Skip to main content

Full text of "Treitschke's history of Germany in the nineteenth century"

See other formats























VOL. III. BOOK TWO (continued]. 






i. Jahn and the Gymnastic Societies 3 

2. Thuringia. Weimar and Jena - 17 

3. The Wartburg Festival - - 53 


i. Increasing Power of the Austrian Court - 77 
2. Evacuation of France. Renewal of the Quad- 
ruple Alliance - - 105 
3. German Affairs at the Congress - - 119 


i. Vacillation in Berlin. First Constitutional 

Experiences in the South - 135 

2. Assassination of Kotzebue. Persecution of the 

Demagogues - 168 

3. Teplitz and Carlsbad - 206 


i. The Carlsbad Decrees and Foreign Policy - 234 
2. Hardenberg's Design for a Constitution. Dis- 
missal of Humboldt 254 
3. The first Prussian Customs-Convention - . - 276 


History of Germany 


POWER OF PRUSSIA, 1819-1830. 


i. Final Act of the Germanic Federation - - 301 

2. Struggle Concerning the Prussian Customs-Law 335 
3. The Manuscript from South Germany. The 

Hessian Constitution - - 356 


i. The National Debt Edict and the Tax Laws - 381 

2. Local Governmental Proposals - 416 

3. Reaction at Court. The Crown Prince - 435 


i. The Revolution in the Latin Countries - 456 

2. The Congress of Troppau 479 

3. The Congress of Laibach. The Greek War of 

Independence - 504 



1. Negotiations with the Roman See. Clerical 

Movements - 533 

2. The Prussian Provincial Diets - - 566 


V. The Burschenschaft and the Unconditionals 601 

VI. History of the Burschenschaft 604 

VII. Metternich and the Prussian Constitution 619 

VIII. The Teplitz Convention 628 

IX. Bavaria and the Carlsbad Decrees - - 632 

X. Hardenberg's Plan for a Constitution 643 

XI. Hardenberg concerning the Ministerial Crisis of 

the year 1819 - 647 

XII. Treitschke's Prefaces to the Third Volume of the 

German Edition 648 

XIII. The Communes' Ordinance of the Year 1820 650 
XIV. Note to the History of the Prussian constitutional 

Struggle - - 651 

INDEX - 653 



THE present velume of Treitschke's History covers little more 
than the ten years beginning with the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, 
which was convened in 1817 by the four Powers forming the 
Grand Alliance to consider the restless state of reconstituted 
France and the already uncertain fate of the Bourbons. These, 
years gave to Germany a period of calm after the great 
storm. One State was dominant in that country of many 
sovereignties at that time Austria, as one statesman dominated 
German policy both at home and abroad Metternich, Austria's 

To say that is to give the key to the political events 
of an unfruitful epoch of national weariness and disillusionment 
In the place of the dissolved Holy Roman Empire of the 
German Nation, Metternich had secured a fictive confederation 
of the States, not as loose in constitution as the union which 
Napoleon had destroyed, but equally powerless, and in it he 
had preserved inviolate the hegemony of Austria. He had 
successfully thwarted the constitutional aspirations of the time, 
not by the open and straightforward method of binding the 
Sovereigns and Governments at least at the beginning to 
an attitude of flat resistance, but more astutely by uniting 
them in the acceptance of a vague and shadowy promise of 
concessions which might mean much or little, as each kinglet 
or princeling wished, yet which he intended to mean nothing 
at all. 

Now all his efforts were directed towards the one task of 
pressing Germany back into the morass of political obscurantism 
out of which she had seemed for a moment to have rescued 
herself. Understanding the conditions of this task better than 
his tools and dupes, he saw that reaction would be the more 
certain the more he could win over the States to a policy of 
inaction. That was the secret of the calculated omission of 
any reference whatever to times and seasons in the article of 
the Federal Act of June 8, 1815, which dealt with the future 

vii. B 

History of Germany 

government of Germany. He knew that the nation was tired 
out, exhausted, incapable of organising resistance and still more 
incapable of making resistance effective. Moreover, everywhere 
material occupations were making urgent calls upon its atten- 
tion ; the lost prosperity had to be retrieved, the harm done 
by war and long preoccupation with military employments to be 
made good, trade and industry to be rehabilitated, the decayed 
towns to be rebuilt, and the waste places repaired. 

It was not difficult, therefore, to draw the Governments into 
the paths of reaction ; with few exceptions those which at first 
were in a mood to hold back soon yielded to pressure or to 
their own doubts and compunctions. The Wartburg festival 
of the Burschenschajlen in October, 1817, had been made a 
pretext for rebuking the exuberance of the student societies 
and for warning the universities themselves that they were 
under suspicion. Then in March, 1819, there was perpetrated 
one of those senseless crimes which have so often soiled the 
fame of good causes and obstructed the path of political advance. 
This was the assassination of Kotzebue by the Jena student 
Karl Sand at Mannheim. Kotzebue was a voluminous writer 
of indifferent plays, who had prostituted his talents to political 
espionage and was known to be in the pay of Russia, while 
his murderer was a youth of highly-strung temperament and 
unbalanced judgment, yet of orderly life, an ardent patriot, 
and an enthusiastic " Burschenschafter." Sand appears to 
have been convinced that he had a special mission to remove 
this enemy of the commonwealth, and if he took the life of 
the obnoxious informer he at least tried to take his own, and 
mangled himself terribly in the act. He was kept alive in 
prison for a long time in suffering, and as soon as his doctors 
could be persuaded to certify his fitness for the scaffold he 
was duly decapitated. Had the matter ended there Germany 
would have been spared much shame and tribulation. 

Politically, the only significance of the crime lay in the 
fact that popular opinion condemned the Governments almost 
as much as the murderer, and that Sand's fellow-students 
applauded his act as one of patriotism. The idea that it was 
part of a deeply laid conspiracy against order was busily 
exploited, but without the slightest justification. To Metter- 
nich, however, the crime was a godsend, for he could point 
to it as a justification of the measures which had already been 
taken by the reactionary Governments and use it as a whip 



wherewith to lash the laggards to heel. Even the Emperor 
of Russia, who had hitherto played with Liberalism as a child 
with a new toy, was now induced to abandon his complacent 
attitude, and fell into line with the two other Eastern Powers. 

First agreeing with Prussia upon a common basis of action 
Metternich openly boasted at this time that he carried Prussia 
in his pocket Austria called a conference of the German 
Ministers at Carlsbad, at which a series of Decrees, aiming at 
the repression of liberal movements and tendencies in every 
form, was drawn up in August, 1819. In the following month, 
on the proposal of Metternich, the Carlsbad resolutions were 
duly adopted by the Federal Diet, which thereby stamped itself 
finally in the eyes of the nation as the inflexible enemy of 
popular liberty. It rested with the federated Governments 
to accept and enforce the Decrees with modifications of their 
own ; in many of the States their severity was increased, in 
few was it relaxed. 

Everywhere the Press was subjected to rigorous control, 
and the editors of suppressed newspapers might not be employed 
in journalism for five years. Books and pamphlets were placed 
under an intolerant censorship. Political agitation by associa- 
tion, assembly, and public speech was relentlessly suppressed. 
A tribunal was set up for the trial and punishment of treason, 
only to make itself ridiculous, because it proved impossible 
to find traitors. So far did interference with intellectual liberty 
go that it was required that in every University a Government 
commissary or proctor should be appointed charged with the 
duty of spying upon the teaching and opinions of the pro- 
fessors, preventing the formation of student associations, and 
generally keeping the educated youth of the nation in order. 
These police agents do not all appear to have been proud of their 
office or work, and their unpopularity at times caused them 
anxiety. Carl Schurz, the high-minded German refugee who, 
after the revolutionary movements of 1848, found a home and 
honour in America, recalling in his " Recollections " the effect 
produced in the Rhineland by the Paris revolution of July, 
1830, tells how on the first news of the outbreak reaching 
Bonn the Government commissary assigned to the University 
there promptly quitted the town by train, leaving no word of 
his destination. 

From 1819 forward the intellectual atmosphere of Germany 
was poisoned by the miasma of political intolerance, bigotry, 


History of Germany 

and dishonesty. The sycopliant, the time-server, the apostate, 
and their kind flourished ; honest men hid their heads in shame 
or, raising them, were smitten down by the cowardly blow of 
the renegade and the informer. The country was overrun 
with spies, whose business it was to smell out political dis- 
affection, or incite to it. The despicable Schmalz had been 
decorated by Frederick William III of Prussia several years 
before for his activity in this dirty work. Now the founda- 
tions were laid of the vicious system of " denunciation " which 
became the dishonour of German criminal law, and which still 
flourishes to-day like a green bay-tree. 

Many of the noblest spirits of the time had to taste the 
bitterness and gall of political persecution. Ernst Moritz Arndt, 
the poet-patriot, was one of the number. " Where," asks 
Treitschke, shaken for a moment out of his comfortable belief 
in the doctrine that Prussian kings can do no wrong, " where 
was Prussian justice when this truest of true men was com- 
pelled to bury his correspondence in the cellar ? " Where, 
it might be asked with greater force, was Prussian justice 
when Arndt was flung into prison and for three mortal years 
tortured by false accusations and fictitious indictments by 
persecutors who could not convict him yet had not the decency 
to set him free ? It even became a crime to criticise the 
Bund. Heine, indeed, launched against it the shafts of his 
mordant satire, but he did it from a citadel of freedom in 
Paris. One can afford to smile at Treitschke's lament that 
England, Denmark, and Holland, which were accredited to the 
Bund in virtue of Hanover, Holstein, and Luxemburg respec- 
tively, were in part responsible for the sins and follies of its 
Diet at that time, since they were alien elements. Treitschke 
could paint with strong and brilliant colours, but when it came 
to the use of whitewash his mixtures were apt to be singularly 

It was the misfortune of Prussia that, yielding to the over- 
mastering will of Metternich, she allowed herself to become 
the centre of this nefarious conspiracy against the spirit of the 
German nation. When the Decrees came before the Prussian 
Cabinet, Humboldt and his Liberal colleagues courageously 
condemned them in a memorial to the King as an " unjusti- 
fiable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom, a 
shameful attack upon public liberties, and dishonouring to an 
enlightened people." The King gave the dissentient Ministers 


the choice between submission and resignation, and they laid 
down office rather than connive at political turpitude In 
Prussia the Decrees were enforced with almost incredible malice. 
In that way Prussia created evil traditions from which she 
has not emancipated herself to the present day. 

Yet here the reaction did not stop. Frederick William III 
had refused to grant a constitution even after Chancellor 
Hardenberg had whittled down his scheme to the utmost. Not 
satisfied with this capitulation, Metternich persuaded Prussia 
to join with Austria in calling upon those Sovereigns who, 
loyally accepting their obligations under Article 13 of the 
Federal Act of June 8, 1815, had given constitutions to their 
States to undo their work. The challenge was only partly 
successful, yet this act of perfidy likewise rebounded upon 
Prussia as the more German of the two larger Powers. The 
smaller States were indignant that Prussia, which had led the 
nation to freedom from a foreign yoke, was now anxious to 
lead it back into political bondage at home. They were also 
apprehensive. Prussia had been built up by conquest ; the 
memory of her greed at the territorial settlement was still 
fresh ; and the suspicion formed and grew that the spirit of 
aggression at the expense of her German neighbours was still 
not extinguished in the northern Kingdom. Already had begun 
amongst the States that system of cliquery and conspiracy, 
of alliances and counter-alliances, which continued for nearly 
half a century, until the strong hand of a statesman greater 
than Metternich swept away the old divisions and made 
Germany one almost against her will. 

The Carlsbad Decrees continued in force for nearly twenty 
years, and their spirit was the spirit which dominated the home 
politics of Germany during the whole of that time and long 
after. Henceforward the German Diet found little more, and 
nothing more congenial, to do than to fight against the liberty 
and unity of the German nation. The only earnest resistance 
against this movement came from some of the smaller States, 
but because behind it there was no force other than that of 
reason it failed to deter or impress. And beneath all the 
lashing of the tyrant's whip the well-drilled German nation was 
patient and docile, accepting its beating almost thankfully as 
a favour administered for its good. It was not until 1830 that 
it dared seriously to murmur and not until 1848 that it dared 
to threaten. What a grudge should Liberal Europe, were it 


1 listorv of Germany 

less generous, owe to this tractable, much-enduring people ! 
Nowhere else in Christendom has a like oppression been borne 
with a like resignation. It was never thus that free peoples 
were born and free institutions won. 

The arrogance of Metternich reached a height almost 
sublime when, having obtained from the Diet all that he wanted 
for the present, he advised it in 1828 to adjourn indefinitely, 
since there remained no longer anything for it to do. In the 
hour of this triumph of reaction Austria's power in Germany 
seemed to be at its zenith. Well might her Chancellor boast, 
" If the Emperor doubts that he is Emperor of Germany, he 
errs greatly." And yet in proportion as Austria was strong 
in Germany, Germany was weak in Europe. Not in the time 
of the moribund Empire did she stand lower in the council 
of the nations or mean less to the life of Europe than during 
these years of languor and stagnation. 

Treitschke's history of the period deals with much more 
than the Carlsbad Decrees, yet the spirit of the Decrees and 
the laws built upon them was reflected in the entire policy 
of the German Diet both in home and in foreign relations. 
By a Convention of November, 1815, the four Powers forming 
the Grand Alliance Austria, Russia, Prussia, and England 
had agreed to confer at intervals upon measures tending to 
the peace of Europe. The conferences of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), 
Troppau (1820), Laibach (1821), and Verona (1822), were held 
in pursuance of this arrangement. In these conferences, as 
in the domestic conferences of the German Sovereigns among 
themselves, Austria's influence was exerted wholly on the side 
of reaction. Metternich saw in the Concert of the Powers 
merely a device for placing all Europe under the same system 
of police surveillance which he had succeeded in imposing on 
Germany. To him every stirring of national feeling and con- 
sciousness was a challenge to conflict between the principles 
of Order and Revolution as defined by the dominant autocracies. 
In all the measures, now passive, now active, for the repression 
of national movements or Liberal aspirations in Spain and 
Portugal, in Naples and Greece Austria was the ringleader and 
Prussia meekly did her bidding. Only Great Britain protested 
seriously, yet not always with success, against these attempts 
to buttress the crumbling ruins of a decadent and discredited 



From this unprofitable story of Germany's political decline 
and impotence under the influence of Metternich, for half a 
century her evil genius and undoer, it is a relief to turn to 
the brighter story of her internal development. If not startling, 
this was far from uneventful. Prussia, the last of the German 
States in political government, was the first in scientific adminis- 
tration, and the fact must be remembered to her credit. The 
genius of her rulers and statesmen for order and organisation 
was proverbial, and in grappling with the many difficult problems 
incidental to a time of national transition and reconstruction it 
found a fruitful sphere of action. National and local taxation 
was reformed in a progressive spirit ; a system of provincial 
administration was created ; public education was organised on 
a broad basis and on bold and enlightened principles. More- 
over, the way was cleared for the new industrial and commer- 
cial development which was looming ahead by the abolition of 
the internal duties and excises which had acted so injuriously 
in restraint of trade, and the enlarged kingdom was made a 
free market, protected only against competition from without. 
Prussia did more ; she set all Europe an example by so 
moderating her tariff against the foreigner that from 1818 
forward her fiscal system more and more approximated to Free 
Trade. Reciprocal Protection continued for a time to be the 
rule between the German States, but here, again, it was Prussia 
which led the way to the ultimate abolition of all internal 
customs barriers and the consolidation of the German States 
for commercial purposes in a single customs union. 



BOOK II. (continued). 





AT all times the thoughts of young people have been more 
revolutionary than those of older ones, for the young live more 
in the future than in the present, and as yet lack an adequate 
understanding of the power of the persistent in the world of 
history. It is, however, a sign of morbid conditions when 
the chasm between the ideas of the old and those of the young 
becomes too greatly widened, and when youthful enthusiasm 
no longer has anything in common with the sober activities 
of adult manhood. Such an internal separation began to mani- 
fest itself in North Germany after the peace. The young 
men who in the panoply of war had experienced at one and the 
same time the dawn of their own conscious life and the dawn 
of the fatherland, or who while still at school had with pal- 
pitating hearts received news of the marvels of the holy war, 
were still drunken with the memories of those unique days. In 
spirit they continued to wage war against Gallicism and foreign 
dominion, and felt as if they had been betrayed and sold to 
the enemy when the prose of the quiet labours of peace resumed 
its sway. How were they to understand the nature of the 
economic cares which tortured the minds of their elders ? In 
times of old (such was the summary philosophy of history 
of the young), in the days of the national migrations and in 
the days of the empire, Germany had been the master-country 
of the world. Then had ensued the long centuries of power- 
lessness and enslavement, of degeneration, and of subordination 
to foreign influences, until at length " Liitzow's fierce and 
daring hunt " stormed through the Teutonic forests, and the 
consecrated hosts of martial youths restored the German nation 
to itself. And what was their reward ? Instead of the unity 


History of Germany 

of the fatherland there resulted " the German hotchpotch " 
(das deutsche Bunt), as Father Jahn was wont to call it ; whilst 
those of the older generation, from whose necks the heroism 
of the young had lifted the foreign yoke, relapsed into philis- 
tinism, resuming their labours at the desk and in the workshop 
as if nothing had happened. 

Had not Fichte seen the truth when he prophesied 
that this older generation, overwhelmed in self-seeking, must 
disappear to the last man before the days of freedom and 
clarity of vision could dawn for the Germans ? Was it not 
the part of the young to give to their outworn elders 
an example of true Germanism, and therewith an example of 
all sterling human virtues ? The young alone possessed " the 
completely new self " which the philosopher desired to awaken 
in his nation ; they alone understood the significance of his 
proud utterance, " To have character, and to be German, 
are beyond question synonymous terms." Not in vain had 
the orator proclaimed to the German nation, " Youth must not 
laugh and make merry, but must be earnest and sublime." 
Proud as Fichte himself, with erect carriage and defiant smile, 
this warlike young generation passed on its way, permeated 
with the consciousness of a great destiny, resolved, like the 
master himself, not to adapt itself to the world, but to mould 
the world in accordance with its own will. Its longing was 
for action, for the action which issues from free self-determina- 
tion, as extolled by Fichte ; and every flash of the critical 
eyes seemed to say, " That which is to happen must be our 
work ! " Never before, perhaps, had so ardent a religious 
sentiment, so much moral earnestness and patriotic enthusiasm, 
prevailed among the German youth ; but conjoined with this 
pure idealism was from the very first a boundless conceit, a 
precocious self-sufficiency in virtue, which threatened to expel 
from German life its charm, its beauty, and its repose. The rough 
manners of the younger generation recalled all too vividly the 
master's saying, " The doctrine that we should be amiable is 
the devil." When these Spartans strayed into false paths, 
the aberrations of an overstrained moral egoism were apt to 
prove more disastrous than the captivating folly of light-minded 

Who can tell whether Fichte, had his life been prolonged, 
would have endeavoured to restrain these eager youths within 
the bounds of modesty, or whether the revolutionary idealist 


would himself have become embittered by the disillusionments 
of the years of peace ? He died of hospital fever in January, 
1814, a victim of the war, whose significance and purpose 
he had understood so grandly and so purely ; and now the 
younger generation, which ever looks for leadership, passed under 
the influence of other teachers, not one of whom was great 
enough to control the arrogance of youth. Among Liitzow's 
yagers, Jahn, the Turnvater, had proved of little account ; the 
unruly blusterer was ill suited for the strict discipline of military 
service. It was first during the peace negotiations that he once 
more became a conspicuous figure, delighting the gamins as he 
strode through the streets of Paris, cudgel in hand, continually 
railing against the "lecherous Frenchmen." His long hair, which 
had turned grey in a single day after the battle of Jena, hung 
down uncombed upon his shoulders ; his neck was exposed, 
for the servile stock and the effeminate waistcoat were equally 
unsuitable for the free German ; the low-cut neckband of his 
dirty coat was covered by a wide shirt-collar. With great self- 
satisfaction he extolled this questionable get-up as " the genuine 
Old German costume." What a scene, one day, when the 
Austrians were removing the bronze horses of the Lysippus from 
the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in order to send them back 
to Venice ; all of a sudden the giant swordsman was to be 
seen standing on the top of the arch beside the brazen figure 
of Victory, making a thunderous speech to the soldiers and 
with his heavy fist delivering powerful blows on the lying 
mouth and boastful trumpet of the goddess. After this episode 
he was known to the whole town. It delighted his heart 
whenever the Parisians looked at him with angry glances, and 
whispered to one another, " Le voila ! Celui-ci ! " 

After his return home he reopened his gymnastic school : 
" Fresh and joyful, godly, free, the gymnasts' confraternity ! " 
The youth of Berlin hastened in crowds to the Turnplatz, or 
open-air gymnasium, on the Hasenheide and to Colonel Pfuel's 
swimming-school in the Spree. It is true that only a portion 
of the students came, for the majority considered it touched 
their honour that complete equality should prevail among the 
gymnasts, and that they should have to use and suffer the 
familiar " thou " in intercourse with " cads." Even among 
the lower classes the new art at first secured few adherents, 
for those who are continually engaged in physical toil do not 
consider that they need special bodily training. All the more 


History of Germany 

zealously, however, did those students participate who came 
from Plamann's Academy, where Jahn had once been a teacher, and 
those from the various higher educational institutions attended 
by members of the upper classes. These youthful Teutonisers 
had perforce been unable to take part in the holy war, and 
now burned with zeal to make up for lost time, and to give 
proof of Germanism in their defiant spirit and vigorous muscles. 
Their eyes flashed when in his wonderful alliterative phrases 
Jahn drew for them a picture of the genuine gymnast : 
" Virtuous and vigorous, continent and courageous, pure and 
prepared, manful and truthful ! " It was not necessary to tell 
them twice over that they were not to stand about like " the 
lazy loafers with the vacant faces," the utterly contemptible 
" pastry-cooks " (the bourgeois who from across the fosse which 
surrounded the Hasenheide looked on with astonishment at the 
young men's feats). " It is not swilling and gorging," said 
Jahn, " but living and doing which ought to predominate in 
popular festivals." How, then, did they " live and do " on 
the Turnplatz, when the young fellows, all clad in jackets 
of unbleached linen, with bare necks and long hair like the 
master, performed their unexampled feats : hopping and the 
" turnspit," the " balance " and the " see-saw," the " ape-leap," 
the " frog-leap," and the " carp-leap," feats on the trapeze, the 
parallel bars, and the horizontal bar, with, to crown all, the 
grand circle. Enraptured ran the gymnasts' song (TunUied) : 

When for the people's old and sacred rights 

Bravely the Turnermeister, Friedrich Jahn, 
Strode to the field where man for freedom fights, 

A warlike generation followed on. 
Hey, how the youths leapt after him, 

Fresh and joyful, godly, free ! 
Hey, how the youths sang after him : 

Hurrah ! 

When the vacation came it was Jahn's delight to shoulder 
his axe and, accompanied by a small band of devoted followers, 
to undertake a long cross-country tramp in all weathers, pro- 
ceeding by forced marches as far as Riigen or the Silesian 
mountains. At night the grey-jackets would camp in the open 
around their watch-fires, doing all this to promote godly 
Germanism, and loudly then would resound the gymnasts' 
tramping-song (Turnwanderlied) : 


The Burschenschaft 

Close rooms, sitting round the stove, 

Make weaklings Frenchified. 
The tramping life we gymnasts love 

Makes us true and tried. 

For food, in many cases, they had nothing but dry bread, and 
rarely did they drink anything but milk or water, for the 
Turnvater counted moderation among the peculiar virtues of 
the German, an opinion which before his day assuredly no 
mortal had ever shared. Those of sluggish intelligence must 
not grumble if the hot-tempered master should endeavour to 
quicken their thought-process with a box on the ear. But if 
any one of them too grossly transgressed the principles of 
Germanism, or if the lively crowd came across something repul- 
sive, such as a French inscription, or some curled and scented 
darling of fashion, some preposterous dandy, then " they let 
themselves go," for the young rascals squatted in a circle round 
the offending object, a'll pointing at it, loudly exclaiming in 
chorus, "ugh! ugh!" 

In a valiant nation all methodical physical training must 
subserve warlike ends unless it is to degenerate into solemn 
foolery. The gymnastic course, introduced as a part of regular 
school discipline, might constitute a wholesome counterpoise 
to the over-refined culture of the day, and might facilitate the 
carrying out of universal military service. It was with this 
end in view that years before Gneisenau had recommended 
military drill for all the youth of the country, and a similar 
aim, pursued in a somewhat extravagant fashion, was noW 
voiced by the Breslau gymnast, Captain von Schmeling, in his 
work Gymnastics and the Landwchr. But this crank Jahn, 
whose buffooneries had sufficed to make him a person of note, 
was unable to do even a wise thing in any other than a 
foolish manner. In youth he had been inspired with hatred 
for the pipe-clay-and-polish methods of the old army, and he 
possessed neither the culture nor the flexibility of mind requisite 
to understand the significance of the new Army Law. Since 
after the peace many of the useless arts of the parade-ground 
were revived, and since it was sufficiently obvious that the 
elegant officers of the guard in Berlin had no more than an 
extremely moderate affection for the long-haired roughs of the 
Hasenheide, in Jahn's view the army had relapsed into the 
condition of 1806, and after his ancient manner he stormed 


History of Germany 

against " the recruited mercenaries who were drilled upon the 
parade-ground." His thoughtless pupils refrained, of course, 
from asking themselves the simple question where in Prussia 
these recruited mercenaries were to be found, but faithfully 
followed Jahn's lead, and sang with contemptuous delight : 

Why does the uhlan warrior tall 
With tight -laced stays his body gall ? 
Because with no support at all 
His heart would in his breeches fall ! 

The gymnastic grounds were the breeding-places of those 
party legends whereby in the popular mind was falsified the 
history of the War of Liberation. It was not, they came to 
believe, the arts of the men of the corporal's cane, but the 
enthusiasm of the Landwehr, the Landsturm, and, above all, 
of the volunteers, which had gained the victory. All the deeds 
of valour which Jahn and his Liitzowers had intended to per- 
form, but which unfortunately they had failed to effect, now 
became real after the event in the boastful talk of his comrades 
of the gymnasium. To hear these men of power was to gain 
the conviction that the next time the French made an attack 
a single great gymnastic feat on the part of Jahn's disciples 
would suffice to pulverise the enemy. " We who are weather- 
proof," said the Turnlied, " have no fear of mercenary warriors." 
Just as Jahn would have nothing to do with the army, 
so would he have nothing to do with the schools : his gym- 
nastic grounds were to constitute a world apart, a nursery of 
Germanism, inspired by his spirit alone. Though he was a 
pious and honourable man, the excessive admiration which he 
received from many persons of far greater gifts, turned his 
head. Was it not natural that he should come to regard him- 
self as the guardian angel of the German youth, when Schenken- 
dorf, writing his beautiful poem " When all become unfaithful, 
still faithful ever we," had testified his respect for the Turn- 
vater with the dedicatory words : " Renewed fidelity to Jahn ! " 
Here it could be read by all men, that, whilst others went 
a whoring after idols, Jahn alone with his disciples continued 
" to teach and to preach the Holy German Empire." Two 
universities, Jena and Kiel, gave him a doctor's degree almost 
at the same date, and with all the pomp of academic official 
eloquence lavished praises on the founder of the ars tornaria, 


The Burschen sch aft 

the awakener of youth, the saviour of the German tongue, 
the new Martin Luther. Friedrich Thiersch dedicated his 
edition of Pindar to Jahn, and in a stirring preface showed 
how gymnastics rendered the Hellenes and the Germans akin 
in their devotion to all the ideal aims of the human race 
but unfortunately the figures of the early gymnasts of the 
Hasenheide were far more often reminiscent of the pictures of 
gladiators to be seen in the baths of Caracalla than of the 
laurel-crowned victors of Olympia. 

When talented professors overvalued the stalwart Priegnitz 
peasant in this remarkable way, how could his youthful followers 
fail to idolise him ? They all imitated him, especially his 
defects, his barbarous speech, his roughness, and his uncleanli- 
ness. His fondness for vigorous vernacular expressions soon 
became a craze, for he was entirely lacking in the power of 
self-criticism. The young gymnasts and the furious Franco- 
phobes of the Berlin " German Language Society " outdid the 
master's follies, instituting, under the plea of linguistic purifica- 
tion, a professional hunt against all words of foreign origin, 
speaking of the universities as V ernunft-turnpldtze (drill grounds 
of the understanding), referring in the concert hall to the 
Einklangswettstreite des Klangwerks (one-tone-wager-strifes of the 
clangwork, i.e. harmonious competition of the instruments), 
and so on, and thus succeeded in manufacturing an inflated 
gibberish which was no less un-German and was far stupider 
than that seventeenth-century lingo which was interlarded with 
foreign fragments. Jahn's own manners remained just as 
rude and uncouth as they had been in the heroic days of 
his academic youth, when he was accustomed to throw cow- 
dung in an opponent's face, and when he entrenched himself 
in a cave on the declivity of the Giebichenstein in order to 
hurl rocks at the Halle students who were endeavouring to 
storm his position. 

Young men became decivilised under the leadership of a 
churl to whom art, antiquity, the whole world of the beautiful, 
were closed books. In respect of courage and vigour, the new 
Germanism was extravagantly endowed ; but other no less 
German virtues, modesty, the scientific spirit, abstemious dili- 
gence, and veneration for age and for the law, were disdained. 
Moralising zealotry is agreeable to no one ; in the mouths 
of immature students such zealotry seemed as tasteless as did 
boasts of chastity, that chastity which is of value only when 

9 c 

History of Germany 

it displays a discreet reticence. All judicious teachers began 
to complain that their students were becoming pert and unruly, 
and that the chick always wished to be cleverer than the hen 
How often had foreigners been amused by the strange contra- 
diction that while the Germans perhaps held a higher view of 
woman's dignity than did the members of any other nation, 
yet in their forms of social intercourse they displayed so little 
evidence of such a sentiment ; it was first through the graces 
of the new literature that some limitations were imposed in 
this respect upon masculine arrogance, so that woman once 
more came into her rights in German society ; but now the 
unlicked Teutonic cub stretched his limbs again, growling 
the while, and our young men made it a point of honour 
to render themselves odious to women. Behind this renowned 
Teutonist bluntness there was hidden a considerable amount 
of self-deception ; the rough tone was a fashion like any other, 
roughness in the Germans being often just as artificial as was 
politeness in the inhabitants of other lands. Beneath the 
terrorism of the Teutonist affectation of rigorous phrases and 
vigorous manners there went on an atrophy of the kernel of 
all that is truly German, the fine freedom of personal individu- 
ality. The forced unnaturalness of this deliberate berserkerdom 
served merely to show that the humane and serene virtues of 
the Athenians are more akin to the German spirit than is the 
unamiable harshness of the Spartans. 

The most remarkable feature of the whole matter was 
that this new Germanism, which in its dreams comprehended 
the entire fatherland, immediately relapsed into the ancient 
and ineradicable spirit of clique, so that simultaneously with 
the promulgation of Germanism there began the formation of 
a secluded sect with its own customs and its own peculiar 
speech. Here was the gymnast's state (Turnstaat), the gym- 
nast's mode of life (Turnleben], the gymnast's confession of 
faith (Turnbekenntnis) , here alone did true freedom and genuine 
equality flourish : 

Thus fostering a kingdom free, 
In rank and class all equals we. 
Realm of the free ! All equals we ! 
Hurrah ! 

Rarely in the gymnasts' songs do we hear the clear tones of 
frank, youthful joyousness. Most of the young poets assume 


The Burschenschaft 

a combative attitude, challenging!}', threateningly, scoldingly 
making onslaught upon the enemies of the most excellent 
gymnastic art : " Is the eagle derided when mocked at by 
the sparrow on the dunghill ? " How foolishly did Jahn 
himself cultivate this sectarian spirit. Whoever remained aloof 
from the circle of initiates was a " false German," a " she 
mannikin " (Siemdmilein), a " tyrant's slave," and was treated 
with the grossest intolerance. In the seventh of his " laws 
for gymnasts " Jahn expressly directed that every gymnast 
should immediately report the discovery of anything " which 
friend or foe of the turncraft may say, write, or do for 
or against the said craft, in order that at the fit time and 
place all such fellows may be thought of with praise or 
blame ! " Thus in all innocence there gradually came into 
existence a state within the state ; the harmless gymnastic 
art assumed many of the more sinister characteristics of 
political fanaticism, and not a few persons of timid disposi- 
tion were reminded of the English roundheads by the puri- 
tanism of the German longhairs, or were even fed to compare 
the sanscravats of Germany with the sansculottes of revolu- 
tionary France. 

Adults are always partly responsible for the follies of the 
young. The arrogance of the members of the younger genera- 
tion would never have risen to so high a pitch had not their elders 
treated the childish sport with an exaggerated measure of praise 
and of blame which to us of to-day, amid the pressure of our 
serious party struggles, is already becoming unintelligible. Public 
life in Prussia seemed dead, and the great work of the reconstruc- 
tion of the state was carried on solely within the retirement of 
official workrooms. The newspapers allotted to the fatherland 
a restricted and inconspicuous place on the last page beneath 
the foreign news, and for weeks in succession would often find 
nothing to report about the homeland beyond princely visits and 
manoeuvres, or the choice celebration of an official jubilee, when 
the retiring greyhead received the order of the red eagle and shed 
tears of emotion at " this unquestionably rare proof of royal 
favour." It was only the gymnastic grounds which provided 
copy. The papers were never weary of describing " what 
amazing gentleness and pious innocence, what fortitude of body 
and profundity of mind, are displayed by these valiant youths," 
although most of the repose-loving readers of the journals secretly 
disliked the " grey rascals." The ostentatious bustle of the 


History of Germany 

gymnasts' tramping excursions recalled the uproarious doings of 
the mediaeval flagellants. In many little towns the entire corpora- 
tion would assemble at the gate to receive the gymnasts as if they 
had been a victorious army ; and the first time Jahn led his 
devoted followers to Breslau, half the town had turned out to 
meet them, so that for many miles along the high road the 
youthful heroes, dripping with sweat, and far from embellished 
by their prolonged exertions, passed along between lines of gaping 

Contrasted with such " outsiders " they could not fail to 
regard themselves as chosen fighters on behalf of " the good 
cause." Doubtless among the older generation a few might be 
found " who were not intellectual cripples," and who, like the 
gymnasts themselves, vigorously waged war against foreign 
manners, against the " foul and poisonous French tongue." Such 
a man was Gottlieb Welcker, the philologian, who published a 
pamphlet Why we must rid ourselves of French. Willemer, again, 
of Frankfort, the husband of Goethe's Suleika, wrote A Word to 
the Women of Germany, an onslaught upon Paris fashions. The 
same idea was carried a stage further by Councillor Becker of Gotha, 
who delivered a fierce attack upon " over-dressed women and the 
foolish law-giver fashion," but unfortunately the sober picture 
of German festal array appended to his book was a mere imitation 
of the black Spanish dress of the seventeenth century. In any 
case, the women of Germany would not give up their bright colours, 
nor the men endeavour to do without the exchange of ideas with 
French civilisation. Since the elders also remained obstinately 
Francophile, the Teutonist movement was restricted to the very 
young, and among these its extravagance increased day by day. 
Many a father sent his son to the gymnastic ground only in order 
to protect the lad from the scorn of companions. Whenever a 
young man encountered another and both were wearing a dagger 
attached to a steel chain displayed outside a shabby Old German 
coat, the two would immediately fraternise like the members of 
an invisible church, interchanging enthusiasm for their " convic- 
tion." This term " conviction " had hitherto denoted a belief 
acquired from without, based upon another's testimony, but now 
the word gained a new emotional significance which it retains to 
this day. Conviction was the voice of conscience, the genuine 
ego of the German ; fidelity to conviction was the highest of all 
virtues, and to change it was to betray oneself and to be false to 
Germanism. Rejoicing in their common conviction, the young 


people felt secure of the future ; and Sartorius of Giessen, nick- 
named " the peasant," sang in his Turnleben : 

O'er all possible affliction 
Soars triumphant our conviction. 
'Tis this that makes us equals true 
And founds for us our kingdom new. 

Yet not one of the young enthusiasts could explain the real 
nature of this sacred conviction, and least of all the Turnvater 
himself. Nothing could be more absurd than to accuse such 
a man as Jahn of the arts of the secret conspirator, for he was 
one who never felt at ease except in the midst of noise and 
tumult. His loyalty to the king was beyond question ; how 
often, even in later years, did he teach his young friends that 
salvation for Germany was to be found in Prussia alone. The 
unity of the fatherland remained his dream. He felt, and often 
gave vigorous expression to his feeling, that a coalition war 
followed by a blighted success did not suffice to awaken the 
slumbering national pride. " Germany," he said, " needs a war 
that is entirely her own affair, to arouse her nationality to the 
full." In his Runic Leaves (1814), he described even more 
expressively and in a yet more astonishing manner than in his 
earlier work German Folkdom how the soul of the nation 
decayed under the influence of particularism : " The fatherland 
must awaken lofty feelings, arouse lofty ideas, be a shrine, and 
become heroism. Paltriness is the grave of all that is great 
and good." Like Fichte he longed for a despot who would con- 
strain to Germanism. The tyrant-creator and unity-bringer is 
honoured by every nation as a saviour, and all his sins are for- 
given him. Yet Jahn had never given any serious thought to the 
forms of German unity or to the means for its attainment, regard- 
ing it as a matter of indifference whether the imperial dignity 
should be hereditary in one particular house or whether it 
should be allotted to the German princes in rotation, " like the 
brewer's licence in many German towns." 

He rarely spoke of politics to the mass of his pupils, and 
many rigidly conservative young men, like the brothers Ranke, 
for instance, took part in the exercises without noticing anything 
amiss. But all the more did Jahn transgress by delivering 
good-for-nothing orations in the circle of his intimates, railing 
immoderately about men and things far beyond the scope of his 


History of Germany 

understanding, and boasting of approaching contests with unknown 
enemies. What could the young hotspur Heinrich Leo think 
when the Turnvater elaborately taught him that with a dagger 
one should first feint at the eyes, and then, when the victim had 
his arms in front of his face, should strike at the unprotected 
breast ? Franz Lieber, the most talented and most deeply stirred 
among the youthful enthusiasts, conscientiously entered in his 
notebook " Golden Sayings from the Lips of Father Jahn," 
embellishing them at times with the wisdom of his own eighteen 
years. When the master had delivered the weighty utterance : 
" Word against Word, Pen against Pen, Dagger against Dagger," 
the pupil added the conclusion on his own account, " Should 
they arrest me, Aha ! " and the unmeaning vaunt sounded like 
the password of a conspiracy. \Vith the expulsion of the 
French, Jahn's store of political ideas was exhausted ; the public 
lectures upon Germanism delivered in the year 1817, while 
containing a few isolated points of value, consisted for the most 
part of vain catchwords. He would have preferred that 
between Germany and France there should exist an impassable 
barrier, a great wilderness peopled only by the bear and the 
aurochs ; but since this had unfortunately become impossible, 
steps must at least be taken to break off all intercourse with 
the French. " One who allows his daughter to learn French 
might just as well teach her to be a whore." This sort of 
thing was interspersed with violent attacks upon the secret 
and inquisitorial proceedings of the law-courts, and he had a 
whole dictionary of invectives against statesmen and courtiers. 
His closing exclamation was : " God save the king, safeguard 
Germanism, and graciously grant us the one thing we need, 
a wise constitution." 

His own mind was quite hazy regarding the nature of 
this wise constitution, but his youthful followers did not fail 
to outdo the master in foolish chatter concerning questions 
beyond their comprehension. The effrontery of the gymnastic 
cult, its contemptuous hatred for all that was brilliant and all 
that was noble, was indeed rooted in the indelible peculiarities 
of the German character. The yearning for the rude simplicity 
of primitive man had always been preserved among our people, 
and had often before, whenever the Teutonic blood began to 
effervesce, displayed itself in the form of wild roughness ; this 
was the case in the coarse writings of the sixteenth century, 
and again comparatively recently in the epoch of the poetical 


The Burschenschaft 

Sturm und Drang movement. Yet even the fanaticism for 
political equality of the detested Jacobins exercised an unrecog- 
nised influence upon the thoughts of the gymnasts. When 
Buri's Turnruj ordered idlers out of the wrestling ground with 
the words , " Away from the shrine of equality, where slave 
and master are equally hated," it was impossible that the young 
hotheads of this evangel of equality should fail to apply the 
saying forthwith in the sphere of political life. Lusty terms of 
abuse directed against the " toadies, play-actors, whores, horses, 
and dogs " of the dissolute courts were in common use among 
the gymnasts ; and in the schoolrooms there was much pleasure 
taken in an arithmetical sum propounded by a staunch Teuton- 
ising teacher, " If one princely court costs 2,000,000 thalers, 
what is the cost of three and thirty ? " Many of the beautiful 
poems of the War of Liberation acquired fresh significance 
in peace time. The popular anger to which they appealed was 
involuntarily directed, now that the foreign despot had been 
overthrown, against enemies at home ; and soon new songs 
became current which openly glorified the struggle of the free 
gymnasts against the crowns : 

Crowned illusion still fights against truth, 
Virtue contends ever with the devil . . . 
The cradle of freedom and the coffin of oppression 
Are both fashioned from the tree of gymnastics. 

Thus the serene enthusiasm of our youths for the unity of the 
fatherland gradually became clouded by revolutionary phrases. 
Such talk involved little danger to civil order, but the upright- 
ness of the rising generation was imperilled when young people 
began to indulge freely in arrogant threats and to forget 
that words have a meaning. 

The undisciplined roughness of the gymnasts was from the 
first extremely repulsive to the strict militarist sentiments of the 
king. Hardenberg on the other hand, always grateful and kind- 
hearted, did not forget the services Jahn had rendered during 
the period of secret preparations for war, and treated his 
whimsies with much consideration. But the chancellor felt 
obliged to administer a friendly admonition when a man who 
was having his daughters taught French complained of Jahn's 
invectives. The repetition of the public lectures was prohibited, 
but for the rest the Turnvater was left undisturbed, and his 
work was subsidised by the national treasury. Even Altenstein 


History of Germany 

frankly recognised the value of gymnastic training and busied 
himself with a plan for its introduction into the schools. Both 
these statesmen were prepared to make provision for Jahn in 
some such position as that of head of a farming school, but 
they considered him unfitted for the post he coveted, lecturer 
on the German tongue at one of the universities. 1 

The first serious onslaught upon the gymnastic cult came 
from literary circles. Primarily in Breslau and subsequently 
in many other towns gymnastic grounds had been instituted 
after the Berlin model. Jahn's book upon the German gym- 
nastic art, which he published in conjunction with his pupil 
Eiselen, was employed everywhere as a manual of instruction. 
In 1817 Steffens issued a warning against the debasing influence 
of " Turnerei," first of all in The present Day and its Development, 
and subsequently in Caricatures of the Most Holy and other 
writings. There now ensued the great gymnastic controversy 
of Breslau, one of those struggles that are literary rather than 
political, in which the patriotic passion of this epoch of transi- 
tion was accustomed to find vent. Steffens' criticism of the 
gymnasts' vagaries was unduly harsh ; so sensitive was his 
spirit that he failed to recognise how rarely a genuine Teuton 
attains virile energy without a full measure of youthful rough- 
ness ; moreover, he lacked the sense of humour which was 
essential for the detection of the sound kernel underlying Jahn's 
extravagances. But he accurately recognised the grave moral 
defect of the gymnastic grounds, the hopeless arrogance of the 
younger generation, nor could anyone deny the honourable 
aims of the ardent orator who in the spring of 1813 had stimu- 
lated the youth of Breslau by precept and example. There 
were excellent men on both sides in this controversy, and 
friends and brothers quarrelled about the matter. Carl von 
Raumer dissented from Steffens, his brother-in-law and 
companion-at-arms ; Carl's brother Friedrich and his colleague 
Carl Adolf Menzel the historian joined Steffens in the attack. 
Among those who rallied to the defence of the gymnastic 
grounds, Harnisch the educationist and Passow the lexicographer 
were conspicuous. The latter's outspoken and passionate work 
on the aims of the gymnasts declared that these were " the 
promotion of a gradual advance to the highest goal of humanity." 
Such a purpose was nobler than to aim at developing 

1 Hardenbcrg to Altenstein, December 8, 1817. Altenstcin's Reply, January 
19, 1818. 


The Burschenschaft 

" mercenaries and hirelings for the bloody uses of arbitrary 
power." When their elders discoursed with such profound 
earnestness about the civilising influence of the horizontal bar 
and the parallel bars, the younger men could no longer doubt 
that they themselves were the world's axis. 

Timid folk in Berlin who had long scented secret dema- 
gogic purposes behind the gymnastic cult were encouraged by 
Steffens' intervention to additional attacks on their own 
account. Among these were Wadzeck, the senior master, a 
man who had done excellent service in the field of poor relief ; 
Scheerer, the author ; and the notorious Colin, the evil repute 
of whose lampoon The Firebrands had persisted since the days 
of the peace of Tilsit. The offensive tone of such denunciations 
poisoned yet further the undisciplined sentiments of the young 
men. Jahn stormed against the " viper's brood " of his opponents. 
His pupils chanted rude songs of defiance, and gave the 
nickname " Wadzecks " to the wooden figures at which, upon 
the Hasenheide, they threw wooden javelins. More and more 
did a morbid and utterly aimless political excitement come to 
prevail upon the gymnastic grounds. Altenstein noted this 
development with much concern. He knew that the king's 
anger was daily increasing, and wrote to the chancellor to 
express his anxiety, saying : "If gymnastics are so grossly 
misused, we shall have to abandon the hope of greater things, 
such as the constitution." 1 He retained his friendly attitude 
as long as possible, and no legal measures were instituted 
against the gymnastic grounds until the vociferous activities 
of the university students had provoked the unchaining of 


Berlin was the birthplace of the gymnastic cult, but the 
cradle of the Burschenschaft was Thuringia. Where, indeed, 
could this romantic association of students have pursued its 
dream-life with such confidence and self-satisfaction, so utterly 
unconcerned about the hard facts of reality, as amid the easy- 
going anarchy of a patriarchal little community which had 
never made acquaintance with the serious aspects of national 
life ? Among all the adverse influences which impeded the 

1 Jahn to Schuckmann, September, 1817. Altenstein to Hardenberg, Sep- 
tember 15, 1818. 


History of Germany 

advance of our people towards national greatness, perhaps the 
most important was the utter absence of political history in 
this central region of Germany. At one time or another in their 
history, almost all the other German stocks had taken some 
interest in the aims of political power ; the Thuringians, never. 
German civilisation owes them inexpressible gratitude ; the 
German state, nothing. Even in the most remote times they 
were unable to maintain a tribal duchy. At a later date, 
under the rule of the landgraves, Thuringia first acquired a 
brilliant position in the spiritual life of the nation, not through 
the abundance of its own talents, but through a tolerant and 
sympathetic hospitality which was well suited to the central 
position of the country. Frau Aventiure held her brilliant 
court at Wartburg, and the knightly singers of all regions 
of the empire wooed the favour of Hermann the Mild in 
euphonious rhymes. But the song-loving land took small part 
in the great struggles of the days of the Hohenstaufen. Later, 
too, when the Wettins rose to power, Thuringia ever remained 
a minor dependency ; the lozenge-crown of Saxony took the 
place of the old lion of the landgraves. The political centre of 
gravity of Wettin rule was in the mark of Meissen, in Kurkreis, 
and in Osterland ; nor was it long before the flourishing mid- 
German state was destroyed by that momentous partition which 
resulted from the fratricidal struggles of the Ernestines and the 

A glorious day of spiritual renown dawned once more on 
the Thuringian mountains when the greatest of Thuringians 
began his struggle for the gospel under the protection of his 
pious prince, and when the acropolis of knightly minnesong 
became the birthplace of the German bible. Yet even this 
teeming time proved decisive for the political destruction of 
the country. Few turns of destiny in German history are so 
tragic as the disastrous collapse of the power of the Ernestines ; 
none other of our princely houses has had to atone so painfully 
for failing to seize splendid opportunities, none other has learned 
so bitterly the ancient truth that the political world belongs 
to those of bold resolve. Upon the death of Emperor Maxi- 
milian, Elector Frederick the Wise was the chief of our princely 
estate, the leader of the reform party in the Empire, and it 
lay within his power to provide the nation with a German, 
a Protestant emperordom ; but he refused the crown, saying : 
' The crows desire a vulture." To both his successors fortune 

The Burschenschaft 

again offered rare favours, and again were great opportunities 
renounced. At every Reichstag the people looked expectantly 
towards the peacock-plumed helmets of the Ernestines. On 
the occasion of the protest of Spires, and on that of the presen- 
tation of the Augsburg confession, wherever there was occasion 
to give testimony on behalf of God's word, they stood, indeed, 
in the foreground, justifying their motto, " Straight ahead 
makes a good runner." It was in their country that the first 
Evangelical national church came into existence, and their name 
is inseparably associated with all the great memories of Protes- 
tantism. But their talents did not transcend the passive 
virtues of steadfastness and fidelity. The sole resolve which 
could bring salvation, the determination to fight openly against 
the Spanish foreign dominion, was continually postponed from 
conscientious caution and slothful dread of action, until at 
length the unprecedented political incapacity of the phlegmatic 
procrastinator John Frederick was lamentably overpowered by 
the superior statecraft of the Hapsburgs and of his own Alber- 
tine cousins. 

