 
could find. The workmen had brought crowbars and axes, other 
citizens threw stones. And the students, outraged, began to cry for 
arms. They announced that they would storm the arsenal with bare 
hands at nine that evening, if arms had not been granted to them 
by that time. 

The gentle Ferdinand, like Louis Philippe and Frederick Wil- 
liam, could hardly bear the news that his citizens* blood was being 
shed. He said he would give anything rather than have the fighting 
go on, and by this time most of his brothers and uncles were ready 



to agree with him, though not, in their case, out of good nature, 
but from policy, since many of them believed in reform anyway and 
all of them were terrified by the scene in front of them. 

To the people it was only apparent that their emperor loved them 
when he announced that civil officials were to handle the crowds, the 
soldiers were to be used only if these failed, and all the things the 
Estates had asked for would be granted. His picture was commonly 
crowned with flowers after this concession. 

At the university things were still in a turmoil by late afternoon. 
Professor Hye had to announce to the students that there was as 
yet no answer to their petition, and he boldly added that though he 
had four children, he would stand with them until they got arms as 
well as a free press. Their fathers and elder brothers were being sum- 
moned to the national guard at that very moment the noise of 
happy greeting almost drowned the sound of the drum, and when- 
ever an armed citizen appeared he was embraced, whereas a soldier 
would be insulted. The crowd tried to get one soldier drummer to 
beat the generate for the citizens, and when he said he could not, 
they broke his drumsticks and the skin on his drum. It did not help 
matters any when shots were fired from police headquarters on a 
company of thirty of the newly summoned militia. 

All this excitement was, of course, more than the students could 
stand to watch, and they determined to send their rector and two 
professors to persuade the authorities to grant them the arms they 
desired. Everyone at court was too busy to pay much attention to 
the pleas of mere students at a time when the cabinet was shaking 
(it was the moment of Metternich's resignation) . The rector knew 
he was being given a run-around, and remembering the stern young 
faces at the Aula, he forced his way into the reception room of the 
Aj-chduke Louis (who was Ferdinand's alter ipse), and, though he 
was a stooped and stiff little seventy-year-old, he threw himself on 
his knees in front of His Royal Highness and implored him to save 
blood. At this point a second delegation, from the medical school, 
came to back up the students' wishes, and news that the militia had 
been fired on arrived at the same moment. That meant the roof was 
on fire, said someone at court. The dean of the medical school said 
he would lay his head on the block if the students used their arms 
for any purpose except to keep order, and he begged Louis to keep 



him as a hostage for their good behavior. At first Louis said they 
could be armed the next morning, but the students had named nine 
that night as their deadline. At 8 :20 the court gave in and ordered 
the arsenal to pass out arms to them that very evening. 

To the students praying in the Aula it seemed as if God had 
mercy, for the arms came. Four corps were left to guard the beloved 
university buildings; the others marched to the arsenal, and were 
to come back and relieve the first ones later. The distribution took 
nearly all night. It was done by torchlight and moonlight, and since 
everyone in the world wanted arms, the professor who was passing 
the students through tried to ask questions in Latin, so that common 
citizens might not get in. This test did not work because the en- 
gineering students did not know Latin either, so the professor re- 
framed his questions to ask ones which it would take some sort of 
a higher education to answer. The students fell upon their weapons, 
and immediately justified the trust of the dean of the medical school 
in proving to be the only group that could control the workers. The 
very first day they kept them from a number of violent acts, includ- 
ing a raid on the Treasury. 

Just at the time when the students were winning their arms, their 
arch enemy, Prince Metternich, quit his office. He had known for 
a long time that the country suffered from incurable ailments "I 
am too old a physician to be deceived" and the news of Guizot's 
fall in Paris struck him like the death knell. 

Not for a minute, though, did he lose his perfect composure. Dur- 
ing the morning of March 13, he had telegraphed Pressburg that 
by evening all would be quiet. Later on in the day, he appeared at 
a state conference fastidiously dressed in a green morning coat and 
brightly colored trousers. Glancing out of the window, he made 
a comment about the rabble outdoors, and when someone observed 
that there were many well-dressed people in the street, he said, "If 
my son were among those people, I would still call them rabble." 
Towards evening his enemies proposed to his face that he resign. 
Metternich only bowed courteously, saying that he did not want his 
term of office to outlast his usefulness to the state, but that he had 
promised the Emperor's father never to abandon Ferdinand. That 
remark only sent people scurrying, with the natural bad manners 
of the court, to get poor Ferdinand to give an official kick to his old 



servant; it was not hard to do, and with perfect sang-froid Prince 
Metternich withdrew. Let no one think, he gently reminded pro- 
testing friends, that the fate of Austria depended on any one man. 
The country could be lost only if it gave itself up. 

Outside the palace the crowds were yelling so fiercely against 
Metternich that Archduke Louis said he could not be responsible 
for his life a fine admission from the very Hapsburg who had 
served with the great minister as a regent of the Empire for thirteen 
years. And the state treasury would not even advance him cash for 
a trip to England. The Prince finally got a loan from his friends, 
the Rothschilds, and made his way out of Vienna in a common cab. 
After various adventures, he succeeded in settling in England, from 
whence he watched the Empire he had held together so long, fall 
swiftly, though temporarily, to pieces. 

When the citizens heard that Metternich had fallen and that they 
were to have a national guard, lights appeared in every window. In 
some quarters the mob went around smashing every darkened pane. 
In itself, this illumination was a sign that times had changed. Ten 
years back, when the term of military service was reduced to eight 
years, the citizens wanted to light up their houses to show their 
pleasure and were forbidden on the theory that it was not their 
privilege to express either favorable or unfavorable opinions on 
acts of the crown. 

Inside the city gates that night was peaceful rejoicing, but in the 
suburbs, things were different. After the gates were closed Monday 
morning, rumors began to spread outside, but very little authentic 
news came out. Towards the end of the day, some men wearing white 
scarves came out and told the workers the concessions that had been 
made, but these had very little effect on men who were having their 
first chance in years to get even with their bosses. So while the city 
burned lamps and candles, the workers made their illumination by 
setting fire to all the toll houses, where duties on food entering the 
city were collected, and by knocking down the gas lights on the 
glacis. Flames rushed out of breaks in the pipe making a terrifying 
ring of fire. The danger grew when the whole stock of a liquor ware- 
house was allowed to run out in the streets and catch fire. Then the 
workers rushed into their factories and shops and began to destroy 
the machinery, which they believed took away the jobs they had 
been brought up to do. Police noticed how little private pilfering 



went on in all this violence. Revenge was the workers 5 motive, and 
they protected the property of employers who had been good to 
them. Particularly, the workers on the Vienna-Gloggnitz railroad, 
special friends of the students, defended both the tracks and the 
shops. In other shops, so much blood was up that it took even the 
students several days to restore order. 

A number of employers were ruined by this violence; a lot of 
workers found shortly that they had destroyed their own livelihoods. 
All of this was to make trouble a few months later. But, also, in the 
first flush of March goodwill, many employers settled long-term 
grievances. The directors of the Vienna-Gloggnitz railroad reduced 
the working day in their shops to ten hours, in gratitude, they said, 
and most other big plants followed suit. Others gave wage increases. 

On the next day, Tuesday, March 14, the press was declared free. 
Men wearing white ribbons paraded the city to announce the fact, 
for white meant both a free press and constitutionalism in all the 
1848 period. Soon the bookstores dragged into the open all their 
stocks of forbidden books. By the 16th boys were hawking pictures 
and poems of the revolutionary events. 

On the 14th also, the national guard began enrolling 40,000 
men, who were soon patrolling the streets. The only place left in 
the hands of regular troops was the palace, for the Hapsburgs ap- 
parently lacked that dramatic confidence which allowed Hohen- 
zollern Frederick William to entrust himself to his citizens' protec- 
tion. Ferdinand would have been just as safe. The grateful Viennese 
referred to him as "our Ferdy," and told each other that he was only 
doing what he had always wanted to do, now that his bad advisers 
were out of the way. 

As for the students, they wept for joy over their guns and set 
about organizing their famous Academic Legion. The jobs they set 
themselves were to defend the university, patrol the suburbs and 
watch the city gates, for they were afraid the gates would be shut 
on them again. One group went out to the shops of the Vienna- 
Gloggnitz railroad to announce all the good news to their friends 
there, and the black sooty workers let out such a yell as had never 
been heard in those yards before. "We did not have hands enough 
to press all the hands that were reached out to- us," said one of the 
students later. 



The students at the gates finished the destruction of the customs 
houses which the workers' fires had begun. Then, before anyone 
could stop them, they attacked the Liguorian convent and drove 
out the monks. 5 "Just to have lived through those days is enough 
for one lifetime, 5 ' declared a member of the Academic Legion twenty- 
five years later. 

On March 15, Kossuth himself appeared in the city, to press his 
demands for a separate ministry for Hungary and a constitution 
for Austria. The Emperor, whose advisers had completely lost their 
nerve, gave in to everything. The Hungarians who had come with 
Kossuth to help Vienna fight for liberty found nothing left to do but 
dance in the streets ; and as for the man who wrote "Constitution" 
on a banner and carried it through the streets, women kissed his 
clothes, mothers held their children up so that they would always 
remember the sight. In two days Austria seemed to have been jerked 
from the most backward of European nations to the most advanced. 

While the people were rejoicing because they had won more than 
they had ever hoped to ask for, the men left at court were grinding 
their teeth because they had given more than they had ever meant 
to give. At first they went into a panic which Radowitz, then in 
Vienna on a mission from the King of Prussia, satirized when writ- 
ing to his master, for he was ignorant of the agonies which Frederick 
William was undergoing on these same March days. For centuries 
the imperial household had lived so far from their subjects that now 
they had no way to guess what these subjects would ask for next or 
how far they would go. Even the famous spy system did not work. 
They were scared for their lives, their power and their property; 
in injured innocence one aristocrat could lament the passing "of our 
good life which hurt no one and gave livelihood to many" ; in out- 
raged self -righteousness another, who helped Metternich to escape 
and wanted to draw a moral in a British journal, could hope "that 

5 In 1830, Emperor Francis had allowed the Jesuit and Liguorian orders to return 
officially to his dominions, whence they had been expelled in the previous century, 
because they fitted in with his ideas of conservatism. Radicals considered them the 
worst evil in Austria, because of their venality, their encouragement of superstition 
and the throttle hold they had on education. They not only ran practically all the 
high schools (when they took over Hans Kudlich's school, they stopped the boys from 
singing German chorales and forbade nude bathing in the river, two old and joyous 
customs), but even university students had upon occasion to procure certificates that 
they had attended mass and confession. There was quite an active black market in 
such certificates. 



in England every man who possesses even the smallest income will 
stand with the government." 

The sterner spirits collected themselves. Prince Alfred von Win- 
dischgratz, the military commander of Vienna after Archduke Al- 
bert retired, had advised firing with heavy guns on the mob on 
Monday. By Thursday he was still ready to break out with his 
soldiers in the face of the armed citizenry and the Emperor's 
promise of peace. Balked in this, he stored up his fury. Prague, 
Vienna, and Budapest were to feel its force within a year, but his 
first move was to drill an army. Though the liberals at Vienna kept 
asking the government what Windischgratz's maneuvers could be 
for, they never got an answer until the army was turned against 

Meanwhile the Archduchess Sophia, who had been considered a 
friend of reform, became the revolution's most dangerous enemy. 
"I could have borne the loss of one of my children, 55 this fierce 
matriarch declared, "more easily than I can the ignominy of sub- 
mitting to a mass of students. In the future, the shame of the past 
will seem simply incredible. 55 And in March 1848, she began writing 
to her friends in the Russian Court for help, thus instinctively fol- 
lowing the policy which a year later was to save the Empire, the 
dynasty, and absolutism in Austria. 

The party which won the victory in March had more pressing 
dangers to meet than a vague and secret court hostility. The liberal 
leaders had to rush into jobs for which they had no preparation; 
they did not even have an educated rank and file behind them. Yet, 
nothing in the confident way they took over the government fore- 
told their slow heartbreak on realizing that those trained for power, 
like Windischgratz and Sophia, still knew how to win at that game. 

With victory in their hands, the students became by all odds the 
most conspicuous, colorful, and popular group in Vienna. The 
Academic Legion adopted a uniform of black felt hats with ostrich 
plumes, blue coats with shining buttons, black-red-gold sashes in 
token of their German patriotism, bright steel-handled swords which 
the wearers took pains to hang low enough so that they clanked 
along the pavement, light gray trousers, and to top everything, 
silver gray cloaks lined with scarlet. No wonder these young men 
were the admiration of the student world. For the first time in his- 



tory, an Austrian government let delegates from Vienna go to one 
of the congresses of students from all German universities, and in 
this summer of 1848 they even paid their way out of public funds. 
The girls of Eisenach where the congress met would hardly dance 
with anyone except these Viennese and the students from other 
places envied them not only their dancing partners, but their chance 
to take such a serious part in world affairs. 

For back in Vienna, the Aula soon became the center of all revolu- 
tionary activity. Student committees sat there to deliberate on every 
measure the government brought up ; they also handled grievances 
for their friends, the workers, and incidentally ran the university 
and their own legion. Students ate, drank, and slept in the Aula and 
had dates with girls there. By September most of the portraits in 
the Aula had their faces cut out, with monkey faces put in the holes, 
or else mustaches were added to embellish ancient dignitaries. 

The first day after the revolution the professors took up a col- 
lection among themselves to provide bread, cheese, and beer for 
everyone in the Aula. After that Dr. Fiister, the priest whose sermon 
gave so much momentum to the revolution, took over the job of 
keeping the university stocked with food and drink. Young men 
kept coming in at all hours, exhausted by their patrol duties in the 
city. Many of the students had always been poor, and even some 
of the boys from rich families had to ask for relief now ; their parents 
were unsympathetic with the duties of running a revolution. It was 
very common for fathers to refuse to pay for the uniform of the 
Academic Legion. Fiister, however, was able to get a substantial 
contribution from the big bankers, Rothschild and Sina; he was 
touched when at the same time a group of workers came to him and 
offered to contribute a kreuzer each out of their daily wages to help 
maintain their student friends. In order not to hurt their feelings, 
Fiister accepted a lump sum from these workers, but he told them 
the daily levy would not be needed. 

The Academic Legion was organized almost overnight as an au- 
tonomous branch of the national guard. Corps of law, medical, 
philosophical, polytechnic and art students were formed and the 
total grew to nearly 5,000. True, there were only 2,000 matricu- 
lated at the university, but all graduates and teachers were admitted 
to the Legion, and gradually there was an infiltration of such dubi- 



ously intellectual craftsmen as house painters, barbers, actors, and 
clerks, who by fall had somewhat spoiled the show. 

Dr. Fiister became the chaplain and spiritual leader of the 
Legion, and his sermons became more inflammatory than ever. One 
of his first duties 'was to preach the funeral sermon of the students 
who had been killed on the streets on March 13. As before, his 
superiors tried to stop him without success. Was not one man who 
fell for freedom worth more than a bishop or emperor? he said to 
their faces. In full clerical dress he proceeded to conduct the service. 
During the course of it he saw the Rabbi, also in full regalia, near 
the bodies of the dead Jewish students. Fiister went to him and had 
him march at his side in the funeral procession. 

There was, in fact, neither anti-Semitism nor class prejudice in 
the Legion. The students succeeded eventually in having the special 
tax on Jews who wanted to live in Vienna lifted, and they stood 
loyally, if a bit paternalistically, behind every need of their worker 
friends. It was an era of general good feeling. Fuster, who had to 
spend the later years of his life in exile for his part in the revolution, 
said that in his last hour he would forget the bitterness of death in 
remembering those wonderful young men, that beautiful time which 
he lived through in Vienna. 

May was the month of intoxication. Women, too, considered it a 
spree and Schuselia, the middle-aged radical returned from exile, 
was shocked to find that his young friends extended fraternization 
to girls. 

Even their touchiest emotion, nationalism, they managed to keep 
on a high plane at the beginning, though it was here that the first 
rift came between student and student. The Legion wore the German 
colors and was immensely proud of its feat of hanging them on the 
tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral on April 2. They even planted 
the black-red-gold banner in the Emperor's hand, and when poor 
Ferdinand appeared waving them, he was greeted with more fervor 
than ever before in his life. (It was the same concession to the people 
that Frederick William of Prussia made at the same time, and in 
both cases the black-red-gold band was hailed equally as a guar- 
antee of constitutional reform and as a pledge toward unification 
of Germany.) To other races the Vienna students stressed the 
brotherhood of peoples and during the summer the Aula exchanged 
flags for that was the ceremony with French, Hungarian, Polish, 

22 1 


Groat, Slovene, and Serb students. But the Czech students at 
Vienna protested that the capital of the Austrian Empire had no 
right to consider itself exclusively German and they made so much 
trouble, that they were finally given twenty-four hours to leave town. 

However, student affairs were bound to seem insignificant to 
young men who felt called upon to run an empire. After Metternich 
departed there was no one at the Hofburg brave or smart enough 
to form a cabinet, though a succession of men made the attempt. 
Ferdinand was now pledged to govern in the constitutional manner, 
but since there was as yet no constitution no one had any idea what 
the ministers 5 powers should be. Nevertheless, the students followed 
them like bloodhounds to be sure no government officials got away 
with anything the Aula did not like. 

The first tangle between students and the administration came 
over the freedom of the press. The three newspapers which had been 
published in Vienna before March quickly grew to a hundred. Like 
Paris, the city was flooded with reading matter, much of it so wild 
that educated citizens who were used to the quiet innuendos which 
had passed the censor quickly became disgusted. All shades of 
opinions and venom came to light. (However, one critic, looking 
back, said that its only fault was political scurrility. He said that 
in 1848 the press had not yet sunk to the obscenity which made it 
impossible to let growing daughters read newspapers in the 1870's.) 6 

The honest liberals in charge of the new government tried to curb 
the press by requiring a guarantee which each paper must pay in 
advance. Also, each paper was required to publish official bulletins 
and retract libels. 

The students saw in this only the return of the strait jacket and 
were so angry that only one paper, the official Gazette, dared to 
show the prescribed stamp. A copy of the law was burned in front 

6 The most Interesting newspaper man in Vienna was Edward "Warrens, who had 
been a journalist in America and as a reward for his services in Folk's election cam- 
paign had been appointed Consul at Trieste. While he was there, the governor, Count 
Stadion, the brightest of the Austrian bureaucrats, noticed his ability. In 1848, when 
the government seemed to have no organ to express its opinions, Stadion brought 
"Warrens to Vienna to run a paper which would favor the policy of a centralized 
Austrian monarchy. The paper was immensely successful because of Warren's Amer- 
ican style of short sentences and snappy comparisons. There is no way of telling how 
much it influenced public opinion, of course, but later in the year, Count Stadion was 
commissioned to draw up the constitution for the centralized monarchy which was 
promulgated by Emperor Francis Joseph in March 1849. 



of the university, and the government hastily retracted the decree J 
After the ill fate of the press decree the new ministry was still 
rash enough to frame a constitution. The cabinet, in April, con- 
sisted of six men who had never previously exchanged opinions. 
They might well have worked out something on a sound basis in 
time, for they all wanted to put over the reforms which liberals had 
been talking about before March, but they were in a hurry. When 
they came out with a neat and fairly liberal document at the end of 
April, it met with an even ruder reception than the press decree. It 
satisfied the members of the Reading Club who had been talking for 
ten years, but it did not please the groups who had just found their 

The most glaring omission was that it did not specify who should 
have the vote. The ministry tried to meet this with a special decree 
which would have let everyone vote but servants and factory work- 
ers ; this was probably further than the new cabinet wished to go and 
seemed like the limit for any monarchical government in 1848. (The 
French after all were setting up a republic.) But it was enough to 
enrage the students that their allies the workers should be left out, 
so they began to organize battalions of workers with hoes and 
shovels to protest. On May 15 a parade streamed past the Ministry 
from two-thirty in the afternoon until midnight, carrying a "storm 
petition" which asked for a constitutional assembly elected by uni- 
versal suffrage. When the army told the ministers privately that it 
could not guarantee their safety, the government gave in a second 

At this point the imperial family became terrified to find their 
subjects so bold and their ministers so pusillanimous. The day after 
the storm petition, they set out as if for an afternoon's drive, but 
when they were well outside the city they ordered their coachman 
to drive on to Innsbruck. Here they settled for the summer, sur- 
rounded by loyal peasants who had never heard of constitutions, and 
here they began to rally their generals behind them Prince Win- 
dischgratz, old Field Marshal Radetzky in Italy, and the Croatian 

r One of the things the students insisted on was that trials for the offence of abusing 
the press should be public and be held with a jury a complete innovation in Austria. 
The first of these cases occurred in August, when the editor of the Student Courier 
was imprisoned because he printed an editorial in favor of a republic. At the trial, 
which was attended by thousands of people, the jury acquitted him and the joyous 
crowd pulled him to his office in a carriage from which the horses were unhitched. 



Baron Jellacic. These were the men who would win their empire 
back for them while ministers and students prattled of reform. The 
radicals of Vienna mocked at the likeness between the fleeing Ferdi- 
nand and Louis XVI, forgetting that Louis was brought back to 
Paris as a prisoner. 

As a matter of fact most of the Viennese were ashamed that their 
Emperor had not been happy in his revolutionized capital. "Our 
Ferdy has left us," they said, and sent a petition signed by 80,000 
to beg him to return. Ferdinand and the men he obeyed were in no 
hurry and their stay in Innsbruck lasted three months. During this 
time Prince Windischgratz proved his mettle by shooting down the 
revolution in Prague. During the same interval Radetzky was win- 
ning Lombardy back from her war of independence and Jellacic was 
secretly urged to attack rebelling Hungary. Therefore, when the 
revolutionary government in Vienna peremptorily insisted that 
Ferdinand be brought back to his capital, the Archduchess Sophia's 
tears were no longer tears of despair. She would repay the temporary 
humiliation of that August day by setting her son over Austria for 
a reign of nearly seventy years. 

To go back to the students in May. They had now made enemies 
of the foreign students, had twice humiliated the new liberal gov- 
ernment, had driven the court away from Vienna and incurred the 
odium of thousands of citizens who loved the Emperor. They had 
even had a sharp fight with their old friends in the Reading Club 
over the expulsion of a radical agitator. 8 The government received 

8 The agitator was named Dr. Anton Schiitte. In the eyes of the propertied citizens, 
like the Reading Club members, he was the most dangerous influence in Vienna be- 
cause he kept haranguing the workers on liberty. He was a Westphalian who had been 
traveling around Germany for some months and liked Vienna better than any other 
place he saw because the spirit of liberty was most alive there. His extreme uncon- 
ventionality, not to say radicalism, from the pan-German point of view, shows up in 
the fact that he did not like to see German youths sacrificed on the field of battle for 
a few miles of territory in Schleswig-Holstein or elsewhere. He felt that Dahlmann 
and Arndt, both such well-known liberals, discredited themselves as leaders of Ger- 
many because they urged wars of aggression upon the Frankfurt Parliament. This 
aspect of his opinions had, naturally, not come to light in April 1848, or the students 
might not have defended him so warmly. At that point they knew him as a friend of 
liberal ideas and generous to their worker comrades. The liberal government, however, 
backed warmly by the influential Reading Club, expelled him from Vienna and gave 
him a police escort to the border so as to be sure he really left the country. He man- 
aged to return to Vienna before the October battle there, and after the city was 
conquered, he was one of the people whom Windischgratz insisted on condemning to 
death. However, he escaped and published his diary of the October days. 



so many complaints about these wild young men, including many 
from the boys* own parents, that they risked a third showdown and 
decreed that the university be closed and the Academic Legion dis- 

In giving this order the government completely miscalculated its 
strength, as the prime minister admitted afterwards. Fiister's 
students kept the university open by force while the national guard 
(angry because the government had not kept its promise to retire 
all the troops and let the guard patrol the city) and 30,000 workers 
thronged to the young men's assistance. In the machine shops of the 
Vienna-Gloggnitz railroad men dropped their tools and started to 
tear up the rails to prevent more troops being sent for. Printing 
shops cast musketry balls that day instead of type. 

When news spread that the Legion was threatened, people began 
tearing up the pavement of Vienna the best and cleanest in all 
Europe, consisting mainly of foot-square blocks of granite. In some 
places they pulled up every other stone and set it on its neighbor 
to make a surface impossible for cavalry to traverse. In other parts 
they made conventional barricades as high as the second stories, 
often sealing inhabitants inside their houses. Women helped beside 
the men in the actual building, as well as giving their customary 
offerings of bread, cheese, beer, and coffee to the builders. 

Fiister climbed over these barricades to tell the gentlemen of the 
cabinet what they were doubtless beginning to realize that the 
students would rather be torn limb from limb than dissolve their 

The result of all this activity was a bloodless victory for the 
radical democratip party. The ministry gave in for the third fatal 
time fatal as far as their authority was concerned. The Legion 
and the university were both to be kept running, and the troops were 
to be evacuated after turning over thirty-six cannon to the national 
guard. On Fiister 's advice, the students maintained a few barricades 
near the university until the cannon to defend it were actually de- 
livered to them. 

Lectures at the university were livelier than ever. For example, a 
course in constitutional politics was given that spring for the first 
time, and Fiister was able to give a course on pedagogy for which 
permission had always been refused before. But storm petitions and 
barricades proved too much, for most professors* nerves. In March 



even the old reactionaries had been sweet to the students many 
professors marched with the Legion, others sympathized with its 
actions. Now one by one the faculty abandoned them, until by fall 
the Academic Legion had the support of no professor except the un- 
quenchable Fiister. 

On June 10 the government finally succeeded in suspending lec- 
tures at the university, hoping that the out-of-town students would 
go home for the vacation. In this hope the government was deceived. 
The students now had all their time free to devote to politics, while 
the citizens of Vienna, both rich and poor, united to help house and 
feed the young men. It seems to have been gladly done in most cases, 
though the boys were doubtless prepared to back up their demands 
with force and some citizens complained that the Legion requisi- 
tioned not only their food but their daughters. 

The attachment between students and workers flowered during 
the summer. The workers let themselves be led by the students, for 
whom they often said they were willing to give their lives. "If one 
of our men falls it is no matter, but for one of the fine young stu- 
dent gentlemen, to whom we owe our freedom, it would be a great 
pity." The students in return for this generosity spent a large part 
of their time taking care of the workers ; one 20-year-old law student 
was even called the workers' king, because he could do anything with 
them and spent day and night thinking up plans to help them. 

A committee of students took over the work of labor arbitration, 
remonstrating with unfair employers, reasoning with excited work- 
men. They won such respect for their justice that appeals came from 
all the nearby cities and villages begging the Aula to settle their 
disputes. The students enjoyed cutting through red tape and soon 
became the terror of local tyrants and fussy bureaucrats. 

The medical students at the same time arranged to take care of 
sick workers, both prescribing for them and arranging for better 
medical service with established doctors. Law students helped with 
legal advice and fights in court, and showed the workers how to 
draft petitions. Still other students took up collections for needy 


From March until August, a young doctor said, there was no 
distinction between classes in the minds of the students. They treated 
workers and bourgeoisie with perfect equality. Perhaps because It 
was so unusual for anyone from the upper classes to treat the work- 



ers as friends, the students could not recognize that their attitude 
also was touched with patronage. "We expect you to help us keep 
order, which we all need so badly. . . . You must go about your 
business as usual and prove we are right in saying you want to be 
good, well-behaved people," declared a student manifesto to the 
workers. Fiister, too, was talking down to the workers when he 
thundered at them: "Do you think we have thrown our lords and 
nobles to let ourselves be ruled by you? Then you are much mis- 
taken. Do you expect us to be intimidated by you? There again you 
are wrong. . . . You are mostly fine, sensible people. Why do you 
let yourselves be led by a few hotheads? 55 

No one remembers any more who these hotheads were voices 
that tried to- make the workers ask for more than the students 
wanted to give them. In April a radical newspaper man dared to 
tell the workers of Vienna that they must fight for what the workers 
in Paris had won, even if it cost as much blood as the great French 
Revolution of sixty years before. For this remark, his was called 
the first voice of hate raised in the general euphoria. Undaunted, 
he began to plan for a workers' putsch ; he was, therefore, arrested 
with the connivance of the Aula itself. From then on no paper 
bothered to print enough news about the workers' movement in 
Paris to influence events in Vienna, a policy which the editors could 
doubtless justify by the excuse that they were giving the readers 
what they wanted. In the May petitions a few groups seem to have 
come out for full employment, or "the right to work," but their 
voices were drowned in the shouting for political reform. 

All classes in Vienna were much more interested in politics than 
economics (perhaps because the industrial revolution was not well 
advanced there) and when finally a workers' club was formed, it 
came out for democracy, not for socialism. In fact, the handicraft 
system was still so strong that many workers distrusted the freedom 
which was supposed to go with the new liberal economic system of 
laissez-faire, and would have preferred going back to the various 
forms of protection which they had inherited from the middle ages 
instead of forward to an economic democracy which they could not 

Naturally, this disdain for economic theory did not prevent cer- 
tain practical problems from arising, chiefly because the unemploy- 



ment which had been so bad in 1847 was made still worse by the 
revolution and the departure of the court. There were shops where 
not a single item was sold for weeks after March 13. In April the 
police tried to evict from the city all unemployed servants and ap- 
prentices, but within a few days most of them had filtered back into 
town again. 

These conditions almost automatically led to what respectable 
citizens called a reign of terror. The police were demoralized, partly 
because they did not know just what part of their former duties 
was now taken over by the national guard and the Academic 
Legion both jealous patrollers and partly because of the de- 
struction of the secret police system. (During the summer it was 
arranged that two citizens must stay as watchers in every police 
station to guard against abuses. Such an attitude naturally made 
the police as jumpy as they had formerly made the citizens.) There- 
fore, there was not only a crime wave, but a period when any well- 
dressed person was likely to be insulted in the streets. The lower 
classes were trying out how far the new freedom would go. 

To meet this situation the national guard, students, and the city 
council set up a committee of safety, shortly after their decisive 
triumph in May. It consisted of 234 members, and though there 
were no workers in it, since workers were not admitted to the na- 
tional guard, the workers on the whole trusted it and allowed them- 
selves to be led back toward order. Dr. Fischhof, for his "first free 
word" on March 13, was chosen chairman and under his leadership 
("he always spoke from the soul and to the soul") the committee 
kept a course not so radical as the Aula's, not so conservative as 
the ministry's. Throughout the summer it was responsible for all 
public order and safety in the city. 

Immediately their hardest problem was unemployment. Though 
they lacked theories, their practical opinion was that a worker 
looking for work ought to be provided with either work or money. 
So they tried to provide jobs by clearing the channel of the Danube 
and repairing roads, offering a daily wage of 25 kreuzers (roughly 
12 cents a day) . They sternly forbade child labor under twelve, but 
for children over that age, and for women, they offered work at 
20 kreuzers. 

Immediately they ran into most of the same troubles as the na- 
tional workshops of Paris. Yet the Vienna committee's handling of 



the program in their city was so pragmatic they might have suc- 
ceeded better than the Paris workshops if, as in Paris, they had not 
run into ministerial hostility. 

As in Paris, workers flocked to the city from villages and the 
countryside looking for easy money. The committee arranged to 
pay out-of-towners' expenses to get back home. 

As in Paris, employers complained that their workers deserted 
them for the easier labor of public works. The committee made it a 
condition of hiring that a man must not refuse private employment. 

As in Paris, the army began to recruit among these workers, for 
Austria was just entering a war with Italy. This infuriated the 
workers who attacked the recruiting stations, saying that if there 
was enough money to send them to Italy there was plenty to keep 
them in Vienna. The committee took the workers 5 part in this issue 
and advised them not to enlist. 

Likewise, when the Minister of Public Works announced that the 
pay might be reduced by five kreuzers a day, the committee of safety 
opposed the measure with all its force. On the other hand, when 
an agitator raised the demand for an increase in wages and for 
being paid on rainy days and Sundays, Fischhof had him locked up. 

As in Paris, the ministry had all respectable citizens on its side. 
And, indeed, the direction of the public works of Vienna must have 
been incredibly bad & far cry from Emile Thomas' military disci- 
pline in Paris. The projects in Vienna were supervised by young 
technical students who proved unable to keep the workers from 
drinking and playing cards instead of working. If a worker even 
tried to work hard, he was threatened by his fellows. The ministry 
calculated that it cost fourteen times as much to lift a clod of earth 
by these workers as by regularly employed ones. 

By August the workers had grown so wild that they would not 
listen even to their erstwhile student friends. In order to make them 
listen, the committee of safety planned a demonstration early in 
August, for which they drew up the national guard with its cannon, 
on the glacis, and with this as a background they had student 
orators expound the horrors of civil war. 

If this show had any good effects, however, they were lost when 
on August 18 the Minister of Public Works announced definitely 
that pay for women and children on public works would be reduced 
to 15 kreuzers, with the general expectation that a cut for men 



would follow. The committee of safety could not do anything to stop 
this move because the ministry had the funds and was bent on 
coming to a showdown. 

The workers were only too willing to fall in with their game. On 
the 23 of August they put on a farcical funeral of the Minister 
of Public Works. He was shown riding a donkey, choking to death 
on one of his five-kreuzer pieces, and was eventually buried with 
appropriate rites. 

The ministry was furious (for such Use-ma jeste is taken hard 
in countries used to absolutism), and pretended to be even more 
furious than it was. It ordered out the all too willing national guard, 
which fired into the mob of unarmed workers, killing eighteen and 
wounding several hundred. Respectable Vienna celebrated this vic- 
tory by crowning the bloody bayonets with flowers; instead, it 
should have congratulated itself that the affair did not turn into 
something like the June days in Paris, which were caused by a 
similar effort to shut down the public works. 

But the workers of Vienna were not merely unable to rule half 
the city, as the Paris workers did. Apparently, they could not make 
any sort of counterattack whatever, but just let themselves be shot 
at. Only when the students led them could the workers show their 
power, and the students were aloof during this battle, partly be- 
cause they were taken by surprise and partly because they did not 
want to get into a civil war. Two months later, when the Hapsburgs 
sent their army to conquer the city, the students again got the work- 
ers to cooperate with the national guard as if there had never been 
a split in their ranks. 

While all this was going on, the Constitutional Assembly met 
at Vienna. It had two important effects on events in the city. In the 
first place the ministry was supposed to be responsible to this body 
and at the same time the committee of safety was willing to resign 
its powers to the Assembly so that people hoped that at last there 
would be a single, reasonable, legal authority to take charge of all 
the tangled affairs of the country. What came as a surprise to the 
Viennese was that the Assembly, representing the provinces, could 
not settle down to the job of solving the problems of a single city, 
even though the citizens of that city felt that their troubles were so 



Delegates came to this Assembly from all the Empire except 
Hungary (which had its own Diet) and the Italian provinces 
(which were in revolt at the time of the elections). Everyone, in- 
cluding workers and peasants, had been urged to vote. 9 

This was the first time the German top dogs had had to meet the 
rest of the Empire in its full legal proportion, and the effect on 
them was of surprise and chagrin. About a quarter of the nearly 400 
members turned out to be peasants, and although the peasants in 
each precinct chose their representatives cannily, as they picked 
cows in a market, even the cleverest peasants made a startling im- 
pression in Vienna. Some of them did not know how to use either 
combs or handkerchiefs. Ten of them piled into an inn and requested 
two rooms. When they were told that there were but two beds to a 
room they replied they did not need beds, just some straw on the 
floor. But their chief handicap as legislators was that they did not 
understand German. One whole bloc from Galicia was completely 
subject to Count Francis Stadion. This gentleman, the ablest 
bureaucrat the Empire could boast, was summoned to be Governor 
of Galicia after the Polish uprising of 1846, and it was largely 
because he knew when to make concessions that this province was 
quiet during 1848. In April 1848, for instance, he abolished feudal 
dues and the hated labor service there ; and thus it was that when- 
ever a motion came up for a vote in the Assembly, his rows of 
grateful peasants, not having understood a word of the debate, 
would signify that they wished to vote "like Mr. Stadion." 

However, the main division in the Assembly turned out to be more 
along national than class lines. The left was still provided by the 
Viennese liberals who engineered the revolution, but it was hardly 
an ultra-radical left. Dr. Fischhof and even Chaplain Fiister were 
far from being republicans. 

This left always called the Czech party "the right" in the As- 
sembly. The Czechs opposed them at every turn for national rea- 
sons, even though they shared some of the same political ideals. The 
right, therefore, was no more extreme than the left. What the 
Czechs wanted was a federaHzed empire with Bohemia "a nation" 
and they used to infuriate the German party by calling the Ger- 

* These groups had a chance at the same time to vote for the Frankfurt Assembly, 
but only those precincts that wished took part in this election. Most non-German- 
speaking districts did not do so, and that was why Austria was so badly under- 
represented at Frankfurt 



mans who lived in Bohemia "colonists." Being the most sophisticated 
of the Slavic peoples, the Czechs felt their best chance of getting 
what they wanted was by sticking to the Emperor, and when revolu- 
tionary fever got too high in Vienna (in October) , they prudently 
withdrew from the Assembly, earning thereby from the German 
liberals the title of "traitors." 10 

When a distinguished Czech scholar, Francis Palacky (who had 
written a monumental history of the Bohemian people), was called 
to the Ministry of Education, the Pan-German disciples were furi- 
ous. They felt it was their job to support culture from the Rhine to 
the Black Sea and they refused to believe a Slav could do it. For 
the first time they began to comment on the cleverness of Prussia 
in trying to Germanize her Polish provinces. This feeling made 
them turn toward a policy of centralizing the empire ; at this time 
many even of the liberal Germans began to support the war in Italy, 
for national honor and the national exchequer both gained new im- 
portance in their eyes. (Lombardy and Venetia contributed a third 
of the revenue of the Imperial treasury.) 11 

In the mess of disagreement in which this parliament opened, 
there was, luckily, one deputy, the youngest in the house, who knew 
just what he wanted. His name was Hans Kudlich, he was a peas- 
ant's son, and he was determined that the first job of the Assembly 
should be to free the peasants. 

Kudlich was born in a peasant's cottage in Silesia, and he knew 
both the hardships and the mitigations of the peasant's lot. His 
father was comfortably fixed for one of his class ; in fact, he held 

10 The Czechs were called traitors from 1848 until the end of the Empire in 1918. In 
the war of 1914 to 1918, they were the only group of Hapsburg subjects who were 
disloyal enough to go over to the Allies, and they earned bitter hatred from more 
faithful racial groups on this account. 

Racial hatred was apparently as strong in 1848 as later. Even the usually genial 
Fiister allowed himself to write of the Czech delegates: "I never saw such repulsive 
faces, such ugly heads; each, with rare exceptions, was branded with a devilish ex- 
pression of treachery." He then went on to say that their conduct in the Assembly 
was like that of Judas, for they sold freedom to the Ministry. Fiister was sorry he 
had had to sit in the Assembly because it forced him to witness so much wickedness. 

The bare fact was that the Czechs were given over to their icUe fixe, and wearied 
everybody with their constant talk about their **nation." 

n It should be stated in fairness that a few members of the left stuck to their earlier 
principles that Italy had a right to be free, and they refused to let the Assembly's 
vote of thanks to Fieldmarshal Radetzky be unanimous after that officer won the war 
in Italy. 



twice as much land as was allowed for one in his station, but the 
authorities always winked at the discrepancy. When the time came 
to educate Hans, his family had to get permission from the landlord 
before the boy could go to a nearby town to high school and later 
to Vienna to the university, but tuition was free to one of his class. 
His parents paid his board in produce from their land, and he never 
had a decent coat on his back, but poverty was never allowed to 
keep him back. 12 

Free education was only one of many reasons which made the 
twenty-six million peasants of the Empire feel that the Emperor was 
their best friend. Whatever exemptions and liberties they had seemed 
to come from the crown, ever since Maria Theresa had limited the 
amount of feudal dues they must pay, and her son Joseph had of- 
ficially abolished serfdom. At the time the revolution broke, a peas- 
ant was legally free to sell his land; therefore he was not bound to 
the soil and not a serf, although whoever bought that land was still 
obliged to pay to his landlord not only a share of his crop, but a 
certain number of days of work every year. This was called the 
robot. One peasant who was asked during the revolution what a con- 
stitution was, replied, "not to pay the robot." The burdens were 
indeed heavy. Counting a tithe for the church, a peasant often had 
to give up more than half his income, and there is one documented 
case where seventy per cent of a certain peasant's time and harvest 
were taken away from him. But since these dues were paid over to 
their landlords, and since it was from the landlords that they ob- 
tained justice, often at the whipping post, or permission to marry, 
or, like Kudlich, to go to school, most of the peasants' resentment 
turned against the landlords rather than the government. 

Kudlich tells how his neighbors considered themselves much 
better off than the Prussian peasants they saw just across the 

^Common schools were free and compulsory throughout the Empire. In fact, a 
priest was not supposed to marry anyone who could not produce a certificate that he 
or she had attended school from the ages of five to thirteen. In this, Austria was 
ahead of much of Western Europe, including England. The drawbacks in the system 
are familiar that the teachers were the worst paid of all public servants, so poor that 
they were often actually hungry; and secondly, that a commission in Vienna, run by 
the clergy, prescribed every page and every answer to be studied. (History, inter- 
estingly enough, was a required subject in high schools for free students like Kudlich, 
but not for students who paid.) No time was allowed for exercise or pleasure, and the 
total result was that the schools were admired from a distance by those who appreci- 
ated how they raised the bottom level, yet constantly excoriated by intellectuals 
whose minds were almost stultified by them. 



border, because Prussia's enlightened despotism set up regulations 
that were much more oppressive than those of the rather easy-going 
Austrian system. Austria allowed farmers to keep on with their age- 
old fertilizing methods, primitive and half-hearted, and with their 
inefficient animal breeding, to the point where the Empire had to 
import a good part of the agricultural goods it needed. In 1866 
the peasants in Kudlich's village learned to respect the Prussians 
for the first time, after the Austrian defeat at Koniggratz. They did 
not realize that Prussia's intelligent interference in agricultural 
methods had helped turn the kingdom into the first-class military 
power it was, but they noticed how pleasant these well-disciplined 
German soldiers were when Prussian troops were quartered in their 
village. Even though they were enemies they made better guests 
than the regiments of their own Emperor, Croats, Italians, or 
Hungarians, who had been billeted in their huts as long as they 
could remember. It was one of the peasants' duties to quarter sol- 
diers, and Kudlich was used to having eleven or twelve loud, dirty, 
drunken men in his cottage, with their horses in the yard, off and on 
during his boyhood. 

By 1848 Kudlich had worked his way through the University of 
Vienna, and he realized more keenly than anyone else in the city that 
of all the reforms needed in the Empire, freeing the peasants was 
the most important. Apparently no one else in Vienna agreed with 
him, for on March 13, he was in the crowd around the Landhaus 
pressing for reforms, and he cried "Robot, Robot" at the top of his 
lungs, but the urban ears around him seemed perfectly deaf. 

In the Assembly he fared somewhat better, because of the country- 
wide representation. It was hard to get the members to pass any 
laws because they acted during their first weeks together as if there 
had never been a parliament anywhere in the world before, and they 
went to unnecessary trouble to set up all the arrangements. In fact, 
Kudlich was the only person who succeeded in getting an important 
vote out of them. When he proposed his grand measure, that all 
feudal dues should be abolished in Austria, it was met with cheers. 

Though the gain was so largely an economic one, the debates in 
the Assembly had apparently foreseen only political results. Pos- 
sibly politics seemed like a more noble subject for oratory, too. In 
any case the hall rang with cries for freedom, not prosperity ; the 
speakers denounced not hunger, but slavery. 

The only big issue was whether the landlords should receive an 



indemnity for their losses. Peasant delegates were opposed to this. 
"The whips that came down on our tired heads and bodies must be 
the compensation of our masters/' they said. But the members of the 
Ministry were adamant that the landlords should be repaid, and 
so it was finally voted. 13 

Even Engels admitted that Austria was quiet for decades after 
1848 because the peasants were now satisfied. Kudlich tells of a 
typical neighbor of his who owned, in 1848, two horses, a poor cow, 
and a poor farm. When Kudlich went back to see him in 1872 (re- 
turning from America whither he had fled after the revolution's 
collapse), the man was the proud owner of four horses and ten cows. 
At the same time his landlady was more prosperous than she had 
been under the old system. 

Once this excitement was over the Assembly settled down to its 
proper job of constitution-making a long, slow process which took 
until March. Long before that time Vienna grew impatient. 

The tensions were increasing all summer long. The students grew 
more and more arrogant, especially after they succeeded in forcing 
the Emperor back to Vienna, the government more and more de- 
termined to reassert its authority, the workers more and more dis- 
contented as they found even a revolution did not fill their pots with 
chicken. Many of their employers began to take back the conces- 
sions they had made in March, and even the public works projects 
were reduced by half. The small shopkeepers and clerks became 
more and more worried about their money ; their fears crystallized 
around one of those perennial schemes to make everybody rich that 

18 The official "decree which emerged from imperial headquarters eight months after 
the Assembly voted it in August, stated that there should be no indemnity for 
political feudal rights, such as the power of the landlord to maintain courts and 
prisons. The new law naturally freed them from the expense of keeping a force of 
lawyers and jailers. The economic losses, consisting of the share of the crop and the 
free labor they had been entitled to, were to be paid for at two-thirds of their nominal 
value. Half of this sum was to be paid by the peasant and half by the province in 
which the land lay. The sum due was capitalized at roughly twenty times the annual 
value of the goods and services, and averaged 350 florins (or $175) for each peasant 
holding. Jerome Blum has shown that in this form it was a measure which was 
highly satisfactory to most of the noble landlords. In the 18th century, these nobles 
had feared ruin if the robot were abolished, but by 1848 most of them had become 
convinced of the inefficiency of the system and the need of real reform, particularly 
because they needed agricultural credit for larger scale farming. 

For their part, the peasants were so sure that revolution meant abolition of the 
system that they spontaneously stopped giving feudal dues and services in the spring 
of 1848, and in this they were supported by several official decrees pertaining to 
separate provinces, months before Kudlich's law. 



flooded half Vienna that summer. A little hunchbacked watchmaker 
named Swoboda floated stock for a credit union which was to lend 
money to small shipwrecked businesses so that they would be able 
to offer employment again. Some officials like Baron Doblhoff took 
shares in this scheme so that it acquired a specious air of govern- 
ment backing, and when the shares began to fall thousands of people 
felt cheated. Swoboda asked the cabinet, and then the Emperor 
personally to guarantee his securities, but was refused. 

When rioting broke out in the middle of September because of 
these strains, the Assembly stepped in to checkmate both the radi- 
cals and the conservatives. Their first step was to vote a credit of 
two million florins which was to be used to support business in gen- 
eral, and also to redeem the Swoboda shares at twenty per cent of 
par. This sensible act made people trust the Assembly's authority. 
At the same time it refused to let the government use troops against 
the students, even after the Minister of War himself came to tell 
the Assembly of a student plot which he had mysteriously heard 

This student plot was pure fabrication on the part of the gov- 
ernment, but the conservatives had reached the point where they 
wanted to stir up a riot in order to be able to use force to suppress 
it. They did not want to conciliate the students or the Swoboda 
victims any more than they had the public works employees. Wil- 
liam H. Stiles, the American Charge d* Affaires at Vienna, said that 
the government suffered from indecision and duplicity, pursuing 
a policy of shifts, makeshifts, and hesitations. They were faithful 
to no one of the promises they made, he said, but were weak, timid, 
false, intriguing, and deceitful. They were constantly yielding to 
threats, never to reason; they maligned the students to get the 
troops back into the city and provoked the workers so as to get the 
glory of overcoming communism. Thus they kept continually justi- 
fying the suspicions of the revolutionary party. 

In those September days the light-hearted students used to ask 
their beloved Fiister why he was never merry any more. He could 
not make them see the dangers he saw that Prince Windischgratz's 
army in the north was nearly through its maneuvers, that the Min- 
ister of War, Count Latour, was growing bolder every day, urged 
by the people at court, and that Vienna was becoming isolated from 
the rest of the Empire. 



The Hapsburgs' Return 

EARLY in October the news spread around that Count Latour had 
ordered the Richter battalion of grenadiers, long quartered in 
Vienna, to leave the city and join Baron Jellacic in his fight against 

Ever since Hungary had won its independent administration in 
March, the court party had been trying to win this part of the 
Empire back, and they were delighted when the Croatians rose 
under Jellacic against the passionately nationalistic Magyars. 
Latour had been secretly sending supplies to Jellacic for some 
weeks, but as soon as he openly ordered reinforcements, the people 
of Vienna objected. 

On October 5 a deputation from the Vienna national guard 
begged Latour to keep the grenadiers at home. But at the same 
time they plied the grenadiers with money, wine, women, and propa- 
ganda, not to obey the orders to march against Hungary. Then 
the guards began cutting up railway tracks and destroying a bridge 
over which the grenadiers would have to march, and they induced 
the grenadiers themselves to guard it against repair. 

Latour, who was both brave and inflexible, told the deputation 
waiting on him that he could positively not countermand the orders 
of a mutinous corps without vitiating military discipline in the 
whole army. 

Unluckily for himself, the Count was already the bete noire of the 
radical party. For weeks the students had been inciting the people 
against him, and the only thing that kept him in office was his own 
sense of duty to the Emperor. By keeping hold of the War Ministry 
through all the changes of the rest of the cabinet, the court had an 
outpost which served it well, for Latour was able to get supplies to 
Radetzky in Italy as well as to Jellacic in Hungary, and he was even 
in touch with Russia, since the idea of getting help from the Czar 
was always in the back of the Hapsburgs 5 minds. 

Latour was from a French emigrant family, and so had no feeling 
for any special race in the Austrian Empire, and he had a tremen- 



dous contempt for parliaments. When he had to appear before the 
Assembly, he acted like an enraged tiger in a cage ; he never scrupled 
to deceive it. In addition to telling them about his imaginary student 
rising, he swore that he had no official relations with Jellacic. This 
was just before some Hungarian shepherds intercepted a message 
from that general acknowledging the receipt of military stores 
from the War Ministry. 

When the crisis of sending the grenadiers came, the students and 
their friends saw that it would be a good chance to maneuver their 
enemy out of office and began inciting the workers and the national 
guard to that end. 

Shooting broke out about noon on October 6. A party of radical 
national guards attacked a group of loyal ones and followed them 
right into St. Stephen's Cathedral where the leader of the loyalists 
was killed on the steps of the altar. Meanwhile, some railway work- 
ers, armed with six-foot iron bars, went after the troops in the city 
and persuaded many of them to go over to the insurgent side. 

This was the biggest challenge the Assembly had yet met, far 
more serious than the riots in September; but they had gained some 
experience in quieting those, and clamored to meet and handle this 
one. When their Slavic president refused to call a session, it was 
another sign to the Viennese of Slavic treachery. Finally, under a 
vice president, the members came together anyway and went into 
permanent session. Their first step was to send out groups of their 
members to various parts of the city to try to quiet the people. 
These men tore white curtains from the windows and wrote with 
coal on them, "Assembly Member," which they used as scarves to 
identify themselves as peacemakers in the tumult. One of these com- 
missions succeeded in saving the imperial palace and the national 
bank from the mob, while another waited on Latour, who contemp- 
tuously told them their fears were greatly exaggerated. 

In view of the fact that a lynch mob was threatening the Ministry 
of War this time, crying "Hang Latour" the Count's sang-froid 
was amazing. At four o'clock, when the angry crowd was about to 
burst open the gate, Latour ordered the troops guarding the build- 
ing to cease fire and the gate to be opened. He himself hid in a 
closet, while friends pushed furniture against the door and spread 
paper around the office to make it look to oncoming crowds as if 
the room had already been searched. If the Count had only stayed 



in his hiding place he might have been safe. Instead of this he let 
himself be talked into coming out to parley with some Assembly 
members who had been sent out specifically to save his life. First, 
however, they demanded that he resign and, realizing the situa- 
tion was hopeless, he wrote down the words they dictated, stating 
that he resigned, but adding, "with His Majesty's consent." The 
gentlemen of the Assembly pointed out that to make such a proviso 
was highly dangerous, but they had reached the limits of Latour's 
conscience. As a servant of the crown, he insisted he could do no 
other way. So, escorted by twenty armed national guards that the 
Assembly sent to guard him, and accompanied by four Assembly 
members, he made his way down the staircase into the face of the 
mob. The people were wild. Pulling off his defenders, who tried to 
put their bodies between him and the crowd, they hit at Latour with 
hammers, thrust at him with bayonets and iron pipes. After he was 
dead, forty-three big wounds were counted on his corpse. Not con- 
tent with this, they stripped him and strung him up to a lamp post, 
and sang and shrieked beneath his body while women dipped their 
handkerchiefs in his blood. All his clothes were torn up for sou- 

This was the crime which seemed to justify any length of repres- 
sion when the Hapsburgs got back into full power. They held it 
over the students, the workers and the Assembly alike. The murder 
was undoubtedly committed by working men who testified that they 
had been incited by the students. The students, however, had never 
meant to use such violence. As for the Assembly, they tried hard to 
prevent the attack, yet the thanks which the Hapsburgs gave to 
Dr. Joseph Goldmark, the member who had shielded Latour's body 
with his own head and arms as long as he had strength was con- 
demnation to death. (He escaped, and became a respected American 

However, thousands of good people believed from then on that 
the revolution had proved to be wickedness incarnate, and they 
ceased to give it their moral support. The Czech deputies were the 
first to wash their hands they marched out of the Assembly in a 
body. The horrified members who remained felt that it was up to 
them to save the city as far as it could be saved, so they kept on with 
their heroic efforts to restore order. 

By evening the mob had turned from the War Ministry to the 



arsenal, which was defended by eight hundred soldiers and was al- 
most impregnable. The Assembly ordered the national guard to take 
it over before it was pillaged, and at ten in the evening the guard 
began to bombard the arsenal with the cannon which they had been 
given earlier in the summer. The balls had no effect on the sturdy 
old building but Congreve rockets set it on fire, to the great alarm 
of sensible fighters on both sides because of the ammunition stored 
inside. While the hard-pressed garrison worked like mad to keep 
the fires from spreading, the mob outside, heedless of the danger 
of an explosion which would kill them all, wildly refused to let fire 
engines come up. With both sides half crazy, it was no easy matter 
for the Assembly's delegates with their white scarves to get through 
the lines to parley with the commandant. Risking their lives they 
pushed through the firing line and, once inside the building, per- 
suaded the commandant to surrender. 

To whom, however, should they turn over their charge? Hans 
Kudlich spent the whole night trying to scrape up enough members 
of the Academic Legion to keep order in the arsenal and finally 
had to take in a mere sixty men to replace the eight hundred regu- 
lars who marched out. 

The minute firing ceased, the mob ran into the still burning build- 
ing to get arms. The only people who could bother to run the fire 
engines were some boys from twelve to fifteen their older brothers 
were ransacking the stores of arms, emerging with anything that 
struck their fancy. Ancient suits of armor, gilded helmets, Turkish 
scimitars shone in the torchlight. Muskets often fell into the hands 
of young boys. Someone put on the coat of mail that had belonged 
to the ancient Bohemian Princess Libussa, and another trophy was 
the shirt in which Gustavus Adolphus had received his death wound. 

After such a night it took nerve for the Assembly to petition the 
Emperor for an amnesty, but they did so, trying to persuade His 
Majesty that if he had had a truly popular ministry instead of a 
man like Latour who was kept in office against the people's will, the 
outbreak would not have occurred. To soften the imperial heart 
further, they voted the budget he had asked for, twenty million 
florins instead of the mere six million they had allowed him in Au- 
gust. From now on the Assembly worked incessantly to keep peace, 
but at the same time it began to provide for the defense of the city 



in case troops should be sent against it. The meetings never ad- 
journed, and the leaders were on duty uninterruptedly; Schuselka, 
for one, slept on a bench in the Assembly Hall with a pile of procla- 
mations for a pillow, and saw his home only four times during the 
rest of the month. 

For a while it seemed as if peace might still be won, for the Em- 
peror, according to his custom, granted everything the Assembly 
asked for, including a promise not to make war against Hungary. 
Then on the same day he fled from the city for a second time, away 
to his Moravian province where he could not be kept as a hostage. 
Here his advisers could keep in touch with Prince Windischgratz, 
whose summer maneuvers were finished by this time ; and with Baron 
Jellacic, who was already near Vienna with his Croatian regiments. 
Back in Vienna the Assembly took great comfort in the scraps of 
paper he had left them and kept the illusion for many days that the 
Emperor meant to assure them that law and right were on their 
side. They did not recognize the characteristic caution of the Haps- 
burgs, which would never break completely with the liberal party 
until victory for the other side was absolutely certain. 

Even when Windischgratz and Jellacic moved into view, the 
Viennese could hardly believe that these troops were going to be 
used against them. With their brains they armed themselves and 
prepared for a siege, but with their hearts they sent petition after 
petition to the court, explaining that the whole trouble came from 
misunderstanding. Thus it produced a sensation when on October 11 
the city council announced that it would provide for the families of 
any men who died fighting in the city's defense. The next day the 
Minister of the Interior himself confirmed a young playwright- 
journalist named Messenhauser as head of the national guard of 
Vienna, charged with the protection of the city. Was the guard, 
then, commissioned by one department of the government, supposed 
to clash with the imperial army? 

Messenhauser proved to be a better newspaper man than com- 
mander. He was at his best in the news-letters he posted over the 
city every day, telling the citizens of the progress of the battle, 
but he neglected such elementary precautions as confiscating the 

Not only was the guard commissioned officially but the Assembly 
also kept getting assurances from headquarters that their course 



was legal and approved. On October 19 the Emperor wrote of his 
gratitude to the parliament for keeping anarchy away, and he 
implied that it was the only body with authority to declare martial 
law. Yet on October 20 a hasty cab dashed from street corner to 
street corner in Vienna, stopping just long enough at each one to 
post a decree from Windischgratz's camp, three miles south of the 
city, putting the whole city under martial law. Two days later the 
Assembly was dissolved, and soon thereafter the national guard and 
the Academic Legion. At last the citizens began to see that the 
100,000 soldiers camped nearby were there for business. 

Field Marshal Alfred Prince Windischgratz was momentarily 
the most powerful person in the Empire. He was as much disgusted 
as anybody with the doubletalk which the court was passing out, 
and he finally made the court and the cabinet promise that in the 
future he must give his consent before they made any important 
decisions. And they could tell that his own decisions were sure to be 
harsh. Long before he had been famous as author of the dictum 
that no man existed for him who was not at least a baron. Now, if 
the Assembly wanted to abolish the title "by the Grace of God," he 
muttered, they must hear of the grace of cannon fire. Already, in 
this year of revolution, he had suppressed an outbreak at Prague, 
where his wife had been killed in the shooting, and he had no inten- 
tion of showing mercy to refractory Vienna. 

The Assembly rose to his challenge by declaring his proclama- 
tions illegal, and then it called up all the men in the city for military 
duty. The only exceptions were for Assembly members, members of 
the city council, and foreigners. Rich men were somewhat dismayed 
to find for the first time that they could not buy themselves out of 
this unpleasant duty, but the Assembly insisted it was just that all 
citizens should share equally in the defense, and they also pointed 
out that this measure would protect the upper classes against resent- 
ment from below. To enlist the workers they offered pay of 25 
kreuzers a day ; until then service in the guard had been unpaid. 

About this time, toward the end of the month, a small, white- 
haired Pole reach Vienna and offered his services to the city's armed 
forces. He was Joseph Bern, a veteran of many insurrections in his 
native land, who now, in 1848, looked around to see where he could 
be of most use in the revolutionary struggle and picked Vienna. He 



was soon in charge of the defense, superintending every barricade, 
visiting all parts of the city secretly and inspecting everything 
in the last days of the siege he did not even take the hour every day 
which was needed to dress his years-old unhealed wound. In addition 
to his talent for detail, he knew just when to punish, when to praise, 
and when to joke with his men. They all adored him and paid him 
back in the incredible courage they showed when he gave them 
orders such as, "You will not surrender this position until it can't 
be held any longer and not even then." 

The Academic Legion had fallen off sadly in numbers by fall, 
from about 5,000 to about 1,000. Some students had gone to fight 
in Hungary, some to study in Germany, many had been driven to 
"their homes by poverty. However, Fiister stoutly maintained that 
the best fifth was left, and the university led the defense in many 
lines. Chemistry laboratories were turned over to the making of 
powder; spies were examined by law students; and the technical 
students were in charge of all the artillery, as well as distributing 
munitions and supplies among the various defenders. The students 
also kept watch at several observation posts, the most spectacular 
being on top of the tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral, where they 
installed a telescope and kept signalling news of army movements 
with flags in the daytime and by lights at night. They still kept up 
the numerous charities of the summer, taking care of wounded sol- 
diers and the poor, and leading the workers in battle. All the time 
they kept coming back to the university to relax. The lecture rooms 
were spread with straw where tired students could sleep with their 
weapons beside them, while from the rector's chair in the Aula a 
girl distributed cigars and poppy seed cakes. 

One of the students' most incongruous friends at this period was 
Baron Kraus, the imperial finance minister. He was a short, fat, 
pale old gentleman, with the eyes of a saint, always smiling and 
easy. Whenever the students needed money he gave them a small 
sum, on condition they would leave the bank unharmed. Week after 
week he would travel back and forth from Vienna to the court at 
Olmiitz, with his fat brief case under his arm, accompanied by no 
secretary or servant, undeterred by the battle, holding things to- 
gether in a way no one else tried to do. Windischgratz protested. 
Kraus blandly answered, "The money I give the students goes more 
into canteens than into armaments. I tell them to be good boys, and 



mostly they are." Windischgratz, who had no sense of humor, 
threatened to keep Kraus a prisoner. "You could not do me a 
greater service, Prince. Do you think it is fun to let myself be bom- 
barded by you in Vienna? 55 

As the battle closed in, with troops sniping at the suburbs, all 
classes in Vienna united to protect their city. Everyone seemed to 
understand that they were fighting to make the Emperor stand 
behind the illusory promises he had made them. Even the workers 
forgot their hatreds, and did not take advantage of the fact that 
20,000 rich citizens had fled town the day after the imperial family 
left. For instance, the Rothschilds abandoned their mansion, and 
when their manager stole back into town in a milk cart, disguised 
as a milk dealer, he found nearly everything in the big house exactly 
as they had left it. The people even respected the property of 
Metternich and Windischgratz. Everyone commented on how much 
the working class had learned since March, when they had gone 
wild in destroying the factory machines. 

Solidarity showed itself in the efforts of both sexes as well as of 
all classes. Ladies, properly speaking, disappeared from the streets, 
so that one shocked observer noticed that when you saw a female 
figure it might at first look as if it belonged to the upper class, but 
when it came nearer you could see that it was really one of those who 
believed in "emancipation, 55 or even "communism. 55 Most people ad- 
mired the way the women came out to dig up pavement, and the 
children built barricades of manure, stones, and furniture. Barri- 
cades soon rose higher than they had in May and passersby 
showed their friendliness by leaving an offering as they went 
through, or paid a tip to be helped across, so that the defenders of 
each barrier had a little cash. 

By night the patrols that kept watch on the walls and bastions 
showed the same fraternity. Crowded around the watchfires were 
legionnaires in high, plumed Calabrian hats and workers in blouses. 
When they had a chance they exchanged bullets with the enemy as 
gaily as if they were bread pills, and in intervals between shootings 
they did Windischgratz and Jellacic to death in effigy by every 
known method of execution. Robert Blum, who arrived in Vienna 
on his mission from the Frankfurt Assembly at the end of October, 
was delighted to see a revolution carried so gemutlich and yet 



griindlichy by which he meant with gaiety on their lips yet earnest- 
ness in their souls. The workers, he said, showed an especially won- 
derful spirit. Blum was invited to become an officer in a special 
corps of literary men ; and although his speechifying annoyed them 
at first, with his trick of dropping words like beads from a rosary 
(to allow time for applause) his flat refusal to leave the city con- 
vinced them of his earnestness. 

As the besieging forces pulled tighter, living became harder. By 
October 24 milk was scarce, though there was an overabundance of 
beer and wine. Herds of gray oxen pastured on the glacis, since 
their owners were unable to send them out to their accustomed fields 
farther on, and they provided some meat. When the public foun- 
tains went dry in some parts of town, it was attributed to the devil- 
ish machinations of Windischgratz, but proved to be due in reality 
to the fact that no one bothered to keep up the fires which made the 
steam to pump and filter the Danube water. By the 27th the gas 
street lighting system broke down also, so the city council ordered 
all householders to put lamps in their first floor windows at night 
so as to throw some light into the streets, making a weird and lovely 
background for the last gruesome days of the siege. And on the 
27th also came the first interruption of the postal service. 

One great mistake of the revolutionaries was that they expected 
help from the peasants. Naively they believed that since they had 
given freedom to the peasants, the peasants would back up the city's 
other desired reforms. Gratitude, however, is like a leaky reservoir, 
as Hans Kudlich himself, the author of the bill to free the land, 
found when he went out to recruit. Interest in the revolution was so 
completely exhausted by this time that he could hardly get a single 
village youth to volunteer in Vienna's battle. For one thing, it had 
been easy for the government to make it seem as if the peasants' 
new freedom were a gift from the Emperor. Few of the workers on 
the land realized what a battle their own Assembly had fought in 
their interest. Worse than that, the countrymen took advantage of 
the occasion to charge the highest prices they could for their prod- 
uce. Peasant support nearly saved the revolution at Leipzig, and 
in the case of Vienna it could have made Windischgratz's campaign 
difficult if not impossible. Without this support, food became almost 
impossible to obtain in the city, except by the very rich, who could 
still get bread, eggs, cheese, salt meat, and fish. 



The more sanguine Viennese had counted on help not only from 
the peasants but from Hungary. 

The new separate Hungarian regime was fighting at this time 
to subdue Jellacic, a Croatian and, therefore, properly an Hungar- 
ian subject. In this fight between two parts of the empire, the 
Austrian government was officially neutral recruiting fo'T both 
sides went on in tents next door to each other in Vienna, and the 
recruits for both sides often drank their recruiting bonus up to- 
gether before going off to shoot each other down. Secretly, however, 
Jellacic was armed and supported by the imperial government, and 
everyone knew by this time of the aid Count Latour had sent him. 

By early October the Hungarians had succeeded in chasing 
Jellacic across the frontier into Austria, quite near Vienna. It was 
to help him in this plight that Latour had called out the grenadiers 
on October 6. After Latour's murder had aroused hatred for the Vien- 
nese revolution, it became easy for Jellacic to forget that his pre- 
dicament had been ignominious, and he began to boast that he had 
given up his campaign in Hungary in order to march to Vienna to 
restore order there. 

The Hungarian army followed Jellacic up to the banks of the 
Leitha, the river that separated Austria from Hungary, and then 
encamped. Their army consisted largely of men who had been re- 
cruited patriotically as "home defenders," and they feared to lose 
their amateur status by leaving their own soil. 

However, the Hungarians were the natural allies of the revolu- 
tionists in Vienna, and they would have been willing to come to the 
aid of the city if they could be invited officially, so their act would 
not seem like unprovoked aggression. 

Their envoy, Francis Pulszky, came to Vienna sure that it would 
be easy to find a sponsor, since it was plain to see that the insur- 
gents' position inside Vienna was hopeless without outside support. 
His first appeal was to the Assembly, which surprised him by de- 
claring that it was incompetent to ask the Hungarian army to cross 
the border. The Assembly's Slavic sympathies may have had some- 
thing to do with this attitude for Slavs disliked Magyars but at the 
same time they were extremely anxious not to cut the cord of legal- 
ity which bound them to the Emperor. However, they suggested 
that the city council was the proper agency to negotiate about the 
city's defense. The municipal governments of Paris, Milan, and 



Venice had to take over great responsibilities when revolution over- 
whelmed the states they were in, but in Vienna the city council, 
though admitting that the Hungarians were needed, could not bring 
itself to ask them to come, and hinted to Pulszky that perhaps the 
national guard would feel like appealing to their brothers in arms. 
So Pulszky went to interview Messenhauser. 

Messenhauser was cordial, and indeed promised to send some 
powder down the river twenty miles to Pressburg but as for guns, 
Messenhauser said that he would be denounced as a traitor if he 
were caught sending guns out of the city, even the guns which 
Hungary had bought in England and which were sitting at that 
moment in Vienna, impounded in the customs house. Pulszky was 
disgusted, but even in his disgust he admitted to himself that his 
own side had been just as stiff-necked to insist on a legal summons 
in the first place. 

While the Hungarians dallied, Windischgratz and Jellacic pre- 
pared to close in on the city. As in all countries in 1848, the citizens 
hoped that the army would refuse to fight, and they sent out an 
appeal to Jellacic's camp dealing with the brotherhood of man and 
Natural Right. The stalwart Croatian replied, "The Emperor's 
orders define my Right. I come to Vienna to set up order." Imperial 
officers naturally could not be brothers to the rest of mankind. 
Jellacic let his troops act exactly as if they were in enemy territory, 
and his scarlet-cloaked border regiments that had seen service only 
on the Turkish frontier, had no idea of any other kind of warfare. 
Each man of them had won his first weapon from the Turk ; thus 
their knowledge of close-range fighting beat anything the Viennese 
ever dreamed of. These soldiers used to make sport of the Viennese 
during the siege, parading openly to draw fire from the barricades 
and then laughing as the balls missed because of poor marksman- 
ship. When one duelled with a student, he played around till he was 
tired, then slit the student's throat with one masterful cut. 

Up to this point Windischgratz was merely organizing his siege. 
When he was ready he gave the city forty-eight hours to surrender 
peacefully, before he began to bombard it in earnest. But Vienna 
did not consider giving in. Instead the citizens let the armistice ex- 
pire, and at nine o'clock on the morning of October 26 summoned 



all of Vienna's defenders to their barricades by bells in all the church 
towers and trumpets in every street. 

By the 28th, the troops had taken most of the suburbs and were 
pressing against the walls. So many officers of the national guard 
had deserted by then that all corps were commanded by students, 
and they had a frightful day. The smoke of powder was so thick 
the opposing sides could hardly see each other, but an earwitness 
described the thunder of cannon, the crack of small arms, the ring- 
ing of bells, the beating of drums, the blasts of trumpets, the yells 
of the fighters, the weeping of women and children, the crack of 
falling houses and the clatter of glass. By night the sky was red 
with fire. "Whoever received no light from that fearful blaze will 
remain blind to eternity," prophesied a beaten radical. Croats 
climbed the barricades like cats, with scimitars in their mouths, and 
they scaled houses in the rear of the barricades so as to pick off 
defenders from the inside. 

After one such day Messenhauser confessed to the city council 
that further defense was impossible. The national guard was for 
giving up the struggle at once, but the workers' corps angrily 
wished to stick to the last barricade. The students threatened to 
make Messenhauser resign and give the command to someone still 
willing to assume it, but Messenhauser retorted that his appoint- 
ment came from the Assembly and was confirmed by the ministry, 
and he would not resign on the protests of mere students. So he 
posted the last of his famous daily placards, announcing surrender 
and the plans for laying down individual arms. 

That night the workers took over the city. Tearing up the plac- 
ards, they forced those who had laid down their arms to take them 
up again. They cried they were betrayed, and when the news was 
flashed down from St. Stephen's tower that the Hungarian army 
was advancing, they could not be restrained. 

And indeed the Hungarians had chosen this moment at long last 
to move, for Kossuth had come up to join his soldiers and he over- 
rode the timid generals who would not violate the frontier. Ignorant 
of Messenhauser's surrender, he sat on a hilltop, roasting potatoes 
and bacon over a signal fire, and tlje next morning gave the order 
to attack. 

Inside the city Messenhauser did not tell anyone of the Hun- 
garian move, although he received a formal announcement of it, for 



he felt bound by the terms he signed with Windischgratz. But the 
students who kept watch in St. Stephen's tower heard the firing, 
and between tantalizing drifts of fog they thought they discerned a 
battle. So on October 31, while Messenhauser's white-flagged depu- 
tation went out to give the city up, St. Stephen's bells once more 
called the people to arms. The troops marching up to the glacis 
to take over the city were met with a hot fire of bullets. 

Windischgratz boiled with anger. He had no difficulty in routing 
the Hungarian army completely. Then he gave orders that Vienna 
should be bombarded. The bombardment sounded like twenty thun- 
derstorms, while the last defenders were no more than a child talking 
back. The copper roof of the Augustine Church melted and shone 
too brightly to look upon. When finally troops marched in a second 
time to take the beaten city, they knocked down or shot down any- 
one with arms, without waiting to question if he bore them willingly 
or had been forced to carry them by the workers' patrols. In vain 
the city council pleaded that they could not restrain the students 
in this last impetuosity. Windischgratz demanded twelve student 
hostages to be turned over to him, and decreed death penalties for 
Bern (who, however, escaped. 1 ) Messenhauser, Robert Blum, and a 
few journalists. 

The Croats marched in, quiet as cats, with none of the noise and 
clang of an ordinary army. Their beautiful scarlet cloaks, clasped 
at the neck with a large silver egg which opened into a drinking 
cup, their variety of Turkish weapons, the warrior women who 
marched at their sides, all made such a sight as Vienna had not 
seen for centuries. Europe's most urbane capital did not know what 
manner of men inhabited the edges of the Empire. Unfortunately, 
it was one of the historical privileges of the Seressan soldiers to 
plunder. When they found the Emperor, whom they thought they 
were coming to save, was not in the city, they began to loot it like a 
Turkish frontier village, though they stole with no sense of value. 
They would sell a gold watch for a few florins, or even think they 
had the best of the bargain if someone gave them a few pieces of real 
silver money for a banknote worth a hundred florins. 

1 Bera escaped on a simple pass and rode over to the Hungarian lines in a cab. 
Many romantic tales described how he left Vienna in an Austrian generaFs uniform, 
or in a coffin, but he actually wore civil dress with a top hat. At first he refused to 
give up his saber, whereupon a friend took it away and hurled it through a window. 
Some years later it was found. In Hungary Bern fought even more brilliantly than in 
Vienna, and completely conquered Transylvania. 



On November I cynics noted a remarkable change in Vienna's 
exterior. The population in their haste to make ready for the im- 
perial troops threw their arms out of windows in order not to be 
caught with them, and guns littered the streets. Suddenly everyone 
cut off his long hair and shaved his beard for these had been signs 
of democratic sympathy. Calabrian hats made way for the "tasteless 
cylinder" or stovepipe; for the first time in months people dared 
to wear gloves. The coffee houses were crowded, but only the 
old conservative papers could be read in them. And the crowds 
quickly learned to say "Hurrah" in many languages the Hun- 
garian Eljen, the Croatian Zivio, the Italian Evviva, for from 
now on during five whole years of martial law, Vienna was policed 
by soldiers that could not speak German. 

Military retribution went swiftly ahead. Blum was shot; Mes- 
senhauser was allowed to give the command to fire at his own execu- 
tion. Every house was searched three times, for men, arms, and for- 
bidden literature, and the police were especially curious about girls' 
rooms, where many students were unearthed, some in women's 
clothes. In the end only a handful were executed. Nine students and 
about two hundred other people were sentenced to military service ; 
and the university was reopened in February. But the promise to 
reconstitute the national guard was never kept. 

Most Viennese were probably tired of anarchy, as they called 
their experience, and from now on would prefer order, even if it 
was harsh and the taxes came high. After 1848 the police were just 
as anti-liberal and a good deal less good-natured than they had been 
under Metternich. For calling Francis Joseph a rogue, one young 
man received a sentence of a year in prison and three years in the 
army. And on the anniversary of the glorious days of March, the 
police were ordered to arrest anyone in mourning lest he mourn 
the revolution and even anyone with a "doubtful" expression on 
Ms face. 

A few people saw the silver lining in all this, Karl Marx for one. 
He was inordinately proud that Germans had given to the world 
such an example of revolutionary resistance, and said he would not 
exchange the whole national stand of Hungary for this demonstra- 
tion of "our own people" in Vienna. 

In another spirit, Leopold von Gerlach, the most reactionary 
friend of the King of Prussia, mused on the strange ways of provi- 



dence: "Up to now (God) has done much more through enemies 
than through friends in his kingdom and to the establishment of his 
order. He has saved Poland through the madness of the Poles, so 
that she fell under German mastery; in the Danish affair, he has 
compelled the King, through England and Russia, to take an inde- 
pendent position; he broke the Frankfurt Parliament through the 
murder of Auerswald and Lichnowsky; Austria came to its knees 
through the murder of ... Latour. . . ." 2 

Gerlach might have gone on to note with more satisfaction that 
by late 1848 the Lord was apparently tired of working through 
his enemies, such as England and the Aula. At that time he raised 
up a friend for the Hapsburgs, a true statesman in the person of 
Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg. 

The Schwarzenbergs, like so many of the high nobility, had been 
a sovereign family until 1806, holding enormous estates in Bohemia 
directly from the Emperor. Thus Prince Felix grew up in a high 
social circle his sister married Prince Windischgratz, and was 
killed by the revolution in Prague in June 1848. Felix, however, 
was a second son, and therefore assumed that his career would be 
the army. After a period in this service Metternich decided to make 
a diplomat out of him instead, so he was sent abroad and given 
every chance to study foreign relations. For years it seemed as if 
Schwarzenberg's successes were going to be entirely among women ; 
in his succession of love affairs, the most famous was that with Lady 
Jane Ellenborough, who abandoned her English husband, followed 
Schwarzenberg to Paris, bore him a daughter, and was divorced by 
her husband after a sensational trial in the House of Lords. It was 
in the last years of his life that he discovered that work could hold 
an equal excitement; before he died, in 1852, he remarked, "If only 
I had worked harder !" 

January 1848 found him occupying the not-too-grand post of 
Austrian envoy at Naples. As the spring advanced, Naples seemed 
about to join the rest of the Italian states in a war against Austria 
to free Lombardy, so Schwarzenberg demanded his passports and 
went north to the camp where Field* Marshal Radetzky was defend- 
ing that province. He was wounded in battle and decorated for 
bravery. But Radetzky like Metternich before him wisely chose to 
use Schwarzenberg's diplomatic talents rather than his military 

* Leopold von Gerlach, Denkwurdigkeiten, Berlin, 1891. p. 230. 



ones. Radetzky was a stout old defender of the Hapsburgs, and he 
was disgusted when he received orders to treat with the Italians in- 
stead of fighting them. The court were so terrified that they were 
ready to throw away Lombardy as a sop to the god of revolution, 
but their field marshal who had defended Lombardy for years in- 
tended to keep on doing so. He therefore ignored the command to 
treat, and sent Schwarzenberg to Innsbruck, where the court was 
established when it fled from Vienna, to wangle 25,000 reinforce- 
ments instead of a capitulation. And in this mission the Prince was 
successful. These reinforcements were to be partly recruited among 
the public works employees in Vienna, and this action was one of the 
workers 5 grievances. It seemed to Radetzky that if the government 
could maintain them in Vienna, it could maintain them in Italy. 

With this help the old marshal quickly reconquered Lombardy 
and installed Schwarzenberg as military governor of Milan. The 
Prince, however, had tasted his oats, and he decided to go to Vienna, 
though he had not been ordered by the court or invited by the min- 
istry. Like many great men, Louis Napoleon for one instance, he 
owed part of his success to his perfect sense of the right time and 

His most devoted subordinate in the capital describes how he sat 
in his room one late September day, wishing that his master would 
come to straighten out the Empire: "The door opened suddenly. 
An officer bearing the uniform of a general appeared on the thresh- 
old. In the half-dark of the room, I did not recognize him at first, 
but his appearance made a tremor go through me. It was a man of 
tall stature, slender, holding himself very straight. Hair cut short 
and not too abundant and already graying failed to cover perfectly 
a comparatively small head. The pale and noble face with a high 
straight forehead, chiselled one would say in marble, would have 
produced by its immobility the feeling of calm if the speaking eyes, 
the gaze sweet and severe at the same time did not reveal ardent 
passions, strongly held in when necessary by an iron will. Now I see 
who it is, and a sharp joy floods my heart, the joy of the sailor who is 
in danger of sinking and sees the lifeboat. Oh, it is indeed he. Oh, my 
darling Austria, you will not perish. For weeks ... I have been 
waiting for him with growing anguish and now I see him before me 
here in my room. It was Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg." 3 

* J. A. von Hubner, Une Ann$e de ma Vie, Paris, 1891. p. 318. 



The Prince acted for a few weeks as if he were in no hurry to- ac- 
cept a cabinet post, particularly under someone else, and this bluff 
worked, for during October he was asked to be prime minister. When 
he took the job, one of his conditions was that Ferdinand must abdi- 
cate and young Francis Joseph take the throne. 

When Vienna fell to the arms of Windischgratz, the new prime 
minister's brother-in-law, the time seemed ripe for the change of 
rulers. Ferdinand and his stupid brother, the legal heir, were both 
persuaded by their wives to renounce their rights to the throne, leav- 
ing it open for Francis Joseph, now turned eighteen and an appeal- 
ing candidate by reason of his youth, bearing, and well-known 

The abdication took place at Ohnxitz, the Moravian town where 
the court was sitting out the revolution, early in December in the 
presence of the imperial family and a few councilors. Ferdinand 
had a fit of stubbornness at the last minute and had to be pushed by 
a lady-in-waiting into the chamber where the ceremony was to take 
place. Still, after he had dutifully read the paper handed to him in 
which he gave his health as the reason for the step and his nephew 
sank on one knee before him, Ferdinand said, "God bless you. Bear 
yourself bravely, God will protect you. It is done gladly." Francis 
Joseph's remark on the subject was, "My youth is over." And indeed 
it was. From that time until his death in 1916, his destiny was tragic. 

Schwarzenberg made him open his reign with a lie. His first mani- 
festo rang with promises of free institutions, liberty to all his sub- 
jects, and particularly interest in the constitution at which the 
Assembly was still plugging away. After the days of October in 
Vienna, the members had been reconvened in the little Czech village 
of Kremsier, not far up the March River from Olmxitz where the 
court was. The tone which Francis Joseph's manifesto should take 
was the subject of sharp debate in the council meetings just before 
the abdication. Windischgratz took the honest, if angry, position 
that Ferdinand's withdrawal should be based on grounds of con- 
demning the revolution, and that Francis Joseph should indicate 
at once that he would stand no more of such nonsense from his peo- 
ples. But most of the rather able cabinet 4 agreed with the prime 

4 Schwarzenberg called good administrators to his cabinet, men like Count Stadion, 
the enlightened governor of Galicia; Baron Kraus, the good old finance minister who 
smoothed the students' feelings so well during the siege; and Alexander Bach, the 



minister that the new Emperor should sound liberal at first, though 
they were fully determined that he should soon turn away from any 
appearance of democratic leanings. 

As for Francis Joseph himself, someone has suggested that prob- 
ably he never thought of these manifestoes as lies. He was an ex- 
ceedingly matter-of-fact young man, like the run of nineteenth- 
century monarchs, infinitely more conscientious and less successful 
than many kings of earlier days. He was a soldier first, who con- 
ceived that his primary duty to his state was a military one. And 
his heart was hard like his grandfather's he showed his attitude 
toward his subjects by hanging his official audience chamber with 
pictures of the bloody repression of the revolution of 1848. 

In Schwarzenberg's opinion the first duty of his government 
should be to stamp out the Constitutional Assembly, which, he said, 
was born of an immature population under such conditions that no 
prominent, propertied, or experienced members were elected. The 
Prince's opinion on this matter was colored by the fact that he had 
been beaten in the election for the Assembly members by one of his 
own peasants, a fellow named Keim, and his first move against the 
Assembly was the petty one of ordering this man's arrest. Keim's 
only offence was that during the Christmas holidays he had talked 
freely and disrespectfully over his wine cups in his native village, 
and his fellow assembly members absolutely refused to give him up 
to the prime minister's justice. This independent attitude naturally 
did nothing to sweeten Schwarzenberg's feelings. 

On the other hand, Schwarzenberg was almost equally contemp- 
tuous toward Prince Windischgratz's wish to organize Austria 
again on old feudal lines. He told his brother-in-law severely that 
there were not twelve men of their own class in the whole empire 
that had enough brains or energy to serve usefully in a house of 
lords, and for this opinion Windischgratz called Schwarzenberg a 

In fact he was opposed to liberties and privileges of all subjects, 
of whatever class ; for a house of lords, especially a stupid house of 
lords, could hamper an able government as much as a popular as- 

erstwhile liberal lawyer who came into office in the spring of 1848 as a "barricade 
minister." Bach hung on through many changes of cabinet, and carried out long after 
Schwarzenberg was dead his policies of centralization, Germanization, a strict police 
and Jesuitical education. 



sembly. He wanted the Empire to be united and controlled, and he 
concluded that force must be the basis of power. For this reason he 
always wore his military uniform in office. He it was who quipped 
that the Empire was saved in 1848 by three undisciplined soldiers, 
Windischgratz, who conquered Vienna in the face of the Emperor's 
concessions to the city, Radetzky, who refused to surrender Lom- 
bardy when he was told to do so, and Jellacic, who was technically 
a Hungarian subject and who disobeyed orders which labeled him 
a traitor in order to uphold the larger interest of the Empire. 

In foreign affairs Schwarzenberg wanted to reestablish Austria 
as a strong power. He was interested neither in peace as such, like 
Metternich, nor in a German federation. It was particularly to 
show his spite for the Frankfurt Parliament that he ordered Robert 
Blum to be shot in spite of the plea of his parliamentary inviola- 
bility. He believed and the events of 1848 seemed to bear him out 
that a Mittelleuropa was only possible by repressing hard both 
nationality and freedom. 

To handle the Austrian Constitutional Assembly required more 
finesse. This Assembly was the only visible sign in Austria proper 
that there had been a revolution there. So Schwarzenberg traveled 
to Kremsier and made his first speech as a constitutional minister, 
a speech in which he pledged his cabinet "sincerely and without 
reserve" to constitutional monarchy, with "free development" of 
different parts of the monarchy. 

Buoyed up by these promises and the hope that always attends 
the start of a new reign, the Assembly worked with new zeal at its 
constitution. The Slav members, including the Czechs, came back in 
triumph, and the German faction, having been defeated at the 
barricades, was no longer so arrogant, so both parties were more 
willing to compromise. If they had shown as much good will six 
months earlier, they might have gotten their document ratified 
before having Schwarzenberg to impede them. Though the Slavs 
still wanted decentralization with power given to the provinces, and 
the Germans still wanted a strong central state, they now worked 
out a brilliant solution of the difference. The draft of the constitu- 
tion provided for local self-government in small areas, towns, and 
villages, with substantial provincial autonomy at the same time. 
The independence of the villages would guarantee minority rights, 
so that a German village in Bohemia, for instance, would not be 



compelled to hold school in Czech, and these small localities could 
also act as a prop to the central government against excessive na- 
tionalism in the provinces. 

Most liberal Austrians since 1848 have felt that the Kremsier 
constitution was a triumph of democracy, showing that the people 
could work together "with good will in uncommon measure," even 
when just emerging from repression. Though this constitution was 
never tried out, it seems likely that the peoples of Austria could 
have welded a free and united country better than their rulers 
ever did. 5 

The progress made at Kremsier only alarmed Schwarzenberg, 
who was afraid public opinion would get ahead of him and the new 
constitution would be too popular to ignore. Therefore, on January 
20 he told his cabinet he was going to dissolve the Assembly for 
good and all. He only waited for a military success in Hungary, 
which he thought could not be long coming. 

Not knowing this, the members of the committee which drafted 
the constitution planned a fete. On March 2 they dressed them- 
selves up in the new white-red-gold tricolor which was intended to 
symbolize the new Austria, and proudly marched into the Bishop's 
Palace at Kremsier, where the other members of the Assembly 
awaited them. The committee announced that their draft was com- 
pleted. The Assembly thereupon decided to take a vacation, and 
reassemble on March 15 so as to vote the new constitution on the 
anniversary of its promise. 

Meanwhile, the committee prepared to mail copies out to their 
constituents all over the country. 

Schwarzenberg realized he must act quickly. He told the post 
office to confiscate the documents in the mails, and sent Count 
Stadion to Kremsier with orders to forbid the Assembly to reas- 
semble. Stadion arrived, and after conferring with the members 
who supported the government, he became convinced that it would 
be a great mistake to dissolve the parliament, so he hurried back to 
Olmiitz. He arrived at three in the morning, and was so excited 
that he took a candle and burst into Minister Bach's bedroom, wak- 
ing him up to tell him his news. Bach was alarmed. Apparently 

5 Their bill of rights was largely drawn from the constitution of the state of Texas, 
then recently admitted into our union. "All power comes from the people," the con- 
stitution said, but suffrage was to be on the basis of tax-paying, so that workers and 
peasants would be cut out. 



Stadion's nerves were giving way, and indeed that day proved 
almost the end of his public service. 

The next day the Assembly was dissolved by telegraph, with a 
message from the young Emperor that its meetings "put off public 

It was part of Schwarzenberg's plan to arrest the most prominent 
liberal leaders. He may even have picked Kremsier as a site for the 
meetings because it was a small walled town with only three narrow 
gates, so that it could easily be turned into a trap. This plan was 
foiled because Stadion had issued warnings. Most of the members 
who were in danger escaped. Fiister was waked by his servant and 
helped to escape by friends. For many miles the Austrian police 
kept on his track by asking whether people had noticed his bundle 
of white laundry, but an underground railway of democrats passed 
him across the border before the police quite caught up with him. 
He was afterward formally expelled from the church. 

Kudlich had noted beforehand how he could jump from the roof 
of his room to the city wall, and from there scramble down a tree 
and escape into the countryside. This plan he carried out. 

As for Fischhof, he was too proud to leave. For his courage he was 
imprisoned and not released until the following December. 

In that age of constitutions it seemed hardly respectable to go 
back to a completely constitutionless regime, so Francis Joseph 
copied the King of Prussia and promulgated one which had been 
worked up mainly by Stadion. Schwarzenberg was indifferent to 
its details, since he did not intend to be tied by it and only wanted 
to get it out quickly enough to take the place of the parliamentary 
one. It was therefore published on March 4. Schwarzenberg's only 
other care was that it should include the entire Empire, even Hun- 
gary. This was one way of thumbing his nose both at Hungary 
itself and at the Frankfurt Parliament, which was this very March 
agonizing over whether to include any part of the Austrian Empire 
in its new German Reich. Stadion's constitution led immediately 
to the offering of the German crown to the King of Prussia, because 
it took away all hope that German Austria might be loosened from 
the rest of the Empire and united with other German states. 

With Kremsier and Frankfurt both eliminated, Schwarzenberg 



considered his own constitution a scrap of paper, and abrogated it 
formally as soon as he could in 1852. 

This was no great loss to Francis Joseph's subjects. For though 
his constitution, and the bill of rights which he announced before 
the constitution proper, both looked amenable on paper, careful 
reading showed that every single right was limited. Thus, the people 
had the right of freely publishing opinions, even in print but a 
law would suppress abuses of the press. The right of free petition 
was granted, but only from lawfully recognized groups. The right 
of free assembly was also to be regulated by law and so on down 
the line, until at the last it was stated that the constitution of Hun- 
gary should be maintained, although the parts of it not in harmony 
with the imperial one should be void. 

But Hungary is a story of its own. In March 1849, the Hungar- 
ians were by no means ready to accept limits to their cherished 
constitution, the most valuable part of which maintained their 
separateness. Especially were they unyielding to a young monarch 
they regarded as an upstart, since he gave no indication of wishing 
to place the sacred crown of St. Stephen on his head, or of swearing 
to maintain Hungary's age-old liberties. 



The Modernization of Hungary 

WITHIN the Austrian Empire, in 1848, Hungary was in much the 
position of the southern states of America. Both were agricultural, 
economically backward areas. In both, the upper, enfranchised 
classes were ingrown and passionately political. Both of them were 
to fight unsuccessful wars of independence and win romantic repu- 
tations as defenders of a Lost Cause. 

The Kingdom of Hungary, which made up slightly more than 
half of the territory of the Empire, stretched for trackless miles to 
the east of the River Leitha. In all the kingdom there were only 
2,000 miles of roads. Elsewhere, a traveler riding over the plains 
in a cart could tell when he was approaching a big town at night by 
the extra bumpiness where many ruts came together. Since only 
three or four regular stagecoach routes operated, travelers were 
rare. Those who did penetrate the country before 1848 reported 
customs almost as outlandish as in Asia the lavish old-fashioned 
hospitality at the manor houses, where to stay less than three days 
was an insult to the host; thirty-six course meals (meat cost a penny 
a pound) ; robbers in Robin Hood style; gypsies with their music; 
the service of peasant carts made of willow which carried one along 
to the next stop, for it was part of the work the peasant owed in 
return for his land to provide transportation for travelers and gov- 
ernment officials. 

The nobles who could afford it lived in Vienna most of the year, 
where they could speak German and enjoy being in a center of 
culture. These gentlemen must have given a wrong impression to 
their friends at the court, because it was the constant assumption 
at Vienna from the eighteenth century until 1866 that the Hun- 
garian constitution was moribund and could be tactfully set aside 
in favor of centralized administration from the capital. 

No one outside Hungary itself dreamed, apparently, that the 
new nineteenth-century nationalism was going to act like a blast of 
fresh air on coals of independence whose glow the Magyar race had 



never quite allowed to die from the days when they were a proud 
and separate kingdom. 

The Sacred Crown of St. Stephen was delivered by an angel, so 
it was said, to the Pope, who allowed Stephen to be crowned King 
of Hungary with it in 1001. The monarchy in those early days was 
elective. The kings of Hungary were not only chosen by the Diet, 
they were responsible to it ; they could not initiate tax bills, but they 
had the right of veto. 

Six centuries later, Hungary agreed to let its crown be hereditary 
in the Hapsburg family. When Hungary first chose an Austrian 
archduke, in the hope of getting protection against the Turks, the 
long struggle between Austrian absolutism and Hungarian liberty 
began. Each new emperor had to go to Hungary for a separate 
coronation as king of that country, and before the crown of St. 
Stephen was placed upon his head, he had to swear to respect the 
ancient privileges of the Diet. One emperor, free-thinking Joseph, 
had refused to undergo this ceremony and as a result he was not 
listed among the official kings of Hungary, and had a hard time 
getting his measures enforced there. His successors bent to custom 
and took the oath again, but hoped in their hearts that the ancient 
constitution of Hungary would gradually fall into disuse as had 
happened in Bohemia. The privileges it enshrined seemed like relics 
of the Middle Ages, which must sooner or later succumb to the 
more modern force of absolutism. 

Yet of all the peoples and nations engaged in revolution in 1848, 
Hungary was the single one which kept its demands strictly on a 
legal basis. If the Hapsburgs had had any respect for their oaths, 
Hungary could have used its ancient constitution as a neat spring- 
board from which to leap over absolutism into the still more modern 
camp of democratic, constitutional states like England and France. 

After Hungary's brilliant and pathetic war in 1849, it became 
fashionable to compare British and Magyar institutions. In no 
other continental country were local politics so lively and responsi- 
ble as in Hungary. Before 1848, however, no one noticed the like- 
ness, The Hungarian county assemblies met, argued, voted amid the 
indiff erence of the rest of the world. 

The Austrian bureaucrats, at least, ought to have known what to 
expect in 1848 from the struggle they had in 1826 trying to get 
greater taxes and larger levies of recruits out of Hungary. These 



two matters were specifically the prerogative of the Hungarian Diet 
at Pressburg, but Vienna made one of its periodical decisions that it 
would be easier to rule Hungary by the same decrees as the other 
provinces and that the Magyar constitution could not withstand a 
determined administrative policy. The King took care not to summon 
the Diet at this crisis and simply decreed new taxes and levies. The 
energetic Hungarians immediately took the matter up in the as- 
semblies of each county; eight of these assemblies refused to author- 
ize collection of the increased taxes. 1 At the same time, ten counties 
refused to send the recruits. In other counties soldiers summoned 
the assemblies by force, keeping the members in session until they 
had voted right. Angry county officials thereupon destroyed the 
records and hid their seals ; Kossuth made his first political speech 
in one of the assemblies at this period. Baron Eotvos, who was to 
become the 1848 Minister of Education, was not spoken to at school 
by the other boys because his grandfather was one of the commis- 
sioners appointed by Vienna to force through the imperial decrees ; 
this old gentleman's wife left him for the same reason. 

Eventually the Diet had to be summoned and placated, and Vienna 
went back to its old policy of using the dietal decrees which suited 
the Hofburg and of stalling others by delays and legal quibbles, arts 
in which the Vienna government was a past master. 

Politics was the great diversion of the Magyar race. German 
residents of Hungarian cities, and Slavic peasants, who could vote 
for their own village officers though not for the Diet, did not share 
in the passion which caused any two Hungarians to discuss candi- 
dates and issues the moment they met. Election Day was the biggest 
event of the year for them. For weeks beforehand young men of each 
party electioneered through the countryside with gypsy bands and 
liquor. On the eve of the voting, the whole gentry of the county met 
at the court house, where the young danced, the old talked politics 
all night long/ In the morning, they voted by acclamation, each 
party in a separate courtyard to forestall violence. They voted for 
their county administrator one of the least well-thought-of efforts 
of the central government was to supplant these officials with men 
appointed from Vienna and for their Diet representatives. The lat- 

1 The increase in taxes came by reason of a new requirement that taxes be paid in 
silver, not paper someone figured that there was not enough silver in the whole 
kingdom to pay the tax required. 



ter were sent to Pressburg instructed in their votes, and could be 
recalled for disobeying their constituents. Even after the Diet had 
passed an act, it could be thrashed out again on the floors of the 
county assemblies, which had the power to refuse to admit any act 
they deemed unconstitutional. 

All free men in Hungary were classed as "nobles," even though 
some had enormous estates while some were scarcely better off than 
peasants. The theory of the Magyar state, from the days of the 
conquest, was that every Hungarian was free and equal; his voice 
helped choose the king in the old days, and had never lost its say on 
financial matters even in modern times. Western feudalism with its 
system of vassals and sub-vassals was transplanted to Hungary so 
late that it never took root. To an extraordinary degree for the 
nineteenth century, every Hungarian felt himself as good as every 
other Hungarian though, unfortunately, much better than the 
peasants who were mostly Slavs, and unfree. The so-called nobles 
were protected from arbitrary arrest and from corporal punish- 
ment, and they had a great tradition of free speech which went with 
their right to vote. And they had the extraordinary right of not 
paying any taxes. Taxes had been paid by peasants in the Middle 
Ages, while the nobility offered personal military service, so that to 
pay a tax came to seem the act of a menial. Free men did not even 
pay tolls on roads or bridges; thus, toll-collectors would open up 
their gates for anyone dressed like a gentleman, or who acted as if 
he were not in the habit of paying, while closing them down for peas- 
ants or Jewish peddlers until the fare was paid. 2 

One person in fourteen was classed as a noble in Hungary, con- 
trasting with the Austrian archduchies where there was one noble 
out of 353. In Bohemia, where the nobility had been killed off during 
the Hussite wars, there was only one noble out of 828. Someone fig- 
ured out that England had only one voter in 24 at the same time ; 
even the United States had only one voter in eight. These figures 
may have been rough guesses, but even so they make the Hungarian 
electoral base look handsome. 

Nor was it particularly difficult to become a noble. Dr. Tkalac, 

2 The titled nobility of Hungary, the four princes, 99 counts and 88 barons were 
all created by Austria in an effort to win leading families to her side. These came to 
sit in a separate chamber in the Diet, and formed just the conservative vetoing power 
the Hapsburgs needed to control a province which had a diet. 



who was a Croatian and therefore a Hungarian subject though not 
a Magyar, tells how in the village where his grandfather was born 
every person was "noble." This right was very old, being granted 
by an act of the crown in reward for some spectacular military serv- 
ice performed by the village centuries before. These nobles all did 
the work of peasants ; however, if one of them took up handwork or 
business he was considered to have lost his nobility. Tkalac's father 
went into the river boat business early in the nineteenth century, 
carrying cargoes of wheat and hides up and down the Croatian 
rivers, and though he became rich at this job, he lost his nobility. To 
become personally free again, all he had to do was to buy a house 
in a small city, for burghers enjoyed some of the immunities of the 
nobility. But his landlord back in the village where his brothers still 
worked tried to force them to do the labor of serfs, asserting that 
they, too, had lost their nobility. The rich brother was able to save 
them by buying town houses for each of them. Education was an- 
other way of rising socially, for doctors, lawyers, and professors 
enjoyed practically the same rights as the nobility, even though they 
had no tie to the land. 