Barely a generation after the elector Frederick's pusillani- 
mous renunciation, his grandsons had personal experience of 
the sharp talons of the Spanish vulture ; the electoral hat and 
the old tribal lands of the Wettins were lost to the Albertines, 
and as the issue of the Schmalkaldian war the predominant 
power among the German Protestants secured, not the hero's laurel, 
but the martyr's crown. It was indeed a pitiable spectacle, the 
way in which the once glorious but humiliated dynasty, after a 
weakly attempt to regain its position, flaccidly accepted its 
new and humiliating situation. Devoid of all political ideas, 
utterly immersed in petty-bourgeois domestic concerns, the 
house divided and subdivided the remnants of its old dominion 
until it sank at length to the lowest ranks of the German 
estate of princes. The collateral branches of the Albertines in 
Thuringia were afflicted with the same mania. New lines were 
continually founded, only to disappear ; the Thuringian lands 
repeatedly changed hands ; within one and a half centuries 
the lordship of Romhild passed to five families in succession ; 
in Ruhla, a brook running down the village street was the 
boundary line between the territory of Weimar and that of 
Gotha, while a Jena student in a short afternoon walk could 
readily embroil himself with the police of three or four different 
lords paramount. 


History of Germany 

Thus it was that, next to Swabia, Thuringia became the 
favourite home of German particularism. When at length a 
modern conception of the state awakened even in these petty 
dominions, when Ernest Augustus of Weimar introduced the 
primogeniture ordinance, when his Ernestine cousins gradually 
followed this good example, and Meiningen finally took the 
same course in the year 1801, the work of subdivision had 
already been completed, and the particularism of this region 
proved hardier than that of the south-west, because in Thuringia 
it existed exclusively in the form of temporal principalities. At 
the conclusion of peace the 700,000 inhabitants of the princi- 
palities of Thuringia (leaving the Prussian and Hessian territories 
out of consideration) were under the rule of five Saxon houses, 
two Schwarzburg lines, and three families of Reuss, only two 
of the last-named unfortunately being recognised by the federal 
act. These nine or ten states were sovereign powers, each 
completely independent of the others. Their only common 
institutions were the university, supported by the five serene 
Saxon Nutritors (princely patrons), and the new supreme court of 
appeal of Jena. Among the people, from time to time, there 
was diffused some conception of the pitiableness of these 
conditions. In the neighbourhood of Roth, five miles from 
Hildburghausen, the song was current : 

Hildburghauser sway 
To Roth makes way, 
But there veers round 
And goes back by rebound. 

Yet, on the whole, people were happy in these distressing narrows 
where princely favour and nepotism smoothed the path of life 
so comfortably for every tolerably useful man ; the domestic 
virtues of the devout Ernestine princes were more akin to the 
populace than was the elemental figure of Bernard of Weimar, 
who with the clash of his sword at one time disturbed the 
monotonous idyll of this provincial history. On no occasion 
not even during the febrile excitements of the year 1848, did 
the Thuringians seriously contemplate the mediatisation of their 
petty lords. 

In Thuringia, as throughout Central Germany, there was 
assembled within a narrow space an extraordinary variety 
of manners and customs. The solitary Rennsteig road, on the 
crest of the Thuringian forest, once the boundary between 


The Burschenschaft 

the Thuringians and the Franconians, constitutes to this day a 
sharp line of tribal demarcation. To the south of this line 
we have the purely South German people of the Coburg region, 
speaking the Henneberg dialect which is strongly Franconian 
in character ; to the north lies Thuringia proper between the 
Saale and Werra rivers, and to the eastward of the Saale a 
different population again, intermingled with Slav elements. 
Even in the new dynastic subdivisions, originating so recently 
and in so haphazard a fashion, there soon came to prevail 
a tenacious particularism, harmless and philistine in character, 
but strong enough to render any change difficult. All good 
Meiningers rejoiced when their quarrelsome duke, Antony 
Ulrich, desiring to deprive his cousins in Weimar and Gotha 
of the hoped-for succession, concluded a second marriage when 
over sixty years of age, and from sheer perversity procreated 
eight children. Gotha and Altenburg, long united under a 
single ducal coronet, maintained themselves inviolably as two 
independent states, refusing even to recognise one another's 
coinage ; and only to the energy of will of Charles Augustus 
did it prove possible, after severe struggles, to unite the three 
principalities of Weimar, Jena, and Eisenach, to constitute a 
single state. The natural capital of the country, Erfurt, had 
under the rule of the Mainz crozier always maintained a separate 
position amid its Protestant environment ; and subsequently, 
after the destruction of its university, it continued to lead 
the quiet existence of a fortress and official town. 

Thus the political and intellectual life of Thuringia rippled 
on its way dispersed in narrow runnels. Among the larger 
towns there was hardly one which had not been for a time 
distinguished as the seat of a princely house, but not one of 
them had risen above the pettiness of a servile parochialism. 
Everywhere there existed the germs of a more abundant intel- 
lectual activity, little collections and institutions of communal 
activity, seven public libraries in close proximity, but nowhere 
a great whole. The country was more thickly set with castles, 
parks, and game-preserves than any other region in Germany. 
Many of these princely seats were endeared to the people by 
significant memories, as for instance the Wartburg : Friedenstein, 
whose possession had been so fiercely contested ; Altenburg, 
the scene of the abduction of the princes ; the fortress of 
Coburg where Luther had found refuge ; and the Frohliche 
Wiederkunft (Joyful Return) where John Frederick recruited 


History of Germany 

his energies in the chase, after the anxieties of his captivity 
at the hands of the Spaniard. Many of the others, however, 
bore witness only to the ridiculous crotchets of an idle estate 
of princes, men who had nothing to do with their time and 
their energies. Here one of the Giinthers of Schwarzburg had 
for a joke built his wife the hunting lodge der Possen (" of 
the Pranks ") in the forest hills of Hainleite ; there Christian 
von Weissenfels, desiring to eternalise his Caesarian greatness, 
had his portrait carved three times in gigantic relief on the 
red cliffs of the vineyards in the Unstrut valley, surrounded by 
Father Noah and grape-gatherers, and further had a gilded 
equestrian statue of himself erected in the Freiburg market-place. 

Servile pens described the charming land as God's garden 
cared for by the hands of princes, but in reality the diligent 
attentions of these minor sovereigns remained altogether unfruit- 
ful until far on into the eighteenth century. Minds underwent 
petrifaction under the long-enduring regime of rigid Lutheranism. 
Isolated princes, like Ernest the Pious of Gotha, might under- 
stand how to awaken a vigorous religious life : but to , the 
majority of these rulers theology was nothing more than an 
unspiritual pastime ; happy was the court which could number 
among its princes a "serene eight-year old preacher" like 
William Ernest of Weimar. Subsequently, with the growth 
of secular culture, many of the sins of courtly absolutism 
made their way into the country. Gross immorality was 
not known among the good Ernestines, but the game of playing 
at soldiers and the sale of men flourished luxuriantly, whilst 
in this microcosm the all-knowing governmental zeal of the 
new princely despotism frequently increased to the point of 
mania. As late as in the Frederician epoch Ernest Augustus 
of Weimar invented the renowned fire-plates inscribed with 
cabalistic signs ; when thrown into the flames these were sup- 
posed to extinguish the fire instantly, and all the communes 
were forced to make adequate provision of the appliances. 

It was by Charles Augustus that a freer current was first 
re-established in Thuringian life. For the third time Central 
Germany became the focus of our national civilisation. Once 
more as in the days of Hermann the Mild a magnanimous 
spirit of hospitality summoned the heroes of German poesy 
from the north and from the south, and more glorious than 
the old renown of the Wartburg was now the fame of the 
little town on the Ilm : 


The Burschen sch aft 

O Weimar, predestined a singular fate, 

Like Bethlehem art thou at once small and great ! 

It was indeed, as Goethe assured his princely friend, " profitable 
to play the host to genius." For although the great towns 
of Thuringia belonged to the nation at large, and never became 
completely at home in their pigmy environment, they returned 
the hospitable gift of genius to the land which had given them 
so cordial a reception. In the brief blossoming time of the 
university of Jena there grew up a new generation of efficient 
teachers and officials. Most of the minor courts and a great 
part of the nobility endeavoured, as far as their powers per- 
mitted, to keep step with the new literature. How often 
did Goethe drive over to see Minister Frankenberg of Gotha 
in order to enjoy himself in talented society in the Gute 
Schmiede at Siebeleben. At the time of the congress of Vienna, 
Diking, Rost, and Wustemann were teaching at the Gotha 
Gymnasium (state classical school) ; Stieler was beginning his 
cartographical labours ; and shortly afterwards Perthes opened 
his extensive bookselling business in the town. Moreover, 
the activities of the great humanist prince (as Humboldt termed 
him) permanently increased the prestige of the Ernestine house 
throughout the world ; the famous but half-forgotten dynasty 
reacquired the gratitude and affection of the nation, atoning 
most nobly for the still painfully remembered blows of the 
Schmalkaldian war. 

It was however impossible for literary renown to cure the 
ineradicable defects of particularism. The storms of the Napo- 
leonic wars passed over the feudal constitutions of these little 
territories without leaving a trace. Even Duke Augustus of 
Gotha, inveterate Bonapartist as he was, did not venture to 
interfere with the gentry and the nobility. The nobles were 
sharply differentiated from the bourgeoisie by caste pride and 
by manifold privileges, although distinguished neither by great 
wealth nor by historic renown. In the Gotha Landtag the 
two burgomasters played a poor part beside the proud curia 
of counts, consisting of the single representative of the house 
of Hohenlohe and the numerous forces of the gentry : whoever 
possessed any share of land held on knight's service was a 
member of the Landtag, so that on one occasion two and 
twenty Wangenheims put in a simultaneous appearance. The 
proverbially deplorable condition of the Thuringian military 


History of Germany 

system likewise persisted unchanged. People still loved to 
recount anecdotes of the " Wasungen War " ; how in Wasungen 
(the Thuringian Abdera) the soldiers of Gotha and those of 
Meiningen had fought with one another, and how both the 
armies had withdrawn from the important place animated rather 
by discretion than by valour. But even in the serious wars 
of recent years the utter ineffectiveness of particularism had 
resulted in similar tragicomedies. During the Seven Years' 
War, the duke of Gotha, in return for English subsidies, sent 
some battalions to join the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick, 
whilst his imperial contingent fought against Prussia ; in the 
year 1813 part of the Weimar troops were with York's corps 
Whilst other detachments were under the banner of Napoleon. 
At length some degree of order was introduced into the 
confusion of these slender contingents by an arbitrary decree 
of the Imperator ; irreverently disregarding the distinction 
between the Rudolstadt and the Sondershausen national 
character, he compacted several of the smallest into an anony- 
mous " Bataillon des Princes." After the war, to the popular 
satisfaction, most of the troops were disbanded. Prussia would 
provide for the protection of the country. The peace-loving 
Thuringians preferred to regale themselves upon the glorious 
sight of the cavalry guards of Gotha, swaggering about with 
huge broadswords, jack-boots, and jingling spurs. The guards- 
men were rough manual workers who for a moderate daily wage 
engaged in the trade of arms in rotation ; when the guard 
was changed the new men donned the uniforms of those 
whom they relieved horses were completely unknown to these 
" cavalrymen." As a superfluous precaution, Gotha boasted 
a fortress on the summit of one of the Drei Gleichen. The 
four cannon of the Wachsenburg threateningly commanded the 
two other Gleichen, which the new sovereign, the king of Prussia, 
carelessly left unfortified. 

The scanty resources of the region were nowhere sufficient 
for the promotion of means of intercourse, for the yield of 
the rich princely domains was mainly devoted to the upkeep 
of the courts. Everyone made fun of the horrible state of the 
Gotha high roads, and no one more heartily than the Prussian 
customs-officials at Langensalza, for the freight wagons invariably 
stuck fast or overturned in the celebrated Henningsleben hole 
just before the Prussian customs-barrier, so that dues could be 
collected at leisure. On the Leipzig-Frankfort road the Weimar 


The Burschenschaft 

escort inexorably collected the fees payable for this service, 
although from immemorial days the wagoners had no longer 
been accompanied by armed troopers. The peasants, heavily 
burdened with seigneurial dues, continued to practise agriculture 
after the manner of their remote ancestors ; it was only the 
men of Erfurt, the gardeners of the Holy Empire, who main- 
tained their ancient renown as skilled floriculturists. Every- 
where the communal herdsmen continued to drive all the village 
live-stock, horses, beeves, goats, and geese, in a confused medley, 
to the undivided common. Industry was carried on exclusively 
to satisfy the modest needs of the neighbourhood ; hardly 
anything beyond the Apolda stockings and the Sonneberg 
wares, the little toys produced by the home industry of the 
forest villagers, made their way into the world-market. The 
inhabitants conducted their modest labours in a spirit of harm- 
less merriment, as fond themselves of singing as were the singing 
birds invariably to be found in every cottage of this forest 
region, happy if from time to time they could recreate them- 
selves at the dancing place, drinking light beer or sour Naum- 
burg wine. The gentle rationalism which prevailed in the 
cultured towns, and of which the Gotha superintendent 
Bretschneider was an able spokesman, had little affected the simple 
religious sentiments of the people ; St. Boniface, the apostle 
of Thuringia, was still venerated ; the picture of Luther with 
the swan hung in innumerable churches ; some of the remoter 
forest communes still preserved the ceremonious Old Lutheran 
liturgy with its choir boys and white surplices. 

Kindliness, above all, was demanded of the princes. How 
greatly honoured did everyone feel when the duke of Meiningen, 
on the occasion of his heir's baptism, invited the whole country 
to stand sponsor, and gave the child the auspicious names 
of Bernard Eric Freund. When this prince had grown up to 
become an excellent petty sovereign it was his custom on his 
wife's birthday to hold a popular festival in the charming 
garden of Altenstein, and every man among the guests could 
invite the duchess to dance with him. The obverse of this 
picture was a humiliating endurance of the follies of particu- 
larism. In the year 1822 the last valid representative of the 
house of Gotha-Altenburg died, and his cousins were already 
preparing for a new partition. But Lindenau, the minister 
of state, suddenly brought forward the unquestionably idiotic 
Prince Frederick and had him installed as duke, although during 

25 D 

History of Germany 

the ceremony it was difficult for the poor invalid to sit quiet 
on the throne. In this way the existence of the Gotha- 
Altenburg realm was prolonged for four years while the men of 
Gotha delighted in their idiot sovereign and still more in the 
vexation of the disappointed neighbour courts. 

The simple-minded people were nowise repelled by the 
ludicrous megalomania of their amiable dynasts. In the Gotha 
coat-of-arms were flaunted the escutcheons of three and twenty 
dukedoms, princedoms, and counties. The Schwarzburgers had 
displayed the double eagle since the days of the anti-emperor 
Giinther, and even the notices in the beautiful game-preserve 
of the Schwarza valley were printed in blue letters on a white 
ground, to prevent the subjects forgetting their country's colours. 
Just as here everything was blue-and- white, so in the territories 
of the Reuss princes everything was black-red-and-yellow. 
This little race of the sovereign rulers of Vogtland (Terra 
Advocatorum) had also at one time stood upon the heights 
of history, in the days when the two powerful Heinrichs von Plauen, 
the heroes of the Teutonic Order, waged desperate warfare 
against the Poles; but in the long succeeding ages its existence 
had rarely been noticeable in the world. All these insignificant 
dynasties, in the full enjoyment of their new sovereignty, arro- 
gated to themselves equality with any king upon earth, but 
in reality they held an extremely modest position among the 
German princes. When one of them ventured to raise his eyes 
to the daughter of a more distinguished race, he begged of 
Frederick William the order of the Red Eagle " to enable me 
to produce a more favourable impression at the grand-ducal 
court " ; subsequently he undertook a boldly planned diplomatic 
campaign through the intermediation of General Lestocq, the 
common representative of the Thuringians in Berlin ; but 
although the envoy did his best, his young sovereign secured 
the order alone, and not the coveted alliance. 1 

It was a strange caprice of destiny that Charles Augustus 
should be cast into this lilliputian world, where history was 
reduced to the level of anecdote. How stormily had his nature 
risen in revolt when in early youth he succeeded to the supreme 
power ; immediately summoning Goethe and Herder ; expelling 
French forms from the life of his court ; intervening with 
Frederician zeal to improve the administration of justice, the 

1 Frankenberg's Reports, Berlin, November 13, 1827, and subsequent dates. 


The Burschenschaft 

educational system, and agriculture ; bringing to fruition all 
the germs of a freer culture which his distinguished mother, 
Anna Amelia, had implanted during her long regency ; and 
yet withal failing to find peace of mind. The people regarded 
with astonishment the talented arrogance of the Weimar court 
of the muses ; and the slanderous tongues of the German 
Parnassus, of those who envied their great comrades so warm 
a nest, could never tell enough stories of the fickle moods 
of the young duke. Now, they related, he would pass his 
nights in wild orgies or brilliant masked balls ; now would sit 
in front of the wings of the Gartentheater on the Ettersburg 
listening attentively to his friend's dramas ; now would ride 
madly across country, or flirt with peasant wenches at a village 
fair, and would then bury himself for days in succession in 
the log-hut in his park, alone with the unappeasable yearnings of 
his heart. At this time, the urge to all these restless activities 
was not merely the natural impatience of youth, but also 
the unsatisfied ambition of a vigorous man, to whom the 
worst that could befall seemed comparatively trifling, but to 
whom the fiction of princely dignity without power was a bitter 

For what Heaven had granted by favour of birth, 
He hoped to acquire by labour on earth. 

Yet " with the help of Goethe and good fortune " he ultimately 
learned to adapt himself to his narrow destiny, and to display 
the highest energy upon this restricted stage. 

For forty years the nation had honoured him as the greatest 
of those who played the part of Maecenas in the new generation 
That calculated cunning of mercantile dynastic policy which 
bulked so largely in Lorenzo de' Medici's love of the arts, was 
far from the mind of this heir of the proud and ancient 
Ernestine house. When, with a sure knowledge of men, he 
collected round his person the best and the greatest from among 
the talented figures of German literature, he was instigated by 
the pure idealism of an unceasingly receptive mind, which with 
a happy understanding embraced the entire domain of human 
thoughts and actions, and was influenced also by ardent enthu- 
siasm for national glory. It was his ambition, as he once 
expressed it in old age, " to promote the diffusion of light 
and truth as widely as possible and in a manner to do justice 
to the earnestness of the German national character." His 


History of Germany 

feeling lor nature, cultivated by study, led him to prize in 
art that only which was ingenuous, simple, and German ; he 
detested all mysticism, all elaborate artifice, even when it 
assumed a beautiful vesture, as in Schiller's Bride of Messina. 
But he never had the hardihood to impose leading-strings upon 
genius ; German art was to find its own path, free from all 
restrictions. Such too was his personal rule of life, to make 
his way straight ahead, firm and vigorous in all things, even 
in the aberrations of uncontrolled sensuality, a restlessly striving 
spirit, grandly forgetting every unsuccessful attempt in the 
immediate advance upon a new quest. None but a man of 
thoroughly original character could have kept Goethe by his 
side living in care-free independence for fifty years. Despite 
occasional moments of estrangement, he well knew what he 
owed to his friend, and regarded him with unshaken admira- 
tion ; but he expressed a feeling that it was " ridiculous to 
see how this man stands more and more upon his dignity," 
and he would not allow the formal circumstantiality of the aging 
poet to disturb his own cheerful lack of restraint. At the 
first glance, the sturdy man might well have been mistaken 
for a simple huntsman, striding through the park with his 
dogs at heel, cigar in mouth, wearing an old green hunting 
jacket and a soldier's cap ; but his high forehead, large eyes, 
and formidable Ernestine jaw, gave him a peculiar expression 
of confident greatness, and whoever came into close proximity 
soon realised that here was a born prince, one who maintained 
himself by his own energy upon the summits of human life. 
When as an old man he stayed for a time in Milan, he recalled 
to the minds of the Italians the figures of their own great 
princes of renaissance days and they spoke of him as il principe 

More faithful to his duty, however, than the Viscontis 
and the Sforzas, he knew how to combine delight in the 
beautiful with the quiet industry of the careful sovereign. No 
administrative detail was beneath his attention, and never did 
his little land have to suffer for the artistic tastes of the court. 
His peculiar title to historic greatness rests upon his clear 
recognition of the dominant tendency of two epochs, the literary 
idealism of the eighteenth century and the political idealism 
of the nineteenth, and upon his capacity, alone among his 
contemporaries, to do full justice to both. Political understand- 
ing was awakened in his mind in early youth by his tutors, 


The Burschenschaft 

first of all by Count Gortz, the zealous diplomatic assistant 
of Frederick the Great, and subsequently by Wieland, the only 
one among our classicists who followed the daily changes of 
political life with alert participation. With the same fortunate 
accuracy of judgment which enabled him to recognise the 
genuine heroes of German art, in politics also the duke applied 
himself to the true and the vital. When drawing up his 
bold plan for the league of princes, he centred all his hopes in 
Prussia ; in the year 1806 he desired to stand or fall with 
Prussia. During the retreat after the battle of Jena, sitting on 
a drum by the camp fire, he said calmly to his comrades : 
" We have for a time been duke of Weimar and Eisenach." 
It was only upon the king's express desire that he left the 
army and made his peace with the Imperator. Afterwards 
he was quietly at work for years preparing for the War of 

Having again fulfilled his warrior's duty in the Netherland theatre 
of war, and having later returned home profoundly disheartened by 
the disillusionments of the Vienna congress, it seemed to him that 
the carrying into effect of article 13 was jointly dictated by honour 
and prudence. It was not that he cherished any preference 
for the new liberal theories. He had absolutely no enthusiasm 
for the French Revolution, since the immorality of these class 
wars was repulsive to his healthy sentiment. " The oppressors," 
he said, " oppress those by whom they themselves were formerly 
oppressed, and herein is to be found not even a hint of moral 
action." But he understood his own age ; he knew that consti- 
tutional forms were essential to it ; what could he, who had 
never known fear, see to alarm him in a small Landtag ? He 
hoped, perchance, that his example might enhearten some of 
the more timid among the minor princes to screw their courage 
to the sticking point ; but nothing was further from his clear 
intelligence than the exaggerated self-conceit of particularism. 
His quiet pride had not been fanned into vanity even by the 
homage of the foremost poets of the day ; was it likely that 
he should now be led astray by the fulsome praise of the 
liberal newspapers, which extolled Weimar as the cradle at once 
of German art and German freedom ? Upright and straight- 
forward, it was from a sense of duty and in honourable confi- 
dence that he conceded to his people what he regarded as 

He had summoned to his ministry quite a number of 


History of Germany 

efficient men, almost an overplus of talent for a little state. 
Beside Goethe's chair, which had now for years stood empty, 
sat the poet's friend, old Voigt, a high-minded man of refined 
culture who, like Goethe, had long regarded the foreign dominion 
as an inevitable necessity, but who now, happier than his 
friend, greeted the new liberty with joy. There was Fritsch, 
the third of the long series of able men of affairs which this 
Leipzig family of lawyers sent to the service of the Saxon 
house ; he too was something of a poet, and in good repute 
in the literary world. There also was the recently summoned 
German-Russian man of talent, Count Edling. Finally there 
was the ablest political intelligence among them all, Gersdorff 
the Lusatian, who at the Vienna congress had always been 
at Humboldt's side, then already advocating the idea of Prussian 
hegemony, and subsequently during a long political career never 
for an instant false to the belief that " Prussia has given new 
birth to German nationality and is the foundation stone of a 
future Germany." Upon Gersdorff 's advice, the grand duke 
resolved to set about the work of inaugurating the constitution. 
In April, 1816, the old estates combined with certain repre- 
sentatives from the newly acquired regions of the country to 
constitute a Landtag. On May 5th the new fundamental law, 
drafted by Schweitzer, professor at Jena, was signed, and in 
a cordially grateful speech the president of the Landtag extolled 
the finest virtue of the German estate of minor princes, saying : 
" We have ever found this distinguished house animated by the 
princely disposition which wishes well to all, and to which 
even the most lowly is of value." The liberal press rejoiced, 
breaking out into contented self-praise ; if the princely friend 
of Schiller and of Goethe displayed himself a pioneer in the 
advance towards constitutional freedom, it was as clear as 
noonday that none but those of uncultivated nature could 
withstand the saving truths of constitutionalism. A year 
later the first constitutional Landtag of German history sat in 
one of the three castles of Dornburg which looked down from 
steep cliffs, across vineyard-slopes, and terraced gardens, into 
the picturesque valley of the Saale. In this rural peace, where 
Goethe had so often sought the happiness of poetic solitude, 
the first parliamentary idyll of particularism ran its smooth 
career. With happy judgment the grand duke had steered a 
middle course between the ancient feudal system and the new 
representative methods, conceding special representatives to the 


The Burschenschaft 

gentry, the towns, and the rural communes ; but the thirty-one 
members combined to form a single assembly, and were 
considered to represent the country as a whole. The proceed- 
ings were by no means free from difficulty ; step by step the 
government had to contend with the officiousness and the 
naive inexperience of the popular representatives. At length, 
however, an understanding was secured, and since all the pro- 
ceedings were private the newspapers were enabled unashamedly 
to regale their readers with wonderful tales of the incredible 
political sagacity of this exemplary little people, where for every 
fifteen hundred grown men there was to be found a representa- 
tive well furnished with statesmanlike culture. Numerous 
useful reforms, which would have been impossible in the absence 
of the Landtag, were now secured. In 1821, for instance, 
nine and forty wonderful old taxes were replaced by an income 
tax with a compulsory declaration of income, an unheard-of 
innovation for Germany. Many other valuable proposals failed, 
indeed, to come to fruition, because the narrow-minded timidity 
of the representatives rendered them incapable of following 
the liberal ideas of their prince ; and Charles Augustus was 
absolutely unable to secure publicity for the proceedings of the 
Landtag. Yet on the whole the country was well satisfied, 
and in 1818 Hildburghausen was granted a constitution upon 
the Weimar model. 

Goethe alone regarded the new institutions with tacit 
disfavour, and could see therein nothing more than the activities 
of unauthorised busybodies detestation of all dilettantism was 
ingrained in the master's nature. When, on one occasion, he 
could not avoid proposing a toast at the Landtag festival he 
gave the representatives of the people a patriarchal reminder 
of their family duties : 

Let everyone be master in his own household, 
Thus will our prince also be master in his own land. 

When the Landtag asked him to furnish accounts of the eleven 
thousand thalers which from year to year for a generation past 
he had disbursed on behalf of art and science, the old man 
resolved to give them a lesson. He dictated to his secretary 
three words, " income," " expenditure," " balance," added three 
figures, majestically signed his name, and sent this account to 
the Landtag. Great was the wrath. On quiet reflection, 

History of Germany 

however, even to the worthy representatives of Neustadt, Kalten- 
nordheim, and Gerstungen, a detailed examination of Goethe's 
purchases of antiques and books seemed a somewhat unsuitable 
undertaking, and they therefore made up their minds to an 
act of constitutional self-denial which stands in glorious isolation 
in the pedantic history of German parliamentary life. The 
letter of the constitution was sacrificed, and the account of 
the thirty years' stewardship was passed without discussion. 

Under the aegis of the new freedom of the press there 
now suddenly sprang to life in Weimar a great number of 
political newspapers. Irresponsible journalism, of a kind that 
could arise only among this cultured people, yet a power, for 
with it began the momentous invasion of the professors into 
German politics. Luden had founded his Nemesis while the 
war was still in progress, in the first instance in order to fight 
against the foreign dominion, and he now added an Allgemeines 
Staatsverfassungsarchiv ; next came Oken's Isis and the 
Opposition sblatt of Weimar ; next Bran undertook a continua- 
tion of the old Archenholtzische Minerva; Martin, a lawyer who 
had been expelled from Heildelberg, brought the Neue Rheinische 
Merkur with him to Jena ; Ludwig Wieland, the son of the 
poet, an able writer, published a newspaper, at first known as 
the Volksfreund, which soon, to appease the terrors of the 
police, dropped this dangerous name and appeared as the Patriot. 
This excess of journalistic activities was pursued in two small 
towns, in a purely literary atmosphere, where there was abso- 
lutely nothing to recall the serious aspects of political life, 
where the press could neither secure trustworthy information 
regarding the internal interconnection of the events of the day, 
nor yet find any firm standing-ground in either a political party 
or some definite economic interest. In contented ignorance of 
the world of realities, pure doctrinairism could delight 
in its own " conviction," and could with an air of infallibility 
deliver its professorial monologues. All these journals claimed 
to. serve the nation at large as teachers, for it was the pride 
of the professors that the practical unity of the German nation 
was displayed in the universities alone. Since the voice of 
freedom which sounded on the Ilm and on the Saale now roused 
the suspicion of the courts, since, as Luden phrased it, the 
entire party of reaction directed its anxious gaze towards the 
heights of lovely Thuringia, the self-conceit of the academic 


The Burschenschaft 

journalists speedily underwent a notable increase, and they 
believed in all seriousness that their German Athens was the 
very centre of the political life of the nation. In these political 
writings there was no trace of the characteristic laboriousness of 
German learning. In science, all amateurish work was despised, 
but anyone could sit in judgment upon statesmen if he 
occasionally read the newspapers in his spare time. 

Luden's Nemesis was greatly inferior to the Kieler Blatter, 
despite its much wider circulation. While Dahlmann's journal 
provided its readers with genuine instruction in matters of 
fact, such as this unripe generation above all required, giving 
thorough expositions of historical and constitutional questions, 
Luden confined himself to empty generalities or superficial 
critical observations concerning the petty happenings of the 
day. Although Luden was not himself numbered among the 
adherents of Rotteck's law of reason, but endeavoured to under- 
stand the state from a historical outlook, nevertheless the entire 
wisdom of the Nemesis continually circled around article 13 
of the federal act, which was regarded as the sole means for 
averting revolution from Germany, saying : "If you will 
only keep your sacred word, O princes, if you will merely 
exercise the very ordinary virtue of fidelity ! " For years 
past Luden had been the favourite teacher in Jena. His 
lectures on German history were, as had formerly been 
those of Fichte and Schelling, the meeting-place for the 
mass of the students. The amiable idealism displayed by his 
whole nature, the patriotic warmth and the ease of his delivery, 
secured for him a prestige among the university youth which 
remained unchallenged for forty years. Those who judged the 
well-meaning man solely from his books found it difficult to 
understand his brilliant success as a lecturer. His historical 
writings were poor in new ideas and even more lacking in evidence, 
of independent investigation ; while of the arduous mental 
toil which political science demands of its disciples he had 
so little idea that when no more than thirty-one years of age 
(in 1811) he ventured with much self-satisfaction to publish a 
Handbook of Politics stuffed with harmless commonplaces. 

How differently from the dull and decorous Nemesis did the 
Isis set to work, the Isis, unquestionably the most remarkable 
political journal of our history, an incomparable specimen of 
learned folly. Though responsible for numerous extravagances, 
Oken had acquired a well-deserved reputation as a natural 


History of Germany 

philosopher, but he brought to the political arena no better 
equipment than a genuine patriotic enthusiasm, a few vague 
democratic ideas, indefatigable pugnacity, and the childlike 
illusion that a free press could heal all those wounds which 
it had itself caused. " History," he exclaimed in his pre- 
liminary announcement, " makes its way like a terrible giant 
across streams and rocks, across loco sigilli and artificial barriers, 
laughing at all devices to capture spirit and sense and to over- 
throw them when captured. All things are good and everything 
is permissible." His readers were to learn the sense and the 
nonsense of the time, its dignity and its meanness. He did 
not disdain even roughness, mendacity, and calumny, command- 
ing in advance those whom he attacked to confine themselves 
solely to literary weapons for their revenge. The uncere- 
monious appeal readily found hearers. All the hotheads of 
the learned world made assignations upon the great arena of 
this " encyclopaedic journal." Beside zoological pictures and 
discussions (the only valuable matter which the newspaper 
contained), were to be found all kinds of university scandal 
and literary polemic ; even a rancorous article from the Edin- 
burgh Review attacking Goethe's Dichtung und Wahrheit was 
reprinted with unconcealed pleasure ; there were also political 
essays, and numerous statements of grievances and complaints 
of alleged arbitrary acts on the part of the authorities. All 
this was in the tone of the tap-room, in " Oken's manner " 
as people soon began to phrase it impudent, tasteless, and 
full of mockery, so that almost every fresh number of the 
Isis aroused new quarrels. Since the rich stock of German 
superlatives proved inadequate, Oken called in the art of the 
wood-engraver to his aid, having pictures of men with asses' 
heads, of geese, of cannibals, of Hebraic and clerical visages, or 
it might be a knout, a cudgel, or a foot raised to stamp on 
something, printed beside the names of his opponents, the 
result being that the political text had at times as motley 
an appearance as that of the adjoining copperplate portion with 
pictures of jelly-fish and cartilaginous fishes. The political 
essays exhibited a fantastic radicalism simultaneously with 
an ingenuous professorial arrogance. The Weimar constitution 
did not deserve the name of constitution, because, of the three and 
twenty indispensable fundamental rights of every true charter, 
it granted one only, the freedom of the press and because it 
gave such unjust advantages to the stupid burghers and the 


peasants as compared with the gentry and the professors ! 
Amid this incredible uproar, there was not to be found a single 
article instructing the readers of the journal, or directing their 
wills towards any definite aim. Nothing but fanatical com- 
plaints against princes and diplomats ; nothing but scorn for 
the hopeless lethargy of the existing generation, and the 
declaration, " only from the young is anything to be expected." 

Lindner from Courland was the ablest journalist in this 
circle ; he conducted the Oppositionsblatt with conspicuous skill, 
and pursued politics as a serious vocation. But it was in his 
articles above all that was most plainly manifested the political 
folly which was henceforward to drive German liberalism from 
one mistake to another base ingratitude towards Prussia. 
Partisan historians often declare that calumniation of Prussia 
did not become general in the liberal camp until after the 
persecution of the demagogues, but this assertion is untrue. 
Immediately after the peace, when the sword of Belle Alliance 
had hardly been sheathed, these pigmies began to level their 
accusations at the state to which they owed their liberties, to 
which they owed everything, overwhelming it with reproaches 
at the very moment in which by its military law and its 
customs-law it was laying the firm foundation of national unity. 

In his Handbook of Politics, Luden had invariably referred 
to Prussia as an awful example, and had passed judgment upon 
the militarist state with the well-known conceit of freedom 
characteristic of the English Hanoverians. Now his Nemesis 
published poems in honour of the house of Wittelsbach, and 
articles defending the Saxon policy of 1813, but for Prussia 
the paper displayed nothing but blame and a vainglorious 
contempt which anywhere else in the world would have 
aroused general ridicule. The muses of Mark, it was proudly 
asserted, have never been able to compare with the muses of 
Thuringia ; now we shall see whether Prussian statesmanship 
can rival that of Thuringia ! Benzenberg, the good liberal, 
was pilloried as the obscurantist among German publicists, for 
it was unpardonable that he should be a loyal Prussian and 
that he should write with knowledge about the laws of this 
state towards which the Jena professor never vouchsafed a 
glance. Oken, too, a Hither Austrian from Ortenau, regarded 
contempt for Prussia as the surest index of a liberal mind. 
While he manifested extreme veneration for Emperor Francis, 
and actually praised Count Buol's absurd speech at Frankfort 


History of Germany 

upon the occasion of the opening of the Bundestag, with 
malicious gratification he threw open the columns of the Isis 
to all the foes of Prussia. One day a Rhinelander would begin 
a maudlin " Lament from the Rhine " on account of the number 
of Protestants among the Prussian authorities of the province, 
saying : " The only aim is to injure the country, to humiliate 
it." The next, a good Swede from Greifswald would deplore 
the Prussianisation of his Pomeranian fatherland. Then would 
come complaints from certain medical practitioners in the province 
of Saxony that their professional honour as men of learning was 
brutally insulted because now, just as if they had been apothe- 
caries or even common manual workers, they were forced to 
pay the Prussian trade licence. Not even Napoleon had done 
anything so atrocious as had Prussia in suppressing the Rheinische 
Merkur ; when compared with this, asked the Isis, what was 
the importance even of the murder of Palm ? Oken passed 
judgment on the university of Bonn, whose glories were so soon 
to outshine those of Jena, even before the place had been 
opened, saying that everything was practically ruined in advance 
by the patchy work and scrappy knowledge of the individuals 
in the service of the Prussian government. But the crown 
of all Prussia's offences was the army, with the obligation of 
universal military service. Was it not monstrous, asked the 
Nemesis, that the lieutenant should be able to earn a living 
so much earlier than the youthful legal official ? Was it not 
barbarous, exclaimed Oken, that in Prussia " intellectual energies 
should be used as mere food for powder in the persons of 
common soldiers ? " 

Any reprobate who had occasion to experience the rigours 
of the Prussian law could count upon the support of these 
professorial journalists if only he had the wit to pose as a 
political martyr. In the year 1817 Massenbach offered to sell 
to the Prussian Government for the sum of 11,500 Frederic 
d'ors, the manuscript of a new volume of his lying memoirs, 
in the compilation of which he had illegally utilised numerous 
official papers. Thereupon, with the approval of the Frankfort 
senate, he was arrested, and after a careful report by General 
Grolman and in pursuance of a resolution of the council of 
state, was tried by court martial as an officer absent without 
leave, and was condemned to confinement in a fortress for 
attempted blackmail, and breach of military duty. 1 In this 

1 Minutes of the Council of State, July 7, 1817. 

The Burschenschaft 

offensive business, whose details were immediately published 
by the chancellor, Luden's Nemesis took the side of the hero 
of Prenzlau, for anyone who used such free language towards 
the throne as Masserbach had done in Wiirtemberg could not 
possibly be guilty of a mean action. On the other hand the 
apostles of German unity severely censured the Frankfort senate 
because, regardless of the sovereignty of its own state, it 
had handed over a common criminal to another federal state ! 
Old Goethe felt he was in a topsyturvy world when his 
peaceful seat of the muses became so suddenly transformed into 
a noisy debating-ground and when the academic publicists were 
extolled in the press as if they had been the heirs of the Dioscuri 
of poetry. He feared serious consequences, and warned Luden 
that the state could not dispose of a hundred thousand bayonets 
to protect him ! But when the government wished to administer 
a reprimand to Oken, Goethe advised the duke against this 
measure, saying that such an admonition was useless in any case, 
and was unsuitable for so deserving a man ; it would be better, 
he continued, with sovereign contempt for the new constitution, 
to leave the learned hothead out of the matter altogether, and 
simply to forbid the printer to continue his " Catilinarian " under- 
taking. But the stout-hearted Charles Augustus was unwilling 
to take the political saturnalia of his professors so seriously. He 
contented himself with occasional admonitions and seizures, 
finding however fresh cause of vexation in every " nouvel 
accouchement de Monsieur Oken," for the grievances of those 
who were maltreated in the I sis were unending. Loudest of all 
complained Privy Councillor von Kamptz of Berlin, a distin- 
guished lawyer and valuable official, widely known as a fanatical 
reactionary. He was numbered by Oken among the " men of 
no account," but protested threateningly against Oken's " bank- 
holiday tone." Anyone who knew the hard man might have 
foreseen that he would not content himself with words. 

How could the students remain quiet in this marvellously 
excited little world ? The great days of the Jena university 
had come to a close in the year 1803, and for long it had been 
impossible for Jena to compare with the intellectual forces of 
Heidelberg or Berlin ; but the glories of past days continued to 
cleave to the name, and the unrestrained liberty of Jena student 
life had always been renowned among the German youth. " And 
in Jene live we bene " ran the old student's song. There was 


History of Germany 

no other university town in which the dominance of the students 
was so complete ; as late as the seventeen-nineties they had on 
one occasion trooped out to remove to Erfurt, and returned in 
triumph when the alarmed authorities had yielded to all their 
wishes. Contrasting strongly with courtly Leipzig, life in Jena 
continued to exhibit a rough, primitive, and youthful tone, in 
correspondence with the simple customs of the country. Just 
as the Ziegenhain cudgel, at that time the inseparable companion 
of the German student, was to be obtained in perfection only from 
the Saale valley, so also the pithy Jena regulations were highly 
esteemed in every students' club and duelling-place throughout 
Germany ; many extremely ancient customs of the Burschen, 
such as the drinking of blood-brotherhood, were continued in Jena 
on into the new century. All roughness notwithstanding, an 
atmosphere of idealism pervaded these noisy activities, a romantic 
charm which was altogether lacking to the clumsy coarseness of 
the Berlin gymnastic ground. How many a youthful Low 
German, making his student's journey to the Fuchsturm and to 
Leuchtenburg, had then first become conscious of the poesy 
of the German highlands. With what gratitude and joyful 
enthusiasm did the Jena students make first-hand acquaint- 
ance with Schiller's dramas in the Weimar theatre. Under the 
foreign dominion, the university flaunted its German sentiments 
undismayed, so that Napoleon was once on the point of burning 
" the odious nest of ideologues and chatterers." 

It was inevitable that this patriotic enthusiasm should flame 
up more fiercely when the young warriors now returned to the 
lecture theatre, many of them decorated with the iron cross, 
almost all still intoxicated with the heroic fury of the great 
struggle, filled with ardent hatred of " the external and internal 
oppressors of the fatherland." This was by far the best genera- 
tion of students that had been known for many years, but these 
young men were unfortunately too serious for the harmless fan- 
tasies and the exaggerated friendships which endow student life 
with its peculiar charm. The urgently necessary reform of dis- 
orderly student customs could be effected only by a generation 
far more mature than had hitherto been the average of students, 
but in two arduous campaigns these chivalrous young men had 
had such profound experiences that they were unable to settle 
down once more into the modest role of the pupil ; the danger of 
arrogance and conceit, which was in any case in the atmosphere 
of the day, was for them almost impossible to escape. Similar 


The Burschenschaft 

tendencies to Christo-Germanic enthusiasm had once before 
showed themselves at the universities, in the days of the literary 
Sturm und Drang, when the young poets of the Hainbund were 
devoted admirers of Klopstock's Messiah and of the heroes of 
the Teutoburgerwald, and when they burned an effigy of Wieland, 
the poet of sedentary life. What had then been the motive 
impulse of a narrow circle was now common to thousands. 

How contemptible must the corrupt club-life of the 
students necessarily appear to the strict-living new generation, 
hardened by campaigning. There still existed far too much of 
the barbarism of the old bullying times, although the humanism of 
the new literary culture had extended its refining influence even 
over university customs. Intemperance and debauchery often 
displayed themselves with a lack of restraint which to us of 
to-day seems incredible ; gambling was practised everywhere, 
even in the open street ; and the ineradicable German love of 
brawling so far exceeded all reasonable measure that in the 
summer of 1815 among the Jena students, three hundred and 
fifty in number, there were one hundred and forty-seven duels 
in a single week. The homely popular drinking songs and 
travellers' songs of the tuneful days of old had almost disappeared, 
and the students sang chiefly lewd ribaldry or the lachrymose 
effusions of a dull sentimentalism which belonged to a far earlier 
literary epoch. With the disappearance of the Rosicrucians and 
other secret societies of the old century, there disappeared also 
their spiritual kin, the students' orders. The associations of 
students from the same province (Landsmannscha/ten) , which 
had since then been revived, jealously supervised their closed 
recruiting grounds, being characterised by a paltry particularist 
sentiment which arrogantly rejected everything that lacked the 
true parochial flavour, destroying all vigorous self-respect by 
the brutal fagging system (Pennalismus) . The freshman must 
not complain if an impoverished senior student should offer him 
blood-brotherhood and an exchange of goods ; the freshman must 
then give all that he had upon his person, his clothes, watch, and 
money, in exchange for the beggarly effects of his patron. One 
who graduated in such a school acquired the art of servility 
towards those above and arrogance towards those below. 

How often had Fichte, at first in Jena and subsequently in 
Berlin, uttered vigorous protests against these disorderly prac- 
tices. Among his faithful followers there was conceived as early 
as the year 1811 the design of constituting a Burschenschaft or 


History of Germany 

association of German students. The philosopher approved the 
undertaking ; but, knowing his men, added the thoughtful warn- 
ing that the Burschen must avoid confusing what was mediaeval 
with what was German, and must be careful not to value the 
means, namely the association, more highly than the end, namely 
the revival of German sentiment. The students of Jena now 
associated themselves with these proposals of Berlin. They 
knew the seriousness of the profession of arms, and desired to 
control the rude lust for quarrels by the institution of courts of 
honour. During the war they had fought shoulder to shoulder 
as the sons of a single nation, and they therefore demanded the 
complete equality of all students, with the abolition of Pennalis- 
mus and of all the privileges which at many universities were 
still allotted to the counts' bench. But their ultimate and highest 
idea remained the unity of Germany : the power and the glory 
of the fatherland were to be embodied in one vast league of youth, 
which was to put an end to the existence of all the particularist 
student societies. 

Arndt's Vaterlandslied remained the true programme of the 
Burschenschaft. Although the poet had taken no direct part 
in the young people's designs, he was regarded by friend and 
foe alike as the leader of the Teutonising youth. After a long 
and tempestuous life of many migrations, he had at length settled 
down in Bonn, and built for himself and his young wife, Schleier- 
macher's sister, a cottage amid a garden on the heights close to 
the Rhine, expecting " to enjoy to the full the glories of the 
Siebengebirge," and in peaceful happiness to store his energies 
for his professional work. It is true that he was as cordially 
enthusiastic as the youngest of the students in defence of " the 
golden academic freedom, the ancient and glorious chivalry of the 
Teutons " ; but when one of the Heidelberg students ques- 
tioned him regarding the reform of university life, he expressly 
warned his young friends, in his writing concerning the German 
student-state, against revolutionary excesses, saying, " It is better 
to allow that which exists to prevail than to strive after unat- 
tainable perfection." He had long adhered in loyal affection to 
Prussia and its royal house, and it was only his old hostility 
towards the Frederician age which he was unable to overcome. 
Since he had long before vigorously advocated the abolition of 
serfdom in his Hither Pomeranian home, his reputation among the 
reactionary party had been that of a preacher of equality. This 
reputation was utterly undeserved. Arndt's wishes never went 


The Burschenschaft 

beyond the ideas of his patron Stein ; he wished for an effective 
subdivision of classes into a respected nobility, a free peasantry, 
and a vigorous bourgeoisie ranged in guilds ; and even Harden- 
berg's agrarian laws were regarded by him with a certain roman- 
ticist hostility. 

There was no place for political fanaticism in this open and 
serene nature, in the affectionate spirit of this man who could 
only find adequate expression for the exuberance of his feelings 
by the heaping up of superlatives. To extol as brethren " Father 
Jahn and Father Arndt " was possible solely to the uncritical 
faculties of youth, and nothing but Arndt's touching modesty 
induced him to permit the comparison. In reality the two men 
belonged to utterly different strata of intellectual and moral 
culture. Although Arndt never acquired the strict methodology 
of the trained expert, he had at his command an inexhaustible 
treasury of well-secured knowledge, and moved freely upon 
heights of human culture to which Jahn was hardly able to lift 
his eyes. He often spoke of himself as a hardy countryman, and 
as a pedestrian could compete with the best of the gymnasts ; 
every day in summer he might be seen taking a long swim in the 
Rhine, or at work in his garden, wearing a blue overall. But he 
was also at home in society, and assured there of his position ; 
all glances turned towards the robust little man with the flashing 
blue eyes whenever he began to speak, for the charm of his con- 
versation was irresistible, its flow always natural and energetic, 
its substance always brilliant and noble. So thoroughly healthy 
a mind could find little satisfaction in the coarse methods of the 
gymnasts. He exhorted the students that Germans ought not 
to draw their examples from among the rough Spartans or Romans. 
" Ask yourselves ' were they happy ? did they make others 
happy ? ' " 

Among the Jena professors, Fries was the students' favourite ; 
these young men who were enthusiasts for the ideas of Fichte 
sat guilelessly at the feet of a teacher who had always been one 
of Fichte's opponents. In Jena the new doctrine of Hegel was 
still considered reactionary, and Fries maintained that it had 
grown, not in the garden of knowledge, but upon the dunghill 
of servility. Like Luden, Fries exercised far more influence as 
a teacher than as a writer. To youthful enthusiasts it was agree- 
able that the good-humoured but muddle-headed philosopher 
should confusedly intermingle concepts with feelings, and should 
thus resolve the moral world into a " sentimental broth," as Hegel 

41 E 

History of Germany 

expressed it in a justly severe criticism. The students were 
strengthened in their subjective arrogance when, in ambiguous 
words, their ingenuous professor continually declared that a man 
must remain true to his conviction even if all the world were 
against him. Fries's philosophy of history seemed to the young 
folk especially appropriate to the time. He understood how to 
compress all the wealth of history within the limits of a formal 
and scanty doctrinal scheme, which has since his day been 
reiterated by countless learned publicists, and among others by 
Gervinus. According to this formula : in the east, human life was 
dominated by religion ; in classical antiquity, by beauty ; in 
the Christian world, by intuition ; but recently, since the Revolu- 
tion, the development of popular rights had been the central 
factor of history a thesis which unquestionably opened the door 
to all the impertinences of political dilettantism. Although it 
was the honourable intention of Fries to guard the students 
against passionate aberrations, he allowed himself to be moved 
to many incautious utterances, and ultimately had to experience 
what almost inevitably happens when the intimacy between pro- 
fessors and students becomes too close ; he lost touch with his 
young friends (who, after all, did not confide everything to their 
teacher), and failed to notice how revolutionary a spirit was 
gradually gaining the upper hand. 