Not only was the Hungarian upper class large and politically 
active, its lower class was relatively well off and loyal. The labor 
service due for the use of land was less than in some parts of the 
Empire (two days a week instead of three as in Galicia) , and peas- 
ants had a few political rights such as voting for their own village 
officers. Though legally they might be flogged or imprisoned at the 
will of their landlords, actually there was nowhere the social split 
that in Galicia, for instance, had been used by Vienna to incite the 
peasants to a civil war against their landlords. The feelings of 
friendliness and solidarity that led all upperclass Hungarians to 
call each other "cousin" made lord and peasant address each other 
with such endearing epithets as "my soul. 55 This affection could be 
expressed in real social services, too. 3 Baroness Pulszky tells how in 
the famine of 1847, she cut down heavily on her own table and 
worked every day with the assistance of village women to distribute 

8 When the writer visited a small Hungarian village in 1930, it was a striking fact 
that her young hostess, when making introductions, frequently knew only the first 
names of the people she had heen playing with all summer. Affectionate informality 
was still the keynote of social life in great distinction to more western countries 
in Europe. 



soup to 500 people, who might be peasants, or gypsies anyone who 
showed up. 

In the period before 1848, the outstanding Hungarian was, un- 
doubtedly. Count Stephen Szechenyi, who spent his handsome for- 
tune and considerable talents to build up modern institutions in his 
country. He traveled extensively in Western Europe and in Eng- 
land, where he was well-known and got most of his ideas ; but it was 
easier for the west to understand the practical changes he wrought 
than the psychological ones which were just as important in his eyes. 
Wishing to force his country to become both proud and rich, he ap- 
pealed to every motive among his countrymen public spirit, pri- 
vate gain, patriotism, the wish to be in fashion, the spirit of fun, 
the sense of noblesse oblige. 

He first struck the public eye in 1825 by offering to give a year's 
income to help endow an academy for the Hungarian language. 
This, interestingly enough, seemed the prime step toward making a 
modern nation, and it was largely owing to his efforts that Hun- 
garian came back to the lips of his countrymen. The gentry had been 
gradually forgetting it, talking German in Vienna, often using 
Slovak to their peasants, and, odd as it seems, Latin in their Diet, 
In some parts Latin was a general language of communication. Dr. 
Tkalac remembered his Croatian mother using it in her household 
(though this was more unusual in a woman than a man) and other 
observers reported the strange effect of hearing a nineteenth-cen- 
tury peasant greet his landlord, "Bonum matutinum, domine." 
Szechenyi raged at this decay of his mother tongue. His appeals 
succeeded so well that in 1847, for the first time in history, the Diet 
members spoke Hungarian, even though it still came haltingly to 
some lords' tongues. 

The Count's next project was to make his fellow nobles as public- 
spirited as the British, so he hit upon the ingenious first step of 
starting horse racing. This not only led to an interest in animal 
breeding, but gave the nobles a chance to come together in healthy 
rivalry ; in time his Casino or clubhouse in Pest became the most im- 
portant center in the land for informal discussion. 

Public spirit and national pride were all very well, but Szechenyi 
realized that his country was like an unfilled sack which would easily 
topple over. He wanted to fill it with such solid prosperity that it 
would stand of itself. So he started a commercial steamboat line on 



the Danube. Many people ridiculed him and said, as they were say- 
ing at the same time of the Mississippi, that the Danube was un- 
suited to such traffic because of shallow sandbanks and drifting 
course. The only navigation up to that time had been by boats pulled 
from the shore by horses or peasants, and the shallows were so wide 
that the rope sometimes had to be a mile long. 

This interest in profit and business shocked many nobles who 
believed their class should be above sordid gain. When they heard 
they would be expected to pay toll on the new suspension bridge 
Szechenyi projected across the Danube between Pest and Buda, 
they called him a traitor to his class. But in fact this new bridge 
was a perfect example of Szechenyi's technique. Since it would be 
the longest suspension bridge in the world, all Hungary could be 
proud of it. At the same time, it would be of immense economic ad- 
vantage to the country, for until that time only a bridge of 47 boats 
connected Hungary's biggest city, Pest, with the fortress Buda 
across the river. The boats had to be taken out in winter, so then 
no vehicle could cross the Danube at all unless the ice happened to 
be thick enough. The new bridge would speed up traffic across the 
river and also navigation up and down it. But Szechenyi was de- 
liberately trying to break down aristocratic prejudice, too. Once the 
nobles paid a toll, however small, they could not complain so self- 
righteously about ordinary taxes, and Hungary could never become 
a modern state until the wealth of the upper class was taxable. 

In the same spirit he wrote his great book on credit. Hungary 
had the highest interest rates in all Europe, partly because the law 
of entail prevented landowners from mortgaging their estates. (Un- 
less a property was offered to all possible relatives when it was sold, 
and they declined to buy it, any one of them had the right to buy it 
back within thirty years for the purchase price plus a sum for im- 
provements. After the expiration of thirty years, any heir of the 
family could force its resale to him on the same terms, even if he or 
his father had refused to buy it when it was first up for sale.) It was 
thus almost impossible to raise capital for agricultural or other im- 
provements. "We need credit, 55 cried Szechenyi (and by that time 
he was so well known that everyone read his book) and he intended 
by that cry to include both senses of the word money and faith 
in each other. 

By 1839 Szechenyi had come to seem something like a patriarch, 



as he courteously greeted passengers on the Danube steamboat, and 
made friends with Metternich. In truth he was only forty-eight years 
old. Like most reformers he was able to excite only one generation, 
and younger men became impatient as the count grew conservative. 
He urged his countrymen to stick to the possible, and younger 
patriots were already dreaming of what seemed impossible to 
make Hungary free, not merely rich. 

Their new leader was only eleven years younger than the count 
Louis Kossuth, the most conspicuous newspaperman of Hungary. In 
the early thirties Kossuth, a bright young lawyer, had been sent to 
the Diet, when it was finally summoned to see about the long withheld 
taxes and recruits. He was not an elected member, but a count's 
deputy. It was customary for members of the hereditary upper 
house to send substitutes ; these deputies, not being titled, sat with 
the lower house, but, not being elected, they had no vote in it. Most 
clever youths managed to find excuses to hang around the Diet 
both gallery and floor were always full of them. Kossuth's distinc- 
tion came from the fact that he wrote such brilliant letters back to his 
employer that other people wanted to copy them. Soon Kossuth was 
editing the equivalent of the Congressional Record. Because Austria 
disapproved printing Diet debates, he tried at first to lithograph 
his material. When even that was forbidden, Kossuth arranged to 
dictate his material to a large group of young men who made hand- 
written copies of his words to be sent to every county in the land. 

Perhaps it was the intoxication of speaking aloud, but as he dic- 
tated these reports, Kossuth could not resist the temptation of mak- 
ing his friends 5 speeches sound better, and his enemies' worse than 
they had on the floor. Kossuth's gift for language was so great that 
he was later able to enthrall audiences in England and America with 
the English he had learned by reading Shakespeare in prison. In his 
own tongue, to his own countrymen, he seemed an oracle. When the 
Diet closed in 1835, he dictated a "Farewell to My Readers" which 
made the copyists stand up and cheer. His message of freedom ex- 
cited liberals in every county; for the first time the country had a 
single voice, and it began to count its wrongs in unison, to remember 
its traditions, to make plans for a greater future. 

With the Diet no longer in session, Kossuth went to Pest and be- 
gan editing news from the county assemblies for the other ones to 
read, the first time there had been any systematic communication 



between counties. This was so distasteful to Austria that Kossuth 
was thrown into prison, quasi-legally since as a noble he was Immune 
to arbitrary arrest, where he improved his hours reading Shake- 
speare and the French socialist, Lamennais. When he was released 
in 1840, the government surprisingly let him go back to newspaper 
work and he edited the first liberal paper of Hungary. Vienna, mean- 
while, took care that his words were not allowed to circulate in other 
parts of the Empire. 

In 1847, when the Diet was called, the whole nation felt the time 
was ripe for something momentous. Szechenyi, though he had long 
sat in his hereditary seat in the upper house, now ran for the lower 
in order to be able more effectively to oppose Kossuth. Kossuth also 
was running for the first time. His election demonstration at Pest 
was bright with gypsy bands and tricolor banners, green, white, and 
red. When he was declared elected and had to take the customary 
oath not to accept a job or favor from the Austrian government for 
six years, he altered the words to say "never." Kossuth admired 
Szechenyi, but he was certain the time had come for less indirect 
methods. Kossuth had been trained as a lawyer and wanted a frontal 
attack by the Diet to free the peasant lands. This he considered the 
primary job ahead. He believed that this nation of noblemen could 
never be great until it was turned into a real democracy; even as a 
very young man Kossuth had taken the trouble to call the peasants 
he handled by the plural or polite form of "you/ 5 and reading La- 
mennais in prison had only stimulated his sense of justice. In appeal- 
ing to his politically-minded nation for a political solution, Kossuth 
was far more in the Hungarian tradition than Count Szechenyi with 
his talk of profits, capital, and free trade. 

The Diet opened in November. Everyone was present, it seemed 
titled lords, deputies, and all their numberless hangers-on. The en- 
tire diplomatic corps was invited to sail down the river from Vienna 
to hear the King (Ferdinand was not Emperor in his Hungarian 
dominions) address the Diet in its national language. His well- 
coached little speech was a thundering success. 

Members of the Diet, and indeed nearly all Hungarians present, 
wore their national costume, a frock coat of brilliant color, heavily 
embroidered, with sabers at their sides, knee boots, velvet buttons 
and plumed fur caps. Prince Esterhazy's outfit had diamond but- 
tons, its seams were of pearls. (The maintenance of this eyestopper 



was a tax on the entire family, for it is said to have shed $30,000 
in jewels at each wearing.) Talent as well as wealth was present, and 
anyone in proper costume, whether elected or not, was admitted to 
the floor of the house. Those in conventional or western dress had 
to sit in the galleries, which were also crowded. On the floor everyone 
knew everyone else from college days, from the Casino, from former 
Diet meetings. And they were all determined as never before to do 
something about their oppressed country. 

After choosing as palatine, or viceroy, Archduke Stephen, an 
amiable young Hapsburg who had been brought up in Hungary 
and was not illiberal, the Diet set to the work Kossuth doled out to 
it. For Kossuth became the accepted leader of all debate after he 
won his first point; this was to persuade the chamber to work on a 
general program of reform instead of talking humbly to the King 
about specific grievances. Such rude disregard of convention shocked 
the upper house, but they were forced by public opinion to pass some 
of the reforms suggested even before the fateful news that Paris 
had revolted reached Pressburg on February 29. 

The chain reaction set off in Paris was quickly utilized in Hun- 
gary to press at once for the complete reform program. Word went 
about that Kossuth was preparing his greatest speech, and on 
March 3, when he rose in the Diet, the galleries were packed as they 
had been at the opening. His listeners were not disappointed. They 
heard their leader demand that the Kingdom of Hungary should 
have a separate and responsible ministry, a separate national army, 
and separate well-audited finances. This was the first statement of 
the dream which Hungary kept in her heart until 1867, when 
Francis Deak succeeded in creating the Dual Monarchy. 

Kossuth went further. He warned his friends that unless the other 
parts of the Empire were also given constitutions, Hungary's would 
not be safe. This was the spark that jumped the frontier, this was the 
oration read in Vienna, giving courage to the sober Reading Club 
there, inflaming the already ardent students on March 13. 

When they heard that Vienna, too, was in revolt, the young men 
of Pressburg were so delighted that some hundreds of them went up 
the river, along with Kossuth and the Palatine, hoping to help with 
the fighting while the leaders pressed their demands on the col- 
lapsing regime. The party arrived at nightfall, and finding the 



street battle won and no places to sleep, they danced in the streets 
all night long. 

No city liked to miss its revolution in those days. Pest, the biggest 
city in Hungary and its natural capital, was determined on its share 
of excitement and glory, even though there was no very satisfactory 
authority on the scene to revolt against. (The Diet sat in Pressburg, 
originally to keep out of the way of the conquering Turks ; it had 
stayed there because the town was conveniently close to Vienna.) 
On March 15 a group of young men went around Pest's schools and 
university halls to pull crowds of students out into the streets. One 
of them composed a poem for the occasion, which they carried around 
to a printing shop to be printed. The proprietor objected that it had 
not been passed by the censor, and somewhat coyly suggested he 
could not print it unless he were "constrained." The boys cheerfully 
asked him what that would involve, and got the answer that if they 
laid hands on his presses, that would be constraint. This was easily 
done a few light hands on the presses and the typesetters went 
gaily to work on their first uncensored assignment. The poem was 
printed, along with twelve revolutionary "points," the usual de- 
mands of free press, militia, and so on. The sheets were snatched 
from the press and read to the mob outside; as each verse of the 
poem, exhorting Magyars to great deeds, ended with the refrain, 
"We swear," the crowd speedily took up the chorus and intoned it. 
The double eagle of Austria was broken off public buildings. A com- 
mittee of public safety was set up ; likewise the militia was organized. 
When certain citizens refused to serve in the same company with 
Jews, many young revolutionaries hastened to enroll themselves 
voluntarily in the special Jewish companies. 

They were also so spontaneously friendly to Serbs and Rumanians 
(who reciprocally supported their aims) that Kossuth felt he had to 
check this over-brotherly feeling in his Magyars, and refused admit- 
tance to the delegates from Pest who came to tell him about their 
activities. Thus the revolution in Pest was stymied. The authorities 
met the enthusiasts with such patience that one nonplussed young 
man stammered out, "Brothers, the difference between a revolution 
and ordinary times is supposed to be that in a revolution prudent 
heads are not listened to." Hungary was the only country where the 
prudent heads at Pressburg, not Pest were gathered together, 



prepared to exploit whatever opportunities Viennese dynamite 
might open for them. 

So on March 15 the Diet, scarcely allowing itself time to eat, 
debated and quickly passed the enormous amount of legislation 
which Kossuth demanded. 

They voted, like every assembly in Europe, for a free press and a 
national guard. Like the Austrian Assembly, they voted to abolish 
feudalism promising landlords an indemnity to make up to them 
partially for the loss of their peasants' services. And they imitated 
the French Estates of 1789 in agreeing that nobles should be taxed. 
The Diet, let it be remembered, consisted entirely of noblemen in 
voting to tax themselves they were moved partly by public spirit, 
partly by enlightened self-interest, and partly because of the fear 
of peasant uprisings a fear which Kossuth was not loathe to ex- 
ploit in his oratory. This was exactly the same mixture of motives 
which persuaded their French prototypes. 

In reorganizing their government, the Diet voted that from now 
on it should meet at Pest, and that sessions should be held every 
year. For the new Diet, they ordered elections in which a large num- 
ber of citizens who had never voted before could take part. Their 
culminating decision was Kossuth's main point, namely, that Hun- 
gary should have a cabinet separate from the rest of the Empire, 
responsible to her own Diet. 

Just as the nation was getting ready to celebrate the birth of this 
new regime, the staggering news came from Vienna that the Em- 
peror was going to hold the power of war and finance for his whole 
territory under the single administration at Vienna. 

Ferdinand's new Austrian advisers, even though they were lib- 
erals, were unwilling to preside at the dissolution of His Majesty's 
Empire. But to Kossuth and to Hungary, power over their own 
troops, sworn to their constitution, and over the spending of money, 
were the very crux of their expectations. These were the same ques- 
tions about which the county assemblies had rebelled twenty years 

Austrian finances had not only meant taxation without represen- 
tation (for only one-sixth of the taxes paid by Hungarians were 
direct ones approved by the Diet ; the other money came from a levy 
on salt and tobacco, and customs duties), but Austria had also mis- 
used the taxing power to keep Hungarian industry crippled by 


regulating the customs duties between the two halves of the Empire, 
Worse still, Austria had tried to influence Hungarian politics. In 
allocating funds, Vienna noticeably passed over counties with out- 
spoken liberal deputies sometimes such counties were never given 
permission to build a bridge or a road even with their own money. 

When Hungarians heard that the Emperor wished to deny them 
their right of handling their own money, the check to enthusiasm 
might have been serious. Luckily, Archduke Stephen, the Palatine, 
agreed to hurry to Vienna to try to get the complete Hungarian 
program approved by his imperial cousins. Stephen offered to re- 
sign if his mission failed and indeed in two days he was back with 
the powers of war and finance in his pocket. The crust of perfect 
legality had still not been broken. Perhaps Vienna gave in because 
Milan and Prague were seething, too, for as soon as these cities 
were subdued, Pest was to find out that imperial promises could lie, 
but for the moment none dreamed that His Royal and Apostolic 
Majesty was acting in bad faith. 

Armed with confidence, and with a large number of royal signa- 
tures on various new laws, Hungarian leaders began to organize the 
new modern country which they had dreamed about. Kossuth never 
let them forget that their first responsibility was toward the peas- 
ants, so they declared that April 2 would be Emancipation Day. 

In each village the people assembled on that day to listen to the 
proclamation which declared the land exempt from all feudal dues ; 
peasants and lords celebrated their new equality with services in all the 
churches, and then with dancing. Count Charles Leiningen, a cousin 
of Queen Victoria who had married an Hungarian heiress, wrote his 
wife in detail how the change would affect their estate. He figured 
that the free labor and the share of the crops to which they had been 
entitled had been worth 8,500 florins a year; besides the loss of this 
sum, they would have to pay wages for all work in future. These 
losses, however, would be almost compensated by the fact that other 
nobles would have to pay tolls and ferry dues, presumably on Lein- 
ingen lands and mills, which would bring in nearly as much cash as 
they had lost. The Leiningens could afford to be very cheerful; if the 
government ever paid the promised indemnity (the terms of the law 
left such payment to "the national honor") they would be very well 
off indeed. At the moment, however, there was no money for repairs. 
As for his peasants, Leiningen believed that they did not feel any 



better off under the new order, not having recognized injustice in 
the old; he was sure they would not use their new freedom to rise 
against landlords like himself with whom they had always been on 
excellent terms. 

The job of forming the new Hungarian Ministry was given to 
Count Louis Batthyanyi, an extremely prepossessing nobleman of 
forty years, handsome, with a look which observers commonly 
compared to an eagle's. He had been rather poorly educated by a 
flibbertigibbet mother, so that his own natural intelligence came 
out only after he became a young officer and was stationed in 
Venice. His soul responded to the art of that beautiful city, and 
since garrison duty left him plenty of time to himself, his studies 
progressed from art to language, from language to science, and 
from science to politics. The last interest naturally drew him into 
Kossuth's circle, and he became both the sponsor and the disciple of 
that magnetic orator. With his help, Kossuth was elected to the 
Diet. However, by the time Batthyanyi was called to form a cabinet, 
he began to see that Kossuth was no easy bird to handle. It was 
impossible to leave the national hero out of the ministry, for he 
would be more dangerous outside than in, and the only thing to do 
seemed to be to give him the least dangerous portfolio. 

Kossuth was known to want the Interior, which would give him 
control of the press, the elections, and county administration. This 
seemed far too much power for a gentleman whose limits were un- 
known, so Batthyanyi offered him Finance. Though Kossuth had no 
training in this field, he loyally accepted the job in spite of friends 
who advised him to object. 

Indeed, someone with great ability was sorely needed to run 
the treasury. Austria sent orders to all its officials to hurry any 
gold and silver they collected right to Vienna; so Kossuth's first 
move was to stop the export of bullion and to steady the bank of 
Pest. He then put into effect the new law taxing everybody on 
land, income, and personal property; he also taxed rich absentees 
three times the amount of indirect taxes they would probably have 
had to pay if they had stayed in the country. 

Kossuth's first big fight with the Vienna treasury came from his 
refusal to pay interest on a quarter of the imperial debt, an amount 
which Viennese financiers allocated as Hungary's fair share. They 
based their estimate on the fact that a fourth of the revenue of the 



imperial treasury had come from Hungary. But to take over this 
obligation would have meant ruin to Kossuth's precarious situation, 
for he found his treasury almost empty and immediately had to 
adopt a budget calling for three times as much expense as the 
revenue he had in sight. Therefore, he rationalized his refusal with 
great oratorical bitterness, pointing out that the Diet had never ap- 
proved the constant loans with which the Hapsburgs for years 
had regularized their financial position, and furthermore, that 
none of the money had ever been used to build even one road or one 
school inside the borders of Hungary. Thus he made it seem a point 
of national honor for Hungary to leave Austria holding the mort- 
gage papers. 

Count Szechenyi was another member of the new cabinet, the 
Minister of Public Works, for he could not be left out any more 
than Kossuth, notwithstanding the fact that the two heroes were 
at sword's points. In fact, the Count's main motive in joining the 
government was to block Kossuth. Szechenyi was a free trader, 
being an Anglomaniac and an agriculturist, whereas one of Kos- 
suth's main interests was to support infant Hungarian industries. 
(For years the tariff wall between Austria and Hungary had been 
rigged to keep Hungary in the condition of an agricultural 
colony.) The Count reproached himself for the number of times 
he let himself be outwitted in debate, for he was not so quick as 
Kossuth ; in time he developed a real persecution complex and had 
to be confined to an asylum. 

The only other figure of note in the cabinet was the Minister of 
Justice, Francis Deak, distinguished more for being the successful 
hero of 1867 (when Hungary won for good and all her right to 
separate administration in the Dual Monarchy) than for his part 
in 1848. He was a tall, stout, cheerful moderate who withdrew from 
public affairs when the country seemed to be going wild under 
Kossuth and held his fire for nearly twenty years. 

Though the Hungarian cabinet was able, far abler than the 
gentlemen who were called to power in such quick succession in the 
Vienna cabinet, they never enjoyed the confidence of their king and 
a king is a vital part of a constitutional monarchy. Whenever 
Batthyanyi tried to see his sovereign, he was physically kept out of 
the royal presence, for none of the people who ordered Ferdinand 
about, like Sophia or Minister Bach, had any sympathy for Magyar 



nationalism. Lacking even the passive cooperation of the crown, the 
Pest government was stymied. 

They went ahead, nevertheless, with elections to the new Diet, 
which would meet at Pest. Suffrage was liberal, though by no means 
universal, since there was a small property qualification (except for 
those impoverished nobles who had always voted) and a quasi- 
religious one, Jews being excluded. 

However, in order to be a member of the new Diet, it was necessary 
to speak Hungarian ! And this was Hungary's undoing. 

Schuselka said that nationalism was at once the hobby horse and 
the war horse of his era. The passion for the national language 
seems childish, but for that reason it was all the more easily ex- 
ploited by the Viennese war office. When it came to dealing with 
their Slavic subjects, the leaders of Pest ceased to be statesmen and 
began to act like smaE boys in a tough game of war. The hobby 
horse quickly turned into the war horse. 

A century afterward, seeing what trouble the East of Europe 
made for itself by cultivating racial passions, it seems as if the 
liberal movement of 1848 would have done better if it could have 
separated itself from nationalism. To the eyes of the most liberal 
men of that period, however, nationalism was holy. Schuselka spe- 
cifically apologized for the rivalry and bloodshed on the fringes of 
the national movement, but, nevertheless, he believed that the 
eighteenth century's vague cosmopolitanism was over for good and 
that the new spirit was healthier. 

Mettemich would have seen the irony in turning the national 
hopes of the Serbs and Croats against the national hopes of the 
Magyars. It was a game he had played in a minor way for years. 
But Mettemich had left the Hofburg; when the Archduchess 
Sophia wept and threw her arms about the neck of the Croatian 
Colonel Jellacic, begging him to save the Empire for her son, her 
passion was innocent of subtlety. She was too scared and angry to 
consider philosophy of government any more than the dangers of 
gossip about the impetuosity of her appeal. 

The southern Slavs in Hungary were ideal for Sophia's purposes. 
Croatia and its neighboring provinces were a part of the Kingdom 
of Hungary that had no reason to be loyal; their fierce border 
soldiers were rather trained to exclusive devotion to the military 
hierarchy. Yet national or pan-Slavic feelings were beginning to 



stir also, and these could be dished up unadorned by all the em- 
barrassing liberal demands that stirred up the rest of the world. 
It was true that Croatian traditions of independence had been 
moribund for centuries, but they were not beyond revival by in- 
terested parties, either Illyrian nationalists or Viennese officials. 
Croatia had the historic right to have its own Diet, at Agram, 
which elected three deputies to the Diet of Pressburg, and they 
also chose the Ban, or viceroy, of their "kingdom." Croatia also en- 
joyed a tax rate half that in Hungary proper, as well as an ex- 
emption from the quartering of troops, because of the hazards of 
living near the Turkish border. These material privileges backed 
up pan-Slavic feelings which were already encouraged (said alarm- 
ists) by Moscow gold, or at least agents from St. Petersburg. Ideal 
pan-Slavism, said our German friend Schuselka, was a dream of 
generous hearts (like later Russian dreams) ; but actual pan-Slav- 
ism was the greatest danger in all Europe. 

To the Slavs themselves the intellectual appeal of nationality was 
just beginning to be evident. Many of them were peasants, poor 
and ill-educated, talking their ancient dialects without realizing that 
a few intellectuals were making supreme efforts to revive these 
languages as literary ones. Nonetheless, the literary revival paved 
the way for a political one, in which field it was easier to win con- 
verts among the people, until Slavic nationalism became the source 
of wars for the next eighty years. Freedom for them meant freedom 
for their countries, for they were far behind other nations in their 
demands for personal liberty (except for the Czech branch of the 
family), and their fierce belligerence was more unmitigated than 
that of other countries. 

Dr. Tkalac was one of the intellectuals who tried to make his 
countrymen proud of being Slavic, yet as late as 1840, when he 
was in his twenties, he had never read a Slavic book. The reason was 
there were none, though he spent most of his schoolboy allowance 
getting books, allowed and forbidden, from booksellers in Pest and 
Vienna. He remembered that at this early age the idea of nationality 
seemed limiting to him, for he wanted to claim all Europe in his 

Since history officially stopped with the French Revolution in 
his school, Tkalac spent a large part of his adolescence trying to 
find out what had happened in the world since then. One of his 



exciting discoveries came at thirteen, when he learned that steam- 
boats were now crossing the Atlantic. And he would not have had 
any idea what a locomotive looked like if he had not happened to 
acquire an English-made handkerchief printed with a picture of 
one. This treasure greatly increased his prestige among the other 
boys. One day the Count of Chambord, the French Bourbon pre- 
tender, passed through his village, and from him Tkalac learned 
that the Prench had had a second revolution in 1830. After this 
he was determined to learn more, so he began to sneak into cafes 
in order to peruse newspapers. (No private family would have 
thought of subscribing in those days.) Cafes were strictly out of 
bounds for all schoolboys, but even though Tkalac once saw one 
of his teachers there, he was not betrayed to the headmaster. When 
he started to buy books on his own, along with Goethe and Voltaire 
he had no difficulty in purchasing the most fiercely banned critiques 
of the Austrian monarchy. Thus he found out how well organized 
book smuggling was, and he also learned that the local censor at 
Agram was neither bright nor vigilant. 

He may have used this information when he joined the excited 
group of young men who were running the only newspaper in 
Croatia. It was written in the new, literary "Illyrian" language, 
and Hungarians who were contemptuous of Croat culture de- 
clared that it had only 450 subscribers. Nevertheless, permission to 
license it would never have been obtained in Pest if Metternich 
and Kolowrat had not expressly favored it. 

An Illyrian party was accordingly not hard to form. (Illyrian 
was a word coined to cover a medley of provinces and dialects in and 
about Croatia.) To distinguish themselves from Hungarians with 
their time-honored costume, Illyrians adopted a special dress of 
their own, wine-colored jacket with red embroidery, corn-flower 
blue hose and red hat. The Magyars naturally laughed at such 
sincere flattery. The Illyrians mustered what arguments they could 
to prove that their territory had always been a nation ; Hungarian 
historians countered that it never had been one. The Illyrians 
raised their red-white-and-blue tricolor and tried various tricks to 
make sure that the Magyar party (mostly country gentry in that 
part) would not take part in elections to the Diet, while a pamphlet 
entitled "Shall We Become Magyars?" appeared with Vienna's 



tongue-in-cheek approval, and only after furious representations 
from Pest was it belatedly suppressed. 

Thus in 1848, when Hungary took over complete management 
of her own affairs, party lines were already drawn in Croatia. 
Sure that Hungary's guarantee of constitutional rights would not 
extend to their specifically national demands, the Slavic party 
chose to rely on the doubtful indulgence of the Hapsburgs. (Tkalac 
reported that a certain servility toward the Germans had crept 
into his erstwhile proud people since 1815, when German-speaking 
bureaucrats had been sent in from Vienna the native ones having 
all been tainted by the French rule under Napoleon and the 
road to advancement for the first time seemed to be through these 

The chosen bone to pick, by common consent between Hungary 
and Croatia, was the one of language. ("I cannot make out," said 
Nassau Senior, "the precise nature of the quarrel. . . . The demand 
of the Hungarians that the Magyar language should be spoken 
in the Diet does not seem a sufficient ground for civil war.") In 
1844 the Hungarian Diet had given non-Hungarian-speaking 
members six years to- learn the language and required Hungarian 
to be taught in all the higher schools. Tkalac remembered the boys 
hated it worse than Greek, and made joyful bonfires of the text- 
books. In his Croatian school German was the language of instruc- 
tion, although Croat and Latin were the languages he heard at 

When Count Batthyanyi had proposed to the Diet of 1847 that 
Croats be allowed to use their own tongue on the floor, his sug- 
gestion was ironically described as excessively generous by his 
party, and voted down. After they had won their separate Hungar- 
ian ministry in 1848, Kossuth and his colleagues were in no mood 
to be more open-handed; their persistent attitude was that civil 
liberties ought to suffice for everybody, and they threw the entire 
blame for Slavic discontent on machinations from Vienna. At the 
same time, they were so intent on Magyarizing their country, that 
not once did they consider asking any Slav to join their cabinet. 
Twenty years later, when Hungary again became separate, they 
would still deny legal and political rights to their Slavic subjects. 

This attitude may have been natural, inasmuch as the Magyars 
were an island of six million persons in the sea of Slavs. They 



readily believed that the Slavs were out to massacre them, but they 
looked down on the Slavs at the same time that they were terrified. 
In this way they felt that pan-Germanism was their natural ally, 
for Germans were also in continual conflict with Slavic peoples, 
and bore like the Magyars the burden of civilization in the East. 
(Hungarian appeals for sympathy from England and America 
were based on a totally different line the picture of Hungary 
fighting for the same rights Anglo-Saxons had cherished since 
Magna Carta. Both propaganda angles were highly successful.) 

For their part the pan-Germans were most sympathetic. The 
Frankfurt Assembly, as one example, was extremely favorable to 
Magyar independence, realizing that if Hungary became a separate 
kingdom, even under a Hapsburg king, this would almost auto- 
matically ensure that German Austrians would be free to join their 
blood brothers in some sort of German empire. Logically such a 
point of view ought to make Frankfurt smile on Polish and Italian 
claims for independence, but consistency was no more a virtue of 
statesmen then than now. The discrepancy only shows how compli- 
cated were the crosscurrents of the period. 

Even Karl Marx, good German that he was, noted that Slavs 
always supported despotism, and since he felt that Slavic coun- 
tries were unsuited to industrialism, he deplored any revolutions 
they made. 

In Vienna, all this time, there was cool disregard of Germanism 
as well as Magyarism. If Francis Joseph was to have an empire, 
idealism of any sort must give way to practical considerations. 

It is easy to see that Austria's trouble was that the nationality 
principle, so eagerly taken up by the common people everywhere, 
would divide Austria while it would unify Germany. The small 
German princes were against nationalism and resisted their subjects 
because they feared being deprived of their power if their lands 
should be absorbed; the Austrian Emperor was against it for the 
opposite reason. He had to unify his state instead of letting it dis- 
integrate either into separate nations or a loose federal union. If 
the Germans in Austria had succeeded in going over to greater 
Germany in 1848, the Poles, Hungarians, and Italians would have 
been freed; contrariwise, if these races had won the freedom they 
each fought for in 1846 or 1848, it would have thrown the Ger- 
man provinces into the lap of Germany. 



The truth was the Austrian Empire was not suited to any sort 
of state the nineteenth century had in mind. Even a federal system 
like the United States had it been well enough understood in 
Europe to be a model would have met difficulties in the close con- 
fusion of races and languages along the Danube. Each race, be- 
ginning with the Germans, wanted complete national sovereignty 
in the territory even if it hurt minority groups. Even the solution 
which the Kremsier parliament worked out so democratically for 
the Austrian half of the Empire would probably not have worked 
if they had tried to apply it to the territory beyond the Leitha, 
where Hungary began. 

Though it would be difficult to work out the policy which the 
Hapsburgs should have followed when disintegration threatened, 
what they actually did was almost the worst possible. They acted 
throughout the crisis as if the whole country were as much their 
personal property as the castles they lived in. If they had any 
political theory at all, it was to remind themselves that the Congress 
of Vienna had set up Austria as the guardian of legitimacy for all 
of Europe, a bulwark against French revolutionary principles 
compounded of liberalism and nationalism. If these two forces could 
be used against each other, it seemed only sensible politics to do so. 
Thus, while the revolution at Vienna was proceeding as a class re- 
volt, the Hapsburgs were able to use the nationalistic Croats 
against it. In the same spirit they had made a class war of peasants 
to extinguish the Polish national revolt of 1846. 

In the Hungarian case, to inflame Slavic hatred into civil war 
seemed the natural thing for the rulers to do. By setting a Croatian 
to catch a Magyar, they managed to keep on top of the heap them- 
selves. Slavs and Hapsburgs made a ring of enemies to squeeze 
Hungary to death while her friends outside, Germans and Anglo- 
Saxons, exhausted themselves in eloquence. 

It was not surprising in itself that the March days of 1848 
turned up a hero for Croatia as they did everywhere else in Europe. 
Croatia, however, was the only place where a professional military 
man was raised by popular demand. At Agram the Croatian Diet 
acclaimed as their Ban, or governor, Baron Joseph Jellacic, who 
until that moment had been a colonel of a frontier regiment. 

Jellacic was one of those officers who are adored by their men. 
Handsome in a dapper military way, though bald and short, with 



a black mustache and fiery eyes, active, gallant, poetic, humane, 
he abolished corporal punishment in his regiment and is said never 
even to have rebuked a soldier. A famous story told how once when 
his troops were lined up for parade in zero weather and the re- 
viewing general kept them waiting for an hour while he drank in 
a tavern, Jellacic coolly ordered them back to their barracks. The 
troops returned such care with devotion based partly on super- 
stitious joy that bullets never hit him even in the thick of battle, 
partly on his constant good humor in defeat as in victory. As a 
young officer he served under Radetzky in Italy ; since 1841 he had 
been on the Turkish frontier, putting it in perfect military order. 

The military frontier was a very special part of the Empire, and 
Jellacic owed much of his importance to the fact that he commanded 
here. It was a strip a thousand miles long, twenty to sixty broad, 
which was owned by the crown (the original owners having been 
driven out by war and disease), and enjoyed in common by the 
inhabitants. This was a place where the theories of Louis Blanc 
and Proudhon were really tried out, said cynical conservatives. In 
this whole area there was no civil authority, no right of emigration, 
no right of young men to become artisans, merchants, or students 
unless they were physically unfit for service. It was a seminary for 
soldiers. The line of the border was defended by posts so close 
together that one could see the next, each one occupied by six to 
eight men at a time. Every man was supposed to spend one week out 
of four in the post, the rest in the fields ; whenever war drew the 
men to fight elsewhere, women and boys took over the posts, as 
happened in 1848. 

It was said that the entire frontier of Serbia and Dalmatia 
could be alarmed in an hour and a half, and within four hours 200,- 
000 soldiers could be mobilized. 

The border was a useful instrument to prevent smuggling, for 
tobacco, coffee, salt, and sugar cost only half as much in the 
Turkish provinces as within the Austrian Empire ; and it also kept 
the plague out of Hungary. There was never another epidemic after 
the border organization was complete, though formerly plague 
had entered Hungary on an average of every twenty years. 

This was the home of those border troops who so astonished 
Vienna when they marched up the butcher road (along which swine 
and cattle were driven to the city in peace time) to the October 



siege in 1848. Even in Hungary nothing like them had been seen 
for centuries, with their wide dirty white linen trousers tied at the 
ankle, their red or yellow sashes carrying Turkish swords, their 
long, hooded red cloaks, their wagons pulled by ponies, the hand- 
some women who went along to cook goulash and dance at their 
campfires women who were dead shots like their brothers. At home 
these soldiers got no pay, just their living from the communal 
land, but outside their own territory, they were not only paid at 
the rate of other soldiers of the Emperor, but also enjoyed the 
unique privilege of keeping what booty they could pick up. Goods 
acquired this way were the only private property they ever saw. 

Few civilian visitors were allowed at the frontier, but one who 
visited somewhat before the revolution doubted that conditions were 
more oppressive here than under the old-fashioned county govern- 
ments of Hungary. As he put it, the main difference was that officers 
instead of landlords took the jus primae noctis. Nevertheless, in 
1848 the inhabitants of the little towns in the area appealed to the 
new government at Pest for city government and civil rights. 

It was Count Batthyanyi's first great mistake that he did not 
insist that this area should be incorporated into the new kingdom 
of Hungary. On this subject Vienna was intractable a sign that 
the War Office there never lost its grip like other government 
offices, for it realized that the military frontier could always be used 
to strangle Hungary. Batthyanyi, on the other hand, failed to un- 
derstand its importance, and did not even inform the Diet that 
he left the frontier to Vienna. Not until the border soldiers poured 
into Hungary did the government of that country see what had 
been done. 

As for Jellacic's politics, he may have been interested at first 
in Croatian independence, though his convictions can never have 
been solid. As soon as Archduchess Sophia wept on his shoulder he 
became the slave of the dynasty even if his military allegiance had not 
been theirs already. He speedily adapted himself to court life a 
lady who saw him in Vienna after the revolution was over noticed 
that his manners, though polished, showed too much assurance to be 
pleasing, and she summed him up as the perfect type of counter- 
feit chivalry. The last judgment was not entirely fair. That his 
chivalry was not altogether counterfeit was proved when he became 



one of two generals in Windischgratz's council of war to urge 
clemency toward Vienna when it lay conquered in October. 

For freedom, other than that which he proclaimed with his sword, 
he had no use. Six times he was invited to confer with the Hungarian 
Ministry, from whom, technically, he should have taken orders, but 
he went only once. On that occasion Batthyanyi met him ap- 
peasingly, asking him what the Croatian demands were, and whether 
they could not be reconciled. Jellacic forgot the list of liberties ac- 
claimed by his own Diet at Agram a free press, Croatian autonomy 
with a responsible ministry, abolition of feudalism and non- 
chalantly told the Count that Croatia's first demand was the cen- 
tralization of the war and finance ministries of the whole Empire 
in Vienna ! His second demand was another point on which the new 
Hungary was sore Jellacic had the nerve to ask Hungary to take 
over part of the imperial debt. And his third point was the old one 
of equality of the Hungarian and Croatian languages. Jellacic's 
tone indicated that he knew his remarks were meaningless, and 
seeing no hope of compromise with a stooge of the court party, 
Batthyanyi stood up. "We shall meet on the Drave," he said, naming 
the river that divided Croatia from Hungary. "On the Danube, 
rather," said Jellacic, rattling his saber. Batthyanyi went out, and 
to the Hungarian Charge d'Affaires who remained, Jellacic said, 
"You may have no duty or responsibility. But I owe all that I have 
and am to my Emperor; he educated me, the coat I wear is his; 
whatever may follow it is my duty to save him." 4 

The Emperor was obviously finding his friends again but Bat- 
thyanyi was still his minister, and as a minister he resolved to get 
rid of the insubordinate Jellacic. His coup was spectacular, though 
it proved empty. The Count managed to penetrate into Ferdinand's 
presence during one of the rare moments when that feeble-minded 
monarch was unchaperoned. He was thus able to obtain the royal 
signature on a document which branded Jellacic as a traitor and 
suspended him in his office as Ban. 

Jellacic read this news in a newspaper on his way home from 
Vienna, but he acted as if he never felt the charge of dishonor, and 
nonchalantly refused to submit. When he got back to Agram he 
failed to dissolve the Diet there, as he had been commanded, and 
kept on with his preparations for war. Batthyanyi tried to have 

*F. Pulszky, 135. 



him impeached, but it was said that the imperial officer sent to do 
the job was stopped by private letters from Sophia and the gov- 
erning archdukes. 

Batthyanyi's touching faith in his scraps of paper ought to have 
faltered at this point, yet in June 1848, when Jellacic was levying 
all the manpower of Croatia, the Pest government refused to ac- 
cept enlistments for the Hungarian army beyond the 10,000 men 
who had been voted in May. 

News trickled into Pest all summer that Jellacic was getting 
money and supplies from Vienna. Count Latour at the war ministry 
sent him guns billed as "pontoons," and then had the cheek to 
charge these supplies to the Hungarian treasury under Kossuth. 
Likewise Fieldmarshal Radetzky in Italy found a legion of Croats 
to spare for service in their home province although the Hungarians 
that he ordered home somehow got lost on the way. 

Meanwhile, the newly elected Hungarian Diet was taking charge 
of the nation's affairs. It was far more businesslike than the 1847 
Diet. Now nearly all the deputies appeared in European-style 
frock coats and only one or two peasant members wore costumes 
which brought back to mind the gorgeousness of the preceding year. 
The broader suffrage did not uncover new names of distinction ; just 
as in Prance the old center party became the new right, while the 
old left ran the country. 

Naturally, the question of Croatia soon came to the top of the 
pile of urgent business. On July 11 Kossuth devoted to it one of 
his most famous speeches. Beginning with an account of Hungarian 
generosity to the Croats, who benefited by all the freedoms enjoyed 
by the rest of the kingdom, Kossuth went on to say that he could 
not understand a nation revolting because it was given too many 
liberties, fighting to go back under the old yoke of absolutism. His 
listeners cheered. But when he went on to ask for 200,000 men and 
all the money the country could give, the Diet rose to its feet and 
shouted, "We give it, we give it." No other vote was needed. Kossuth 
wept as he told them that with such a spirit, Hell itself could not 
conquer Hungary. 

In building up its army the government could not but remember 
the large number of Hungarians serving in Italy under Marshal 
Radetzky. These men were urgently needed at home for self-defense, 
and at the same time liberals were pointing out that it was a shame 



for Hungarian soldiers to serve in a campaign against Italian 
liberty. Kossuth's position was somewhat delicate. He remarked 
privately that as a man he would prefer the Italian provinces of 
Austria to be free, but as a minister of the crown he could not 
advocate this policy. He was pledged to defense of the Empire, and 
besides, if Hungary proved its loyalty by supporting the war, there 
was reason to hope the King would more readily sign their bills 
for domestic reform. So it was voted, by 236 to 36, to support the 
imperial armies in Italy provided that the reconquered provinces 
should be given a constitution. By this corkscrew logic Kossuth 
satisfied his conscience, but he showed himself up once for all as an 
Hungarian nationalist, not a European statesman. 

After all this support, His Majesty proved disillusioningly un- 
grateful. The minute Radetzky's armies were successful in Italy, 
the court began to accuse Hungary of forcing unseasonable con- 
cessions. Bills were left unsigned, appeals to call off Jellacic un- 
answered; recruiting offices in Vienna accepted enlistments for 
Hungary and Croatia indifferently. Even the Vienna Assembly 
refused to receive a deputation from its sister body, the Hungarian 

On September 4 all pretense was given up and Jellacic was 
able to brandish a letter from his Emperor restoring him to all his 
rights as Ban, with personal assurance from His Majesty that the 
Baron had never been a traitor. By that time he was all encamped 
on the Drave, ready to march across Hungary to the Danube. 

On September 9 the Hungarian cabinet tried to force a decision 
by calling on the monarch in person, and demanding that Jellacic 
be withdrawn. Ferdinand's hand trembled as he read haltingly the 
short reply prepared for him by his private advisers, worded so that 
the deputation realized there was nothing to hope any longer from 
the court or the sovereign. They left in silence, and on their way 
back to their boat some of them took red feathers from the hands 
of Vienna radicals and stuck them in their hats a sign of defiance. 

Back in Pest there was only one thing for them to do in, proper 
constitutional form resign. When this happened, Kossuth was 
given such an ovation that, in terror lest he might take over the 
government, the Palatine put Batthyanyi back in power with in- 
structions to form a cabinet leaving Kossuth outside. Given Kos- 



suth's popularity, this cabinet was bound to fall, and indeed it 
lasted only a few days. 

Meanwhile, the country was invaded. Jellacic crossed the Drave on 
September 11, and, pillaging and plundering, made his way across 
Hungary nearly to Pest. He swore that he had no orders from the 
Emperor, he swore that he came as a friend to the Hungarian people, 
but he could not keep his booty-loving men in hand even with a 
thousand floggings a day. (Evidently, he had abandoned his ban 
on corporal punishment.) 

To defend their capital, Hungarians rose in a mass. Pest was 
defended by peasants and by national guards; men and women, 
workers and nobles labored together on the fortifications, gentle- 
men boasting of their blisters. Jellacic expected to find no artillery 
resistance because Hungarians had never been allowed to study that 
branch of military science, but to his surprise he was met with hot 
cannon fire. The engineering students of the university had spent 
the month of September studying under Bohemian artillerists and 
made such a good corps that Austrian observers believed the guns 
must be served by French gunners. 

Recoiling, weak and dizzy, from Pest, the Croatian commander 
asked for a two-day truce during which time neither side was to 
move troops ; then he used this period to flee with his army toward 
Vienna. By forced marches he got across the Leitha and encamped 
outside Vienna just in time to observe the Vienna revolution in 
fact, it was when Latour ordered reinforcements for him that the 
Count was lynched and the revolution began. But this sequence of 
events did not prevent Jellacic later from claiming credit for his 
gallant rush to the defense of the city. 



Slav against Magyar 

THE CROATIAN invasion of Hungary made peculiarly difficult cir- 
cumstances for those of her leaders who worshipped legality and 
up to this point had stuck to it at great cost. 

Here was a country with no legal government, since the monarch 
could not be persuaded to appoint ministers who were acceptable to 
the Diet. Meanwhile, the land was being invaded by an, army com- 
posed of its own most feared and hated minority. It made no dif- 
ference that this minority claimed to be fighting for the right of 
autonomy, just as Hungary herself had done, for in this case 
Hungarian statesmen clung to the bitter letter of the old laws which 
annexed Croatia to Hungary in the Middle Ages. What did matter 
was that the invaders were almost savages, and that they were being 
egged on by the King. 

Desperately, the Diet voted to put matters in the hands of Kos- 
suth, as president of a committee of defense. From this moment he 
was the actual head of the country, though for some months to come 
he kept tip the fiction of acting in the name of the King. 

Austria, however, now began to feel free to throw off the mask of 
constitutionalism. When the Archduke Stephen resigned as Hungar- 
ian Palatine, Vienna sent in Count Lamberg as an imperial com- 
missioner to dissolve the Diet. This gentleman had hardly reached 
Pest on September 28 when he was murdered, dragged from his 
carriage, and torn into bits. Though the Hungarian government 
was in no way responsible, yet this event, like the murders of 
Lichnowsky in Frankfurt and Latour in Vienna, all occurring with- 
in a month of each other, seemed to put the revolution beyond the 
pale of decent society. So many rich families left Pest that the 
sailing of steamboats for Pressburg had to be forbidden, and many 
members even of the cabinet fled. Francis Deak went to live on his 
property, Count Batthyanyi entered the ranks to fight for his 
country as a common soldier. 

On October 3, Hungarians heard that the invading Jellacic had 



been named civil and military governor of Hungary, and that he 
had ordered the Diet dissolved and the whole country put under 
martial law. Their answer, as we have seen, was to chase him right 
out of the country, until he landed in front of Vienna. 

When they came to their own frontier, the Hungarian army came 
to a halt and waited there foolishly for the revolutionaries of Vienna 
to invite them across. Finally, having delayed until Windischgratz 
had forced a capitulation upon the city, Kossuth gave his ill-timed 
order for the Hungarians to attack. 

Just before the battle, Kossuth drew up his officers and read to 
them a proclamation from Windischgratz, ordering all imperial 
officers serving Hungary to report to his camp. Less than half re- 
sponded to this call. The others were held to Hungary by Kossuth's 
oratory, or perhaps by the general mix-up of the situation. For 
while the Emperor's right hand had issued a proclamation declaring 
every Hungarian a rebel on October 16, on October 17 his left 
hand had confirmed the commissions of the Hungarian minister of 
war. In such circumstances an honorable soldier would have a hard 
time choosing among his various obligations. 

The battle near Vienna not only marked the fact that Hungary 
was now willing to fight against Austria, and was no longer merely 
suppressing a Slavic rebellion, but it was distinguished by the rise 
of the most important figure in the Hungarian war, except Kossuth 
Arthur Gorgey. In the battle the raw Hungarian troops were 
smartly defeated, but Gorgey, a young and almost unknown officer, 
rallied the soldiers to prevent a total rout so effectively that he was 
raised to the rank of general on the field of battle by Kossuth. 

Gorgey was of noble blood, but poor. As a schoolboy he suffered 
because his allowance would not encompass fruit, his schoolmates* 
usual treat. Preferring to steal rather than to beg, he robbed nearby 
orchards. Later, in the army, he found that position depended upon 
wealth; particularly in Prince Windischgratz's command in Bo- 
hemia, where Gorgey served as a lieutenant, young officers were en- 
couraged to make an extravagant splash. Even though the Prince 
offered him personal help, Gorgey could not stand favors, and, un- 
able to live on his pay, he resigned and went to study chemistry at 
Prague. Here he lived on twopence a day in a garret. He married a 
poor governess and returned to Hungary to manage his aunt's 
estate, where he was when the revolution broke out. 



His own ambition was to become a professor of chemistry at Pest, 
and he offered his services to Kossuth first as a chemist. No one, 
not even himself, suspected that he was a strategical genius, but 
because of his military training, he was given a commission. Up to 
the time of the battle of Vienna, he was known chiefly as the man 
who had court-martialed and hanged two wealthy counts who were 
accused of being spies for Jellacic. (Copies of Jellacic's proclama- 
tions were found concealed in the lining of their trunks.) This 
sentence undoubtedly gratified Gorgey's peculiar resentment against 
the aristocracy; at the same time it labeled him as one officer to 
whom the road back to Windischgratz's camp was not open. His 
loyalty to Hungary seemed certain. 

In view of this judgment it is ironical that within a year he was 
universally branded as a traitor. He was not a traitor in the vulgar 
sense, but the fact that he did not care a fig for Hungary in his 
heart, or for any other ideal, produced the same result. Con- 
temptuousness was outstanding among his expressed feelings. He 
sneered, openly or privately, at Kossuth and the government of 
Hungary, at the common people, at the militia, at his own soldiers, 
and even at himself. 

His officers, nevertheless, adored him. By refusing to serve under 
anyone else they made him practically independent of the govern- 
ment, and the most powerful person in Hungary. He was a soldier's 
soldier, strong and squarely built, one who wore old uniforms full 
of holes and disdained to polish his boots, while he sat with his 
noncommissioned officers at table so that he could carry on fine 
points of their training there. He laved joking, though his dirty, 
blasphemous stories showed a bitterness toward love and religion 
which shocked his more idealistic admirers. He was able to appear 
cool at conferences, particularly by his trick of taking snuff at the 
right moment, but his temper was bad, and once he hit a lieutenant 
with his saber. The boy's comrades forced him to apologize. 

Gratitude is the most insupportable of all emotions to such a 
temperament, an acute contemporary remarked. It was easy for 
Gorgey to refuse the honors and decorations which the government 
tried to heap upon him, to refuse even a pension for his wife, who, 
he said, could easily become a governess again. He had sneered at 
wealth and position so long in others that he enjoyed showing that 
he could be consistent when they were applied to himself, espe- 



cially as it was a way of insulting Kossuth. However, few at the 
time saw that these actions were a concealed expression of a bitter 
hatred, and the general became all the more popular for his lack 
of ostentation and his rough and ready manners. 

That Gorgey had an army to train was the result of Kossuth's 
barnstorming. Five years later, when the revolution was lost and the 
country under martial law, an English visitor (to whom people were 
not afraid to talk) observed that every peasant and every noble he 
met had seen Kossuth personally and remembered the days when 
they answered his caE as the most glorious of their lives. It is hard 
to see how one man could have reached so many places. 

Women were almost more ready to serve than men. Poor Kossuth 
was at a loss to know what to do when two female regiments threat- 
ened to march upon him, but he sent one group to the hospitals, 
which were in charge of his sister, and set another to make car- 
tridges. This suited most but not all of the female recruits. Many 
stories went around of women in the ranks, while two at least reached 
the rank of captain before they were discovered. 

Jews, too, supported the nation. It was one of the first times in 
modern history when Jews fought for the country they lived in, and 
admiring contemporaries noted that they lost money and gained 
courage in this experience. 

If volunteers failed to fill the quota for a county, it was filled first 
by 19-year-old conscripts, then 20-year-olds, and so on. This force 
of "Home Defenders" (Honveds) was enlisted for four years and 
given higher pay than the regular army, but any soldier could be- 
come a home defender if he wished. They wore dark blue trousers, 
red-trimmed short Hungarian coats, and black shakos. This body 
of infantry was supported by the famous hussars or cavalry, the 
newly trained artillery and the national guards whom Gorgey would 
have liked to send home in spite of their valiant work as guerrillas. 

All men between twenty and fifty (with the interesting exceptions 
of domestic servants and owners of a certain amount of property) 
were to serve in the national guard. Each one owed a six week term 
of service. Since many family men disliked this interruption of, their 
home life, any unit of the guards could select one-third of its number 
to serve three times as long, and these were called the mobile guard, 
who were to be ready for action at three days* notice. Their chief 



assignment was interrupting the enemy's line of communication, 
and they were instructed to retire from open battle. 

Now that he was fighting Austria, Kossuth reversed his former 
stand and appealed to Hungarian soldiers abroad to return home. 
Most of these were in Italy, where old Marshal Radetzky knew even 
better than Kossuth how to make soldiers loyal ; and in order to make 
it harder to desert, Austria dismounted Hungarian cavalry. Still, a 
certain number of deserters, on foot, trickled across the border to 
serve their own country. 

When Windischgratz, victorious at Vienna in October, marched 
toward Pest in December, the government had to flee to a small city 
called Debreczen, carrying with it all their military stores and the 
invaluable banknote press. No one wanted to touch Austrian money 
after Kossuth notes, backed by the national iron mines, became 

Hardly ever was a city so well guarded as that little capital. No 
stranger could approach for miles around but what wind of his 
coming would precede him. Every peasant was a spy, every cottage 
had a boy ready to leap upon a horse and carry a message. Signal 
fires blazed at night across the marshes, while river fishermen de- 
vised light bridges of casks which moved troops and messengers 
swiftly across the network of rivers. (At first the Austrians sneered 
at these inventions, but before the end of the campaign, they adopted 
them in preference to their own heavy pontoons.) And whenever 
Austrian soldiers approached a village, all provisions mysteriously 
disappeared, while the returning Hungarians found lavish feasts. 

The government at Debreczen was run in a simple personal way 
which everyone could understand. Kossuth lived plainly, saving 
only one hour a day to play with his children, the rest of the time 
being available to visitors of any rank in "the order in which they 
arrived. For his audiences he dressed simply in a black coat, but he 
kept two pistols in plain sight. In the Diet he reserved no special 
seat for himself. But still his magic voice was more successful in 
getting out recruits than gypsy music or all the girls who danced 
with patriotic volunteers. 

Only a Kossuth could have kept the nation together at all during 
that winter, for the Austrian armies kept advancing and advancing 
until free Hungary was merely eight or ten unoccupied counties. 
Resistance seemed as hopeless as American resistance in the winter 



of Valley Forge. Yet, from the little center of Debreczen, Hungarian 
armies cleared the whole country again by spring. 

In fact Hungarian spirits rose with every Austrian insult. When 
young Francis Joseph mounted the imperial throne in December, 
he made no special mention of his position as King of Hungary and 
gave no indication that he intended to take the oath which went with 
the crown of St. Stephen. This was in line with Schwarzenberg's 
unitary policy, to treat all parts of the Empire the same, but it was 
a red flag to the Hungarian Diet, which promptly declared the abdi- 
cation of Ferdinand was null and void. No one but themselves, they 
said, could dispose of the Hungarian throne except when a king 
died and passed it on to a legal heir. Francis Joseph was a usurper, 
and from that moment Hungary had no legal king and the army was 
sworn to the Diet. 

When Windischgratz marched across the land, mouthing offers 
of pardon to those who wished to submit to the Emperor, Magyars 
laughed in his face and got ready to resist to the end. But they 
could not keep his forces out of Pest. On January 4, 1849, the last 
planks were laid down on Count Szechenyi's famed suspension 
bridge and Austrian conquerors, in single file, were the first to use 
what should have been the pride of new Hungary. 

The Prince Field Marshal's vengeance in Pest showed what the 
rest of the country could expect if the Austrian army conquered. He 
searched every household, threatened death to anyone who know- 
ingly or unknowingly harbored arms, and he even court-martialed 
post office officials who had handled letters or goods which furthered 
the rebellion. Against the Jews he was particularly fierce ; it pleased 
the anti-Semitism of that day to fine the whole Jewish community 
because some members gave excellent service as spies to the Hun- 
garian rebels. 

AJready, however, Hungarian forces were winning back their 
land. The first victories were won by little white-haired Bern, fresh 
from his escape from Vienna, who had been sent by Kossuth to fight 
in Transylvania. This province, almost as big as Hungary proper, 
was separated from it in 1526 a long time back, but not too long 
for Magyar memories. Its political reunion with Hungary was one 
of the triumphs of the revolution and was described as "the child 
returned to its mother's breast. 55 Now Bern, with barely 7,000 troops, 
all untrained and badly armed, beat not only the regular Austrian 



garrison forces stationed there, but also some Russian reinforce- 
ments which the Austrian general had begged to come across the 
border. Besides the military, Bern had to contend with pro-German 
sections of the population, which included cities full of Saxons who 
had been settled in Transylvania centuries before but who still kept 
their German affections. 

By midwinter Gorgey, too, was beginning to rally his forces and 
he soon entered upon an equally astonishing series of victories 
against the Austrians in the west, which drove them clear back be- 
hind their own frontier by April. 

Gorgey, who could not bring himself to say a good word about 
anybody, even his own soldiers in their moment of victory, attributed 
his success to Windischgratz's mistakes and the poor care which the 
Austrian army was given. The unfortunate invading soldiers had a 
bad enough time, indeed, for they dared not light fires in the fields, 
and their bread was often frozen. When they rose from sleeping on 
the bare ground, their clothes and beards were often hanging with 
icicles. Gorgey, however, was not in a position to exploit this situa- 
tion since he never had more than one day's supply of food and 
could not follow up his victories, and this failure, naturally, he at- 
tributed to Kossuth's poor management. 

Gorgey's second gesture of defiance against Kossuth's govern- 
ment was less subtle than refusing decorations, yet Kossuth failed 
to read it as a warning. The general issued a proclamation to the 
effect that his army was fighting for the 1848 constitution, and for 
the abdicated Ferdinand as king. This action kept his conservative 
officers together, for it held them to the oaths they had taken when 
they were commissioned and seemed to protect them from fighting 
for independence or any more radical reforms. Nevertheless, it was 
an impossible line to hold, for Ferdinand was gone, and young 
Francis Joseph was trying to foist a new constitution on them which 
would merge Hungary into the rest of his domains. 

The news of this constitution, promulgated on March 4, 1849, was 
slow to get across the fighting lines and did not reach Debreczen 
until late in April. A few days afterwards the Diet declared Hun- 
gary's independence of the Hapsburgs. 

This was Kossuth's answer to Gorgey as well as to Francis Joseph. 
Probably he never imagined that Gorgey would fail to follow the 
government in the case of such provocation from Austria. 



The Hungarian Declaration of Independence was based on the 
American one, and when Kossuth read it in his thunderous tones, 
his listeners trembled at its curses and shouted at its promises. The 
ceremony took place in a plain protestant church where the Diet met 
in Debreczen. The three centuries of Hapsburg rule, stated the docu- 
ment, had been three centuries of uninterrupted suffering for Hun- 
gary, during which time no single prince had advanced liberty, but 
many had curtailed it. Hungary had not rebelled, had not broken its 
allegiance, did not ask concessions; the nation would have been 
satisfied with the rights every king had sworn to in a sacred oath. 
Now, when their very existence as a nation was to be taken away 
from them, Hungarians refused to submit any longer. 

The Diet enthusiastically voted to accept this declaration, and 
made Kossuth the "governor" of the new state. No one know what 
political form it would take whether they would make a republic 
or offer the crown to some other prince but for the time being Kos- 
suth was practically a dictator. His four months of power were un- 
enviable. Not only was his military force more or less openly hostile 
to his civil government, but within each sphere his generals dis- 
trusted each other and his cabinet members likewise. 

For example, the man who took Kossuth's old job of finance 
minister was an Austrophile who kept all the bullion of the country 
ready to turn over to Vienna. He would not coin money for Hun- 
gary, and in the printing of paper notes he slowed up the process 
of manufacture by ordering that even notes of small denominations 
must be printed in two colors. In July Kossuth wrote to Bern that 
the twenty hand presses owned by the government would take thirty- 
three days to print the sum of money needed for the Transylvanian 
campaign therefore, Bern must not look for it quickly. 

Far more serious than this disloyalty, of course, was Gorgey's. 
Gorgey was by this time commander-in-chief , and, at the same time, 
he was the natural candidate for minister of war. Though Kossuth 
thought this was too much responsibility for one man, it proved to 
be almost impossible to get rid of Gorgey in either capacity. In the 
army, he had the devoted loyalty of so many officers that they would 
not serve under another general, while at Debreczen, even while he 
swore loyalty to the new regime, he was busy plotting with the 
peace party in the Diet to undermine it. He urged officers loyal to 
him to run for the Diet, and by talking undermined confidence in 



Kossuth and in the military prospects of the nation. Gorgey nat- 
urally thought Kossuth even stupider than usual to allow such in- 
trigues, but he had no scruples about exploiting the situation. 

One reason why Kossuth failed to see what was happening was 
that he got along much better with people in the mass than 
individually. He knew the last nuance of playing on the hearts of 
a mob, to extract from them unbelievable sacrifice. His power to 
call out men and resources in the emergency was remarkable, but 
this was only the first test of the people's devotion, which proved to 
be unshakable even in the disastrous years to come. Kossuth played 
the part that Mazzini took in Italy, though he never shared Maz- 
zini's broad view of Europe and humanity, and was totally without 
Mazzini's warm wit and affection in personal relationships. Most 
people who worked closely with Kossuth became estranged from him. 
Perhaps the silly pretentiousness that made him so obnoxious in his 
years of exile, when he wished to be treated as a sovereign, had begun 
to make his vision cloudy during his months as governor. In any 
case, his misreading of Gorgey's character was the most fatal of 
many cases in which he put people to bad use. 

Someone who meant to praise Kossuth's unworldliness said that if 
he had had a servant who was unable to clean his boots, Kossuth 
would never think of superseding him, but would clean them himself. 
(This in a world when cleaning boots was never done by gentlemen. 
The greatest hardship of Wagner's early years of poverty in Paris, 
when he took a boarder, was that Wilhelmina Wagner had to clean 
the boarder's boots. Of course, it never occurred to Richard to lend 
her a hand.) 

However amiable this characteristic may have been in a household, 
by carrying it into politics, Kossuth ended up attending to far too 
many details himself, and continuing in office many incompetent 
subordinates. Francis Deak, who had the best intellect among Hun- 
garian leaders of 184*8, believed that Hungary was sacrificed need- 
lessly to Kossuth's bad judgment. 

Gorgey, who did not like anybody, found Kossuth even more 
antipathetic than most. Kossuth was forever mouthing platitudes 
that positively gagged Gorgey, and Kossuth was always hopeful, 
while Gorgey was cynical. Kossuth fought for victory, and the best 
Gorgey hoped for was a glorious defeat. 

At one brief moment in the war Kossuth put a general named 



Dembinski over Gorgey it was an effort to hold Gorgey down. 
Gorgey flatly disobeyed this superior. Afterwards Gorgey remarked 
that if he had been Dembinski he would have shot any officer so 
insubordinate. He added that if he had been commander he would 
not have given orders that required to be disobeyed. How must 
such a man have felt towards one who could not fire a bootblack? 
Kossuth could not understand how Gorgey "could live for anything 
besides Hungary and freedom 55 at a moment when Gorgey, by his 
own admission, was just stopping to ask himself whether the Aus- 
trian monarchy could survive if Hungary became separate. 

This disagreement was particularly sad because by May the whole 
land was free except for the fortress of Buda, across the river 
from Pest. Gorgey had the choice of taking time to capture it or 
of pursuing his enemy quickly toward Vienna. The proper military 
answer was to chase the Austrians, but politically Buda seemed im- 
portant to many patriotic Hungarians, and also, for different rea- 
sons to Gorgey himself, who realized that the possession of Buda 
would give him a better bargaining position, when it came to making 
peace with the Austrians, than Vienna would. Hungarian soil would 
then be entirely free, whereas Austria would only be enraged if 
he attempted to attack its capital. 

Thus they spent three weeks besieging the fortress, which was on 
a rock rising several hundred feet sheer above the Danube. Gorgey's 
men had to scale it on ladders, and every time a man was hit, his 
body knocked off all the men below him on the ladder. But the Hun- 
garians were roused to fury by a gratuitous bombardment of 
Pest on the part of the Austrian commander within the fort, so 
they attacked boldly and finally won. All Hungary went wild in 
celebration of this last great victory. Gorgey's own message to 
Debreczen, in Caesarian style, was "Hurrah, Buda. Gorgey." 

Political delight rarely makes up for military failure. The army 
Gorgey refused to follow up was notorious for its stolidity in de- 
feat, and it soon reformed and turned around, so that by midsum- 
mer, Gorgey was again in retreat from the Austrians. 

In that dazzling summer of independence, when success was so 
close, prodigies were performed all over Hungary. The nation's 
boundaries were closed so that exports and imports were impossible, 
and the country was without gold, medicine, or arms. Yet recruits 
kept pouring into the army, villages smelted their churchbells, and 


chemists extracted sulphur from copper ore, and manufactured salt- 
petre. Popular confidence was so great that the paper money never 
depreciated until news circulated that Russian troops were coming 
to help the Austrians, and then it fell only five or ten per cent. 
Kossuth, to be sure, threatened to court-martial some merchants 
who refused to take it at the end of June. 

Desperately Kossuth turned for help to other countries. He sent 
a romantic young countess, disguised as a peasant, across the lines 
to Vienna in a wicker cart to beg for intercession by the United 
States Charge d' Affaires. This gentleman, though full of good will, 
could do nothing to help. To England Kossuth sent his ablest 
propagandist, Francis Pulszky, who pleaded the advantages that 
would open up to Britain if trade with Hungary could be carried 
on without the Austrian tariff wall. Popular sympathy in both 
England and America reached a fervent glow such as has rarely 
been equaled, but neither government was moved to help. Lord 
Palmerston, the foreign secretary at London, would have liked free 
institutions in Hungary, but he was convinced that the balance of 
power required a strong united monarchy on the Danube as a bar- 
rier against Russia. As the affairs of Hungary became more des- 
perate, the Magyars, rather than go back under Austria, prepared to 
offer their crown to a Russian Grand Duke, or even to the Sultan 
of Turkey. 

Austria, too, was desperate, but luckily for her she had a friend 
in need. One of the astute moves of the old Emperor Francis had 
been to charge young Czar Nicholas of Russia to watch over his 
family, particularly the helpless Ferdinand. Nicholas, kneeling, 
had given his promise while the Emperor blessed him. Now, a 
dozen years later, he could fulfill that oath. 

Russia was the single European country in 1848 that was un- 
touched by ferment. Nicholas I, Czar since 1825, was more success- 
ful than his brother monarchs in imposing his single will upon his 
people. Behind an iron curtain his subjects suffered the evils both 
of civilization and of barbarism, and they entirely lacked strength 
to revolt but Herzen prophesied that when they did they would 
abandoned all scruples and keep no respect whatever for any institu- 
tions that were worth preserving. 1 

1 A French clich6 of 1848 showed the popular view of various nations 5 roles in that 
period. France was a nation of artists and soldiers. She was the heart of Europe. 
Germany, the savant, unable to make war, represented the head ; and Russia was the 
arm. Her mission was to keep order. 



Nicholas was another of those nineteenth-century rulers, like 
Frederick William, Francis Joseph and Pins IX, to whom power 
was more of an obligation than a pleasure. His face was severe and 
misanthropic, his smile complacent, never gay, his words and move- 
ments were cadenced as if he had a roll of music before him at all 
times. The observer who noted these details added that you felt 
as if his heart were closed, as if the barrier were inaccessible. In 
order to fulfill his duty he put back the hated secret police and the 
censorship which his predecessor had abolished, and his control over 
his courtiers went to the length of commanding them to cut their 
beards, for beards were a sign of democratic sympathies in Western 
Europe, though in Russia they had been merely a common fashion. 

When 1848 brought revolution to all his brother monarchs, 
Nicholas I felt that his duty was to help them. Although he was 
disgusted with Frederick William IV for his efforts at reform in 
calling the Prussian United Diet in 1847, and at the time remarked 
sadly, "We were three, now we are two," Nicholas was in 1848 
willing to help the repentant King of Prussia if need be. As for 
France, though he had hated Louis Philippe, he was disappointed 
that nobody invaded revolutionary France so that he could join in 
a fight against the republic. 

In 1849 all this frustrated good will expended itself on Francis 
Joseph; his sentimentality yearned toward this boy, "called so young 
to tread such a thorny path," as Nicholas put it. 

His personal feeling was buttressed by several strong political 
reasons for Russia to support Austria. For one thing, there was 
the fear that revolution would be stimulated in his own Polish 
provinces. There was also the wish to avenge the Russian army 
corps which had tried to help the Austrian forces in Transylvania 
and had been so ignominiously driven out of the country by Bern 
in January 1849. And there was a pan-Slavic motive, too. Accord- 
ing to a Russian pamphlet which the Czarist government approved, 
Hungary hates Russia because Russia is able to restoring the beads 
on the Slavic chain which Hungary keeps trying to break. Or, as 
Iranyi, the Hungarian pamphleteer, put it more grandly: cc The Czar 
did not want to see established, at the gates of Ms Empire, a free 
state whose moral grandeur and material prosperity might have 
excited among his subjects comparative ideas and dangerous hopes. 55 

At the same time Russia did not want a united Germany, and if 



Francis Joseph failed to get help from Russia, Prussia was the only 
other state to which he could turn. Prussia's price would surely be 
that Austria should let Prussia go ahead with plans for German 

The objections the Czar met among his officials were chiefly 
financial, though there was also doubt whether some of his younger 
officers were not already beginning to be revolutionary and might 
not get still more ideas in Hungary. Russian finances were not in 
such bad shape as Austrian, but there was sure to be resentment 
among landowners if taxes were raised for an expeditionary force. 
However, Austria's first appeal was precisely for money, not men. 
In December 1848, shortly after he had taken office, Prince Schwarz- 
enberg realized that he could not carry on affairs without a sub- 
stantial loan, and this the Russian finance minister at first refused 
in spite of the Czar's personal wishes. Finally, when the dangers 
of Austrian collapse were pointed out, he was persuaded to ex- 
change forty million francs' worth of French five per cent securities 
for an equal nominal value of the Austrian state debt, and this im- 
provement in backing pulled the Austrian treasury through. 

In a few months Schwarzenberg realized he would need soldiers, 
too. True, he could have pulled men out of Italy to fight in Hun- 
gary, but though Italy was beaten, Schwarzenberg wanted to leave 
Radetzky's army strong enough to keep Lombardy and Venetia 
quiet. The price of this policy was the humiliation of requesting 
troops from a foreign power to beat the masterly strategy of 

The Austrian request, backed by a personal letter from Francis 
Joseph and sentimental appeals from Sophia that the Czar could 
not allow her dear boy to lose part of his heritage, went to St. 
Petersburg just before news of the Hungarian declaration of in- 
dependence; therefore, it was not a result of this act. The Czar 
agreed to help, and a meeting of the two monarchs took place in 
Warsaw on May 21 to map strategy and to decorate each other's 
ministers with their best orders in diamonds. Nicholas is said to 
have admired the "charming and interesting face, the profound and 
severe expression" of his young kinsman, though there was no great 
warmth of feeling between the two cold-hearted rulers. 

Schwarzenberg came out of the negotiations with what he needed, 
not only diamonds, but 140,000 men, and all without having given 



any promises in return except that Polish prisoners were to be 
turned over to Russia. Austria was not even required to pay the 
interest on the sum Russia expended on the expedition, though its 
transportation and feeding, as well as hospital care, were to be 
borne by the Vienna treasury. Nicholas was too proud to ask a re- 
ward for doing his plain duty, though four years later he may have 
reflected bitterly on Hapsburg ingratitude when Russia lost the 
Crimean War because of Francis Joseph's unwillingness to return 
the favor. 

Schwarzenberg, now safe in Italy, and with an ally against Hun- 
gary, was free to follow up his policy of force in every corner of the 
Empire. His mood was reflected in his picking General Haynau to 
carry the Austrian troops into battle again against Gorgey's Hun- 
garians. Haynau was an able officer but he had an odious reputation 
for cruelty to civilians, which would have made any prime minister 
who cared about the feelings of his conquered subjects hesitate to 
employ him in a civil war. Hungarians heard with horror of how 
this "Hyena of Brescia" had allowed his Croat soldiers to plunder 
that city in Italy, burning prisoners alive while their wives were 
forced to watch, making men eat the flesh of their wives and children. 
Haynau's tears were only for his own side, for when his army re- 
lieved the fortress of Temesvar in Hungary, where the garrison and 
citizens had eaten their horses, water was seen coursing down the nine 
inch mustaches of the old Hyena. 

Under his leadership Austrian troops made a good beginning to- 
ward conquering Hungary before the Russians arrived on the scene. 
The young Emperor came out to see the fighting and made a perma- 
nent impression on his army by leading a column of troops across a 
burning bridge a feat for which his cousin, the Czar, sent him 
the third class (out of four) of the Russian Military Order of St. 

Plundering open cities as no European army had done for cen- 
turies, inciting the racial hatreds of the peasants, paying five florins 
for each bound Hungarian soldier, the imperial army moved across 
the country. 

By July this movement swept the Magyar seat of government 
back once more, this time the south, to the small city of Szegedin. 
A perfect stream of wagons, carts, and cabs filled the roads, bearing 
all those who clung to Hungary's last hope as well as those who 



wanted to be in a strategic place from which to escape across the 
border into Turkey. When Kossuth arrived he made a last patheti- 
cally hopeful speech in the great square, telling the citizens that their 
town would have the glory of sending freedom out to the rest of 
Hungary and to Europe. The Diet met here for eight distracted 
days, during which they made a frantic appeal to the submerged 
Roumanian population of Transylvania, a racial group whom they 
had hitherto ignored and, for a crowning gesture, to please Kossuth, 
granted emancipation to the Jews. 

Gorgey, meanwhile, indifferent to this civilian chatter, was busy 
finding out what terms he could make with the Russians. By sur- 
rendering to them instead of to the Austrian army he could fling a 
last defiance at Francis Joseph, and he also hoped that Russia 
would protect his officers from the wrath of Schwarzenberg. The 
Russian officers to whom he talked, seemed, indeed, to hold out the 
promise that all Gorgey's officers could pass over to the Russian 
service and win commissions from the Czar. 

Kossuth was still full of plans to save everything. Could not the 
army, still unbeaten though retreating, go to the great plains where 
innumerable waterways and bad roads would keep all enemies at 
bay for years? The Russians would succumb to malaria if they 
stayed on even a month or two longer. Would not England, would 
not America eventually be forced by public opinion to help Hun- 
gary's just cause? The army's courage was as great as ever, the 
people were crazy with devotion. It took a good deal of Gorgey's 
sober talk to convince Kossuth that Hungary's best hope was for 
the commander-in-chief to make military terms with the enemy. 

To get a free hand, Gorgey had to insist on Kossuth's resignation, 
whereupon Kossuth, always exalted, offered to kill himself. This 
was a shock for which the general was unprepared, and he had to 
change his tactics and implore Kossuth not to die, to spare himself 
for a greater future. In his memoirs Gorgey tells us his real reason 
was to keep Kossuth from becoming a martyr whose memory would 
keep alive forever the dream of Hungarian independence. The 
flattery worked, however, and Kossuth merely resigned, on August 
11, leaving all power in Gorgey's hands. The governor's fulsome 
proclamation expressed the hope that Gorgey would love the father- 
land as much as he, but that in guarding its destiny, he would be 
more fortunate. 



Possibly Gorgey would have liked the crown of martyrdom he 
was so anxious to keep from Kossuth, for he seemed to court death 
in his last battles. Uniformed in red and gold, instead of his usual 
torn field coat, flaunting a white heron's feather, he led the charge in 
person. Still he was fighting for glory, rather than for victory which 
he did not really desire. 

On August 13, in accordance with plans made with Russian of- 
ficers, he drew up his 160,000 soldiers on the field of Vilagos and 
announced to them that they were surrendered. The reaction of the 
troops was heartbreaking. Some wept, some begged their beloved gen- 
eral to lead them into any kind of combat, some threatened mutiny. 
Gorgey, scornfully impassive, said he would shoot anyone who dis- 
obeyed. Then he surveyed the scene while the infantry kissed their 
muskets and piled them in pyramids, the artillerymen spoke to their 
hundred and forty-four guns as if bidding goodbye to old friends, 
while they arranged them evenly behind the infantry, the cavalry 
dismounted and hung their swords on their pummels. Some of them 
shot their horses rather than let them be taken, and a few galloped 
away to the great plains before they could be caught perhaps to 
join the robber band of General Rosza Sandor, who was not caught 
until 1857. Six mortal hours this process took, and then Russian 
officers marched the men away and took charge of the arms. 

After the surrender at Vilagos, the flag of free Hungary still 
flew over two great fortresses, Komorn, guarding the northern end 
of the Danube, and Petarwardein at the south. In Komorn, General 
Klapka refused to surrender his garrison at Gorgey's orders, and 
sent two of his best scouts by different routes to Petarwardein, tell- 
ing the commander there that the two of them could hold out in- 
definitely and that they should do so, not only for themselves but 
for the entire country. He suggested that they should demand a 
free amnesty for all who had fought for Hungary, redemption at 
par of Kossuth's paper money, and certain other guarantees 
against confiscation of property. This bold scheme fell through 
because the scouts were captured, and the commander of Petar- 
wardein, believing false tales that Komorn had surrendered, ca- 

Komorn was one of the romantic spots of Hungary. It was a 
fortress that had never been conquered by force of arms, and when 
it was first besieged in the spring of 1849, it had been heroically 



relieved by Richard Guyon, an Englishman in the Hungarian serv- 
ice. This officer first tried to get inside disguised as a Jewish peddler 
with a yellowed jacket, tobacco-covered beard, and a packet of 
matches, needles, and shoe blacking. When this scheme did not work, 
Guy on made a second, successful attempt as a hussar in Austrian 
uniform. Now, in the summer, General George Klapka held it while 
the Austrians swept past in their pursuit of Gorgey, and actually 
used it as a recruiting and training center for Hungary, while all the 
territory around was subject to Austria. One sally into the country- 
side netted him 2,000 cattle and 18 cannon, and he also enlisted 
over 5,000 young men whom he brought into the fortress to train. 
This sort of exploit naturally made him feel optimistic about hold- 
ing out. 

With the fall of Petarwardein, however, Klapka realized he would 
have to give in sooner or later. He gave up the idea of making terms 
for the whole country, but for his own garrison he won the only 
honorable conditions of any surrendered corps of Hungarians. His 
men were to leave with their guns in their hands and be free to re- 
turn to their homes or to ask for passports to leave the country. 

In spite of these honors of war, the Komorn soldiers were in as 
great despair as Gorgey's at giving up, and many of them felt they 
could no longer bear to live in their defeated country. Hundreds 
of them applied for exit visas, but they found that every country 
refused to receive them except England and America, to which dis- 
tant points many of them lacked means to travel. 

The lucky ones who were going to America were treated with 
marked respect, even by the haughty Austrian officials who filled 
out their papers. Only one thing marred the happiness of these 
emigrants they found their papers were stamped "No return." 
This was a violation of their terms, but there was no one to defend 
their rights. Each man had to decide whether to move across the 
waters with no hope of seeing his homeland again, or to stay and 
suffer whatever punishments might be meted out to keep Hungary in 

The rest of their countrymen suffered far more than the Komorn 
soldiers. Many of Gorgey's army were pressed into the Austrian 
service, mixed up in other regiments so that the tradition of a 
Hungarian army should die. Stories told, instead, how the memory 
lasted. A common soldier was flogged for crying "Hurrah for Kos- 

3 02 


suth," and the regulations required that he should thank the officer 
who whipped him. This the soldier refused to do, so he was given 
twenty-five more stripes. He still refused his thanks. The third time 
he grumbled out the required words, but added, "My back belongs 
to the Emperor, but my heart to Kossuth." 

Hungarian officers received insults even more degrading than the 
men in the ranks. The Russians proved completely unable or un- 
willing to fulfill Gorgey's hopes of saving the honor and careers of 
his officers, although the Czar himself stipulated that Gorgey him- 
self must be spared. Gorgey asserts that this was a surprise to him ; 
in any case he lived on, safe if unhonored, for sixty years in a remote 
part of the Austrian Empire. The other officers were given up with- 
out protest to Francis Joseph's vengeance, and it was a terrible 
one. Four hundred and ninety were court-martialed, 386 went to 
prison, some of the officers were degraded to the ranks so that the 
unusual spectacle might be seen of an Esterhazy and a Batthyanyi 
serving as privates. And thirteen were executed, mostly hanged, at 

The thirteen of Arad become part of popular history ; even in the 
twentieth century their names could still rouse a public meeting to 
fury. Among them was Count Charles Leiningen, whose observations 
on the emancipation of his serfs were so temperate. He was a cousin 
of Queen Victoria, of a family so noble that he was classed socially as 
a member of a reigning house, although his family's small principality 
had been taken away in 1806. Count Charles was a blond giant of 
a man, with blue eyes and yellow hair, who was drawn into the war 
through his Hungarian marriage. The irony of his fate was that he 
hated nothing more than fighting against Austria, for he had gone 
into the army only to quell the Croat rebellion. Admiration of 
Gorgey and the fact that there was no very honorable point at which 
to withdraw held him in service. None of these facts prevented his 
hanging by the neck on October 6. The execution was held up until 
one day after Komorn fell, for if these men had died earlier it might 
have delayed the surrender. Hungarian women went into mourning 
for years, and many of them wore iron bracelets with the initials of 
the thirteen arranged in a way to make a mystic promise of ret- 

The hangman's work did not stop with the military. Count Louis 
Batthyanyi, though loyalist scruples had made him resign his royal 



ministry months before the end, was sentenced to die on the same 
October 6. He had to be shot instead, finally, because he cut his 
throat with a razor the night before in his prison and his neck was 
not strong enough to stand the strain of the rope. A hundred and 
fourteen other death sentences were carried out, and seventy-five 
more were issued against men who fled the country. 

Women were stripped and flogged for speaking for rebels. One 
noble lady was made to sweep the streets of Temesvar, and in 
another town a university professor's daughter was publicly whipped 
for turning her back on the Emperor as he entered the city. The 
most famous case was described by the victim herself before she 
went insane : "I am not aware that any of us committed any fault. 
I was suddenly, without a previous trial or examination, taken from 
my husband and children. I was dragged into a square formed by 
the troops, and, in the presence of the population which had been 
accustomed to honor me, not because I was the lady of the manor, 
but because the whole tenor of my life deserved it, I was flogged 
with rods. You see I can write the words without dying of shame ; but 
my husband took his own life. Deprived of all other weapons, he 
shot himself with a small cannon." 2 

Haynau announced that he would burn whole towns at the first 
sign of insubordination ; he decreed death for anyone of whatever age 
or sex who should wear a revolutionary emblem or insult an Austrian 
soldier. Jewish fortunes were systematically ruined, but indeed all 
merchants suffered from the ruling that Austrian officers might pass 
Kossuth's paper notes, while Hungarian subjects might not. In 
a final frenzy, Haynau announced that he would enlist all males 
who had taken part in the rebellion, and actually enrolled 50,000 
soldiers before someone convinced him that this policy would strip 
the country of its entire manpower and there would be no one left to 
work the land. 

His Apostolic Majesty, Francis Joseph, nineteen years old and 
newly come to the throne, granted audiences to the wives and 
mothers of his victims, but listened unmoved to their tears and 
prayers. Even the Czar interceded for kinder treatment toward the 
beaten subjects, but the young Emperor, advised doubtless by 
Schwarzenberg, only said that though he might like to pardon, his 
duty caused him to act otherwise. 
a Quoted from Stiles, Austria in 1848-1849. n, 310. 



Kossuth and his cabinet and that part of the army which was in 
southern Hungary, and therefore was not surrendered with Gorgey, 
fled to Turkey. They met for the last time on Hungarian soil on 
August 17, in a poor farmhouse. Everyone laughed when they dis- 
covered that Kossuth had lugged the crown jewels thus far in his 
retreat. A republican jeeringly tried on the Crown of St. Stephen, 
whereupon the unhappy Kossuth hurriedly took it out and buried 
it so that it would rest in Hungarian soil. Then he and Generals 
Bern and Guyon and several thousand soldiers marched across the 
frontier on a fine late summer's day, their hearts too heavy to notice 
the beauty of the scenery or the weather. 

In Turkey they were received by one of the most civilized rulers 
of Europe. The Sultan announced that according to his religion 
anyone who asks for mercy is bound to get it. Though Russia and 
Austria ground their bayonets in rage and threatened war, he posi- 
tively refused to hand Kossuth or his friends over. In this policy he 
was shortly supported by Britain, which sent a fleet through the 
Dardanelles as a gesture of support, contrary to international reg- 
ulations, but the Sultan's grand gesture came before he was certain 
that he would have this backing. 

The refugees were all piled in concentration camps, because Rus- 
sia declared that if they were allowed to escape, she would consider 
it a cause for war. Nevertheless, numbers of internees were lured 
away by both sides until September 1851, when those who remained 
were all released. On one side, Austria finding force of no avail, 
promised an amnesty to any soldiers who would return. Many were 
drawn home by this promise, and many of these found to their 
sorrow that the amnesty did not include exemption from military 
service in the imperial forces. On the other side, Turkey, needing 
soldiers, and officers particularly, offered commissions to any Hun- 
garian officers who would embrace Mohammedanism. Bern took up 
this offer with alacrity. Declaring that his religion had always been 
enmity to Russia and that the Sultan was necessarily Russia's en- 
emy, he took the fez and ended his days in the Turkish service. 
General Guyon also received a Turkish commission, without, how- 
ever, renouncing his Christianity. He used to order Bibles from the 
London Bible Society to distribute to the peasants on his Hun- 
garian estate, and would never have given up his religion. 

In America Kossuth's lost cause became a national mania. A 



gentleman who spoke against Hungary was declared unfit to teach 
at Harvard and could not get his appointment there confirmed. 
In Congress enthusiasm was so lively that in 1851 the American 
government sent a man-of-war to carry Kossuth out of Turkey. 
When the hero arrived in the United States, his reception was like 
nothing since Lafayette's famous tour; he made 600 speeches, all 
cheered to the echo, and collected a large but unspecified sum of 
money which he said he would use to equip another army to free 
his fatherland. 

In Britain, where public opinion was also aroused, the foreign 
secretary, Lord Palmerston, officially advised Prince Schwarzenberg 
that generosity to the rebels could no longer endanger the Empire 
(which Palmerston had been almost as anxious to keep together as 
Schwarzenberg himself) and he therefore urged a policy of hu- 
manity. The Prince, suaver than Palmerston, icily replied that 
since the imperial government did not offer Her Majesty's gov- 
ernment advice about how to handle Ireland, it expected a reciprocal 
forbearance about Hungary. 

In the worst of the old days, Hungary had never known a re- 
pression such as was meted out to it now. In Metternich's time 
Hungary had been ignored and neglected, robbed and dealt with 
unjustly; but police spies, passports, and even the efficiency of 
German bureaucrats swarming into every county were something 
new. The Magyars had always enjoyed the right to grumble and to 
vote ; and both were now denied them. 

As in the rest of the Empire, the serfs were legally freed in Hun- 
gary. It was the single permanent accomplishment of the revolution. 
But in Hungary the average indemnity set on a farm was twice 
that in other places, one way of punishing the rebels. Besides, the 
ex-serfs were not now allowed to vote, and since they had enjoyed 
that privilege for two years under the Hungarian rule, they disliked 
giving it up. In 1850, when the census was taken, so many persons of 
Slavic origin inscribed themselves as Magyars, to show their sym- 
pathy with the Hungarian cause, that the imperial authorities took 
another census under military auspices in which every inducement 
was made to discourage registration as Magyar and still there 
were better than two million more people who called themselves 
Magyars than there had ever been before. The figures went from 
five to seven million. 



And was Croatia's loyalty recognized ? Were its demands for au- 
tonomy or freedom granted after it had fought so well for the 
Emperor? Jellacic, who had been raised to power because Croatia 
wanted to be free to use its own language and self-governing insti- 
tutions, this same Jellacic, now published to his province the con- 
stitution that merged them into the rest of the Empire. German was 
to be the official language everywhere, in Croatia as in Hungary; 
there was no autonomy anywhere; and, in fact, the complaint in 
Croatia was that it received as a reward no more and no less than 
Hungary received as a punishment. 

That was just the way to govern, according to the gentlemen 
now in the Hofburg, and their convictions were as solid as their 
enemies'. One of Schwarzenberg's friends quoted the Hungarian 
declaration of independence and remarked that the document spoke 
truth, only the sides should be reversed. There had indeed been a 
conflict of sacred interests with treason, freedom with despotism, 
civilization with anarchy. Society was indeed defending itself 
against everything that threatened its destruction, but society in 
Austrian eyes meant legitimacy, absolutism, force. 

Hungary was bitterly, passionately resentful. Countess Karolyi, 
whose husband was one of those executed by command of Francis 
Joseph, voiced the public venom in a famous curse beginning, "May 
Heaven and Hell blast his happiness." But there were still states- 
men as well as widows of statesmen in this parliamentary country. 
Francis Deak, who retired early enough in 1848 to save his skin, 
had not lost his hopes. In the next decade an Austrian official re- 
marked, "Deak cannot demand after so many accomplished facts 
that we should begin affairs all over again." 

"Why not?" said Deak. "If a man has buttoned one button of 
his coat wrong, it must be undone again from the top." 

"The button might be cut off." 

"Then the coat could never be buttoned right at all." 3 

3 Forster, Francis Deak. (London, 1880.) 



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ITALY IN 1848 

Italy: Each after His Own Image 

IN 1848 Italy, like Germany, was divided into many small states, 
all of them ruled by absolute princes, and most of them hopelessly 
inefficient, corrupt, and reactionary. There was the Kingdom of 
Naples in the south ; then came the papal states across central Italy, 
and north of them four small duchies and the Kingdom of Piedmont. 
The richest provinces of the peninsula, Lombardy and Venetia, 
were part of the Austrian Empire, and thus governed from Vienna. 

Sometimes it seemed as if most of the rest of Italy was governed 
from Vienna, too, for an Austrian army had put down a revolution 
in 1821 in Naples, and the other princes knew that they could al- 
ways count on Austrian help in suppressing disorder but would 
meet with Austrian opposition if they tried to introduce any form 
of progress into their regimes. 

Italians, a race whose proudest political tradition was one of 
republican city-states, were left without a voice in their own af- 
fairs in the mid-nineteenth century. 

In habit and attitude, however, they were the most democratic 
people in Europe, except possibly for the Swiss. Travelers often 
noted that the aristocracy treated the lower classes with a courtesy 
totally unknown among the Germans. Mazzini remembered his par- 
ents' uniform politeness to every class as one of the major influences 
in his growing up ; and the earliest recollection of Marquis Massimo 
d'Azeglio, a Piedmontese aristocrat, was that his mother made him 
kneel down right in a public park to beg the pardon of a servant 
whom he had struck. The boy remembered that the servant drew 
back completely nonplussed by such a scene. Yet, in general the 
workers responded with a kind of easy friendliness and self-respect 
which made them seem like real people, not, as in so much of Europe, 
set apart as "the brute part of the population." Perhaps an impor- 
tant factor in this spirit came from the fact that property was not 
monopolized by any single class in Italy. Cavour noted this fact with 
great satisfaction that common people as well as the aristocracy 
owned their bit of land. 



For another thing, the women of Italy were a tremendous force 
in public life. The biographies and especially the autobiographies 
of the Italian leaders of this period are full of the unusual respect 
and gratitude which these men show to their mothers, and often to 
their wives and daughters. Mazzini's mother supported him in years 
of exile with understanding and with all the material means she 
could muster; his lifelong attachment for Giuditta Sidoli was an 
intellectual passion as well as an emotional one. Among the many 
sorrows of his personal life she was one of the rare pleasures. In 
1848, with revolutions on every side, he yet found time to go back 
to Giuditta after fifteen years of exile with more joy, he says, than 
may be imagined. The Marquis d'Azeglio, again, excoriates the 
foolish passions of his youth; his first wife died early, and his second 
separated from him, though he never ceased writing her urbane 
and informative letters about his work and interests. Yet he also tells 
us that once in his life he found an affection which never failed him, 
to which he could always turn with confidence, and which made him 
feel lucky to have known it. Garibaldi, of course, had his Anita, the 
one real heroine of 1848, the Brazilian whom he snatched from the 
arms of another man, a girl who learned how to ride through the 
jungles, to shoot, sail in his ships, and to nurse and to bear children 
at his side. As for Manin, the only emotion that could rival his love 
for Venice was his tenderness for his invalid daughter. Countless 
nights he spent at her bedside, trying to assuage her pain, and 
when he was in prison the hardest thing for him to bear was the 
idea that he could no longer help her and might even cause her 
extra suffering by his plight. What comparable stories are told 
about their contemporaries in other countries ? Lamartine and Louis 
Blanc, Robert Blum (with his echt deutsch family), Georg Her- 
wegh (with his warrior Emma a pale caricature of Anita Gari- 
baldi) , Fischhof and Kossuth, spent their lives and energies without 
the strength that comes from a society where men are matched with 
women to whom they feel equal. Of all the 1848 revolutionists Maz- 
zini alone tells his comrades that there are no qualifications to 
women's equality. Politically as in other ways they should be on a 
level with men. 

This feeling came, not from women tied to their homes, but from 
women free and responsible in public affairs. The London Times 
correspondent told his readers that it was hard for Englishmen to 



allow for the freedom of manners which Italian women enjoyed, 
coupled with perfect respectability. The Marchioness Constance 
d'Azeglio was a good example of what he meant. She was married 
to Massimo's brother and moved socially among the important men 
of Turin, yet she took her job of teaching in her school for poor 
children so seriously that she was often too tired to go to parties in 
the evening. The Princess Belgiojoso, in something the same manner, 
introduced not only schools but a recreation hall and a housing 
project on her estates in Lombardy, and later on edited newspapers 
in Milan this although she confessed once that she could not cook 
an egg, hem a handkerchief, or even order a meal, and that since 
she had never touched money she could not make herself imagine 
what a five-franc piece meant. The Times man commented acidly 
that whenever English women emulated the Italians 3 public activi- 
ties, their hearts always became entangled in private attachments. 
The only non-Italian women who managed to have an influence 
worth mentioning on the political life of 1848 were those like George 
Sand and Lola Montez who had broken away from all the ties of 

There were no fiercer patriots than these Italian women. They 
nurtured their sons to serve Italy well or to die for her gladly. No 
one impressed the English economist Cobden more, on his tour of 
Italy, than the Neapolitan lady who told him she would give the 
blood of her four sons to see Austria expelled from the land ; and 
when the crisis came this spirit did not fail. Giuditta Sidoli sent her 
son to fight in Rome under Mazzini, and in Venice Theresa Manin 
blessed her 16-year-old Giorgio when he followed his father to 
capture the arsenal, though she scarcely expected to see either of 
them alive again. 

The Italian universities, too, were democratic in spirit, and for 
those who had gone beyond university years, there were professional 
societies. One of these was founded by the most brilliant young man 
in Piedmont, Count Camillo Cavour, who was stuck with the job 
of managing his father's estates. Cavour turned his magnificent 
head for business at once to the problem of making the land pay, 
and one of his steps was to organize a society for agricultural im- 
provement. The members moved from a study of such problems as 
chemical fertilizer to the problem of credit and banking, from there 
to railroads and steamboats, and from there to international trade 



and tariffs. Nearly every problem besetting the Kingdom of Pied- 
mont, except that of a constitution, came to seem a natural concern 
for the Agricultural Society. 

Political democrats, concerned only with rights of suffrage, saw 
nothing in Cavour's movement but a sidetracking of the main issue, 
for much the same reasons as made Kossuth's party vilify Szechenyi 
in Hungary. The leader of the Piedmont democratic party went so 
far as to list progress along with Jesuits and censorship as the three 
great evils of the country, like only to the plague, and this sentiment 
made Cavour so unpopular that he was kept out of office for years 
beyond 1848. Nevertheless, in ways that the political democrats 
could never measure, the Agricultural Society did more for de- 
mocracy than a constitution. It brought large and small landowners 
together, a very desirable mixture of classes, and it taught these 
men to meet their problems in common, to discuss them in parlia- 
mentary form, and to consider the needs of the nation as a whole. 
Political democracy was bound to come to a country that had 
learned how to use it so well. 

Out of these cities and homes and schools grew an extraordinary 
group of young men ready to devote their lives to the service of their 
country. Their first aim was to get the Austrians out of Lombardy, 
and their second to reform the governments of Italy. 

If the Austrian police had wanted to name the single man of 
whose machinations they were most in awe, they would very likely 
have picked Joseph Mazzini, in their minds a terrifying image of 

Mazzini, they told each other and the world, was at the head of 
the most extreme republican revolutionary societies in every coun- 
try Young Italy, Young Germany, Young Europe a network 
which extended to Constantinople and New York. The objects 
of this society were to destroy the peace of the continent by 
murder and anarchy. Horrid tales were told of the fearful oaths, 
the relentless purpose, the stocks of arms of these bloodthirsty patri- 
ots, and indeed there were enough martyrs who hurled themselves 
against the bastions of order to give color to the belief that Mazzini 
enjoyed throwing other men's lives away. 

Mazzini was perhaps proud of his reputation as Public Enemy 
Number One, so long as iniquity was the basis of European public 



law. It made him sick to see men forced to think in one way and act 
in another, bending to power which they hated and despised. He 
wanted men to become apostles, "fragments of the living truth," 
and because he made his followers feel that they were just that, he 
won the sort of devotion against which police power is helpless. He 
gave you eyes to see and ears to hear, said one of his followers, and 
you would leave your father and mother to follow him who seemed 
to have come to overthrow the whole wretched fabric of falsehoods 
that held mankind in bondage. 


Even in little ways he was more than the equal of the men govern- 
ments sent to catch him. At the time of his first arrest, in 1831, he 
tells us he had on his person enough for three convictions rifle bul- 
lets, a letter in cipher relating to secret society affairs, a history of 
the recent July revolution in Paris printed on tricolor paper, the 
formula for a secret society oath, and a sword cane. Before the 
police could use these objects against him he had gotten rid of 
every one. Later on, in Marseilles, he outwitted two policemen ; one 
he talked into letting him go, the other he walked right past in the 
uniform of a national guard while the man arrested someone else. 

Mazzini was born in Genoa and was therefore a Piedmontese sub- 
ject, although Genoa was the least loyal city in the domains of the 
King of Sardinia. His father was a doctor, his mother one of those 
fierce Italian souls whose faith and hope were all bound up in her 
son. He grew up to be quiet and melancholy, always dressing in 
black in mourning for his country, and addicted to long solitary 
walks. These alone were enough to draw unfavorable notice from the 
police. Mazzini wanted to be a writer, but he found himself unable 
to write because he did not have a country. He did not feel, with 
Wagner, that art is itself revolutionary, but rather that a revolu- 
tion was a prerequisite for art in those days. Therefore, he gave 
himself over to the long, thankless, sometimes bloody task of creat- 
ing a united Italy. Since the republic was the ideal form of govern- 
ment, he resolved Italy must also be republican. 