At the outset, the sole political idea of the Jena Burschen 
was a vague patriotic sentiment. They were zealots on behalf 
of an abstract Germanism, such as had formerly been extolled in 
the Addresses to the German Nation, but they had absolutely no 
notion of the vivid Prussian sense of the state which animated 
Fichte in the evening of his days. All distinction between 
Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony was to disappear in the single con- 
cept of Germanity ; and since, among all the German states, no 
other possessed so firmly individualised a life as Prussia, these 
youthful dreamers, who were continually talking about the glories 
of the War of Liberation, nevertheless imperceptibly began to 
follow the same false road as the Nemesis and the I sis, and to 
overwhelm with accusations the state which almost single-handed 
had conducted the war. 

Among the founders of the Burschenschaft there was but one 
Prussian, Massmann of Berlin, an upright young enthusiast of 
exceedingly mediocre mental endowments, the most confused 
intelligence among all the berserkers of Jahn's immediate circle. 
All the others were Thuringians, Mecklenburgers, Courlanders, 


The Burschenschaft 

Hessians, Bavarian-Franconians, and for them, naturally, it was 
easy to contemplate the disappearance of their native states in 
a general Germanity. At the Prussian universities the Bursch- 
enschaft struck root very slowly, making its first appearance 
in Berlin. In Breslau its first adherents were the New Prussians 
of Lusatia ; the Silesians were for a long time unwilling to admit 
that to a genuine Teutoniser the state of Frederick the Great 
could be of no more account than Biickeburg or Darmstadt. The 
men of Jena, on the other hand, and the revolutionists of Giessen, 
who were the earliest adherents of the Burschenschaft movement, 
did not merely condemn every justified sentiment of Prussian 
self-satisfaction as " un-German Prussianism," but further did 
not hesitate to erase from the history of the War of Liberation 
all that was Prussian, all that gave that history life and colour. 
The song-book of the Burschenschaft, A. Pollen's Free Voices of 
Fresh Youth, when reproducing all the beautiful war-songs which 
recounted Prussia's fame, mutilated them in such a manner that 
the name of Prussia did not appear in the whole collection. In 
Arndt's Husarenlied, Blucher no longer swore in the poet's original 
words " to teach the Frenchman the Prussian way " ; now he 
was to teach "the Old German" or "the most German" way. 
Moreover, the leaders of the Burschenschaft had for the most part 
served among Liitzow's yagers, and had there, as members of a 
" purely German volunteer force," become accustomed to regard 
with contempt the Prussian army of the line, although this in 
actual warfare had been so much more successful than them- 
selves. The result was that these enthusiasts for Germanism 
were from the first almost as hostile as the gymnasts to the most 
living force of our national unity. It is easy to understand that 
a childish belief in the infallible wisdom of " the people " and 
a sentimental preference for republican forms were far more 
prevalent among the students than among men of maturer years. 
Like the majority of older liberals, the students desired repre- 
sentative institutions chiefly because they considered that the 
mainsprings of particularism were to be found in the cabinets 
alone. It was Carl Sand's opinion that if only there existed a 
constitution in every German land, there would no longer exist 
Bavarians or Hanoverians, but only Germans ! 

Yet during these first years of the movement there was little 
trace of morbid over-excitement. Pretentious, indeed, was the 
aspect of the students in their extraordinary Christo-Germanic 
rig-out, biretta, sombre coat, and feminine collar ; nor was their 


History of Germany 

appearance rendered more agreeable by the adoption of the new 
customs of the gymnasts which soon made their way to Jena. 
But beneath the rough husk was a sound kernel. Greatly 
astonished were the authorities when the continuous warfare 
against university discipline, a warfare which had ever been the 
pride of the Landsmannschaften, now ceased of a sudden ; and 
how much more refined became the whole tone of academic life 
when the songs of Arndt and Schenkendorf were heard at the 
drinking parties, and when a number of youthful poets, and 
especially Binzer of Holstein, were continually writing new and 
vigorous students' songs. Almost all the serious songs which 
German students sing to-day date from this period ; even the 
students' inaugural song, the Landesvater, now first acquired its 
fine patriotic sense through some happy modifications. Christian 
piety, though in many instances too ostentatiously displayed, 
was for the majority a matter of genuine internal conviction ; 
many of the young dreamers seemed as it were transfigured by 
their pious delight in all the wonders which God had worked on 
behalf of this nation. 

A notable feature of the new Teutonism was an ineradicable 
hatred for the Jews. Since the powerful excitement of the War 
of Liberation brought to light all the secrets of the German 
character, amid the general ferment the old and profound hos- 
tility to everything Judaic once more made itself manifest. 
Almost all the great thinkers of Germany, from Luther down 
to Goethe, Herder, Kant, and Fichte, were united in this senti- 
ment ; Lessing stood quite alone in his fondness for the Jews. 
Immediately after the peace there began a violent paper-warfare 
about the position of the Jews, which for five years filled the 
German book-market with pamphlets on this subject, and in 
which the younger generation, in especial, participated with 
passionate eagerness. Since the days of Moses Mendelssohn's 
valuable endeavours, a portion of the German Jewry had 
laboured with considerable success to bridge the wide chasm 
separating their tribe from German customs and German culture. 
Many of the leading Jewish families in the great towns had by 
now become thoroughly Germanised. In the Berlin synagogue, 
from the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards, the 
sermons were delivered in German, and in this matter Leipzig 
and other towns soon followed suit. Then Israel Jacobson, the 
founder of the great schools at Seesen, arranged for a worthier 


The Burschenschaft 

form of religious service, and David Friedlander warned his co- 
religionists, in his Addresses of Edification, that only if they whole- 
heartedly assimilated German civilisation could they expect their 
demand for complete emancipation to be gratified. The mass 
of the German Jews, above all in the Polish frontier provinces, 
accepted these ideas of reform with extreme slowness ; they 
remained devoted to huckstering and usury, immersed in the 
gloomy fanaticism of the Talmudical faith, a prey to all the 
defects of those who have suffered bondage for many genera- 
tions. When the French entered the country there was evident 
in many Jewish circles a readily comprehensible sympathy for 
the nation which had been the first to grant complete equality 
to the Jews, and Napoleon understood very well how to flatter 
the Jewish spirit of cosmopolitanism ; the most zealous tool of 
the French police in Berlin was Davidsohn-Lange, the publisher 
of the well-known aphen. 

It was only a part of the Jews, moreover, which manifested 
patriotic zeal in the War of Liberation. The sons of those 
cultured families in which German sentiments were already 
thoroughly developed, faithfully performed their military duties ; 
but many others were held aloof from the army by bodily weak- 
ness and by a profoundly implanted dread of arms, while many 
were also repelled by the strictly Christian spirit of the great 
movement. From the Jews of West Prussia, who were but then 
laboriously emerging from the Polish mire, it would have been 
quite unreasonable as yet to expect German sentiments ; they 
displayed such alarm at the idea of military service that upon 
their urgent petition the king granted them (May 29, 1813) the 
right to purchase immunity, and this privilege was utilised on 
so extensive a scale that a great part of the expenses of estab- 
lishing the West Prussian Landwehr was defrayed out of the 
fees paid by the Jews for exemption. The only available official 
list of Jewish soldiers, which includes those enrolled in the great 
majority of the Prussian regiments, shows that in the year 1813 
there were only 343 Jews in the army ; while in the year 1815, 
when the strength of the army attained its highest figure, there 
were to be found with the colours, at the most liberal estimate, 
no more than 731 Jews, an extraordinarily low figure considering 
the proportion of Jews to the population. 1 After the war, their 

1 Militar Wochenblatt, 1843, p. 348. History of the Organisation of the 
Landwehr in Prussia (Supplement to the before-mentioned newspaper for the year 
1858), p. 120. 


History of Germany 

number sank once more to between two and three hundred. 
What was there, indeed, to attract them to the colours ? By the 
law of 1812 they were excluded from commissions, and since the 
king enforced this rule very strictly, during these long years of 
peace there was but one Jewish officer in the army of the line, 
M. Burg, for many years teacher at the school of artillery, a 
thoroughly modest and efficient soldier. Of course the young 
Teutonisers had no eye for the complicated historical causes which 
gave all too easy an explanation of the immilitarist sentiments 
of the Jews. At this time, too, the money power of certain great 
Jewish firms in Vienna, Frankfort, and Berlin, began to make 
itself plainly perceptible, and was often displayed with purse- 
proud arrogance ; moreover, political ill-feeling was aroused 
by the Rothschilds' confidential intercourse with Metternich and 
Gentz. Then came the years of famine ; horrible tales, true and 
false, of the cruelty of Jewish usurers ran through the land. The 
ancient racial hatred revived. Sessa's comedy, Our Traffic, a 
bitter satire of Jewish manners and customs, made triumphal 
progress through well nigh all the theatres of Germany. 

In the literary struggle which now took place there were not 
infrequently displayed on the Jewish side astounding mendacity 
and presumption, which served to show more clearly than all the 
discourses of their opponents what serious considerations could 
still be marshalled against the complete emancipation of the Jews. 
Saul Ascher of Berlin mocked at the " Germanomania " of the 
young generation in a number of malicious writings which 
exhibited fanatical hatred for all that was German, and for Goethe 
in particular. He boasted of the unbelieving Jews that it was 
their destiny in world-history to replace all positive faiths by a 
freer form of thought, and had the effrontery to ascribe to the 
members of his race the chief credit for the victories of the 
War of Liberation : " People forget that in the struggle with 
France, Germany's army had the worst of it until the Jews came 
to participate, nor do they remember how successfully these 
armies fought in the years 1813 and 1814 as soon as the Jews from 
Russia, Poland, Austria, and Prussia were enrolled in their 
ranks." Another Jewish author who took the field against Ruhs 
and Fries unashamedly declared, only a year after the Belgian 
campaign, that at Belle Alliance alone fifty-five Jewish officers 
had fallen, whereas the Prussian army in this battle had lost in 
all no more than twenty-four officers. A third writer, plainly 
well-intentioned, published A Friendly Word to Christians, sug- 


The Burschenschaft 

gesting good-naturedly that since the obstinate Jews would cer- 
tainly not abandon their ancient customs, the best thing would 
be if the Christians would for the sake of harmony change their 
Sunday to the ,Sabbath. In Frankfort, Hess, a Jewish teacher, 
declared that all his Christian opponents were either visionaries 
or the instruments of vulgar selfishness. 1 

In face of such arrogance it was inevitable that unjust and 
offensive expressions should be used in the other camp as well ; 
nevertheless the great majority of the Christian writers main- 
tained a dignified attitude. Lessing's ideas had quietly secured 
currency, and no German would any longer write so cruelly about 
the Jews as Fichte had formerly done. Almost all reasonable 
persons started from the principle that mere residence in the 
country did not per se suffice to justify a claim to the full rights 
of citizenship ; they were willing to admit the Jews to equality 
in the domain of civil law, but not or at any rate not yet to 
complete equality in all other respects. However harsh this 
view necessarily appeared to cultured Jews, it was unquestion- 
able that the mass of their race was still in a neglected condition 
which rendered complete emancipation inadvisable ; a Jew was 
even found to direct to the German princes a pitiful appeal that 
they should effect an improvement of the Jewish educational 
system " in order to uplift my nation out of spiritual gloom." 2 
The Prussian law of 1812, which conceded to the Jews all civil 
rights except admission to the state service, was far in advance 
of the narrow-minded provisions of most of the other German 
legal systems, and expressed, on the whole, what was regarded 
as attainable by the liberals of that day. Even Hardenberg, 
Koreffs patrpn, in general extremely favourable to the Jews, 
had no desire to overstep this boundary. 

Such were the sentiments expressed by the historian Riih3, 
who initiated the anti- Jewish literary polemic, and both Fries 
and Luden followed in his footsteps. Even the radical Opposi- 
tionsblatt held the same view as the Christo-Germanic professors ; 
so did Paulus, the leader of the rational Protestants, and Kliiber, 
the secular liberal publicist. Among writers of note, Kotzebue 
was especially friendly to the Jews, for the deadly enemy of the 

1 Saul Ascher, Germanomania, Berlin, 1815, p. 67. Observations on the 
Writings of Professors Runs and Fries concerning the Jews, Frankfort, 1816, p. 4. 
A Friendly Word to Christians by a Jew, place of publication not stated, 1816. 
M. Hess, Frank Examination of Riihs's Writing, Frankfort, 1816. 

2 Patriotic Appeal of a Loyal Israelite to the Princes of Germany, Biidingen, 


History of Germany 

young Teutonisers was attracted to Saul Ascher by an inner 
elective affinity ; yet even he was of opinion that Jewish culture 
must be radically transformed "by a species of conversion " 
before the Jews could acquire equal rights. Immediate emanci- 
pation was demanded by no more than a few isolated and little 
known Gentile journalists, as for instance by Lips, of Erlangen, 
who desired to make the German nation more lively by an 
admixture of Jewish blood. 

Hatred of the Jews was so powerful and wide-spread that 
even in the detestable Jewish dispute of Frankfort, wherein the 
Jews were treated with manifest injustice, public opinion was 
almost unanimously adverse to their side. How grossly had 
the allied powers sinned against our ancient emperor's town in 
conferring upon it the empty title of an untenable sovereignty. 
During the days of the empire, though Frankfort had borne the 
name of an imperial town, it had always been the emperor's 
town, immediately subject to the monarch's commands, and it 
was gloriously distinguished before all other German cities by 
the vigorous communal sentiments of a wealthy, active, and cul- 
tured bourgeoisie. Even now, after the wars, the Senckenberg 
institute and the Stadel museum were opened, and a number of 
societies for the promotion of generally useful activities set 
vigorously to work. Under the supremacy of a powerful state- 
authority, the beautiful place might have become the paragon 
of German municipalities. But now the town and the eight and 
a half districts of its domain received the complete independence 
of a sovereign state. Only as far as constitutional disputes were 
concerned was an arbitral right reserved for the Germanic Federa- 
tion, the powers of this body being far inferior to the monarchical 
authority of the emperor in old times. Moreover, with the arrival 
of the troop of federal envoys a courtly element was introduced, 
falsifying the straightforward civic spirit, and involving many 
of the old patrician families and all the financial life of Frankfort 
in the intrigues of diplomacy. 

Morbid arrogance inevitably resulted from relationships so 
unnatural. The bourgeoisie regarded " the fathertown " as the 
capital of Germany, misusing their newly acquired sovereignty with 
all the unrestraint of that social egoism which almost invariably 
predominates in municipalities not subjected to the even-handed 
justice of monarchical state-authority. The new constitution 
of 1816 was careful to protect the established burghers against 
foreign competition ; no new-comer could acquire civic rights 


The Burschenschaft 

except by the payment of 5,000 guldens or by marriage with a 
Frankfort woman. The same sentiment of parochial narrowness 
also led the town to deprive the Jews of the civic rights which 
they had purchased from Dalberg. With formidable outcry they 
at once armed in their own defence, and young Ludwig Borne 
placed his incisive pen at the service of his oppressed co- 
religionists. The legal question was far from being so simple as 
Borne, with pettifogging impudence, maintained. From the point 
of view of strict law the 440,000 guldens which the Jewish com- 
munity had paid to the grand duke of Frankfort could not be 
regarded as the purchase price of civic rights, but simply as a 
sum paid to compound for the old tax of 22,000 guldens imposed 
annually on the Jews ; and since the federal act merely guaranteed 
the Jews the rights they already possessed in the states of the 
Germanic Federation, little legal objection could be raised to 
the step taken by the Frankfort bourgeoisie. Consequently the 
claim of the Jewish community was rejected as groundless by the 
arbitration court of the Berlin faculty. 

When the Jews thereupon applied to the Bundestag with a 
statement of grievances, the political power of the house of 
Rothschild emerged for the first time from obscurity and an 
unprecedented thing happened, for the Bundestag actually showed 
itself more liberal than public opinion. Hardenberg, in accordance 
with the old traditions of the Prussian spirit of toleration, from 
the first instructed the Prussian envoy to insist that the Jews of 
Frankfort were at least entitled to exercise restricted civic rights ; 
and, to the astonishment of the uninitiated, Austria supported this 
view, the reason being that the Hofburg could not get along with- 
out the Rothschilds' money. When Metternich and Gentz visited 
Frankfort in the year 1818, they devoted all their influence (as 
formerly at the congress of Vienna) to the service of their wealthy 
proteges. The proceedings now went forward with customary 
slowness, and in the year 1824, through the instrumentality of 
the Bundestag, the Frankfort Jews reacquired a portion of their 
rights. They were recognised as " Israelite burghers," but 
remained excluded from official positions, and acquired equality 
with Gentile citizens only in matters of civil law. Even in this 
last point there were certain petty restrictions. For example, 
the Jews were not allowed to engage in the fruit trade ; they 
might possess no more than one house each ; their community 
was not allowed to celebrate more than fifteen marriages annually. 
With few exceptions, the newspapers tenaciously espoused the 


History of Germany 

cause of the parochially- minded bourgeoisie of Frankfort, for 
Dal berg's laws were in ill- repute as the work of the foreign 
dominion, while there was a general dread lest through the 
exuberant growth of Hebrew activities the federal town might 
lose its German character. Luden wrote bluntly, " vox populi, 
vox Dei the voice of the people is unfavourable to the Jews." 

In student circles, this mood of the day was further accen- 
tuated by the romanticism of Christian enthusiasm. The students 
regarded themselves as a neo-Christian knighthood, displaying 
their hatred of the Jews with a crude intolerance which 
strongly recalled the days of the crusades. From the first, it was 
definitely resolved to exclude all non-Christians from the new 
league of youth. Could this be effected, the Jewish students 
would in reality be robbed of their academic civic rights, for it 
was the aim of the Burschenschaft to impose its laws upon the 
totality of the students, and to abolish all other associations. 

As early as the summer of 1814 there was constituted in 
Jena a society of arms to prepare its members by means of 
knightly exercises for the military service of the fatherland. In 
the following spring, the members of two Landomannschafts, 
weary of the fruitless old activities, joined certain students 
hitherto unattached to any organisation, and on June 12, 
1815, the new Burschenschaft was inaugurated, in accordance 
with the ancient custom of Jena, by a formal procession through 
the market place. It was led by two divinity students from 
Mecklenburg, Horn and Riemann, and by an enthusiastic pupil 
of Fries, Scheidler from Gotha ; these were all fine young fellows 
who had fought valiantly during the war. The first speaker, 
Carl Horn, who at a later date became widely known as the 
teacher of Fritz Reuter, remained until advanced in age faithful 
to the enthusiasms of his youth, and died in the pious belief that 
in founding the Burschenschaft he had been engaged in " the 
Lord's work." The new association immediately broke with all 
the evil customs of Pennalismus, and it was governed in accord- 
ance with purely democratic principles by a committee and 
executive officers appointed in open election ; its court of honour 
reduced the practice of duelling within modest limits, and kept 
a strict watch upon the morals of its members. 

A year after the foundation of the Burschen^chaft all the 
other students' corps in Jena had been dissolved, and the Bur- 
schenschaft now seemed to have attained the goal of its desire, 

The Burschenschaft 

to have become a union of all the Christian German students. 
In these early days there still prevailed the good tone of a cordial 
patriotic enthusiasm. What an abyss separated existing custom 
from the roughness of earlier days now that the Burschen sang 
as their association song Arndt's vigorous verses : 

To whom shall first our thanks resound ? 
To God, Whose greatness wonderful 
From night of long disgrace is seen 
Forth-flaming in a glorious dawn, 
Who humbled hath our haughty foes, 
Who our strength for us renews, 
And ruling sits beyond the stars 
Till time becomes eternity. 

For the emblem of their league and of German unity, which this 
emblem was intended to symbolise, the Burschen adopted, in 
accordance with Jahn's proposal, a black-red-and-gold banner. 
Probably these were the colours of the uniform of Liitzow's volun- 
teers, and this force had also carried a black-and-red flag 
embroidered in gold. l Some members of the Burschenschaft were 
indeed bold enough to maintain that in this banner were renewed 
the black-and-yellow colours of the old empire, embellished by 
the red of liberty, or perhaps of war (for red had once been the 
war colour of the imperial armies). But the more zealous members 
would hear nothing of such historical memories, and interpreted 
their colours as meaning the passage from the black night of 
slavery, through bloody struggles, to the golden dawn of freedom. 
Thus it was that from out these students' dreams there came 
into existence that tricolor, which for half a century remained 
the banner of the national desire, which was to bring to Ger- 
many so many hopes and so many tears, so many noble thoughts 
and so many sins, until at length, like the black-blue-and-red 
banner of the Italian carbonari, it became disgraced in the fury 
of party struggles, and, once more like the carbonari banner, was 
replaced by the colours of the national state. 

The intention of the Burschenschaft to unite all the students 
in a single association originated in an overstrained idealism, 
for the greatest charm of such societies of young men lies, in truth, 
in the intimacies of individual friendship. The invincible per- 
sonal pride of the Germans would not so readily allow all to be 
treated on equal terms. To aristocratic natures, the general use 

1 Fuller details in Appendix V. 

History of Germany 

of the familiar " them," which the Burschenschaft enjoined, was 
uncongenial. Not alone the rude debauchees of the old school, 
but also many harmless pleasure-loving young men, were 
bored by the precociously wise and earnest tone of the Burschen, 
among whom prestige could be acquired solely by emotional elo- 
quence, or perhaps, in addition, by good swordsmanship. Men of 
free and individual intelligence, such as young Carl Immermann 
of Halle, cared nothing for the opinion of the leaders of the Bur- 
schenschaft, holding that distinguished student chiefs are very 
rarely men of talent. The only resource against such opponents 
was dictatorial severity, and the narrowness characteristic of 
every new tendency (among young men at least) soon increased 
in the Burschenschaft to the pitch of terrorism. In Jena it 
proved possible for the time being to silence all differences of 
opinion, and the conceit of the Burschen now became intolerable. 
With important mien, the executive and the members of the 
committee strode every afternoon up and down the market place, 
deliberating in measured conversation the weal of the fatherland 
and of the universities ; they regarded themselves as lords of 
this small academic realm, all the more because most of the pro- 
fessors exhibited for these youthful tyrants a quite immoderate 
veneration, compounded of fear and benevolence ; even now, 
the leaders of the Burschenschaft looked forward to the time 
when their organisation would rule all Germany. 

Patriotic orations displaying passion and enthusiasm became 
more and more violent, already concluding at times with the 
triumphant assertion : " Our judgment has the weight of history 
itself ; it annihilates." How many old members of the Burschen- 
schaft went down to their graves inspired by the happy illusion 
that it was in truth their organisation which had founded the new 
German empire. Half a century later, Arnold Ruge described 
the long struggle for unity and freedom characteristic of modern 
German history as a single great pro patria dispute between 
Burschenschafts and students' corps. Indisputably, many a young 
man of ability acquired his first understanding of the splendour 
of the fatherland at a students' drinking party, but the political 
idealism of those days was too formless to arouse a definitely 
drected sentiment. To the first generation of the Burschen- 
schaft there belonged, in addition to isolated liberal party-leaders 
like H. von Gagern, a great many men who subsequently dis- 
played ultra-conservative tendencies, as for instance Leo, Stahl, 
W. Menzel, Jarke, and Hengstenberg. Voluble enthusiasm, hazy 


The Burschenschaft 

egoism, and the persistent confusion of appearance and reality, 
were unfavourable to the development of political talent. On 
the whole it may be said that from the Burschenschaft there 
proceeded more professors and authors, whilst from the ranks 
of the corps, the subsequent opponents of the Burschenschaft, 
were derived more statesmen. 

For the present, however, the Burschenschaft was supreme 
in Jena. Its fame was disseminated through all the universities, 
where it attracted new students, and at Jena the number of 
students speedily became doubled. At other universities, too, 
Burschenschafts were established ; in Giessen, for instance, and 
in Tubingen, where as long before as 1813 a Tugendbund had 
been founded to counteract academic brutality. Quite spon- 
taneously there now awakened the desire to celebrate the new 
community at a formal meeting of all German Burschen. In 
dispersed peoples, the impulse to unity finds natural expression in 
such free social relationships, extending beyond the bounds of 
the individual state ; in Germany, as in Italy, congresses of men 
of science, artists, and industrials were, like stormy petrels, the 
forerunners of the bloody struggles for unity. Among the Ger- 
mans it was the students who took the first step, and nothing 
can show more plainly the inertia of political life in those days. 
Long before grown men had conceived the idea of coming to an 
understanding about their serious common interests, among our 
youth the impulse became active to interchange their common 
dreams and hopes, and through the play of the imaginative life 
to rejoice in the ideal unity of the fatherland. 


The centenary festival of the Reformation awakened every- 
where among Protestants a happy sentiment of grateful pride. 
In these days even Goethe sang : " Ever in art and science shall 
my voice of protest rise." The students, in especial, were affected 
by this mood of the time, because their minds were still influenced 
by the Christian Protestant enthusiasm of the War of Libera- 
tion. When the idea of a great fraternal festival of the German 
Burschen was first mooted in Jahn's circle, the Jena Burschen- 
schaft resolved to postpone the day of assembly to the eighteenth 
day of "the moon of victory" in the year 1817, in order to 
combine the centenary festival of the Reformation with the 
customary annual commemoration of the battle of Leipzig, 


History of Germany 

Arminius, Luther, Scharnhorst, all the great figures of those who 
led Germanism in the struggle against foreign encroachments, 
became fused into a single image in the conceptions of these 
young hotheads. To the more revolutionary spirits, Luther 
seemed a republican hero, a precursor of the free " conviction." 
In a commemorative pamphlet by Carl Sand, which was circu- 
lated among the students, the Evangelical doctrine of Christian 
freedom was fantastically intertwined with modern democratic 
notions. " The leading idea of our festival," wrote Sand, " is that 
we are consecrated to priesthood through baptism, that we are 
all free and equal. From of old there have ever been three 
primal enemies of our German nationality: the Romans, monas- 
ticism, and militarism." By this attitude, the universally 
German character of the festival was from the first impaired. The 
Catholic universities of the highlands, which in any case had as yet 
no regular intercourse on the part of their students with those of 
North Germany, could not receive an invitation ; the Burschen of 
Freiburg had to light their fires of victory on the eighteenth of 
October by themselves, on the Wartenberg near Donaueschingen. 
The Austrian universities did not come into the question at all, 
for they were quite aloof from the German students' customs, and, 
with the exception of the Transylvanian Saxons and a few Hun- 
garians, hardly any Austrians studied in Germany. Even in the 
Prussian universities, the Burschenschaft had as yet secured so 
few adherents that Berlin was the only one to accept the invita- 
tion. The consequence was that at the festival of the national 
battle the students of the two states which alone had fought at 
Leipzig in the cause of freedom were almost unrepresented, and 
all the extraordinary fables with which the liberals of the Rhenish 
Confederate lands were accustomed to adorn the history of the 
War of Liberation found free currency. 

Long in advance, and with vigorous trumpeting, the press 
had heralded the great day. A free assembly of Germans from 
all parts, meeting solely on behalf of the fatherland, was to this 
generation a phenomenon so astounding as to seem almost more 
important than the world-shaking experiences of recent years. 
During October i7th fifteen hundred Burschen arrived at Eise- 
nach, about half of this number being from Jena, thirty from 
Berlin, and the rest from Giessen, Marburg, Erlangen, Heidel- 
berg, and the other universities of the minor states ; following 
the custom of the gymnasts, the vigorous men of Kiel had come 
the whole distance on foot. Four of the Jena professors, Fries, 


The Burschenschaft 

Oken, Schweitzer, and Kieser, were also present. As the men of 
each new group entered, they were greeted at the gate with loud 
hurrahs, and were then conducted to the Rautenkranz, there 
before the severe members of the committee to swear to observe 
the peace strictly for three days. Early on the following morn- 
ing, a fine autumn day, " the sacred train " made its way 
through the forest to the reformer's stronghold. The procession 
was led by Scheidler, carrying the sword of the Burschen, 
and ^ollowed by four vassals ; next came Count Keller, sur- 
rounded by four standard guards, with the new colours of the 
Burschen which the girls of Jena had shortly before embroidered 
for their austere young friends ; the Burschen followed two by 
two, among them a number of heroic German figures, many of 
them bearded (which to the timid already sufficed to arouse 
suspicion of treasonable designs). Delight shone from every eye, 
for all were inspired by the happy self-forgetfulness of youth 
which is still able to immerse itself in the pleasures of the moment. 
It seemed to them as if to-day for the first time they had been 
able truly to appreciate the glories of their fatherland. 

In the banqueting-hall of the Wartburg, which the grand 
duke had hospitably thrown open, God is to us a tower of strength 
was first of all sung amid the rolling of kettle-drums and the blast 
of trumpets. Then Riemann, of Liitzow's yagers, delivered an 
inaugural address describing in emotional and exaggerated phrase- 
ology the deeds of Luther and of Blucher, and going on to exhort 
the Burschen by the spirits of the mighty dead " to strive for 
the acquirement of every human and patriotic virtue." The 
speech was not free from the current catchwords about the frus- 
trated hopes of the German nation and about the one prince who 
had kept his word. As a whole, it was a youthful and obscure 
but thoroughly harmless outpouring of sentimentality, just as 
vague and unmeaning as the new pass-word Volunto ! of which 
the Burschen were so fond. Nor did the subsequent speeches of 
the professors and of the other students exceed this measure, for 
even Oken spoke with unusual self-restraint, warning the young 
people against premature political activities. 

After the midday meal, the Burschen returned to the town 
and went to church, the service being also attended by the Eise- 
nach Landsturm ; and after church the champions of the Berlin 
and Jena gymnastic grounds displayed their arts to the astonished 
Landsturmers. At nightfall there was a renewed procession 
to the Wartenberg, opposite the Warsburg, this time by torchlight, 


1 1 istory of Germany 

and here were lighted a number of bonfires of victory, 
greeted with patriotic speeches and songs. Hitherto the festival 
had been characterised by a pleasing harmony, but now it became 
manifest that there already existed within the Burschenschaft 
a small party of extremists, composed of those fanatical primitive 
Teutons of Jahn's school who passed by the name of " Old Ger- 
mans." The Turnvater had felt that this valuable opportunity 
for a senseless demonstration must on no account be lost. He 
had suggested that the festival in commemoration of Luther 
should be crowned by an imitation of the boldest of the reformer's 
actions, and that just as Luther had once burned the papal bull 
of excommunication, so now the writings of the enemies of the 
good cause should be cast into the flames. Since the majority 
of the festival committee, wiser than Jahn, had rejected the 
proposal, Jahn had given his Berlin companions a list of the books 
to be burned, and his faithful followers, led by Massmann, now 
determined to carry out the master's plan on their own initiative, 
a proceeding which the committee, desiring to keep the peace, 
was unwilling positively to prohibit. On the Wartenberg, hardly 
had the last serious song been finished by the Burschen surround- 
ing the fires, and the true festival been brought to a close, when 
Massmann suddenly came to the front, and in a bombastic speech 
exhorted the brethren to contemplate how, in accordance with 
Luther's example, sentence was to be executed in the fires of 
purgatory upon the evil writings of the fatherland. Now had 
arrived the sacred hour " in which all the world of Germany 
can see what we desire ; can know what is to be expected from us 
in the future." 

Thereupon his associates brought forward several parcels of 
old printed matter, each inscribed with the titles of the con- 
demned books. Tossed in by a pitchfork, the works of the 
traitors to their fatherland then fell into the infernal flames amid 
loud hooting. The parcels contained a wonderfully mixed 
society of about two dozen books in all, some good and some bad, 
everything which had most recently aroused the anger of the I sis 
and similar journals. There were burned the works of Wadzeck 
and Scherer, and, to make a clean sweep, those " of all the other 
cribbling, screaming, and speechless foes of the praiseworthy 
gymnastic craft " ; copies of the Alemannia, too, found their way 
to the flames, with issues " of all the other newspapers which 
disgrace and dishonour the fatherland " ; then, of course, came 
three writings by the detested Schmalz (while the chorus intonecl 


The Burschenschaft 

an opprobrious pun upon the author's name), and the General 
Code of the Gendarmerie by Schmalz's comrade, Kamptz. Beside 
the code Napoleon, Kotzebue's German History, and Ascher's 
Germanomania (followed by a shout of "Woe unto the Jews"), 
there was burned Haller's Restoration, the choice of this victim 
being explained on the ground " the fellow does not want the 
German fatherland to have a constitution " although not one 
of the Burschen had ever read this ponderous book. But even 
Benzenberg and Wangenheim, liberals both, had to suffer at the 
hands of these angry young men because their works had proved 
incomprehensible to the Jena journalists. Finally, an Uhlan 
warrior's pair of stays, a pigtail, and a corporal's cane, were 
burned as " fuglemen of military pedantry, the scandal of the 
serious and sacred warrior caste " ; and with three groans for 
"the rascally Schmalzian crew" the judges of this modern 
Fehmic court dispersed. 

The farce was indescribably silly, but no worse than 
many similar expressions of academic coarseness, and it demanded 
serious consideration only on account of the measureless arro- 
gance and Jacobin intolerance shown in the young people's offen- 
sive orations. Stein spoke in very strong terms about " the 
tomfoolery at the Wartburg " ; while Niebuhr, ever inclined to 
the gloomiest view, wrote with much anxiety, " Liberty is quite 
impossible if young people lack veneration and modesty." He 
was disgusted by this " religious comedy," by the ludicrous con- 
trast between the bold reformer who had risen in revolt against 
the highest and most sacred authority of his time, and on the 
other hand this safe passing of fiery judgment by a group of 
boastful young Burschen upon a number of writings of which they 
hardly knew a line ! At the students' assembly, on the follow- 
ing day, the young men made use of calmer language, being at 
least more reasonable than their teacher Fries, who had left them 
a written discourse of an incredibly tasteless character, turgid 
with mystical biblical wisdom and Saxe- Weimar arrogance of 
liberty. " Return," admonished Fries, " to your own places say- 
ing that you have visited the land where the German people is 
free, where German thought is free . . . Here there is no stand- 
ing army to burden the nation ! A little land shows you the 
goal! But all the German princes made a similar promise " . . ., 
and so on. Certainly Stein had good reason for censuring the 
Jena professors as " drivelling metapoliticians," and Goethe 
reason just as good when he invoked a curse upon all German 

57 F 

History of Germany 

political oratory, for what could be expected from the young 
when their revered teacher held up the four-and-twenty hussars 
of Weimar as a glorious example for the rest of Germany ! The 
same repulsive intermingling of religion and politics which was 
displayed in Fries's speech, came to light once more in the after- 
noon, when some of the Burschen hit upon the idea of taking 
Holy Communion. Superintendent Nebe actually conceded the 
point, and administered the sacrament to a number of excited 
and more or less intoxicated young men a characteristic example 
of that deplorable laxity which in time of trouble has ever distin- 
guished both the temporal and the spiritual authorities of the 
petty states. 

Notwithstanding the follies of individuals, the festival as a 
whole was harmless, happy, and innocent. When in the evening 
the young men had said their farewells with streaming eyes, for 
most of them there remained a life-long memory, scintillating 
like a May-day in youth, as Heinrich Leo assures us. They had 
had a brotherly meeting with comrades from the south and from 
the north ; they considered that the unity of the disintegrated 
fatherland was already within their grasp ; and if only 
public opinion had been sensible enough to leave these young 
hotheads to themselves and to their own dreams, the good resolu- 
tions which many an excellent youth formed in those hours of 
excitement might have borne valuable fruit. 

But amid the profound stillness which brooded over the 
German north, the impudent speeches of the Burschen resounded 
far too loudly. It seemed as if friend and foe had entered into 
a conspiracy to increase to the pitch of mania the sentiment of 
morbid self-conceit, that deadly sin of youth which corrupts its 
honourable enthusiasms, as if everyone accepted the boastful 
assurance of Carove, one of the Wartburg orators, who had 
extolled the universities as the natural defenders of national 
honour. With ludicrous earnestness the liberal newspapers 
delightedly hailed this first awakening of the public life of the 
nation, " this silvery sheen in our history, this blossoming of our 
epoch " ; while, on the other hand, the old terror of the domes- 
ticated townsman for the students who used to beat night watch- 
men clothed itself in a political dress. A whole library of 
writings and counter-writings illuminated the extraordinary drama 
from all sides, raising this outburst of students' revelry to the level 
of a European event. It was natural that the heroes of the occa- 
sion should participate with justified pride in this paper- warfare. 


The Burschenschaft 

The most faithful picture of the young people's hazy enthusiasm 
was given by Massmann in a long report of the festival, in which 
the stilted oracular phraseology unquestionably served to show 
how much that was un-German was after all concealed in the 
Jahnese "strong-manhood." " Although the gloomy winter night 
of serfdom," he begins, " still lowers over the hills and the streams 
of the German land, nevertheless the peaks are aflame, and the 
blood-red gold of dawn gathers strength." The poor young man 
had now to make severe atonement for the Turnvater's folly. 
Since he dreaded a prosecution and did not wish to cut too 
painful a figure before the judges, he had to devote the whole 
winter term to the belated perusal of all the evil books which he 
had symbolically burned on the Wartenburg. Another work, 
presumably by Carove, was dedicated to the writer's Rhenish 
fellow-countrymen with the wish that the spiritual sun of the 
Wartburg might illumine them also, might bring them strength 
and consolation in their misfortune. The majority, however, 
still remained tolerably quiet. A proposal to publish a political 
programme was rejected with the definite declaration that the 
Burschenschaft was not to intervene in politics, whilst a short 
writing on the Wartburg festival by F. I. Frommann, a 
member of a respected family of Jena booksellers, was thoroughly 
modest, being characterised merely by a harmless youthful 

Unfortunately several of the professors who had attended the 
festival proved far more foolish than their pupils. In a typically 
coarse newspaper report, Fries did not hesitate to express plain 
approval of the fire-assize which had dealt with the writings 
"of some of the Schmalzian crew." To "many who discuss 
Germany wisely and unwisely," Oken, in the I sis, held up the 
Wartburg gathering as a brilliant example, availing himself of all 
the pictorial wealth of his goose-heads, donkey-heads, priest- 
heads, and Jew-heads, in order to pour out fresh scorn upon the 
authors of the burned writings, whereupon the Jena students, 
in a masked procession through the market place, gave a 
dramatic representation of the I sis caricatures. Finally Kieser, 
who, despite his magnetic secret doctrines, was respected by 
other members of the medical faculty as a man of intelligence 
and learning, published a work, " dedicated to the Wartburg 
spirit of the German universities," positively luxuriating in crazy 
vaunts, saying that the Wartburg festival was " an event of which 
Germany's peoples will still be proud when centuries have elapsed, 


History of Germany 

one of those events which, like all that is truly great, never recur 
in history, an event which in its hidden womb may bear fruitful 
germs, influential for centuries to come ! " 

For these outbreaks of academic delusion of grandeur, the 
petty sensibilities of the members of the opposing party were 
largely responsible. The age was still but little accustomed to 
the virulence of political struggles, and almost all the authors who 
had been selected for condemnation felt that they had been seri- 
ously affronted by the tomfoolery of the students. Wangenheim 
alone bore the insult with good humour, saying that hitherto his 
colleagues at the Bundestag had regarded him with suspicion 
as a demagogue, but that since his book had been burned upon 
the Wartburg they had come to greet him in a more friendly 
spirit. Many of the others uttered loud complaints, and circu- 
lated gloomy reports, as that the charter of the Holy Alliance 
and the federal act had also been burned by the youthful traitors. 
Especially infuriated was Privy Councillor Kamptz, and he 
eagerly grasped the welcome chance of suppressing the 
academic Jacobins once for all. What a piece of luck it was 
that the ignorant young men had chosen to commit to the flames 
his gendarmerie code, a collection of police regulations, to 
which the editor had added hardly anything ! Sovereign 
ordinances, among them some issued by Charles Augustus him- 
self, had been publicly burned upon the grand-ducal soil of Saxe- 
Weimar, and according to Quistorp's work upon Criminal Law it 
was indisputable that the " crime of lese-majeste " had been per- 
petrated. In two minatory letters to the grand duke, and subse- 
quently in a pamphlet Concerning the Public Burning of Printed 
Matters, Kamptz expounded these ideas, and stormily demanded 
satisfaction, declaring that German soil had been desecrated, 
that the century had been denied by the vandalism of dema- 
gogic intolerance, and by vulgar displays on the part of the 
tools of evil professors. 

At the court of Vienna the only feeling was one of alarm and 
anger. The news from Eisenach led Metternich for the first 
time to devote serious attention to German affairs, which he had 
hitherto treated with profound indifference, for he recognised with 
terror that behind the fantastical activities of these young men 
there lurked the deadly enemy of his system, the national idea. 
He immediately declared to the Prussian envoy that the time 
had arrived " to take strong measures [sevir] against this spirit of 
Jacobinism," and he requested the chancellor to join with Austria 


The Burschenschaft 

in common action against the court of Weimar. 1 In the first 
moment of panic he even desired the immediate recall from Jena 
of all the Austrian students at that university. In the Oester- 
reichische Beobachter Gentz published a number of savage articles 
upon the Wartburg festival, an artful compost of perspicuity and 
folly. Only with trembling, he declared, could a father to-day 
see his son depart to the university. Such plaints of nervous 
anxiety were succeeded by a masterly refutation (based upon 
an extraordinary wealth of knowledge) of the vainglorious students' 
fables concerning the wonderful deeds of the volunteers. 

In Berlin, the king was much more concerned than were 
his ministers. Frederick William himself had never been a 
student, and therefore had no personal experience of the rough 
humours of student life, so that he was disgusted by the noisy 
and boastful activity of the young men. In the previous spring 
he had taken action against the Teutonia of Halle when Carl 
Immermann had begged him for protection against the terrorism 
of the Burschenschaft, and he now had inquiries made at all the 
Prussian universities as to who had participated in the Wartburg 
festival. The Burschen of Konigsberg were commended because 
they had held aloof ; on December 7th strict commands were 
issued to the minister of education that all students' associations 
should immediately be suppressed and membership therein 
prohibited on pain of expulsion, while the practices of the 
gymnasts were to be closely supervised. " I shall not hesitate 
for a moment," wrote the king, " to abolish any university in 
which the spirit of undiscipline proves ineradicable." 2 

Altenstein fulfilled his orders with benevolent caution. He 
had not lost confidence in the good sentiments of the students ; 
he praised the unaffrighted conduct of the grand duke of Weimar ; 
and held firmly to the hope " that just as the Prussian universities 
surpass all the others of Germany in their purposive and free- 
handed equipment, so also may they continue to excel by giving 
oexmple of an activity which, while vigorous, remains directed 
ta right ends." 3 Hardenberg, on the other hand, eagerly 
endorsed the king's views. It was not that he altogether shared 
the monarch's anxieties, but the young demagogues' speeches threat- 
ened to destroy his most cherished plans. The completion of the 
constitution remained the ultimate goal of his policy, and this 

1 Krusemark's Reports, November 12 and 22, 1817. 

* Cabinet Order to Altenstein, December 7, 1817. 

* Altenstein to Hardenberg, November 30, 1817; August 25, 1818. 


History of Germany 

work could never be brought to a successful issue if a spirit of 
suspicion were to become firmly established in the king's mind. 
Hence he considered that all manifestations of demagogic senti- 
ments must forthwith be stifled once and for all. Schleiermacher's 
lectures Concerning the Doctrine o/ the State, though purely scien- 
tific in character and utterly devoid of party feeling, had recently, 
through the instrumentality of some scandalmonger, been made 
an object of suspicion at court, and had led the king to give vent 
to a few bitter observations ; Hardenberg lacked courage to open 
the monarch's eyes by a straightforward word ; instructed the 
minister of education to forbid the continuance of these lectures 
" which, without being of any real utility, serve merely to sow 
dissension " ; and cancelled his order only because even Wittgen- 
stein considered it injudicious. l In the like arbitrary spirit did 
the chancellor accept Metternich's proposals. Since he was in- 
tending to pay an immediate visit to the Rhenish provinces, he 
determined to travel by way of Weimar, and there, supported by 
the Austrian envoy Count Zichy, to have a word with the grand 
duke, and to hand to him monitory letters from the emperor and 
the king. 

Amid the general excitement, Charles Augustus alone 
remained serene and equable ; in youth he himself had long 
luxuriated in the effervescent spirits of the student, and did not 
esteem the Burschen's boasting more seriously than it deserved. 
The Deutsche Burschenzeitung which had been announced on 
the Wart burg was prohibited ; a few other newspapers were 
admonished ; while a criminal prosecution was instituted against 
Oken, which ended in an acquittal because in the indictment he 
was foolishly accused of high treason the article in the Isis had 
afforded ample ground for a prosecution for libel. A prosecution 
initiated against Fries was discontinued as objectless, and it was 
considered sufficient to administer a reprimand on account of his 
tactless speech. For the rest, the Jena students were left 
unmolested. On November 26th, through his charge d'affaires in 
Berlin, Charles Augustus assured the Prussian government : 
" The present excitement is general, and is a natural consequence 
of events ; it may be allayed by confidence and courage, but 
suspicion and forcible measures would throw Germany into con- 
fusion." - He encountered the emissaries of the two great powers 

1 Hardenberg to Altenstein and Wittgenstein, December jth ; Rother to 
Hardenberg, December 15, 1817. 

2 Edling's Instruction to Muller, charge d'affaires, November 26, 1817. 


The Burschenschaft 

with his customary cheerful candour, and promised to co-operate 
in establishing a federal press-law At the grand duke's request, 
Zichy now paid a visit to Jena, accompanied by Edling, in order 
to examine this nidus of revolt close at hand, and since nothing 
remarkable occurred the two great powers temporarily abstained 
from further steps. But suspicion remained alive, and King 
Frederick William expressed his disapproval in the strongest 
possible terms when, in the following summer, Massmann was 
appointed gymnastic teacher at Breslau. The French govern- 
ment, which had long been rendered uneasy by the intrigues of 
the prince of Orange and of the refugees in Belgium, also made 
serious representations to the court of Weimar. Czar Alexander, 
the protagonist of Christian liberalism, refused to sound the alarm 
in the ears of the Germanic Federation, as Metternich wished 
him to do, but was nevertheless unable wholly to master his 
secret fears, and in an autograph letter he urged the grand duke 
to take stringent measures against the press. 1 The dread of an 
approaching revolution grew ever stronger, and since the foreign 
powers were all conscious of their sins against Germany they 
regarded this peaceful land, in which, after all, the traces of an 
uneasy movement were still few and far between, as the natural 
centre of the European revolutionary party. 

The fears of the cabinets had an extremely unfavourable 
influence upon the students' mood, for now that all the great 
powers of the continent were up in arms against them, the 
Burschen considered that they had become central figures in 
history. The democratic ideas which had hitherto slumbered 
beneath the cloak of the Christo Germanic fantasies now came 
impudently into the open, and together with Korner's songs there 
was often sung the Marseillaise as Germanised by old Voss : 

We come, we come ! Quake, hireling-swarm, 
And take to flight or die ! 

No one asked to what nation this " hireling-swarm " of Rouget 
de Lisle had belonged ! The revolutionary party of the " Old 
Germans " became by degrees sharply distinguished from the 
innocent masses of the Burschen. While these latter, weary 
of the eternal political discussions, made for themselves a merry 
beer- kingdom in Lichtenhain, the " quiet republican statesmen " 

1 Altenstein to Hardenberg, August 1 8th and September 15th ; Report of 
the Badenese envoy General von Stockhorn, Berlin, February 7, 1818. 


History of Germany 

(as Arnold Ruge termed them) held formal session in their 
republic of Ziegenhain, discussing in emotional orations whether 
the unity of Germany could be more effectively secured by the 
assassination or by the peaceful mediatisation of the princes. 
A new song Thirty, or Three and Thirty, it matters little ! referred 
very plainly to the former method, but there still were to be found 
a few of gentler nature who desired to grant the king of Prussia 
a retiring allowance of three hundred thalers per annum. Folly 
began to break all bounds, and the blameless Fries had frequent 
occasion to learn how the forms of intercourse practised by the 
gymnasts were developing. He associated with his young friends 
upon terms which permitted them to address him in the second 
person singular and had therefore no reason to feel surprised 
when one of his students wrote to him as follows : "I feel that in 
future I shall not be writing to Councillor Fries, but to thee, my 
old friend Fries, whilst thou repliest to thy faithful pupil D. Now 
look here, thou fine old fellow, we are young people, and we are 
having a better time of it than didst thou in thy youth." 

Shortly after the Wart burg festival, an odious literary 
quarrel came to add fuel to the flames. To the students, Kotzebue 
had long been a thorn in the side ; they detested the insipid 
lasciviousness of his plays and dreaded him as a skilled opponent. 
In the Liter arische Wochenblatt, which enjoyed the special favour 
of Metternich, he advocated the views of enlightened absolutism, 
sang the praises of Russia with servile flattery, and attacked the 
idealism of the students (as he attacked everything which sur- 
passed the limits of his own sordid understanding) with so much 
malice and venom that even Goethe wished him joy of the fire- 
assize on the Wartburg, exclaiming : 

Too long, too long, for mean ends fighting, 
And with base scorn of high things writing, 
Of thine own folk a mock hast made, 
At hands of youth art well repaid. 

But the old rascal still possessed his impudent wit and his nimble 
pen. He uttered many an apt word regarding the intolerable 
presumption of the students ; he had a sharp eye for their ill- 
breeding ; and when, in his amusing Commendation of the Asses' 
Heads, he joined issue with the I sis, he was left victor on the 
field, for the dull and inflated young men were incapable of meet- 
ing him with his own weapons. Kotzebue lived in Weimar as 


The Burschenschaft 

secretary to the Russian legation, and his tenure of this diplo- 
matic post aroused offence, for he was a native of Weimar, he 
owed his literary repute to the Germans alone, and in his Wochen- 
blatt wrote freely about the affairs of the fatherland as a Ger- 
man. But who could expect from such a man the fine feelings 
of national pride ? It was an open secret that throughout Ger- 
many there lived secret agents of the St. Petersburg police. 
When Faber, the Russian councillor of state, visited Rhine- 
land, Count Solms-Laubach considered it advisable to have him 
shadowed by the trusty Barsch. The Russian cabinet owed its 
knowledge of European affairs chiefly to the reports which Russians 
of quality living in the west were accustomed to send to the 
court. Kotzebue also sent occasional reports to St. Petersburg, 
but he could by no means be numbered among the dangerous 
spies, for his bulletins consisted exclusively of critical surveys 
dealing with the most recent manifestations in German literature. 
One day Kotzebue's secretary, who lived in the same house 
with Lindner, the editor of the Oppositionsblatt, came to the latter 
and innocently requested his assistance in deciphering certain 
passages in a report written by Kotzebue in French. Lindner 
immediately recognised the nature of the document, asked to be 
allowed to keep it for an hour, copied the most important pas- 
sages, and did not feel it dishonourable to communicate forthwith 
to Luden the bulletin thus purloined. It contained nothing more 
than a few extracts from the Nemesis and similar writings 
(extracts which, though casual and inexact, gave the sense 
correctly enough), together with some far from flattering criticisms 
of Luden's authorship, such as might naturally be expected from 
a political opponent the men of Jena were certainly accus- 
tomed to treat their enemies far more roughly. Luden, who was 
not lacking in worldly wisdom, eagerly seized the opportunity 
of exposing a dreaded opponent and at the same time clearing 
himself from the suspicion of demagogic sentiments. He had 
the stolen document printed ; endeavoured by paltry and not 
altogether straightforward quibbling to prove that Kotzebue 
had falsified the innocent words of the Nemesis ; and branded him 
as a calumniator. All along the line the liberal press now 
advanced to the attack upon the " Russian spy," who after all had 
not spied out any secret, but had merely handed on publicly 
printed writings. Blow succeeded blow ; a furious dispute began, 
creditable to neither side. The courts intervened, condemning 
both parties ; Lindner was exiled, and went to Alsace, where ( 


History of Germany 

bewitched by the doctrines of the French, he speedily became a 
liberalising Rhenish Confederate. The students, however, had 
at length discovered in Kotzebue a target for the aimless but 
fierce hatred with which their hearts were filled. The sensuous old 
fellow in Weimar seemed to them a pattern of all the infamies, 
the evil genius of the fatherland, and the Burschen sang in 
threatening tones : 

Still bays the friend of Kamptz and Schmalz, 
Beel- and Kotzebue. 

Such was the ferment in the minds of the young, while the 
nation continued with childish curiosity to discuss every act of 
folly on the part of the students. In the summer of 1818, as 
the sequel to a dispute with the bourgeoisie quite devoid of 
political bearing, the students of Gottingen marched out of the town 
of the muses, declaring the Georgia Augusta university to be taboo, 
and caroused for a few days in Witzenhausen, taking the oppor- 
tunity of drinking destruction to the defunct institution. Such 
an exodus might perhaps in old days sometimes endanger the 
existence of a university ; but now, when every one of the federal 
states demanded of its officials and clergy that they should have 
attended the territorial university, it was merely something to 
laugh at. None the less, even this child's play called into 
existence a sheaf of pamphlets. Councillor Dabelow, the distin- 
guished organiser of the Empire Anhaltin-Ccethien, who had been 
among those to experience the tender mercies of the fire-assize 
of the Wartburg, implored the exalted governments to take serious 
measures against the young traitors. As it happened, this able 
jurist shortly afterwards received a call to Dorpat, and now it 
seemed to the students clearly proved that the czar had sur- 
rounded them with spies. Another author devoted a whole book 
to the description of the affair of the Gottingen exodus, adorning 
his work with pictures of the students in the council of the taboo 
sinister figures which seemed to have come straight out of the 
Bohemian forest from the band of Robber Moor. Soon after- 
wards the students of Tubingen fought the battle of Lustnau, a 
struggle round a village-tavern of which the poets of the Swabian 
university still sing to-day ; next the Heidelberg Burschen were 
seized with the spirit of unrest, and stormed the beerhouse of 
the Great Tun. All these trifles were ceremoniously described 
throughout the German press. Alike at the courts and among 


The Burschenschaft 

the people, the student acquired an incredible prestige, being here 
honoured as a born tribune, there regarded with suspicion as a 
professional conspirator, while Count de Serre, the French minister 
of state, wrote to his friend Niebuhr, " I am sorry for your states- 
men, they wage war with students ! " 

The stout-hearted Charles Augustus alone retained undis- 
turbed his high-spirited confidence. In July, 1818, the Jena 
students, led by Heinrich von Gagern, held a torchlight proces- 
sion in honour of the birth of the duke's grandson. He gave 
them a banquet in the court-yard of the palace, appeared on the 
balcony in a mood of youthful cheerfulness, and long continued 
to watch the lively proceedings, beaming with delight. Then, 
in accordance with the patriarchal custom of the Ernestines, 
inviting to the prince's christening all the corporations of the 
country, he included in the invitation three representatives of the 
Burschenschaft ; as the Hofburg learned with intense anger, these 
dangerous fellows were actually summoned to the festive board, 
and were manifestly treated with distinction by the inquisi- 
tive maids-of-honour. Charles Augustus had been tried in the 
balance and found wanting, and in Metternich's circle he was 
henceforward spoken of only as the " Old Bursche." 

Meanwhile the seed scattered on the Wartburg began to 
spring up. Burschenschafts after the Jena model were formed 
at fourteen universities. Delegates from these met at Jena in 
October, 1818. and upon the anniversary of the Wartburg festival 
the Allgemeine Deutsche Burschenschaft [Universal German 
Burschenschaft] was founded, as a free association of all 
German students, " established upon the relationship of the German 
youth to the coming unity of the German fatherland." A general 
Burschenschaft of delegates from every university was to assemble 
annually in the " moon of victory." The organic statutes describing 
the aims of the association were quite unobjectionable, demanding 
unity, liberty, and equality of all Burschen, and the Christo- 
Germanic development of all their energies in the service of the 
fatherland. The only alarming feature was the terrorist spirit 
which desired to enforce membership upon all students, which 
declared other associations to be " taboo without further con- 
sideration," and which was yet unable to achieve the impossible, 
for at all the universities except Jena some of the Landsmann- 
schafts continued to exist in addition to the Burschenschaft. To 
particularism, and to its leader, the court of Vienna, it was 
natural that the very existence of this " youths' federal state," 


History of Germany 

as Fries termed it, should seem extremely dangerous, since here 
for the first time in the forcibly disintegrated nation was consti- 
tuted a corporation embracing the whole of Germany. So new 
was the phenomenon that even Goethe anxiously asked whether 
a guild could be tolerated extending throughout Germany but not 
subordinated to the Bundestag. 

Whilst the Burschenschaft was thus spreading more and 
more widely, its internal strength and unity were already being 
impaired by a confused segregation into factions. A generation 
inspired with enthusiasm for Schiller's sentimental love of liberty 
was from the first inclined to be receptive for the ideas of Rousseau, 
and it was inevitable that after several years had been passed in 
continuous and lively political discussion the demagogic party 
should ultimately gain ground. The university of Giessen was the 
centre of the academic revolutionary spirit. Here in the west 
the doctrines of the French Revolution had long before taken 
firm root ; the arbitrariness of the Bonapartist officialdom in 
Darmstadt and Nassau had made the young people bitter, and 
when the hour of liberation at length struck for these territories 
as well, through an unkindly fate it happened that the students 
at Giessen, who flocked to the colours, hardly ever came face to 
face with the enemy. In exhausting marches they learned only 
the prose of war. and had no experience of its inspiriting joys ; 
they had much to suffer from the roughness of their Rhenish 
Confederate officers who did not know how to get on with men 
of education in the rank and file ; and they returned home in 
low spirits, loathing the " hireling system," and with no inkling 
of the loyal monarchical sentiments of the Prussian army, with 
which they had never come into contact. They swore that Ger- 
many had waged the war solely on account of the constitution, 
and that all the blood had been shed in vain. 

Peculiar to the student leagues of Giessen was a secret inter- 
course with men of riper years, which in Jena was happily 
unknown. At the time of the war several secret societies against 
the foreign dominion had been constituted in the region of the 
Lahn, but had never effected anything in particular. In 1814, in 
accordance with a plan drawn up by Arndt, a German Association 
was formed in Idstein, and the neighbourhood ; in the following 
year the legal councillor C. Hoffmann, of Rodelheim, founded 
a league which was in touch with Justus Gruner, and which 
favoured Prussian hegemony. 1 Some of the members of these 

1 See vol. II., pp. 458, 459. 


The Burschenschaft 

associations speedily abandoned their Teutonising ideals in favour 
of cosmopolitan revolutionary notions, and carried on secret cor- 
respondence with the Burschen of Giessen. Among the advanced 
revolutionaries were the brothers Ludwig, two of the leaders of 
the Nassau opposition, Wilhelm Snell, and above all Weidig, 
vice-master at Butzbach, an eloquent apostle of equality, in whose 
eyes every government was sinful because God's word prescribed 
the complete equality of all mankind. The influence of these 
men and the stifling atmosphere of a thoroughly unhealthy state- 
system soon produced an extraordinarily fanatical tone in the 
student life of Giessen. An association of " Blacks " came into 
existence, and endeavoured to enforce its revolutionary new code, 
the Ehrenspiegel [code of honour], upon all the other students ; 
the Landsmannschafts, on the other hand, played the part of 
representatives of particularism, sported the Hessian cockade, 
and by means of a denunciation secured the dissolution of the 
Blacks' organisation. But the more zealous members of the 
suppressed league continued their work in secret. 

Their leaders were the brothers Follen, Adolf, Carl, and Paul, 
three handsome young men of great stature, full of life and fire, 
ardent republicans all, sons of a Giessen official ; they had one 
sister, who subsequently became the mother of Carl Vogt. Adolf 
Follen was distinguished by a fine lyrical talent, which he 
corrupted by the unnatural emotionalism of his declamatory revolu- 
tionary phraseology ; it was to him and to his friend Sartorius 
that the gymnasts owed their most savage and impudent songs. 
A more notable man was his brother Carl, a fanatical adherent of 
the principles of harsh reason, essentially a barren intelligence, 
but possessing rare dialectic penetration, a man of prematurely 
ripe character, entirely self-satisfied, one who after the manner 
of revolutionary prophets knew how to assume the appearance 
of elemental profundity, impressing many of his young associates 
as if he had been the Old Man of the Mountain. He was already 
a demonstrator of law, and charmed the students by that pose 
of absolute certainty which by inexperienced youth is so readily 
accepted as a mark of genius ; every one of his words was measured, 
and not one was ever withdrawn ; with remorseless logic he deduced 
his conclusions from the premise of the unconditional equality 
of all, shrinking from no possible consequence. The enigmatical 
mixture of coldness and fanaticism in his nature, together with 
the meticulous neatness of his aspect and his minatory expression, 
recalled Robespierre ; but Follen was no hypocrite, and really 


History of Germany 

practised the austere moral code which he preached. Carl Pollen 
liad nothing but a smile for the innocent imperial dreams of the 
Burschen of Tubingen and Jena, who loved to imagine the crown 
of the Hohenstaufen on the head of their William or of their 
Charles Augustus ; moreover, he regarded their Gallophobia and 
their Teutonomania as childish, although he carefully refrained 
from parading his own cosmopolitan views, since to do this would 
have deprived him of all influence. In a word, he was a Jacobin, 
and it is probable that as early as the year 1818 (as the Burschen 
of Jena suspected), and unquestionable that from 1820 onwards, 
he was in confidential correspondence with the revolutionary 
secret societies which, spread all over France, were controlled by 
Lafayette's comite directeur. His leading principle was that no one 
owed obedience to any law to whose authority he had not himself 
voluntarily submitted, and that therefore, in accordance with the 
old Rousseauist fallacy, the rule of the majority was alone 
justified. " Every citizen is chief of the state, for the just state 
is a perfect sphere in which neither top nor bottom exists because 
every point can be and is the summit." 

Thus it was that the proposal for a centralised German con- 
stitution, drafted by Adolf Follen, emended by his brother Carl, 
and laid before the Jena Burschentag in the autumn of 1818, 
contained, apart from a few Teutonising phrases, nothing beyond 
a free imitation of the fundamental law of the French republic. 
All Germans were to possess absolutely equal rights ; legislation 
was to be effected by the equal suffrage of all, the majority to 
decide ; the one and indivisible realm was to be administered in 
departments containing an equal number of inhabitants, and 
named after rivers and mountains ; all officials were to be equally 
paid, and must swear fealty to the popular representatives ; there 
was to be one Christo-German church, and no other creed was to 
be tolerated. The schools were to be solely in the rural districts, 
and especially designed for instruction in agriculture and handi- 
crafts ; at the head of all was to be an elected king with a Reichsrat. 
It read just as if the whole thing had been penned by Saint- Just. 
Far more destructive to the students than were these radical 
doctrines was the influence of that base ethical system which Carl 
Follen advocated with all the prophet's inspiration, a preposterous 
morality which was even more shameful than the teachings of 
Mariana and Suarez. The Jesuits, at any rate, had allowed that 
the authority of the church was supreme, but Follen, with facile 
logic, starting from the cult of personal " conviction " which 


flourished among the students, developed a system of crude 
subjectivism which simply denied any objective rule to human life. 
It was bluntly declared that for the righteous man no law was 
of account. What the reason recognises as true must be realised 
by the moral will, at once, unconditionally, uncompromisingly, 
even to the point of annihilating all those who hold different 
opinions ; there cannot be any talk of a conflict of duties, for the 
realisation of the reason is a moral necessity. This proposition 
was known simply as " the principle," and it was on its account 
that Pollen's confidants termed themselves the " Unconditional. " 
To the members of this sect it seemed that anything was permis- 
sible for the sake of popular freedom lying, murder, or any other 
crime for no one had the right to withhold freedom from the 

Thus did the evangel of the overthrow of all moral and poli- 
tical order make its first appearance in Germany, that terrible 
theory which, under many different cloaks, was ever and again 
to disturb the century, and which was finally to receive its 
extremest development in the doctrine of the Russian nihilists. But 
Follen draped his nihilism in a Christian mantle : Jesus, the 
martyr of conviction, was the Unconditional' hero ; their asso- 
ciation-song declared " A Christ shalt thou become ! " Just as 
impudently were misused the names of the Prussian heroes, and 
especially of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, by some from naive ignor- 
ance, but by Follen from calculation, for the innocent Burschen 
were to believe that Germany's warriors had fought for democracy. 
A widely sung lay by Buri, Scharnhorst' s Prayer, was adorned by 
the brothers Follen with revolutionary phrases, and was printed 
under the false title Kosciuszko's Prayer. In this the general was 
made to swear : 

I shrink not back, and if need be through fierce and bloody fights 
Will men's great cause defend, the city free of equal rights ! 

Carl Follen himself also hammered out verses, although his 
harsh nature utterly lacked poetic gifts ; and the incredible bom- 
bast, the savage and bloodthirsty rhetoric of his poems, found 
many admirers among the students. His master- work was The 
Great Song ; it was widely circulated by Weidig and Sand, but its 
leading passages were not fully comprehensible except to initiates. 
It opened with an appeal, " The Youth of Germany to the Masses 
of Germany." 

History of Germany 

Human mass, of life's best things still cheated, 
Which in vain the soul's spring yet hath greeted, 

Break to pieces, ancient ice-domain ! 
Sink them deep in strong and proud sea-eddies, 
Slave and tyrant, whose unceasing dread is 

Free-state which shall glow with life again ! 
Babel's realm of foul and venal nations 
Spues forth equal rights and freedoms, fashions 

Godhood out of human labour-pain. 

There follows an impudent street- ballad whose refrain " Brothers, 
not thus shall it happen ! People, to arms ! " continued for many 
years to resound at all mob-assemblies in Central Germany. Next 
came a communion hymn of free brethren, describing " the holy 
order of the martyrs of eternal freedom," its members swearing 
upon the host as they grasped their unsheathed daggers, " The 
equality of all citizens, the will of the people, is alone autocrat 
by God's grace." They apostrophise the nation, saying : 

People, seize Moloch's crew, and strangle all ! 

Still more definite is the New Year's hymn of free Christians, set 
to a quick and lively air, which serves to reinforce the insolent 
meaning of the words : 

The dagger of freedom is ready in the hand ! 

Hurrah ! Strike it home through the throat ! 

Clad in purple vesture, 

Adorned with crowns and garlands, 

The victim stands ready by the altar of vengeance ! 

In this strain the poem continues, becoming ever more senseless, 
ever wilder, until the concluding verse : 

Down with forced labour ; down with crowns, thrones, drones, and 
barons ! 

Charge ! 

Among the hundreds of young men who sang these raging 
verses, few doubtless gave much thought to the words, but the poet 
himself was thoroughly in earnest. He had already conceived 
a plan which he repeatedly discussed with the Unconditionals. 
Since a revolution was for the moment impossible, it was neces- 
sary to assassinate a few traitors in order to terrify and at the 
same time to stimulate the fainthearted populace. He himself 


The Burschenschaft 

would take no part in these preparatory deeds, refraining, not 
from fear, but because he proposed to act as leader in the general 
popular uprising. Without respite he pursued an agitation 
among the people. In the petition that article 13 should be carried 
into effect, in all the addresses and meetings urging the grand 
duke of Hesse to fulfil the promise of a constitution, Pollen's hand 
was at work. For him, the red republican, these measures could 
be nothing more than means for greater ends. Schulz, his right- 
hand man of Darmstadt, in a Question and Answer Booklet, openly 
preached revolution to the Hessian peasants. 

For a long time the Jena students refrained from sharing 
the demagogic attitude of the men of Giessen ; and they also 
rejected Pollen's plan for a centralised constitution, although 
this proposal was favoured by a considerable minority. But by 
degrees the revolutionary doctrines of the Blacks made their 
way to the banks of the Saale, chiefly through the instrumen- 
tality of Robert Wesselhoft, a rough and vigorous Thuringian of 
autocratic temperament. Quite without the knowledge of the 
bulk of the Burschen, he formed within the ranks of the Old 
Germans a secret society of Unconditionals, composed of men who 
looked down with contempt upon the blameless masses of the 
Burschenschaft, and who kept up secret communication by trusty 
messengers with those of their own way of thinking at other 
universities. To this group belonged Jens Uwe Lornsen, an unruly 
berserk northlander from the Frisian isles, widely known at a 
later date as an advocate of the rights of Schleswig-Holstein. 
Another member of the group was Heinrich Leo from the Schwarz- 
burg region, small and girlishly beautiful, a born romanticist who 
amid his native forests had acquired a glowing enthusiasm for 
the rude and natural life of the primitive Teutons, and a profound 
hatred for the rigid formalism of classical culture ; it was only 
through the untamable wildness of his hot blood that for a brief 
period he was impelled to take part in a modern revolutionary 
movement which was utterly foreign to his temperament. 

The tone of these Blacks was indescribably impudent ; they 
were absolutely convinced that it was their mission to initiate 
and direct the emanicipation of the enslaved peoples. A Bavarian 
wit, masquerading as an enthusiastic disciple of Fries, had recently 
published an open letter in which he classified the entire human 
race as Burschen, she-Burschen,lj[teachers-of-Burschen, those- 
destined-to-become-Burschen, and those- who-had-been-Burschen. 
The satire was so aptly conceived that many of the Burschen 

73 G 

History of German} 

themselves took the letter at its face value, and the same mistake 
has been made by not a few historians of to-day. For a long 
time now the Blacks had not been satisfied with such manifesta- 
tions of foolish impertinence as that of Lornsen, who in the 
presence of the young duke of Meiningen gave vent to three groans 
for the thirty or three and thirty. With sinister composure, they 
daily discussed who should first be " corpsed " in the cause of 
freedom. Since Metternich was out of reach and not one of the 
German princes was regarded with especial hatred, the wild talk 
returned ever to Kotzebue as the first victim. In the autumn 
of 1818, when it was expected that Czar Alexander was about 
to pass through Jena, the leaders of the Unconditionals held a 
secret conclave to consider whether the time had now come to 
strike a blow against the despot ; anyone whose response to this 
inquiry showed him to be untrustworthy was henceforward tacitly 
excluded from the counsels of the initiates. The czar meanwhile 
had passed on his way without visiting the town, and it was sub- 
sequently contended that the leaders of the Blacks were aware 
of the fact. This may be true, but what had happened to our 
youth when approval of the cowardly practice of political assas- 
sination, one so repulsive to the German sense of uprightness, had 
come to be regarded as the touchstone of sound sentiments ? 

The young peoples' excitement was increased by the alarm 
of the official newspapers, and unfortunately also by many 
indiscreet utterances on the part of their teachers. In his lectures, 
as previously in his Politics, Luden advanced the incontestable 
proposition that the power and the liberty of the state are priceless 
moral goods, and that on occasion, therefore, other moral goods 
must be sacrificed to these ; but his intellectual force was not 
great enough to impress clearly upon the students' minds the 
profound significance of a doctrine which may so readily be mis- 
applied, and many of his greatly moved audience simply acquired 
the impression, as did Carl Sand, that the end justifies the means. 
Fries, too, was in a state of hopeless perplexity in face of the 
awakening of demagogy, and his expressions of opinion were often 
confused. Conscientiously warning the students against secret 
societies, he endeavoured to gild the pill by the use of revolu- 
tionary phraseology, and inveighed in such rough terms against 
the police authority which insisted on " binding to hop-poles the 
oaks and pines of the German forests," that his words proved 
exciting rather than calmative. In a confession of faith for young 
people he said : "I regard as sacred the demand for a new Ger- 


The Burschenschaft 

man law and for a vigorous republican system that will secure 
the unity of Germany. I detest the way in which we are ruled 
by highly well-born French apes, and in which we are instructed 
by well-born Latin apes. I loathe the oppression of the people 
by standing armies, by the salaries paid to the stupid and 
haughty idlers who act as officers. The people is the army, and 
the people is master." Even the free spirit of Arndt was not 
uninfluenced by the bitterness of the epoch. The fourth volume 
of his Spirit of the Age, published in the year 1818, was greatly 
inferior to the earlier -volumes ; the fine emotion of the wars of 
liberation was no longer adequate. The pride of the students 
was necessarily strengthened when Arndt depicted for them the 
Seven Years' War as an empty tale, and described the works of 
our classical poetry as petty and spiritless, as the offspring of a 
formless age, lacking love and lacking glory. He innocently sug- 
gested that secret conspiracies were permissible only " if a foreign 
nation or a malicious tyrant were endeavouring to brutalise the 
entire generation to the level of dogs, monkeys, and snakes," 
and had no idea that his young readers had long before come 
to consider that they themselves were ruled by such malicious 
tyrants. The French and the Poles, he exclaimed, have a con- 
stitution, " while our rulers wish to have us lying at their mercy 
as if we had no more life in us than a lot of wooden posts " ; 
while for the Prussian army he held up as an example the loose 
militia organisation of the Swedish army, based on what was 
known as the Indelningsverk, which in the last war had done 
nothing at all. Amid such thoughtless words of incitement, the 
patriotic warnings which the good man directed against " the 
callow and presumptuous folly of the Germans " were completely 
forgotten. Among the professors, anger concerning the disillu- 
sionments of these first years of peace, gradually increased to an 
inflammatory degree. In the summer of 1818, even Schleiermacher 
discoursed as if a new 1806 was approaching and this at a time 
when, apart from a few isolated blunders, the Prussian government 
had not as yet done anything open to reasonable criticism. 

In the autumn of 1818, Carl Follen removed to Jena as demon- 
strator. He was the grave-digger of the Burschenschaft, the 
destroyer of the frank youthful sentiment which had prevailed in 
its inception. Vainly did Fries endeavour to hold his own with 
the sinister man ; in the oratorical struggles of the Philosophical 
Club, the young demonstrator showed himself far in advance of 
the professor, and the students withdrew more and more from 


History of Germany 

the side of the moderate elder. It is true that the number of 
Pollen's immediate intimates remained very small, for the young 
men's healthy feelings made it impossible for them entirely to 
overcome their horror of the apostle of assassination ; his prin- 
cipal disciples were his blind and devoted slave Carl Sand, and 
Wit von Dorring, a dissolute adventurer, who subsequently became 
a traitor. But the corrupting influence of his doctrines extended 
far beyond this narrow circle. Louder and louder became the 
talk of " cutting off the tyrants' heads." During the winter, 
by an odious fraud (since everything was permissible to the 
Unconditionals), the Blacks and their faithful followers got control 
of the committee of the Burschenschaft ; then a secret society 
was formed whose sworn members were, like the carbonari, divided 
into lodges, and were in part unknown even to one another. Since 
the outspoken Teuton has no talent for the conspirators' secret 
arts, such societies could never rise above the level of a foolish 
masquerade ; and yet the matter was not devoid of grave signi- 
ficance when so many isolated young men played rudely and 
boastfully with the thought of political crime, and were actually 
receiving from Pollen the definite instruction that whoever wished 
to sacrifice himself for the cause must do the liberating deed with- 
out confederates. When one of the older Blacks, Wilhelm Snell, 
was at this time dismissed his post, his Hessian comrades issued 
to the Unconditionals an appeal for the support of their friend 
" so that the brood may learn to tremble before the higher power 
which will swing the sword of vengeance as strongly as now it 
swings the shield of defence, as soon as sin awakens the day of 

At a later date, men who had once been members of the 
Blacks' organisation considered that much mischief might have 
been avoided if Pollen and one or two of his older associates had 
been expelled from Germany in good time. But the governments 
had no detailed information regarding these restless activities, 
and contemplated them with timid concern. The handful of 
demagogues continued its evil work, until the day was to 
dawn in which the seed of criminal words which had been so 
widely scattered was to be harvested, and in which an unhappy 
wretch, dagger in hand, was to realise the doctrine of political 



IN their treaty of alliance of November 20, 1815, the four 
powers had agreed that from time to time they would, in 
personal interviews, take measures to secure the peace of 
Europe ; and as early as the spring of 1817 it seemed to 
the court of Vienna that the right moment had arrived for 
such joint deliberation. King Frederick William opposed the 
idea. He foresaw that a formal assembly of the Quadruple 
Alliance would cause lively agitation, at once in all the courts 
which did not participate in the conference, and also in the 
suspicious mind of the general public. How much simpler 
it would be if he and Emperor Francis were to make their 
long-promised visit to St. Petersburg, and there, without attract- 
ing any attention, to discuss with the czar all that was 
necessary. 1 Metternich, however, held fast to his own opinion. 
Czar Alexander took the same view, and meanwhile in France 
a change of opinion took place which certainly rendered desirable 
a new understanding among the four powers. 

That which the statesmen of Prussia had prophesied at 
the congress of. Paris was now being fulfilled. The occupation 
of France by the troops of the allies was more and more 
displaying itself as a danger to that peace of Europe which the 
occupation had been intended to safeguard. It is true that 
the army of occupation had already been diminished by one- 
fifth ; the conduct of the troops was in perfect correspondence 
with the upright good feeling which the four powers cherished 
for the re-established dynasty ; the Prussians at Bar-le-Duc 
and Sedan could live with their billet-hosts like children at 
home. When the commander of the Prussian guard, General 

1 Cabinet Councillor Albrecht to Hardenberg, May 13, 1817. 


History of Germany 

Zieten, complained regarding the dilatory provisioning of the 
fortresses, Hardenberg urgently exhorted him to display forbear- 
ance, saying that any dispute between the allies and the French 
authorities would redound to the advantage of the ultras, and 
might easily endanger the stability of the French government. 1 
None the less, the presence of foreign flags upon their native 
soil remained a grievous affront to French pride. All parties 
of the opposition clamoured against this monarchy which supported 
itself with foreign bayonets ; even the ultras no longer recalled 
in what moving terms in the year 1815 they had addressed 
the allied monarchs, saying, "You surely will not leave the 
king alone in the hands of these assassins ? " and they rivalled 
the other parties in fierce complaints against the dominion of 
the foreigner. 

Without the liberation of French soil, it was impossible 
for Richelieu to carry through the policy of reconciliation which 
he had initiated with so much prudence and self-denial ; he 
desired to do his country this last service, and then, weary 
of the interminable party strife, to retire. Again and again 
he assailed the ambassadors' conference of the four powers 
with his plaints, reminding them that in the treaty of Paris 
the conquerors had themselves reserved the possibility of 
shortening the period of occupation should France remain 
quiet. In November, 1817, he went a step further, and at the 
reopening of the Chambers announced that negotiations had 
already been commenced for the evacuation of French territory. 
All parties alike received the news with a storm of patriotic 
delight, and everyone felt that if Richelieu proved unable to 
satisfy the expectations he had awakened, the moderate govern- 
ment, whose persistence the four powers desired no less keenly 
than King Louis himself, would be irrecoverably ruined. In 
the conference of ambassadors, the requests of Richelieu at first 
found a hearing only from Pozzo di Borgo. The Corsican still 
remained the confidential adviser of the Bourbons, and had so 
thoroughly readopted the views of his native land that now 
for the second time there were serious thoughts of offering 
him a post in the French ministry. He found it far from 
difficult to win the czar over to his views, the czar who was so 
fond of playing the part of magnanimous protector of France. 
Regardless of his allies, Alexander allowed encouraging assur- 
ances to be given to Paris ; and Metternich, who at first was 

1 Hardenberg to Zieten. March 22, 1816. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

far from desiring a shortening of the period of occupation, 
came to consider, in the spring of 1818, that all resistance to 
the withdrawal would be fruitless. On April gth he assured 
the Prussian ambassador that in view of the speeches in the 
Chamber, and in view of Alexander's conduct, he considered, 
with grave forebodings, that a premature evacuation would, 
after all, take place. 1 

The aspect of internal affairs in France could hardly com- 
pose the mind of the timid statesman. Although the regime 
of the ultras was at length at an end, party struggles 
were still carried on with the old measureless fierceness, 
and as yet no more than a small minority of the French 
honourably recognised the legitimate foundation of the new 
constitutional monarchy. " As for you," said a hotspur of the 
ultras, Matthieu de Montmorency, to one of the liberals, " you 
love legitimacy as much as we love the Charte ! " Count Artois 
fought with all possible weapons against the circumspect policy 
of his royal brother. In May, 1818, Vitrolles, one of the confi- 
dants of the Pavilion Marsan, sent a third secret memorial 
to the four powers imploring them to avert revolution by the 
overthrow of the Richelieu ministry. Filled with blind hatred 
against the moderate government, the ultras did not hesitate 
on occasion to combine even with the Bonapartists and with 
the Revolutionaries. Nor could the cabinet secure any support 
from the middle party of the doctrinaires, notwithstanding 
the fact that these had inscribed upon their banner the recon- 
ciliation of hereditary right and liberty. According to the 
infallible theory of the successors of Montesquieu, mistrust of 
the government was to be the vitalising force of every free 
state, and nothing seemed more disgraceful than the name 
of " ministerial party." Among the people sinister reports 
were current regarding the proposed re-establishment of 
guilds, tithes, and the corvee. The purchasers of the national 
domains did not feel secure in their possessions, for the 
Emigres were stormily demanding the return of their family 
estates, and nothing had as yet been determined regarding 
compensation. There also had to be considered the sub- 
terranean activities of the secret societies, and the daily increasing 
charm of the Napoleonic legend. In rapid succession, three 
of the faithful returned from St. Helena : O'Meara, Las Cases, 
and Gourgaud. Las Cases lived for a considerable period in 

1 Krusemark's Report, April 9, 1818. 

History of Germany 

Germany, and began an equivocal commerce with the Beauhar- 
nais, a fact patent to all except the Bonapartist police of 
Munich. There then appeared the first volume of that litera- 
ture of memoirs which was to pave the way for the return 
of Napoleon, a compost of colossal lies as gigantic as the man 
to whom they related. With horror France learned the terrible 
stories of the nameless woes of the prisoner, who, in reality, 
lacked nothing but his liberty ; of the devilish cruelty of his 
custodian, Governor Hudson Lowe, a man who in truth merely 
fulfilled his military duties honourably, if somewhat over- 

Now that industry and commerce were reviving, the sacri- 
fices and miseries of the war-time were speedily forgotten. The 
sight of foreign bayonets recalled memories of the glories of 
the imperial eagles. When contrasted with the insane osten- 
tation of the returned ancient nobility, the figure of the crowned 
plebeian seemed that of a democratic hero, and now people 
learned, from the record of his touching conversations in the 
rocky islet, how ardently he loved his France, and how it had 
been his desire to give the nation its freedom had it not been 
for the enmity of wicked neighbours, who again and again 
forced the peaceful-minded man to take the sword in his hand. 
Meanwhile Beranger had disseminated his ardent imperialist 
songs among the populace, and what he had prophesied hap- 
pened : in the huts of the peasantry no other history than 
the Napoleonic was known, and to the masses of the nation 
in northern and central France, Napoleon became the only hero 
of the century. In the states of the Confederation of the 
Rhine as well, the Napoleonic cult, which had so recently 
passed into abeyance, was revived. In every tavern of the 
German south were to be seen pictures of the Napoleonic 
battles, and on more than one occasion the envoy of King 
Louis had to complain to the court of Munich because 
pictures and statuettes of the soldier-emperor had by an 
unknown hand been distributed among the soldiers of the 
Bavarian army. 

Thus it came to pass that the best and most beneficent 
government which France had known since the Revolution, was 
threatened from every side. The four powers, which, down to 
the year 1817, had dreaded above all the party rage of the 
ultra-royalists, now began to regard the secret intrigues of the 
revolutionaries and the war fever of the Bonapartists as 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

the most dangerous enemies of the Bourbon throne. In actual 
fact, the appeal for " revenge for Waterloo " was already heard. 
In the same moment in which the French Chambers were 
demanding from the allies the evacuation of the country, they 
approved the new Army Law, and compelled the minister of 
war to increase the army of the line by 50,000 men more 
than he had himself demanded, making its total strength 240,000. 
In addition, a great number of officers of the Empire were 
reinstated, and a strong reserve army was formed, consisting 
almost exclusively of Napoleonic veterans. It will readily be 
understood that all these proceedings were regarded in the 
Prussian army as precursors of an approaching Third Punic 
War. Gneisenau, in especial, was, and remained, of the opinion 
that only the complete dismissal of the Bonapartist army 
would serve, to some extent, to safeguard the new order of 
affairs. l 

Neither in London, nor in Vienna, nor in Berlin, did any 
illusions prevail as to the weakness of the Bourbon regime. 
Indeed, its overthrow was anticipated even earlier than this 
actually took place. The reports of Wellington, commander- 
in-chief in France, were almost hopeless in tone. Nevertheless, 
everyone recognised that the prestige of the legitimate dynasty 
could not but be further endangered by the presence of foreign 
troops. As early as May, 1818, in the absence of formal dis- 
cussions of the matter, the four powers were united in the 
determination to reduce the period of occupation from five 
years to three, and to decide upon details at the approaching 
conference of princes. The Prussian court found little difficulty 
in accepting this view, since Hardenberg had from the first 
considered the presence of the army of occupation a matter 
of little importance. Since the king of Spain was affronted 
at his exclusion, and since some of the other courts did not 
conceal their ill-humour, it was decided that the name of "con- 
gress" should be sedulously avoided, and those concerned spoke 
only of a "Reunion" or an "Entrevue." The conference of 
ambassadors at Paris explained to the powers of the second 
rank (May 25th) that the Reunion took place for two purposes 
alone, namely, to re-establish the strength of the Quadruple 
Alliance, and, with the co-operation of the Most Christian King, 
to arrange for the evacuation of France. The participation of 
other sovereigns or statesmen would give the meeting the aspect 

1 Gneisenau 's Remarks upon Royer's Reports from Paris, December 28, 1818. 


History of Germany 

of a congress, and give rise to fresh anxieties. It was not 
without difficulty that the discontent of the minor courts, whose 
troops were also part of the army of occupation in France, 
could be appeased. Aix-la-Chapelle was chosen as the place 
of meeting, because this town, as Metternich said, offered such 
limited resources. It had been determined that on this occasion 
the work should be done quickly and seriously, and that any 
opposition to the dictatorship of the four courts should be stifled 
by the might of accomplished facts. 1 

Meanwhile the four powers had already given the Bourbon 
crown a new proof of their friendly sentiments. By the second 
peace of Paris, King Louis was pledged to satisfy all the foreign 
private persons, communes, and corporations which had still 
claims dating from Napoleonic days to present against the 
crown of France. When this promise was made, no one had 
any idea of what it signified. It was believed that 100,000,000 
francs would cover everything, for the war burdens and war 
furnishings were on principle to be left out of consideration. 
What an alarm was raised when the whole extent of the 
Napoleonic plunder gradually became manifest. In the summer 
of 1817, in addition to debts to the extent of 180,000,000 francs 
which had already been recognised and partially settled, new 
demands amounting to 1,390,000,000 francs were reported. No 
doubt in this sum were included a certain number of frivolous 
claims. For example, the duke of Bernburg demanded the 
pay for the cavalry troop which one of his ancestors had 
led to join the army of Henry IV in the days of the Huguenot 
wars. But the great majority of the demands, amounting to 
1,000,000,000 francs at least, were legally incontestable, consist- 
ing of sums which Napoleon had extorted from private persons, 
for the most part in friendly or neutral countries. Most of 
the accounts came from Spain, from the German minor states, 
and especially from Prussia, which had suffered so severely from 
the passage of the grandc armee, and which by itself was 
responsible for one-fourth of the total claim. Austria and 
England were comparatively little concerned in the matter, 
and Russia not at all. The four powers could not fail to 
recognise that complete satisfaction of all these creditors was 
almost impossible. Any French cabinet which should bring 
such a proposal before the Chamber would unquestionably 

1 Ministerial Despatch to Krusemark, May 20 ; Arnim's Report, Munich, 
June 10 ; Scholar's Report, St. Petersburg, February 7, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

succumb to the united attacks of all parties, and what was 
to happen if the ultras once again came into power ? 

Consequently Hardenberg, at the urgent request of the 
French envoy, at length declared himself willing to accept a 
compromise, to which the German courts agreed ; the only 
reservation being that the reduction of the demands was not to 
be pushed beyond reason, because the dissatisfaction of the 
disappointed creditors, especially in the newly acquired German 
territories, might give rise to serious trouble. 1 Meanwhile, 
however, Czar Alexander had once more displayed his mag- 
nanimity at the cost of his allies, and, on his own initiative, 
had promised the court of the Tuileries that the bill should 
be abated. He managed to secure that the decision should be 
left in the hands of the Paris conference of ambassadors, and 
here Prussia found herself once more in the same unfavourable 
situation as in the two peace conferences : her ambassador 
was one against three, the only one who wished to stand firm 
when the others desired to yield, and all that could be 
secured was that the allies should not without further parley 
accept the proposals of Richelieu, who offered a payment of 
200,000,000 francs. Through Wellington's intermediation an 
understanding was at length effected on April 25, 1818, in 
virtue of which the crown of France was within one year to 
pay over, in satisfaction of all still undischarged demands, the 
sum of 240,800,000 francs in rentes (national bonds, each rente 
being 12,040,000 francs). In the distribution of this sum, 
Wellington, true to the good old English custom, immediately 
claimed for his own country one-fourth of one rente of twelve 
million, so that the English creditors were satisfied almost in 
full, whilst the German creditors had to content themselves 
with one-sixth of their demands. Thus the formal promise 
of the treaty of Paris was for the most part annulled, by the 
arbitrary act of England, Russia, and Austria, in opposition 
to Prussia and without consulting the minor courts. The 
foreign creditors of France suffered a loss of 800,000,000 francs. 
The injured parties uttered loud complaints ; the liberal press 
of Germany broke out into bitter reproaches against the " Holy 
Alliance," which was always held responsible for the actions 
of the Quadruple Alliance. Again and again had the German 
nation to learn that she could expect the safeguarding of her 

1 Krusemark's Report, September 27 ; Hardenberg's instruction to Kruse- 
mark, November 23, 1817. 

History of Germany 

rights from her own strength alone, and not from the goodwill 
of her allies. 

The czar's magnanimity towards the Bourbons was not yet 
exhausted. Richelieu had long cherished the desire that when 
the occupation came to an end, there should also cease the 
humiliating (and in fact unnatural) position of dependence which 
France still occupied among the great powers. He hoped that 
the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle would invite the crown of France 
to enter the Quadruple Alliance, and thus re-establish the old 
equivalence of rights among the great powers. Alexander incon- 
siderately met this proposal half way. Now, as so often before, 
the inclinations of his noble heart went hand in hand with 
the interests of Russian policy. If the court of the Tuileries, 
which was completely under the dominion of Pozzo di Borgo, 
should enter the high council of Europe, the czar would in 
reality control two votes, and it would merely be necessary 
for him to gain over one of the three other courts, and the 
majority would be in his hands, the leadership of Europe would 
be secured to him. But, for this very reason, Richelieu's wishes 
aroused serious anxiety in Vienna, Berlin, and London. Metter- 
nich, in his first spasm of alarm, considered them altogether 
unacceptable ; * the three courts regarded the approaching 
congress with lively concern. They wished to keep Pozzo, at 
least, far from the congress, and therefore, in the Paris confer- 
ence of ambassadors, decided by three votes against the single 
vote of Russia, that during the deliberations of the congress 
of Aix-la-Chapelle the four ambassadors should remain in 

But now, in the policy of the czar, there suddenly became 
manifest a remarkable change, and one which was at first a 
riddle to the other powers. Still quite intoxicated with his 
ideas of making the nations happy, the illustrious protagonist 
of Christian liberalism had just returned from Poland. Not 
even, the proceedings of the Warsaw diet, which had 
once more proved the incurable folly of the Polish nobility, 
had succeeded in shaking Alexander's cheerful confidence. At 
home a new pleasure awaited him ; in April, 1818, his dearly- 
loved sister-in-law, the grand duchess Charlotte, who now bore 
the name of Alexandra Feodorowna, gave birth to a son, 
afterwards Alexander II, the heir to the throne of the house 

1 Krusemark's Report, June 20, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

of Gottorp. Some weeks later, King Frederick William went 
to greet his first grandchild. On the journey he took delight 
in the frank joy displayed by his loyal East Prussians, who 
now saw their king again for the first time since the painful 
days of Konigsberg, and in Russia he was received with oriental 
display. Banquet followed upon banquet ; the two capitals 
and the wealthy boyars rivalled one another in ostentation, in 
exaggerated manifestations of their loyal sentiments. Even 
now, amid the intoxication of these pleasures, the czar learned, 
from incontestable secret information, that the officers of his 
guard, during their stay in France, had not in vain tasted 
the forbidden fruits of revolutionary doctrine ; that in his own 
court since 1816 there had been in existence certain secret 
demagogic societies whose membership continually increased. 
This was the decisive moment of the closing years of his life. 
He also, the magnanimous well-wisher of the nations, whom 
even the conquered French hailed as the saviour of Europe, 
found himself to be surrounded in his own household by rebels 
and conspirators, he was rewarded with black ingratitude by 
the very liberal party which ought to have honoured him as 
its protector. He was shaken to the marrow ; all the horrible 
experiences of his youth, the murder of his father, and the 
criminal arrogance of the unpunished assassins, recurred to his 

Nor on this occasion did he venture to inflict punishment. 
He carefully concealed his secret from all the world, but his 
suspicions had been aroused, his proud sense of security had 
been disturbed, and there was no longer a word to be heard 
of the Russian constitution which in Warsaw he had so recently 
announced to an astonished Europe. In youth he had been 
an enthusiast for the liberal reforming ideas of Speransky, and 
for the Polish plans of Czartoiyski ; now Prince Alexander 
Galitzin became his confidant, a gentle, mystically-minded 
enthusiast, who, after his manner, continued the penitential 
sermons of Frau von Kriidener. Even more frequently than 
before the czar became overwhelmed with gloom, with disgust 
concerning the falsity of life. There were hours in which he 
seriously thought of laying aside the crown, and of withdrawing 
into a life of contemplative solitude. In the year 1819, he on 
one occasion solemnly announced this intention to his brother 
Nicholas, whom he designed to raise to the throne over 
the head of the incapable Constantine, for Nicholas was the 


History of Germany 

most vigorous scion of the house. But Alexander's soft nature 
was unable to cling firmly to such revolutionary designs. He 
remained at the helm, nor did he completely abandon the 
fine dream of Christo-liberal world dominion. Often enough 
the court of Vienna had still to complain of alarming relapses 
on the part of Russia. But the terrible spectre of the threaten- 
ing universal conflagration, which obstinately recurred in all 
Mitternich's letters to Nesselrode, now seemed even to the 
autocrat of all the Russias to be no longer a phantom. No 
more did he smile when the Austrian minister-of-state assured 
him that while France was the focus of the revolution, the 
restless movement at the German universities was, in fact, a 
far more serious matter, because whatever the Germans under- 
took, even political crime, they carried out with conspicuous 
tenacity. Alexander gradually began to regard with other 
eyes the statesmen of Vienna, whom he had hitherto so pro- 
foundly despised, and became convinced that only the firm 
harmony of the eastern powers could possibly maintain the 
peace of the world. 

When he visited Germany in September, he seemed pro- 
foundly altered to the eyes of his Prussian travelling companion, 
General Borstell. There was no longer a word to be heard 
about liberal institutions, about the reconciliation between 
freedom and order. He spoke now of defending the monarchical 
system and the peace of the world, in the sense of the 
Holy Alliance, against the powers of the Revolution. For this 
reason alone, said the czar, did he maintain a million soldiers, 
in order to crush everyone who might venture to disturb his 
system. He thus showed himself unable, even now, to dispense 
with the accustomed boasting of imaginary figures ; but he 
eagerly endeavoured to appease the plainly displayed mistrust 
of the Prussian concerning the ambitious designs of Russia, and 
even excused himself on account, of the peace of Tilsit and 
the acquisition of Bialystock. 1 In Berlin he publicly assured 
his royal friend, when the latter was laying the foundation 
stone of the memorial of victory upon the Kreuzberg, of his 
own inalienable loyalty, and was delighted when Stagemann, in 
a pompous ode, hailed him as the soul of the European league 
of peace : 

1 Ten Days of My Life, Memoirs of General von Borstell (Norddeutsche 
Allgtmeine Zeitung, August 10, 1879, and succeeding issues). 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

Thrice hail to thee, hail to the reconciler, 

To the shield of the alliance ! The brows of monarchs, 

Often intoxicated with laurels, are not ever 

Pious guardians of the gentle olive-branch. 

In Weimar, too, in Darmstadt, in Frankfort, wherever he went, 
he exhorted the princes and statesmen to be on their guard 
against the demagogues, and expressly reminded them of the 
conservative principles of the Holy Alliance. 