His ideas were so unwelcome in Piedmont that he had to leave 
the country, and he spent the early 1830*s in Marseilles. Here he 
and his friends edited a paper which they exported to Italy in 
marked barrels of pumice stone and pitch. Across the border other 
friends took good care to buy the marked barrels, and they dis- 
tributed Mazzini's propaganda far and wide. Mazzinians every- 



where were soon organized into Young Italy, a purified secret 
political society, made of men under forty who would pledge them- 
selves to carry on both education and insurrection for a democratic 

In exile Mazzini, who had already formed his ideals, formed his 
character. For a while he was happily in love with a young widow, 
Giuditta Sidoli. They lived together for over a year and even, ap- 
parently, had a child who subsequently died. Giuditta, however, was 
torn with love for her other children, living in Italy with their 
paternal grandfather, who would not let her see them because of 
her radical ideas. When she decided to go back to where she could 
at least steal glimpses of them, Mazzini was left alone. Added to 
this was the fact that an armed expedition he had planned to con- 
quer Savoy was a laughable failure. The unhappy Mazzini fell into 
an agony of doubt about himself and his beliefs which lasted all one 
winter. Then on a spring morning he woke up, composed, "retemp- 
ered like steel," with an unshakable, if arid, religion, that did not 
save his soul one atom of unhappiness, yet kept him alive and 

Hounded out of France, then out of Switzerland, Mazzini betook 
himself in 1837 to the only country that did not care what he said 
and was strong enough to maintain his right to say it England. 
He arrived lonely, embittered, and with all a Latin's repugnance 
for the outward forms of British life, but at least he was free and 
safe. Gradually his work brought him into contact with the sort of 
Englishmen who could appreciate his originality and friendliness. 
They never quite got used to him; even Carlyle, one of his best 
friends, touches his description of Mazzini with a slight conde- 
scension : 

"A small, square-headed, bright-eyed, swift, yet still Ligurian 
figure, beautiful and merciful and fierce, as grand a little man . . . 
as has ever come before me. True as steel, the word, the thought of 
him pure and limpid as water, by nature a little lyrical poet, with 
plenty of quiet fun in him, too, and wild emotion. . . ." 

English women were inclined to be complete hero worshipers of 
Mazzini, and a goodly number of them married his followers, con- 
tributing their bit to Italian history and letters. These ladies, not 
knowing of Giuditta and of Mazzini's complete faithfulness to her, 
imagined that his heart was given over to Italy and that there could 



be no competition with such an idol. Therefore they surrounded him 
with warm platonic friendship which did a lot toward reviving his 
enjoyment of life. He was always affectionate and to these ladies 
he poured out his high spirits, his wit, his interest in small human 
affairs, his penetrating comments on their interests and his. 

Most political refugees spent their time in dreaming of past 
glory or planning future seizures of power. Mazzini was one of the 
few who could work wherever he was at whatever needed to be done. 
Thus, though he never gave up for a day his concern for Italy, he 
also started a school in London for Italian workers and their chil- 
dren. His aim was to teach them to think as workers, so that the next 
revolution would not be lost in purely political reform. Mazzini was 
far from advocating the class struggle ; he never wanted the workers 
to rise against their masters, only to rise with them in such force 
that afterwards their just demands for social reform would be im- 
pressed on the community. Though he was sometimes domineering 
with friends, and always doctrinaire in his views, he had far more 
real faith in the people than most self-styled democrats in the 1848 
period. And to do him justice, he was one of those natural leaders 
for whom such faith is perfectly justified; when he took charge the 
people followed with angelic simplicity. Even when he lectured them 
sternly to think about their duties rather than their rights they 
adored him. 

While he was in London he also kept up a tremendous corre- 
spondence. He encouraged Garibaldi in South America to fight for 
liberty, and he proclaimed through England and Italy that an 
Italian hero was fighting brilliantly on the Rio Plata. Thanks to 
this word, half the young men of Piedmont kept Garibaldi's picture 
in their vest pockets. 

Austrian censors kept such a strict watch on Mazzini's mail 
with a forged copy of his seal to help them that they even copied 
his love letters to Giuditta. Thus we know about them. But the real 
scandal of Mazzini's mail came when he found out that the British 
government, too, opened his private letters and passed on informa- 
tion to foreign governments. Mazzini noticed first that his letters 
arrived later than they should by the small amount of two hours 
and then he discovered that the postmarks had been altered. To 
prove his suspicions he enclosed hairs or poppy seeds within, and 
when these were lost he knew. There was a huge scandal in Parlia- 



ment on this subject and as a result the principle that British mail 
should be inviolable was established. Yet Mazzini never quite over- 
came the suspicion among Italians that the disclosures which had 
been made had led to the capture of a small band of men, led by 
the Bandiera brothers, who landed in Calabria and tried to start 
the revolution, and who were subsequently shot, to the horror of the 
civilized world. 

Such events had sharply reduced Mazzini's popularity in Italy 
in the years just before 1848. There was a recoil of feeling against 
Young Italy and its heartbreaking sacrifices. Mazzini believed that 
the blood of patriots would be the seed of the nation, but there was 
no evidence that the fanatical young men who had rushed into the 
arms of the police at his behest, and had been shot, tortured or 
exiled for their pains, would yield any fruit. 

While Mazzini was out of Italy, conspiring from exile to make his 
republic, inside the country a number of men decided that con- 
spiracies endangered their work almost as much as foreign domina- 
tion. In the Roman states the republicans threatened to start an- 
other outbreak whenever the sick old Pope, Gregory XVI, should 
die; and to try to quiet them, the moderate men sent Massimo 
d*Azeglio to tour the secret network of Mazzini's followers with a 
message to stay quiet for the time being. 

D'Azeglio started out in September 1845. He was rather sur- 
prised to be given such an assignment, for until that day he had 
taken no part in politics, either secretly or openly. Of course, that 
was one reason for choosing him : the police had no suspicion of him. 

He had grown up in Piedmont, the plainest and most old-fash- 
ioned corner of Italy; the correct career for him would have been 
the army, which indeed he joined at fifteen, living, he tells us, the 
life of an absolute rake. Then, at twenty he suddenly reformed and 
announced to his horrified family that he was going to Rome to 
study painting. His father would not quite forbid it, but he offered 
his son the same allowance to live on in Rome as he had received for 
spending money while he lived at home. The threat of poverty 
did not deter Massimo, who added to his family's horror by the 
announcement that he hoped before very long to sell some of his 
pictures. The idea that a marquis could accept money for something 
he made with his hands was enough to ostracize him from all the 



aristocracy in Turin. Once in Rome, however, Massimo forgot his 
noble birth as far as possible and settled in small lodgings which 
cost, with board and laundry, 15 scudi (about $15) a month. Since 
his allowance was around 25 scudi, and sis went for the rent of a 
studio, he had only four scudi for the all-important purchases of 
paint, canvas, and instruction. He was far too poor to buy clothes. 
In the summer he used to go to the country to paint landscapes and 
often had to sleep on straw and sometimes butcher his own meat to 
save expense. He could have gone into the best society in Rome, of 
course, but he found social life so rotten that he went out very little 
except to see a countess with whom he was in love. Whenever he 
sold a picture and his finances looked up, he bought a horse, for he 
was a passionate horseman, but he could never keep one for long. 

He lived this way for ten years, and then, at thirty, went home. 
Finding Turin unbearably provincial, he moved to Milan, for in 
this bigger city he found the life he wanted. He had grown comfort- 
loving and enjoyed the wealth and ease of this Lombard capital, but 
he also found more intellectual activity there than in any city in 
the rest of Italy. It was true that he lived under Austrian rule, and 
every step reminded him how much he suffered through Austria but 
for another ten years he was content to let his hatred simmer while 
he painted and wrote novels. He married the daughter of Manzoni, 
the great novelist whose I Promessi Sposi was not only already 
recognized as a great work of art but in the Italy of that time was 
usually interpreted as symbolizing the plight of Italy. Their coun- 
try was the promised bride, held from them by a tyrant. 

D'Azeglio followed in his father-in-law's footsteps so well that 
the official at the Austrian bureau of censorship told him his second 
novel ought certainly to be forbidden, for its historical romance was 
nothing but an incitement to his readers. But, continued the official, 
being an Italian himself he would not forbid the book; and he hoped 
this leniency would convince d'Azeglio that the Austrian states 
were the best-governed ones in Italy. 

Naturally, no Austrian kindness could soften d'Azeglio's opin- 
ions, and in 1845 he was delighted to be able to perform a service 
for Italy and against Austria by making the tour of the secret 

He went from town to town on this journey, and in each he was 
given the name of just one man at the next stop the person who 



was entrusted with the job of forwarding confidential news, letters, 
and people. He must never ask for this person at the inn, but had 
to loiter around town, asking indirect questions until he found the 
right person, then he must speak without suspicious talk until they 
could withdraw to a safe place. 

This underground organization was called the trafila literally, 
the wire-drawing plate, only in this case the wires were revolu- 
tionaries. It functioned so well for many years that the police never 
discovered a single link. 

In his assignment, d'Azeglio tells us the first part was easy, per- 
suading the patriots along the trafila not to revolt. They were 
already tired of Mazzini's cloak-and-dagger tactics, and quite will- 
ing to believe that a new pope might be more liberal and that their 
country needed a long, quiet period of preparation before it could 
make the single united effort that would be needed to drive out the 

It was the second part of d'Azeglio's job that was hard, for when 
they asked him to whom shall we turn now, he had to answer : Your 
hope lies in Charles Albert, King of Piedmont. Everywhere he met 
the reply, Charles Albert is a reactionary ; he will not give his people 
a constitution ; his police are as cruel as the Austrians ; he even mar- 
ried an Austrian ; he is bound to Metternich. 

Then d'Azeglio had to show them that even if Charles Albert was 
a bad hope he was their only possible one. The House of Savoy was 
the single native dynasty among all the ruling families of Italy; 
Piedmont alone of the eight states had a strong army. And, in- 
sisted d'Azeglio, it will take an army, it will take more than citizens 
shooting out of windows, to drive the Austrians back behind the 
Alps. Furthermore, he went on, granted that Charles Albert's views 
are reactionary, granted that his character is untrustworthy, still 
he cannot fail to help you because of what is in it for him the iron 
crown of Lombardy. Ask a thief to become an honest man and I 
grant you you have little assurance of success, but ask him to help 
you in a robbery and I do not see how he can fail you. By this simple 
metaphor, d'Azeglio tells us, he made many converts. 

Charles Albert, all this while, knew nothing of d'Azeglio's none 
too flattering propaganda in his behalf, and d'Azeglio honestly did 
not know whether His Majesty would be pleased. The King had 
been a mystery for years, keeping his thoughts so well to himself 



that even his intimates could not have agreed on what they really 
were. So when d'Azeglio asked to tell him about his tour through 
central Italy, it was with great trepidation. 

The audience was granted for six in the morning, well before 
dawn. The streets of Turin were still dark as d'Azeglio went up to 
the palace, but it was abustle and ablaze with light. He was ushered 
into a room with two gilt seats covered with green silk, embroidered 
in a large white pattern which caused his artist's soul to shrink 
from touching it. The King, however, politely asked him to sit 
down, and seemed so interested in what d'Azeglio had to tell him 
that the Marquis had to keep repeating to himself, "Massimo, do 
not trust him." When he was through telling the King that a large 
part of Italy could easily be made to follow his banner, Charles 
Albert looked him in the face and said, "Tell your friends to stay 
quiet and avoid a rising, for nothing can be done at present; but 
let them be certain that when the time comes, my life, my sons* lives, 
my sword, my treasury, my army shall all be expended for the 
Italian cause." 1 

D'Azeglio's heart was in a tumult as he repeated what he was to 
tell his friends to be sure the statement was for the record for a 
great hope hung over him with outspread wings. So he described it. 
Then, as he prepared to bow himself out, the King gave him a kiss 
so cold that it brought back icy waves of distrust. When he wrote to 
his friends, in cipher, a letter which he knew would reach every in- 
tellectual in Italy, he told of Charles Albert's promise and added, 
"These are his words, but God alone knows his heart." 

Although d'Azeglio could not be sure, Charles Albert was per- 
fectly sincere, and afterwards, when he had given tragic proofs of 
his devotion to the Italian cause, d'Azeglio reproached himself for 
his lack of faith in 1845. 

Several stars would have to be in conjunction before a propitious 
day would come to strike for Italian freedom, and Charles Albert 
was the first one to swing into place. 

Even if the men who read d'Azeglio's letter believed that Charles 
Albert was their star, they could not hope that the other ones would 
rise so soon. In fact d'Azeglio and his friends would rather have had 
twenty years of "moderation and activity" (that was the phrase 
with which d'Azeglio ended his letters to political friends) than the 

1 D'Azeglio, Recollections. 



sudden gathering of forces which brought war, revolution, and ap- 
parent disaster to Italy within three years. 

D'Azeglio was by this time thick in politics, and from historical 
novels he turned to writing political tracts. Knowing that he would 
not be allowed to live under Austrian rule much longer, he arranged 
his affairs in Milan so that he could leave them for a long period. 
His first pamphlet had to be printed in Tuscany even Piedmont 
would not allow it and though the king for whom he worked so 
hard allowed d'Azeglio to settle in Turin, he would not receive him 
at court after he had become an open reformer. 

Italians wanted to expand in so many directions that nobody 
could have said at which point their inflexible institutions galled 
the most. 

They believed in those days that all their country needed to be- 
come immensely prosperous were a few modern improvements. As 
soon as the Suez Canal is put through, they said, Italy will again 
be an international thoroughfare as before the discovery of how to 
sail around Africa. They wanted to be ready for this event, yet their 
political system almost negated the advantages of steam power. For 
instance, a boat on the Po had to stop for five customs inspections, 
and its cargo was subject to five sets of duties; sometimes a train's 
required stops took more time than the journey itself. And Pope 
Gregory during his reign refused to let a railroad cross his domin- 
ions at all. Likewise it was hard to sell a book in Genoa that had 
been printed at Florence. States were not only too small to provide 
markets for the industry they might develop, but they were run so 
lumberingly and corruptly that it was hard for a businessman or 
anyone else to get his rights in court. 

Progress, then, depended largely on reforming the governments, 
and reform depended largely on the question of getting Austria out. 
So long as Austria was in Lombardy, Metternich would feel free to 
put out fires in his neighbors* houses before his own should catch, 
as he expressed it. Independence, in turn, seemed to depend on 
united action, since none doubted that if all Italians joined in a 
common cause they could drive the barbarians beyond the Alps. 

To further these aims which every patriot had at heart, the young 
moderates kept up a tremendous correspondence. Their letters show 
what affection united men from Milan to Rome and from Florence 



to Naples they outdo each other in the protests of friendship and 
in the endearing diminutives in which Italian is so rich. The writers 
show how much joy they get out of each other's activities, and they 
constantly assume that their friends will understand and agree with 

Even better than letters were chances to talk things over. In 1839 
these men organized the first of an annual series of scientific con- 
ventions, begun perhaps for an exchange of knowledge, but soon 
turning toward what was most on their hearts. "Volcanoes" made 
a most interesting subject in 1846; and in 1847 they investigated 
the "potato disease." Since in Italian vernacular a "potato" is a 
German (just as in English he may be called a "kraut"), the possi- 
bilities of this discussion were endless. 

These young men were bent on economic, social, and moral im- 
provement all at one time. The many economic needs of their coun- 
try were no more important than various others or rather, as 
Cavour put it, "Those who see nothing in the progress of industry 
except material things have small minds." Like the French reform- 
ers they were horrified by the poverty which capitalism had brought 
to British workers, and they were determined to raise the level of 
their own lower class by schools, public health work, industrial 
health, and by writing a literature consciously adapted to their 

If there was one principle on which all the Italian reformers 
found a common ground Mazzini and the republicans as well as 
his bitter enemies, d'Azeglio and the constitutionists it was to 
agree with Cavour that "fraternal love is the principal strength 
of modern society." 

In 1846 it looked as if Italy were in for a slow period of education 
by her moderate reformers, looking to the House of Savoy and the 
Piedmont army as the ultimate means of unifying the country. In 
the long run this is what happened, but not until Mazzini had had 
his stormy day. If, in history, his genius makes any one of theirs 
seem pale, at the time they despised him and vilified him. When his 
revolution, carrying Italy to new hopes, failed in greater despair 
than ever, the moderates picked up the pieces and never admitted 
what they owed to Mazzini's work in preparing people's souls. 

As for Mazzini, he was nauseated and furious at the limited aims 
and slow caution of the moderate men, and his most particular en- 



mity went to their hero, Charles Albert. In 1831, when that monarch 
took the throne, Mazzini wrote a famous letter, "telling him all that 
his own heart should have told him." 

"God created in six days the physical universe ; France in three 
days has created the moral universe, and, like God, reposes. . . . 
Rise, then, and like God, bring forth a world from this chaos." 2 
This was not the kind of religion Charles Albert could understand, 
nor did Mazzini expect him to he wrote the letter to show the 
prince up. As Mazzini's secret societies began to make headway in 
his kingdom, particularly in his precious army, Charles Albert 
exiled Mazzini and set the police on the trail of all republicans. 
Some of them were tortured, and after his best friend committed 
suicide in a Piedmont prison, Mazzini's hatred of the King was 

Yet the dream of Charles Albert's life was to free Italy, too, and 
like Mazzini, he was convinced that he could do it without any for- 
eign aid, though he might have won a French alliance or English 
backing. Mazzini wanted a European war, but not intervention, 
just so that Italy would have a chance to do for itself. Charles Al- 
bert's proud motto was that Italy will do for itself anyway. A decade 
later, studying his failure, his son Victor Emmanuel and Cavour 
accepted Napoleon Ill's help, at the price of ceding Savoy to 
France and succeeded. 

Since Italy could not be freed without a war, Charles Albert con- 
sciously and hopefully looked forward to war as an instrument of 
his national policy. And knowing that war, when it came, must 
be waged in a totalitarian spirit, the King was unwilling to grant 
libertarian reforms. Though he did an immense amount to improve 
Piedmont's administration, and still more for the army, he always 
sought to keep responsibility centered in his own hands, much like 
Frederick William of Prussia. Liberty, at least in the common 
opinion of the day, would loosen discipline in the army ; democracy, 
by the same token, would drain the public treasury and ruin honest 
administration; while no one knew what crazy schemes might be 
concocted by amateur legislators. 

Since his hostility to reform was obvious and his hostility to Aus- 
tria was veiled, he was usually set down as one more enemy to Italian 
progress. This is why d'Azeglio on his first mission around the 

* Quoted from Flagg. i, 301. 



country had such a hard time convincing liberals to follow the King 
of Piedmont. 

This lack of confidence hurt Charles Albert inwardly but he was 
supported by a clear conscience and was utterly unable to change his 
devious introversion in order to win love or popularity. His soul was 
solitary, and one of his friends said that pessimism put unhealable 
black patches on it. To forget the agonies of his spirit, he inflicted 
agonies on his body; he fasted and wore haircloth and spent long 
hours in prayer. One of his most trusted advisers was a nun, one 
whose convent dowry he had paid, and who soon began to have 
mystical dreams about his mission of freeing Italy. 

As a result of his regimen, by 1848 he was aged and thin, with 
emaciated hands and a pale, gloomy face. Yet, those who came close 
to him were always moved by the sweetness and depth in his ex- 
pression and admired his quiet dignity. 

Most of Charles Albert's friends believed that he had been given 
his throne only after making a promise to Metternich that he would 
never grant a constitution to his people. Whether this was true or 
not, the door against political reforms seemed tightly shut in 
Piedmont. Censorship to keep ideas standard was as strict as in 
Austria. One might refer to a country but not a nation ; to institu- 
tions but not to a constitution, even in speaking of England or 
Prance ; and as for the words liberty or liberal, they were quite for- 

An artist and a progressive like d^Azeglio would always find 
Turin a hard place to live in, and indeed that wayward son touched 
off the quality of the place neatly: 

"As in some countries a standard measure or scales are set up in the 
market-place, by which to test the upright dealing of everyone, it 
might have seemed as if God had only gone to the expense of one 
set of brains for the whole nobility of Turin, and placed it at court 
in the throne room, where each might go and supply himself with 
the ideas he required." 3 

Meanwhile, another star had risen for Italy. In June 1846, 
Gregory died and the new pope, Pius IX gave an immediate gauge 
of good intentions to his people by an amnesty of political prisoners. 

The news reached the Roman population on a warm summer 

8 D'Azeglio, Recollections, i, 324. 



evening, when large numbers of them were already on the streets. 
The new ruler's gentle heart was distressed, they learned, that so 
many Roman families were not united ; he would let their prisoners 
and exiles come home. With a single impulse, the crowd began to 
move toward the palace and they waited under his balcony till he 
came out to bless them. Three times the crowd moved on and three 
times the square filled up and the benediction had to be given again. 

Every house was illuminated, and even the jails, where political 
prisoners gave themselves great banquets and embraced their guards 
as they marched out. Seven hundred men were returned, pardoned, 
and when they had had time to gather together, they flocked to re- 
ceive the sacrament from the Pope whose grace had blessed them. 
Not one prisoner, and only one or two exiles, refused to sign the oath 
of allegiance that was required. 

There were, however, at least two people who went on record to 
deplore the Pope's attitude. Metternich remarked dryly that God 
does not grant amnesties, and added that a liberalizing pope would 
surely undermine his own temporal power. Mazzini was more bitter, 
and more incoherent : 

"If ever there has been a moment in which I could achieve a 
heroic-mad thing and walk there with a few companions like the 
Bandiera for the simple aim of saying: 6 We scorn your forgiveness 
and despise you ; take our life for it,' it is now." 4 

What he meant was that an amnesty was a cheap way of buying 
popularity. Also, it upset Mazzini's strategy when princes gave 
spontaneous concessions; what he preferred was that the people 
should become conscious of their strength by forcing reforms, and 
that when the princes failed, as fail they would, they should be 
shown up as inadequate. Therefore, he told his followers to ex- 
aggerate in the popular mind the expectation of what the Pope 
might give and to build up their hatred of the foreign oppressor by 
attributing anything the Pope did not do to Austrian influence. To 
help along in the work of exposing the Pope, Mazzini wrote him a 
letter, urging him to shed the shackles of an outworn church and 
head up a new religion of humanity. In moments like these Mazzini 
appears at his most preposterous, whether on the face of the docu- 
ment or in the motives behind it. Two years later, however, when 

4 Quoted from Richards, Mazzini'3 Letters to an English Family 9 p. 38. 



Mazzini had his strut upon the stage of power, his actions rather 
redeemed his words. 

Pius, in the past, had been noted for his quiet charities. As 
Bishop of Imola he seemed to like to help people without getting 
credit for it. He was also known In his young days as a famous re- 
vivalist preacher, capable of such stunts as illustrating the fires of 
hell in a darkened church with a thigh bone steeped in spirits. 
People who met him socially found him handsome, easy, with good 
taste and a good vocabulary. He never expected to become Pope 
but when he went to the Conclave of Cardinals that was to elect one, 
he carried with him the books of Gioberti, Balbo, and d*Azeglio 
dealing with Italian reform to present to the new pontiff, whoever 
he might be. 

Yet, when Alexander Herzen searched his face for traces of 
thought in 1847, he found only inertia mingled with bonhomie. (He 
would also have said here was a man incapable of persecution 
later on, Herzen apologized for having been mistaken about this.) 
Someone else described the Pope's intellectual processes by saying 
that liberal ideas filtered into his head like snow blowing in around 
the cracks in a closed window. 

These liberal ideas at first, and the agitation of the aroused public 
later on, made Pius give concession after concession during the 
eighteen months before the revolution broke loose. First, he created 
a council of state, designed to draw the best lay minds in the Roman 
state into consultation about affairs of government. The council 
of state ran into immediate and significant difficulties; something 
like the United Diets of Prussia, the new body assumed the right 
to draft a program, when the sovereign had expected it to advise 
merely on the matters he brought before it. This, however, was 
known only in literate circles. To the mobs of Rome, as to the other 
peoples of Italy, panting for a breath of liberty, the council of 
state was the gift of one who loved freedom and who was going to 
bring in a new era. 

At this point the Pope might have been inclined to stop for a 
while ("Let me be a tortoise so long as I am not a crab.* 5 ), but the 
men who wanted to push reform dared not stop before they had a 
civic guard. The moderates wanted one as a police force, the 
radicals as a weapon against Austria. These leaders made a fine 
art of handling crowds, with the result that clubs, banquets, and 



street meetings flattered or intimidated the pontiff into granting the 
militia in July 1847. 

Instead of appeasing the people, concessions only whetted their 
demands. Riots with great banners, saying "Holy Father, trust the 
people," did not make Pius trust them; but as other princes in 
Italy were granting constitutions in early 1848, the Pope had to 
give one, too a conservative model. 

The gratitude of Italians was beyond belief. Theirs was the only 
country where the legitimate rulers seemed to be on the side of 
freedom. In France, Germany, Austria, the first requisite to reform 
was to overpower the monarchs, or at least to overrule the royal 
unwillingness to make concessions ; happy Italy suddenly saw itself 
being led toward liberty and independence by crowned heads. Surely 
after reform would come a crusade to free Lombardy. 

For a long time Charles Albert had governed unobtrusively 
through reactionaries who were friendly to Austria this was part 
of his smoke screen. But to win support for a national war against 
Austria, he had to cultivate the very men who were demanding a 

In the fall of 1847, inspired partly by the Pope, he threw his 
first reforms into Austria's teeth no constitution (indeed the King 
hoped a constitution was as far off as ever) but extensive revision 
of the press law and the police system. Old Radetzky, the Austrian 
marshal, crouching in Milan read the sign aright, and expected 
war in the spring. 

In January 1848, the Piedmontese army, which was already 
dreaming furious dreams of war, was increased. At the same time 
Turin merchants signed a petition to the King, begging him to use 
their lives and fortunes to help the Lombard brothers. Robert 
d'Azeglio was one of the men who collected signatures, and he found 
that even bankers, usually so hard, signed this document with the 
best grace, while storekeepers ran to him to be sure their names 
would not be left out. 

Among his subjects the King had never been so popular; never- 
theless he did not want his people to rejoice, and he ordered police 
to break up a crowd singing Rossini's new hymn for Pius IX. 
Charles Albert was afraid of his people, afraid that they did not 
know what was best for them, and afraid above all that they would 



interfere in his war. To d'Azeglio he said, "I want freedom for 
Italy and for that reason will never grant a constitution. 5 ' 

The King was alone in this opinion of his, bred by his mysticism 
and the person who pointed out the error of his ways was Cavour. 
This was the first political deed of the man who eventually brought 
genius to the moderate party of Italy. In 1847 he moved into 
public life by starting a newspaper in Turin, using the new freedom 
of the press. He found the job of organizing a paper at least as 
hard as organizing a province though he was still a gentleman 
journalist, with office hours from 10 to 2 daily. (The contemporary, 
more professional, editor of the London Times was at his desk from 
early morning until long past midnight every day.) 

Cavour did not believe that even the threat of war justified post- 
poning the constitution, and he persuaded a meeting of journalists 
to petition the crown for it, early in 1848. It was stupid, he told 
them, to- ask for petty reforms; they ought to come out for their 
full program at once. 

As for Charles Albert, he would almost rather have abdicated than 
grant a constitution at such a juncture. Yet his patriotism overcame 
his repugnance, and on February 13 he announced that he would 
give one to his country, providing for a legislature of two houses and 
a civic guard ; in order to show the poor in his cities, and his peas- 
ants, that he was trying to do something to help all his people, he 
lowered the price of salt in the same proclamation. 

When this news reached the people in the streets of Turin, many 
of them wept. It became a common sight to see people who did not 
know each other kiss. Bells rang, so that peasants in the countryside 
thought it must be an invasion and they hurried for their arms. 
Across the border in Milan, the news of a constitution in Piedmont 
caused men to take off their hats, while the cries of joy they meant 
to utter stuck in their throats for tears. Every seat in the theaters 
was full that night, with the ladies wearing white and blue, the 
colors of Savoy. 

It was carnival time, and instead of the usual costumes ladies took 
up black velvet riding habits with the skirts looped up over tricolor 
petticoats, while the feathers on gentlemen's Calabrian hats grew 
so tall that they obscured the gaslights in the streets and their 
spurs tore holes in ladies' silk dresses. The Duke of Savoy, Charles 



Albert's eldest son, the future King Victor Emmanuel, sported a 
peasant costume. 

On February 27 Massimo d'Azeglio used his artist's talents to 
organize a huge procession, including every rank and trade, the 
students, the butchers, the journalists and a group of Lombards 
who marched in silence and in mourning. This fete was to show the 
King the gratitude and trust of his people, but as Charles Albert 
viewed the procession he was pale and drawn, in fact, so lifeless that 
someone said that he took the place of the corpses which were car- 
ried at the head of the revolutions in Paris and Berlin. 

If this sad monarch received any comfort that month, it was 
to hear the news of Louis Philippe's fall for at least that showed 
Charles Albert that the reforms he granted so hesitatingly had been 
absolutely necessary. Piedmont was one of the few spots in Europe 
where the race toward revolution seemed to have been beaten. Yet, 
the new Piedmont constitution was copied from the very one under 
which Louis Philippe fell. 

On March 4 the constitution was formally promulgated, and a 
few days later its ardent advocate, Cesare Balbo, was asked to be 
Prime Minister. The two pleasures in life, Balbo had said, were 
making love and making war; now that he was at the head of a 
reformed Piedmont, no one doubted that war was imminent. 

The effect of the reforms on his kingdom was exactly what Charles 
Albert had foreseen. People began talking politics instead of strat- 
egy too much energy went into reorganizing the government at 
once. Yet enthusiasm was at a new pitch. Italians everywhere flocked 
to fight under a man whom they were already calling the first king 
of united Italy. 



Milan's Five Glorious Days 

WHEN the Congress of Vienna offered Austria the Italian provinces 
of Lombardy and Venetia, with the idea that Austria could then 
keep order in the rest of the peninsula, Emperor Francis was far 
from enthusiastic. The bribe was great, however, and furthermore 
the Emperor had a sense of public obligation ; for Italy had been 
greatly stimulated by its liberalizing Napoleonic administration, 
and a strong hand would be needed to suppress French ideas there. 

Emperor Francis had selected the ablest officer in his army to 
command the Austrian troops in Italy. In the person of Field 
Marshal Count Joseph Radetzky, Italian nationalism met the force 
of an idea as strong as its own. If he had had no more sense of duty 
than the civilian officials of the Empire, the Italians could have 
chased him out and kept him out. Radetzky, however, had personal 
convictions, and convictions are either dangerous or lucky in a 
soldier. He had been sent to hang on to Lombardy and Venice in 
the name of the Emperor and in so hanging on he was certain 
that he was defending the future interests of all Germany, of 
Prussia and Bavaria as well as Austria. He was also sure the Em- 
pire had a mission. Until nationaEsm had played out its game and 
the Hapsburg lands were dismembered in 1918, no one quite realized 
the values which belonged to their unwilling union. In Radetzky's 
mind, along with its old-fashioned loyalty, the tragic consequences 
of the split-up were adumbrated. 

For the Italian nationalists he had no sympathy whatsoever, re- 
marking that three days of blood would quiet them into thirty years 
of peace and he was eager to prove his point. When Metternich 
issued specific orders tending to help the Empire slide through as 
painlessly as possible whatever crisis might be coming, the field 
marshal obeyed. But when, in 1847, a legal justification occurred to 
occupy the city of Ferrara (in the papal states, just across the 
border from Lombardy) Radetzky seized it without giving Metter- 
nich a chance to say no. His soldiers swept through the streets with 



their artillery matches alight and though this act was based on a 
treaty right, it inflamed all Italy. 

Even if Radetzky had a fierce impatience with Italian patriots he 
had real sympathy with the peasants, just as he had with the com- 
mon soldiers who came from that class. While the Italians were 
carrying on about constitutions and reform, Radetzky's weather 
eye was on the harvest. He knew that another year of poor crops 
after the disastrous year of 1846 would make food very scarce and 
the country harder than ever to police. At one time Radetzky car- 
ried his interest in the peasantry so far that he proposed giving 
them more political rights, so they would be a counterweight to the 
"communism" he felt rising among the city workers but the Haps- 
burg viceroy laughed at the marshal and told him to stop talking 
like a revolutionary. 

When the battle came Radetzky's faith in the country people was 
justified. They took rather little interest in the revolution of their 
countrymen, and eased the Austrian army's path by their friend- 

In 1848 Radetzky was 81 years old, and the greatest commander 
of the age. He was a stout, short, old gentleman, cordial, full of 
bonhomie, with a clean-shaven face which reddened happily every 
time he laughed. He had been a poor boy, an orphan, whose military 
education was taken care of by the government; he joined the army 
in 1785, and by 1813 had risen to the general staff, where his plan- 
ning was a great factor in the defeat of Napoleon in the battle of 

While he was away at the wars his wife ran up so many debts that 
he was faced with the choice of disowning her publicly or of sur- 
rendering his entire property and having half his salary withheld. 
He chose the latter course, though it meant that he had to live in 
the provinces, and at 66, as he retired from some unimportant post, 
he wrote his memoirs as if his life were over. If it had not been for 
troublous times, he said later, he would never have made up the 
seventeen years he lost in his career. As it was, two years after his 
retirement, in 1834, Emperor Francis called him back and asked him 
to take command of the Austrian forces in Italy. Radetzky pleaded 
that both his debts and his years were great, whereupon the Em- 
peror said, "If I take care of your debts, I trust you to handle your 
years/ 5 



Indeed the old Field Marshal took his years lightly, for he had an 
illegitimate child born in Milan as late as 1846, when he was 79. 
His legitimate children were not much good except for one daughter 
in Pressburg to whom he often sent presents of Italian silk for 
herself and her children. As for his sons, he once thanked a priest 
warmly for thrashing them. 

As a commander his genius was at least half a matter of the 
training he gave his army. He knew that his brains would have to 
make up for exasperating economies at Vienna for he could never 
get either as many men or as much money he thought necessary. 
Therefore the officers he could afford were practiced in the hardest 
kind of maneuvers, so they learned how to take infantry, cavalry, 
or artillery over any kind of terrain. Even the notorious Haynau, 
whom civilians called the hyena, bowed to Radetzky 5 s discipline. He 
was made to take part in war games, and Haynau lost because of 
not using Radetzky's modern tactics an outcome which caused 
childish joy for the old marshal. Radetzky's forces also learned to 
get their provisions out on time, to keep their equipment perfect 
and if ever the commander was angry it was over mistakes which 
caused the common soldiers to suffer. 

Within the army there was unusual camaraderie from general 
down to private, of a sort that soldiers of other countries envied. 
Radetzky spoke to at least a hundred privates every day. He knew 
five languages (by no means usual among officers, for many boasted 
that they could not speak the language of the men in their com- 
mand) and he knew the soldiers' hearts by instinct. Once he saw 
a soldier without the little sprig of greenery which the Austrian 
army wore on days of victory. To cover the soldier's embarrassment 
the field marshal took the twig from his own cap and gave half of 
it to the man. By touches such as these, and by sending comforts to 
his men who had been taken prisoner, Radetzky won every man in 
his command. It was far more effective than political propaganda. 

The army, to be sure, had its own methods for breaking political 
ties methods with which Radetzky in his years as chief of staff 
may have had a good deal to do. An empire that was to be held to- 
gether more by force than by affection had to train a different sort 
of army from that of a single national state. This army had no 
patriotic allegiance and no tradition of great national victories, but 



it made up for these by being impervious to civilian ideas and 
traditionally unmoved by defeat. 

Instead of having love of home appealed to, each soldier was 
deliberately sent for training to a part of the Empire where he knew 
neither the language nor the people. Lombards were sent to Hun- 
gary, Silesians to Croatia, and there, remote from home, soldiers 
learned their special military esprit de corps. Radetzky, to be sure, 
had a large number of Italians serving under him, but that was 
because they were raw recruits, and when trouble came in 1848 
these boys deserted in droves. In great contrast were the Hungarians 
serving in Italy at the time, who had had time to be seasoned by ab- 
sence from home. Most of the Magyars were deaf to Kossuth's ap- 
peals to come back and fight for their own country. 

Because they would be cut off from all domestic ties, mothers 
hated to have their sons go into military service. Under Ferdinand's 
rule the term was reduced from fourteen years to eight, but even 
eight was plenty to ruin a man for civilian life. Kudlich said that 
in his Silesian village to lose a son to the army was considered worse 
than to have him die, since he was sure to come back, if at all, spoiled 
for work and a drunkard. Kudlich's own family were so eager to 
keep his brother at home that they paid a doctor 300 florins (nearly 
$150) to make him look scrofulous. After the army doctor turned 
him down it was months before the poor boy was presentable again, 
but they all felt it was worth it. 

Common soldiers were paid roughly four cents a day, out of which 
they had to buy everything but their clothes, quarters, and bread. 
Even meat was not supplied to them. Corporal punishment was 
universal. Though not unknown in other armies (considering that 
only the 1848 revolution abolished flogging in the French navy) 
still the number and publicity of military whippings throughout 
Austria were noted by all foreigners. Within view of the emperor's 
palace in Vienna were two barracks where Sunday mornings were 
given over to this unsabbath-like duty ; while Mass was being sung 
in nearby churches, soldiers were stripped and given 25 lashes by 
corporals specially trained to inflict as much pain with as little vital 
damage as possible. 

One extra and characteristic precaution was taken to insure the 
unity of the Empire. Each province was taught only one branch of 
the service so that none of them would be prepared to wage war 



separately. Bohemians made up the Infantry, Hungarians the caval- 
ry, Austrians the artillery. Italians provided a regiment of light 
horse. This policy shows why the Austrians had so confidently ex- 
pected no artillery resistance from Hungary. 

When the revolution broke in 1848, Radetzky met the crisis for 
which he had prepared for fourteen years, and he was delighted to 
prove his tactics and his convictions in battle. He was sick and tired 
like other people of the inefficient civilian bureaucracy in Lombardy 
he wanted to show everybody that the sword could be quicker, 
cleaner, and in the long run kinder. 

In working up their case against Austria, Italians were handi- 
capped by the fact that Lombardy, though under the hated foreign 
rule, was the richest and almost the freest section of all Italy. This 
in part was a result of good soil, and in part came only from the fact 
that the other states were corrupt and tyrannical. Nevertheless it 
made an embarrassing point for Italian apologists to get around. 

The Lombard plains looked almost like a single highly cultivated 
garden, with a magnificent irrigation system which watered mul- 
berries, vines, and wheat at once. The land was rich enough to sup- 
port the densest population in Europe; at the same time communica- 
tion was easy because of a network of fine roads. All these things 
owed nothing to Austria, said the pro-Italians. Even the roads, they 
insisted with exaggeration, were built during the twenty-year 
French Napoleonic rule. Or, if these propagandists allowed that 
Austria had used the period since 1815 to Increase Lombard pros- 
perity, then it was just to get more out of the country in taxes. 
Three times what the French had taken out of the country every 
year went now to Vienna, so that one-third of the revenue of the 
whole Empire came from its Italian provinces, Lombardy and 
Venetia, although only one-sixth of the population lived there. 

As for administration, it was universally admitted to be cheaper 
and more honest than that of neighboring states. Elementary schools 
reached more of the children 68 per cent of the boys and 42 per 
cent of the girls and the penal code was both mild and firm. 

Even in the control of thought, Austrian censorship at Milan was 
lighter and more sensible than either Italian censorship at Rome or 
Austrian censorship at Vienna. Milan was, indeed, the liveliest and 
most intellectual city in Italy. There had been martyrs, notably the 



>oet Silvio Pellico, who was kept for years in a cold dungeon in 
Bohemia while the Emperor Francis read daily reports on how he 
>ehaved and issued orders as to how many cups of coffee or books 
te might be allowed. After his release in 1830 Pellico published My 
^risonSy intending to show how even in prison the love of God and 
mman kindness can sustain the soul, and because of this religious 
ippeal the book became famous all over the world. In Italy, however, 
-eaders were more angered by news of Austrian brutality than moved 
>y Pellico's faith. But in 1848 there had been no spectacular recent 

Anyone determined to find fault with this enlightened despotism 
tnd all Italian patriots were could criticize the slowness with which 
,he huge machinery of state turned over. For instance, when a fire 
ingine broke down in the city of Venice, authorization for another 
lad to come from Vienna; during this delay a bad fire broke out. 
The slow deterioration of Austrian affairs which occurred all over 
,he Empire when the idiotic Ferdinand came to the throne seemed 
nore startling in Lombardy, which had formerly been the best- 
jo verned province. Italian patriots also complained that the famous 
ichool system taught a rigid loyalty to Austria, and that the 36,- 
)00 "Germans" in the civil service prevented a fair share of good 
government jobs going to natives, although there was no systematic 
effort to keep Italians out of government positions. Hundreds of 
ittle things kept adding to Italian restiveness. 

"The Austrian government levied immoderate taxes ... it forced 
>n us shoals of foreigners, avowed functionaries and secret spies, 
mating our substance, administering our affairs, judging our rights, 
without knowing either our language or our customs ; it imposed on 
is foreign laws . . . and an intricate system of proceeding in criminal 
jases, in which there was nothing true or solemn except the prison 
md the pillory, the executioner and the gallows ... it forbade the 
levelopment of our commerce and industry, to favor the interests 
>f other provinces ... it enslaved religion and even public benev- 
Jence ... it subjected the liberal arts to the most vexatious re- 
trictions ; it persecuted and entrapped our most distinguished men, 
jid raised to honor slavish understandings . . . and threw the patriot 
ato the same prison with the assassin." 1 

1 Quoted from Stiles, Austria in 1848-1849. i, 186. 



There was, however, a body of men in Lombardy whose duty was 
to bring grievances before the government, at least in theory for 
in 33 years these "congregations" had never ventured to mutter one 
single word of complaint. The congregations were given to Lom- 
bardy and Venice to make them willing to exchange French for 
Austrian rule in 1815 ; the members were elected by the people but 
had to be approved by the crown; and until 1847 their actual work 
had never gone beyond supervising roads and schools. 

In December 1847, however, a brave though modest member of 
the central congregation of Lombardy, a lawyer by the name of 
Giambattista Nazari, startled his colleagues by presenting a petition 
listing the country's grievances and proposing a committee of 

The administration was furious and tartly told Nazari he should 
have warned them of his action. Nazari countered that he would 
hate to show lack of respect for the government, yet if they had 
told him to keep quiet, he would have been constrained to disobey. 
In his petition he stressed economic complaints and never men- 
tioned political rights. Nor did he breathe a hint of any wish other 
than to cause the Hapsburgs to be adored, and this, Nazari insisted, 
could only happen if the rulers understood the needs of the country. 
In spite of his mildness, his gesture was grand enough to bring to his 
door a shower of calling cards from great Italian families who had 
never met him socially before. 

At this critical hour Vienna did what it could to off er Radetzky 
belated help. He received a large reinforcement in December 1847 
and put his army on a war footing, canceling all leaves. When his 
peasant boys grumbled, Radetzky blamed their extra duty on the 
conspiracies of the upper classes, thus trying to create discord be- 
tween Italians. In early 1848 Radetzky heard that Rothschild had 
granted a secret loan to be used for further reinforcements to his 
army, and at the same time Metternich stirred around to see if re- 
forms could be made but it was too late for that. 

That same winter Italians began to withdraw from their Austrian 
social contacts. Only six ladies attended the Vicereine's ball that au- 
tumn, and the ones who stayed at home were delighted to hear that 
she wept with rage. Radetzky complained to his daughter that there 
were no parties at the garrison any more. "We Germans are very 
uncomfortable, 55 he told her, for living in Milan suddenly became 



harder than living in a conquered enemy town. The same Italians 
who had trained their sons to speak German in order to give them 
a better chance in the civil service now pretended that they could not 
understand the language. 

The Milanese adopted velvet suits, since silk was a local product. 
In cafes the young men who undertook to read newspapers aloud 
used the chance to improvise many fine radical opinions. Next door 
to the Viceroy's villa in a small Swiss village was a printing press, 
whose incendiary products were packed into trunks by Sunday ex- 
cursionists from Milan, and distributed to their countrymen from an 
inn just outside the walls of the city. Disassembled arms were smug- 
gled in from Piedmont 100 English rifles that winter and nearly 
every courtyard and garden in Milan had holes to bury ammunition 
which the patriots were careless about concealing. 

Then a professor at the university told the Milanese the story of 
the Boston tea party, and he urged that his fellow citizens copy 
American tactics. He thought they might stop using tobacco or 
playing the imperial lottery, for the tobacco monopoly brought in 
millions of lire to the imperial treasury, and the lottery was even 
more profitable. In answer the Milanese agreed to give up these 
pleasures beginning on New Year's Day, 1848. 

For the first two days of the year things stayed fairly quiet, and 
Radetzky's impatience grew when he perceived that the citizens' 
boycott was a success. To provoke trouble, on January 3, every Aus- 
trian soldier was issued six cigars and a ration of brandy. Until this 
moment their manners had been impeccably correct, but now they 
swaggered around in groups of twenty or more, blowing smoke in 
civilians' faces and sometimes flaunting two cigars at once. Finally 
a civilian snatched a cigar from a soldier, and the fight for which 
both sides were spoiling was on. The results were tragic. Infantry 
cut down civilians, cavalry trampled them. At the end of the day 
there were 61 dead, including six children under eight and five old 
people over sixty. A man in a cafe who tried to shield his little girl 
with his own body was cut down along with the child. Soldiers fell on 
a group of workingmen coming out of a factory and tried to force 
them to smoke ; the workmen refused and some of them were killed. 
Hospitals, which incidentally had been warned to get beds ready, 
were crowded with wounded. 

Radetzky may have been pleased with this result. At any rate he 



refused for a whole week the civilian governor's request to hold his 
soldiers in their barracks. All the time he told the Milanese prole- 
tariat that the nobility started all the trouble it was the work of 
a small party only. 

Even though you call us twice a party, said the Marquis Massimo 
d'Azeglio in his report to the civilized world on the massacre, we will 
answer three times, "We are a nation, a nation, a nation. 5 ' Austrian 
civilization, he said, is an illusion as long as such things can happen 
under her rule. A treaty might give Austria the power to withhold 
civil rights, but no treaty gave her the right to murder. To prove 
to the common people that they were not a separate party, Milanese 
nobles raised a subscription for the wounded and for the families of 
the dead. Fifty-two gentlemen took the unusual step of soliciting 
from door to door to give the lie to the Austrian assertions and show 
that Italians of all classes were united. 

From that time until March the Milanese led their Austrian mas- 
ters a dizzy dance. One day all patriots appeared with their hat 
bands buckled in front. When the bureaucracy caught on to this 
and passed an ordinance forbidding it, the same gentlemen came 
out the next day with the beaver fur of their hats brushed against 
the nap, and next another unusual fashion, and then another. 
Ladies too seemed under the sway of some powerful organization 
which told them what to do. Often La Scala was empty, except for 
the rows of white-coated Austrian officers, but on the night when 
Milan heard that the King of Naples had granted a constitution 
to his people, every great lady attended the performance in a gala 
gown. On the same day the poorer classes of people celebrated by 
eating Neapolitan spaghetti. "Here is a police far stronger than 
our own," complained a harassed Austrian who could not keep up 
with such tactics. 

Some explosion would have come soon to any city so tense with 
feeling. As it happened, the news of the Vienna revolution reached 
Milanese patriots just as they were wondering what sort of a demon- 
stration to make ; as soon as they heard it Milan's date was moved 
up to March 18. 

The night before, many Milanese youths took the sacrament. 
Afterwards, with glowing faces, they pulled out their strange and 
rusty assortment of hidden arms, even though their first orders were 
only to form a procession. 



"Men to the street, women to the windows," was the cry, and 
15,000 men answered the call to march to the Austrian government 
house, while uncounted women waved handkerchiefs and red-white- 
and-green flags from the casements. At the head of the procession 
marched Count Gabriel Casati, the Podesta, or mayor of the city, 
who, as the highest Italian official, made the affair seem as legitimate 
as possible. Casati was in fact a stickler for legality. Though he 
sympathized with the Italian cause, he had always cooperated well 
with the Austrians under whom he had to work, and he showed di- 
vided sentiments by sending one son to the army in Piedmont and 
the other to an Austrian university. On this March 18 he paraded 
in a formal black suit, but sported a tricolor boutonniere, and an 
Italian flag was carried beside him. 

The formal request of this body of citizens was that the Austrian 
police should be disbanded and a civic guard be formed by the 
citizens. The Austrian officials, even while they abolished censorship 
in imitation of the capital of the Empire, had tried to hide the fact 
that Vienna had won a national guard. But once this fact leaked out, 
the citizens' case seemed strong. Casati, for one, was so sure that the 
demand would be granted that he persuaded the Austrian officials 
to refrain from asking military protection from Radetzky a move 
which, argued the mayor, would lead to certain and needless blood- 

The highest Austrian official whom these patriots could find at 
his office was terrified, and he signed at once the order they asked 
for, an order to establish a civic guard for all citizens not living by 
their daily work. In order to guarantee this concession, the Italians 
kept the official as a hostage. 

When Radetzky heard that an Austrian was in custody, he said 
he would never recognize concessions obtained by force, and he made 
belated efforts for the military to occupy the important posts of 
the city. 

But by this time the citizens could not be stopped. Barricades 
began to rise in all the narrow crooked streets which made up the 
city, so that even when the army captured the city hall, which had 
been ransacked by the mob, and the cathedral, where officers con- 
cealed sharpshooting Croats behind the pinnacles of the Gothic roof, 
Radetzky was unable to provision his men. 

The barricades of Milan were the most fantastic of all the im- 



promptu structures of 1848. Not only viceregal coaches and omni- 
busses, but sofas and pianos went into them. Rich merchants opened 
their warehouses and the people carried out bales of silk or coops of 
hens. Schools were emptied of their benches, churches of their con- 
fessionals. Rich citizens and factory workers helped each other in 
this work while children carried stones and tiles and boiling water 
to the roofs to hurl on any unlucky Austrian uniform below. Young 
girls pulled up the two white rows of flagstones which ran down the 
middle of each street for carriage wheels to pass over. Though a 
dozen chemists worked night and day to make powder, this item was 
so scarce that it was rationed out as if it were tobacco. Only men who 
knew how to shoot were allowed to use it, and they were happy when- 
ever they got enough to charge their guns once or twice. They all 
felt that they could not afford two shots to kill a single Croat, so the 
young men shot in turn instead of simultaneously. Astronomers on 
a tower scanned the countryside with their telescopes and passed 
news down a wire on a little ring. University students, who were in 
charge of prisoners and of attacking the gates of the city, were the 
happiest of all. They hurried along the streets or over the roofs or 
through windows, intent on their business until they lost all idea of 
time. When they were hungry they begged a bit of bread at any 
doorway ; if they were wounded all homes were open to them. 

Radetzky's highly trained army was not prepared to deal with 
this sort of an insurrection, where cavalry and artillery were useless 
and his infantry patrols were all too easily picked off. So he decided 
to retire his foodless, sleepless troops from the interior of the city 
and make an iron ring outside from which he might starve the town 
and bombard it if it refused to come to terms. 

One young Austrian diplomat was too gallant to leave with the 
troops. He was Count Alexander Hiibner, whom Metternich had 
sent in just three weeks before to look the Lombard situation over. 
Metternich was always hoping for peace ; nevertheless his protege's 
first question on arrival was how strong was the army. For he could 
foresee that it would be needed, and even in February he realized 
that Radetzky had been the victim of economizing. 

When the outbreak came, Hiibner attended to his own affairs as 
well as he could, and then hastened to look after the wife of another 
Austrian who had asked Hiibner to see that she came to no harm. 
When the Count arrived at the home of this young and handsome 

34 1 


lady he found her scared and almost servantless. Her houseboy had 
never come back from an expedition to buy groceries and only the 
cook was left to provide for their wants. Hiibner was too polite to 
leave while a barricade was run up just outside the door, with Italian 
women of the neighborhood screaming cheers at the work, and by 
nightfall he was sealed in and could not get out even if he wanted to. 
In the only room of the apartment that seemed safe from shots, 
Hiibner and his hostess dragged two separate mattresses and passed 
the night. Imagine, says Hiibner, the situation and believe that these 
two Austrians were too panicky to do anything indiscreet, for the 
room, was full of smoke and powder while outside were all the sounds 
of insurrection. At any moment the house might be invaded by 
Italians, or, what was almost as frightening, by some of their own 

In the apartment above lived a French modiste, and on the top 
floor a young Swiss woman whose profession Hiibner thought it best 
not to investigate too closely. During the second day, when the fight- 
ing seemed to be getting worse and stray bullets might come in any 
window, Hiibner persuaded his hostess to make a blockhouse of 
mattresses and bring all the inhabitants of the house there for 
safety. Even the Swiss was invited, though reluctantly. It was 
agreed that if soldiers came in, all the women should scream to show 
their sex, since speaking German would do no good if the troops were 
Croat, At this point the Swiss offered her help, for she spoke many 
languages, she said, and would be glad to be their interpreter. 
Hiibner's dry verdict was that she was a young person of courage, 
and he added that she seemed used to assaults. 

No Croats came, however (since Radetzky had ordered them out 
of the city), so the ladies in Hiibner's company set themselves to 
making Italian cockades, and they tied huge tricolor ribbons to 
their balcony. 

During the first two days of the insurrection the Italian patriots 
acted on the theory that he who brings down an Austrian can do no 
wrong, and each man went his own way. As individuals they had 
made a notable beginning but might never have achieved enough 
direction to complete their job if a university professor, Carlo Cat- 
taneo, had not joined the revolt and organized a defense committee 
because he was furious at CasatPs wish to compromise with the Aus- 
trians. Cattaneo was a republican, and he informed Radetzky that 



there was a split between the citizens and their timid mayor. The 
citizens, he said, would never give in, even when they had only forty- 
eight hours' provisions on hand and meat rose to fifty cents a pound, 
for they believed they might as well starve to death as go back under 
the Austrian rule. 

The men who rallied behind Cattaneo decided first of all that they 
would never speak in the name of Milan or Lombardy, but would 
always use the name of Italy, which they were serving. They headed 
their proclamations, "Italia libera. Viva Pio Nono" showing that at 
this time they believed the Pope was the natural head of a free Italy. 

Though the hasty departure of the white-coated Austrians had 
left a surplus of munitions in the city, so that the defenders no 
longer had to ration their shots, the city was completely cut off from 
the outside world. 

In order to communicate with their friends, the Milanese devised 
little balloons which floated up and out of the city while the Croats 
shot at them in vain. Wherever they landed they were sure to find 
friends; some got as far as Piedmont and some were reported in 
Switzerland. They carried the news that started help pouring toward 
Milan. If just one city gate is opened, the message read, we shall 
be free. 

Radetzky's forces still patrolled the wall of the city, and against 
this long thin line a group of students picked the Porta Tosa to 
attack from within. At this gate houses came close to the wall on 
both sides, so the enemy was under cross fire. Movable barricades 
were rolled up toward the gate, and one of the students, Lucius 
Manara, got close enough to make a dash for the sentry box, waving 
his tricolor standard. Then his followers beat down the gate itself, 
which was simply a folding iron door between ornamental pillars. 
The moment it was open, friends from outside the walls and peas- 
ants who had come to help swarmed inside. 

Now that food could enter the city and help was pouring in, 
Radetzky decided to withdraw completely. "It is the most terrible 
decision of my life," he said privately, though he wrote a bold procla- 
mation to his soldiers telling them not to be downhearted. "You are 
not conquered, you are not going to be,' 5 he said. "I have withdrawn 
before the enemy, not you." He led them to a group of fortresses in 
the province of Venetia, and he promised to carry them back to 
victory another day. 



To protect his retreat he covered the city with a heavy cannonade, 
partly out of anger at stories that one of his sentries had been cruci- 
fied to a sentry box and that ten had had their eyes put out. These 
atrocities were nothing compared to what Italians reported of the 
behavior of the Croat soldiers a lady's jeweled hand found in a 
soldier's pocket and they only show that both sides were thor- 
oughly inflamed. 

By this time Hiibner had been taken prisoner, leaving his ladies 
in good care, however, and was kept in protective custody in the 
home of an elderly couple. He was assigned a small room in this 
house, where he had to remain except when his custodian took him 
out for exercise ; but a gentleman was a gentleman in those days and 
his servant was allowed to come in every morning to do up both the 
Count and his cell. Here he was when the bombardment came. Hiib- 
ner noticed that there was not a voice on the streets, for everyone 
fled to the cellars. Artillery did very little damage to the heavy stone 
houses and strongly barred windows of Milan, and everyone laugh- 
ingly said the attack would cease at 8 :30, Radetzky's bedtime. On 
this night, however, the old marshal must have lain awake late, for 
the firing kept up until one o'clock in the morning. 

In Milan next day, the citizens cheerfully pulled their possessions 
back off the barricades, a noble his carriage and a housewife her 
kitchen table or her featherbed, soaked by this time with rain, and a 
greengrocer his counter. The only objects not claimed were the 
Austrian sentry boxes. 

Shortly after this Count Hiibner, who was still in his genteel con- 
finement, was sent back to the Austrian lines to arrange for exchang- 
ing prisoners. As he traveled through Italian cities women held dirty 
empty plates almost in his face, to show what the Austrians would 
get if they tried to come back. In one place the mob yanked him out 
of his carriage and made him walk to the city hall to prove that his 
mission was genuine, but in spite of the roughness with which he 
was handled, here it was that Hiibner decided that the social order 
was safe and the disturbance superficial, because no one of the crowd 
assumed the right to climb into his carriage and use a nobleman's 
seat. Someone climbed up beside the coachman, and they hung all 
over the outside of the carriage, but the lower class would not over- 
step a final line of respect which had been bred for centuries into 
their bones. 



It is hard to Imagine the enthusiasm which the events of Milan 
created in all Italy. That the citizens of a place garrisoned by the 
Austrian army could rise and chase their oppressors out in five days 
seemed like a miracle which justified the hopes of Italy's giddiest 
patriots. As for the sober reformers, they were discredited because 
the physical battle was so much easier than they had predicted ; it 
seemed the political reconstruction ought to be equally easy. 

Plenty of Milanese citizens, however, the rich nobles and prosper- 
ous business men, did not share Count Hiibner's conviction that this 
revolution would not become social. These men found rabid repub- 
licans and excitable volunteers a poor exchange for the Austrians. 
Many of them wanted a strong monarch to protect property rights, 
and a still larger number, men who might have been willing to see a 
republic, knew that at that juncture they needed a strong army to 
chase the retreating Austrians. 

In the middle of the siege the cry for help had gone out from 
Milan to Charles Albert, the King of Piedmont. To Mazzini, the 
republican, in Paris, the news was also borne. Both of these men 
felt the call of destiny in recent circumstances and both arrived in 
Lombardy, where they began to struggle against each other for the 
soul of an Italy barely and precariously free from foreign domi- 



Italy on Her Own 

WHEN the news that Milan was in arms reached Turin, it found 
everyone in the city ready to march across the frontier except the 
King. Yet Charles Albert hesitated. Being a man who could never 
make up his mind quickly, he found it difficult to meet a call that 
did not come just as he had expected it. He could hardly in decency 
announce that he was marching to annex Lombardy to his kingdom, 
yet was he to go to Milan in order to proclaim the republic? That 
would be against both his interest and his honor. 

It took Cavour, who had given such a push for the constitution, 
now to give a final push for war. He ran an editorial on March 22, 
saying that at such a moment audacity was the true prudence, even 
to a calculating, cautious temperament like his own. We must fight 
now, he said, and the sooner we start the better. 

The next day Charles Albert marched his troops into Lombardy, 
offering the people there no political word, but simply the help 
"which brother expects from brother, friend from friend." He was 
careful not to say to them, as he did to the courts of Europe, that 
he moved into a territory left temporarily without a master. "Can 
you not bear to be your own masters for once in your lives?" the 
Milanese republicans asked their fellow citizens but the truth was 
that a huge majority of the citizens welcomed both the master and 
the protection of his army. 

Only when the Austrians were gone and gone for good, most 
people believed did Italians realize how great were the differences 
between those who wanted a master and those who did not. Each 
party found in the other an enemy quite as dangerous as the de- 
parted foreigners. To the republicans, Charles Albert seemed a 
tyrant just as much as the Emperor Ferdinand after all, both of 
these monarchs had granted constitutions only within the last six 
weeks while many conservative patriots would have preferred order 
under the double-headed eagle to the license which went with their 
idea of a republic. 



It took a while to sort these opinions out, however, and in the first 
flush of enthusiasm Italians flocked to Milan, hoping to get in on 
some of the fighting yet to be done. The news reached Rome, as it 
had Turin, at a psychological moment. 

An Englishwoman living in Rome at the time said that no one who 
heard Garibaldi's hymn, Fuori d'ltalia lo straniero, sung with 
demoniacal passion by a chorus of maddened Italians could fail to 
understand the times. Reform was forgotten overnight, as 12,000 
volunteers left Rome for the front on March 24. Massimo d'Azeglio 
was one of their officers. Monks carried muskets in this holy war and 
priests went with the army carrying altars. Adolescent boys were 
caught up in the excitement and marched away without going home 
lest their mothers' kisses weaken them. Rich boys, who could have 
hired carriages, walked with a knapsack, a flag tied to their walking 
sticks, in order to be democratic. 

Before the troops departed, the Pope blessed them and they de- 
parted in an ecstasy of national fervor and religious emotion. One 
of the young men who had been helping the Pope in the midst of his 
political troubles remarked that it was like paradise to get away 
from the miry politics of Rome and reach the front. In the first place, 
military discipline helped to calm his spirit in these disturbing times, 
and then, he added, war affords the largest and most instructive 
range of human experience. These days at war were the happiest of 
his life. 

In Milan itself young Manara, the hero of Porta Tosa, took 129 
friends and calling them "the army of the Alps" marched out on 
March 24 to pursue Radetzky. The young men were so excited they 
took no change of linen nor extra shoes with them. The band grew 
in a few days to 2,500 by accretions from the "flower and the dregs 
of society," students and bandits, men in velvet suits or men in peas- 
ant costumes. They followed Radetzky, it is true, and once had the 
pleasure of sitting down to an untouched dinner which had been 
cooked for the fleeing whitecoats. If Charles Albert had trusted 
these volunteers he could have used their elan but guerrilla forces 
were republican, in ideology at least (for Manara was personally a 
good Charles Albert monarchist) and therefore doubly distrusted 
by a regular army man like the King. 

Even more picturesque was the volunteer legion brought to Milan 
by the Princess Belgiojoso. This lady had been born of the highest 


1 T A JL Y 

Milanese aristocracy. She said she had spent her youth like a rat in 
a library when she was free to do what she chose, and like a doll in 
the parlor when she was not. However, her intellectual interests 
caused her to run afoul of the Austrian authorities, and for years 
she dwelt in ostentatious poverty in Paris. Just before the revolu- 
tion she had been allowed to return to home and fortune, and she 
had spent the year 1847 on her Lombard estate giving her property 
all the most up-to-date improvements. She studied agricultural re- 
form, and sought to increase her peasants' earnings by setting up 
a glove factory. She also built schools and a housing project with a 
recreation hall. 

At the time of the news of Milan's upheaval, the Princess hap- 
pened to be in Naples, and in order to get home as quickly as pos- 
sible, she chartered a steamer. Immediately crowds of young men 
besieged her with requests that she should carry them with her, and, 
the boat only holding two hundred, she selected this number and 
commissioned them herself as if she were a sovereign. When they 
arrived at Milan they paraded with a huge flag, the Princess in the 
lead, and then rushed off to seek the foe. Three weeks later, a cynical 
observer noticed most of them were back on the Milan street corners 
begging, for the battalion had been provided neither with military 
direction nor with supplies. As for the Princess, she settled herself 
in Milan, where with typical flamboyancy she took up the editing not 
of one journal but of two. 

In this maelstrom of an Italy, Mazzini certainly deserved as warm 
a welcome as any prince, and he got it. When he heard the news of 
Milan's five days, he was in Paris, working on a new organization to 
mix for the first time Italian republicans with monarchists pledged 
to a united country. He left at once and as he walked across the 
frontiers into Italy, he plucked the first little Alpine flower he saw 
and sent it to one of his English hostesses. Then he went on to Milan. 
A guard recognized him as he entered the city gate, and raised the 
cry "Viva Mazzini," so that before long his lodgings were sur- 
rounded by crowds who called him to his balcony to speak. When 
2,000 Italian deserters from the Austrian army marched by, tears 
filled Mazzini's eyes. The people were sublime, he said, beyond con- 
ception, far beyond the people of Paris. 

A few days later a group of tailors brought him their demands for 
higher wages and no Sunday work. Was not this what he had prom- 



ised a revolution should mean? Mazzini told them, instead, that 
though their wishes were just it was not a moment to think of any- 
thing save Italy. Once the country was free, the first duty of the 
new state would be to see the workers were not cheated. 

Mazzini felt that he had come to Milan not to handle tailors' 
grievances but to free Italy, and to that end he was willing for the 
time being to support the conservative Casati's provisional govern- 
ment, to tolerate even Charles Albert's help. The local republicans 
under Cattaneo, indeed, decided that he had been bought, 1 and 
turned from him. He was shortly disillusioned with the men in power 
also, and felt like an exile in his own country. Nevertheless, he stayed 
on in Milan all summer, hoping for a chance to rouse the sublime 
energies of the people again. This being the last thing the pro- 
visional government wanted, he found himself "disliked, dreaded, 
suspected, calumniated, threatened." 

In July Mazzini was joined by his own most famous proselyte, 
Giuseppe Garibaldi and like Mazzini, this hero found himself not 
too welcome. 

Garibaldi always had something simple and heroic about him. As 
a young sailor in 1833 he first ran into one of Mazzini's men, and 
he says that Columbus was not happier in the discovery of America 
than he at finding a man actually engaged in the redemption of 
Italy. A subtle man would have made distinctions about ways and 
ends, a weaker one would have faltered or sought his own advantage ; 
Garibaldi had no intellectual or emotional inhibitions, he simply 
said, "Use me." From that day until long after he had handed 
Sicily to King Victor Emmanuel in I860, he used himself for his 
country, undiscouraged by personal rebuffs or political finagling. 

Mazzini's first assignment to this promising recruit had been to 
conspire in the Piedmontese navy, a job which Garibaldi did very 
well, but the police uncovered the plot and Garibaldi had to flee with 
a death penalty on his head. Next he found scope for his talents 
in South America, where he won a reputation fighting for the re- 
publican cause in a revolution against Brazil. He discovered and 
practiced in these struggles his natural genius for handling men; 

1 Cattaneo, although as devoted a republican as Mazzini, was against nationalism. 
He believed that local autonomy was the best guarantee of individual freedom, and 
wanted nationalism everywhere to fade away. Mazzini could not tolerate anyone who 
differed from himself on such a cardinal point in spite of Cattaneo's courage, ability, 
intelligence, and sincerity. 



he learned to extemporize military decisions and to keep a company 
going in the wildest countryside, two talents which were to baffle the 
forces opposing him in Europe. 

In South America also he picked out his wife Anita, and again 
he showed the simplicity and permanence of his emotional decisions. 
"Friendship is the fruit of time," he wrote later, "while love is the 
very lightning and sometimes born of the storm." One day he looked 
out from his boat and saw some girls on the shore, and among them 
he picked out one for himself. When he went ashore, "my heart was 
beating but for all its agitation I felt resolved. A man invited me 
to come in. I would have entered even though he had forbidden me. 
I saw the girl and said to her, *You must be mine.' " 2 Anita, although 
she had been married to another man for several years, recognized 
her destiny. With Garibaldi she fled and lived with him, aboard his 
boat, or in the tropical forests, or in poverty in Montevideo. Once 
she had to ride for days to hunt for him. Once she fled through the 
jungle with her twelve-day-old baby across her saddle. 

During the years in South America Garibaldi kept in touch with 
Mazzini in London, always hoping for the day when he might return 
to Italy. In October 1847, it seemed as if that day were almost at 
hand, and he wrote to Pius IX to offer his sword to a Pontiff who 
"understood the need of the age." After he had dispatched this 
letter people noticed that his face changed, a light smile played 
over his features as if he expected good news. 

The good news never came, however, Pius being far from able 
to accept the support of a republican atheist guerrilla. Nor did the 
money materialize which Mazzini kept promising, for a boat to sail 
home in. Garibaldi's impatience finally led him to open a subscrip- 
tion in Montevideo to charter a small boat for himself and 56 of his 
Italian legion. The government of Uruguay gave him two cannon 
and 800 muskets. They sailed on April 15, 1848, not having heard 
of any revolution. However, a passing ship gave him the news before 
he reached Europe, and the joyful men put together a red shirt, half 
a bed sheet, and a patchwork of green facings ripped out of their 
uniforms to break out a tricolor. 

On June 24 they arrived at Nice, somewhat uncertain whether to 
land in view of the fact that Garibaldi was still under sentence of 
death, but the whole population swarmed to greet him, and men who 

2 Garibaldi, Memoirs, p. 88. 



had read of his exploits from Mazzini's pen flocked to join his 
standard. The third of July he offered his sword to Charles Albert, 
much to Mazzini's disgust. "He will not be any longer the Garibaldi 
whom Italy loves and loved/' Mazzini opined. 

Charles Albert was naturally no more willing than the Pope to 
commit himself to a man whose notions of military tactics, let alone 
a united Italy, were far more violent than the King was prepared 
to cope with, so he told him insultingly to go to the Adriatic and 
fight as a corsair. 

It was characteristic of Garibaldi that he never gave up, and now 
he turned to the provisional government of Lombardy for uniforms 
and permission to pursue the Austrians he could provide his own 
arms. They gave him the rank of general, and as for uniforms, they 
told him he could use a supply which the Austrians had left behind 
and which their own frock-coated, velvet-breeched volunteers were 
too proud to wear. In their pride Garibaldi disgustedly foresaw the 
failure of Italy, and he ordered his own men to don the Austrian 
linen. Stripped of trimmings, the white coats made the men who 
wore them look like a regiment of cooks, but did not daunt their will 
to engage the enemy. Mazzini went with him for a while, carrying 
a gun given him by an English lady and a huge banner inscribed 
"God and the People." Military headquarters neglected General 
Garibaldi, and after some brave attacks on Austrian outposts, he 
was forced to lead his men across the Swiss border for safety. 

Once in Lombardy it did not take Charles Albert long to collect 
his mind. His second proclamation to the Lombards, a week after 
the one when he promised aid as from a brother, pointed out that 
Piedmont was called in by temporary governments, with the hint, 
obviously, that the Lombards should make some more permanent 
arrangement than Casati's provisional government. Though that 
government announced at first that it would take no political steps 
until the war with Austria was over, it was soon beset with difficulties 
which made it change its mind. 

The first difficulty of the provisional government was bankruptcy, 
a rock on which many a more secure state has foundered. The new 
administration had abolished many of the most hated Austrian taxes 
without thinking of any good new quick source of revenue and 
meanwhile, it had to feed each man in the Piedmont expeditionary 



force with twenty ounces of bread daily, nine of meat, nine of rice, 
lard, salt, and a half bottle of wine. 

In addition, their vaunted allies seemed to fall away from the 
Lombards. The Pope was the first. So early as the end of April he 
decided that he could not wage war against a Catholic power, and 
therefore withdrew his troops, which by this time were holding a line 
between the Piedmont army and Venice. The Kingdom of Naples 
pulled out, leaving the forces which remained in the war demoralized 
as well as angry. The rest of us must draw closer together, they said, 
and unless we give him a strong inducement to take care of us, 
Charles Albert may be the next one to leave. 

The alternative to Charles Albert seemed to be a republic, and 
there was much terror at the prospect among those who lived by 
rents and industry. These propertied citizens told each other busily 
that they needed a king. 

Moved by these facts, and in spite of the noisy disapproval of the 
republican party, Casati and his government arranged for a plebi- 
scite on May 29, to vote whether Lombardy should unite with Pied- 
mont at once, or whether to decide at the end of the war. It was 
stipulated that if the two lands should merge at once, a constitu- 
tional assembly for the whole area would be chosen by universal 

With all his antipathy to republicans, Charles Albert was evi- 
dently in awe of their influence, so that he was willing to make huge 
concessions if only he could keep his crown. He offered Mazzini, if 
he would not oppose fusion, a voice in drawing up the new constitu- 
tion as well as a position in the new cabinet; luckily for the King, 
Mazzini was haughtily indifferent. "Someone," he said, "should 
maintain the banner of the future unsullied. 55 

To most Lombards, however, the opportunity to join Piedmont 
seemed generously given. They need not have worried about Maz- 
zini's influence, for the plebiscite went overwhelmingly in favor of 
union now. 

Political fortunes were so distracting that for weeks no one real- 
ized that the military tide had turned. Radetzky had at first re- 
treated to the province of Venetia, into four fortresses called the 
Quadrilateral, where his position was impregnable. The area he con- 
trolled was very small, less than twenty miles from one corner to the 



next, but here he settled down with his usual calm, never losing either 
his joviality or his complete confidence in God or his soldiers. 

Within a day or two after his reinforcements arrived on May 22, 
he was ready to show off what he had learned in sixty-six years in 
service. In this first campaign in which he had ever had full com- 
mand, neither his logistics nor his imagination failed. He completely 
baffled the Italians by moving a large body of troops noiselessly one 
night during a frightful storm, wrapping his soldiers' boots, his 
horse's hoofs, and his artillery wheels with cloth. 

While the Lombards were struggling with their plebiscites, they 
barely noticed that Radetzky was mopping up the mainland of 
Venetia. Then he began his march back into Lombardy, prepared 
for the happiness of laying that province again at his imperial 
master's feet within a few weeks. 

For the first time the Field Marshal was running things in Italy 
the way he thought they should be run and then he was almost 
stopped in his tracks by the nervous Vienna cabinet. With the 
capital in a tumult over the students in the Aula, and with Hungary 
breaking loose, the shaky new ministers could not see beyond the 
Alps, and they ordered Radetzky to make a truce. They were pre- 
pared to treat with Charles Albert on the basis of complete au- 
tonomy for Lombardy more than the Italians had asked for in 
their most far-fetched proposals of reform or, if that failed, even 
the complete cession of the province to Piedmont. 

When Radetzky received these orders he simply failed to obey. 
As a trustee of the empire he would show the barricade ministers 
that the army could ignore them. To Innsbruck he dispatched his 
aide, Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, to tell the Emperor that with 
only 25,000 more men he could reconquer Lombardy, for he had 
lost about 20,000 deserters. 

In the war office at least, Radetzky had a whole-hearted backer 
in the person of Count Latour, whose efforts to get reinforcements 
to Italy all summer long were superhuman. This was one cause of 
his hatred of the public works projects in Vienna, which employed 
20,000 men, or nearly enough to satisfy Radetzky's requirements. 

Since even the weakest Austrian cabinet was unwilling to give up 
Venice, far more important for strategic reasons than Lombardy, 
Italian patriots were unsatisfied by the offer of Lombardy alone. 
Charles Albert was secretly tempted by the plum offered him, until, 



as Mazzini put it, the people rose like a sleeping lion and forbade 
him to give up his Venetian brothers. Thus the negotiations would 
have failed from either side. 

It took the Italian forces weeks to realize that the Austrian 
counterattack, begun methodically and unpretentiously, was like a 
bulldozer. The Piedmontese were buoyed up by their own courage 
(even Radetzky praised them for this) and by the excellence of their 
artillery, which steeplechased about the battlefields with the horses 
at a gallop and the gun carriages rattling after in a way previously 
unknown. Piedmont's weakness lay in her command, of whom 
Radetzky is supposed to have said to his gunners, "Spare the enemy 
generals they are too useful to our side." More than that, the 
Italian troops were ill-supplied by their Lombard quartermasters, 
who were inefficient behind the lines and almost non-existent at the 
front. In the last great battles the soldiers were left without food for 
periods as long as three days. Added to this hardship, they often 
had to sleep on the bare ground; in rainy weather officers slept in 
their overcoats, and could buy blankets, but the privates had no 
protection from the mud except what they could get by digging a 
trench around the spot where they lay, to drain off a little water. The 
medical service also seems to have been poor; ambulances were 
bumpy and there was a shortage of amputation instruments. And 
there was no ice, used for packing wounds, since it came from the 
Alps. When the diplomatic corps of Turin were invited out to 
watch the battles, they had to sip warm drinks and forego the sher- 
bets which were ordinarily a staple article of refreshment. 

Outside the armed forces, confidence among Italians was sicken- 
ingly high. What did they do to help their brothers ? asked a young 
officer. "Nothing, except to crown themselves with flowers, dancing, 
singing, spouting, and calling each other 'sublime, 5 Valorous, 5 'in- 
vincible.' " 3 

The final battle came in the last week of July, at Custozza, and it 
was a fatal rout for the Italians. At the end the only order among 
the fleeing troops was preserved by young Victor Emmanuel, Duke 
of Savoy, who managed to rally around himself enough troops to 
protect the flight of the others. 

There was nothing to do but fall back on Milan, a city so fed on 
hopes it could hardly believe that its defenders were coming back 

8 Pasolini, Memoirs, p. 90. 



defeated. When they heard their city was merely a halfway point, 
that Charles Albert was about to retire behind his own frontiers, 
leaving them at the mercy of the Austrians they had chased out 
themselves in five days, Milanese could only echo Garibaldi's hasty 
judgment that the King was a traitor. If he would not defend them, 
his worst enemies the republicans would try. 

The frantic Milanese appealed to Mazzini, who advised them to 
appoint a triumvirate of three competent citizens chosen more for 
their ability than for their politics ; his next advice was to call on 
every man to fight a strictly republican way of fighting. Mazzini 
wrote his own name at the top of the list of volunteers. Barricades 
rose again, half a million cartridges were distributed, flour and 
cattle were stored in the city; in fact, Mazzini said that more was 
accomplished in three days than in three months previously. 

When the bedraggled Piedmontese marched in they were received 
with jeers. The citizens held Charles Albert as a hostage, inside the 
town, away from his troops, barricaded with his own carriages, and 
demanded that he make another stand against the enemy. 

Moved more by the city's enthusiasm than by threats, and pos- 
sibly feeling that he had lost a round with the republicans, the King 
announced that he could not abandon a city fighting so bravely for 
its liberty. His willingness to fight again earned him a small measure 
of respect; but his tired soldiers were unable to resist Radetzky. 
Within three days he had to retire, promise or no promise. Having 
begged from the Austrians twenty-four hours in which to leave the 
city and to escort civilians who wished to leave, Charles Albert 
stayed at the city gate watching while half the population of Milan 
fled toward Turin. 

All day long the refugees streamed along the dusty road. Soldiers 
threw away their flags to carry children instead, and women were 
allowed to ride on caissons. In Piedmont, citizens put themselves out 
to welcome these exiles, although 25,000 extra guests the number 
who stayed in Turin all winter were a severe drain on both public 
and private purses. When they saw their own soldiers, the citizens 
were even more shocked, for they looked like mummies after the dis- 
astrous campaign, with skin dried out and black, staring eyes. 

In Milan, meanwhile, Radetzky took over, and the remaining citi- 
zens made the best of a bad bargain. By the time the first Austrian 



entered the city gates on August 7, every tricolor ribbon, every sign 
of revolution disappeared, and the people watched the parade with 
quiet dignity no cheers, but no insults either. This army was im- 
maculate. Though their shoes were worn, every one was polished till 
it shone. Every white coat was snowy, though many officers possessed 
only the one uniform that was on their backs. 

When Radetzky moved into his old quarters, he found that all his 
furniture had been sold, but he hoped to be able to buy it back 
again cheaply. One of his servants had thoughtfully saved the 
clothes which had been at the laundry when he left town, so he had 
a nice supply of clean linen. But he lost 1,500 florins, buried in his 
garden by his servant and dug up by an observant neighbor. 

The Frankfurt Parliament sent Radetzky congratulations which 
must have been peculiarly gratifying to his Germanic soul. He re- 
plied that he had come back into Lombardy not as a conqueror, not 
to suppress freedom, but to grant to the province perhaps more 
freedom than it would know how to use. 

At the very first meeting of the cabinet of the fused Kingdom of 
Piedmont and Lombardy, the members listened to the news which 
meant that Lombardy would have to go back to Austria. 

In his own territory, Charles Albert was safe from invasion be- 
cause neither France nor Britain would allow it. His danger lay in 
his own people, who, like the men of Milan, turned from a defeated 
king to the bright promises of the republican party. The legend 
grew that Charles Albert was faint-hearted and treacherous, the 
army bumbling, and only the people themselves invincible. Everyone 
with a voice in the nation's affairs knew the war would have to be 
renewed eventually, but the democrats screamed why not now? 

The unfortunate King, heartbroken at being misunderstood, yet 
lacked the nerve to declare himself openly; he particularly hated to 
reveal to the public the completely demoralized state of the army. 
The democrats wanted a people's war anyway, which would make the 
army less important; and they took another democratic step to 
equalize sacrifices by pushing through the brand new Assembly a 
capital levy from one-half of one per cent to two per cent a move 
which deprived the rich of half of their income (assuming it was 
4 per cent) , and which confirmed their most despondent expectations 
of what a republic would be like. With the common voters the move 



was popular enough, so that elections held in January 1849 were far 
more to the left than those of 1848. 

At the opening of the new Assembly in February 1849, the King, 
white as a swan, uttered an address in a voice so feeble that scarcely 
anyone heard it. But in it he told his people that Piedmont could 

By this time he may have agreed with Cavour, who believed that 
even a lost war would be better than no war, since it would clear the 
air of the democratic vision, and in Cavour's opinion, if it forced 
Charles Albert to abdicate, the country could make a new start. The 
situation was so intolerable that an army officer remarked that war 
and peace were alike impossible, and the country might as well toss 
a coin and let heads or tails decide. 

To make ready for battle the army increased its size, with a 
furious program of recruiting, training, and supplying arsenals, 
uniforms, and tents. But nothing could enable Piedmont to catch 
up with Radetzky in these particulars. Furthermore, democratic 
discipline slipped into military life, too. For the first time old-time 
officers began to see soldiers who thought before they obeyed, who 
considered insubordination a mark of democratic zeal. Many former 
non-commissioned officers had been given commissions to further the 
democratic spirit, and many of them lacked not only the bearing 
of officers, but the ability to keep records. 

While old officers grumbled about their new subordinates, the 
old nobility met the new governing class with an equal sense of 
shock. "I hardly knew the bourgeoisie," wrote public-spirited 
Marchioness Constance d'Azeglio, "but I had always supposed it 
contained capable people who would take part in affairs." Instead 
they seemed to be throwing the country to the dogs. The republicans 
cannot stand to hear a bullet whistling over their heads, said Mas- 
simo. The only ones who do not want the war will bear its burdens, 
the poor peasants, who, "knowing exactly how fierce and unequal 
the battle will be, leave their wives and children without a murmur 
because it is their duty ; and the King will go." Yet the d'Azeglios 
themselves did not complain, and were willing to sell their diamonds 
in Paris to help the cause. 

On the Austrian side the war was just as popular. When a Pied- 
montese colonel called at Radetzky's palace one day in March, bear- 
ing a letter, the old marshal could not conceal his pleasure. "I know 



already what you bring me, and I thank you for it," he said. After 
he had read the dispatch, which gave the necessary eight days' 
notice for the termination of the armistice, he looked even more 
satisfied and invited the colonel most cordially to dinner. The 
colonel declined. 

When the news spread, Austrian officers let out a yell of joy, 
and the troops rushed to decorate their helmets with the green 
twigs which were a sign of victory. Radetzky's officers had been 
begging him to grow a beard, to be in military fashion, and now 
he gave in to them and promised to grow one as soon as he had 
beaten Piedmont. 

At the hour of the expiration of the armistice, Piedmont soldiers 
looking across the river at Lombardy could perceive no hostile 
preparations. Eagerly they swarmed to cross the bridge, but the 
King stopped them, drew his sword and walked over the bridge first 

It was the start of a disastrous and pitifully short campaign 
not a week long. Charles Albert was always in the thick of the 
fighting, so that all who saw him realized that he was hoping to 
die. Bullets always avoided him, and he had to live and watch his 
army, the pride of his life, hopelessly routed on the field of Novara 
on March 23. Asked for terms, Radetzky harshly announced that 
Austria would demand the right to garrison some Piedmontese cities, 
and that the Crown Prince should be given up as a hostage. 

This was the moment Charles Albert realized that he could do 
nothing more for his country. Having lost everything, even honor, 
as it seemed to him, he abdicated, leaving his eldest son as the new 
king, Victor Emmanuel. Charles Albert rode quickly out of Italy, 
and died a few months later in a Portuguese monastery. He tried to 
tell his people that his heart was still with them, and he said that 
he would gladly return to fight as a private in the army of his son 
if the war should ever be renewed. 

On March 24 the young King himself rode out to meet Radetzky 
to win easier terms for his country. Radetzky's animus against 
Charles Albert was personal. The marshal fought him as the old 
enemy of Austria, but more than that the two men were antipathetic 
types. Toward the new king, however, Radetzky felt a certain 
measure of tenderness. In 1842 Radetzky had accompanied the 



Austrian archduchess who became the bride of Victor Emmanuel, 
and he was present at the wedding in Turin. Also, Victor Emmanuel 
was an earthy sort, easier to understand than his father and 
Radetzky hoped, easier to influence. Therefore, when the two men 
came face to face, Radetzky dismounted from his horse, even though 
he was so stiff he had to be lifted, and they embraced. Radetzky 
made many concessions to the young monarch, promising not to 
occupy any of his territory. In return the Austrian hoped that 
Victor Emmanuel would compromise, yielding a promise not to 
support his father's constitution, but this the young king stub- 
bornly refused to do. He even convinced the old general that if he 
abandoned the constitution Piedmont would revolt and Austria 
would have anarchy to deal with instead of a stable government. This 
logic satisfied Radetzky, who managed affairs his own way in this 
part of the Empire, though his conduct displeased Schwarzenberg 
in Vienna, who wanted much stiffer terms. 

Victor Emmanuel returned to Turin in the dark of night, so as to 
avoid a hostile demonstration on the part of his subjects. The next 
day he took an oath to the constitution his father had granted, but 
even for this he won no applause from his disillusioned people. It 
took months for them to find out that he meant what he said, that 
he was fit and strong. 

He was a complete contrast to his father, vulgar and a show-off 
where Charles Albert had been dignified and retiring, sensible where 
the old king had been idealistic, short instead of tall, quick to think 
instead of slow. He was 28, with enormous mustaches, hair that 
stuck straight out, a turned-up nose and from his manners he 
seemed born, as one of his friends said, "to a tent where all is equal, 
or to a throne where all is allowed." Above other qualities, he had 
the good sense to use the intelligence of the many able men about 

The first minister he called to pull the country together was 
Massimo d'Azeglio. D'Azeglio had refused to serve earlier, when 
things were going downhill, but now that they were at the bottom he 
felt it his duty to help his country as well as he could. **Love of 
country," said he, "means sacrifice, not enjoyment." And then, 
in one of his history-making phrases, he bluntly told his king that 
he could not think of any honest kings in history Victor Em- 
manuel might as well be the first. 



D'Azeglio found a country practically in civil war, bankrupt, 
with a legislative body which would not cooperate even to the extent 
of ratifying a treaty of peace with Austria. The King had to dis- 
solve his parliament twice before he could find a body of men which 
would agree to this elementary step toward stabilizing the country. 

The defeat at Custozza in 1848 had given Italy over to the re- 
publicans. The defeat at Novara in 1849 gave it back to the moder- 
ates. Italy was the only country that did not go back to the con- 
servatives after the revolutionary year. 

In Lombardy, meanwhile, Schwarzenberg was inflicting his policy 
of force. Not lightly did Austria punish revolution. In Milan fifteen 
men and two women were stripped and publicly flogged, being re- 
vived with vinegar if they fainted under the blows. Over 900 were 
executed in the provinces for possessing arms. Rich patriots had to 
pay huge fines, and if they refused, their property was confiscated. 
Any houses where arms were found were burned. 

Old Radetzky lived on until 1855, always genial and friendly. 
Even the Italians seem not to have hated him as much as other Aus- 
trians, for he told General Haynau that a guard of 10,000 would 
not be able to protect that officer's life in Italy after the horrors he 
committed at Brescia, whereas he, Radetzky, might safely ride in 
an open coach. Haynau was well advised not to revisit Italy, for 
when he went to London, in 1852, the workmen at Barclay's 
brewery one of the sights of the city because of its use of a 
mechanical production line set upon him and beat him up. This 
act so pleased the foreign office that they could barely conceal their 
smiles as they explained to the furious Schwarzenberg that there was 
really nothing Her Majesty's government could do in the way of 

Radetzky, by his victories in 1848, killed Italian independence 
for only another decade. His real victim was constitutionalism in 
Austria, which never thereafter got a chance to be tried, and in 
Hungary. Perhaps his most ironical achievement since Radetzky 
was a pan-German at heart was that from now on, with the Aus- 
trian Empire held together, German, unity became impossible. 

There was one other consequence of the defeat of Novara. It 
inflamed the French, who in 1848 would have liked nothing better 
than to fight for their Italian brothers, and who even in 1849 had 
not cooled their passions to the point of indifference, in spite of 



Charles Albert's dislike. Now France, afraid that her little buffer 
state would be lost, agreed to send an expeditionary force "to oc- 
cupy some point in Italy" and to guarantee Piedmont's integrity. 
Louis Napoleon found ample use for this force, though not where 
the French republicans had expected. He sent it to Rome, where 
Mazzini was trying out his dream of a republic. 



The Rome o the People 

of the ironies of 1848 is the way in which Charles Albert and 
Pius IX forced each other's hands. The King, who had tried not to 
yield a constitution because he wanted to save all his strength for 
a war, had to give one after the papal reforms had caught the imagi- 
nation of all Italy. The Pope, for his part, wanted only to improve 
the administration of his own state, yet when war broke out in 
Lombardy, his people would not let him remain neutral. 

As an Italian himself, Pius blessed his young soldiers with a full 
heart, even though he would not bless their flags. Yet as head of 
the Church he was the spiritual father to millions of Austrians. 
Bishops from all parts of the empire lost no time in pointing this 
out to His Holiness; they recalled to his mind the fact that the 
Austrian church had been dangerously independent from the time 
of skeptical Emperor Joseph. To prosecute the war in 1848, they 
told him, would lead to schism. 

But his new lay ministers in Rome, mostly young men who had 
worked all their lives for the Italian ideal, were in despair at this 
turn of their sovereign's mind. They knew that their government 
could not stand if they drew back from the war. It was, after all, 
an attribute of a sovereign state to be able to wage war. "What can 
the Pope be afraid of? Is it not the cause of humanity, religion, and 
the Gospel we are def ending ?" 

Against their remonstrances the Pope issued a statement, on April 
30, that as pontiff he could not make war. Rome's answer was a 
riot. The anger of a people who had been rapturous until this mo- 
ment was deadly. Their leader, a wine carrier called Ciceruacchio, 
whose warm heart had almost burst with enthusiasm at the news of 
the amnesty of 1846 and who had since believed devotedly that 
he could persuade the Holy Father to trust the people, now turned 
all his rage against Pius, and persuaded the people that they 
could not trust the Holy Father. 

It was with the greatest difficulty that the moderate men in the 

3 62 


government prevented the establishment of a provisional govern- 
ment then and there. Nor were matters improved when the Pope 
wrote to the Austrian Emperor a few days later, with the suggestion 
that he might well give up his Italian provinces as a matter of 
justice and humanity. Such a move pleased neither Austrians nor 
Italians, and the papacy was left completely friendless. Italians 
in every city could hardly believe at first that their idol had reneged ; 
as soon as the sad truth became certain they turned against him with 
a violence which proved that the really important problems to the 
age were social, not religious. "Porco Pio Nono" is still a word of 
execration in Italy. 

General uneasiness grew as the summer wore along. The Pope 
could not bear his liberal ministers, he could hardly listen quietly 
while his prime minister explained a point. As for the unfortunate 
ministers, of course they knew that the last hope of saving the state 
depended on their making sensible reforms, yet they were blocked not 
only by their unsympathetic ruler but by their entrenched sub- 
ordinates. So many administrative matters turned out to be in the 
province of the church, and therefore not susceptible of being 
handled by lay officials, that the cabinet could hardly find a single 
corner in which to start operations. When the young Minister of 
Public Works ventured to ask a council of engineers for profes- 
sional advice, this rash move in the direction of progress and mate- 
rialism brought angry looks and words from the men in his depart- 
ment. Meanwhile the common people were no better off, possibly 
worse, as the beginnings of financial reform seemed to make paper 
money less abundant. Thus the clubs grew stronger and the civic 
guard mutinous that summer of 1848 in Rome, as in Berlin and 

In September the Pope called Count Pellegrino Rossi to head up 
the government. 

Rossi had been perhaps the most distinguished of the Italian 
exiles, for he had been a professor of constitutional law at Paris and 
a friend of Guizot. Naturalized as a French citizen, and ennobled, 
he was appointed ambassador to the Holy See, and was therefore 
living in Rome at the time the revolution broke out. His abilities 
as well as his studies made him a natural, and indeed admirable, 
choice for prime minister from the Pope's point of view even 
though some of his writings were on the Index. The unfortunate 



thing was that in this particular summer popularity was more 
essential than ability. A year earlier, before the people had become 
confident of their power, or a year later, after they were disillusioned 
about it, Rossi might have done well. In 1848, though he introduced 
telegraphs and chairs of political economy, though he reformed the 
civil service and the hospitals, he never sold himself to the tyrants 
of the street corners. He scorned them. He was not a democrat. He 
wanted to give them reforms but not listen to their voices. In his 
deep-set eyes and compressed lips they read his scorn, and they 
vowed that he should die. 

Rossi knew of their hatred and their threats, but like other victims 
of the same year. Count Latour and Colonel Marinovich, he was 
too proud to let them interfere with his duty. On November 15 he 
drove to the opening of the Assembly, to present a plan of reform 
which he believed held "the safety of Italy." As he dismounted from 
his carriage and started quickly through the marble hall leading to 
the Chamber, the mob pressed in about him, cursing him. Suddenly 
someone hit him with an umbrella, then, as he turned, another drove 
a stiletto deftly into his jugular vein. Technically, it was a perfect 
job Rossi bled to death within half an hour. Meanwhile someone 
threw a cloak over the assassin and hurried him away. He was "never 
caught, but there is evidence that he was a son of Ciceruacchio. 

Rome celebrated her deliverance from Rossi as she had her great 
victories. The people were now free to go ahead, since there was no 
one left to balk them, certainly not their weak Pope. With the frenzy 
of a lynch mob they shrieked under the windows of Rossi's widow, 
until all respectable citizens were disgusted and most were terrified, 
for they had not learned that political passion in 1848 did not spill 
over into vandalism. Indeed, though public authority was de- 
moralized and government lapsed, there was no more of a crime wave 
in Rome than there had been in Paris or Vienna. 

There was, however, no one to grab the helm. Pius was stupefied 
by the blow. He seemed to lose interest in public affairs and talked 
only of the will of God. In vain his young ministers told him he must 
rouse himself, he must fight. When the mob pulled cannon up to his 
palace and disarmed his Swiss guards, he offered no resistance but 
instead quietly disappeared. While the French ambassador called 
at his palace and kept lights burning in his apartment, Pius slipped 



out in the dress of a plain priest and fled south in the coach of the 
Bavarian ambassador. 

All Catholic countries offered their hospitality. Cavaignac hoped 
that he would come to France, Charles Albert to Piedmont, but 
the Pope (fearing both the French republic and the would-be sov- 
ereign of united Italy) chose to go to Naples, and there, surrounded 
by the most reactionary political and clerical influences, waited to 
be rescued, while he mused on spiritual things which made him feel 
at last "like a true Pope." 

Instead of making plans for the government in his absence, the 
Pope washed his hands of Roman affairs. He would not even sign 
a bill for new treasury notes, to meet the immediate financial crisis, 
and he required the men who had been loyal to him, the moderates 
who still had faith in him, to get out of office, leaving in power the 
republicans. When the Pope finally named a new government it 
was a government in exile. All of its lay members were titled and it 
could make no dent at a time when all Italy was turning to demo- 

The men who dared to take charge of the Roman mobs rioting for 
bread, and of the clubs raining manifestoes, were the ones who dared 
to give them what they asked for. They abolished the tax on flour, 
started unemployed artists to restoring the mosaics in churches, 
promised contracts for making uniforms to unemployed tailors. 
They also called for a constitutional assembly and federation with 
the rest of Italy, and they ordered work on the railroads which Pius 
and Rossi had authorized to go ahead. 

This was the nearest thing to a social revolution in 1848 outside 
of France, and progress did not stop when the Assembly was elected. 
The Pope called it "abominable, monstrous, illegal, impious, absurd, 
sacrilegious and outrageous to every law, human and divine," and 
he excommunicated any person who took part, even to the extent of 
casting a ballot. Since the people who followed this judgment were 
primarily the Pope's own party, it threw the election open to the 
candidates of the clubs "who confounded all classes together," just 
as if Providence had not decreed that there should be a difference 
between a shoemaker and a professor. Seventy per cent of the 
adult males voted (the suffrage was as broad as in France) ; one 
cardinal even declared the Pope lacked power to excommunicate for 



political matters, while the Bishop of Rieti led the election by casting 
the first vote in his see and then watching whether his clergy followed 
his example. Most of them did not. In the north of the Papal States 
Garibaldi's legion marched to the polling places with their voting 
papers already signed so that their general should be assured a seat 
in the Assembly. Mazzini was also elected, though he was not in 
Rome at the time. 

This was Mazzini's chance to make Italy into his dream. To ro- 
mantics a dream, even if a false one, becomes necessary to existence 
and thus is built up the lie men live by. In a way Mazzini provided 
the vital lie for Italy. No nation could live out Mazzini's dream, but 
by trying, Italy became at least a united nation in the end, and one 
with a conviction of destiny. 

Mazzini's dream began with the republic ; it was right, in the first 
place, he thought, and in the second, it would be the only way to 
unite the sovereign states of Italy under one government. He 
wanted a united Italy because it too was "right." A nation would be 
less materialistic than a federal union, strong, modern, able to 
fulfill a mission. A nation was a source of energy to its sons, 
giving scope to artists and statesmen, strong enough to check pov- 
erty and tyranny, vital enough to prevent dissipation of that 
strength into cosmopolitanism. The world-wide view of Goethe and 
Metternich seemed to men like Mazzini to suck out the strength and 
joy of belonging to a particular nationality. Allegiance to a larger 
society oddly enough seemed selfish and materialistic. Italy, in Maz- 
zini's fervid imagination, was the messiah in the new religion which 
should come to save groups of men as Christ had saved individuals. 
In a map of Europe in which Germany represented thought and 
France action, Italy united thought with action, heaven with earth. 
Suffrage was the rite of the future religion, and it would be exercised 
by men who thought more of the duties than of the rights of man. 

Mazzini hated atheism, and he hated socialism. He once remarked 
that an atheist could not have a sense of duty, and Garibaldi, who 
heard him, cried out, "I am an atheist. Have I then no sense of 
duty?" Mazzini was caught. "Ah," he said. "You imbibed a sense 
of duty with your mother's milk." 1 As for socialism, Mazzini agreed 
with Marx that the generation he saw about him had a philosophy 
of self-interest. God was not in the heart of the century, but while 

1 Holyoake, By-gones Worth Remembering, i, 220. 



Marx did not want to put him back, Mazzini did. He hated the 
doctrine of class struggle, mostly because if workers, or anybody, 
had a loyalty to class which vitiated or superseded their national 
feelings, it would undermine Mazzini's dearest hopes. 

Early in February the Assembly met, and even as the roll was 
called the Prince of Canino answered, "Long live the Republic, 5 ' 
a cue which Garibaldi took up in his turn : "The delay of a minute 
is a crime. Long live the Republic." The Assembly did not delay. 
They voted a republic. Rome and Venice were the only places in 
Europe that dared to carry their revolutions to the limit set by 

Mazzini's friends had been gathering at Rome ever since the 
Pope's flight. For a few weeks, however, Mazzini stayed at Florence, 
where Giuditta lived, and where the citizens were also trying to set 
up a republic. Now the friends at Rome sent him a telegram 
"Rome republic. Come." 

Not immediately, but soon, Mazzini came. "Trembling and al- 
most worshiping," he approached Rome on foot, at night, and he 
tells us that this first sight of the Eternal City "will mingle with 
my dying thought of God and my best beloved." Faith, love, and 
now hope were in his soul as he moved toward his greatest op- 
portunity. That very night he took his seat in the Assembly, and 
he told his colleagues that after the Rome of the Caesars, after 
the Rome of the Popes, it was now their turn to build the Rome of 
the People. 

Like that other first-class romantic, Frederick William of Prus- 
sia, Mazzini believed that the purpose of life was to become better 
and that the purpose of a nation was to help people become better. 
Now, for a brief moment, he was to be Frederick William's equal 
in actual power as he had always been in the ability to dream ; all 
schools of romantic thought had their day in 1848. If Mazzini was 
the more successful not in solving economic problems, which never 
yielded to romantic treatment, but in making the people under his 
rule better it was because he flattered and coaxed and inspired his 
subjects with the century's most intoxicating brew, freedom mixed 
with nationality, and that nationality the most sophisticated of 
those then struggling to be born. 