Meanwhile Metternich and Gentz had met Capodistrias in 
Carlsbad. The little town in the forest valley of the Tepel was 
then the most fashionable spa in the German speaking world, 
and was praised by Gentz as " a place of the greatest value to 
us." Hither there flocked year by year all the people of 
fashion from the German courts, regaling themselves with the 
peculiar joys of aristocratic old Austria. There was not a 
single fine building in the whole valley, but instead there were 
to be seen charming women and magnificent toilettes, as many 
as anyone could desire ; there were concerts, banquets, and 
balls galore ; and there was a cavalier's alley, where every 
horseman had to pay a ducat as entrance fee. Here Metternich 
played the part of host, bewitching everyone, now by his 
mysterious dignity, now by an enthralling amiability, and 
inviting some privileged guests, especially the Prussians, to the 
neighbouring Konigswart, where he had built his hideous castle, 
making it, after his manner, at once tasteless and ornate. He 
anticipated no good from the conversations with Capodistrias, 
numbering the Philhellene among the " twaddling " statesmen. 
How great was his astonishment when he found the Greek to 
be quite conservatively inclined, and when he gained the con- 
viction that Alexander recognised without reserve " at least 
the fundamental principle of the maintenance of order." With 
satisfaction he wrote to his master what Emperor Francis was 
always most willing to hear, that, after all, everything would 
remain as it had been. This Russia, which so recently he 
had wished to curb by forming a secret offensive and defensive 
alliance with Prussia, now seemed to be voluntarily entering 
the paths of the only true policy of stability. 

After the unmistakable change in Russian policy, Metternich 
could, in fact, hope that before long Austria would gain the 
position of leader in the European alliance. He could trust 


History of Germany 

firmly in the friendship of the tory cabinet, although Lord 
Castlereagh had to take into account the increasing opposition 
of the whigs, and therefore wished whenever possible to avoid 
any formal treaty which might arouse hostility in Parliament. 
In Prussia, too, the reactionary tendencies of the epoch were 
already to some extent manifest. The Wartburg festival had 
exercised a profound and permanent influence upon the king's 
mood. It was not without anxiety that Hardenberg left the 
court to pass the first months of the year 1818 at Engers 
Castle on the Rhine, and to ascertain at first hand the mood 
of this difficult province. It was the work of constitution- 
building which was his most serious trouble. He knew that 
to all the other great powers this undertaking seemed just as 
sinister as the Prussian Army Law. He had no doubt about 
the opinion of the court of Vienna, although Metternich had 
not yet given his views open expression. From Paris, Goltz 
reported, in April, 1817, and on several subsequent occasions, 
how urgently Wellington and Richelieu had warned him against 
the foolish venture of a Prussian constitution. Most equivocal 
of all, both these statesmen held exactly the same view as 
Ancillon and the reactionary party in Berlin, considering that 
so complex a state as Prussia should content herself with pro- 
vincial diets. Nor did Czar Alexander, even in the days when 
he announced the programme of Christian liberalism, by any 
means favour the establishment of a constitution in Prussia ; all 
that could be learned was that he expressed himself as being 
extremely anxious regarding the political trustworthiness of 
the Prussian Landwehr. 

Hardenberg felt how readily all these opponents might 
become too strong for him, and he repeatedly, and in express 
terms, exhorted the ministers in Berlin to proceed as rapidly 
as possible with the work of establishing the constitution. l But 
the constituent committee of the council of state could not begin 
its deliberations so long as it was still without the reports of 
the three ministers who had perambulated the provinces, and these 
reports were not forthcoming, since Altenstein and Klewitz 
were fully occupied in the inauguration of their newly con- 
structed departments. Meanwhile opinions were also asked 
from the provincial governments regarding the provincial diets. 
Vincke, when sending in the Westphalian documents, appended 
the apt remark that these papers contained a great deal of 

1 Hardenberg to Klewitz, December 8, 1817 ; January 6, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

barren talk, since all that had been submitted to the govern- 
ments consisted of some purely general questions. The course 
which had been adopted on the advice of Klewitz was already 
showing itself to be a false route. Only after a thoroughly 
elaborated plan for the constitution was already in existence, 
could the opinion of the notables and of the authorities be of 
any practical value. Were the chancellor, instead of giving 
the cue to inexperienced public opinion, to fail in courage 
and to be without a plan, were he to expect advice from his 
subordinates, such a course would turn things upside down 
would involve the abandonment of the ancient and proud 
traditions of the monarchy ; besides, should he consult his 
subordinates, every new opinion would become a new source of 
embarrassment. He was eaten up with impatience, complained 
bitterly about the postponement of his cherished design, and 
yet he had not hitherto taken his pen in hand in order to come 
to a clear understanding with the monarch and with himself 
regarding the fundamentals of the proposal for a constitution. 
Among the friends of reform, embitterment and discouragement 
rapidly increased. Vincke asked the chancellor what the nation 
was likely to feel when " other rulers, who have made no 
promises at all, are forging ahead of our own " Zerboni wrote 
despairingly : " I go to bed every night thinking of the great 
opportunity which lies open for Prussia, and awaken every 
morning overwhelmed with distress at the thought that this 
great opportunity is being allowed to pass unutilised" 1 

Hardenberg soon found himself on excellent terms with 
the Rhinelanders, for his cheerful benevolence was pleasing 
to all. He gained the impression that, on the whole, the two 
provinces were being administered in an exemplary manner, 
and that notwithstanding the widespread ill-humour there was 
no serious thought of secession. It was only the ill-considered 
promise of a constitution which on the Rhine, as elsewhere, 
had prepared for him many an unfortunate hour. Among the 
numerous deputations he received in Engers, there appeared 
also Count Nesselrode, Baron von Hovel, and other delegates 
from the Rhenish nobility. They handed in a detailed memorial 
composed by Schlosser, the ultra-conservative convert to 
Roman Catholicism, entitled, Memorial concerning Constitutional 
Conditions in the Territories of Julich, Cleves, Berg, and Mark ; 
and this was accompanied by petitions from the Westphalian 

1 Zerboni to Klewitz, March 8, 1818. 

89 H 

I listory of Germany 

nobility. The principles enunciated in the memorial were 
excellent, and it was evident that Stein had co-operated in its 
composition. The nobles were prepared to admit to representa- 
tion the entire bourgeois class, instead of a few preferred towns, 
and all the agricultural classes, instead of merely the territorial 
nobility. But the document voiced ambiguous protests against 
the " all-confusing equality of the French Revolution " ; and 
contained the quite unjustified demand for the summoning of 
the old estates, so that it might be possible to come to an 
agreement with them concerning the innovations ! The chan- 
cellor's answer was amicable but evasive, saying : " It is the 
desire of our government to see the constitution proceed only 
out of a thorough appreciation of earlier conditions and existing 
needs." 1 The difficult question how the new right was to stand 
in relation to the old, was still left unsolved. At court the 
nobles found a friend whose influence was soon to become 
stronger : the crown prince expressed to Baron von Hovel 
his peculiar satisfaction with the memorial. 

Still less welcome to the chancellor than this embassy from 
the nobles, which at any rate represented the class-views of a 
powerful estate, was the visit of a second deputation, which 
had been called together solely by a fantastical whim, and 
whose formation bore lamentable witness to the immaturity 
of political culture in Rhineland. Gorres had had to endure 
hard times since the suppression of the Rheinische Merknr ; 
the pension which Hardenberg gave him could not console him 
for the idleness of a purposeless existence. He did his best 
to control his hot blood, and always spoke in mild, conciliatory 
terms when envoys from the Burschenschaft asked his advice. 
But at length nature proved stronger than good .counsel. 
Prussia, which he had once esteemed so highly, gradually 
became to him an object of deadly hatred; and all those insane 
desires of Rhenish particularism which threatened at once the 
religious parity and the unity of the state, now seemed to 
him justified. He raged against the foreign Protestant officials 
as uncritically as did the masses of his fellow-countrymen, and 
demanded that Rhineland should contribute her own share 
to the expenses of the state, in accordance with the wishes 
of her provincial Landtags. He found it abominable that the 
king should order the well-merited dismissal of a teacher who 
in a mixed school had roundly abused the Reformation, and 

1 Hardenberg to Nesselrode, March 3, 1818. 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

even took part in drawing up a petition which demanded from 
the crown that in future the report concerning educational 
matters in the governmental district of Coblenz should be left 
entirely in the hands of a Catholic. In repeated memorials 
to the king and to the chancellor, he played the part of the 
natural spokesman of Rhineland, although he could not fail 
to know that his newspaper had never found many readers 
on the Rhine. Almost unawares, his Rhenish provincial pride 
led him towards clericalist views, views which were indeed 
correspondent with the inner essence of his own fantastical 
nature. Before long he even began to admire the decayed 
caste-system of the spiritual electorates, a system which in his 
youth he had visited with such well-deserved scorn, and came 
to hold that in the three curiae of the Landtag of Electoral 
Treves, were represented the alleged three primary castes of 
the Germans, those of the teachers, the warriors, and the 
manual workers. 

When the inhabitants of Coblenz now determined to remind 
the chancellor of the promise of a constitution, Gorres gave 
the address an extraordinary turn of phrase, saying that people 
petitioned for " the restoration of the liberties of the region, 
and of the primeval and genuine German constitution." In 
other respects the document was thoroughly modest and reason- 
able, and it was signed by more than 3,000 burghers and 
peasants of the neighbourhood. All that most of them expected 
was that henceforward a local Landtag should from time to 
time be able to give the Prussians a rap on the knuckles. 
Bearing this address, Gorres waited on Hardenberg, on January 
15, 1818, and behind him came a wonderful train, somewhat 
resembling those masqueraders dressed as Chinese and Chaldeans 
whom the mad Anacharsis Cloots once introduced to the French 
National Assembly "as a deputation of the human race." 
The Coblenz deputation was to typify " an assembly of the 
estates in miniature " : the caste of teachers was represented 
by clergymen and teachers ; that of warriors by noblemen, 
Landwehr men, and judges ; that of manual workers by a Land- 
rat and by several burghers and peasants. The chancellor 
listened to the orator, who in moving terms sang the praises 
of the old Landtags of Electoral Treves, and gave a friendly 
hearing also to the Landrat who so strangely typified the 
manual workers, and to the other members of the deputation. 
But he did not conceal from them that his own views were 


History of Germany 

far more liberal, and that the simple re-establishment of outworn 
conditions was impossible. Subsequently Gcirres told the story 
of this audience of this " champ de Mai of the Franconian 
tribe" in a characteristically inept pamphlet, and the great 
tribune was most flatteringly extolled by the trumpets of the 
liberal press. Now, said the newspaper writers, the crown of 
Prussia had given free Rhineland its Magna Charta ! 

Hardenberg, who knew his man, accepted the pamphlet 
with thanks. At court, however, the reactionary party 
seized the welcome opportunity of doing a bad turn to 
the absent chancellor. The vociferous tone of the writing 
was displeasing to the king, and no less displeasing were the 
detestable accusations it voiced against the Prussian state, 
and the repulsive Rhineland arrogance which treated the old 
provinces contemptuously as semi-barbaric colonies. The crown 
prince had the pamphlet returned to its author with a few 
words of censure, and upon the king's orders a prosecution was 
instituted. It appeared that the aldermen in the communes 
of the governmental district had been circulating the address. 
Two only of the communes which had been asked to do this 
had refused : the burghership of Hatzenport on the Moselle, 
because its inhabitants were satisfied with the existing constitu- 
tion, and a place in Hunsruck, because the peasants dreaded 
with good reason that the address, bringing back the old con- 
stitution of Treves, might bring back with it the tithes. When 
a Landrat had interfered, the government in Coblenz had called 
him to order because "we do not desire to prevent subjects 
bringing their views before the sovereign." Their statement 
of justification declared : " We flattered ourselves with the 
belief that we were acting entirely in the spirit of the liberal 
sentiments of our government." 1 

The king thought otherwise. He was indeed greatly moved, 
for in this fermenting new province least of all did he desire 
to see any infringement of the old Frederician rule which 
granted the right of petition to individuals only, strictly pro- 
hibiting all joint petitions. For this reason, notwithstanding 
Hardenberg's urgent advice to the contrary, he administered 
a sharp reproof to the Coblenz government, and replied to the 
signatories to the address in an ungraciously worded cabinet 
order, to the effect that he alone would decide upon the time 
for the carrying out of his promise. The people of Hatzenport 

1 Statement of the Coblenz Government, May 20, 1818. 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

were commended for their law-abiding sentiments, and hence- 
forward, for years to come, remained the butt of their fellow- 
countrymen, who spoke of them as the Abderites of Rhineland. 1 
It was only through this proof of royal disfavour that the 
foolish mummery of the Coblenz deputation acquired a signifi- 
cance which would otherwise never have attached to the affair. 
The whole province murmured at the king's severity, 
although the constitutionalist party among the Rhinelanders 
had in reality at first had but few convinced adherents. 
Hardenberg immediately divined that the good-natured 
monarch's anger must have been occasioned by malicious 
whispers. He harboured suspicions of Ancillon and Duke Charles 
of Mecklenburg, but still failed to see through the machinations 
of the most cunning and dangerous of his enemies, Prince 
Wittgenstein, even demanding of the last-named (in confidence) 
his assistance in appeasing the ill-humour of the court. In 
order to reconcile the king's mind completely, he returned to 
Berlin in the beginning of April, earlier than he had intended, 
leaving behind him as a parting message, A German Word from 
Prussia to the Rhinelanders. This pamphlet, written by his 
confidant Koreff and revised by himself, while giving the 
Rhenish people certain friendly assurances, gave them also some 
much-needed advice. The Rhinelanders, said the writing, must 
not forget that they themselves did not raise a finger to shake 
off the foreign yoke, and that it was to the Prussian state 
alone that they owed their liberty, their renewed right to a 
German life. The chancellor broke off his correspondence with 
Gorres, because " cela mettrait du louche dans ma marche." He 
wished to avoid anything which might arouse the king's sus- 
picions, in order to be able all the more securely to attain 
to his own principal aim, the constitution. 2 

The delay of the great decision was more painfully felt 
every day. Warnings were sent in from all sides. The gentry 
of Mark, demanded once more, as so often before, that 
the new fundamental law should concord with the old system 
of the estates, and they were referred by the king to the 
deliberations of the council of state. The government of Merse- 
burg, on the other hand, begged that at least the circle diets 
should be instituted as speedily as possible ; in default of this 
the arrogant claims of the old estates, who hated the people, 

1 Two Cabinet Orders of March 21, 1818. 

3 Hardenberg's Diary, March I, 7, and li, April 26, 1818. 


I iistory of Germany 

could not possibly be withstood. Even the municipal authorities 
of the capital, hitherto so peacefully disposed, got out of hand 
because, when the notables had been asked their opinions, no 
one had been summoned from the capital ; they sent in several 
memorials drawing attention to the royal promise, only to be 
told that " repeated reminders are out of place." l 

Hardenberg could no longer conceal from himself that he must 
now at length put his own hand to the work. But how was he 
to find time and energy for constitution-building amid the 
enormous pressure of affairs already too heavy for the aging 
man ? Thereupon Wittgenstein, to whom unsuspiciously he 
confided his troubles, helped him out with some friendly advice 
(May 6th). The prince recommended the appointment of two 
new ministers as secondary chiefs for the two departments for 
which the chancellor himself had hitherto been directly respon- 
sible, suggesting Count Lottum, a well-meaning man of trifling 
political importance, for the board of general control, and Count 
Christian Bernstorff, the Danish envoy in Berlin, for the ministry 
of foreign affairs. Since for years Hardenberg had been on 
terms of close friendship with Bernstorff, he inconsiderately 
accepted the proposal, and on May 25th, wrote to the king 
saying that he felt the burden of his sixty-eight years, and 
further that he considered it his duty to make provision for 
the daily possibility that God might summon him. He would 
wish to retain the chancellorship to the end, and at the moment 
was quite unprepared to suggest a successor for this post ; it 
would therefore be simplest if ministers were now to be nomi- 
nated for all the departments, so that when his death took 
place, everything could go on without disturbance. Thereupon 
followed the proposals which, he said, " I have discussed with 
my faithful friend Wittgenstein." The king, who had himself 
known and valued Count Bernstorff from youth upwards, 
approved the suggestion, and after the Danish envoy had 
recovered from his surprise, and had secured permission from 
his own monarch, the change was formally completed on 
September i6th, in an exceptionally gracious despatch from 
the king to the chancellor. 2 

1 Petition from the great committee of the gentry of Electoral Mark 
and Neumark, March 17 ; the king's answer, March 28 ; Report of the Men>e- 
burg government, June 28 ; Address of the municipal representatives of Berlin, 
January 15 ; Report of the Berlin government, February 16, 1818. 

2 Hardcnberg's Diary, May 6 ; Hardenberg to the king, May 24 and 30 ; 
Cabinet Order to Hardenberg. September 16, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

This was a master-stroke on the part of Wittgenstein. 
The sly courtier's plan, which was unquestionably directed 
against the chancellor, had been so adroitly conceived that, 
alike to the king and to the chancellor himself, everything 
seemed to be Hardenberg's own doing. The post of minister 
of foreign affairs was one of great difficulty, for at that time the 
diplomatic corps of Prussia, while it numbered among its members 
numerous excellent diplomats of the second rank, who almost 
without exception sent in well-written reports, had only one 
real statesman of the stuff to make a minister, and this 
one, W. Humboldt, was impossible . Among all the great 
powers he was in such ill repute that he was never able to 
play any successful part in the work of the Quadruple Alliance ; 
and not only was he disliked by the courts, but further he was 
still estranged from Hardenberg by the old mutual mistrust, 
and was unsuited for a department which henceforward, as 
before, was to remain under the especial supervision of the 
chancellor. Finally, in the previous autumn, he had refused 
to enter the ministry, and had just renewed his refusal in a 
despatch from London, in which he said that the ministers 
possessed no genuine responsibility, and that such responsibility 
as they did exercise was one he would be unwilling to share 
with men like Schuckmann. 1 In these circumstances it is easy 
to understand that the king, who so often before had summoned 
men from other parts of Germany to his service, would, on 
this occasion also, disregard the strongly expressed sensibilities 
of his native-born officials, and once again make up his mind 
to employ a non-Prussian German. 

Even in the Danish service, Count Bernstorff had always 
remained a German. After a brief diplomatic apprenticeship 
in the Berlin embassy, he had, when only twenty-seven years 
of age, taken over the management of foreign affairs in Copen- 
hagen, and, as the last representative of the rule of the German 
nobility which had endured for so many hundred years in 
Denmark, had had to experience many a sharp conflict with 
the awakening national pride of the island people : the German 
Bernstorffian party and the Danish national Rosenkrantzian 
party were always sharply opposed. His merits did not rival 
those of his grand-uncle, or of his father, the two great libera- 
tors of the peasantry in Denmark ; nor was fortune favourable 
to his administration. He was unable to prevent the plunder- 

1 Humboldt to Hardenberg, May 29, 1818. 


History of Germany 

campaign of the English against Copenhagen ; and subsequently, 
when he had re-entered the diplomatic career, he did not 
succeed in securing a better fate for his monarchy when the 
latter, at the congress of Vienna, was sacrificed by all the 
great powers. Notwithstanding this misadventure, he was 
generally regarded as an honourable, courageous, and prudent 
statesman. His methods in personal intercourse were dignified 
and yet gentle, which was always pleasing to King Frederick 
William, while he displayed a bewitching charm which 
sprang from a noble heart. In the beautiful park of his 
official residence in the Wilhelmsstrasse, there assembled 
on summer evenings Gneisenau and Clausewitz and a cheer- 
ful circle of talented people ; and as a rule his friendly 
neighbours the Radziwills also dropped in, by way of the 
steps which led over the party- wall between the two gardens. 
In early life the minister had been introduced to literature 
by his uncles, the brothers Stolberg, and had himself displayed 
an amiable poetic talent ; both in art and science, indeed, 
he proved a genuine connoisseur. But he possessed little 
of the coarse ambition and restless activity of the born 

With him began a new generation of Prussian diplomacy. 
In place of those weather-proof, hard-working politicians who 
had once devoted themselves body and soul to the Great Elector 
and the Great King, there now appeared more and more fre- 
quently, in the piping times of peace, talented and amiable 
literary dilettantes, to whom the state was no longer one and 
all. Even when he took over his new office, Count Bernstorff 
felt weary and relaxed, although he was not yet fifty years 
of age, and shortly afterwards he became so severely afflicted 
with gout, the disease of his class, that he rarely had a day's 
perfect health. Of Prussia's internal affairs he knew only what 
a foreign diplomat could learn, and, to his misfortune, it was 
from Ancillon that he had long been accustomed to glean his 
information about German politics in general. The mysterious 
odour of sanctity which surrounded this learned courtier still 
completely blinded the new minister; and the Badenese envoy, 
General Stockhorn, was certainly on the right track when he 
reported to his court that Bernstorff's appointment had been 
the joint work of Ancillon and Wittgenstein. The correspon- 
dence between Bernstorff and Ancillon is still for the most 
part extant, and it shows very clearly that for more than 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

a year the new minister continued to repose every confidence in 
the teachings conveyed to him by the facile pen of his mentor. 
Not until it was too late, not until the end of the year 1819, 
did Bernstorff acquire an independent view of German 
affairs, and learn to see them with his own eyes. He then 
gradually diverged from the reactionary doctrines of his 
master, and showed that in temperament and sentiment 
he belonged to the class of moderate conservatives. But during 
the critical year and a half in which the transformation of 
federal policy took place, Bernstorff remained an associate of 

His appointment was a victory for the reactionary party, 
and, despite his own ignorance of the fact, favoured the inten- 
tions of those who were secretly endeavouring to bring the 
chancellor's constitutional plans to nought. For the time being, 
the work of constitution-building was completely arrested. In 
July, Hardenberg voyaged from Potsdam to Hamburg upon 
Humphrey's new steamboat Der Kurier (this being regarded 
as an unprecedented venture), and thence made his way to 
the Rhine, where he was engaged for some weeks in legal affairs 
and in diplomatic negotiations. The impatience of the constitu- 
tionalist party increased daily. Boyen wrote to Schon in a 
fury : " This love of the people for their king, which is based 
upon facts, all that during centuries honourable thinkers have 
explained as the aims of humanity, will now be declared untrue 
by a gang of weaklings, of old women who unfortunately wear 
trousers, who desire out of obsolete forms to weave a mystical 
garment which they think will be so comfortable to themselves 
and to their beloved families." l 

Thus all the signs were favourable to the court of Vienna. 
Towards the end of the previous year, Metternich, out of respect 
for the sensibilities of the minor courts, had avoided inter- 
vention in German federal policy ; but now the time seemed 
to have arrived for a campaign against the demagogues. If 
only the Quadruple Alliance could be recemented at the congress, 
the German press, the universities, the gymnastic grounds, and, 
if possible, the Landtags, should experience the severities of 
the federal law. In order to carry on the campaign on behalf 
of the existing order with spiritual weapons as well, Metternich 
had recently established the Wiener Jahrbucher der Literatiir, 

1 Boyen to Schon, October 26, 1818. 


1 listory of Germany 

for the Oestcrrcichischc BcobacJiier was too pitiable an affair, 
except from time to time when Gentz sent an essay ; whilst 
Cotta, in the columns of the Allgcmeine Zeilung of Augsburg, 
accepted not only the communications of the Hofburg, but 
liberal articles as well. Matthiius von Collin, the brother of 
the dramatist Heinrich von Collin, a harmless and insignificant 
author, was entrusted with the editorship, and it is an index 
of the level of Metternich's scientific culture that he asked 
the most trivial of all German critics, Carl Bottinger of Dresden, 
who had been immortalised by the scorn of Goethe and 
Schiller under the nickname of " Magister Ubique," to serve 
the new undertaking (planned in "a thoroughly learned and 
genuinely cosmopolitan spirit ") as critic. The considerable 
pecuniary resources of the paper unquestionably served to 
secure it a few solid contributions, but it never acquired any- 
literary significance, for how could living knowledge have 
prospered under so dull an editorship ? 

In the very first numbers, in preparation for the struggle 
against the German newspapers, there appeared two essays by 
Gentz upon the freedom of the press in England, the only 
strictly scientific works of his later years. What a transforma- 
tion since that frank circular in which, twenty years before, 
he had commended a free press to the new king of Prussia. 
How much more mature, experienced, and well-furnished with 
knowledge did he now appear, but how cold, one-sided, sceptical, 
and disingenuous in his skilful rhetoric. Now freedom of the 
press was to be no more than a relative term, and it was as 
safe and even safer under the censorship than under the danger 
of prosecution after publication. After a masterly account of 
the history of the English press, such as he alone at that day 
was competent to give, he developed the leading ideas of a 
doctrine which for an entire generation remained the funda- 
mental error of German press legislation. He maintained that 
press offences constituted a variety of offences which had 
nothing in common with other infringements of law, whereas 
in actual fact lese majeste, blasphemy, and similar crimes may 
be equally well committed by word of mouth, by action, or 
through the press, and the difference of method has no effect 
on the nature of the offence. His impudent sophistry secured 
support, not only on account of the fears of the cabinets, but 
also because of the caste pride of the authors, who in their 
vanity failed to note that Gentz only arrogated for the press 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

a proud position outside the common law because he desired 
to subject it to exceptional laws. 

Undeniably none could dispute with him the glory 
of being the first of German publicists. He surpassed every 
possible rival by the classical beauty of a style which was 
at once profoundly elaborate and yet simple, and by the con- 
centrated energy of his dialectic. But what had become of 
the moral wrath and the wealth of ideas of his great years ; 
what had become of that broad-minded liberalism which had 
once so manfully defended the national peculiarities of the 
peoples against the irrational tyranny of the world-empire ? 
The solitary idea of the maintenance of the existing order 
recurred again and again in all his writings with hopeless 
monotony. The hoary illusion that the eternal movement of 
history could now be brought to rest for ever at the beck 
of the Hofburg, had dried up the creative energy of this once 
fruitful spirit, and had inspired with contemptible terrors this man 
who had formerly entered the lists on behalf of Europe for 
Gentz had still too keen a critical faculty not to see through 
his own contradictions. He had gradually made himself quite 
at home in Austria. He had broken off communication with 
almost all the friends of his youth, and soon came to take 
a malicious delight in defaming his old home as the land of 
vain pride of intellect, and in extolling as the greatest of Ger- 
man authors the fanatical Prussian renegade, Adam Miiller, a 
man who stood so far below Gentz himself. 

Just as Plato and his political disciples had once availed 
themselves of all the wealth of the Attic tongue and the Attic 
spirit to extol the brutal roughness of the Spartan state, so 
Gentz now utilised the heavy armament of his Protestant 
North German culture in the service of an un-German statecraft 
which threatened to annihilate the freedom of our civilisa- 
tion. Like his ancient prototypes, he was misled in the first 
instance by a political error, inasmuch as he imagined that he 
found in the Hofburg the shield and the mainstay of the con- 
servative cause in Europe ; but it was also his insatiable love 
of pleasure which held him prisoner in the Austrian camp. 
He was one of those born virtuosi of enjoyment whose energies 
can find free play only in the soft atmosphere of a refinedly 
sensual existence, and who are therefore justified in tilling the 
soil which corresponds to their special gifts. But how 
immeasurably did he misuse this right. The colossal sums 


I listory of Germany 

which he unashamedly accepted from the great courts, from the 
Rothschilds, from the hospodars of Wallachia, were still insufficient 
to provide for the foolish extravagance of the effeminately 
fastidious man, exhausted and enervated by all conceivable 
lusts of the flesh. For many years the Hofburg had merely 
made use of his pen, without initiating him into all its secrets. 
It was only after the congress of Vienna and the second con- 
gress of Paris that he attained vis-a-vis Metternich that posi- 
tion of confidence which he had formerly and falsely boasted ; 
but to Emperor Francis he remained to the end a mere 
foreign plebeian. He spoke of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 
as the climax of his career ; all the courts overwhelmed 
him with distinctions and gifts ; friends and foes alike 
recognised in him the publicist of the European alliance. 
Conscious of his own comprehensive knowledge of affairs, he 
looked down with fierce contempt upon the dilettantist political 
chatter of delegates, professors, and journalists. Never would 
he admit that out of the views of such a multitude of persons 
endowed with half knowledge there could ultimately arise a 
public opinion which even in its aberrations still constitutes 
a genuine power, and at times exercises as irresistible an 
influence as is exercised in a theatre by the judgment of a 
public also consisting of non-experts. How delighted he was 
" that at length there once again exist diplomatic secrets," 
that the cabinets had determined that on this occasion the 
proceedings of the congress should be concealed from the gaze 
of the uninitiated more carefully than had been the case in 
Vienna. By the use of compulsion, and by punishments, the 
great mass of interlopers were to be deprived of all desire 
to interfere in the labours of the political craftsmen. It was 
with real delight that Gentz now took up that Prussian 
memorial upon the press law which in the previous year Jordan 
had vainly brought to Vienna, and began to modify it in the 
Austrian sense ; to this master of the pen no means were 
severe enough to bring the papers to silence. 

As he tells us himself, even more terrible than the licence 
of the press appeared to him " the greatest of all evils," the 
disorder among the students (das Burschcnunwcscn] . That 
touching enthusiasm for the unity of Germany which seems to 
furnish excuse even for the follies of these fervent youths, was 
naturally to the Austrian nothing more than one additional 
ground for condemnation. There also came into operation the 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

detestation of this soft and over-delicate aristocratic world for 
the coarse university manners, of whose roughness extraordinary 
stories were circulated in the Hofburg ; in Metternich's view, 
even Arndt was no more than a dissolute toper. Finally, and 
above all, Gentz was influenced by his own craven fears ; not 
even the crowing of cocks and the hissing of geese, not even 
the rolling of thunder, and all the other terrors with which 
cruel nature affected the sensitive nerves of the Viennese court 
publicist, produced in him such a vigorous disturbance as did 
the sight of a bearded student. In Heidelberg, even his delight 
in the beautiful landscape, almost the sole youthful sentiment 
which he had still preserved in his frosted heart, was completely 
destroyed, for in the streets there were to be seen " the 
grotesque and repulsive figures of young men going about in 
dirty Old German rig, a genuine horror to God and man, with 
books under their arms, seeking the false wisdom of their evil 
professors." This abomination, too, must cease; a great memorial 
upon the reform of the universities was already in progress. 
The congress offered a means for coming to an understanding 
with the Prussian court, and then the Bundestag was to initiate 
annihilating blows against the demagogues. Meanwhile the 
public, in an oracular article published by the Oesteneichische 
Beobachter, was expressly exhorted to display its confidence 
in the wisdom of the allied monarchs, "whose every step 
will be in the direction of conservation, not of destruction or 

In order to produce a compliant mood in the Bundestag, 
Metternich and Gentz travelled by way of Frankfort, and 
secured there from the servile petty diplomats (of whom, in 
the circle of initiates, Gentz was accustomed to speak bluntly 
as a " rabble ") a reception brilliant surpassing all expectations. 
Metternich reported triumphantly to the emperor : " Since 
coming to Frankfort I have effected a moral revolution in the 
Bundestag ; it is almost incredible to what a height of moral 
influence the imperial court has now attained." To his wife 
he wrote in yet more boastful terms : "I have become a sort 
of moral force in Germany and Europe ; I came to Frankfort 
like the Messiah for the remission of sins " and he went on 
to give an assurance that the twelve days of his stay had 
sufficed to bring to fruition in the Bundestag everything which 
hitherto had seemed impossible of attainment. As a matter 


History of Germany 

of fact, the Bundestag remained quite undisturbed in its healthy 
slumbers. The envoys cheerfully continued to play their 
favourite game of hide-and-seek with the production of fresh 
instructions ; and of all the unfulfilled duties of the federal 
assembly, one only was advanced a brief step through Metter- 
nich's intervention, namely, the proceedings concerning the 
federal army. 

The dispute was still in progress regarding the composition 
of the mixed army corps, all the middle-sized states continuing 
obstinately to maintain that Electoral Hesse belonged to South 
Germany ; and Wangenheim had just aroused the anger of the 
two great powers by a series of snappish Notamina on the 
federal military constitution, behind which plainly loomed the 
idea of the German trias. When Metternich called the Wiirtem- 
berg diplomat to account, the latter, in a childishly open answer 
(September i6th), disclosed his most secret plans. " The federal 
act," Wangenheim wrote guilelessly, " is nothing, absolutely 
nothing, in default of institutions which guarantee the applica- 
tion of the law and its carrying into effect " ; only a federation 
within the federation could secure the complete legal equality 
of all members of the federation, and could hold the purely 
German states aloof from the European wars of the two great 
powers. The idea that this federation could ever enter into 
a conspiracy with foreign powers, and that " one-and-thirty 
states in small octavo or duodecimo " could ever become united 
in a plan of conquest against Prussia and Austria, was charac- 
terised as " nonsensical dread of political Don Quixotes." 

Metternich did not vouchsafe any answer to this innocent 
correspondent, but immediately sought for an understanding 
with Prussia. If only the unity of the federal army, and 
therewith the Austrian supreme command of that army, should 
remain secure, he was little concerned regarding the composition 
of the mixed army corps. From Frankfort he went to his 
beautiful estate of Johannisberg, where he had the profitable 
vineyards of the old prince-abbots of Fulda most sedulously 
cared for, while their banqueting halls had been restored with 
repulsive baldness and lack of taste. There, on September 
i/th, supported by Langenau, he held a great council with 
Hardenberg, Goltz, and Wolzogen, which led to the accept- 
ance of the Prussian proposals. In addition to three Austrian, 
three Prussian, and one Bavarian army corps, three mixed 
corps were to be formed ; an eighth for Saxony, Wiirtemberg, 

1 02 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

and Baden ; a ninth for the two Hesses, Nassau, and Thuringia ; 
and a tenth for Hanover and the Low German petty states. 
The Prussian chancellor was delighted beyond measure. 
Though he had been a hundred times disillusioned, he still 
could not abandon the phantoms of his dualistic policy, and 
reported to his king that at length it was certain that, in 
case of war, the whole of North Germany except Saxony would 
be under Prussia's leadership. 1 Yet not a single word had 
been spoken regarding the bipartition of the federal army, 
and, indeed, Austria was absolutely determined never to depart 
from the earlier federal resolution which prescribed the nomina- 
tion of one single federal commander-in-chief. In Frankfort, 
meanwhile, the old disputes continued without cessation ; the 
two Hesses definitely desired to enter the army corps of the 
South German middle-sized states. But since the king of 
Wiirtemberg subsequently took alarm at the challenging atti- 
tude adopted by the hot-blooded Wiirtemberg envoy, 2 and gave 
only a lukewarm support to the two Hesses, the Johannisberg 
agreement was at length accepted by the military committee, 
and on October I2th the proposal for the " elements of the 
military constitution of the Germanic Federation " was laid 
before the Bundestag. 

Thus at the end of two years was secured a proposal for 
" the elements " what a shameful constrast to the patriotic 
unanimity of the French chambers which immediately forgot 
all party quarrels when the strength of the army was in 
question ! It still remained altogether doubtful if and when 
the Bundestag would approve the proposal of its committee, 
for there now recommenced the agreeable waste of time involved 
in sending for instructions, and anyone who knew the character 
of the assembly could not fail to recognise in advance that 
the acceptance of the proposal unamended was inconceivable. 
Yet Metternich in his insatiable vanity was bold enough to 
write to the emperor saying that, at the moment of the evacua- 
tion of France, Germany could enjoy the satisfaction of com- 
pleting her military organisation, of securing her powers for 
defence and he received in return the monarch's thanks for 
" having conducted the military affairs to the desired end." 
Nine days after this commendation, he confidentially admitted 

1 Hardenberg, Report to the king, Kreuznach, September 18, 1818. 
* Ministerial despatch from Berstett to Berkhtim, August 29, 1818. 


History of Germany 

to the chancellor (November 5th) that all the negotiations 
of the Bundestag concerning military affairs had hitherto been 
no more than mere preliminaries ! l 

However trifling the results of his visit to Frankfort, it 
had at least effected an increase in his personal prestige. He 
was now generally regarded as the wise chief of German 
statesmen, and even Wangenheim spoke of him as a 
hero of statecraft. When Emperor Francis crossed the 
Rhine, there arose in the ancient lands of the crozier a chorus 
of jubilation which proved beyond possibility of doubt that the 
Prussophobia of the Rhinelanders was rooted, not in liberal 
but in clerical sentiments. The men of Cologne went out many 
miles along the road to meet him. Francis received all this 
homage with barely concealed and malicious delight, and beneath 
a report from Metternich, assuring him of the imperial loyalty 
of the Rhineland, he wrote with satisfaction the words " agree- 
able intelligence." In the bigoted town of Aix-la-Chapelle, 
wherever the Austrian showed himself he was greeted with 
loud hurrahs, whilst no one paid any attention to the king 
of Prussia or to the czar, and people openly declared, " The 
emperor is here in his own land, but the Prussian is a 
stranger." When King Frederick William took his Austrian 
guest to the minster, all the clergy of the place received the 
emperor at the door (the Oesterreichische Beobachter described the 
fact in a shameless article), and conducted him to the grave 
of Charlemagne, where a prie-dieu had been placed ready for 
him, and handed to him the celebrated relics ; meanwhile the 
Protestant sovereign of these priests, and his heir, stood 
unregarded on one side. What a scene ! Gratitude and 
veneration for this Lorrainer who had thrown the crown of 
the Carlovingians into the mire, here beside the grave of the 
first emperor, in the ancient coronation town in which, fourteen 
years before, Francis, false to his own oath, had paid homage 
to the emperordom of the usurper. What criminal contempt 
was here displayed by his subjects for that noble German 
prince who had lifted the foreign yoke from the necks of these 
men of the western march, and who, after they had suffered 
many centuries of misery, had just regained the blessings of 
just German rule. Unquestionably a generation inspired by 
such sentiments was not yet ripe for unity. 

1 Metternich to Hardenberg, November 5, 1818. 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 



The affairs of the congress were not to proceed entirely 
without dispute, but the conflict of opinions was never acute 
or dangerous, for all parties were agreed in dreading a new 
eruption of the revolutionary volcano in France. It is true 
that the czar had arbitrarily, and in defiance of the resolution 
of the Parisian conference of ambassadors, summoned Pozzo 
di Borgo to Aix-la-Chapelle, but Metternich speedily noted that 
Alexander was far from being in agreement with the French 
sentiments of his ambassador. The czar regarded the internal 
affairs of France with profound anxiety, and would not allow 
himself to be persuaded by Richelieu's asseverations. Notwith- 
standing all his good wishes for the Bourbons, he would not 
completely abandon the alliance of the four powers, which was 
mainly directed against the revolutionary spirit in France. The 
maintenance of peace and public order, the upholding of 
Christian civilisation, and, should it prove necessary, a common 
fight against the hydra of revolt such was the programme 
which, to Metternich's relief, he again and again developed 
in unctuous speeches. Moreover, Pozzo did not take part in 
the official sittings. The plenipotentiaries were : Castlereagh 
and Wellington ; Metternich ; Hardenberg and Bernstorff ; 
Capodistrias and Nesselrode. Gentz kept the minutes, swimming 
in an ocean of delight, and he could hardly find words 
sufficiently vigorous in which to describe to his confidant Pilat, 
the admirable change in the czar's sentiments, the exemplary 
unanimity of the cabinets, the praise that was showered on 
his own pen, and the six thousand ducats which were dropped 
into his bottomless pocket. Richelieu, the French plenipoten- 
tiary, as yet put in an appearance in isolated sittings only, and 
upon special invitation. 

As early as the third day of the congress, on October ist, 
an agreement was arrived at regarding the evacuation of France ; 
and on October gth a convention was concluded with Richelieu, 
appointing November soth as the date of withdrawal of the 
army of occupation. " I have lived long enough," wrote King 
Louis thankfully to his minister, " now that I have seen France 
free once more." A delay of nine months was granted to the 
Tuileries for the payment of the remainder of the war debt, 

105 i 

History of Germany 

amounting to 265,000,000 francs. Hardenberg had vainly 
demanded immediate payment, on the ground that Prussia, 
whose finances were completely exhausted, could hardly wait 
any longer, and was always forced to sell the French national 
bonds immediately on receipt, on unfavourable terms. The 
three other powers rejected the proposal, because they did not 
wish to irritate public opinion in France ; l and in any case 
the Bourbons would have found it extremely difficult to satisfy 
the Prussian demand. The two new loans, amounting in all 
to 120,000,000 francs, which France had to raise for the dis- 
charge of the first instalments of the debt, had caused a panic 
in the business world; and while the congress was still sitting 
such severe crises ensued upon the bourses, first in Paris and 
then in Amsterdam, that the powers, upon Richelieu's request, 
and upon the intercession of Wellington, approved two further 
postponements of the date of payment, the last postponement 
being until June, 1820. On both occasions Prussia raised fruit- 
less objections. 

Less simple was the course of the negotiations regarding 
the future position of France in relation to the four powers 
Richelieu's desire was that his state should be simply accepted 
into the Quadruple Alliance, so that the European pentarchy 
which had existed de facto during the three decades before the 
Revolution should be renewed as a legally recognised order. 
He repeatedly declared that the persistence of the Quadruple 
Alliance could in France be regarded in no other way than 
as an affront, and that it must ultimately lead to war or 
revolution. It seemed for a time as if Russia would accede 
to these desires. In confidential conversations, Capodistrias 
spoke of the Quadruple Alliance as the four-headed Bonaparte 
whose tyranny must be broken. On October 8th, the Russian 
plenipotentiaries handed in a memorial which, as Bernstorff 
aptly said, was unparalleled for length, obscurity, and bombast, 
by anything which had previously proceeded from St. Peters- 
burg. 2 In apocalyptic terms it extolled the system of peace 
established by Providence itself, a system which, like truth, 
when once recognised and engraven in the hearts of men, can 
never again lose its power. Next came a demand for the 
admission of France into the Quadruple Alliance, for this body was 

1 Minutes of the fifth sitting, October 3, 1818. 

* Capodistrias, Memoire sur 1'alliance general, September 26/October 8 ; 
Bcmstorff to Lottum, October 10, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

" only the centre of gravity of the general alliance, or of the 
European system." But side by side with this demand were to be 
found threatening and actually hostile utterances against France. 
If this power should ever again become the seat of revolution, 
she would by her own act withdraw from the general alliance. 

This remarkable document gave a faithful picture of the 
contradictory desires which since the great transformation of 
the previous summer had been dominating the mobile spirit 
of the czar. It was plain that the founder of the Holy Alliance 
would have gladly become the recognised chief of a general 
European league, and that he was nevertheless unwilling entirely 
to abandon the well-tried Quadruple Alliance which held the 
forces of revolution in check. On the other hand, the two 
highly conservative powers, Austria and England, thought above 
all of maintaining the existing fact, the Quadruple Alliance, 
with perhaps the occasional support of France ; neither Metter- 
nich nor Castlereagh could overcome their mistrust of Russian 
ambition, and their dread of all innovation. Moreover, Lord 
Liverpool dreaded fierce struggles with the whigs should his 
colleagues subscribe to any formal treaty, and concealed his 
anxiety behind the high-sounding exhortation, " The allies must 
not forget that the general and European discussion of these 
questions will take place in the English parliament." In the 
bosom of his own cabinet, a voice of contradiction was already 
audible. The youngest member of the ministry, George 
Canning, was voicing the view that the island state should hold 
aloof from continental affairs except in so far as they concerned 
the interests of English trade. Prussia occupied a middle 
position between the parties, and endeavoured to secure a com- 
promise, for which the conditions were in fact favourable. 
Unquestionably the Quadruple Alliance still had a justified 
existence. It would be undesirable to dissolve it, for the condi- 
tion of France was not one to inspire confidence, while in the 
kingdom of the Netherlands a struggle between north and south 
had already broken out which seemed to threaten the overthrow 
of this artificial state-structure. On the other hand, it was 
no longer reasonable to refuse the court of the Tuileries all 
right to participate in the deliberations of the European powers, 
now that France had fulfilled every condition imposed by the 
peace. Were there no means of attaining both the desired ends, 
of accepting France into the European concert of the powers, and 
yet at the same time firmly re-establishing the Quadruple Alliance ? 


History of Germany 

Prussia's mediation was directed towards this twofold aim, 
and within a few days the two parties had drawn closer 
together. On October I4th, in a new memorial, Capodistrias 
proposed that in a secret protocol the four powers should con- 
firm the Quadruple Alliance and should in private discuss the 
question of military preparations in the event of war ensuing 
against France ; but that when this had been effected, France should 
be invited to join the union of the four powers, and that after 
the acceptance of this invitation the union should be indicated 
to the remaining states of Europe as a proof " of the unity, 
of the brotherly and Christian friendship," of the monarchs. 1 
On these lines the elements for an understanding were already 
forthcoming. Nevertheless the progress of the negotiations 
was arrested for several days because the czar and the king, 
upon Richelieu's urgent invitation, undertook an excursion to 
Paris ; the old Bourbon monarch wished to show his nation 
that the allies regarded him as a completely equal member 
of the league. On the way, a review of the Prussian occupation 
corps was held at Sedan, on the very field where, after the 
lapse of half a century, the black eagles were once more to be 
seen. At the Tuileries the czar again displayed his dramatic 
talents ; he stayed but a single day, and as soon as his 
Prussian friend had gone to the theatre he had a long and 
ceremonious conversation with King Louis, during which there 
was no lack of emotional phrases and benevolent wishes. But 
he would not give the king any binding assurances, and when 
he returned to Aix-la-Chapelle, on October 3ist, he found the 
statesmen in a mood which boded no good to France. 

The supplementary elections to the French chambers had 
not led to the return of a single ultra-royalist, whereas even 
in the strongholds of the legitimist party, in Brittany and La 
Vendee, acknowledged democrats like Lafayette and Manuel 
had been elected. In addition, there had arrived disquieting 
intelligence from the Paris bourse. To everyone, the future 
of France seemed more uncertain than ever, and in a memorial 
dated November ist Metternich insisted with much emphasis 
that France was still far from being in a similar situation 
with the other powers. No one would threaten a peaceful 
and constitutional France : but this state was the issue of 
revolution and was torn by faction ; it was the duty of the 

1 Memoire sur 1'application des trait6s de 1815 aux circonstances actuelles, 
October 14, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

four powers to keep it under observation, lest it should relapse 
into revolutionary spasms, " a duty which does not exist in 
relation to any other state " ; consequently France could not 
enter into a formal alliance, especially since there did not 
exist any casus fcederis, and could merely be asked to partici- 
date in the deliberations of the four powers. This view gained 
the upper hand, although Russia raised certain objections, 
relating rather to form than to substance ; l and thereupon, in a 
note couched in flattering terms, and sent to Richelieu under 
pate November 4th, the Most Christian King was invited hence- 
forward to join in the deliberations of the other powers. On 
November I2th, the French minister-of-state forwarded a reply 
expressing the lively gratitude of his king for this new proof 
of confidence and friendship, and promising that France would 
adhere to the union of the powers " with that integrity which 
is characteristic of the country." 

On November I5th the now united five powers signed a protocol 
giving formal expression to the accession of France to the 
system of universal peace, and pledging themselves that from 
time to time, by common agreement, they would hold personal 
interviews for the joint discussion of their affairs. At these 
meetings, should the interests of other powers come up for 
consideration, such matters must be discussed only upon the 
formal demand, and with the co-operation, of the states con- 
cerned. This protocol was communicated to all the European 
courts, accompanied by a declaration (also dated November 
I5th), which was a master- work of Gentz's style, but whose 
brilliancy of form could hardly conceal the exiguity of the 
content. " The purpose of this union," ran the document, 
"is as simple as it is beneficent and grand. In its firm and 
quiet progress, it strives for nothing less than the maintenance 
of peace, designing to guarantee all the negotiations upon which 
peace is founded and by which it is strengthened. The 
sovereigns formally recognise that their duty towards God 
and towards the nations over which they rule, commands them 
to set before the world, as far as lies within their powers, an 
example of justice, harmony, and moderation." 

Thus France was ostensibly accepted into the alliance of 

1 Minutes of the twenty-second sitting, November 4. Metternich's Apercu de 
la situation, November I, 1818. The document printed in Metternich's posthumous 
papers III, p. 161, is only the first draft of this memorial, which was subsequently 
much elaborated. 


History of Germany 

the four powers, and, in order to announce the new friendship 
ceremoniously, Pozzo di Borgo, with the approval of the czar, 
was made a peer of France. The good Richelieu, whose chival- 
rous conduct at the congress had given general satisfaction, 
could enjoy the pleasure of finding that the ignorant press 
extolled him, not merely for having liberated French soil, but 
also for having renewed the European pentarchy. In reality, 
France had secured nothing more than a comparatively worthless 
manifestation of diplomatic courtesy. The Bourbons could 
henceforward expect that their plenipotentiaries would be 
summoned to the meetings of the four allies, but no treaty 
had been signed, and the name Quintuple Alliance was 
purposely avoided. On the other hand, the representatives 
of the four powers met in a confidential sitting on the very 
November I5th on which they sent the declaration to the 
European courts, and declared in a secret protocol that the 
alliance first formed in Chaumont, and renewed in Paris for 
an indefinite period, persisted without alteration ; but in 
order to avoid alarming France and the other states, the con- 
tinuance of the Quadruple Alliance was to be kept secret. The 
four powers were pledged henceforward to furnish one another 
mutually with immediate military help, each supplying a 
minimum force of 60,000 men, in case a revolution should break 
out in France, or should there be a Bonapartist revival, or 
should in any other way a danger of war become manifest. 
They reserved the right of discussing the measures, if need be, 
in special meetings (reunions sped ales) which " might obviate 
the disastrous consequences of a new revolution in France." * 

In the same sitting, the secret military committee of the 
four powers, which sat under the presidency of Wellington, 
handed in its plan for the disposition of the allied military 
forces. According to this " military protocol," as soon as 
the four powers had decided that a casus fcederis et belli existed, 
within two months the English were to assemble at Brussels, 
the Prussians at Cologne, the Austrians at Stuttgart, and, 
within three months, the Russians at Mainz. Of the Belgian 
fortresses, England occupied the western, Ostend, Ypres, and 
some of the places on the Scheldt ; Prussia the fortresses of 
the Meuse and the Sambre, Namur, Charleroi, Marienburg, and 
others. It was suggested that the minor German contingents 
should once more be distributed, as they had been in the year 

1 Secret protocol drawn up at the thirty-third sitting, November 15, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

1815, among the different armies, in accordance with geographical 
position, since no federal army as yet existed. This protocol 
was approved, and then Wellington, upon Prussia's urgent 
representations, had still to secure the assent of the king of 
the Netherlands. 1 

When all this had been done, it still seemed insufficient 
to the Prussian generals. They were under no illusions regard- 
ing the inefficiency of the celebrated " buffer state " of the 
Netherlands which, in accordance with the intentions of the 
congress of Vienna, was to receive the first shock of the French 
army. They were well informed regarding the lamentable 
condition of the Netherland army, and knew that this army 
would not suffice to guard even one-half of those fifty fortresses 
and forts which Wellington had just had built on the Belgian 
frontier with the aid of the French war indemnities. It was 
consequently the intention of Prussia, as the state next endan- 
gered, to station on the lower Rhine a permanent observation 
corps, which in case of need could make its way into Belgium, 
even before the declaration of war. In order to discuss further 
details with the Netherland court, General Muffling was sent 
from Aix-la-Chapelle to Brussels ; but King William absolutely 
refused to assent to any such limitation of his sovereignty. 
For years past the Orange ruler, who owed his throne to the 
armies of the allies, had plainly manifested his preference for 
France and his hatred for Prussia. He was out of humour because 
King Frederick William had not paid him a visit from Aix, 
and still more because Prussia, as provided for in the treaties, 
claimed the supreme command in the federal fortress of Luxem- 
burg ; and when the Prussian negotiator now drew attention 
to the unaccommodating humour of the Belgians, the court 
of Brussels was profoundly affronted. King William would 
not hear a word regarding the daily increasing anger of the 
Catholic Belgians against the Dutch heretics, and was 
strengthened in his blind arrogance by the English envoy 
Lord Clancarty, who could not sufficiently admire this artificial 
kingdom, this masterpiece of English statesmanship. In the 
view of the high tory, affairs in Belgium were in an admirable 
condition, and with English modesty he advised the Berlin 
court that Prussia would do well to follow the good example 
which the Dutch had given in Belgium, and to rule her new 

1 Protocol Militaire of November 15 ; Bernstorff to Lottum, November 9 ; 
Wolzogen's Memorial, October 17 ; Boyen's Memorial, November 15, 1818. 


History of Germany 

provinces in the same exemplary manner ; if this were done, 
there would no longer be anything to fear for Prussian Rhine- 
land ! To intelligences of this level it was impossible for 
Muffling to prove how important Prussia's friendly and neigh- 
bourly proposal might become for the preservation of the 
Netherlands. He spent the entire winter in fruitless negotia- 
tions, and returned home in the spring with nothing effected. 

Consequently the allies of Aix-la-Chappelle had not been 
able to carry all their plans to a successful issue. But the 
most important point had been secured ; the Quadruple Alliance 
remained established, more firmly and more harmoniously 
established than ever before. France, on the other hand, 
still continued under the police supervision of the four powers, 
although, nominally at least, the Parisian conference of ambas- 
sadors was now dissolved. 1 At any moment, whenever party 
struggles in France became threatening, the council of four 
could assemble, and could immediately proceed to armed inter- 
vention in accordance with its preconcerted plan. Richelieu 
received no more than the confidential information that the 
Quadruple Alliance was not dissolved, and was careful to avoid 
disclosing news which would have been so painful to French 
self-conceit. He had absolutely no idea of the seriousness, or 
of the comprehensive character, of the preventive measures 
which had been envisaged ; and just as little had he any 
inkling of the changed sentiments of Czar Alexander, to whom 
he manifested all possible gratitude. Enthralled with delight, 
he wrote concerning the Russian monarch, " people ought to 
kiss his footsteps " ; he was not aware that it was precisely 
this benefactor of France who had first proposed to the allies 
the constitution of a military committee, and who, in the 
negotiations concerning military affairs, had, next to the Prussians, 
displayed himself the most zealous negotiator on behalf of the 
improvement of the military system of the coalition. 

How many humiliations had proud France been forced 
to endure at this congress. Even after the French minister 
had been summoned to regular co-operation, the sittings of the 
Quadruple Alliance were not discontinued. Of the forty-seven 
sittings of the congress, fifteen, nearly a third, took place with- 
out Richelieu's participation. On the anniversary of the battle 
of Leipzig, the allies held a brilliant festival, attendance at 
which the French minister and his suite were able to avoid 

1 Minute of the forty-seventh sitting. November 22, 1818. 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

only by taking a sudden journey. What an extraordinary 
role was subsequently played by the due d'Angouleme when 
he made a brief visit to Aix incognito, in order to return the 
visit paid in Paris by the two monarchs. The unworthy posi- 
tion occupied by France in the high council of Europe was the 
natural consequence of the sins of the hundred days ; who 
could take it amiss of the four powers if they did everything 
they possibly could to avert a new breach of the world's peace, 
since to this exhausted age peace seemed the greatest of all 
good things ? But it was impossible that a great nation should 
permanently submit to such derogatory treatment. 

In the course of these negotiations there was disclosed the 
ultimate goal which the czar had in view in all the mysterious 
transformations of his policy. In addition to the persistence 
of the Quadruple Alliance, whose efficiency he desired to limit 
to the handling of warlike eventualities, Alexander also wished 
to bring about the conclusion of a general European treaty of 
guarantee. He owed this idea to a bombastic memorial by 
Ancillon, a private undertaking which the servile scribbler had 
presumably handed to the czar while the latter was passing 
through Berlin on his way to Aix-la-Chapelle. In this docu- 
ment, Ancillon extols the Holy Alliance, " this treaty which 
would alone suffice to endow the present epoch with immor- 
tality." And he goes on with his customary prolixity to 
describe how the two epochs of the balance of power and the 
revolutionary world-empire had at length been succeeded by 
the fortunate epoch inaugurated by " the at once simple 
and sublime idea of the European family." In order to 
realise this idea, the five great powers must combine to provide 
all the states of Europe with a guarantee for their existing 
possessions against any forcible disturbance ; and, assembling 
from time to time in congresses held at regular intervals, must 
peacefully decree the necessary changes in the status quo. 
" What is to be effected," added Bernstorff in further explana- 
tion, "is to endow the translucent soul of the Holy Alliance 
with a material body, or to wed this immaterial psyche with 
the truly fertilising spirit of love and justice." 

Thus was the phantasmagoria of perpetual peace, which 
now dominated the mind of the exhausted world, to be mate- 
rialised under the joint protectorate of the great powers ; and in 
the regular meetings of the five monarchs the concert of Europe 
was to secure a permanent centralised authority. Europe was 

History of Germany 

to assume the form of a federal state, to acquire a constitution 
which was incompatible with the justified independence of the 
individual states. To this questionable proposal Ancillon 
added a second which was manifestly impossible of acceptance, 
one which simply invalidated the system of the joint guarantee 
of peace, and which threatened to degrade the European pro- 
tectorate to the level of a tool of reactionary party politics. 
The memorial demanded that the great powers should mutually 
pledge one another to maintain everywhere legitimate sove- 
reignty, interpreting this proposition to mean that the altera- 
tion of the constitution by the sovereign could never be a 
cause for the intervention of the great powers, but that such 
intervention could properly be determined by a revolution, 
or by any danger threatening legitimate sovereignty. Conse- 
quently the great peace alliance would not have as its duty 
to guarantee rights and peace against everyone, but simply 
to defend the thrones against the peoples. This was a sinister 
proposal which was adopted only too eagerly by the policy of 
Metternich. l 

For the moment so complete a triumph of the reactionary 
party was still impossible. Austria and Prussia, indeed, were 
prepared to engage in a mutual guarantee for the preservation 
of the European status quo, for to a world so greatly desirous 
of peace all means for maintaining the existing order of affairs 
were welcome, while Metternich secretly hoped that the general 
guarantee would impose restraint upon the two ambitious 
powers which he himself most dreaded, the czar and the 
Prussian army. Castlereagh, however, vetoed the proposal. 
He could not venture to lay before Parliament a treaty involv- 
ing such extensive commitments ; the plan was tantamount 
to the consolidation of the Holy Alliance, and therefore 
could not fail to redound to the advantage of its initiator, 
who to the Briton already seemed much too powerful. 
Moreover, to the policy of the island kingdom, the regular 
congresses were far from acceptable ; the English would agree 
only to occasional meetings, dictated by circumstances as they 
might arise. Castlereagh held firmly to this view, and since 
the two German powers were also forced to admit that the 
firm Quadruple Alliance, with its clearly defined and easily 
comprehensible obligations, would secure European peace far 

1 Ancillon, Memoire sur la Grande Alliance. Bernstorff to Lottum, November 
t. 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

more effectively than the nebulous Holy Alliance, the discussion 
of the treaty of guarantee was temporarily postponed. Yet 
the czar continued to cherish the hope that the tenuous psyche 
of his favourite plan would some day acquire a material body. 
In a circular to his envoys, he once more reminded them of 
the principles of the Holy Alliance, and in taking his depar- 
ture he expressly declared that he was prepared to join in any 
treaty of guarantee which any one of the four powers might still 
be prepared to propose, upon the basis of Ancillon's memorial. 1 
In many other matters the old opposition between English 
policy and Russian was once more conspicuously displayed. 
Since the slave trade to the coast of Brazil still continued, 
England demanded the right for her warships to search all 
vessels suspected of being engaged in the slave trade. To 
Russia, however, and to all the other powers, this demand 
seemed quite immoderate, and Castlereagh had to be satisfied 
when the three monarchs agreed to write autograph letters 
to the king of Portugal, exhorting him to abolish the abomin- 
able traffic. 2 On the other hand, Russia and Prussia were 
unable to carry through a proposal for common action against 
the Barbary corsairs, because England did not desire to see 
any Russian warships in the Mediterranean. Equally fruitless 
was an appeal for help from the court of Madrid. The old 
well-wishers of the Spanish Bourbons, Russia and France, 
desired that England should undertake to mediate between 
the king and his insurgent subjects in South America, and 
should if possible induce the United States to abstain from 
recognising the new Creole republics. Wellington, however, 
rejected this proposal. He recognised that King Ferdinand 
did not desire honourable mediation, but simply the re-establish- 
ment of his rule in South America ; and in the end even 
this tory government, however little it understood of economic 
questions, could not completely abandon the traditions of 
British commercial policy. Through the revolt of the South 
American provinces, England had gained a profitable field of 
trade, and it was impossible that she could desire the reunion 
of the colonies with the Spanish motherland. 3 

1 Bernstorff to Lottum, November 5 and 23, 1818. 

2 King Frederick William to the king of Portugal, November 7 ; Bernstorff to 
Lottum, October 29 and November 9, 1818. 

3 Minute of the eighteenth sitting, October 23 ; Bernstorff to Lottum, 
November 19, 1818. 


History of Germany 

Despite such misunderstandings, which were inevitable in 
view of the complexity of European interests, the congress of 
Aix was unquestionably the most harmonious in modern history ; 
the general need for peace and the dread of revolution held 
the powers firmly together. Moreover, this was in truth a 
European congress, although the name was avoided. Proudly 
and securely did the mighty warship of the Quadruple Alliance 
sail through the waters of the time with the French sloop in 
tow. Wellington, who now received a marshal's baton from 
Prussia and Austria as well, and thus held the highest military 
dignity in all the notable European armies with the solitary 
exception of the French, also became generalissimo of allied 
Europe. The monarchs were firmly convinced that their 
guardianship was a blessing for Europe. Unhesitatingly they 
dragged every European question before their forum, although 
they had just assured the states of the second rank that the 
co-operation of the four was directed only to the unravelling of 
French affairs ; and if it ever happened that any disputed 
question remained unsettled by their exertions, it was not 
because they regarded the matter as beyond their competence, 
but simply because they could not agree among themselves. 

Since it was the czar's desire to give the European union 
the character of a great Christian family in the sense of the 
Holy Alliance, the congress frequently issued its instructions 
to the minor states in the form of paternal autograph letters 
from the three monarchs. Just as the king of Portugal was, 
in such a letter, admonished to abolish the slave trade, so 
was the king of Sweden ordered to fulfil his duties towards 
Denmark. King Frederick William earnestly reminded his 
northern neighbour of the " bonds of Christian fraternity which 
exist between all princes and their peoples." But the new 
house of the Bernadottes felt extremely insecure as yet in this 
legitimate society of states. For a long time, and always in 
vain, Charles John had been touting at the Bavarian and other 
courts in order to secure a consort for the heir to the Swedish 
throne, and was well aware that the monarchs in Aix-la-Chapelle 
had just provided an endowment fund for the advantage of 
the expelled Vasas. For this reason, he hastened to adapt 
himself to the monarchs' wishes, and at length, after severe 
struggles, was able to secure that the Norwegian Storthing 
should, as was proper, take over a portion of the debts of the 
former Danish united state. He found it hard indeed to force 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

himself to this step. On one occasion he even endeavoured 
to protest against the tyranny of the Quadruple Alliance, and 
on January 7, 1819, wrote to Emperor Francis with Gascon 
prolixity : "In truth, Sire, I have to ask whether we should 
not find reason to lament the abyss of misfortune into which 
the nations and the governments of the second and the third 
rank would fall, if force should rise superior to the sacred 
principles of reason and justice, should believe itself competent 
to override international law, and even to constitute itself at 
will into a court for the settlement of international disputes, 
and if in this way a system should come into existence 
harmonising so ill with those principles of political liberalism 
for which so much blood has been spilled, and which six years 
ago united us all against the conqueror who had designed to 
institute a sovereign supreme power, and to rule over a com- 
pletely enslaved world." In Metternich's dry opinion, however, 
these were void discussions ; and since the four powers as 
guarantors of the peace of Kiel demanded only what was right, 
the Swedish ruler had to give way. 1 Still less ceremony was 
displayed towards the prince of Monaco ; Richelieu was commis- 
sioned in the name of the Grand Alliance to exhort this useless 
petty despot in express terms to adopt a Christian course of 
life. 2 

Thus there prevailed everywhere the dictatorship of the 
great powers, considerate in form, and as yet just and peaceful 
in its aims, but none the less a dictatorship which was burden- 
some to all who were not copartners. Without deigning to 
ask the minor cabinets their opinion on the matter, the con- 
gress resolved to institute a new order of precedence for diplo- 
macy, ranging down through the scale from ambassador, through 
envoy and minister-resident, to charge d'affaires ; and this 
prescription was accepted without demur by all the courts. 
The treatment of the imprisoned Imperator was also considered, 
and here the ministers of the czar took the harshest views 
of all. They rejected any idea of consideration for " the 
individual in whom the force of the Revolution was embodied " ; 
they declared the prisoner's grievances to be " equally false 
and childish " (and this was the truth) ; they unconditionally 

1 King Frederick William to the king of Sweden, November 14, 1818 ; King 
Charles XIV John to Emperor Francis, January 7, 1819 ; Krusemark's Report, 
Vienna, February, 1819. 

2 Minutes of the forty-second sitting, November 21, 1818. 


History of Germany 

approved all Hudson Lowe's measures, and demanded the expul- 
sion of the Napoleonides from dangerous places, and especially 
from Rome, where " these individuals " could do nothing but 
harm. 1 The other powers were unwilling to go as far as 
this, and all that was done was to renew the old agreement 
for strict police supervision of the dangerous family. Finally, 
the inevitable question of the Jews appeared upon the stage. 
Russia commended a memorial by a Christian priest which 
expressed itself in favour of complete emancipation ; but since 
the czar was by no means inclined to realise these philan- 
thropic principles in his own empire, no understanding was 
arrived at. 

Taking it all in all, Metternich could regard this congress 
as a great success. No doubt now existed, the czar had been 
converted, and even if at times he went his own way, he 
no longer manifested any liberal inclinations. It was only 
Capodistrias who still remained suspect to the Hofburg, and 
when after the congress he visited Italy he was closely watched 
by the Austrian police. Richelieu, on taking his departure, 
had given consolatory assurances, and had even promised a 
change in the electoral law. Metternich hoped for the best, 
for, like most of his contemporaries, he greatly overestimated 
the significance of electoral laws. But the French minister 
was unable to carry out his word. His own colleague, Decazes, 
opposed him. A ministerial crisis resulted. Towards Christ- 
mas, a few weeks after his successes at Aix-la-Chapelle, 
Richelieu resigned, and Decazes formed a new cabinet which 
endeavoured to secure a more friendly understanding with 
the liberal parties. After the first alarm had subsided, Metter- 
nich soon accommodated himself to the altered situation, for 
the new minister must also know that he stood beneath the 
sword of the Quadruple Alliance, and that he must not go 
too far to meet the independents. The Quadruple Alliance, 
however, was further strengthened by the news from Paris. 
Czar Alexander, who received the first intelligence of the change 
when he was in Vienna on his way back to Russia, immediately 
hastened in a fury to visit Emperor Francis, declared that 
his regiments would instantly be placed upon a war footing, 
and he could not be appeased without considerable difficulty. 2 

1 Russian Memorial concerning Buonaparte (Minutes of the thirty-first sitting, 
November 13, 1818). 

* Krusemark's Report, Vienna, December 26, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

Upon Hardenberg's advice, the four powers agreed in the deter- 
mination to avoid all direct or indirect intervention in the 
internal affairs of France, but on the other hand resolved to 
secure their own alliance all the more firmly, for this alliance 
offered the only dam against the raging torrent which was once 
more overwhelming the minds of the French. 1 In such a situa- 
tion, the raising of the revolutionary standard was improbable. 
Gentz announced with delight to his friends : " The repose 
of the world is assured throughout a prolonged future." In 
the Oesierreichische Beobachter he pulverised with arrogant scorn 
Archbishop de Pradt's writing upon the congress of Aix-la- 
Chapelle, which was certainly an extremely shallow production 
from the pen of the verbose liberal. When the independents, 
writing in the Paris Minerve, made fun of the disunion among 
the great powers, he replied (January, 1819) in threatening 
terms, with an announcement which to the great public seemed 
like thunder from a clear sky, declaring that, whatever people 
might say, the Quadruple Alliance, in so far as it was directed 
against the Revolution, was still in existence ! 


Among the many disputed questions which in a few weeks 
of arduous work were decided by the congress, there were 
naturally numbered many German affairs. Many of these fell 
by rights within the competence of the tribunal of the 
Quadruple Alliance, because they arose out of the European 
treaties and conventions of the years of war, but many of the 
others came before the congress only on account of the incur- 
ably unpatriotic sentiments of the German petty princes. 
Prussia, and also Austria (forced to follow Prussia's lead), loyally 
maintained the independence of the Germanic Federation, allow- 
ing to the Quadruple Alliance intervention in German disputes 
only when such intervention was legally unavoidable on the 
ground of the treaties and conventions. At the opening of 
the congress, an agent of Electoral Hesse appeared, to hand 
to the three monarchs autograph letters from the elector, and 
to communicate by word of mouth to the two other great 
powers that his sovereign was thinking of taking the title of 
King of the Catti, and humbly begging for the recognition of 

1 Ministerial Despatch to Krusemark, March 6, 1818. 

History of Germany 

Europe. In Cassel the elector had already begun the construc- 
tion of a " Cattenburg," which was to serve the new " Catten " 
crown as a seat of government, but had carefully concealed 
from his unhappy subjects the cost of these gigantic and never 
completed building operations. Simultaneously arrived an 
acrimonious protest from Darmstadt to the effect that if the 
elector should acquire a royal title, his cousin would claim 
the like dignity. The powers bluntly rejected the demand, 
on the ground that " the petition of his highness is not justi- 
fied by any sufficient reason." The profoundly mortified 
Hessian ruler considered that it would be disgraceful to follow 
the example of the reasonable Charles Frederick of Baden, 
and to exchange for the title of grand duke that of elector 
which had now become utterly meaningless. He retained the 
old name, and since the Germans knew nothing about the 
unsuccessful suggestion to assume the Catten crown, there were 
plenty of good-natured people who greatly admired the elector 
because he displayed such touching piety for the venerable 
memories of the Holy Empire. 1 

The blunt form of refusal was due to Prussian influence, 
for King Frederick William felt that his personal honour was 
affected by the elector's misgovernment. During the war, 
the Hessian ruler had by treaty reacquired his land as a gift 
from the four powers ; the allies had not demanded any formal 
pledges, but had taken it as a matter of course that he 
would not absolutely tread the principles of international law 
under foot. Then came the scandalous cheating of the pur- 
chasers of the Westphalian domains ! The king's feeling was 
that he had given a guarantee for a swindler ; whilst on his 
way to Aix, passing through Hanau, he had been besieged 
with petitions by ill-used peasants, and in Aix further state- 
ments of grievances were sent in. Bernstorff reported on the 
matter to the congress. He declared that this disgraceful 
traffic with the domains was a European scandal, and demanded 
that Electoral Hesse, " in accordance with the good example 
of Prussia," should recognise as legally valid all the acts of 
the Westphalian government which had been conducted in due 
legal form. Finally he proposed that first of all the four 
monarchs should remind the elector of his breach of 
faith ; should this prove fruitless, Prussia and Austria 

1 Private Minute regarding Electoral Hesse. October 1 1 ; Hardenberg's 
Instructions to von Hinlein, Prussian envoy in Cassel, October 14, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

must take common action at the Bundestag. Since England 
and Russia agreed, Austria could not offer any opposition. 
King Frederick William sent a sharply-worded letter to the 
elector : " We are taking action," he said, " only in virtue 
of a duty which imperiously imposes itself upon our con- 
sciences." Emperor Francis wrote in similar terms. Never- 
theless it still remained extremely doubtful whether at the 
Bundestag Austria would, after all, take up the matter in 
earnest, and it was quite certain that the elector could be 
brought to reason in no other way than by force. 1 Prussia 
had just received fresh proof of the incredible presumption of 
the German minor princes. By the Vienna treaties, the crown 
of Prussia was obliged to cede sixty-nine thousand " souls " 
from the former department of the Saar, to Oldenburg, Strelitz, 
Coburg, Homburg, and Pappenheim ; at the same time the four 
powers had promised their good offices to these five dynasties 
to facilitate an exchange of a strip of land on the left 
bank of the Rhine, or any other compensation which circum- 
stances might permit. Strelitz and Pappenheim had been 
reasonable enough to come to terms with Prussia upon the 
receipt of money and domains ; but Oldenburg, Coburg, and 
Homburg had not been able to renounce the idea of enlarging 
their realms, and had in fact received three shreds of the Saar 
territory, with the number of souls provided for in the treaties. 
Thus there now came to be numbered among the ornaments 
in the Germanic Federation's well-stocked museum of political 
freaks, the double realms of Oldenburg-Birkenfeld, Coburg- 
Lichtenberg, and Homburg-Meisenheim, three state-structures 
as wonderful as any that could have been constructed by the 
imagination of a lunatic. But the terms of the treaty had 
been scrupulously fulfilled, and no reconsideration was possible, 
for in the whole of Germany there no longer existed a frag- 
ment of masterless land. Nevertheless the three demanded 
of the congress of Aix that the Quadruple Alliance should 
induce the king of Prussia to resume possession of their remote 
Saar territories, and give them in exchange certain more con- 
veniently situated Prussian areas. Oldenburg asked for a good 
slice of Prussian Westphalia ; Homburg, for a strip of land 
near Wetzlar ; Coburg, for a part of County Henneberg ; while the 
widowed husband of the English princass Charlotte, Prince Leopold 

1 Minute of the thirty-second sitting, November 14. King Frederick William 
to Elector William, November 14. Instructions to Hanlein, November 20. 

121 K 

History of Germany 

of Coburg, one of those talented Germans who can change 
their nationality as one changes a cloak, requested Lord Castle- 
reagh to see to it that England should espouse the just cause 
of his " poor brother." Even for the long-suffering endurance 
of Hardenberg, this demand was too much. In an angry 
memorial he expressed his annoyance, saying that really Prussia 
had already been partitioned more than enough, and was far 
from being in a position " to allow her frontiers to be modified 
and gnawed at as the caprice and convenience of her neigh- 
bours may suggest " : moreover, as was well known to the allies, 
the king had " conscientious objections " to any separation 
from loyal subjects. Of course the demand of the three was 
rejected, and the house of Coburg had yet to suffer much 
affliction from the twenty thousand souls of the Saar territory 
of Lichtenberg. * 

In the interim, urgent complaints had also come in from 
the mediatised, and Bernstorff had now to learn how much it 
signified that Metternich had had the principal article of the 
German federal act inserted into the final act of the congress 
of Vienna. The two German great powers were not able 
entirely to forbid the Quadruple Alliance to intervene in this 
German dispute which was so closely connected with the 
European treaties, but nevertheless they were able to restrict 
such intervention within the smallest possible limits. It was 
resolved that the Quadruple Alliance should first exhort the 
courts of Wiirtemberg, Baden, and the two Hesses (whose con- 
duct had been particularly unjust), to behave in an honourable 
manner towards the mediatised, whilst further details were 
to be left to the Bundestag. The house of Thurn and Taxis, 
which had a strong desire to become sovereign once more, 
was also referred to the Bundestag. 2 

There still had to be considered that unfortunate dynast 
who, like the landgrave of Homburg, had been criminally for- 
gotten by the congress of Vienna, the count von Bentinck, lord 
of the free manor of Kniphausen. Quite recently, by favour 
of the two great powers, Homburg had been granted a vote 
in the Bundestag, but the Kniphausener had been less success- 
ful. Oldenburg illegally occupied his territory, and shut him 

1 Hardenberg's Memorial concerning article 50 of the final act of the Vienna 
congress. Minutes of the twenty-seventh sitting, May 9, 1818. 

2 Instructions to the Prussian envoys in Stuttgart and Carlsruhe, etc., Novem- 
ber 21 ; Hardenberg to the princess of Thurn and Taxis, November 15, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

out of his castle, whereupon he sent in a furious protest against 
the offender, signing it as immediatus Imperil dynasta, and 
raised a turmoil that was worthy of a greater cause. Undoubt- 
edly this was a question concerning Europe at large, since 
the appurtenance of Kniphausen to the Germanic Federation 
was not yet settled. For hundreds of years the free manor 
had been an immediate of the empire, although without Reichs- 
standschajt (the rights of an estate of the empire), and its ships 
sailed under a special flag ; subsequently for a time it had 
been incorporated in the Napoleonic empire, but it had never 
been subordinated to any German state, and the pugnacious 
little lord deserved some consideration because in the fight 
against the French he had valiantly displayed his glowing 
courage. And yet a new German federal state, of somewhat 
less than one square mile [German] in extent, seemed a dubious 
acquisition ; even the admirers of the beautiful manifoldedness 
of German national life had to admit that a German people 
required for the development of its national peculiarities at 
least as much space as was occupied by Liechtenstein with 
its three and a half square miles. Consequently the powers 
resolved that Prussia and Russia should mediate between Olden- 
burg and Kniphausen, and should if possible induce the count 
to accept an exchange. 1 But Kniphausen's will was stronger 
than were the wishes of Europe. After working hard for 
eight years, the mediators secured a treaty by which the federal 
law was enriched with a new marvel. Henceforward Knip- 
hausen was " a peculiar land " under the protection of the 
Germanic Federation, a semi-sovereign state with its own flag, 
but subordinated to the suzerainty of the duke of Oldenburg, 
precisely as in former days it had been subordinated to the 
empire. Naturally this compromise immediately gave rise to 
fresh quarrels ; the peculiar land displayed a quite peculiar 
contentiousness vis-a-vis the Oldenburg overlord, and under 
the delighted gaze of all the experts in international law there 
soon came into existence the great Bentinck legal dispute, a 
masterly tangle of juristic controversies which thrived ever 
more vigorously in the profound obscurity of the Bundestag, 
and which for nearly thirty years again and again disturbed 
the Frankfort assembly with its disorderly commotions, until 
at length in the year 1854, by a new treaty, the realm of 

1 Instructions of Count von Bentinck to Councillor Mosle, Vienna, April 5 
1815. Bernstorff's Report (forty-first sitting, November 20, 1818). 


History of Germany 

the Bentincks was united with Oldenburg, and the flag of Knip- 
hausen disappeared from the seas. 

The dispute between Bavaria and Baden also came to a 
temporary close in Aix-la-Chapelle. The relationship between 
the two neighbours had become so greatly embittered that 
the grand duke dreaded a coup de main, and begged the four 
powers to deny the Bavarian troops returning from France 
the right to pass through his land. The powers rejoined that 
he had no occasion for anxiety, and expressly exhorted the 
court of Munich to maintain the strictest discipline among the 
soldiers who were on their way through Baden. 1 Even earlier, 
Berstett had appealed to the Quadruple Alliance to exercise 
the powers it possessed in accordance with the treaties for the 
settlement of the territorial question and the question of the 
succession ; and had declared himself ready to accept certain 
compensations. He was then invited to Aix, and was simul- 
taneously asked to send a plenipotentiary to the territorial 
commission in Frankfort. The powers were agreed, as Bern- 
storff wrote, to " bring the detestable and vexatious affair 
to a speedy conclusion," if only Baden would propound accept- 
able conditions.* Berstett hastened to Aix, and declared that 
his sovereign was ready, in exchange for the Austrian enclave 
of Geroldseck, to cede to Bavaria the little administrative 
district of Steinfeld in the Tauber valley ; and further to cede 
to the court of Munich a military road to the Bavarian Palati- 
nate, and to settle the long-standing debt of one and a third 
million florins. At first the Russian ministers regarded these 
offers as inadequate ; Czar Alexander was still wavering 
between his two quarrelsome brothers-in-law, but Berstett 
exercised his influence with the czar in personal conversation, 
even bursting into tears, and since Baron von Stein, who was 
paying a short visit to Aix as a guest, also vigorously advo- 
cated the cause of Baden with the czar, after a few days 
Russia came over to the legal view which for a long time 
Hardenberg had considered to be the correct one. The Austrian 
statesmen maintained their non-committal attitude, declaring 
in advance that they would agree to anything which the allies 
could still secure in favour of Bavaria, and in the decisive 
sitting they allowed themselves to be outvoted. 

1 Hardenberg to Berstett, October 15 ; to Rechberg, October 15, 1818. 

2 Bernstorff to Lottum, October 19 ; Hardenberg and Nesselrode to Berstett, 
October 17, 1818. 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

Since Prussia and Russia were thus united, and Austria 
did not offer any open opposition, Lord Castlereagh joined 
the side of the majority. He did this unwillingly, and in 
his memorial he plainly manifested his ancient hostility towards 
Russia. The grand duke, he wrote, has appealed to the mag- 
nanimity of the powers, and has thus entrenched himself in 
the position which is always the most formidable one for a 
weak state. But Castlereagh admitted that, as far as the 
legal issue was concerned, he had himself become doubtful, 
and could no longer understand why, in Vienna and in Paris, 
the powers had assumed the right of promising the court of 
Munich the reversion of the Palatinate. The result was that, 
on November 2oth, the Quadruple Alliance resolved to accept 
Baden's proposals, to cancel all previous conversations regarding 
the reversion of the Palatinate and of Breisgau, and also to 
recognise the right of the Hochbergs to the succession ; should 
Bavaria refuse to accept this decision, the Badenese offer need 
no longer hold good, and nevertheless the above resolution would 
come into force. At the same time the monarchs, following 
the patriarchal custom of this congress, sent fraternal letters 
to the king of Bavaria, exhorting him to display a yielding 
disposition. King Frederick William did not content himself, 
as did the two monarchs, with the use of general terms, but, 
after his conscientious manner, once more explained to the 
king of Bavaria that Prussia had never recognised the secret 
articles regarding the reversion of the Palatinate. 1 

Baden had been saved, and just as the French were 
grateful to the czar as their patron, so also, and with equal 
reason, did the Badenese extol the Russian monarch as the 
protector of their land. In actual fact, Czar Alexander had 
done nothing more for the Badanese state than had King 
Frederick William, but with dramatic talent he had understood 
how at the right moment to deal the decisive blow, and after 
the congress he did not renounce the opportunity of enjoying 
in Baden the fruits of his activities. In Frankfort he forbade 
the Badenese envoy to arrange for any striking demonstrations, 
but he would not prohibit " whatever might be the outcome 
of the free exuberance of people's hearts." This exuberance 

1 Berstett to Capodistrias, October 28 ; Capodistrias' Reply, October 29 ; 
Russian Memorial, November 10 ; Private Minute regarding Baden, November 20 ; 
Castlereagh's Memorial, November 20 ; King Frederick William to King Max 
Joseph, November 18, 1818. 

History of Germany 

of the Badenese hearts was manifested so abundantly, with the 
display of so much devotion, that the czar had hardly ever 
had such an experience even among his own Russians. In 
every town there were triumphal arches and white-robed maidens ; 
everywhere there were garlands with the inscription " To the 
saviour of Baden " ; whilst in Carlsruhe at night there were 
general illuminations, though Alexander thought it advisable 
to remain indoors. 1 Such was the national pride of the South 
Germans, three years after Belle Alliance. In the patriotic 
journals there was not to be found a single writer to tell this 
generation how far it was still from being a nation ; the anger 
of the press was directed solely against Austria and Prussia, 
which were still held responsible for every evil. Why had 
they allowed foreign powers to interfere in this way in German 
affairs ? And yet the arbitral decision of the congress of 
Aix-la-Chapelle was nothing more than the inevitable conse- 
quence of the behaviour of the Rhenish Confederate states in 
the year 1813. Because it was not until after the victory, 
acting singly, and as sovereign European powers, that these states 
had, by treaties of accession, joined the Quadruple Alliance, 
now the Bavario-Badenese dispute was by strict legal right 
subjected to the decision of the Quadruple Alliance. 

The wrath of the court of Munich was manifested no less 
passionately than the joy of the Badenese. Vainly did Emperor 
Francis, on the return journey, endeavour to appease his father- 
in-law ; vainly did Metternich and Capodistrias offer to throw 
into the bargain an additional fragment of Badenese land. 2 
The Wittelsbach ruler rejected everything; and Crown Prince 
Louis, like the king of Sweden, complained of the return of 
the Napoleonic tyranny, but his anger remained without effect. 
The plenipotentiaries of the Quadruple Alliance in the Frank- 
fort territorial commission had already received definite 
instructions to carry out the resolutions of the congress of 
Aix-la-Chapelle. When the stumbling-block had finally been 
removed, the work went forward speedily, and on July 20, 1819, 
the four powers signed the Frankfort territorial agreement, an 
incredibly laborious work, which after an epoch of wars, secured 
the territorial delimitation of the German states for long years 
to come. The court of Bavaria did, indeed, accept the adminis- 

1 Berkheim's Report, Frankfort, November 24 ; Varnhagen's Report, Carls- 
ruhe, November 27, 1818. 

2 Krusemark's Reports, December 26 and 30, 1818, 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

trative district of Steinfeld, but entered a protest formally 
maintaining its extinct hereditary claims to Sponheim and its 
imaginary right of reversion to the Palatinate, returning to 
the matter on every possible occasion, so that at a much later 
date Count Bernstorff had occasion to sigh concerning "cette 
eternelle affaire de Sponheim." Still, the matter had been irre- 
vocably decided. 

In all these resolutions there was a plain manifestation 
of the honourable intention to maintain peace throughout 
Europe by securing the right. Nevertheless, the liberal press 
of Germany and France was not altogether wrong in recounting 
strange fables regarding the reactionary designs of the Aix 
assembly. In the confidential interviews between the monarchs 
and the statesmen there is no doubt that the first plans were 
discussed for the campaign against the German reform party. 
Foreigners were disgusted at the febrile condition of affairs 
in Germany ; the entire structure of the Viennese treaties 
reposed upon the political nullity of this nation ; and the idea 
of German unity, even when it found expression only in 
the foolish mouths of hot-headed students, was universally 
obnoxious. All foreigners agreed with Gentz in considering 
that while " the reaction of 1813 " had indeed in France brought 
the revolutionary movement to a momentary stand-still, in 
other states, and especially in Germany, it had first awakened 
these elemental forces. General approval was expressed of a 
Memorial concerning the Present State of Affairs in Germany, 
which the czar communicated to the congress. Its author, 
Stourdza by name, a gentle and melancholy young Wallachian, 
had recently sent Alexander a fantastical work glorifying the 
Greek church, and had subsequently visited some of the German 
universities. The timid man had been alarmed by the out- 
spokenness of our academic life ; he believed that throughout 
Germany a convulsive condition of unrest prevailed, and that 
he cculd detect among the students the existence of a revolu- 
tionary movement directly aiming at a unified state; and in 
the name of religion and morality he demanded severe measures 
against the universities. These " Gothic vestiges," these states 
within the state, were to be deprived of their ancient charters, 
the students were to be treated as minors, and were to be 
forced to follow a fixed curriculum of studies ; since unfortunately 
the freedom of the press could not be completely suppressed, 


History of Germany 

at least the bad books and newspapers must be removed from 
the hands of youth. This well-intentioned and extremely 
unimportant essay secured, though not perhaps in all points, 
the approval of the czar and of the Austrian statesmen, but 
the Prussians held that the youthful enthusiast resembled a 
blind man discoursing about colours. 

Now, however, the private memorial was suddenly published 
by a Parisian firm, probably through the fault of Hardenberg's 
unsavoury entourage, and a storm broke forth in the uni- 
versities louder and more savage than had a year before been 
the chorus of rage against Kotzebue. Here was the third 
semi-Russian to attack the German students ! Krug, the 
Leipzig philosopher, took up his ready-writing pen, and entered 
the ranks as a literary opponent ; the Burschenschaft of Jena 
resolved to chastise the Wallachian, and that he might not be 
able to take refuge behind considerations of caste they had 
him challenged by two young counts who were members of 
their association. Stourdza refused to accept the challenge, 
on the ground that his essay was an official memorial, and he 
hastened to quit the inhospitable soil of Germany. This 
terrorist conduct on the part of the students, which, after all, 
was not discordant with ancient customs, aroused fresh alarms 
at the courts ; Gentz henceforward firmly believed that in Jena 
there existed a secret Fehmic corporation which despatched 
its assassins all over Germany. To the general misfortune, 
Kotzebue threw fresh fuel into the flames when he gave people 
definitely to understand that Stourdza's memorial expressed the 
czar's personal views. Henceforward all the students were 
under the illusion that the German reaction was engineered 
from St. Petersburg ; their hatred against Russia no longer 
knew any bounds, and the trivial jester of Weimar, to whom the 
Jena folk ascribed a powerful influence in Muscovite policy, 
was abused and threatened to such a degree that he determined 
to migrate to Mannheim. 

There was absolutely no ground for the young men's sus- 
picions. At the congress, Alexander had carefully avoided 
making any proposals in matters of German federal policy, and 
did no more than Richelieu and Wellington had done in 
casually expressing his anxiety regarding the German revolution. 
Since his sudden conversion, the leadership of the Quadruple 
Alliance had really been transferred to the Hofburg, although 
the prudent Austrian statesmen gladly allowed the czar to 


The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

continue from time to time to play the role of leader before 
the world. In Germany, as in Europe, Metternich was the 
head of the reaction, and while still in Aix, did everything 
he could to detach Prussia from liberalism. In friendly conver- 
sations he pointed out to the chancellor how threateningly the 
spirit of pretentious knowledge and reckless criticism was gain- 
ing the upper hand among the Prussian officials ; while the 
arrogance of the students and the lack of discipline of the 
press were also serious dangers. Hardenberg discussed these 
matters with Bernstorff and Altenstein, who were summoned 
to Aix, and since neither of them could deny that all was 
not as it should be, Hardenberg promised his Austrian friend 
that the crown would take steps to deal with the evils. 1 

Less fortunate was a half-hearted attempt on the part of 
Metternich to thwart the Prussian customs reform before it 
had passed into operation. The urgent economic grounds which 
had led to the inauguration of the new customs-law completely 
escaped the attention of the Austrian statesman. His ignorance 
of all economic questions was positively astounding, and he 
never realised this defect himself, for in accordance with the 
old traditions of the Hofburg these purely bourgeois matters 
were quite beneath the dignity of an Austrian nobleman. Even 
Gentz, who years before had had an intimate knowledge of 
financial matters, had in the course of his one-sided diplomatic 
activities in Vienna gradually lost his sound understanding 
of the problems of political economy. Just as during the 
Napoleonic days he had sent forth to the world preposterous 
sophisms regarding the national debt of Great Britain because 
the English alliance harmonised with Austrian interests, so now 
he wrote equally perverse essays regarding the flourishing condi- 
tion of Austrian finance. Since Austria could not take part 
in a German customs-union, he condemned all plans aiming 
at the formation of such a union as cobwebs of the brain, as 
childish attempts " to change the moon into a sun." No one in 
the Hofburg had any inkling of the national significance of the 
Prussian customs-law. But Metternich dreaded everything 
which could favour the unity of Prussia, and scented revolu- 
tionary designs behind a reform which proceeded from the 
suspect privy-councillors of Berlin. Moreover, he honestly 
regarded his state as an exemplary one. This loose association 
of semi-independent crown-lands, and the churchyard repose 

1 Hardenberg's Diary, January n, 1819. 

History of Germany 

which brooded over the chaos, harmonised with his own 
inclinations, and it delighted him to perceive to what an extent 
the patriarchal happiness of the peoples of Austria aroused the 
envy of most of the courts. The Austrian provincial tolls, 
which separated the crown-lands of the monarchy one from 
another, seemed to him all the more admirable because he was 
completely ignorant of the details of these wise institutions. 
For these reasons he gave Count Bernstorff a fatherly warning 
about the confusions which customs reform would evoke, remind- 
ing him of the failure of Joseph II's attempts at centralisation, 
describing in eloquent terms the advantages of the Austrian 
internal tolls, and expressing the good-natured opinion that 
for Prussia also provincial tolls would be best ; in this way 
the state could be preserved from having to undertake trouble- 
some negotiations with the neighbour states. 1 Bernstorff -and 
Hardenberg, however, deliberately rejected all such advice. 

As far as the chancellor was concerned, Metternich's reiterated 
friendly warnings against carrying out the work of constitution- 
building fell also upon barren soil. The Austrian statesman 
speedily perceived that Hardenberg was pursuing his constitu- 
tional plans in earnest. All the more zealously, therefore, did 
Metternich endeavour to secure the king's favour. Frederick 
William had hitherto regarded him with tacit mistrust. He 
could not forget that Metternich had betrayed the Prussian state 
in the matter of Saxony, and the German nation in the matter 
of Alsace. Here in Aix, for the first time, he vouchsafed the 
suspect a confidential approach. The king obscurely recognised 
what a sinister spirit was at work among the German youth, and 
since he was unable to grasp the extent of the danger, he desired 
to secure trustworthy information and a firm prop of support. 
He could get no help from his Russian friend, for the czar 
was in a similar position of indefinite anxiety. The aging 
chancellor displayed a distressing picture of physical and moral 
decay. At the congress, Hardenberg played a subordinate part, 
leaving the conduct of affairs for the most part to Bernstorff, and 
the king noted with profound displeasure how Hanel the sleep- 
walker practised her arts before the high council of Europe, and 
how Koreff the thaumaturge took part in political audiences with 

1 In the year 1828, after the conclusion of the Prusso-Hessian customs-union, 
when Metternich advanced these views to the envoy von Maltzahn, Count Bern- 
storff remarked that precisely the same views had been urged upon him by the 
Austrian chancellor during the congress of Aix. (Maltzahn's Report, Vienna, 
April 14, 1838.) 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

all the bumptiousness of the Jewish parvenu. It was only 
Metternich who seemed firm, vigorous, and self-sufficient ; he alone 
knew what he wanted. His demeanour expressed the conscious- 
ness that he ruled the quietest, the best-secured state in Europe. 
He delighted now to repeat Talleyrand's saying : " Austria is the 
supreme head of Europe ; so long as it continues to exist, it will 
enforce moderation upon the rabble." In the previous year, 
out of deference for the German crowns, he had wished to 
allow the constitutional movement free play. Now there was 
no longer any idea of such a step ; since the Wartburg festival, 
the German Jacobins had dropped the mask, and it was necessary 
to declare open war against them. 

In repeated conversations he continued to assure the king 
that in his own sacred conviction the revolutionary party had 
its acropolis in Prussia ; the revolutionary conspiracy ramified 
throughout the highest circles of the army and the officialdom ; 
the fate of the world now lay in the king's hands ; the disturb- 
ance would inevitably spread all over Europe if the government 
of Prussia should follow the example of the petty courts and con- 
cede to the Prussian people a "demagogic constitution" after 
the Bavarian manner. He could not fail to perceive that his 
words made a certain impression, but to his emperor he com- 
plained of Frederick William's lamentable weakness, for the 
common sense of the king made it impossible for him instantly 
to accept all the illusions which were the outcome of the Austrian 
dread of bogies. Meanwhile Metternich also endeavoured to win 
over to his views Councillor Albrecht, a loyal hard-working ultra- 
conservative official, and called in to his aid the most trust- 
worthy of his Prussian friends, Wittgenstein. From Aix, on 
November I4th, he sent the prince two great memorials " concern- 
ing the situation of the Prussian states." The design was that, at 
the right moment, both these documents should be laid by 
Wittgenstein before the king, but for form's sake they were 
confidentially communicated to Hardenberg as well. From 
Aix-la-Chapelle, said the Austrian statesman subsequently, people 
will some day date the salvation of the Prussian monarchy ! 

Amid all the work of Metternich's pen, the memorial upon 
the Prussian constitution displays most plainly his lamentable 
poverty of ideas, for it was only by his diplomatic cunning, by 
the favour of fortune, and by the timidity of the other courts, that 
for an entire generation this man was enabled to deceive the world 
regarding his essential nonentity. He had not the remotest 

History of Germany 

understanding of the fundamental difference between the political 
tasks imposed upon a national state like Prussia and upon a 
jumble of peoples like Austria. With the true-heartedness of an 
anxious friend who could never divorce his destiny from that 
of Prussia, he explained to the king that the internal situation 
of the two German great powers was substantially the same ; 
both monarchies consisted of " disparate provinces." That this 
was not the case, that Prussia had long possessed a centralised 
administration, was quite unknown to the Hofburg. The Austrian 
court could conceive of a powerful state in no other form than that 
of loosely associated hereditary dominions, and Emperor Francis 
was never tired of enunciating his favourite principle, " the con- 
stitution of a monarchy out of different bodies can serve only to 
strengthen it." 

In Metternich's view, " the Austrian kingdom would be even 
more suited than the Prussian for a purely representative system, 
were it not that the difference among the peoples of Austria, in 
respect of language and customs, is too great." But how could 
that thrive in Prussia which it would be impossible to carry out 
in Austria? The introduction of a "central representation" 
in Prussia would consequently be " pure revolution," it would 
undermine the military power of the state, and lead to the destruc- 
tion of the realm. Owing to the representative system, dangerous 
dissensions had already arisen between Belgium and Holland, which 
were so much better adapted for a joint life than were the Prus- 
sian provinces ! For these reasons the king would do well to 
content himself with provincial diets (a piece of advice which 
had unquestionably been prearranged with Wittgenstein), and 
these diets should receive no more than the right of petition, the 
right of stating grievances, and the right of assessing direct taxes. 
Only in the extreme case, since a public promise had been 
made, some day in the future a centralised deputation might be 
summoned from these provincial diets, three representatives from 
each province, so that there should be a united Landtag of twenty- 
one members a worthy counterpart to that exiguous Reichsrat 
which, shortly before, Metternich had recommended for his own 
Austria. " And yet," he added significantly, here unquestionably 
expressing his true opinion, " would not this comparatively 
restricted plan lead also to revolution ? It would be well for 
your majesty to ponder this question deeply before coming to 
a decision." 