Mazzini's title in Rome was that of a member of a triumvirate, 
though actually he could not have brooked sharing ideas or dividing 



responsibility for his Roman republic. In spite of the fact that he 
despised the external trappings of power, the Roman republic was 
his offering to the world ; he could no more compromise in making 
it as perfect as he knew how than any other artist. 

He lived in a small room in the Pope's palace one small enough 
to feel at home in and he, was accessible to all comers, high and 
low. His salary he gave to the hospitals, and he lived on two francs 
a day, eating in second-class restaurants. After the French be- 
sieged the city he lived on bread and raisins. His luxury was a bunch 
of fresh flowers sent to him every day by an admiring workman; 
sometimes he sang to himself while playing on his guitar at night. 
Still, he grew old at this job; nothing is more exhausting than 
creating one's dream. His eyes became bloodshot, his skin turned 
orange and his vital juices seemed exhausted. Or, as Margaret 
Fuller, who was in Rome at the time, put it, holiness purified but 
somewhat dwarfed the man in him. Later on, after he recovered 
from the physical strain, Carlyle noted corresponding benefits: 
"The Roman revolution has made a man of him. He has quite 
brightened up ever since." 

With Mazzini at the helm the republic moved ever more swiftly 
toward its social goals. The most spectacular decrees concerned 
the poor, as might be expected. For the peasants the republic 
confiscated some of the great land holdings of the Church and dis- 
tributed them in free permanent leasehold in parcels as big as two 
yoked oxen could plow the equivalent of forty acres and a mule. 
Other nations had confiscated church property, but only the Roman 
republic went on to ensure that this process would not force off the 
land the men who worked on it. 

For the Roman poor, especially for the wretched masses who 
lived across the Tiber, the republic took over the office of the Holy 
Inquisition and turned it into apartments for the neediest cases. 

Neither of these processes amounted to more than a gesture, for 
the republic had but five months 5 existence. Still, they were the kind 
of gesture that Mazzini wanted to make, gestures that persuaded 
the poor the republic had something to offer them, that would con- 
vince the world to come that the dream had not been empty. As for 
the right to work, that Mazzini never admitted. It had been a 
failure in France, and it smacked of socialism. The republic com- 



promised by employing large numbers of men in excavating the 
Roman Forum. 

There were many ways in which Rome took on a glow from the 
color of her leader. Order was the touchiest point in any republic 
in those days, and Mazzini got enormous pleasure from explaining 
that the republic, when new, had no police force and no army, "yet 
scarcely was the republican principle declared when an incontesta- 
ble fact was made manifest, i.e., Order. The history of the papal 
government was made up of disturbances, but not one disturbance 
has taken place during the republic." 2 

Shortly after he had expounded this doctrine there was, to Maz- 
zini's chagrin, a disturbance. Three men whom the crowd called 
Jesuits were assaulted and torn to pieces. Mazzini was more hurt 
than angry, and lectured the people to the effect that everything in 
Rome should be great. The government, he said, is trying to show 
Europe that Romans were better than their enemies, that the re- 
public had extinguished sparks of anarchy. 

Tolerance, of course, and freedom of the press and secular educa- 
tion all had their share in coloring the republic with enlightenment. 
The civic guard was opened to all ranks of citizens. Prisoners and 
the insane were moved out of their dungeons to the better light and 
air of vacated monasteries. 

The weak point of all this system came from the fact that 
though Mazzini could make men work for him, he could not com- 
mand money. In fact, he noT:ed with disgust that the same men who 
would give their lives for a cause would not give up the treasure 
which might make the sacrifice of life unnecessary. He did not un- 
derstand that for men of property their fortunes represented a kind 
of immortality, just as the divine-right kings would risk death or 
abdicate personally but never sacrifice the substance of power for 
their dynasties. The devotion with which some men defended their 
coffers would have been sufficient to save Italy, but they were not 
capable of spending it for Italy. 

Inflation bedeviled the republic all its days, so that if it had not been 
for the French invasion that came in April the regime would have 
fallen anyway, and perhaps more quickly. Without money the 
republic could not activate its own reforms, it could not help the 

2 Farini, The Roman State from 1815 to 1850, iv, 91. 



poor, while lack of credit nullified the advantages of commercial 
freedom ; but even a bankrupt nation can fight for a while. 

Though the republic would have liked to rob St. Peter to pay 
Paul, there were not enough ecclesiastical resources to keep a young 
and hungry state going. A forced loan from the upper classes (rang- 
ing from 20 to 66 2/3 per cent of their incomes, to be paid back 
with interest at five per cent) satisfied the poor that the republic 
demanded sacrifices from everybody, yet it did not yield enough to 
ease the strain. Printing presses worked overtime and Rome was 
flooded with notes of small denominations. As inflation spread, the 
government tried to keep down food prices at least, and threatened 
to confiscate any stores of food on which the price was raised. The 
government also forbade hoarding, particularly of oil and grain. 

The customary celebration at Easter was held with almost more 
than usual pomp, in order to show the people that the republic was 
not hostile to religion. The cross which was always hung at the top 
of St. Peter's blazoned out this year in red, white, and green lights, 
and it looked like a chain of jewels about to melt. Mazzini himself, 
in a frock coat, appeared on the balcony where the Pope used to 
bless the people, and a priest at his side uttered a blessing on the 
crowd, for which he was afterwards severely disciplined by the 
Church. Mazzini thought this was mummery, but his heart almost 
failed him now when he heard the Latin phrases and saw the crimson 
rockets and the 1,400 veiled lamps like swirling fires outlining St. 
Peter's. "It is useless," he is said to have said. "This religion lives 
and will live for long years on account of the beauty of its form." 3 

Sterner matters required his attention, however. Though Mazzini 
had not wanted Piedmontese help for his republic, lest Rome receive 
the same kiss of death as Milan, he would have delighted to heap 
coals of fire on Charles Albert's head in the shape of a vigorous 
Roman reinforcement for Piedmont's second attack on Austria. On 
March 29, 1849, accordingly, the Assembly voted to send troops 
northward, only to hear the next day that Charles Albert had been 
completely routed at Novara. This news changed the republic's 
need from offense to defense. No one knew whether Austria would go 
on to invade the Roman states, or whether the Neapolitans would 
press from the south to restore the Pope. The one quarter from 
which the infant republic expected support was from her sister re- 

8 Agresti, Giovanni Costa, p. 42. 


HOME UJb THJi, r Ji, U Jf 1^ Jk 

public, France yet within a month a French expeditionary force 
was attacking her gates. 

The policy of President Napoleon in sending an army to Italy 
was devious. His apologists say that the Prince-President wanted 
France to have the glory of restoring the Pope added to the grati- 
tude of Roman citizens for maintaining liberal institutions. If such 
an act of statesmanship were possible it would have given the French 
government popularity at home and eclat abroad, and there were 
only two things wrong with the plan. First, the Pope was afraid of 
the French ; he was thoroughly anti-constitutional by this time, and 
wished very much that he could give material concessions to Austria 
rather than moral concessions to France. After Rome fell and the 
keys of the city were proffered to him by the French commander, 
Pius refused to go back to his capital until he could do so without 
any French strings attached such as accepting liberal government ; 
and he wounded Napoleon's feelings by never admitting publicly 
that he owed his restoration to France. Napoleon's second miscalcu- 
lation was to assume that the Roman citizens wanted the Pope back 
on any terms at all. Men who hauled cardinals' carriages through 
the streets to burn them, calling them the blood of the poor, were 
unwilling to have their blood squeezed out again by the ecclesiastical 

There was only one strong republican leader left in France after 
the shambles of 1848, Ledru-RoUin, and he put forth his last effort 
in trying to make his countrymen ashamed of the attack on Rome. 
He tried to have the President impeached, and failing in that, he 
led Paris in another insurrection, on June 13, 1849. Napoleon was 
prepared for it, and it was a fiasco. Ledru had to flee to England 
thereafter, and Napoleon had one less enemy in his climb toward 

In the spring months of 1849 Rome was the city, as Milan had 
been in 1848, to which the young, the generous, and the brave re- 
paired. A legion of Lombards, under Lucius Manara (the hero of 
Porta Tosa in Milan), who had been training in Piedmont all 
winter, landed at Civita Vecchia, Rome's port, just after the French 
were established there. "What are you, a Lombard, doing in Rome?" 
asked the French commander. "And you," retorted Manara, "I 



presume that you were born in Paris or Lyons ?" Eventually the 
French let the legion march along to Rome, on condition that they 
would not fight until May 4, by which date the French expected to 
have conquered the city. 

All spring Garibaldi's legion had been kept charily outside of 
Rome, while their leader came in to Assembly meetings, for no gov- 
ernment wanted to be responsible for a force which had been living 
off the countryside, terrorizing the people. After Charles Albert 
had surrendered in August 1848, Garibaldi refused to give up his 
legion and took it to Switzerland. From there, in the fall, he had 
returned to Italy and collected a new supply of volunteers peas- 
ants, artisans, shopkeepers, and students, and a great group of 
boys from 14 to 16 who became the regimental pets. Now that Rome 
needed every soldier, the city called Garibaldi to lead his men inside 
the walls. They made a great show, Garibaldi on his white horse, 
with his white poncho, and many of his men, with their long hair and 
long black plumes in their hats, still showing the sunburn of South 
America. Staff officers wore the red shirts which Garibaldi was to 
make famous; before the siege was over these were issued to the 
men also. The city ordered a group of nuns to leave their convent 
within an hour, and barracked the legion there. 

These defenders arrived none too soon, for the French attack 
came on April 30. First the Romans tried psychological warfare, 
placarding the road from Civita Vecchia with a quotation from the 
French constitution: "France respects foreign nationalities; her 
might shall never be employed against the liberties of any people." 
Blind to the irony, the French more than half expected to be wel- 
comed as saviors by the respectable part of the population; they 
were quite astonished when Garibaldi led an attack against them 
which sent them reeling back to the seaport. Garibaldi was all for 
chasing them right into the sea, if possible, but Mazzini restrained 
him. It was the first open quarrel between the two great republicans. 
Mazzini's point was that he did not want to offend unnecessarily the 
only great republic in Europe whose ultimate friendliness he counted 
on, and to emphasize his good will he set all the French prisoners 
free except the wounded, who were tenderly nursed. As a final touch, 
he sent 50,000 cigars to the French troops, each one wrapped in a 
leaflet proclaiming that France was governed by traitors with crimi- 
nal designs. Unfortunately there were no republicans in the French 

3 72 


army, which was made up of gay and cheerful boys who boasted, 
"We sleep in a stable, wash on a soup plate, and eat eggs with a 
corkscrew." 4 

Whatever the motives with which they advanced, the French 
forces had not been prepared for the sort of resistance they met at 
Rome. General Oudinot was ordered to occupy the city as a friend. 
The French had counted on Mazzini's unpopularity, and they im- 
agined they could raise a fifth column among people faithful to the 
Church, and property owners who feared confiscation. They were 
always unwilling to believe that the new government actually had a 
strong hold on all classes a fact which reactionaries tried to ex- 
plain away by saying that workmen whose wages were doubled and 
whose wives strutted about in palaces, amid furniture meant for 
princesses, would naturally support a government so kindly. Other 
critics said tartly that most people would support any government 
that preserved life and property, not realizing that anarchy had 
been transferred from the streets to men's souls. The republicans' 
apology was drowned, outside the city walls ; no one could hear their 
plea that they had at last given the people a country to be proud 
of. This being the case, the French were more impressed with repub- 
lican bullets than republican propaganda. Oudinot even boasted to 
Paris that none of his men were prisoners while he avoided mention- 
ing that this was due to Roman courtesy. He settled down in Civita 
Vecchia to await reinforcements while Rome prepared somewhat 
lazily for defense. The American sculptor, William Wetmore Story, 
who had been in Berlin the year before, said that it took the 
Romans three days to build a barricade which would have gone 
up in an hour in Berlin. During the lull Garibaldi went off to 
the south to repel a Neapolitan attack. This foray made a great 
impression on the countryside; mothers told their children that 
the general ate babies, whereas the worst he actually did was to 
requisition a convent and allow his men to parade around in 
monk's clothes, carrying tapers in mock ceremony. When no con- 
vent was handy the men bivouacked, astonishing the natives as they 
lassoed sheep and cattle, and roasted them at great fires. What 
seemed wildest of all to other soldiers was the lack of military hier- 
archy. Men who were captains one day would be privates the next, 
for variety; and the general's cook was a lieutenant. No wonder 

* Colomb, Memoirs of Admiral the right honorable Sir Astley Cooper Key, p. 206. 



Manara, who always wore the blue cross of Savoy to remind the 
Romans that he was not a republican, thought Garibaldi's men "a 
troop of brigands." Grandiloquently he offered them support in 
their mad onrush from his "disciplined, proud, silent, gentlemanly 
regiment. 555 

Having routed the Neapolitans, Garibaldi hankered after a 
chance at the Austrians who were hovering near Bologna in the 
north. He told his soldiers to pray for a charge : "Tell the legion- 
naires to get the idea well into their heads, let them think of a charge 
with cold steel and of sticking a sharp bayonet into the flank of a 
cannibal." 6 But these laudable sentiments had to be implemented, if 
at all, at Rome, for French preparations looked more dangerous and 
all forces were recalled to the city. 

Nevertheless the Prince-President was still prepared to play the 
game softly if it could be played softly, so in May he sent Ferdinand 
de Lesseps (whose fame as the man who put through the Suez Canal 
was still in the future) to make peace in Rome. Lesseps' freedom was 
hampered by instructions not to recognize the republican govern- 
ment and not to antagonize the Pope; his hope was to find some 
group of allies within the city. Accordingly, he took pains to talk to 
men of every rank and party, and he reported in surprise to Paris 
that the Roman shopkeepers and men of good family, "the classes 
which defend social order in Paris," were on the side of the Roman 
republic. Still, Lesseps believed that if he could discount Mazzini's 
influence he might find a party which would assist the French to 
enter Rome peacefully and bring back the Pope, and he thought he 
was succeeding in this effort so well that he sent word to the Roman 
Assembly, on May 24, that he would not treat with Mazzini. Let 
them nominate other commissioners. Rome's reply to Lesseps was a 
threat of assassination and an assurance that if he sent a second 
letter like the first the bearer would be torn to pieces. 

Lesseps, however, conceived it to be his duty to make some sort 
of agreement. On May 29 he sent an ultimatum to the Assembly of- 
fering the protection of the French republic, and the Assembly 
agreed, with the proviso that the French army would not parade 
through their city streets. Lesseps agreed to sign this and the people 
of Rome hailed the alliance with joy. 

5 Quoted in Trevelyan, Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, p. 139. 
8 Quoted from Larg, Guiseppe Garibaldi, p. 123. 



When Lesseps returned to the French camp, bearing his piece of 
paper, Oudinot refused even to read it, let alone sign it. Lesseps, 
confident he was following instructions, signed it himself under 
Oudinot's nose and determined to return to Paris. But before he 
could leave Oudinot passed on to him, insolently opened, a message 
from Paris containing his recall. In France, Lesseps found rumors 
had spread that he had suffered a sunstroke in Rome and was men- 
tally unbalanced. He came to the angry conclusion that his whole 
mission was a maneuver on the part of the government to gain time 
for reinforcing the French army. 

One of the glories of Rome during the siege was its hospitals with 
the inimitable Princess Belgiojoso at their head. This lady had 
given up journalism in favor of the relief of suffering, for in this 
work, she said, she was absolutely sure she was doing good, while in 
other fields it was problematical. Luxurious convents, which had 
often been inhabited by just a few nuns, were turned over to hos- 
pitals, and the Princess quickly mobilized 6,000 Roman women to 
staff them. She soon found out, she said, that it was usually better 
to use old toothless nurses instead of young pretty ones, but this 
policy did not keep her from tending certain cases herself, smooth- 
ing brows and, to one dying hero, reading Dickens aloud. Her cases 
always developed a fever. Had not Heine declared that the Princess 
was the most beautiful, the best, the most admirable being he had 
ever met on earth? 

Outside of Italy, except to poets, the Princess seemed mad. She 
seemed mad to Cavaignac when she appeared before him like a 
phantom, wrapped in a huge black veil, to pour into his hard ears 
news of the blood and cinders of Milan. And she seemed mad to 
Henry James, who was led to wonder how in her the love of the 
thing in itself mixes with the love of all the attitudes and aspects 
of the thing; he concluded that a social agitator was often queer, 
a bird "all of whose feathers, even the queerest, take part in his 

Many of the Princess's best friends and greatest helpers at this 
time were members of the colony of rich Americans, though they 
mostly left before the end of the siege. William Wetmore Story used 
to carry ice cream around to her when she was too busy to leave her 
post. Margaret Fuller Ossoli used her New England fortitude as 



head of one of the hospitals. She had left her baby boarding in the 
country, and stayed at Rome with her husband, having encouraged 
him to break away from his family and defend the republic. During 
the siege the baby's nurse wrote that unless she received a sum of 
money quickly the child would be abandoned. By that time it was 
hard to get anything in or out of Rome, but finally Margaret en- 
trusted the money to a doctor, who delivered it. The baby was 
spared, only to be washed up dead a few months later on the coast 
of New England when his parents were lost at sea. 

Everything in Rome was being readied for an attack on June 4, 
for the French general had handsomely announced that he would 
not attack the place before that date. On the night of June 2, when 
the garrison troops were trying to get a last good night of sleep, 
they were pulled from their beds by a furious French attack not 
against "the place," but against several strategic villas outside the 
city walls. Rome's defenders roused like their ancestral she-wolf but 
their success was limited. Garibaldi said he had never seen such 
butchery. Mazzini, who cared only if the Romans fought bravely, 
told them, "Yesterday we said to you : Be great. Today we say to 
you: You are great." 

As the siege tightened, during June, the defenders of Rome 
justified Mazzini's fondest dreams. Soldiers were so eager to fight 
that they barely took time to sleep or to have their wounds dressed. 
Taxicab drivers made a regular service of driving out to bring in 
the wounded. Ciceruacchio spent his days exhorting the workers 
who dug fortifications, or carrying wine to the soldiers. Life was so 
inspiring that Garibaldi wrote his wife one hour was worth a century 
of common existence. 

This letter never reached Anita, for she was bored living with 
her mother-in-law at Nice and scraped up money to join her hus- 
band at the war, even though she was pregnant. Garibaldi was sur- 
prised to see her, when she arrived on June 26, but he told his 
companions simply, "Here is my wife. Now we have another good 

Only four days later came the day when the defense could hold 
out no longer. Garibaldi, his red shirt bloody and dusty, his sword 
bent so that it would only go halfway into the scabbard, came to 
tell the Assembly that he could beat back the French for only an- 



other hour. Every one of his artillerymen had been killed, so the 
cannon were manned by soldiers of the line. Manara, the hero of 
Milan, was killed on this 30th of June, as was Aguyar, the gigantic, 
handsome, popular Negro who had come from South America, and 
of whom Garibaldi said that his soul was made to be loved. The 
general told the deputies that there were three courses open to them, 
to surrender, to die at their posts, or to flee, the army and the As- 
sembly together, to make a government in exile. 

Much to the disgust of both Garibaldi and Mazzini, the Assembly 
voted neither to die nor to flee. They did not vote exactly to sur- 
render either, but that only meant that they surrendered by default. 

This was the moment when Mazzini's sins caught up with him. 
The vital lie now became a fatal one for him. In all his life he had 
never been able to tell the truth when he feared the truth would 
injure his cause. In his youth he arranged with his mother that she 
would cut off the appeals for money from the end of his letters 
before his father "could read them, and later on, in order to keep his 
affairs running in exile, he borrowed large sums from his father, 
which he declared he was investing in a lumber mill. Old Dr. Mazzini 
was delighted to think that Joseph was settling down, and lent the 
money with pleasure. The son even victimized his English friends 
by raising money ostensibly for his workers' school, which he used 
for revolution. When he dealt with the Roman Assembly, these 
habits of a lifetime persisted. In his eagerness for the republic to 
go down in glory, he simply failed to tell the deputies that Ledru- 
Rollin's insurrection in Paris had failed so miserably that there was 
no longer any possible hope of help from the French republicans. 
Instead he read them private letters from friends in Paris which 
still sounded encouraging. 

As soon as the Assembly discovered what he was doing they re- 
belled. Not a single man supported his plea for a government in 
exile, and Mazzini resigned. Later on he admitted that he had had 
too much faith in the Assembly. He trusted them to be Roman- 
hearted, he said, without intellectual preparation from him. This 
was only a halfway confession, and one which shows that Mazzini 
would rather have told them more lies than less, anything to make 
defeat shine brightly. 

Garibaldi was of another temper, and said a republican never gave 
up. Therefore he offered to lead his legion out of Rome to Venice, 



which was still fighting for the republican cause. "I offer neither 
pay, nor quarters, nor provisions; I offer hunger, thirst, forced 
marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country in his 
heart and not with his lips only, follow me." 7 

On July 2, the night before the French troops were to enter the 
city, Garibaldi's men assembled in Vatican Square. Four thousand 
foot and 500 cavalry soldiers elected to follow him ; among them his 
wife Anita, pregnant five months, but dressed as a man in the uni- 
form of the legion; Ciceruacchio, who had found in Garibaldi a 
substitute for his earlier idol Pius ; Ugo Bassi, the chaplain, a liberal 
priest who knew Dante by heart, who had gone to Palermo in the 
height of the cholera epidemic to nurse the sick and console the 
dying, and who persuaded himself that the Catholic doctrine led 
straight to the republic. Garibaldi was ordinarily not fond of priests, 
but he succumbed to Bassi's charm and declared that their souls were 
like sisters. When Bassi joined the legion, the general sent him one 
of his own red shirts, which he wore with a cross on a silver chain, 
because, said Garibaldi, his men did not like black clothes. 

This little force moved with the agility which its leader had 
learned in South America, and neither the French nor Austrians 
could catch it. Garibaldi led his men to the Apennines, and there, 
abandoning their wagons for pack horses, they moved up to the 
crests, even carrying their dismantled cannon. Having no money 
they were forced to take what they needed from the countryside, but 
Garibaldi was capable of shooting a soldier that robbed a poor man's 
cottage. Instead their preferred source of supplies was monasteries. 

On the march Anita showed all her Latin temper. In a convent 
where she was billeted she refused to be served by monks, but made 
soldiers bring her food. In the towns, where women ogled her hand- 
some husband, she showed her ferocious jealousy. She was not in the 
least pretty herself, being brown, with irregular features. In South 
America she had forced her husband to cut off his beautiful golden 
hair because other women admired it too much, and on this march 
she flew into a rage if her Jose complimented a pretty girl. At times 
she chased deserters with a whip. 

Nevertheless, desertions thinned the band and the Austrians got 
closer as they reached the Adriatic, so when Garibaldi found himself 

7 Quoted from Trevelyan, op. tit., p. 229. 



near the independent little republic of San Marino he decided to cast 
himself on the citizens' mercy and disband his group in this neutral 
territory. Even while he was negotiating the enemy appeared, and 
Anita had to pull a rear guard together and defend the others until 
they had time to enter the tiny city-state, where they surrendered 
their arms. Then every man went off to seek his own home. 

Garibaldi, who could not stomach the idea of giving himself up, 
chose two hundred companions for a last effort to reach Venice by 
sea. First he begged Anita, who was feverish, to stay in San Marino, 
but all she would do was wail, "You want to leave me." There was 
nothing to do with such a woman but take her along. 

The party finally managed to push off in some small boats, but as 
Anita grew steadily worse, Garibaldi soon had to carry her ashore, 
wading through shallow water up the beach to a nearby farmhouse. 
There she died, refusing a priest, on August 4. The other men who 
had shared the leader's boat were caught by the Austrians and shot 
Ciceruacchio and his two young sons, and Ugo Bassi. To save 
Garibaldi himself, heartbroken but still determined, Italians made a 
chain which passed him along from hand to hand until he reached 
safety and could sail for New York. There is a legend about every 
one of his stopping places. 

Garibaldi's greatest days were still to come, but Mazzini's were 
over. He wandered for a few days in the streets of Rome to prove to 
the invaders that the people loved him and that he was no tyrant. 
Then he escaped with an American passport, but no French visa, on 
a boat to Marseilles. The story has it that at Leghorn his boat was 
searched, but the soldiers did not discover Mazzini washing dishes 
under a steward's cap. The rest of his life he passed in England, 
reiterating his old ideas. 

The French administration in Rome tried to be lenient but their 
example did not move the Pope any more than their precepts. Pius 
had done with amnesties and lay government, and came back the 
next year under an escort of foreign soldiers, after he had made 
sure that the French would not interfere with his free hand. From 
that time France kept troops in Rome, and Austria kept them in 
the rest of the papal states, until they were driven out by Victor 
Emmanuel twenty years later. 

Mazzini summed up the natural reaction of all liberals: "I feel 
from time to time emotions of rage rising within me at this triumph 



of brutal force, all throughout the world, over right and justice." 
He felt that even if the people reacted with daggers, it would be 
better than what the rulers were doing. "To have to struggle against 
feelings of hatred, for which we have not been born, is very sad." 8 

8 Eichards, Mazzlni's Letters to an English Family) p. 132. 



Venice: A Model Republic 

SOME time before 1848 a Venetian lawyer, Daniel Manin, decided to 
attack the Austrian rulers of his city on the subject of quarantine 
for cholera. There were two schools of opinion at the time, one that 
cholera was contagious and one that it was not ; and since most citi- 
zens of Venice clung obstinately to the opinion that it was conta- 
gious, the Austrians adopted the other doctrine out of perversity. 

Manin drew up a petition on the subject, pointing out that if 
there was any doubt on the subject the officials ought to act as if the 
possibility of contagion existed. His hope was that the terror in 
which his fellow-citizens held the disease would be strong enough to 
drive out their sickly fear of Austrian authority. He wanted to 
make his lesson in civic virtue easy, but he could not find a single 
man willing to risk his name by affixing it to a public petition. 

Yet if Austria had done well by any city in the Empire, that city 
was Venice. It had first come under the Hapsburgs when Napoleon 
had traded it off for Hapsburg territory on the Rhine, and when the 
treaty of 1815 stabilized boundaries, Vienna was very glad to keep 
this part of the bargain. Venice was the key to the Mediterranean, 
and likewise to the passes in the Alps which gave routes for Germanic 
drives to east and south. Even the gentlemen in the Frankfurt par- 
liament of 1848 recognized the propriety of Venice as a German 
city. Austria showed that she knew this elementary fact when she 
indicated to Charles Albert that she might be willing to negotiate 
for the separation of Lombardy from the Empire, but Venice she 
must and would hold. 

After 1815 the Austrians busily improved the harbor with huge 
breakwaters to keep off the storms that swept up the Adriatic, and 
with deeper channels for ocean-going boats through the shallow 
sands. Once more the ancient arsenal, long almost deserted, came 
alive. A two-mile railroad bridge, finished in 1845, gave the island 
city its first direct contact with terra firma. French engineers were 
summoned to install gas lights in the city, and to dig artesian wells 



to provide the city with its first drinkable water other than rain. 
Many of these were works a small city-state could not have afforded. 
Economically, Venice needed Austria as much as Austria needed 

Another sign of progress in the city was the new steam flour mill, 
instigated by the Swedish consul, which could grind three hundred 
sacks of flour every day. Lack of horsepower on the islands, and of 
windmills, had previously required all flour to be imported. The 
steam mill was installed in a huge unused church. Stones from the 
cloister were used to remodel the church, and the tower made a fine 
chimney even though the black clouds of smoke coming out looked 
anachronous. Grain was brought to the door by boat, hoisted to the 
top of the building, and then allowed to fall of its own weight 
through three grindings right into sacks at the bottom, the 40-horse- 
power steam engine simultaneously pumping water, grinding the 
flour and moving the sacks along. Only one boiler was used at a time, 
for after boiling seawater for three days each boiler had to be 
cleaned of salt. 

At this period Venice proper contained 125,000 citizens, and 
more lived on outlying islands. The city was the neatest in Europe, 
for no horses could be used in a city of gondolas and high-stepped 
bridges, and the gentle Mediterranean tides cleaned the town almost 
automatically. Even St. Mark's Square was washed off occasionally 
when the sirocco winds pushed an inch of water over it. 

The Square was lined with coffee houses which served an unusually 
democratic assortment of citizens nobles, merchants, literary men, 
French engineers met there on equal terms to eat ices, listen to the 
Austrian band concerts and watch the unique spectacle of ladies in 
ball gowns going on foot to their parties. 

From the point of view of the rest of Italy, Venice was certainly 
not alien but at least a corner of the country relatively untouched 
by ferment. Manin, who was to lead the Venetian revolution, had 
never before 1848 read a single word of Mazzini's widely spread 
polemics, although he had followed d'Azeglio's career with interest. 
Venetia was a commercial province, not only ignorant of Mazzini's 
social dogma but lacking the high-spirited nobility of the Lombards, 
hanging on a word from Charles Albert, and without the passionate 
religious interest which made Romans hang on a word from their 



Pope. Venice was indeed so out of touch with the rest of Italy that 
the men who steered Italian scientific congresses deliberately planned 
that the meeting of 1847 should be held there in order to stir up na- 
tional feeling. 

This trick worked very well. The presence of hundreds of dis- 
tinguished Italians in their city made Venetians suddenly aware 
how their countrymen were awakening. A particular sensation came 
when the Prince of Canino paraded the streets in the uniform of the 
just established civic guard of Rome. 

Manin, naturally, found in the congress a magnificent chance 
to spread the doctrine which he had decided made the subtlest at- 
tack, namely, that Austrian laws were good (having been set out in 
the more liberal days of 1815) but that Austrian officials did not 
live up to them. 

Mauin had been asked to prepare a report on charitable institu- 
tions for the congress, and he took the occasion to remark that the 
laws of Venice were the best in Italy. Everyone sat up, including 
the governor, who looked pleased ; a moment later his face fell when 
Manin went on to explain that they were never enforced. Under the 
terms of the law, he said, a man has a right to come and ask for work, 
every time he needs to, and it is supposed to be given him without 
prejudice to his character or prospects. Yet actually a man out of 
work needs a police certificate before he can receive aid, and then 
what he gets is to be thrown into an institution from which there is 
no way out. 

The prize exhibit which Manin dug up in his investigation was 
a certain Padovini, who was confined to an insane asylum though he 
was perfectly sane. Padovini had been an orphan, apprenticed to a 
tailor until his eyes became too bad for him to work. Not blind 
enough for charity, not strong enough for heavy outdoor work, not 
old enough for the old folks' home, he could get no help from any 
agency and began to beg. When this was forbidden him, he raised a 
frenzied placard saying, "Shame on a government that lets an 
honest workman starve." For this action he was carried off to an 
asylum. Once he escaped and made his way as far as Milan, where 
a kind tailor gave him work but since he had no passport he could 
not stay, and eventually had to give himself up and go back to the 

Manin's efforts to have the man turned loose succeeded, and after 



the revolution the man came and thanked him; but for the time 
being it seemed as if Manin's reward would be the application of the 
governor's remark, that Manin ought to be stuck in the asylum in 
Padovini's place. At least he was soon to land in prison. 

When the panic of 1847 hit Venice, the tourist trade was dis- 
couraged, no one bought presents for ladies any more, and unem- 
ployment rose in spite of heroic efforts by some employers to keep 
their workers busy. Perhaps these facts helped turn the mind of 
Venice away from Austrian blessings toward the remarkable benefits 
which other Italian subjects seemed to be reaping. They were spe- 
cially stirred when they heard that Nazari had petitioned the Lom- 
bard congregations for reforms. 

Manin could not bear it if the Venetian congregations did not 
follow suit, and he implored a friend of his who was a member to get 
similar action. But the friend refused. Convinced that someone had 
to act immediately, Manin himself then wrote a public letter to the 
Venetian body. It took more courage for him even than for Nazari, 
for Nazari was a member of his congregation with a right to speak, 
and he had the assured backing of Milan's nobility. There was no 
nobility in Venice, and the circumstances of Mania's personal life 
would have made it much harder for him to flee if it should become 

Whether Manin believed that in its increasing distress the Aus- 
trian government would be ready to listen to reason or whether he 
thought that this was the way to expose its unreasonableness, Manin 
drew up his indictment in terms of touching loyalty. It would be im- 
pious to suppose, he said, that the imperial government should give 
its people sham rights. Rather let the congregations blame them- 
selves that they had never fulfilled their duty of letting the admin- 
istration know how unhappy the people were. 

Manin's hope at this time was that the Venetian provinces might 
win a separate administration like Hungary's, with an Italian army 
and a constitutional viceroy who would guarantee the usual liberal 
rights of jury trial, free press, and a civic guard. 

As news of Manin's gratuitous advice reached the Austrian au- 
thorities, they were anything but pleased. Since all their training led 
toward suspicion rather than generosity, they could not believe that 
all of Manin's activity was in the open ; and they rushed to arrest 
him, in January 1848, with the expectation of finding proofs of 



secret conspiracy. Manin was in bed when the police arrived; he 
begged their pardon for rising and dressing in their presence, and 
then, as they fumbled through his desk, he directed them to the 
papers they would find most interesting. Meanwhile Manin's wife 
served coffee, which the officials drank shamefacedly before they 
took Manin away in a covered gondola. His sang-froid never failed 
him, though he had to clench his fists to control himself when a 
guard put hands into his pockets. 

Later on when Manin became president of Venice he was able to 
1-ead the testimony of his trial, which of course was conducted in 
secret. He was touched to find that not only his friends, but even 
his political enemies swore that he was honest, brave, patriotic, and 
devoted to duty; and that if he were to be jailed, he was no more 
guilty than they themselves, though they had often differed. There 
was in fact no evidence to condemn him ; nevertheless his judge had 
received strict orders from the governor not to let him go, so he 
was kept in prison while his case was carried to Vienna. Manin 
himself expected to be freed any day; meanwhile he used his time 
in prison, his first free moments in years, to think about Italy, its 
unification, and the place Venice might hold in it. 

Though he was kept in jail on the charge that he disturbed public 
opinion, his imprisonment disturbed public opinion more drastically 
than anything he had ever said. When the people found out where 
his cell was, it became a custom for men to take off their hats as 
they passed by in the street. At the same time offers of help poured 
in on his family, which had been dependent on his daily work. 
Lawyers in the city divided out his work, and a prosperous tailor 
named Toffoli put his entire substance at the disposal of Signora 
Manin and her two children. 

News of the Milan tobacco riots did nothing to quiet the Venetian 
population. By common understanding they gave up the carnival 
that year to send money to Milan's wounded. Women no longer 
dressed up, men wore informal black gloves instead of formal white 
ones, except for one famous performance at the theater when a 
dancer danced the Sicilienne just after the kingdom of Naples gave 
a constitution to Sicily. On that occasion a red, a green, and a white 
bouquet were hurled at the performer. When she picked them up 
together, the house rang with applause. 



The stupid Austrians could think of nothing better than to forbid 
green, red, and white bouquets. At the next performance, the dancer 
was pelted with Austrian black-and-yellow bouquets and received an 
equal ovation when she scornfully refused to touch them. 

In church as well as in the theater Venetians found their national 
feelings quickening. In March a priest dared to tell them that love 
for Italy was rising to new life "pure as morning light, warm as 
summer sun, fruitful as dew . . . impatient as love." 

On March 17 an Austrian Lloyd steamer, bearing the Vienna 
mails, sailed into Venice from Trieste. Even before the mail could 
be carried ashore a French businessman on board leaned over the 
side of the boat and shouted to the gondolas which had swarmed out 
to meet it that there had been a revolution in Vienna. The gondolas 
sped back into town with the news, so that before the governor 
knew what had happened people began hurrying from the small 
crooked alleys, up and down the high bridges, toward the great 
square in front of St. Mark's. When soldiers blocked the Bialto 
bridge across the Grand Canal, gondolas arranged themselves in- 
stantly to make a bridge of boats for the crowd to pass over. 

As the people swept past Manin's prison they set up a cry to free 
him, and soon they overran the prison and unlocked Manin's cell. 
Manin had no idea what had happened, but, always a legalist, he 
refused to leave his cell until he had received a signed release from 
the judge. He was still disheveled when this arrived; his admirers 
carried him out to the great square with a boot on one foot and a 
slipper on the other, and demanded an oration. He had to begin 
by confessing that he did not know how he happened to be freed; 
what he did know was that this moment must be seized, so he went on 
like Lincoln to tell the people that there were times when insurrection 
was not only a right but a duty. 

This was too much for Count PaliFy, the governor, who had been 
looking forward to being the first constitutional governor of Venice. 
He listened benignly to Manin's speech until he heard about the 
insurrection. Then he remembered who he was and suddenly banged 
his window shut. 

Manin was carried home to his adoring family while Venice gave 
itself over to rejoicing. People embraced. They even embraced Aus- 
trians, for Manin had told them all races were their brothers. Yet 
already they were thinking as Italians. A poor boy had only to 



shout "Evviva 1'Italia" for a rich, man to throw him a coin, and 
within two hours the cafes around the square had changed their 
names from royal ones to Cafe Manin, or L'ltalia. The greatest 
miracle of all was to look up and see Italian tricolors floating high 
on the three great flagpoles in front of St. Mark's. Soldiers came to 
clear the square and haul down the banners, the mob fled into cafes, 
breaking glass tables and mirrors. But whenever they looked up, 
there on the central mast still waved the flag of Italy. An Italian 
sailor had cut the cords so that all that day the Austrians could 
not get the reproachful tricolor down. As night fell, St. Mark's 
bell began to peal, without Austrian sanction, and well into the 
night it carried to the shimmering Adriatic with its foreign ships, 
and over the monuments of Venice's proud history, the recollection 
of her greatness. 

The first thought in Manin's busy mind during that day and the 
next was that Venice must have a civic guard. An armed people, in 
Venice as in Vienna, would have a guarantee that they could keep 
their rights. Part of Manin's alarm came from the fear that the 
proletariat would get out of hand. He expected frankly that they 
would have to be kept down, and he thought it would better be by 
Italian arms than by Austrian. 

The government's first instinct was to refuse the guard, but as 
commotion increased, the administration, which could not keep 
Manin in prison nor even haul down a flag, naturally found they 
could not keep arms from the citizens. On March 19 Palffy said two 
hundred citizens might make a civic guard. By five that evening 
three thousand guards had wound around their arms white scarves, 
sewed up by their womenfolk of handkerchiefs or towels, and were 
patrolling the streets. 

Everyone in Venice was happy during the next few days except 
Manin. No one seemed to feel that there was any more work to be 
done, and Manin could not get even his best friends to agree with 
him on a next step. He refused to go into the new city government 
which the Austrians sanctioned because he wanted to have a free 
hand. Should his party raise the cry "Viva la Repubblica" or "Viva 
Rainier"? he asked his friends. Rainier was the Hapsburg viceroy 
who might be installed as a constitutional king. Having posed this 
question, Manin went off to sleep for an hour, leaving his friends 
to argue. They woke him up to tell him that they favored Rainier. 



In complete anguish Manin sent them away, not willing that they 
should know he would go ahead with plans for a republic anyway ; 
and as he lay still there came to him like a revelation, "Viva San 
Marco." Venetians would follow the cry of St. Mark. Their history 
lay in it, and Manin was filled with a new confidence. 

His plan was a bold one, to capture the arsenal. If he had the 
arsenal for the people, it would be easy to expel the foreigners, 
whereas if it stayed in Austrian hands Manin believed that the 
enemy could use it to bombard the city. He had thought about this 
problem a great deal, and in times past had teasingly drawn opinions 
from his military friends on the tactics to be used. 

On March 22, when these thoughts were already in his mind, 
news came to him that Colonel Marinovich, the head of the arsenal, 
had been murdered. To Manin this news meant anarchy, unless the 
civic guard could use the arms in the arsenal and take over the 
protection of the city and there was not a moment to be lost. 

Marinovich was the only Austrian in Venice who would have been 
capable of handling the Venetians. Though he was vastly unpopular 
he had rare efficiency. Before he took command of the arsenal, 
workers there used to take home something each day from their job 
everything from kindling to cook their polenta to furniture for 
their houses. Under Marinovich's rule, the windows were barred and 
each employee was searched as he left work a process which took 
an hour's time after the regular working hours were over. If some- 
thing was found on a man he was not only discharged but black- 
listed from employment in other jobs. Add to this the fact that 
Marinovich reduced wages while granting himself a higher salary, 
and it is possible to see why the arsenal workers were glad to murder 

The last service which he was able to give to his emperor showed 
his energy and practical judgment. Foreseeing trouble, he had 
arranged for the Venetian fleet to be sent across the Adriatic to 

On the fatal 22nd of March this iron officer, after being once 
rescued from the mob, determined to go back to his office, and was 
set upon again and killed. 

Manin was by himself when he heard the news, and he set out 
alone to save the situation with hardly a hope of coming back alive. 
He left his house with his sixteen-year-old son beside him and began 



to walk toward the arsenal, calling to civic guards as he passed to 
follow him. They all obeyed, and he arrived at the arsenal door with 
quite an array of men, who easily forced the gate and filtered in- 
side. The under ofiicials were too demoralized to resist Mania's 
demand, first for cannon to be turned over to the civic guard ; then 
for the bell to summon the workers, whom Manin harangued; and 
lastly to open the supply of arms to the citizens. 

While Manin was winning the arsenal, a friend of his took over 
St. Mark's Square. He managed this coup by persuading the Italian 
soldiers in the military guard to disarm their Austrian officers, and 
then to turn the cannon around so that they pointed not at the 
people but at the windows of the governor's palace. 

With Palffy thus a prisoner, the city council which Manin had 
scorned to join took courage from his example and demanded that 
the Austrians get out. Palffy, cowed by cannon and touched by 
memories of his beautiful Milanese mistress, resigned his power to 
the military governor, Count Zichy. For this defection Palffy later 
served ten years as prisoner in a fortress. 

The Venetians then faced Zichy with their terms. He was to leave 
affairs in the hands of a civil government of Italians, remove all 
non-Italian troops, deposit their arms inside the city, and leave with 
all his officers for Trieste by sea. 

Zichy replied, "This will mean war." 

"Let us have war, then." 

"I'll lose my head," said the poor count. 

"More heads than yours are at stake," said the inflexible Italians. 

Maniii was not present at this conference, but he shortly ap- 
peared in the square, on his way back from the arsenal, and he 
climbed up on a table and spoke to the mob. He was a small and 
sickly man, dressed in a black frock coat, but he had lightning, they 
said, behind his spectacles and thunder in his voice. He urged his 
fellow-citizens, now that they were free, to form a republic and 
thus save themselves the trouble of a second revolution later on. Nor, 
he took trouble to assure them, would a republic separate them from 
the rest of Italy; rather their city would become one of those 
centers around which the rest of Italy could gather. This was the 
moment when he launched his cry, "Viva San Marco." 

The magic that Manin had expected was indeed in those words. 



Boys ran up and down the town tearing off every sign of Austrian 
dominion; even the little metal signs that marked houses insured 
against fire fell by hundreds into the canal because they bore a 
double eagle. 

Manin was so popular that if the city council had not offered him 
power, the fishermen and gondoliers would have forced it upon him. 
On March 23 he moved into the governor's palace and set up his 
government. He had several able friends beside him in office, among 
them the good tailor Toffoli who had succored his family when he 
was in prison, and who played in Venice the same part that Albert, 
the worker, played in Paris. 

Someone asked Manin whether he wanted to be Doge of Venice. 
"Doge?" he said. "No. My aim is far higher. It is so high I hardly 
dare tell it to myself Washington I" 1 

Meanwhile one dreadful mistake had been made before Manin 
took office. The new government wanted the Venetian fleet back from 
Pola, where Marinovich's prescience had sent it. Almost all the 
sailors were Venetians and would have been loyal to the republic. 
Thus orders were made ready for its return, and entrusted to the 
captain of the Lloyd steamer, who was instructed to stop at Pola 
and deliver them before he landed at Trieste. 

By bad planning this was the same ship on which Count Palffy 
and his staff left town. In the middle of the voyage the Austrian 
passengers waited upon the captain and told him that he would be 
disloyal to his Austrian owners if he went to Pola. The captain was 
in great distress, for he knew he could never enter Venice again if 
he disobeyed the Venetian government, but he found himself power- 
less for other passengers appealed to the engineer, "an honor- 
able Englishman" like most engineers throughout Europe in those 
days, and persuaded him to shut off the engines if the boat went off 
its ordinary course. The boat accordingly went on to Trieste, and 
since this was one of the most loyal cities in the Empire, men were 
soon found to take over the fleet and prevent its returning to 
Venice. This event was to prove tragic for the newborn republic. 

Manin, however, never worried quite as much as he should about 
the navy, the use of the few boats left in Venice, or the construction 
of more. The coup at the arsenal was a tour de force on the part of 

1 Manin, i, 153. 



a man whose genius was not military but political. As his republic 
took shape he showed the Venetians the kind of a state he believed 
they should create, not like Mazzini out of bravado, but in the 
ordinary course of solving practical political problems as they arose. 

Manin's first efforts were to make Venice into a free state. He 
himself was the son of a converted Jew, and was therefore partic- 
ularly happy to be able to institute complete civil and religious free- 
dom for all groups in the city. Being a lawyer, he at once reformed 
justice so there could be no more secret trials like the one he had 
just been through. He abolished corporal punishment in schools, for 
Austrian schools had relied on the rod almost as much as the Aus- 
trian army, even in the case of girls; and he ordered teachers to 
emphasize Italian history. 

For the working class, for the arsenal workers, the tailors like 
Toffoli, the fishermen, the government lowered the salt tax the 
same measure which in Rome and Turin had been the sign of a 
new government's good intentions. 

Among the democrats of 1848, Manin was an exception. He was 
the only leader who wanted to be the servant of the people. Mazzini, 
Kossuth, Louis Blanc all manipulated the people who raised them 
to power. Manin had the power but not the desire to manipulate 
them. Several times he forced the Assembly to decide a course of 
action, after he presented the facts, at moments when they would 
have been quite willing to leave things up to him. He was so anxious 
to give even the common people a political education that he him- 
self took time before the elections of January 1849 to visit factories 
and wharves, exchanging ideas with the workers. But when these 
same workers crowded around him to give him an ovation he would 
send them home with disdain. At one point the loyal workers heard 
that the Assembly was not supporting Manin, so they formed a 
mob to invade the chamber and force it to do Manin's will. On this 
occasion Manin met them at the door with a drawn sword, and the 
words that they might pass into the Assembly only over his dead 
body. No other figure of 1848 who wielded power so capably laid 
it down so gladly. 

As the Piedmont army chased Radetzky across Lombardy, Ve- 
netians felt the same call as other Italians to help. For a while they 
forgot Manin in their enthusiasm. A day after the Assembly which 
Manin's government had called into being met, on July 4, 1848, they 



voted to merge Venetia into Charles Albert's dominions, just like 
Lombardy. This move, said the famous republican poet Tommaseo, 
was like a woman's offering her honor to a man who saved her life 
without its being demanded of her. Manin, too, felt grieved for his 
three-month-old republic, but he rose in the Assembly (having 
sternly warned his family not to attend the session if they could not 
control their emotions) to ask his party to obey the majority will. 
In March all wanted the republic, he said ; now all do not want it. 
This is a fact. It is also a fact that the enemy is at our doors. I 
demand from my party, said Manin, from the generous republican 
party, the sacrifice of giving up their wishes. Let them not worry, 
for the future would belong to them; let them wait for the all- 
Italian Assembly at Rome. 

Next day Manin resigned from the government he urged his fol- 
lowers to vote for. "I am a republican," he said simply. And he 
retired to private life, to the law, and to his patrol duties as a 
private in the civic guard. 

On August 7, 1848, royal commissioners arrived from Turin to 
take over Venice in the name of His Majesty Charles Albert. 

The document had hardly been signed when news spread that 
Charles Albert was fleeing toward his original frontier, abandoning 
Milan to Radetzky. Venice was in a panic that the same fate might 
befall her, and in their trouble the citizens began to yell for Manin 
again. The unfortunate commissioners stated that they would rather 
be torn limb from limb than give the city back to the Austrians. 
These words were vain to a crowd passing the word "traitor" from 
mouth to mouth about the King, and only Manin could quiet them. 
Like a deus ex machlna he appeared on the balcony, with the promise 
that within forty-eight hours the Assembly would meet to elect a 
new government. "Until then," said Manin, "I will govern." 

He showed his energy at once by sending detachments of the 
civic guard out to defend the forts along the mainland coast, and 
by sending men to Paris to beg the help of the French Republic. 

Not unnaturally the Assembly, when it met two days later, wished 
Manin to continue his dictatorship, but this he was unwilling to do. 
He would, however, he said, consent to be a member of a triumvirate, 
especially if the other members could be men more skilled than he 
in military science. So they gave him a military and a naval aide. 

Manin's reward, and his first moment of real happiness since 



March, came when the Assembly roundly turned down the sur- 
render terms proffered by the Austrians. He was proud of his peo- 
ple, and he noted that gaiety had appeared again upon the faces 
of all his fellow-citizens. 

Though he was the epitome of a democrat, the few occasions on 
which Manin used his dictatorial power were to keep the doctrines 
which in his opinion had ruined republican Prance safely away 
from his beloved Venice. Thus he sent out of the city a certain rev- 
olutionary priest. Father Gavazzi, who preached a Christian com- 
munism far too radical for any man who, like Manin, wanted to get 
things done. Manin's letter to Gavazzi was kind, but firm, stating 
that he knew how easy it was for uneducated artisans to be seduced 
by theories, and now, when every single citizen was needed to help 
win the war, he could not run the risk of a division among classes. 

All during the winter of 1848-1849, until after the battle of 
Novara in March, the city of Venice was blockaded by the Austrian 
navy but not otherwise attacked. The Venetian terra firma had long 
since been reconquered by Austria. At first even the blockade 
weighed lightly. Three Austrian frigates were posted in front of 
the three channels leading from the open sea through the sandbars 
into the city, claiming as prizes of war not only munitions, but 
cloth, leather, or provisions. 

About this time Prince Schwarzenberg summoned the American 
Charge d' Affaires, William Stiles, to his palace in Vienna and be- 
rated him about a rumor that an American frigate had made its 
way into Venice carrying supplies. The Prince went on to say that 
the imperial navy had orders to sink any ship that did so again. 
Stiles remarked coolly that although the message was rather ir- 
regular, he believed he was at liberty to tell the Austrian govern- 
ment that they could sink an American ship when and if they could 
catch her. 

Blockade-running was easy for a while, and most Venetians as- 
sumed that their city could never be conquered. Manin, seeing 
harder times ahead, laid in all the supplies of wheat and corn he 
could afford, though not as much as he would have liked because he 
could never get the city's finances into shape. 