In the detailed application of his proposals, this counsellor 

The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle 

displayed an ignorance of constitutional law which would cer- 
tainly have served to ensure the failure of any youthful Prussian 
barrister in the examination for an assistant judgeship. He knew 
nothing about the new provincial subdivision of the Prussian 
state, nor yet about its earlier historical constituents, and it was 
manifest that he must have regarded even the study of the map 
as inappropriate to his station. It was for this reason that he 
constructed out of his own imagination seven Prussian provinces, 
among which the Mark of Brandenburg included Pomerania, and 
the duchy of Westphalia included Berg. In matters of provincial 
administration, he summed up his wisdom in a single sentence, 
" Every province has an upper and a lower administrative 
authority." Still more remarkable was the novelty of the 
political considerations upon which his proposals were based. 
Even the rigid conservatives of the old school in Berlin did not 
conceal from themselves that there was only one manifest objec- 
tion to the system of provincial diets, namely, that eight or ten 
provincial Landtags, in the absence of the counterpoise of a 
national assembly, should they become too powerful, might readily 
endanger the unity of the state, and especially that of the army 
(indeed, the Poles had already for a long time been clamouring 
for a provincial army for the grand duchy of Posen). But 
Metternich put forward the incredible view that a Prussian 
national assembly would dissolve the army into " seven separate 
heaps of people." A second memorial recommended the dissolution 
of the Burschenschaft, the complete suppression of the gymnastic 
cult (this " ulcer," as Gentz was in the habit of calling it), and, 
finally, at the Bundestag, common measures on the part of the two 
great powers for the control of the press. 

Extensive as were the weak points of the constitutional 
memorial, its composition was none the less a clever move in the 
diplomatic game. Metternich knew how much stress the king 
laid upon the technical efficiency of the army, and therefore again 
and again in his work solemnly repeated a warning which, 
unfortunately, was not devoid of foundation, saying that the 
liberal party detested a standing army, and would not rest until 
the Prussian Reichstag had transformed the army into a national 
militia. He hoped that his words would not miss their mark. 
Hardenberg was under the delusion that he could follow Metter- 
nich's policy for a certain distance, and then abandon it when it 
seemed good to him. He was willing to agree to everything the 
Hofburg wanted, to adopt strong measures against the gymnasts, 


History of Germany 

the students, the press, and even the Prussian officials. But 
there was one thing which they should not touch, his work for 
the constitution. The old statesman had absolutely no idea 
that, in the views of many of the Viennese, he himself had long 
before been thrown on to the scrap-heap, while others regarded 
him with suspicion as the chief of the Prussian Jacobins. Should 
he now help to raise the sluices and let out the pent-up waters 
of reaction, the resulting torrent might very readily sweep him 
and his constitutional plans away with the rest. 




AT the opening of the momentous year 1819, the Hofburg was 
firmly resolved to wage a war of annihilation against the consti- 
tutional movement ; as Metternich wrote to his wife, " this 
terrible czar Alexander " no longer stood in the way. In view 
of the inertia of the Bundestag and of the incredible complexity 
of German interests, it was still extremely doubtful whether the 
constitutional movement would succeed in carrying with it the 
Prussian state and the petty courts. The liberals had done their 
best to further the plans of their enemies ; the nation had become 
affected with one of those febrile paroxysms of bilious vexation 
and indiscrimate criticism, which recur from time to time, 
and always to the disadvantage of the healthy development of 
our state. Extraordinary rumours ran to and fro, and found 
universal belief, even before any of the liberals had been 
touched. The press devoted itself to sinister descriptions of the 
hopeless slavery of Germany, and was never weary of painting 
the devil of reaction on the wall, painting him so vividly that his 
figure really seemed alive. 

Out of every trifle the petty arts of the critics constructed 
new material for fanatical accusations. When two Prussian 
lieutenants, losing their tempers, treated some Landwehr men 
with a certain violence, and when the trifling excess of zeal was 
subsequently visited with appropriate punishment by a court- 
martial, the I sis screamed : " What a disgrace ! If it were not 
that a better world beckons us in the west, who would hesitate 
any longer, who would not be proud to follow Cato's example? " 
Anyone who entered into any relationships with the government 
was regarded as a traitor. At Christmas, 1818, Steffens was 
summoned to Berlin by the chancellor, in profound secrecy, and 


History of Germany 

was there confidentially asked if he knew anything regarding 
political intrigues on the gymnastic grounds. As an honourable 
man, he made answer that his attacks had related only to the 
moral aberrations of the gymnasts, to their arrogance, to their 
rough ways, but that he had no reason to believe that they were 
engaged in political conspiracies. Yet hardly had his visit to the 
chancellor become known, when he was overwhelmed with fierce 
reproaches by the gymnasts, and, without being allowed to utter 
a word in his defence, he was excluded from the circles of the 
patriots ; during the rest of his life he was unable to cleanse him- 
self fully from the stain of this unjust suspicion, and was never 
again on satisfactory terms even with his old friend Schleiermacher. 
Thus a gloomy, groundless, and aimless mistrust came to divide 
the nation and the throne, which had so recently and so chival- 
rously joined in a holy war. The fresh wind of a new war might 
readily have dispersed the clouds of ill-feeling, but in the thick 
atmosphere of these weary times of peace, the sense of moroseness 
increased day by day. 

Meanwhile the chancellor had already taken the first step 
to fulfil the promise which in Aix-la-Chapelle he had given to 
his false Austrian friend. On January n, 1819, Hardenberg, 
surprised the ministry of state by the despatch of a royal 
cabinet order, a comprehensive document, which expounded the 
monarch's benevolent intentions, but also his serious anxieties, 
in nineteen folio pages. Hitherto, the king declared, he had 
always reposed upon the admirably proved loyalty and self- 
sacrifice of his nation ; but now his duty as ruler made it incum- 
bent upon him " to take vigorous measures " against the spirit of 
unrest which had been awakened by the prolonged political 
tension of the years of war, which still continued to operate, 
and which still displayed its monstrous dissatisfaction in " the 
passionate pursuit of indefinite aims." 

The order went on to describe how personal quarrels and 
party disputes had gained the upper hand among the officials, 
how disdainful cavilling at the public services had become con- 
tinually commoner, and was even accompanied with infringement 
of the duty of official secrecy (a well- justified reproof, for every- 
one knew that many of the newspaper articles describing the 
crimes of the Prussian state with passionate exaggeration were 
penned by Prussian officials). " The ministry knows," continued 
the king, " that it is my intention to give a suitable representa- 
tive constitution " ; but it was an essential accessory " that the 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

administration should be respected." Nor was the ministry itself 
entirely above reproach. The ministerial council met too rarely, 
the conduct of affairs was becoming slack, " in essential points 
a ministry must be unanimous." Thence the order passed to 
consider the fallacious tendencies of public education, whereby 
young men were admitted to participation in public life too early. 
" All that had hitherto been no more than the mischievous tricks 
of young people, now received the stamp of an endeavour to 
intervene in public affairs." Consequently the king demanded 
closer supervision of educational matters, and more careful choice 
of professors for the universities ; instruction in gymnastics must 
be associated with the schools, and strictly limited to exercises 
that would harden the body. In conclusion, the monarch alluded 
to the press in measured and quiet terms, saying : "It is 
extremely undesirable that a zeal for the improvement of the 
country should be confounded with a fondness for mere innova- 
tion, and should become a prey to a revolutionary tendency " ; 
in view of the many excesses on the part of the newspapers and of 
the improbability of a federal press law, a Prussian press law 
seemed indispensable. The king awaited suggestions from the 
ministers concerning all these questions, and also concerning the 
proposal for a proclamation to the nation ; each individual 
minister was to submit his views in writing. On the same day, 
Altenstein, as president of the council of state, received orders 
that the proceedings of this high authority, which was now engaged 
in discussing the new tax laws, must be safeguarded against party 
feeling and personal quarrels, lest " degeneration of things good 
in themselves, should ensue." l 

This was the first occasion on which the king had demanded 
from his ministers their views concerning the general internal 
situation ; unquestionably he took this step with the excellent 
intention of averting from his nation a forcible reaction. None 
of the evils to which he called attention could be entirely denied ; 
none of the remedial measures he indicated could be absolutely 
rejected. The long-designed reform of the ancient press legisla- 
tion could no longer be postponed ; the association of the gym- 
nastic grounds with the schools offered the safest and mildest 
means of moderating the arrogance of the gymnasts ; an open 
address from the monarch to his officials might diminish many of 
the aberrations of the critical spirit of the North Germans. If 

1 Cabinet Order to the ministry of state, January n ; to Altenstein, January 
II, 1819. 

History of Germany 

the ministers honestly desired to appease the excessive anxiety 
manifested in certain sentences of the cabinet order, the demand 
of the king and of the chancellor must be met on their part by 
definite, reasonable, and practical proposals. A speedy decision 
was all the more necessary because some of them were aware how 
far the thoughts expressed in the cabinet order fell short of the 
secret designs of the court of Vienna. But how could the avowed 
enemies, Boyen and Schuckmann, Klewitz and Billow, come to a 
speedy agreement upon this important issue ? 

Since the partial change of ministry in November, 1817, the 
ministers had almost completely ceased to co-operate as col- 
leagues. As the chancellor's deafness made it impossible for 
him to act as president in the ministerial council, each minister 
was accustomed to deal independently with the affairs of his 
own department and, in case of need, to ask Hardenberg to 
decide. Not one of them was prepared to deal with an enquiry 
so comprehensive as that now made by the king. Their opinions 
were sent to the ministry of state very slowly, the last not being 
handed in until May. 1 Not one of these memorials displayed 
any morbid anxiety ; even Count Bernstorff, who expressed him- 
self more anxiously than the others, modestly admitted that 
as yet he knew little of Prussian questions. Most of the ministers 
considered that the picture which the cabinet order presented of 
internal affairs was altogether too gloomy ; they expressed their 
confidence in the good sense of the people and of the officials, 
and advised against a public proclamation, which could not fail 
to have a depressing effect. Even the rigidly conservative 
Schuckmann considered that the best means of tranquillising 
public opinion would be to hasten the work of establishing the 
constitution. The most liberal spirit of all was displayed by the 
minister of war. " What," he asked with soldierly frankness, 
" would Frederick the Great have thought if he had paid atten- 
tion to the table-talk of his most faithful generals ? " He 
demanded a press law without a censorship, with punishments for 
offences after they had been committed, declaring : " Should 
Prussia proceed with the legislation which since the year 1806 has 
developed among us in accordance with your majesty's command, 
should we endeavour to avoid all needless delay in the com- 
pletion of this legislation, then every upright man can wager his 

1 Opinion from Schuckmann. January 20 ; Bernstorff, beginning of February ; 
Boyen, February 12 ; Klewitz, February ; Altenstein, March i ; Lottum, March 4 ; 
Biilow, March 5 ; Beyme, undated ; Kircheisen, May 2, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

head that the Prussian state will be able, not merely to get 
through the dangers of the time quietly, but also to encounter 
them victoriously, without any over-anxious preventive measures." 

In matters of detail, the proposals diverged widely, for every- 
one had selected this or that question from the cabinet order as 
he thought best. Even regarding the main question of the slow 
conduct of business by the ministry, and concerning the peculiar 
intermediate position occupied by the chancellor, three only of 
the ministers gave an answer, Kircheisen, Billow, and Beyme, 
the last-named demanding with especial emphasis that the chan- 
cellor should be the head of the ministry, saying, " Without this, 
all other changes would be vain." Notwithstanding the respectful 
sentiments they expressed, the nine opinions gave a general 
impression no less confused and confusing, than that which shortly 
before had been furnished by the opinions of the notables con- 
cerning the constitution ; nor was there among the ministers a 
single one strong enough to compel the others to combine this 
medley of subjective views into a comprehensive deliberation, 
to lay before the crown a definite resolution, a common proposal. 
The important piece of work proved fruitless ; in seven months 
the king had, after all, not received any answer, and found that 
his reproach that this ministry lacked unity had been fully jus- 
tified. Thus the perplexity of the ministry led to the waste of 
the favourable moment in which the policy of prosecution and 
suppression might still perhaps have been averted by certain 
measures of reasonable severity. 

Since nothing was heard from the ministers, Hardenberg set 
to work on his own account. As early as January n, on the very 
day on which the cabinet order was sent to the ministry, Alten- 
stein had received instructions that the author of the Spirit of 
the Age was to be admonished on account of his new volume. 
Count Solms-Laubach undertook the commission with manifest 
reluctance, discharging it as considerately as possible. Arndt 
assured the chancellor in a straightforward letter that he 
regretted a few " untimely and exaggerated things " in his book ; 
but his intentions had been good, his loyalty was inviolable, and 
he owed the admonition solely to the denunciation of his deadly 
enemy, Privy Councillor Kamptz. In March there followed the 
temporary closing of the gymnastic grounds throughout the 
monarchy, the " Turnsperre," as Jahn called it. This step was 
unavoidable after the excesses of recent months, but was in no wise 
intended to lead to a suppression of gymnastics. It was merely 


History of Germany 

proposed that the gymnastic lessons should be introduced into 
the regular school curriculum, and that then the gymnastic grounds 
should be reopened ; the proposal for a general gymnastic 
ordinance had already been drafted in the ministry of education, 
and had been sent in to the monarch for his signature. 

On March 3Oth, Hardenberg ordered the ministers to nominate 
a commission to elaborate the press law ; the measure of freedom 
or restriction which the Prussian state might allow to the press 
would have a decisive influence upon the decision of the federal 
assembly. The referendary of the commission, Privy Councillor 
Hagemeister, an able lawyer formerly in the Swedish service, was 
an opponent of the censorship, and since Privy Councillors Nico- 
lovius and Kohler also desired to recognise the freedom of the 
press, at least as a general rule, a reasonable proposal might be 
expected from the commission, although Ancillon was its fourth 
member. Nor was there anywhere an arrest in the general reform 
policy of Hardenberg. In the summer, when the Rhenish court 
of appeal was opened in Berlin, President Sethe and Procurator- 
general Eichhorn expressed the hope that the Rhenish oral 
procedure, which was in truth Old German, should it here answer 
the test, would ultimately become the keystone of the Frederician 
reform in the administration of justice. Even the Preussische 
Staatszeitung, which Stagemann, Stein's faithful collaborator, 
had been bringing out since the new year, announced everywhere 
that the government had in many respects more liberal views 
than the nation ; it defended the new economic reforms against 
popular prejudice, and if from time to time it made an onslaught 
on the liberals, this was, as a rule, only on account of their 
particularist arrogance, as for instance when Mallinckrodt in 
Dortmund, or some other Rhenish Westphalian writer, had used 
an unduly coarse phrase about the Wendish characteristics of 
the old provinces. 

Simultaneously with the issue of the cabinet order of January 
nth, Wilhelm Humboldt was summoned to the ministry, a 
determination which seemed of the best augury for the progress 
of the task of constitution-building. In November, Humboldt 
had been summoned to the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 
order to report on the Bavario-Badenese negotiations, on which 
he was extremely well-informed as a member of the Frankfort 
territorial commission, and also to receive instructions concerning 
the territorial settlement. In Aix his vexation concerning Bern- 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

storff s appointment was plainly manifest, for he would certainly 
not have refused the portfolio of foreign affairs, notwithstanding 
his feelings about Schuckmann and Wittgenstein. He begged the 
king to relieve him of his post in London i 1 after the Frankfort 
business had been settled, he wished to devote himself to science 
in the quiet of his park at Tegel, participating merely in the pro- 
ceedings of the council of state. Thereupon Witzleben assured 
the monarch that Humboldt's rich culture and his editorial talent 
would enable him to render incalculable service in the constitu- 
tional deliberations. The king was favourably impressed with 
the idea, and even Hardenberg thought it advisable to appease 
his rival by a ministerial post ; he feared, and said as much 
openly to Humboldt, that in the council of state the latter would 
assume the leadership of the opposition. It was consequently 
determined to divide the ministry of the interior into two parts. 
The ministry of police was abolished, being united as one section 
with Schuckmann's department ; in return, Schuckmann was 
to cede the administration of representative and local govern- 
mental affairs to Humboldt, as a special ministry. Wittgenstein 
remained a member of the ministry of state, dealing only with 
the affairs of the royal house, so that in an unassailable position 
he could await the further course of affairs, and could at any 
time withdraw into his non-political office. 

According to the king's intention, Humboldt was to deal 
with the affairs of local government, to treat with the old Land- 
tags concerning their debts and their systems of poor relief, and, 
finally, to lend a helping hand in elaborating the details of the 
communal, provincial, and national constitutions. The final 
drafting of the proposal was reserved by Hardenberg for himself, 
this being his legal right and his duty as chancellor ; since all 
the departments which he had at one time personally controlled 
had been handed over to specialist ministers, there was reserved 
for himself no more than the supreme conduct of the general 
administration, and this would become an empty form if the draft- 
ing of a constitution were to be committed to the hands of a 
specialist minister. A cabinet order, couched in the customary 
laconic form, communicated to the new minister intelligence of 
his appointment, for, according to the laws of the absolute 
monarchy, the appointment to a ministerial post was a royal 
command, like any other command that every active servant 
of the state must unhesitatingly obey. In a friendly letter, 

1 Humboldt's Petition to the king, Aix, November 13, 1818. 

History of Germany 

Hardenberg gave a definite intimation that he was now working at 
the constitutional plan, and thought of submitting his proposal 
to his new colleague at a later date. l 

Nevertheless Humboldt completely misunderstood the king's 
purpose. He believed that he himself was to send in a constitu- 
tional proposal, first to the ministry and then to the monarch. 
He expressed his profound thanks for the proof of royal confi- 
dence, declared himself ready " to devote his whole existence to 
this business," but begged for permission to visit the capital, 
saying that there only could he look into matters and formulate 
his plan (January 24th). When this letter to the king, and a 
second in similar terms addressed to the chancellor in person, 
reached Berlin, Hardenberg's long-repressed anger broke out 
into fierce flame. He considered that the prerogatives of his 
office were being infringed (for in his letter to the king Humboldt 
had not given a thought to the rights of the chancellor), and on 
his own initiative issued a sharp cabinet order (January 3ist) 
which briefly and strictly explained to the minister his new sphere 
of activity. 2 

Humboldt now determined to write a second detailed letter 
to the king, which was tantamount to a declaration of war against 
Hardenberg. He once more begged for his recall from Frank- 
fort, so that he might secure information in Berlin, and might 
thus be enabled to express his views. His chief anxiety, he said, 
was to know whether he was to be granted the independence of 
a responsible minister, whether he was to have the right of report- 
ing directly to the monarch concerning all the affairs of his depart- 
ment. Hardenberg replied in a marginal note whose passionate 
tone differed notably from the customary urbane speech of this 
man of refined sensibilities. Here he had to do with his deadly 
enemy, the only opponent whom he detested beyond the possi- 
bility of reconciliation. " What does he want ! Why does he 
write at such length ? " he asked again and again. The acclama- 
tions of the newspapers, which had in advance hailed the new 
minister as the father of the new Prussian constitution, had 
increased the chancellor's anger to the breaking point. But he 
was in the right, for though the cabinet order of January nth 
had just empowered the ministers to discuss the affairs of 

1 Cabinet Order to Humboldt, January n, 1819, with accompanying letter 
from the chancellor. 

2 Humboldt to the king, January 24 ; to Hardenberg, January 24 ; cabinet 
order to Humboldt, January 31, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

their departments with the king in the presence of the chancellor, 
the constitutional proposal could not possibly be regarded as 
the concern of a specialist minister. " Here," wrote Harden- 
berg, " we have to do with a matter which dose not yet exist, 
which in your majesty's own views can be dealt with as only in 
its elements, and concerning which your majesty can seek counsel 
where you will. Let the king decide whether I am indispensable 
or not. So long as your majesty regards my services as useful, 
I shall, as is my duty, retain within my own hands the authority 
delegated to me." The king decided in the sense of the chan- 
cellor's note, and in a few severe words commanded the minister 
(February 17) to explain himself immediately if he desired to 
remain in the royal service. Humboldt replied submissively 
(February 27) : " It would be in opposition to all my sentiments 
to do anything else than devote my best services to your majesty, 
so long as in the remotest degree it remains within my power to 
do so." 

It was amid such manifestations of mistrust, and even of 
disfavour, that Humboldt was called to the councils of the crown. 
He was profoundly mortified, and justified his determination to 
his friends by explaining that he would not display himself to 
his king as refractory, and considered it his duty at least to make 
a trial. 2 But he did not here express the whole truth. He must 
have known that by his last letters he had for ever broken with 
Hardenberg. If, in spite of this, he accepted a position whose 
restricted authority seemed inadequate to his talents and to his 
self-respect, it could only be with the intention of carrying on 
the campaign against Hardenberg within the ministry, until the 
chancellor's power had been broken. It was soon to become 
plain that he was really pursuing this plan. Temporarily he 
had to remain in Frankfort well on into the summer, in order to 
conclude the territorial agreement. In this irritable mood, he 
complained to his friends that he was intentionally kept away 
from Berlin, in order that the chancellor might be able to com- 
plete the constitutional plans without his assistance. What a 
strange spectacle did the Prussian monarchy offer in these 
momentous days when Austria was arming herself for a decisive 
blow. Throughout the provinces the administration was 
exemplary, but in the central organisation of the state hopeless 

1 Humboldt to the king, February n, with marginal notes by the chancellor. 
Cabinet Order to Humboldt, February 17 ; Humboldt's Reply, February 27, 1819. 
' Humboldt to Motz, March 18, 181-9. 


History of Germany 

confusion prevailed. The ministry could give no answer to 
the king's urgent questions, and between the two most notable 
of Prussian statesmen there existed irreconcilable enmity, which 
must inevitably lead to the fall of one or the other. 

This struggle between Hardenberg and Humboldt appears 
all the more unedifying since they held almost precisely identical 
views regarding the principles of the constitution. Whilst still 
in Frankfort (February 4), Humboldt drew up for Baron von 
Stein a great memorial concerning the plan for a constitution, 
which accorded in all essentials with the ideas of the chancellor. 
What an advance, however, had Humboldt 's richly endowed 
spirit made beyond the social idealism of his youth ! He still 
expressed his hostility to the " fureur de gouverner," but it was not 
now the power of the state which he wished to restrict, but the 
power of the officialdom. He no longer considered it the task of 
the burgher to safeguard the power of free association against the 
onslaughts of the state, for he now believed it to be the burgher's 
moral duty to participate on his own initiative in the administra- 
tion. Thus only could the moral development of the individual 
be perfected ; thus only could the state acquire a living inter- 
connection with the national spirit, and secure the energy which 
would enable it in the hour of danger to support itself upon moral 
forces. It was only the recognition of this inner necessity, and 
not any outward regard for royal promises, which could justify 
the venture of restricting the monarchical authority. Thus this 
Kantian, too, had become filled with that fruitful idea of the his- 
torical view of the state which generated the struggle against 
the Napoleonic world-empire. He knew, too, how to conceive 
the present with historic vision ; how in the phenomena of the 
moment to distinguish the living from the dead. No one under- 
stood as did he, the wisdom of the Hellenes, who termed the states- 
man the practical historian. Like all the intelligent men of 
Stein's circle, he wished to base parliamentary government upon 
the self-government of the communes, circles, and provinces. Like 
them, he demanded a subdivision into three estates, although the 
excessive development of the middle classes, and the disappear- 
ance of the old class differences, did not elude his keen insight. 
Like them, he desired that the centralised representative body 
should have legislative powers, and that the provincial diets should 
have administrative duties. 

In Humboldt's view " there is no question of arbitrarily 
introducing something new, but simply of rendering possible the 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

revival of what has been casually and illegally suppressed." He 
knew that all enduring constitutions have in their beginnings a 
somewhat amorphous aspect, and he therefore desired to preserve 
with care the rights of the old estates, even if this should some- 
what disturb the symmetry of the new edifice. But he also saw 
that the feudal territories, if simply on account of their small- 
ness, could no longer maintain their existence in the great state, 
and he therefore demanded provincial diets for the new districts, 
under the government of lord-lieutenants. Provincial diets with- 
out a national diet seemed to him to threaten the unity of the 
state, and to endanger also the rights of the estates, for, he said, 
with a seer's vision, provincial diets can receive only a deliberative 
voice, whilst a genuine representative system carries with it the 
right of initiative. The unity of the monarchy seemed to him 
of such importance that he demanded direct elections for all 
representative bodies ; a national assembly elected by the provincial 
diets could not shake off " the corporative spirit," i.e. par- 
ticularism. In certain passages we can still recognise the inade- 
quate political culture of the time, as in the proposal that the 
urban communes should once more be subdivided into corpora- 
tions, and in the prophecy that in the governments the principle 
of reform, whilst in the estates the principle of conservatism, would 
always predominate ! Nevertheless the memorial is incompar- 
ably the greatest and profoundest contribution of that decade 
to the question of constitution-building. The principal difference 
between Hardenberg's views and those of Humboldt is displayed 
in the latter's earnestness of will. He imposed a definite time- 
limit for the reform (a step which the exhausted chancellor no 
longer ventured to undertake), desiring that the central repre- 
sentative body should assemble at latest in 1822 or 1823. On 
the other hand, he showed more consideration for the old estates 
than Hardenberg was inclined to do, remaining in faithful alli- 
ance with Stein, and frankly recognising the element of justice 
in the feudalists' claims. 

But here there was no ground for serious quarrel. If the 
two statesmen could come to an understanding, in Humboldt's 
hands a thoroughly viable constitutional proposal might come 
into existence, and the minister would unquestionably have obeyed 
the command of the king, who had already decided in favour 
of estates with no more than a deliberative voice. It would, 
indeed, have been impossible for Humboldt to conduct the 
business permanently, for politics, in his case, never absorbed his 


History of Germany 

whole life ; but nowhere could have been found a more richly 
stored intelligence, nowhere a more skilful pen, for the elaboration 
of the plan. Unfortunately, after all that had happened, the con- 
fidential collaboration of the two rivals had become absolutely 
impossible. Without vouchsafing the minister any further com- 
munication, the chancellor worked at his own scheme, and on 
May 2nd laid before the king the first draft, which in a concise 
form already contained all the essential ideas of his subsequent 
constitutional proposal. 

Upon the 3rd, the king commanded the formation of a small 
constituent committee. 1 Since no one had any inkling of these 
private deliberations, in the course of the year a number of highly 
respected patriots also sent proposals for a constitution. Coun- 
cillor Rhediger of Silesia, who had once collaborated in Stein's 
constitutional proposals, handed in a thoroughly doctrinaire 
memorial, which, after violent attacks against the old system of 
estates and the overvaluation of history, went on to propose that 
the population should be divided into three purely arbitrary 
classes. 8 Yet more modern was a proposal by Hippel. The 
author of the Appeal to my People had had unpleasant experience 
of the separatist spirit of the Poles, and he therefore rejected all 
idea of provincial Landtags, demanding a single Prussian Land- 
tag which, not unlike the present one, was to be subdivided into 
two chambers. The rigid monarchist even rose to the level of 
the doctrine of pure parliamentary government, and, without 
grasping the significance of his proposal, declared that the nation 
ought to indicate to the monarch the men to whom the latter 
should give his confidence. All this was labour lost, buried in 
the mass of accumulated materials. 

Whilst the fate of the Prussian constitution thus still 
remained in complete obscurity, serious news arrived from the 
new constitutional states of the south. In Munich and Carls- 
ruhe the Landtag had met for the first time, and in both towns 
parliamentarism made its preliminary essays in an extremely 
unfortunate manner. At the court of Munich, anger at the 
decisions of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle long persisted. If the 
designs of the Wittelsbachs upon the Palatinate had been frus- 
trated, the great powers should at least learn that Bavaria was 

1 Hardenberg's Report to the king, May 3 ; Cabinet Order to Hardenberg, 
July 3, 1819. See Appendix VII. 

2 Rhediger, Concerning Representation in the Prussian State, Januarys, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

self-sufficient, and could give the whole of Germany a brilliant 
example of constitutional freedom. With the boastfulness charac- 
teristic of the Bavarian court, the king, when opening the Landtag 
on February 5th, declared that he had now completed what he had 
planned before the existence of the federal act, and when receiving 
the grateful address of his estates he spoke of this day as the 
happiest of his life. The nation looked on with tense interest 
at the unprecedented proceedings in Munich, for this was the 
first public representative assembly in German history. It is 
true that the sittings of the upper chamber were private, and 
that in the brief published minutes of its proceedings no names 
were mentioned, so that the reader soon became weary of learn- 
ing that " a certain honourable Reichsrat " had said something, 
and that " another honourable Reichsrat " had replied. The 
interest in the second chamber also cooled rapidly, for the number 
of skilful speakers was small, and the debates, though by no 
means devoid of manifestations of primitive roughness, still 
lacked the stimulus of the dramatic touch, for so cumbrous was 
the order of proceedings that the speakers had to succeed one 
another in accordance with a predetermined list. 

There were not as yet any political parties. The state- 
constructive energy of this kingdom was so slight, that the members 
of the chamber split up for the most part into little territorial 
subdivisions. The Wiirzburgers and the Aschaffenburgers would 
hardly recognise one another as fellow-countrymen, whilst the 
men of Ansbach and those of Baireuth held together as good 
Brandenburgers, and the Palatiners, proud of their French 
liberties, suspiciously held aloof from all the others. Behr of 
Wiirzburg distinguished himself from all the rest as a fiery 
orator. He was the darling of his Franconian fellow-countrymen, 
and a straightforward radical doctrinaire, who in his writings on 
constitutional law outdid even Rotteck's teachings, and went so far 
as to desire that the monarch should be personally subjected 
to the punitive authority of the popular representatives. Von 
Hornthal, too, burgomaster of Bamberg, a skilful lawyer of Jewish 
blood, had studied in the school of Sieves and of the constitution 
of 1791 ; this was a man of narrow intelligence and small culture, 
but he was active, unemotional, never at a loss, and richly endowed 
with that unending prolixity which in parliamentary assem- 
blies so often puts genuine talent into the shade. When 
contrasted with these two men beloved of the people, the liberal 
vice-president Seuffert seemed to public opinion altogether 


History of Germany 

too moderate, because in forming his political views he knew 
how to take existing facts into account. 

Immediately after the opening of parliament, the crown 
had once more to experience the evil results of its double-faced 
attitude towards the Roman see. Since the manifest contradic- 
tion between the concordat and the edict of religions still remained 
unadjusted, the pope forbade the clerical members of the Land- 
tag to take the oath of fidelity to the constitution. Acrimonious 
negotiations once more took place, and the nuncio, the duke of 
Serra Cassano, a fashionable young prelate who had rapidly made 
himself at home in court circles, was already threatening to ask 
for his papers. 1 Then a somewhat discreditable compromise was 
secured. The majority of the clerics took the oath, but on con- 
dition that it involved nothing conflicting with the laws of the 
Catholic church ; the state allowed this reservatio mentalis, which 
was certainly capable of varying interpretations, and only one or 
two of the clerical hotspurs, such as the prince-bishop of Eich- 
stadt, refused to accept the compromise. 

It was natural that youthful parliamentarism, now going to 
school before all the world, should have to pay a costly tuition 
fee. There was no lack of useless talk, nor yet of petty quarrels. 
When the Reichsrats had declared in their address that this Upper 
House was predestined to constitute a dam to resist the onmshing 
flood of the unstable energies of the popular spirit, to oppose the 
mutable by the persistent, the delegates felt that their official 
honour was touched, and gave vent in excited speeches to the 
fashionable hatred of the nobility, but finally contented them- 
selves with declaring that the utterances of the House of 
Nobles were " remarkable." In innumerable immature pro- 
posals were now brought to light all the complaints and desires 
which had gradually been heaped up under the regime of an 
unrestricted bureaucracy, and not infrequently the Upper House 
found it necessary to remind the Lower of the limits imposed 
on the latter's power by the constitution, since the crown alone 
possessed the right of initiating legislation. It was strange, in 
this connection, to see how great was still the divergence between 
the average political views of the north and of the south. Many 
of the essential principles of the neo-French constitutional theory, 
of which in North Germany little had hitherto been heard, had 
already struck firm root in the states of the Confederation of the 
Rhine. Thus, both chambers petitioned for the introduction of 

1 Zastrow's Report, January 29, 1819. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

the public hearing of legal proceedings, and the crown prince had 
it expressly reported in the newspapers that he had been among 
the members of the Upper House who had approved of this pro- 
posal. In addition, the Lower House demanded trial by jury, 
and henceforward this demand became part of the regular equip- 
ment of German liberalism. On the other hand, in economic 
culture, the Bavarians lagged far behind the Prussians ; the legal 
privileges of the Old Bavarian " real " master craftsmen received 
friendly support from the majority of both Houses, and only a 
small minority took the side of the Palatiners when these 
zealously defended their native industrial freedoms. Still more 
deficient was the understanding of local self-government. This 
people, accustomed to the omnipotence of its provincial judges, 
did not even venture to hope for administrative circle assemblies 
such as Prussia possessed. The Napoleonic general council, which 
persisted in the Palatinate, under the name of Landrat, and whose 
power was restricted to a diffident tendering of advice, seemed 
to the Old Bavarians an ideal body, and in the provinces on the 
right bank of the Rhine even the introduction of this modest 
reform could not yet be carried through. 

In general the practical work of this Landtag bore an 
extremely small proportion to the expenditure of brave words. The 
most important event was that Lerchenfeld, minister of finance, 
at length disclosed the long-concealed condition of the national 
finances. There was an annual deficit of three and a half million 
florins, and a national debt of more than 105,000,000 florins, 
a notable burden for a country whose commerce was so scanty, 
and for one in which the responsibility of the whole kingdom for 
this sum as a common state debt was recognised only after severe 
struggles with the particularism of the new provinces. Most of 
the liability had been incurred through the necessities of war, 
but no one could ascertain how much was due to the extravagance 
of the crown, for the government refused to render any account of 
the administration of the absolutist epoch, because the generous 
Max Joseph, who in money matters always remained a child, 
had shortly before inconsiderately taken from three to four 
million francs from the French war indemnity, in order to 
make presents to his sons and daughters. 1 

The king was disgusted with the Landtag after a very few 
days ; it seemed to him like an actual revolt that his officials 
should now have to answer to his subjects for their actions. His 

1 Zastrow's Report, February 17, 1819. 

I fistory of Germany 

discontent increased to fierce anger when Hornthal demanded 
that the army should swear fealty to the constitution, 
brazenly declaring that this proposal, which was manifestly 
unconstitutional, signified nothing more than the carrying out of 
one of the prescriptions of the fundamental law. This was the 
first public expression of an incredible error which since then has 
remained for a generation a favourite principle of the liberal 
parties. Affected with the fashionable hatred of standing armies, 
the constitutionalists simply could not see that an army invaded 
by the spirit of contentious politics is the worst possible enemy 
of liberty, and that the rights of private citizens can be safe- 
guarded only when the armed force has no will of its own. With 
the greatest possible confidence, as if the absurdity were self- 
evident, Behr maintained : "If there exists any estate which is 
without a will, I do not know where constitutional freedom 
remains." The favourite theory of mistrust, the doctrine of the 
natural war between princes and people, also co-operated. In a 
pamphlet upon the Bavarian Landtag, von Spraun, the liberal 
publicist, justified Hornthal's proposal with the courteous con- 
sideration that, in default of its acceptance, the court could at 
any time make arrangements for a massacre of St. Bartholo- 
mew ! In Weimar, the Oppositionsblatt threateningly declared 
that the German people would bear in mind for a day of reckon- 
ing the names of all the unconscientious deputies who might vote 
against the proposal. In order to guard against a possible abuse 
of monarchical authority, it was proposed in all innocence to 
deprive the king of his supreme military command, and to leave 
the ultimate decision of constitutional disputes to the consciences 
of common soldiers, most of whom were under age. Even the 
experiences of the i8th Brumaire had not yet taught the German 
doctrinaires that a coup d'etat can succeed only when it is tolerated 
or approved by the nation. 

Although the suggestion did not originate in revolutionary 
sentiments, but was merely the outcome of thoughtless inex- 
perience, it had extremely deleterious consequences. A few 
excited young lieutenants gave tongue in the same sense as the 
tribune of the people, and were quietly punished. The great 
majority of the officers felt profoundly wounded in those monarchical 
sentiments which inspire every efficient army, and in their anger 
adopted an unwise measure. There was circulated throughout 
the garrison for signature a petition imploring the king to reject 
" a demand so utterly opposed to the spirit of the constitution " ; 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

generals, captains, non-commissioned officers signed at random. 
Alarmed at such manifestations, the Landtag suddenly dropped 
the dangerous proposal. King Frederick William, however, 
regarded with profound anxiety these first consequences of the 
representative system. The unruly spirit of the mercenary 
soldier, which the Imperator's exploits had awakened through- 
out the Napoleonic armies, had ere this misled the French and 
the Saxons into open revolt ; in Italy the old Napoleonic 
officers everywhere encouraged the hatred of Austrian dominion, 
and there, at any moment, a militarist revolution might break 
out ; were the South German armies now to be dragged into the 
struggles of party politics ? The court of Vienna regarded the 
Bavarian state as already struggling on the threshold of revolu- 
tion. Gentz wrote a fulminating memorial concerning Bavarian 
representative institutions. 1 He accused the monarch of having, 
by his speech from the throne, constituted " a completely rounded 
system of monarchical democracy," and asked, " What can have 
given this system of popular representation, which has only just 
emerged from its cradle, the courage to begin where other systems 
of the kind are accustomed to end ? " With the help of the Upper 
House, resolute action against the Chamber of Deputies was 
possible, but that which to-day might still be saved by vigorous 
measures would perhaps in a few weeks be lost beyond recall. 

King Max Joseph himself was hardly less concerned about 
the situation. He was already meditating desperate plans, and 
consulted with his confidants whether it might not be necessary 
to abolish the constitution, as it had not fulfilled the desired 
purpose. On March 3oth, Count Rechberg astonished the Prussian 
envoy by a confidential communication regarding this secret 
design. The minister added that the only fear of his court was 
that by an infringement of article 13 it might come into conflict 
with the Bundestag, and he concluded with the formal request 
that the king of Prussia should, through the instrumentality of 
his ministry of state, give confidential information " what his 
majesty the king of Bavaria may expect from his majesty the 
king of Prussia, if the former should find himself under the dis- 
agreeable necessity of having to adopt the aforesaid forcible 
measure." Simultaneously, Bavaria expressed to the Austrian 

1 Observations regarding the first Proceedings of the Bavarian Representative 
Assembly. The memorial was sent to Berlin on April 10, 1819, but must have 
been written in the beginning of March, for it considers the proceedings of the 
Landtag only down to February Us. 

History of Germany 

court her repentance for the over-hasty granting of a constitu- 
tion, and declared herself prepared " zealously to adopt any 
repressive measures which Austria and Prussia might recommend." l 

King Frederick William's temptation was great, but he 
honourably withstood it. He gave the question mature con- 
sideration, allowed several weeks to elapse, and on May nth had 
answer made in a ministerial despatch which ran as follows : "If 
we had had an opportunity of expressing our views at the moment 
when the king of Bavaria had determined to introduce the con- 
stitution, we should, however much of good and well-considered 
matter may be contained in this constitutional charter, still have 
found occasion, and have regarded it as our duty, to express 
numerous doubts and counter-considerations." Now, however, 
Bernstorff continued with unmistakable irony, " We are con- 
cerned with questions of an entirely different nature. If we take 
into consideration that the king of Bavaria, when he introduced 
this constitution, did not merely present it as a notable benefit 
freely granted to his people, but further did not hesitate expressly 
to recognise the genuine or reputed right of the nation to such 
a constitution, and that the representative assembly upon its 
side, did not merely accept the new constitution in the same 
sense, but, in addition, definitely and boldly expressed its view 
that, as far as the rights of the nation were concerned, the recogni- 
tion of these rights must be accounted the king's greatest service 
we cannot fail to recognise the great and threatening dangers 
which would be inseparably associated with the crises that would 
result from the autocratic repeal of the constitutional charter." 
The king of Bavaria was then begged to take clearly into account 
the sentiments of his people and of his army, and to consider, 
in especial, whether the constitution itself did not offer him a 
means for maintaining his prestige, as for example by dissolving 
the chamber. He had nothing to fear from the Bundestag, 
for article 13 merely prescribed in general terms the introduction 
of a representative constitution, and Bavaria would in any case 
not be left entirely without provincial diets. * 

Thus the Prussian answer was far from offering the 
assistance which the Bavarian court desired ; it was a plain 
" no," couched in diplomatic form, and even in Munich was 
recognised as a refusal. Some days after it had been handed in, 
Zastrow reported that Count Rechberg had thanked him with 

1 Zastrow's Report, March 30 ; Krusemark s Report, April 16, 1819. 
* Ministerial Despatch to Zastrow, May n, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

profound emotion, saying that the proposed coup d'etat had now 
been abandoned since the chambers had begun to assume a more 
moderate attitude. 1 In fact the opposition had gleaned some 
information regarding the plans of the court it never learned 
the full truth and hastened, through the eloquent intermedia- 
tion of Hacker, to asseverate its loyalty to the father of the 
constitution. The loud applause with which the chamber and the 
galleries received this emotional speech, was agreeable to the 
heart of Max Joseph, and the monarch who had just been plan- 
ning a coup d'etat, immediately and contentedly resumed the role 
of the exemplary constitutional prince. In those very days in 
which Prussia's warnings restrained the Bavarian ruler from his 
contemplated breach of the constitution, the beautiful medal 
minted in commemoration of the constitution was ready for issue, 
and the king had specimens of it ceremoniously handed to his 
loyal estates, and also gave one to every commune of the king- 
dom in perpetual commemoration. The whole country rejoiced 
over the Bavarian liberties, and abused Prussia, for it was no 
longer possible to celebrate a liberal anniversary without invec- 
tives against the state of the War of Liberation. All the Bavarian 
newspapers made pleasing comparisons between their king, so 
faithful to the constitution, and the despot in Berlin. The 
Allgemeine Zeitung related an absurd story to the effect that a 
crowd of fifteen hundred burghers had stopped King Frederick 
William's carriage at the Brandenburg Gate, and, with threaten- 
ing cries " We have bled for the fatherland," had presented a 
petition for a constitution ; the Landwehr men on guard at the 
gate had refused to interfere. 

Yet more energetically did Bavarian arrogance manifest 
itself among the deputies. Certain members of the opposition 
handed to Rechberg a private memorial intended to strengthen 
the king in his constitutional intentions. Herein it was stated 
that Bavaria, excluded from European politics, had uplifted her- 
self once again by the moral power of her constitution, and that 
her monarch was now greeted by the entire nation " as the king 
of German hearts." Through this European event, Bavaria had 
regained the position of a European power. If the king would 
meet the wishes of his Landtag fully, " the Wittelsbach dynasty 
will become the mainstay of all peoples which have proved 
themselves ripe for a representative constitution, and then a con- 
siderable army for Bavaria will first acquire its true significance.'' 

1 Zastrow's Report, May 19, 1819. 

153 M 

History of Germany 

Thus the fantastical trias plan of the Wiirtemberg court 
reappears in Bavarian tints; the Munich opposition was in 
lively correspondence with the liberals of the neighbouring 
land, and the Neue Stuttgarter Zeitung served them as a common 
organ. The Wittelsbach ruler, however, did not stoop to the 
lure. Max Joseph was alarmed by the radical language of his 
popular representatives, and sent Rechberg once again to General 
Zastrow to hand the latter the liberals' memorial (it was on this 
very day, May 23rd, that the constitutional medal was sent to 
the chambers). Once more he implored the king of Prussia to 
walk with him hand in hand, so that these democratic principles 
might be destroyed in the germ. Frederick William made a 
brief and dignified reply, saying that he would not interfere in 
the internal affairs of Bavaria, merely repeating his advice that 
the king should vigorously repress unconstitutional encroachments 
or demands ; then the Bavarian government could not be 
befooled by the double-tongued representations, the hypocritical 
flatteries, which this memorial contained. 

The close of the session was marked by one of those debates 
on military affairs in which the profound inveracity of the 
sovereignty of the petty states was always manifested in a 
peculiarly repulsive manner. Everyone really felt that the consider- 
able expenditure for the armies of the middle-sized states was 
applied in an almost aimless manner so long as there did not yet 
exist a firmly unified German army ; but no one ventured to give 
open expression to this truth, so disagreeable to the particularist 
spirit. In Bavaria, almost all parties desired that there should 
be a strong standing army, since they all cherished extremely 
exaggerated ideas of the European power of the Wittelsbach 
state, and yet they could never make up their minds to introduce 
an efficient Landwehr in accordance with the example of the 
detested Prussia. All the more vigorously, therefore, did they 
dispute about the cost, which indeed, in the judgment of the 
Prussian envoy, was far too great. The 6,700,000 florins voted 
by the Lower House seemed to the king so inadequate that in an 
autograph letter to Wrede, he declared that he would rather allow 
the recipients of his private charity to go hungry, and add 300,000 
florins from his privy purse. Not till then did the Upper House 
resolve to raise the vote of the Lower Chamber to 7,000,000. But 
even this did not suffice the monarch, and when on July i6th, 
with a half-ungracious closing address he dismissed the Landtag, 

1 Zastrow's Report, May 23 ; Ministerial Despatch to Zastrow. June n, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

he frankly announced that if his federal duties should render it 
necessary he intended to exceed the army budget. The attempt 
of the crown of Bavaria to lead the German people along the path 
of freedom had, as the Prussian ministry wrote to Munich, " not 
turned out very well," 1 hardly better, indeed, than the negotia- 
tions, just as pompously heralded, with the Roman See. As far 
as the representatives were concerned, although the great majority 
of them were harmless persons of no particular account, they had 
manifested a strong tendency to transgress the constitutional 
rights which had so recently been acquired. On the side of the 
crown there had been exhibited a scandalous weakness, an 
inclination, to-day to woo popular favour in flattering terms, and 
to-morrow humbly to beg the assistance of neighbours against 
rts own country. 

A far more striking and significant drama was enacted in 
the proceedings of the first Badenese Landtag. In December, 
1818, the troubles of the unhappy grand duke Charles had come 
to an end. He was succeeded by his uncle, the grand duke Louis, 
a man already nearly sixty, whose best years had been passed in 
the Frederician army. He still lived and moved amid memories 
of the Rhenish campaigns, and proudly related that he had once 
commanded the celebrated battalion of Rhodich, which subse- 
quently became the first regiment of the guards. Even after his 
ascent to the throne he still preferred to wear Prussian uniform, 
introduced Prussian regulations among his troops, and aspired 
for the loan of a Prussian regiment, which, through the zeal of 
Varnhagen, was soon accorded him. 2 If a facing or a button 
were changed in the uniform of the guard, his envoy in Berlin 
never failed to append the model of the new embellishment to his 
diplomatic reports. In the days of the Confederation of the 
Rhine he had been in disfavour with Napoleon, and had for many 
years to pass his time at the solitary castle of Salem. He had 
then taken the measure of courtly cajolery, and had become 
inspired with a harsh contempt for mankind. When he now 
re-emerged from oblivion he immediately disciplined his officialdom 
very strictly, and brought a certain amount of order and economy 
into the confused administrative system ; but this man of the old 
school could not regard the new constitution as anything but a 
burdensome restriction. 

1 Ministerial Despatch to Zastrow, August 7, 1819. 

8 Varnhagen's Reports, December 16, 1818, and April 4, 1819. 


History of Germany 

Since Reizenstein soon retired in a bad humour to enjoy 
learned leisure at Heidelberg, Berstett acquired the decisive voice 
in the government, and next to him in influence came the new 
minister of finance, Fischer, a man good at figures and a rigid 
bureaucrat. For a brief period the king of Wiirtemberg 
endeavoured to win the friendship of his new neighbour, but after 
a secret meeting at Schwetzingen (April, 1819), the two princes 
parted on very bad terms. 1 The old soldier in Carlsruhe would 
not hear a word of the brain-cobwebs of the liberal trias policy, 
and desired to secure the good wishes of the eastern powers whose 
mistrust had injured his state so greatly. In this connection he 
thought first of all of his beloved Prussia, whereas Berstett inclined 
more to Austria. Both, however, sovereign and minister alike, 
looked with grateful respect towards Russia, a country which 
Blittersdorff, Badenese charge d'affaires in St. Petersburg, 
unceasingly represented to them as the natural centre of gravity 
for uneasy Europe ; and they gladly listened to the counsels of 
Anstett in Frankfort, who gradually acquired great influence at the 
court of Carlsruhe. z At home, the grand duke led the life of a 
dissolute bachelor. . He was a man of good intelligence, but being 
without any sentiment for refined culture he had early given him- 
self up to foolish excesses. Alike for his amourettes and for his 
political negotiations there was ever at his side a ready helper, 
Major Hennenhofer, a busybody of the drawing-rooms, who by 
cynical wit and adroit flattery had forced his way up from the 
position of duke's harbinger to that of military attache, an adept 
in every ruse, to whom it did not come amiss to introduce quota- 
tions from Tristram Shandy into official documents, one who knew 
everyone, was initiated into all secrets, and who, despite his 
extreme ugliness, was always welcome as mediator and go-between. 
Through the fault of this new court, the honourable state of 
Charles Frederick was for long, next to Munich, the most 
immoral of the German capitals. 