Lack of cash was not the fault of anyone in Venice ; in fact, it 
was the glory of the city that rich capitalists seemed as eager to 



give their substance as the poor. A group of millionaires backed an 
issue of paper money to the tune of four million florins, and the 
people, who had never been willing to touch Austrian paper, cheer- 
fully accepted this. Everyone contributed what he could. Thus the 
theaters pooled their profits to buy a ship. As for Manin himself, 
he gave up all he had variously stated as a silver snuffbox, or as 
two silver dishes, two coffee pots, and a dozen forks and spoons 
in either case a sign of the simplicity of his life. General Guglielmo 
Pepe, the military commander, gave a canvas attributed (though 
erroneously) to Leonardo, an offering which the republic was too 
grateful to sell ; however, they pledged the ducal palace for a foreign 

But since Venice was not economically self-sufficient, none of these 
efforts could make her so. 

After the battle of Novara ended all Italian hopes in the north 
of Italy, the Venetians, summoned to surrender, again refused all 
terms, and it became the fashion to wear red ribbons as a sign of 
resistance at all costs. Manin would not wear one because he dis- 
liked such outward and visible marks, but in his heart he was proud 
of his people, and he spurred on the last works of defense in prepara- 
tion for the enemy. In the month of March 1849, Manin accepted 
the title of president from the Venetian republic. 

Venice was defended by 21,000 soldiers, two-thirds of them native, 
and most of the rest volunteers from other parts of Italy. General 
Pepe, commanding, had disobeyed orders from his sovereign, the 
King of Naples, in order to get to Venice. Ferdinand of Naples 
had been caught up like other Italian rulers in the rush to send 
troops to Milan after the Five Days. By the time they reached 
Lonibardy, Ferdinand repented and sent orders to Pepe to with- 
draw, whereupon Pepe took his staff and the few troops who would 
follow him to Venice, where they could still fight for their con- 

Venice also recruited in Switzerland in the early days of the rev- 
olution. Swiss law forbade Swiss citizens to join foreign armies, so 
the recruiting had to be done with one eye on the police ; yet senti- 
ments for a free Italy were so strong that many of the police also 
closed one eye. They knew too that many Swiss citizens needed 
the fifty-franc enlistment bonus, having looked for work a long time 
after the depression of 1847. Recruiting was for two years, with a 



franc a day pay, very high for soldiers ; bread, quarters, uniforms, 
and arms were free, and a pension was to be given the disabled. 
The Swiss company at Venice was small but active and devoted, and 
far steadier than the velvet-clad university battalion, who showed 
courage but not endurance, who constantly complained of fatigue 
professional soldiers would not notice, and who, by disobedience to 
the officers they had elected, had a bad effect on the morale of other 

By April nearly the whole population was engaged in some sort of 
defense work. Three times as many men were employed at the 
arsenal as had been under Austria ; 2,300 worked there, not only 
in the daytime but also overtime for no extra pay. In the same 
way sailors began to work at night to build boats, to make up be- 
latedly and in small measure for the lost fleet at Pola. People noticed 
how eagerly they invented tools and devised ways to make their 
work easier and quicker. Two 48-pound guns were manufactured in 
the city, but most of their cannon were 18 or 24-pounders. In order 
to have powder to charge them, the government offered rewards 
for deposits of saltpeter which could be recovered out of old casks, 
or stables. They also encouraged little boats to set out during squalls 
to bring in provisions from the mainland. Women nursed and made 
bandages; even the highest-born ladies visited the army hospitals 
distributing oranges. As for the really rich, their money was al- 
ternately coaxed and forced out of them and even the poorest realized 
that the wealthy had given till it hurt. 

None of this island activity disturbed the Austrians as they 
began pushing earthworks in a long line just beyond the effective 
range of the cannon of Fort Malghera, which protected the land 
end of the great railroad bridge and which was the only piece of 
terra firma still controlled by the Venetians. Six thousand Aus- 
trians worked to dig the trenches, protecting themselves by throwing 
earth in a high mound between them and the fortress. They worked 
night and day, often waist-deep in the marshy water. Baffled when 
their cannon could neither hit the mark nor draw fire in return, 
the garrison at Malghera insisted on making constant sorties, and 
when their commanding officer tried to stop these as being too waste- 
ful, anger against him ran so high that he had to be retired and 
given refuge on a French warship. 

On May 4 the Austrians' purpose was revealed as they unmasked 



four batteries and opened fire with a vengeance. Explosive missiles 
fell inside the fortress all that night at the rate of one a minute. 
One shattered the china in the cupboard, another cut the chain of 
the drawbridge. By the next day Radetzky was confident the 
fortress would be softened up for surrender ; three archdukes waited 
hopefully in his camp to enter the place as the surrender terms were 
handed to the Venetians. Characteristically the letter was left un- 
sealed, with the idea that the garrison would be seduced by the offer 
before it could be handed to Manin. During the interval of the truce 
the Austrians pushed up a second line of earthworks, half as far 
from the fortress as the first. When, to the besiegers' surprise, the 
Venetians refused to give up, Radetzky was ready to let go a rain 
of fire such as had hardly been seen in military history up to that 

Across the water the citizens of Venice used to gather night after 
night to see the illuminating fusees, held in the air by parachutes, 
light up the fortress as bright as day. As for the 2,500 members of 
the Malghera garrison, there was never a moment's rest for them, 
even in their supposedly bombproof barracks. Whenever the flash 
of an enemy mortar was seen a bell rang which gave the inmates a 
moment to take cover. Between times they fired their own guns 74 
cannon and 16 mortars though so much of the fortification was 
destroyed that they were often completely exposed in this service. 
The archdukes grew tired of waiting and went home; one-third of 
the besiegers were casualties, often to malaria; yet still the fire 
increased, until on May 24 it reached a climax with 30,000 pro- 
jectiles fired by the two sides in one day. 

With a fifth of the garrison wounded and the fortress being 
slowly demolished, the Venetians decided the time had come to 
evacuate. They made their preparations with great secrecy, so that 
some of the soldiers led out between dusk and midnight on May 25 
did not realize where they were going until they were ordered into 
boats. Cannon were equipped with slow matches, so that they kept 
on firing for three hours after the last man had left ; and the powder 
magazine was booby-trapped so that inquisitive Austrians handling 
the abandoned guns set it off and killed themselves. 

Years later it was said that any Austrian officer, except for 
Haynau, would uncover his head if he heard the words, "That man 
was one of the defenders of Malghera." 



As they withdrew to Venice, the defenders blew up five arches of 
the railroad bridge so that no hostile army could march toward 
them. Once more Venice, wrapped in her primeval lagoons, felt 
secure, and on May 31 the Assembly voted again to carry on re- 
sistance at all costs. The Venetian sentry showed the common will 
for independence when he refused to accept an Austrian dispatch 
curtly addressed to "Lawyer Manin." 

After about May 20 the blackade became so tight that the only 
news entering the city came through dispatches to foreign consuls. 
No more food could run the blockade, though etiquette allowed 
foreign ships to donate a part of their medical supplies to the 
hospitals of the city. Anger ran high against a French captain who 
refused to give up any of his ice for this purpose. 

The city fell back upon the supply of grain which Manin had 
laid in, but the single steam mill, working day and night, could 
hardly grind it into flour fast enough to feed the population. Its 
work was made harder, though never quite stopped, by the 22 shells 
that fell in and around the mill after the Austrian bombardment 
began. When the regular engine had to stop for repairs, the Vene- 
tians moved in a locomotive from the railroad station ; and to sup- 
plement steam power they distributed hand flour mills free to any 
women who would use them. As a matter of fact, said the notice of 
this offer, it will be a good thing for these women to have something 
to keep them decently at home instead of out on the streets all day. 

Venetians could still remember the siege of 1814, when rolls went 
from one sou to ten francs apiece, and rich ladies who had private 
hoards of food distributed it on the streets as a charity, though not 
in sufficient quantity to prevent some people from starving. Manin 
was determined to prevent anything like this from happening again, 
so as a first step, at the end of May he forbade food prices to 
rise above what they had been in the few days before this decree. To 
conserve wheat and corn he ordered that they must be mixed half and 
half with rye, and as the shortage grew worse the proportion 
changed. Only hospitals had white bread at the end of the siege, and 
all wine was reserved for convalescents. Bread was the only food 
for most people ; even fish was hard to get, for the fishermen's boats 
could not be protected. Practically the only meat of the summer 
came from one successful raid on the mainland which netted 100 
oxen; this news was of such transcendent importance that a per- 



formance of William Tell at the opera was interrupted to spread it. 

In June food riots were suppressed ; Manin convinced the people 
that he did not have secret hoards of foods, as the rioters shouted. 
After this it became extremely bad form for anyone at all to admit 
that he was hungry. 

By July 23 still tighter controls were urgent, so food ration cards 
were given out. The cards were good for two weeks, but each family 
could buy only one day's supply at a time to prevent hoarding by 
those who had money. 

Thus Venice, empty-stomached but gay, went to bed on the night 
of July 29. The winged lion of St. Mark's slept in darkness, the 
colonnades and the gold and azure walls were invisible; only two 
small lights burned in front of the mosaic madonna. Then in one 
moment the horizon become alight and a stream of bombshells fell 
into the city. People poured out of their houses, partly in dismay, 
for they had believed they were out of range of the enemy's heaviest 
artillery, and partly in amazement at the beauty of the scene, as the 
water reflected the trajectories of balls and rockets. 

Military engineers had long known that if they could fire at a 
higher angle they could shoot farther, but found if they simply 
sunk the rear end of mobile gun carriages in the earth the recoil 
proved too destructive. This time the Austrians, firing from Fort 
Malghera, dismounted their guns and arranged them on heavy beds 
of timber, put nine pounds of powder behind a 24-pound ball, 
elevated the barrels to 45 degrees, and had the satisfaction of reach- 
ing Venice, a more distant mark than was ever hit before, three and 
a half miles away. Even so the guns upset with every discharge. 

Various other military problems were not quite solved. For in- 
stance, fuses on the shells had been calculated for a shorter dis- 
tance, so they often exploded before they reached their mark. And 
it was found that red-hot balls, intended to cause fires, fell mostly 
into the water, far short of unheated ones. Also, when the balls 
reached the city their force was spent, so they fell merely with their 
own weight. The British consul was lying in bed on his back when 
a ball fell through his roof and passed between his legs without 
causing more than bruises. This was one of 25,000 projectiles that 
reached the city between July 29 and August 22. 

Venetian powder, mostly homemade, was so weak the defenders 
could not hope to return the fire. They could shoot only a mile. 



People soon began to laugh at this effort to subdue them. "What 
lovely oranges," they would say, or, "Radetzky is throwing us alms." 
Boys chased the balls and turned them in to the depots as a patriotic 
offering; it was considered bad form to collect the franc which was 
the official reward. 

To the authorities, mere cheerfulness did not solve the problems 
of housing the refugees from the half of the islands under fire. 
Firemen had to be exempted from the civic guard because they 
were so constantly on duty there were thirty-six huge fires caused 
by the bombardment. Manin ordered the ducal palace to be opened 
for people to sleep in, and shortly commanded the inhabitants of 
the untouchable part of the city to take in families from the other 
end whether they knew the people or not. An Assembly committee 
devoted full time to providing bread, work, and shelter for the 

Long-range bombing did not exhaust Austrian ingenuity. In 
August a rumor reached the Venetians that they were going to be 
attacked by balloons an idea which struck them as supremely ri- 
diculous. For days beforehand they laughed about the matter 
and then, indeed, one day the enemy launched a hundred bomb- 
carrying balloons. They were supposed to discharge over the harbor 
and set the boats afire, but the wind changed, blowing them off into 
the lagoons and even back toward the Austrian lines. That was the 
end of aerial warfare in those days. A further Austrian project of 
25-foot balloons to be attached to a long copper wire, so that they 
could be detonated electrically, was never put into practice. 

After famine and after bombardment came cholera. It struck 
a city crowded with soldiers and refugees, one without provisions, 
medicine, or hospital space. In the week of August 16, 1,500 people 
died of the disease; two-thirds of those stricken. (The epidemic 
persisted for a week after the surrender, until a huge cold rain 
stopped it on August 29 as if by magic.) 

Hospital conditions, in spite of the wine and white bread and 
beautiful ladies, had never been good in Venice. The Swiss soldiers 
complained that the rooms were smelly and dirty, that the doctors 
carried on bleedings with unnecessary brutality, that the beds were 
mere pallets of straw. Most soldiers contracted malaria at one time 
or another during the siege, so that even before the cholera struck 
the hospitals were full. They received 424 wounded during the six 



weeks after the fall of Malghera, of whom 55 died, 250 were cured, 
and 117 were still under treatment when the count was made. 

Well into this frightful August the Venetian people were un- 
daunted, indeed so eager to fight that they hurled violence on anyone 
who suggested capitulation. Nevertheless, on the 6th the Assembly 
gave Manin power to treat. It seemed to him the thing to do, though 
he made a heartbroken, offer to turn over his office to- any man or 
group who still believed they could save the city. 

The next day a group of die-hards gathered around the govern- 
ment palace crying "Away with Manin," and yelling that what the 
city needed was mass conscription. Calmly Manin descended from 
his inevitable balcony onto the street, where he ordered a table to 
be brought to him. Then he reminded his hot-blooded critics that 
enlistment rolls were always open, and he urged them to sign up. 
The hot blood chilled rapidly, and the crowd crept sheepishly away, 
leaving only 18 signatures, and of these only three men were fit for 

It was a delicate matter to time the surrender, and on August 12, 
just to gain a few more days, Manin slapped another forced loan of 
6 million florins on the city's rich. 

On the 13th he reviewed the civic guard, in a last show of the 
strength and pride of the republic. Tears filled the President's eyes 
as they passed. "To be forced to give up, with such a people behind 
me," he cried. 

On the 19th, when there was only food for three or four days in 
the city, Manin asked for formal surrender terms. He was afraid 
of food riots if he waited longer, and he could not have borne it 
if his republic's reputation for order had been blemished. The Aus- 
trian reply was that the city must surrender unconditionally, but 
that soldiers who had served in the ranks would be forgiven and 
that anyone who liked might leave the city freely. A list of forty 
persons was to be proscribed. On the 23rd, Manin himself patrolled 
the streets with a white flag to give the news and maintain order. 
On the 24th he took his family aboard a French war vessel which 
was to carry them into exile. 

Shortly thereafter Radetzky entered as a conqueror, undeterred 
by the fear of cholera. There were the usual civilian floffins that 


followed Austrian victory in those days, and beyond forcing cir- 
culation of the republican paper money at fifty per cent of its par 



value, the government did little to support the city's economic life. 
Two years later Venice seemed like a dead city, her commerce de- 
stroyed, since she was no longer a free port, her citizens apathetic, 
her hopes smothered. 

Manin's wife died of cholera before they got to Paris. With his 
two children Manin lived on in that city, devoting most of his time 
to nursing his invalid daughter, who had suffered painfully all her 
life from a nervous disease. In a few years she died, and then in 1857 
Manin himself. His last advice to his countrymen, as he followed 
young Victor Emmanuel's career, was to join Piedmont when they 
had a second chance. 


The Workings of British Justice 

DURING the days of 1848 England stood apart, unshaken, appar- 
ently unshakable. Her reformers were already in power, and though 
the radical Chartists caused some propertied spines to shiver, no one 
ventured to forbid their English right to speak their minds. The 
nearest thing to a national guard in Britain was the appointment 
of 15,000 special constables (including Louis Napoleon) for the day 
of April 10, 1848, when the Chartists were to present a huge peti- 
tion to Parliament. On the same day came the nearest thing to a 
barricade : the clerks of the foreign office blocked up their windows 
with bound volumes of the Times. The Chartists were allowed to have 
a meeting but not a parade, but they accepted this limitation meekly 
and sent their 500-pound petition to Parliament with a small escort. 
The Duke of Wellington had soldiers ready in case the petitioners 
should catch revolutionary fever from across the Channel, but he 
kept his troops hidden so as not to provoke anger this in spite of 
the fact that Frenchmen marveled how a tiny contingent of British 
soldiers could control a large mob, so unused were British civilians 
to the handling of guns. 

The Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, the champion of the 
Reform Bill of 1832, said publicly if the people have grievances, 
by all means let them tell us. English stomachs, commented a German 
visitor, might be as hungry as German ones but they felt better be- 
cause they were allowed to grumble. 

It was not only the chance to grumble, it was the hope of getting 
something done. The Reform Bill of 1832, which had extended suf- 
frage and given more power to industrialists, had passed, though 
after a good deal of difficulty. Its passage gave the Chartists hope 
that they too might win their demands for manhood suffrage if 
enough of the Queen's subjects showed that to be their will. 

Mazzini looked upon the People's Charter with horror. It hurt 
him to see a whole class concerned with the principle of happiness 
instead of moral duty. If they were so concerned, it was the same 



complaint that Engels made about their so-called betters, for he 
declared that the English middle class, and most especially the re- 
forming middle class, was so debased that for it nothing existed ex- 
cept for the sake of money. 

Most of the famous exiles from the continent landed in England 
and most of them shared Mazzini's and Engels 5 dislike of the British. 
Armies of rank-and-file Germans and Italians fled to Switzerland, 
and hundreds of young men with their lives before them Germans, 
Hungarians, Italians, and Irish came to America. To England, 
however, trooped the great names Louis Philippe, Guizot, Louis 
Blanc, Caussidiere, Ledru-Kollin, Marx, the Prince of Prussia, 
Kinkel, Metternich, Kossuth, Mazzini. England had the virtues of 
wealth, which they envied; stability, which they professed to ad- 
mire ; and tolerance, of which they all took advantage. 

To find anything like love for England on the part of a foreigner 
one must turn to Lamartine, who was not an exile. He visited Eng- 
land for strictly private reasons in 1850, and his feelings were not 
constrained by the necessity of accepting hospitality. It was his 
first visit in twenty years. In 1830 he had been so dismayed at the 
expressions of hatred between the classes that he expected a revolu- 
tion and actually moved all his investments out of Britain. In 1850 
he would have felt safe in putting his whole fortune there. In Eng- 
land the spirit was at work for which the continental revolutionaries 
struggled so hard, the spirit of conciliation of classes, each one 
eager to render justice to the others, each one contributing by its 
good will to the common welfare. 

To Lamartine, the good will was not the result of England's en- 
lightened legislation; in fact, the laws which made her so famous 
were but a sign of the good will which had found its first expression 
in private charity. He made a list of the charities of London, a list 
going into many hundreds of entries and he showed how giving 
charity educated the rich, while receiving the gifts of health and 
instruction educated the workers. 

A hundred years later people do not feel so tender toward charity. 
Our ideal is of a more impersonal justice, of an industrial society 
where each man's place is honored and secure. In those days only the 
rich were honored and secure, and charity was the only way to plow 
back surplus wealth into the nation, the first easy lesson in social 
justice, and a more wholesome one than the June massacre in Paris. 



The wealth of England stunned all continentals at that time. The 
masts of sailing ships from every country on the globe crowded the 
Thames; the shops of Oxford Street, with gilded woodwork and 
mirrored walls, blazoned at night with so many gas lamps they 
seemed like fairyland. Even the poor shared in this wealth, in spite 
of their awful sufferings as victims of the factory system. In Eng- 
land a man who had only potatoes to eat called himself starving, 
while in parts of Germany a man who had potatoes was well off. 

Free speech and good will and wealth these made England safe. 
Where wealth was lacking, where there were not even potatoes, and 
where the good will that came, at least in part, from a common na- 
tionality, failed as happened in Ireland, free speech and all the 
vaunted merits of British government broke down. 

Ireland was always a stick the enemies of England could use to 
beat her with. Whether it was a radical actor in Paris telling Queen 
Victoria that his social drama dealt with "the Irish of Paris," or 
whether it was Prince Schwarzenberg begging Lord Palmerston to 
treat the affairs of Hungary with the same forbearance which His 
Highness showed toward Her Britannic Majesty's second island, 
both of them enjoyed pointing to the spot where the British did not 
live up to their theories. 

In 1848 Ireland had just come through the potato famine which 
had killed off a quarter of her population. The government of the 
richest kingdom in the world had failed to prevent starvation and 
fever among part of its own people who lived on a food-producing 
island, from which, even during the famine years, more than enough 
grain and meat was exported to keep all its own people healthy. Only 
the potato crop failed, potatoes on which the Irish peasantry had al- 
ways nourished themselves while the meat and grain were sent out of 
the country to pay the landlords' rent. In vain did Irish members of 
Parliament urge that Irish food should be kept at home by law. In 
Bohemia and Wurttemberg, when food was scarce, export of wheat 
had been forbidden. But England had recently discovered the laws 
of the market ; to withhold rents from the Irish landlords would in- 
terfere with the principles of economics. So the meat and grain were 
shipped off, under armed guard, and the Irish peasants lay back in 
their hovels or their ditches and starved. Not the 2,000 given for 
relief by Queen Victoria, nor the 45,000 by the Society of Friends, 



nor all the public relief, consisting largely of corn meal mush 
served out from chained ladles to those Irishmen who had proved 
their need by disposing of their land at forced sales and eating their 
seed potatoes not all these put together were enough to save two 
million Irish lives. 

To the young Irish intellectuals, the heartbreaking thing was 
the passivity with which the peasants met their fate. Italians and 
Poles would fight their foreign oppressors, and the Irish, who had 
as good a right as any people in Europe to be free, could hardly be 
roused. Hunger and disease had killed in them even the instinct 
which causes the worm to turn against the foot that crushes it. For 
years, furthermore, they had been taught peaceful agitation by 
Daniel O'Connell, who had shown them how to value their country, 
it is true, and roused them for repeal of the Act of Union with Great 
Britain but he believed everything should be done without force. 
Mass meetings, petitions, "repeal rent" paid in penny sums to 
O'ConnelPs organization, were his means of agitation. 

O'Connell died in 1847, and to bolder new leaders it seemed the 
time had come to fight. Reliance on moral force had only ended in 
the death of two millions of their fellow-countrymen, who could 
have been spared if there had been an Irish Parliament in existence 
able to close the ports. In the Parliament at London whenever the 
Irish members said they needed a special law, they were told that all 
the Queen's dominions must be treated alike, whereas if they said 
they wanted to be treated the same, that time they were told that 
Irish problems were a special case. 

A group of these young Irish leaders called themselves Young 
Ireland, in imitation of Mazzini's Young Italy, even though Maz- 
zini would not let the Irish in his league of European peoples. Ac- 
tually Mazzini was afraid of antagonizing his British supporters, 
but publicly the high priest of nationality declared that the Irish 
were not a nation because they had no distinctive moral contribution 
for humanity. Indifferent to this judgment, Young Ireland acted 
just like all the other nationalities of Europe, by studying the an- 
cient language and traditions of their island, wearing native dress, 
and popularizing their history. They also talked a lot of fighting for 
Irish freedom, though they were sadly lacking in military genius 
and the ability to rouse their poorer countrymen. 

These efforts for a purely nationalistic struggle seemed too thin 



to John Mitchel, a newspaperman, who told the peasants plainly 
they should fight for their food supply. That peasants should keep 
the food they raised to feed their own families first, even if they had 
to tear up the new-laid railroad lines to prevent its being carried 
off was so revolutionary a doctrine that Mitchel had to break with 
his companions and start his own paper to expound it. This hap- 
pened in February 1848. "Let the man among you that has no gun 
sell his garment and buy one," Mitchel told his readers. 

Thus when the news of the Paris revolution came, Ireland was 
already divided into two factions, like every European country 
those who wanted self-determination and those who wanted social 

To meet this crisis the British government prepared the garrison 
at Dublin for a siege with a show of force deliberately intended to 
impress the citizenry. Yet Lord Clarendon, the lord-lieutenant, had 
the sense to realize that too strict an application of the laws of re- 
pression would cause an outbreak, and he made a point of avoiding 
even the smallest collision. His secret method of defense was to use 
agents to keep up dissension between the factions of would-be re- 

Such force and such guile are natural means for a government ; 
they seem almost legitimate. But the British administration in Ire- 
land had another method, a most un-British one of clinching cases. 
For centuries the English, who had carefully imported the jury 
system to Ireland, equally carefully packed the jury panels to get 
the verdicts they desired. After the Catholics had been given political 
rights in 1829, packing became all the more necessary for being 
harder to do. When the Tories had been in office, Lord John Russell 
and his Whigs had expressed their horror of jury-packing in such 
irretractable language that it was embarrassing to find themselves 
facing the same issue. In 1848 Lord John Russell was Prime 
Minister, and he expressed his hope to Lord Clarendon that jury- 
packing could be kept to a minimum. 

Accordingly the Irish courts, called upon in May to try for sedi- 
tion some of the leaders of Young Ireland headed by a member of 
Parliament named Smith O'Brien, packed only eleven out of twelve 
places in the jury and allowed one Repealer to sit in the box. Of 
course this hung the jury and prevented O'Brien's conviction. 

The very day of this acquittal Mitchel, the more dangerous 



enemy, was arrested and charged with a brand new crime, created by 
act of Parliament "treason felony," for which the punishment was 
transportation. This time no chances were taken, all the jurymen 
were carefully picked, and Mitchel was convicted, sentenced, and 
rushed away to a prison ship and eventually to Tasmania. 

Even packing juries was not enough. It could cure the disease 
but not prevent it, and for that latter purpose, Parliament voted 
to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. In July 1848, Smith O'Brien 
and his friends were known to be planning an insurrection, timed for 
after the harvest. By suspending habeas corpus, the British forced 
the Young Irelanders to move before they were ready. Later one of 
them wondered how this move could have come to them as such a 
complete surprise. 

When the blow struck, O'Brien was already in Tipperary, col- 
lecting men with guns, pikes, and pitchforks, but he had trouble 
holding his little army together because he could not feed them for- 
ever out of his own pocket, though he was a wealthy landowner, and 
he scorned the step taken by guerrillas on the continent, that of 
paying for provisions with a draft on the new free government. He 
was much too tender with property for an insurrectionist, for when 
it was a question of barricading roads, he forbade his men to cut 
down trees without the owners 5 consent. 

On July 29 a group of 47 police were sent to arrest O'Brien, 
whom they found in a village behind a barricade manned by 300 men 
with twenty firearms among them. These gallant defenders chased 
the police into a strongly built slate farmhouse, owned by a widow 
McCormick. When the widow appeared among the Irishmen and 
begged O'Brien to save her six children, all inside the house with 
the police, O'Brien walked up to the open windows and asked that 
the children should be passed out. Instead the police fired on their 
attackers, killing two, and held the children up to the windows to 
prevent a return of fire. Finally the attackers dragged up a wagon- 
load of hay to set fire to the house door, but this was too much for 
O'Brien's tender heart. He stopped the Irishman who was about to 
shoot into the hay to start the blaze. 

Before long another group of constabulary rescued the first de- 
tachment, and O'Brien fled into hiding. Of this he soon grew tired, 
and early in August he went to a railroad station and bought a ticket 
to Limerick, intending to leave the country. There was a 500 



reward for his person, however, and he was easy to spot, a huge, 
six-foot man, with light hair and dark eyes. A railroad guard turned 
him in, and he was tried a second time, convicted this time and sen- 
tenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. 

In spite of this ferocious justice, or perhaps because of it, and all 
the impassioned oratory it inspired, there was an air of unreality 
about this trial, as about the whole Irish revolution. No one seriously 
expected the execution to be carried out. Some of the members of the 
1848 Whig cabinet had planned insurrection in Birmingham, if 
the 1832 Reform Bill failed to pass just what O'Brien attempted 
in Tipperary in 1848 for the sake of Irish nationality. Documents 
to prove this were given to the press, and, chagrined as no conti- 
nental government would have been, the British Whigs commuted 
the sentence. 

The trouble with the Irish rebellion, the reason it never got beyond 
the siege of a farmhouse, lay partly with the people of Ireland, who 
were weak from the famine and not military by training. The Brit- 
ish government, for its part, was certainly not conciliatory yet it 
avoided the silly tactlessness of most continental rulers faced with 
insurgency. The British were unjust but they were effective; they 
were hypocritical but not afraid of their own weakness ; their sins 
of omission were as bad for Ireland as cruelty but they were not 
utterly shameless. 

Nevertheless, it was apparent that only in their own country 
could the British follow through their admirable policy of concilia- 
tion of classes. Nationality was a necessary bond. In this failure of 
the well-intentioned British to provide happiness for an alien race 
lay the justification of all the struggling nationalities of Europe 
not because their rulers were evil, but simply because there are some 
things that a nation, like an individual, has to do for itself. 



The Revolution of the Spirit 

MOST of what the men of 1848 fought for was brought about within 
a quarter of a century, and the men who accomplished it were 
most of them specific enemies of the 1848 movement. Theirs ushered 
in a third French Republic, Bismarck united Germajiy, an3 Cayour 3 
Italy. Deak won autonomy for Hungary within a dual monarchy ; a 
Russian czar freed the serfs ; and the British manufacturing classes 
moved toward the freedoms of the People's Charter. 

That these things could happen showed that the aims of the rev- 
olutionists were not dangerous to the structure of society, only their 
methods. A person who has power may use his power to create 
changes, yet violently resist having others take power from him 
so that they could make the same or better changes. In 1848 what 
neither the governments nor the moderate leaders could brook was 
popular agitation and popular control. The historian Trevelyan 
regrets that 1848 could, not have seen successful liberal regimes 
established before the class struggle became acute as it did later 
in the century. BuHn_^^ 

struggles^ and failed because they did. In every country appeared 
a split between two groups which cooperated at first in the struggle 
against authority, between the forces typified by Lamartine and 
those by Louis Blanc, Heinrich von Gagern and Robert Blum, the 
Reading Club and the Aula in Vienna, between Deak and Kossuth, 
Cavour and Mazzini. In those countries which, like Hungary and 
Italy, were struggling against a foreign oppressor, the conflict of 
nationalities made a screen to hide the conflict of classes. But Deak 
would not have relished Kossuth's success, nor Cavour Mazzini's. 

This is true despite the belief of the leaders of all the parties that 
the conciliation of classes was the greatest gain that could come 
from a new government, and despite their hope that by this rev- 
olution the class struggle could be avoided. During the generation 
before 1848 fear of the lower classes was growing, and the men then 
in power could only bridle the workers with work, as Guizot pro- 



posed, or, like Metternich, clamp on a lid which they knew to be 
temporary. The reformers turned these fears inside out, saying that 
by kindness the working classes could be won away from the class 
struggle and given an honored place in society. This doctrine had 
many intellectual ancestors; in 1848 it was propagated by men 
like Louis Blanc and Mazzini. Yet this view was not the property 
of the radical parties alone. Lamartine declared on February 24 
that the Second Republic would suspend the frightful misunder- 
standing that had grown up between classes ; Cavour thought that 
in fusion of classes lay the principal strength of modern society. 

When governments with this hopeful ideal took over in 1848 
enough violence occurred to make their predecessors 5 fear of the 
lower classes seem more and more justifiable. The truth was, violence 
was present in society as a whole ; only very few people were able to 
perceive this fact and to accept its implications. Karl Vogt, the 
biologist in the Frankfurt Assembly, saw beyond his contemporaries 
in this. When he asked himself whence came the brutality that at- 
tends every revolution, he noticed a phenomenon that is perennial: 

"The brutality which is present in higher circles filters down, and 
this brutality which above lives only in thoughts, below takes 
the form of action. I have heard hundreds and hundreds of times 
expressions like 'The whole bunch ought to be knocked out with 
grape shot,' 'the agitators deserve to be hanged all together. 5 . . . 
Such expressions are mostly used by people who are fanatics of 
order and who make it their business to preach order and peace." 1 

Vogt made this statement before the full force of the reaction had 
shown that when the upper classes had a chance to indulge them- 
selves, in the interests of "restoring order," they were quite as 
capable of actual physical brutality as the men they feared. 

A modern psychologist might speculate, where Vogt could not, 
that unconscious as well as conscious hatreds were bound to pervade 
any society held together with such rigid and arbitrary bonds as 
Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. The mass of the people were 
kept down not only by laws but by customs, by studied arrogance, 
by pious sanctions. Herzen quotes from a Russian writer who ad- 
mired the west because everyone born there "learns in Ms cradle, in 
his games, in his mother's caresses, notions of duty, justice, kw, and 

1 Quoted from Petzet, 52. 



order." These are the very sources to which psychology today traces 
repressions. It may have been these same conceptions of duty, law, 
and order which had hogtied western Europe for centuries. Class 
hatred had persisted there from the Middle Ages ; it is one of the 
most characteristic features of the twelfth century. 2 What the 
nineteenth century failed to realize was that merely by overcoming 
people's conscious hostility, by trying sincerely to conciliate the 
classes, they could not also overcome the unconscious feelings that 
were bred into their bones. To speculate further, is it not reasonable 
to imagine that when new ideas loosened the sanctions which had kept 
each man in his place, a lot more force was let loose than men 
realized they had within them? 

When hostility that has been repressed is first released into con- 
sciousness, there is a moment, for individuals at least, and perhaps 
also for nations, when it appears to be of uncontrollable violence. 
Perhaps this is because there exist, at first, no habitual or institu- 
tional skills for dealing with it overtly. Thus violence erupted among 
the lower classes as they began to dare to ask for more equal condi- 
tions, a violence which came in good part from the release of their 
old resentments. At the same time the upper classes, who were just 
beginning to dare to give more equality, found that this process 
simultaneously brought to the surface in themselves the fears which 
they had long kept hidden of the results of lower class resentment. 

The great advantage which America had was that its social ar- 
rangements to a large measure prevented these hatreds from form- 
ing; not completely, but enough to make a startling contrast with 
Europe in those days. 

Another psychological factor took the men of 1848 by surprise. 
It was noted by Massimo d'Azeglio, although its explanation had to 
wait for a hundred years and that was the distinct ambivalence 
in the human soul toward freedom. J^HaajadL^ 


them. This ambivalence has been expounded psychoanalytically by 
Erich Fromm, in Escape -from Freedom. He shows that from, the 
time of the Reformation freedom has been a burden, and indeed a 
threat, for men who are not prepared to accept its responsibilities 
and there are many. This quality made every demand for a revolu- 
tion two-faced, so that men were always retreating as well as moving 

a See Luchaire, Social France at the Time of Philip Augustus. 



forward, in spite of themselves. Or, as Massimo d'Azeglio perceived 
it : "The gift of liberty is like that of a horse, handsome, strong, and 
high-spirited. In some it arouses a wish to ride ; in many others, on 
the contrary, it increases the desire to walk. 553 A great many people 
felt more like walking as the year 1848 passed, all the French who 
voted for Napoleon, on the ground that he would restore "order, 55 
all the Prussians who- paid their taxes after their parliament had 
been dissolved in the very act of telling the citizens not to pay them, 
all the Hapsburg subjects who in 1849 did not have a chance either 
to vote for anybody or to support a constitution. All these were 
people who found that the effort of doing something for themselves 
was not so rewarding as letting somebody on top do it especially 
when it came to the task of overcoming the violence of the lower 

When the moderates took fright at the contemplation of their 
danger, they accused the radicals of trying to destroy order and 
property. 4 To the radical intellectuals, this was ill-will and insult. 
They loved order and property and class conciliation as much as 
anybody, but being somewhat closer to the people than the other 
leaders they realized that they would not be satisfied with constitu- 
tions but would require some social reforms. None of the radicals 
had a chance to show how far he would go before he was stopped. 
He was lucky if he was stopped by foreign arms, as Mazzini was, so 
that his dream could go on. To be halted by civil war such as the 
June Days of Paris seemed to prove that the radical case was hope- 
less, or that, as Frederick William put it, soldiers are the only cure 
for democrats. 

After the middle classes had won most of what they wanted, they 
often voluntarily gave up some of their new privileges so that the 
lower classes would not have to be given liberties too. They were like 
the man in the story who was asked what he would like best in the 
world, provided his worst enemy could have the same thing in double 
measure and he answered, one blmd eye. There was practically no 
one to say that the cure for democracy was more democracy. 

s Massimo d'Azeglio, Recollections, n, 8. 

4 In the mid-nineteenth century it was probably true that property gave a feeling 
of responsibility and men preferred the easier task of holding on to their property 
and the reins of government than the more difficult one of devising ways to give 
genuine responsibility to men who did not have property. There again the American 
continent offered an advantage. 



This was the situation that Marx saw, and he thought of a bril- 
liantly original answer. Do not minimize class conflict, exaggerate 
it. Even the most far-reaching concessions of the conciliators would 
not give workers an equal status in society, and the only way for 
them to achieve it would be to throw over all the privileged and 
property-clutching classes, ignoring the soft words of socialists like 
Louis Blanc as well as the turncoat policies of the Lamartines. 

Thus when the 48ers failed they were beaten physically by the 
terrified conservatives, and also beaten intellectually by the theories 
of Marx, which made most socialist movements forget the poetical 
and discredited 1848 fancies. 

To the men of 1848, class violence was anathema, but violence 
between nations was natural and often admirable. The French 
radical parties would have been as happy to march into Savoy or 
the Rhineland as the Germans were to march into Schleswig, or the 
Italians to chase Hadetzky. Disarmament was preached only by 
eccentrics like Karl Vogt and, indeed, Louis Napoleon, neither of 
them typical of the 1848 spirit. 

Marx branded nationality a myth, a verdict which was just as 
greatly opposed to 1848 ideas as was his doctrine of the class strug- 
gle; in fact the two went hand in hand. Loyalty to class, the 
Marxists maintained, would prevent international wars. But the 
men who wished to create nations realized that all classes must 
share in patriotism by having a stake in the nation, and the men 
who wanted peace between the classes felt that national loyalty was 
one way to encourage it. Thus the doctrines of struggle between 
classes and between nations were in inverse ratio. One may ask, of 
course, whether class is not a myth, whether property, at least the 
prestige that comes from property, is not a myth, whether ultimate 
democracy would not surmount all of these mythical obstacles. But 
the fact remains that the men^wiio wanted democracy a hundred 
jears ago pi a neaTlo"organize it in national units, - and that political 
democracy has not yet succeeded in units any larger. These national 
blocs made plenty^ of trouble for the world, but perhaps no more 
than the class struggle. 

The democratic spirit is elusive, and has first to be learned within 
a much smaller group even than a nation. It involves, first of all, a 
recognition in each man's soul that all other men are as good as 
he, at least potentially. Where could that spirit be born in Europe 



in 1848? Albert, the workingman, was called by his first name all 
the time he was a member of the French government; Baron Dobl- 
hoff in Vienna was suspected because he gave parties where the no- 
bility could meet the middle classes socially for the first time ; the 
King of Prussia could label an assembly of professors "the gutter" ; 
Macaulay could stand up in the House of Commons to say that 
universal suffrage would destroy civilization and everything that 
made civilization worth while, the security of property; Sir Strat- 
ford Canning, Britain's ambassador to Turkey, could tear up 
Lamartine's proclamations with the remark that he would not live 
in a Europe run by reds and demagogues ; Metternich doubted that 
society could exist along with freedom of the press; in Vienna an 
officer threw his shaving water out the window, and the worker 
whom he drenched was arrested because he complained ; Guizot was 
shocked that anyone could confound the welfare of the lower classes 
with that of society as a whole. In such a climate of opinion it is not 
strange that even those men who had the ideal of democracy in their 
hearts found it was hard to explain to others, and almost as hard 
to live with themselves. 

Democracy also involves the recognition in each man's soul that 
he is as good as other men, at least potentially. Donelson, the Ameri- 
can consul at Berlin, believed that a republic could not succeed in 
Europe while thousands starved and millions lacked the sense of 
personal independence on which the American system rests. Cavour 
recognized the same point when he said that the lower classes in the 
New World would be shocked at the lack of dignity among Euro- 
pean servants and workmen. Kossuth embarrassed his peasants 
when he addressed them with the plural or polite form of "you"; 
the Italian revolutionaries who pulled Count Hubner from his ca& 
riage did not assume the right to sit there in his place; in Italiai 
the very word "democratic" came to mean shabby, so that one 
would speak of a democratic pair of shoes. 

Could a common will emerge from such a society, an agreement 
of the sort that would guarantee more rights to the majority and 
would find the minority yielding gracefully? To build such a society 
the men of 1848 had the right start. With all the weight of custom 
and prejudice against them they labored to make a world where 
men would feel more equal, and to make nations within which this 
feeling could operate. Their mistake was that they miscalculated 



the barriers even in their own souls. It was too easy for leaders of 
the people to become either mass hypnotists, like Held and Robert 
Blum, or authoritarian improvers. Mazzini, Louis Blanc and Kos- 
suth were all democrats in theory but'Tbecaine autocratic when, it 
came to putting their plans into action. Revelation, after being 
ousted from religion, as someone remarked at the time, had turned 
to politics, and every man thought he knew how to govern. 

There were a few nuclei of real democratic spirit. Manin in Venice 
handled his affairs with more of it than any other 48er in power. 
In some of the guerrilla armies partial democracy worked, as in 
Garibaldi's, where a man might be a captain one day, a private the 
next. Democracy was in some of the workers' movements, such as 
the editorial board of L* Atelier, the French workers' paper, or in 
Born's club for workingmen in Berlin where he said, "We want a 
club in order to become men." It could be found in some of the uni- 
versities, like the Aula at Vienna, and in other groups interested in 
progress such as the Italian scientific and agricultural congresses. 
It was from the development of such groups as these that democracy 
could eventually be born again in Europe. 

The revolutions, then, seem like a hurling of violence against 
violence, the struggling of vast incompatibilities to be born together 
the incompatibility of freedom for all with power for some; the 
incompatibility of class solidarity and national solidarity; the de- 
mands of race, of privilege, of recently born economic groups, and 
new intellectual groups to be heard amid all the din. 

Yet when the people had a chance to express themselves quietly 
on these subjects they accomplished a good deal more toward a 
natural settlement of their troubles than did their leaders. The par- 
liament of Prussia foreshadowed reforms that were still important 
and pressing for the Weimar republic, while the constitution of 
Kremsier solved the problems of administering territories of mixed 
populations better than the government of Vienna ever settled the 
question, and better than the Austrian or Hungarian or Croat 
rebels showed any signs of doing while they were in power. In fact, 
it was in these parliaments that the real creativity of the period lay, 
not in the short-lived improvisations of governments themselves 
provisional, nor yet in the spectacle of popular force which yet did 
not succeed in destroying the forces of reaction. The greatest failure 



of all in 1848 was that the men who had power never really trusted 
the people. 

Was nothing gained by all the year of revolution, either from the 
violence or from the quiet talk? The answer is very little. Some 
revolutions shake up society so that when the pieces fall together 
again they are in a new pattern which permits growth in a new 
direction. In 1848 that hardly happened. The Austrian serfs were 
freed, but did this make up for the extra repression on all other 
Austrian subjects? Italy made a new start toward greater freedom, 
but Germany was disillusioned about freedom. Some old illusions 
were destroyed, but the new myths created by men like Marx and 
Bismarck were as one-sided as the ones they supplanted and failed 
equally to represent a synthesis of values. The test of whether a 
revolution is successful is not whether some power with a new name 
exercises the same essential restraints as before (which happened 
to Europe in 1870), but whether some important group has won 
some important new freedom economic, political, social, or re- 

Out of 1848 and its struggles nojLmjgortant new freedom was 
wrestedlTSStea^ ^ menTost"c6nfi3ence in freedom and imagined they 
had made a great advance in sophistication by turning from ideal- 
ism to cynicism. After 1848 classes and nations played power 
politics, each unashamed to get what it could each for itself with 
very little thought for the common welfare of society. This was not 
realism, though it was called $e$MT$}jfo In 187 t ^ lis P olic J 
brought a new chance to win many of the specific demands of the 
1848 revolutionaries, yet no one can say that the basic questions of 
justice and cooperation among classes and nations were settled at 
that time. For these problems failure was worse than mere failure, 
for no new chance arose. In 1914, at the time of the next continental 
explosion, many of the powers that had been half rotten in 1848 
disappeared for good, but with them disappeared a good part of 
the class and nation structure itself. For the appeal of totalitarian- 
ism comes partly from its indifference to these problems which had 
seemed so unyielding to solution. Today millions of classless, state- 
less people crowd the continent in hatred and despair and in a 
way they are the end product of the futility and ruthlessness of the 
1848 revolutions. 



In the following bibliography, annotation is omitted for those titles 
which are self-explanatory, those which are described in the text, and 
those too well-known to require comment. 

FOE a vantage point from which to compare twentieth-century ideas 
with nineteenth, I have found particularly valuable Karl Mannheim, 
Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction (London, 1940), A. D. L. 
Lindsay, Essentials of Democracy (Philadelphia, 19&9) and Jacques 
Barzun, Romanticism and the Modern Ego (Boston, 1943). Of course 
no one who studies revolutions should fail to consult Crane Brinton, 
The Anatomy of Revolution (New York, 1938). 

Escape from Freedom, by Erich Fromm (New York, 1941) breaks 
ground in its analysis of the psychological sources of all modern his- 
tory. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, 
1951) deals profoundly with the texture of social life in nineteenth- and 
twentieth-century Europe. 



Actes du Congrds Historique du Centenaire de la Revolution de 181^8. 
Paris, 1948. Introduction by R. Fawtier. 

Carr, E. H. The Romantic Exiles: a Nineteenth Century Portrait Gal- 
lery. New York, 1933. 

Corti, Count Egan. The Reign of the House of Rothschild. Tr. by 
Brian and Beatrix Lunn, London, 19&8. 

Fetjo, Fran9ois, Ed. Opening of an Era, 1848. An Historical Sympo- 
sium. London, 1949. 

Fisher, H. A. L. The Republican Tradition in Europe. London, 1911. 

Hyndman, H. M. Commercial Crises of the Nineteenth Century. Lon- 
don, 1892. Chapter 4 deals with crisis of 1847. 

Kohn, Hans. "The End of 1848," Current History, May, 1949. 

Namier, L. B. 1848: the Revolution of the Intellectuals. New York, 
1946. The author deals with all the revolutions, but he is most 
interested in, and most enlightening on the problem of Slavic na- 

Postgate, R. W. Revolution from 1789 to 1906. London, 1920. An in- 
valuable collection of documents with notes and introductions, 
emphasizing always the proletarian revolt. 

Rothfels, Hans. "1848: One Hundred Years After," JMH, xx, 1948. 



Ruggiero, Guido de. The History of European Liberalism. Tr. by R. G. 
Collingwood. London, 1927. The philosophy of liberalism in dif- 
ferent European countries in the Nineteenth Century. 

Russell, Bertrand. Freedom versus Organization. 1814-1914. New 
York, 1934. 

Weill, Georges, L'eveil des nationalites et le mouvement liberal, 1815- 
1848. Paris, 1930. 

Whitridge, Arnold. Men in Crisis. New York, 1949. 

Wilson, Edmund. To the Finland Station. New York, 1940. A history 
of nineteenth-century radical thought, starting with Michelet, 
and including a good deal about Marx and Engels. 

Woodward, E. L. Three Studies in European Conversatism: Metternich 
Gwizot, the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century. London, 

The periodical 1848 et les revolutions du XIX siecle, published by the 
Societe d'Histoire de la Revolution de 1848, became in December 
1950 Revue des revolutions contemporaines. Under both titles its 
files are invaluable for this period. 


Nearly everyone who took part in the revolution of 1848 either wrote 
a special book to defend his part, or described the revolution at length 
in his memoirs. 

D'Alton-Shee, Comte Edmond. Mes memoires, 1826-1848. Paris, 1869, 
% vol. 

. Souvenirs de 1847 et de 1848. Paris, 1879. D'Alton-Shee was a 

liberal peer who helped with the February banquet but for whom 
the revolution soon went too far. 

Arago, Francois. "Autobiography" in Biographies of Distinguished 
Scientific Men. London, 1857. More about his scientific than his 
political career. 

Barrot, Odilon. Memoires posthumes. Paris, 1875, 4 vol. This con- 
ceited parlementarian includes a full though prejudiced account 
of the whole revolution. 

Blanc, Louis. 1848: Historical Revelations. London, 1858. In pre- 
tending to answer Lord Normanby's account (see below), Louis 
Blanc gives his own interpretation of what was done and what 
should have been done by the provisional government. 

Caussidiere, Marc. Memoires de M. Caussidiere, ex-prSfet de police et 
represent ant du peuple. Paris, 1849, vol. 



Chenu, Adolphe. Les conspirateurs. Les societes secretes. La prefecture 
de police sous Caussidiere. Paris, 1850. Confessions of a police 


Delahodde, Lucien. History of the Secret Societies and of the Repub- 
lican Party of France from 1830 to 1848. Philadelphia, 1856. 

Du Camp, Maxime. Souvenirs de Pawnee 1848. Paris, 1876. Flaubert's 
friend, and a member of the national guard. Flaubert later put 
the experiences which they shared together into his novel, Une 
education sentiment ale. 

Dumas, Alexandre. Revelations sur Varrestation d'Emile Thomas. Paris, 
1848. Translated as an appendix in The Last King (London, 
1915). Dumas was Thomas' most ardent defender. 

Falloux du Coudray, F. A. P. Vicomte de. Memoires d'un royaliste. 
Paris, 1888, vol. 

Girardin, Emile. Journal d'un journaliste au secret. Paris, 1848. 

Herzen, Alexander. Lettres de France et d'ltalie, 1847-185%. Trans- 
lated by Mme. N. H. Geneva, 1871. 

. My Past and Thoughts. Translated by Constance Garnett. 

London, 19&4-&7, 6 vol. Herzen was one of the most intelligent 
and feeling men alive in 1848. His observations are always magnifi- 

Hugo, Victor. Choses Vues. Paris, 1913. Hugo's diary was pungent. 
For his mature reaction to 1848, read Les MiseraUes, which has 
a chapter devoted to one of the 1848 barricades. 

Lamartine, Alphonse de. History of the French Revolution of 1848. 
Translated by Francis Durivage and Win. S. Chase. Boston, 1849. 
A gilded apology. 

Lemoine, Edouard. Abdication du roi Louis-Philippe recontee par lui- 
meme. Paris, 1851. Brief, sympathetic account of a conversation 
with the ex-King in England. 

Normanby, C. H. P. Marquis of. A Tear of Revolution. From a Journal 
kept in Paris in 1848. London, 1857. The British ambassador's 
view, to which Louis Blanc retorted. (See above.) 

Persigny, Fialin, due de. Memoires. Paris, 1896. Louis Napoleon's cam- 
paign manager and friend. 

Proudhon, P. J. Les confessions d'un revolutiowiaire, pour ser