Not without having to overcome considerable personal 
reluctance did the grand duke determine to summon parliament 
on April 22nd. " A small country like mine," he often declared, 
" needs a patriarchal government." Nevertheless he consoled 
himself with the hope that the Landtag would rest contented 
with the inconspicuous role of a family council, and would not 

1 Varnhagen's Reports, April 19 and 21, 1819. 

a Blittersdorfi's Reports. St. Petersburg, January 5, 1819, and subsequent 

I 5 6 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

undertake anything " which will infringe our prerogative." l 
At the banquet which he gave to the representatives after the 
opening of the Landtag he lifted a huge tankard full of old mar- 
gravial, drank to the health of his loyal estates, and then, in 
accordance with ancient custom, had the loving-cup passed round 
the table. The representatives of the people by no means took 
so modest a view of their duties as did the sovereign prince. On 
their way to the capital, they had everywhere been hailed by 
the sanguine populace with princely honours, greeted with 
triumphal arches and noisy displays, and the gracious opening 
festival gave them an elevating impression, leading them to feel 
that to-day a new epoch in German history was beginning. Varn- 
hagen, who had already begun to mix busily among the represen- 
tatives, could not relate enough to his government about " the 
indescribable grandeur of this imposing moment." 2 The popular 
chamber honestly believed that the eyes of the whole world were 
directed upon it (in actual fact, the proceedings at Carlsruhe 
attracted great attention even in England and America) ; and 
it unanimously resolved that in the House, noble and official titles 
should be discarded, for the honourable title of deputy stood far 
higher than all other earthly dignities. This proud resolve 
immediately aroused a fear in the anxious courts that it 
would be speedily followed by the abolition of the nobility itself. 
The Badenese nobles possessed representation in the Upper 
House alone. In the Lower House it was not, as in Bavaria, 
representatives from the four groups of estates who found a place, 
for in Baden, the totality of those privileged to vote were, without 
distinction of class, grouped in urban and rural electoral dis- 
tricts, each of these comprising a taxable capital of 800,000 gulden. 
The result was that the Carlsruhe Landtag, in conformity with 
the modern character of the Badenese state, appeared to be almost 
equivalent to a general popular representative chamber, and in 
its very composition was more akin to the democratic ideas of 
the new century than were the other representative assemblies 
of those days. In respect of talent, too, it greatly excelled the 
Bavarian Landtag. In the Upper House, the churches were 
represented by Wessenberg and Hebel ; the universities by 
Rotteck and his counterpart, the learned Thibaut ; the nobility by 
Prince Charles Egon of Fiirstenberg, an aristocrat in the best 
sense of the term, and by the conservative, Baron von Turckheim, 

1 Berstett to Capodistrias, December 10, 1819. 
* Varnhagen's Report, April 22, 1819. 


History of Germany 

an Alsatian, who, driven from his home by the Revolution, took 
a dispassionate view of the particularist limitations of his Badenese 
fellow-countrymen. Von Tiirckheim did not hesitate to 
acknowledge that, in his view, the unity of the nation stood first, 
and constitutional reform occupied merely a second place a state- 
ment which in the general intoxication of constitutionalist self- 
satisfaction already seemed tantamount to high treason. Among the 
members of the Lower House, Professor Duttlinger of Freiburg, 
a keen-sighted lawyer, was conspicuous. In detailed knowledge 
of affairs the privy referendary Ludwig Winter excelled all 
the other members ; this was a native of the Black Forest 
region, blunt and candid, with an offhand manner, a monarchist 
to the core, the typical Old Badenese official, ready for all social 
reforms, but a declared enemy of political dilettantism and par- 
liamentary loquacity. The real leader of the House was Baron 
von Liebenstein, a young official who as early as 1813 had attracted 
the notice of the Prussian chancellor on his journey through Baden, 
and who had recently acquired a wide reputation through his 
eloquent speech on the occasion of the anniversary festival of 
the battle of Leipzig. A fiery orator, active and yet cautious, 
unquestionably the most brilliant parliamentarian of Badanese 
history, thoroughly liberal in his views, he was distinguished from 
the majority of his colleagues by practical tact and by sound judg- 
ment in military matters ; yet, gifted as he was in other respects, 
he greatly lacked firmness of character. 

Almost all the orators of the opposition belonged to the 
official class, which was considerably over-represented in this 
Landtag, so that for the first time there now became apparent 
one of the gravest defects of German parliamentarism, which per- 
sists unrelieved to the present day. Since this impoverished people 
still completely lacked a class of professional politicians, and 
since, in especial, acquaintance with law was almost exclusively 
confined to the ranks of the officialdom, the promoters of the new 
constitution, desiring to avoid excluding from the chambers all 
men with knowledge of affairs, had made the entire body of state 
servants eligible for election. Many of the minor sovereigns 
indulged a flattering hope that in the Landtag the officials would 
moderate the zeal of the opposition. But by the new rules of 
service, modelled upon the Prussian example, the German official- 
dom had come to occupy a more independent position than that 
of any other country in the world. As parliamentary representa- 
tives, its members claimed the unrestricted right of opposing 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

their official superiors, and the view soon came to prevail that 
the duty of the popular representative stood upon a far higher 
level than that of the official, and consequently that the oath of 
loyalty to the service ceased to be binding upon an official during 
his tenure of the position of parliamentary representative. There 
resulted the twofold danger (and both the evil consequences to be 
now named manifested themselves alternately in South Germany) 
that either the discipline of the state service would be undermined, 
or else that the principles of the officials would be corrupted by 
favour and by pressure from above. Means of pressure lay ready 
to hand; the constitution contained no provisions regarding the 
granting of leave to state servants elected to the Landtag, and 
during the life of the first Badenese Landtag the question was 
mooted in the ministry whether it would not be well that in the 
future the leaders of the opposition should be kept away from 
the chamber by refusing them official leave a paltry idea, 
though one readily comprehensible in view of the weakness of 
these governments, and one which was yet to .cause much 
disturbance in the south. 

An assembly possessing so many men of exceptional intelli- 
gence could not fail, in the first exalted consciousness of a great 
destiny, to extend its oratorical arts to the consideration of all 
the heights and depths of the life of the state. So long as the 
nation still lacked a Reichstag, a central representative assembly, 
the petty Landtags were almost forced, despite the warning of 
grand duke Louis, to transgress the sphere of their competence, 
and to consider questions of general German policy within the 
scope of their deliberations. For a generation to come it remained 
the historical vocation of the sprightly Upper Rhenish people, 
in this land of pure enlightenment, to provide for the average views 
of youthful liberalism that convenient and generally comprehen- 
sible phrasing which made them common currency. The Land- 
tag did not possess the power of initiating all legislation, but it 
had the right of requesting the government to propose a law, and 
it made so comprehensive a use of this privilege that the crown, 
if it had given way, would have completely lost the leadership in 
legislative work. 

Within a brief three months, the whole programme of liberal 
aspirations, matter enough for the legislation of several decades, 
was brought up for discussion ; and since the proposers for the 
most part contented themselves with vague generalities, the items 
of this programme were voted by the chambers unanimously or 


History of Germany 

with large majorities a step which to the delighted Varnhagen 
seemed a remarkable sign of political maturity. The House was 
unanimous when Baron von Lotzbeck, a wealthy tobacco manu- 
facturer of Lahr, after a drastic and only too true description of 
the increasing impoverishment of the country, demanded general 
freedom of trade throughout Germany. It is true that no one 
had a notion of the means to be adopted to secure this end, 
and no one vouchsafed any attention to the fact that the king of 
Prussia had just granted eleven million Germans the privilege of 
free trade, this step being held up to contumely as a base attack 
upon genuine German freedom of trade. Next, C. F. Winter, 
the Heidelberg bookseller, proposed the establishment of the free- 
dom of the press, and Liebenstein supported him with demands 
which have only been realised of late in the new empire, asking, 
not merely, as was reasonable, that the censorship should be 
abolished, but also that the provision of monetary guarantees by 
the newspapers should be done away with, together with all 
measures restricting the absolute freedom of the press a course 
which was simply impossible so long as public opinion had failed 
to come to a common understanding even regarding the elemen- 
tary principles of German federal law. Next, Rotteck offered the 
ministers (who by no means desired any such help) the assistance 
of the Chambers in the struggle with the Roman curia, and sang 
the glories of the German Catholic national church, being as always 
in respect of form refined and amiable, but in respect of matter 
utterly revolutionary, completely undisturbed by the facts of his- 
tory, which had already proved that Wessenberg's dreams were 
impossible to carry into effect. This warm-hearted doctrinaire 
possessed wonderful energy of faith, for he simply could not con- 
ceive the possibility of any valid objection to the evangel of the 
law of reason. " Thibaut and A. Miiller," he modestly admitted, 
" greatly excel me in genius and learning, but right and truth 
are on my side, and with these on our side we are invincible." 
Consequently he deemed every compromise treasonable, saying : 
" I know of no middle course between right and not-right." 

There followed thoroughly justified but still quite inchoate 
proposals for the abolition of the corvee and of tithes, for the 
separation of the judiciary from the executive, for public and oral 
procedure. Trial by jury, above all, was here consecrated in 
eloquent speeches as a holy of holies of liberalism. There was 
little talk of the need that the courts should work in harmony 
with the conscience and the habits of the people, and little talk 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

of the practical essentials of the administration of justice. Rather, 
and yet more decisively than a short while before in the Bavarian 
chamber, trial by jury was spoken of as a political institution. 
This should constitute " the main pillar of political freedom " ; 
without it, Liebenstein declared, everything else is illusory. Public 
opinion joined in a chorus of acclamation, although the experi- 
ences of the Napoleonic empire were far from favouring the new 
doctrine ; everyone grumbled, and with good reason, at the satrap- 
like arbitrariness of the Badenese officials, and all gave themselves 
up to the childish hope that every form of tyranny would be 
abolished by " the people." Thus a purely legal question became 
a matter of political party controversy. The governments shook 
with terror. Hitherto, especially as far as Prussia was concerned, 
they had by no means been averse to the urgently necessary reform 
of criminal procedure, but now it seemed to them that the 
innovation would be dangerous to the state. 

After the powerful emotions of these debates relating to the 
future, wherein Varnhagen's hand was ever at work, the pedantic 
trifling of the budget deliberations seemed extremely diverting. 
In any case, the budget, after so many years of disorderly financial 
administration, offered many points for attack. Consequently there 
was a vigorous development of all those arts of parliamentary 
fussiness and hair-splitting, which for a long time to come, served 
the German Landtags as an example. With hallowed indignation, 
the appointment of every secretary, the ration of every adjutant's 
horse, was disputed. The detested military budget naturally 
had many of its estimates cut out, and since the government, 
thoughtlessly enough, had omitted to provide for the expenses 
of the princely house before promulgating the fundamental law, 
the disrespectful curiosity of the popular representatives led them 
to enquire also into the domestic affairs of the dynasty. The 
actual civil list was approved by the parliamentary assembly, but 
of the appanage nearly one quarter was vetoed. At her dowager- 
seat of Bruchsal there still lived the mother of the deceased grand 
duke, the old margravine Amalie, a daughter of the great land- 
gravine of Darmstadt. How often in former days, during the 
French dominion, had this excellent woman efficiently espoused 
the cause of the Badenese state ; and now the Landtag, which 
really owed its existence to her, vetoed 20,000 florins of her modest 
income. How was it possible for these petty bourgeois to 
understand that the upkeep of the court of a princess whose 
daughters sat on the thrones of Russia, Sweden, Bavaria, Hesse, and 


History of Germany 

Brunswick, must not be judged on the standard of the needs of a 
country parsonage ? All the margravine's powerful relatives felt 
affronted, and the mother of Czar Alexander exclaimed to the 
Badenese charg6 d'affaires : " It seems that one can reckon very 
little upon popular gratitude ! " > 

By the arrogance of its demands and the stinginess of its 
concessions, the Landtag had already put all the courts into a bad 
humour. Now it made a last, hardly credible mistake, setting 
itself in opposition to the Bundestag, and doing this, unfortu- 
nately, in clear defiance of the law. In April, 1818, the court of 
Baden had issued a nobles' edict, dealing with the legal relation- 
ships of the mediatised and of the imperial knighthood, con- 
ceived quite in the spirit of the Rhenish Confederate bureaucracy, 
and manifestly conflicting with the prescriptions of article 14 of 
the federal act. The edict was subsequently declared to be an 
essential part of the new constitution, but the high nobility, feeling 
its rights seriously infringed, would not be appeased, and the 
government soon found itself in a position of painful embarrass- 
ment. It was certainly impossible for this small throne to fulfil 
the provisions of the federal act in the generous spirit of the king 
of Prussia ; but even if certain demands made by the nobles were 
excessive, and even if the house of Lowenstein went so far as to 
ask that the Main dues should be discontinued in its own case, 
the mediatised were unquestionably justified, according to the 
terms of the federal act and of numerous European treaties, in 
claiming patrimonial jurisdiction and local police powers. The 
government began to recognise its error. It knew that the 
disfavour which it had acquired at the congress of Vienna 
was mainly due to the continuous complaint the nobles had made 
of their grievances. Vainly did the government appeal against 
the leader of the imperial knights, Baron von Venningen, to 
" the spirit of the age, which in South Germany is unfavourable 
to the nobility." 2 The mediatised stood upon their rights, and, 
as has been previously related, demanded a friendly hearing at 
the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. In seriously-worded despatches, 
the four powers reminded the court of Carlsruhe of its duty, as 
specified by treaty. " In truth," wrote Capodistrias to Berstett, 
" at this moment, when all the rights of the Badenese court are 
once more to be placed under a double guarantee, it is impossible 
that an appeal to the justice of its policy can remain fruitless." 3 

1 Blittersdorff's Report, St. Petersburg, August II, 1819. 

2 Reizenstein to Venningen, October 22, 1818. 

3 Capodistrias to Berstett, Aix-la-Chapelle, November, 1818. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

Such was in fact the case. The government could not 
venture to reject the justified demands of the Quadruple Alliance, 
which had so recently secured the whole future of this dynasty. 
After a brief period of hesitation, new negotiations were under- 
taken with the mediatised, although King William of Wiirtemberg, 
the embittered enemy of the high nobility, urgently advised the 
Badenese government to resist the demands of the congress of 
Aix-la-Chapelle. l On April 16, 1819, a second nobles' edict, 
quite in accordance with the prescriptions of the federal act, was 
drawn up, was submitted to the four powers, 2 and was 
declared at the Bundestag to be satisfactory. Berstett had the 
new edict promulgated the evening before the opening of the 
Landtag. He calculated that the representative assembly would 
make a virtue of necessity, and would tacitly accept the 
compromise as the last exercise of power on the part of the 
absolute monarchy. How little did he know the character 
of the Badenese deputies ! The time-honoured problem, which 
existed first, the owl or the egg, came up for solution. Does a 
Landtag possess rights before it exists ? From the first such 
questions have exercised an elemental force of attraction 
upon the minor German Landtags, and have offered the best 
material for their juristic saturnalia. So it was on this occasion. 
Everyone was incensed at the unseemly breach in the constitu- 
tion. From the mouths of extremely moderate men were to be 
heard doctrines which, though quite harmlessly meant, strongly 
reminded the hearers of Rousseau's Contrat Social. The grand 
duke, it was said, in promulgating the constitution, had offered a 
primal convention to the people ; by undertaking the elections, the 
people had approved this agreement, and thereby it had been 

In the Lower House, Ludwig Winter was appointed referen- 
dary of the nobles' edict, and now a remarkable incident occurred, 
such as was possible only in the infancy of German parliamentary 
life. Winter was member for Durlach, and at the same time 
governmental commissioner. Although in the chamber he had 
just before been acting in this official capacity, he now rose to 
attack the ministry with a violence which had not been displayed 
by any member before him. The passionate man acted in all good 
faith. He believed that, by the nobles' edict, the grand duke 
was being robbed of inalienable sovereign prerogatives, and he 

1 Varnhagen's Report, January 10, 1819. 

2 Ministerial Despatch to Blittersdorff, April 30, 1819. 


History of Germany 

considered it his duty as a loyal subject to hasten to the assistance 
of the crown against its own ministers. But he was a partisan, 
he had compiled the first (and now abandoned) nobles' edict, 
and he defended his own work with all the weapons of the 
abstract law of reason. He absolutely disregarded the federal 
act and the European treaties upon which the very existence of 
the grand duchy of Baden depended. " We have," he exclaimed, 
"nothing to do with the Bundestag, and will have nothing to do 
with it ; this is an affair of our own government." These argu- 
ments based upon natural rights were followed by an arbitrary 
interpretation of the federal act which was bitterly to be atoned 
for in the future. Winter maintained that article 13 expressly 
promised a popular representative system and not a feudal 
constitution, thus presupposing the legal equality of all citizens, 
and that, for this reason, the privileges granted the mediatised in 
article 14 could not be carried into effect and were legally null. 

What a distortion of universally known facts. At the time 
of the congress of Vienna, no one in Germany had as yet given 
serious attention to the contrast between the modern repre- 
sentative and the feudal constitution. According to their own 
admission, the originators of the federal act used the term " repre- 
sentative constitution" in an entirely general sense, to relate, it 
might be, to a representation of the entire people, or, it might be to 
a representation of estates. Prussia's attempt to give the promise 
of a constitution a definite content by the enumeration of represen- 
tative rights was wrecked by the opposition of the Rhenish 
Confederate states, and an elastic phrase was deliberately chosen in 
order that a free hand might be left to the sovereignty of the 
crowns. In this way, Austria, Saxony, and Mecklenburg could 
retain their old estates, while the South German states could con- 
template the introduction of modern constitutions. Winter's 
contention was purely sophistical, and, as was soon manifest, 
a grievous imprudence ; for if the liberals should begin to 
interpret article 13 speciously in their own sense, the reactionary 
party would certainly pay them back tit for tat, and the 
reactionaries had at least the letter of the act on their side when 
they maintained that the actual term used for a representative 
constitution (landstandische Ver/assung) signified representation 
based upon estates (Stdnde) and not representation of the people. 
But as far as his present audience was concerned, Winter had won 
the game. When, in conclusion, he demanded the rejection of the 
nobles' edict, the applause seemed unending ; nor was the patriotic 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

banquet lacking which henceforward was regularly offered as a 
reward to deserving advocates of the popular cause. In the 
wider relationships of Bavaria, the mediatised, despite so much 
friction between the two chambers, were left unassailed by the 
liberals, but in the little land of Baden, a high nobility could not 
be tolerated, for all aristocrats were regarded as enemies of the 
people. Varnhagen did his best to fan the flames of anti- 
aristocratic feeling among the deputies, although he knew that 
his own government had collaborated in the creation of the nobles' 
edict. He did not even shrink in his official reports from ardently 
praising the opponents of the Bundestag and of the Quadruple 
Alliance. 1 

The subsequent course of the debates showed how thoroughly 
the national sentiment had already been disordered by the futility 
of the Bundestag. The federal assembly was overwhelmed with 
abuse, and the fundamental law of the Germanic Federation was 
treated with the utmost contempt. The very liberals who were 
so loudly demanding the fulfilment of the ambiguous article 13, 
declared that the plain and unambiguous prescriptions of article 14 
were not binding. The nation's sense of honour towards the 
scandalously maltreated victims of the Napoleonic coup d'etat of 
1806, the plain wording of the federal act, which was so much 
older than the Badenese constitution, and which in any case con- 
stituted the sole constitutional bond for this disintegrated 
nation all was to count for nothing as against an indubitably 
illegal grand-ducal Badenese law, which, further, had already 
been annulled by the Badenese government itself. It was not 
considered worth while to show why Baden could not fulfil its 
federal duties towards the mediatised just as honourably as Prussia 
and Bavaria. If any further advance were to be made along such 
a path, the last poor vestiges of a national legal order which still 
remained for the Germans would be destroyed by liberal par- 
ticularism. The unbridled German licence which had devastated 
the old empire was revived, basing itself no longer upon existing 
feudal liberties, but upon the phraseology of the doctrine of natural 
rights. Liebenstein, who had so often broken out into fiery 
enthusiasm when he spoke on behalf of the unity of Germany, now 
put forward the extraordinary contention that a federal resolu- 
tion could become legally valid only through the approval of the 
Carlsruhe chambers, although the Badenese constitution itself 
expressly recognised that federal laws were binding upon the 

1 Varnhagen's Reports, May 12 and July 21, 1819. 
I6 5 

History of Germany 

grand duchy. Paulus hastened, in Rotteck's Archiv, to extol this 
new doctrine as a bulwark of German freedom. The liberals 
ventured to display open disobedience towards the Germanic 
Federation, upon whose fundamental law the Badenese constitution 
itself reposed, and this at a moment when the Bundestag was, 
indeed, sinning gravely through inertia, but had by no means 
attempted any forcible infringement of the liberties of the nation. 
In this campaign against the Federation, the Prussian charge 
d'affaires faithfully collaborated. He played the part of a 
Badenese opposition leader with such audacity that a year later, 
when Varnhagen was at length recalled, the grand duke Louis said 
openly to Kiister, Varnhagen's successor : " We shall at length 
have peace, now that Varnhagen is gone ; his presence would 
to-day, as it did a year ago, ruin everything." l 

In the Upper House, the rights of the mediatised were better 
defended. Tiirckheim produced an admirable, though extremely 
severe, report, victoriously demonstrating the injustice of the 
Lower House, and asking it to consider that a highly respected 
nobility was at all times a defence against arbitrary conduct on 
the part of the officialdom. But the arrogance of the liberal party 
had already risen to such a height that a severe word in the mouth 
of a conservative was regarded as a breach of privilege. The 
Lower House rejected Tiirckheim's report " with indignation," 
although in truth its own orators had by no means minced 
matters. In his rejoinder, Winter even referred to the 
celebrated sentence in Stein's political testament, that no subject 
must resist the authority of his superiors ; and yet it was 
universally known that the baron was far from regarding the former 
estates of the realm as " subjects," but had vigorously defended their 
established rights. The government knew neither how to advance 
nor how to retreat. From the Bundestag and from most of the 
courts came astonished enquiries whether in Baden everything 
had got out of hand, now that the governmental commissioner 
could himself lead the opposition in an attack upon the Federa- 
tion and upon the ministry. 2 Count Buol, upon hearing the news 
of Liebenstein's speech, exclaimed : " Doubtless the speaker is 
already in prison ! " Berstett was not the man to lay this storm. 
He allowed himself to break out in anger ; he accused the 
chambers of Jacobin sentiments, and thus only increased their 

1 Kiister's Report, Carlsruhe, August 22, 1820. 

2 Berkheim's Report, Frankfort, June 25 ; Blittersdorff's Report, St. Peters- 
burg, August 14, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

hostility. At length the grand duke lost patience. On July 
28th, the chambers were suddenly prorogued until the following 
year. The three months' war of words had terminated without 
result, for not a single law had been passed. 

At length retribution arrived for the man who in Carlsruhe 
had so long brought dishonour upon the Prussian name. For 
two years Varnhagen's conduct of business had been an endless 
chain of insubordination and dishonesty. His reports were 
untrustworthy ; he was partisan and badly informed ; he had even 
criminally lied to his government when he betrayed to the news- 
papers the letters of the sovereigns of Bavaria and Baden, and 
subsequently pretended to be indignant at this act of treachery. 
In direct opposition to his instructions, he had at first interfered 
in the Bavario-Badenese dispute, had then immersed himself in 
liberal party politics, and had finally and in person opposed the 
legal claims of the mediatised, which were supported by the court 
of Berlin. This was a breach of duty which in the history of 
Prussian diplomacy could be paralleled but once only, by the 
behaviour of Count Haugwitz, at the time of the battle of 
Austerlitz. Varnhagen was recalled on account of the well- 
justified complaints of the court of Baden, and owed it only to the 
good nature of Hardenberg and Bernstorff that he had not to suffer 
unqualified dismissal, but retired on an entirely undeserved 
half-pay. He fell a victim to his own vanity and disobedience ; 
but since his recall chanced to coincide with the beginning of 
the persecution of the demagogues, and since the ill-informed 
newspapers began to circulate fables, now of his arrest and now 
of his Jacobin plans, he was able in Berlin to pose as a liberal 
martyr ; and when he had for years vainly besieged all the 
ministers for foreign affairs, from Bernstorff to Manteuffel, for 
reinstatement, he at length revenged himself by producing a dish 
of literary poison which was worthy of his political deeds. 

In Baden, meanwhile, Fischer, like Rechberg shortly before 
in Munich, was planning a coup d'etat. In a memorial, he proposed 
to his prince that the crown should resume possession of the 
domains, and, if the Landtag would not agree to this, should 
declare the constitution violated. Then, through the mediation 
of the Bundestag, consultative estates might be introduced. For 
the present, however, the grand duke rejected this plan, for he 
hoped that he would be able to keep his Landtag in order with the 
aid of the decrees which were at this moment being discussed in 
Carlsbad. Such, then, were the results of the first years of our 


History of Germany 

constitutional life. In Wiirtemberg, a sharp dispute with parlia- 
ment had temporarily brought about the king's dictatorship ; in 
Bavaria, the crown had appealed for assistance to the great 
powers against its own Landtag ; in Baden, prince and parlia- 
ment had parted in discontent, and the popular representatives had 
attacked the federal act. In view of such experiences, the king 
of Prussia began seriously to doubt whether his state, so 
laboriously growing to become a coherent whole, could venture to 
follow the speedily repented example of Bavaria. King Frederick 
William IV uttered an absolute truth when, soon after ascending 
the throne, he declared that by the constitutional experiences of 
the neighbouring German states his father had been led to 
deliberate very seriously about the promise of May, 1815. 


Even before the unwonted spectacle of these parliamentary 
struggles had terminated, an incident occurred which filled 
all the courts with panic terrors and was to be a turning-point 
in the history of the Germanic Federation. On May 23, 1819, 
Kotzebue was murdered by Sand, a member of the Jena Bur- 
schenschaft. Both friends and enemies immediately felt that 
in this murderous deed it was not the ruthlessness of an individual, 
but the long dammed-up party hatred of the revolutionary section 
of the students, which had found discharge. The elemental 
fascination of the mysterious, readily leads the world astray to seek 
some lineaments of greatness in those who commit serious crimes ; 
but while the life of this assassin offered a sufficiency of morbid 
characteristics, and afforded many reasons for human compas- 
sion, there was nothing remarkable about him but that gloomy 
and concentrated force of will which makes the fanatic. 

Carl Sand was the son of a former Prussian official, and had 
grown to manhood in the Fichtelgebirge, among the loyal Bran- 
denburg Franconians, in a country where everyone was grumbling 
about the new order in German affairs. The fixed gaze, and the 
low forehead surrounded by long, dark hair, betrayed a restricted 
intelligence, that of one who learned but slowly in spite of intense 
application, and who then retained with tenacious obstinacy, 
against every attempt to dislodge it, the knowledge acquired with 
so much difficulty. His mother, filled with the pride of conscious 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

virtue, had early instilled into the boy's mind an unchildlike sense 
of self -righteousness. Thus prepared, he entered as a student 
into that Teutonising circle in which raw youths were accus- 
tomed to bask in the sense of their own strength and chastity, 
and to rail against the wanton laxity of the older generation. In 
this unfortunate mind, pagan arrogance, rationalistic pride in 
the immaculate dignity of the free and independent ego, was 
associated with a mystical enthusiasm which looked up with 
ecstasy to the image of Christ, and which imagined that the finger 
of God could be recognised in every trifling experience of daily 
life : he prepared himself with prayer and pious contemplation 
even for the harmless duelling games of the students, and often 
after some trifling exchange of words he would solemnly invite 
his opponent to meet him before God's judgment-seat. 

Upon persons of experience, the reserved young man, who 
in personal intercourse was pleasant and good-natured, left a 
sinister impression. When Wangenheim, who had been his patron 
in Tubingen, learned one day in Frankfort that Carl Sand had 
wished to visit him on the way through the town, he instantly 
had a presentiment that something horrible was in the wind, 
threw himself on horseback, and hastened after the wanderer 
along the Bergstrasse, but without overtaking him. Sand had 
taken part in the campaign of 1815 as a Bavarian volunteer, but 
had never seen the face of the enemy, and, filled with contempt 
for soldiering, had laid aside his uniform immediately after return- 
ing home. But all the more zealously did he devote himself body 
and soul to the activities of the Burschenschaft. To him the 
association was state and church, home and love, the one thing 
and everything. He looked upon the whole world as divided into 
two great camps : on the one side the pure, free, and chaste 
students, and on the other the corrupt minions of tyranny. 
In Tubingen, Erlangen, and finally, in Jena, he was always on 
hand when ardent Teutonisers exchanged oaths of mutual 
fealty, like the Swiss confederates at Riitli, and when they gushed 
about great deeds like those of St. George ; but he was a clumsy 
speaker, and was held of little account among his comrades, except 
as a vigorous gymnast. Yet the things which the ordinary 
students were thoughtlessly acclaiming, moved this sombre nature 
to the core, and to him it was not an empty word when the 
Burschen sang : 

Deep thrust, thrust home in foeman's heart, 
'Tis there thy place, good German sword ! 

169 N 

History of Germany 

When in Erlangen his beloved friend was drowned before his 
eyes, and the Landsmannschafts refused to pay the last honours 
to the body of the deceased, the ultimate glimmer of youthful 
cheerfulness vanished from his darkened spirit ; he believed 
himself to be surrounded by a world of enemies, and in his heart 
declared war against this corrupt universe, asking, " You princes 
of Germany, why do you trouble my peace ? " Hatred, fierce 
hatred, against the unknown foes of the Burschenschaft and of 
the one and indivisible free state of Germany, filled his mind ; and 
now Luden, by his essay against Kotzebue, gave the wild impulse 
a definite aim. To the self-righteous enthusiast, the flippant 
old rascal seemed the prototype of all the sins of the elder genera- 
tion, although Sand knew nothing of Kotzebue beyond a couple 
of comedies and a few newspaper articles. It was in such a frame 
of mind that the unhappy lad came to Jena. His soul was full of 
abstract enthusiasm for heroism and a self-sacrificing death. 
In June, 1818, he wrote to a friend in the following terms : " Our 
life is a hero's course ; speedy victory ; early death ! Nothing 
else matters if only we are real heroes. Premature death does not 
interrupt our victorious career, if only we die as heroes." 
Then he passed under the sway of Carl Pollen and greedily drank 
in the murderous doctrines of the Blacks. " Now at length," 
he wrote, shortly after he had made Pollen's acquaintance, " I 
have found an aim in life, to live in my own way, in accordance 
with my own conviction, with unconditioned will, to defend among 
the people the cause of pure right, that is to say, the only cause 
which God has shown us to be worthy ; to defend it with life 
and death against all human opinion." His intellectual capacity 
was insufficient to enable him to see through the school-boy 
fallacies upon which Pollen's moral system was based. He was 
able, as it were, to divide his conscience into two spheres, remain- 
ing loyal, trustworthy, and helpful in private life, while against 
tyrants it seemed to him that everything was permissible. His 
theological studies, which he had grievously neglected for the 
affairs of the association, none the less furnished him with means 
for basing the doctrine of unscrupulousness upon a religious 
foundation. From the Bible and from Thomas a Kempis, he 
imagined he could construct the proposition : " When man has 
recognised truth to such an extent that he can say before God, 
' that is true/ then it is true when he does it ! " When now he 
daily heard Carl Pollen, " the master among the saviours of the 
fatherland," eloquently extolling the moral necessity of political 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

murder, he conceived the idea of sacrificing himself for the good 
cause, and of seeing whether he could not shake the people out 
of their slumbers by the horrors of a sacrificial act of assassination. 
Coolly, serenely, and self-sufncingly did he make his 
preparations ; he had long accustomed himself to regard every 
representative of the opposing view as a deadly enemy ; he lived in 
a state of war with those in authority, their assistants, and their 
assistants' assistants ; he would be justified in stabbing Kotzebue, 
" because he wishes to suppress the divine in me, my conviction." 
The notion that this attack upon an unarmed old man was a base 
and cowardly act entered his mind as little as did the recognition 
of the senseless folly of a crime which could not possibly improve 
the existing political order. There co-operated among his motives 
the deadly sin of the nineteenth century, .that impotent megalo- 
mania which has played a part in the production of almost all 
the notable crimes of modern history. Sand was not simply 
puffed up by the moral arrogance of his sect, but was also per- 
sonally vain. While he was brooding over his ruthless design, 
he sketched a portrait of himself kneeling on the steps of a church 
and pressing a dagger into his own heart, but on the church door 
was hanging, pinned up with another dagger, the death-sentence 
upon Kotzebue. Beyond question the unhappy man believed that 
he had made his determination in absolute freedom, for he would 
not allow that his action had any other source than his own con- 
viction ; but it is psychologically impossible that the experienced 
Carl Follen, who, with his basilisk glance, completely dominated 
the defenceless lesser intelligence, and who read the latter's simple 
soul like an open book, had not noted the plan of assassination 
and favoured it. Just as certainly as the standing ear of corn 
springs from the seed that has been sown, so certainly does 
the preacher of political assassination stand before the moral 
judgment-seat of history as the originator of Kotzebue's murder. 
Whether in a strictly legal sense Carl Follen should be regarded 
an instigator, will probably for ever remain concealed. Unquestion- 
ably he was an accessory before the fact. As the investigation 
showed, he had provided the assassin with money for the 
journey to Mannheim. Wit von Dorring, and probably a third 
member of that ultra-revolutionary sect of the " Uncondi- 
tional " known as the Haarscharfen (the keen blades), were 
also in the secret ; but it is certain that there cannot have 
been any larger number of accessories, for Carl Follen instructed 
his faithful followers in all the stratagems and wiles of criminal 


History of Germany 

procedure, gave them careful information as to how they were to 
conduct themselves before the examining judge, and impressed 
upon them in especial that the saviour of the fatherland must 
not bring his comrades into danger. l 

Sand set off with the repose of a good conscience, 
eagerly visiting on the journey everything worthy of note. 
In Mannheim he had no difficulty in securing access to 
his unsuspecting victim, and, after a few indifferent words, utter- 
ing a savage cry, he suddenly stabbed the old man in the throat. 
He had determined, if necessary, to elude punishment by suicide, 
but was prepared if possible to take refuge in flight. Not until 
Kotzebue was lying dead and the murdered man's little son rushed 
in to find his father's corpse, was the assassin for a moment over- 
come by shame, and with an unsteady hand he directed a thrust 
against his own breast, " as it were to make an atonement to the 
son," as he afterwards admitted. When the dangerously wounded 
man was arrested, he cried out loudly : " Long live my German 
fatherland, and long live all among the German people who strive 
to further the cause of pure humanity ! " Beside the corpse was 
found a scrap of writing: "Death-blow to A. von Kotzebue," 
and inside, the words : "I must give you a sign, must bear testi- 
mony against this laxity, and know no better way than by 
striking down the arch-thrall and palladium of this evil time, the 
corrupter and betrayer of my people, A. von Kotzebue," and there 
followed Follen's blasphemous verse : "A Christ canst thou 
become." In a letter to the Burschenschaft, left behind at Jena 
and first discovered after the murder, Sand had announced his 
departure, saying that he must now leave in order to become the 
avenger of the people. Upon his couch of pain in prison he 
displayed the greatest fortitude, invincible equanimity, and not a 

1 These facts would appear incredible as long as they rested only upon the 
authority of the Memoirs of the miserable informer Wit von Dorring ; but to-day 
they are beyond dispute, now that an intimate friend of the brothers Pollen, the 
German-American Friedrich Munch, has repeated them most circumstantially 
(Munch, Reminiscences of Germany's most Troubled Epoch, St. Louis, 1873. See 
also Deutsche Turnzeitung, 1880, p. 403). Munch bases his information upon 
confidential communications from his friend Paul Pollen. He is probably the 
only survivor of the inner circle of the Unconditionals, a man of recognised 
uprightness, who still cleaves firmly to the ideals of his youth, and I cannot see 
why the direct assurances of this honourable revolutionist, which in any case are 
not in themselves improbable, should be regarded as incredible. The anonymous 
booklet written in defence of Carl Pollen, entitled Germany's Youth in the some- 
time Burschenschafts and Gymnastic Societies (by R. Wesselhoft), is no more than 
a skilful and insincere piece of special pleading. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

trace of remorse. In cross-examination he lied brazenly as a 
faithful pupil of Follen, for everything was permissible against 
the slaves of despotism : in order to shield Follen, he even falsely 
accused Asmis, one of his best friends, of having lent him funds 
for the journey. At first he could not be moved from this 
atrocious accusation, even by the adjurations of the innocent man, 
but at length, completely convicted, he admitted the truth. 

The trial was conducted with extreme indulgence, but also 
with ridiculous maladroitness, so that the essential mendacity of 
the Blacks had the freest possible play. Distinguished judges 
would not devote themselves to the detested business of persecuting 
the demagogues, and consequently the investigation was almost 
everywhere entrusted to incompetent legal understrappers, and 
of the little that might have been proved, nothing was brought 
to the light of day. Follen, the most suspect of all the witnesses, 
played a bold game with the Weimar magistrates even in the pre- 
liminary investigations in Jena. Under their very eyes he took 
possession of a letter which they had found in the search of his 
house, and destroyed it. He professed himself unable to recall the 
most striking events of recent weeks, although the cold calculator, 
who never uttered a word without consideration, unquestionably 
forgot nothing. When it was pointed out to him that this 
unprecedented weakness of memory produced an extremely 
unfavourable impression, he answered, with terrorist audacity, 
that this was entirely unknown to him as a principle of criminal 
law. 1 When subsequently in Mannheim he was confronted with 
the assassin, he attempted in a matter of importance to employ a 
ruse known to every criminologist. He complained of the weak- 
ness of his recollection, and requested his friend to recount to 
him precisely all that had happened, for this would serve to refresh 
his own memory. The committee of enquiry actually fell into the 
trap, and allowed the accused to relate his fable in detail, and 
now in Pollen's memory, too, the forgotten circumstances were 
suddenly and vividly recalled, and he declared that Sand's report 
seemed to him quite accurate. The father and the brother of the 
accused refused to testify, and so did his infatuated mother, who 
compared her son, " the pure, great martyr," to Martin Luther. 2 
Since nothing was known in Baden of the parties within the 
Jena Burschenschaft, only one other of Pollen's intimates was 

1 Minutes of the Saxon grand -ducal committee of enquiry, April 2, May 3 
and ii, 1819. 

2 Letter from Frau Sand to C. Follen, May n, 1819, found at Pollen's rooms. 


History of Germany 

examined, R. Wesselhoft, a discreet and cautious young man. In 
these circumstances it was impossible that the investigation 
should fully attain its ends, a fact admitted by the president 
of the committee, Councillor von Hohnhorst, in his speedily 
published report. The accessories to the crime remained undis- 

The news of the punishment of the rascal satirist of Mannheim 
was received with unconcealed delight in the circles of the 
Unconditional. The young people were feverishly excited, and in 
secret were concerting new acts of madness ; now was the time 
to fulfil the exhortations of Carl Pollen's association song : 

Down with the bulwark of evil, 

Down with the whole tribe of tyrants ! 

Yet, whenever some definite proposal emerged, the voice of con- 
science made itself heard. Carl Follen advised his friends in Jena 
to go in mass to Mannheim, to set the town on fire, and to liberate 
the imprisoned martyr ; but the majority refused. At Whitsun- 
tide, the students from Jena, Giessen, and Gottingen met in 
Fritzlar and on the Brocken to discuss a second act of violence, 
but no agreement was secured. The better ones among them, 
like Heinrich Leo, were weary of the criminal folly, and withdrew 
in disgust. Even the rougher among the students, now that the 
first intoxication of malicious joy had passed away, felt the idiotic 
stupidity of Sand's misdeed weigh heavily upon their spirits ; 
they saw that the governments were arming for defence, and 
that the Burschenschaft itself was threatened with suppression. 
Profound discouragement replaced the old audacity. 

It was only in Giessen, the acropolis of the Blacks, that the 
flames of revolutionary passion were not extinguished so quickly. 
There Paul Follen, supported by a few older friends, continued 
the evil work of his brother. In order to repair the failure of the 
Whitsuntide gathering, he held a meeting one evening in a village 
tavern, with a pastor from Wetterau, and a young apothecary 
named Loning from Nassau. President Ibell of Wiesbaden was 
to be the next victim. What did it matter to these madmen 
that Ibell was the most efficient, and essentially the most liberal 
also, of the Nassau officials ? He was the servant of the despots, 
and had, moreover, just aroused the anger of the Unconditional 
by the expulsion of Wilhelm Snell, a member of the Blacks. 
The three assassins cast lots, but then Loning demanded the 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

privilege of the assassination for himself, on the ground that he 
was almost a fellow-countryman of Ibell's. 1 He was a friend 
of L. Snell, a stupid and ignorant man, who had recently joined 
the Blacks in Heidelberg, his intelligence being crude enough to 
take literally the plausible gospel of political murder. On July ist, 
following Sand's example, Loning had himself announced to Ibell, 
and then suddenly and fiercely attacked his victim. The blow mis- 
carried, for Ibell was but slightly wounded, and his brave wife 
and others, hastening to the rescue, saved his life, but the vigorous 
man was so much alarmed by the shock that he shortly afterwards 
resigned his post, and could not for years resume public work. 
The would-be assassin displayed in prison the same elemental 
energy of self-control which had been shown by Sand ; in order 
to safeguard his comrades, he killed himself in the most horrible 
way, by swallowing fragments of glass. 

Even more sinister than the two deeds of blood themselves 
was the impression which they produced in the nation. It was 
true that little was said about Loning, for Ibell was hardly known 
outside Nassau ; but the assassin of Kotzebue seemed to be 
crowned as with a halo. To us of a later generation, who are 
able to look back with an unprejudiced eye, a murder committed 
by a hot-blooded youth in the rage of jealousy or of a wounded 
sense of honour, certainly seems far more human, far more 
excusable, than the detestable and vain self-conceit of this immature 
enthusiast, a man standing far below the level of mediocrity, who 
had never done anything worthy of record, never spoken a bril- 
liant word, never experienced a severe temptation, and who yet 
arrogated to himself the position of judge of the morals of his 
time, and undertook to heal the corruption of the world by a rude 
infringement of the simplest of moral laws. The one thing that 
can diminish our detestation, is our compassion with the blinded 
fool whose empty head was defenceless against the errors of a 
criminal doctrine. The feminine intelligence is dominated by 
feeling, the masculine intelligence by reason : an insignificant 
woman may become the delight of her entourage through the 
nobility and depth of her sensibilities ; but a man without under- 
standing is unable even to feel with refinement and security. The 
unfortunate wretch was able in good faith to call upon God to 
approve his misdeed, only because his poor brain was not able 

1 From Paul Pollen's own admission (Munch, Reminiscences, p. 60), amplified 
by guarded allusions in H. Leo's Memories of Youth, p. 227. 


History of Germany 

to recognise that the harsh vainglory of his moral outlook was 
the precise opposite of Christian love and humility. 

His contemporaries took another view. The mass of the 
nation, indeed, to whom the ideals of the Teutonising youth always 
remained uncongenial, was indifferent. But in those cultured 
circles which felt themselves to be the embodiment of public 
opinion, there prevailed an insecurity of moral judgment which 
must be numbered among the most tragical aberrations of our 
recent history. Not merely did the young men at the university 
hail Sand's deed as " a sign of that which will and must come," 
but even mature men compared the assassin with Tell, Brutus 
and Scaevola. Whilst the French press demanded in astonish- 
ment how such a bandit's deed could possibly be effected among 
the conscientious Germans, German professors were quoting the 
old Greek song, 

Hide the dagger which is destined for the tyrant, 
Hide it, as did Harmodius, in thy myrtle crown 

and the vice-master of Stralsund gave an address to the school 
upon the great tyrannicidal deeds of the Hellenes. The cult of 
the free personality which had been practised in the epoch of our 
classical poetry had made public opinion receptive for the sophis- 
tical conviction-morality of the Unconditionals, which argued 
that Sand was guiltless, because, like Jesus, he had acted in 
accordance with his conviction a detestable view which, pushed 
to its logical extreme, must lead to the acquittal of every hard- 
ened criminal, and in accordance with which those only can be 
condemned whose convictions are unstable because their conscience 
is not yet extinct. In Nasse's Medizinischer Zeitschrift, Grohmann, 
the alienist, declared : " It is merely in respect of its external 
and ostensible form that Sand's act can be termed assassination ; 
in reality it was open and declared war, it was the act of a 
conscience elevated with and inspired by the highest degree of 
morality, religious consecration." 

A theologian, too, the pious and amiable de Wette in Berlin, 
expressed himself in a like sense, as if it could be held that a 
thinking being was not responsible also for his conviction. He 
had personally known the unfortunate young man, and his 
compassionate heart impelled him to write the mother a letter of 
consolation. In this letter, he admits, indeed, that the act of her 
" exceptional son proceeded from error, and was not entirely free 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

from passion," but, " the error was outweighed by the serenity 
of the conviction, the passion was consecrated by the good 
source from which it flowed. He considered that what he did 
was right, and therefore he did right ; if everyone acts in accord- 
ance with his own best conviction, he will do what is best. As 
the act took place, carried out by this pure and pious youth, filled 
with this belief, inspired with this confidence, it is a fine sign of the 
times. A young man stakes his life in order to get rid of one 
whom so many venerate as an idol ; is all this to be without 
effect ? " Few, it is true, were blinded to this degree ; yet the 
predominant view among the cultured classes, was the one openly 
expressed by Gorres, " disapproval of the act, while approving 
the motive." 

Such a confusion of all moral ideas in a serious-minded people 
would be inconceivable did it not find its explanation in political 
discords. The general anger concerning the powerlessness of 
Germany had at length found vent in a horrible outcry. It 
seemed to the patriots as if the assassin had merely given expres- 
sion to a feeling with which countless hearts were inspired. To 
Kotzebue's name there attached an enormous measure of well- 
deserved contempt. All the world, moreover, was under the 
false impression that the reaction in Germany proceeded from 
Russia, at a moment when, in reality, the czar exercised 
extremely little influence upon Germany's destiny. In Kotzebue, 
excited observers perceived the representative of the Russian 
power upon German soil, although he was of absolutely no account 
at the court of St. Petersburg, while we have Czar Alexander's 
definite and thoroughly trustworthy assurance that Kotzebue had 
himself voluntarily offered to furnish his entirely useless literary 
Reports. 1 Thus Sand appeared to be the guarantor of German 
rights, and his act was regarded as a formal protest on the part 
of the nation against an imaginary foreign dominion. The 
unavoidably humane cruelty of modern criminal procedure served 
further to increase natural sympathy with the prisoner. With 
enormous difficulty, by the application of the highest possible 
professional skill, his life was preserved for a year, until at length 
Chelius, the celebrated surgeon of Heidelberg, amid the fierce anger 
of the Teutonising youth, fulfilled his duty by declaring that Sand 
could now endure execution. Even during the first weeks the 
prison was surrounded by excited crowds. 2 The longer the 

1 Blittersdorff's Report, St. Petersburg, May 26, 1819. 

2 Varnhagen's Report, March 27, 1819. 


History of Germany 

examination lasted, the louder became the manifestations of 
sympathy with the pious sufferer, who, fixed in his illusion, 
endured all his sufferings with stoical calm. 

Even the executioner, a warm-hearted patriot of the Palati- 
nate, honoured Sand as a hero of the national idea, begged 
his forgiveness, received his last commands, and presented the 
block upon which the execution had taken place to a Heidelberg 
sympathiser, in whose family the sacred relic was preserved as a 
priceless heirloom from generation to generation. From the 
timbers of the scaffold he built himself a summer-house, in his 
vineyard in the sunny angle between the Rhine and the Neckar 
valleys near Heidelberg ; for years afterwards, the members of 
the Heidelberg Burschenschaft were accustomed to hold secret 
conclave in this summer-house, as guests of Sand's executioner. 1 
The execution took place on May 20, 1820, in a meadow before 
the gates of Mannheim ; the students came over in crowds from 
Heidelberg, and in the evening, in their town of the Muses, they 
uttered many a vigorous " Perish King Frederick William." 
The boards splashed with the blood of the hallowed Sand were 
eagerly purchased, and the place of his death was known in the 
popular speech as " the Meadow of Sand's Ascension." 

The comments of the liberal press upon the assassination of 
Kotzebue and the attempted assassination of Ibell amounted to 
more or less veiled accusations against the governments. An 
anonymous writing, Observations upon the Assassination of 
Kotzebue, actually extolled the wholesome influence of Sand's act, 
and ascribed all blame for it to the crowns. In Borne's Wage, 
Gorres described with mystical exuberance the divine dispensa- 
tion whereby the old time and the new had met in bloody 
encounter ; and in the summer, when the persecution of the dema- 
gogues had already begun, he wrote down the latest impressions 
of his mobile intelligence in a book, Germany and the Revolution, 
a work which could not fail to have ah- exciting influence upon 
the mass of its readers. He began by saying that among the 
numerous secret conspiracies, one conspiracy was overlooked which 
sat mutinously at every fireside, which found loud expression in 
the market-places and in the streets. There followed a terrible 
picture of recent German history. For three centuries there had 
been nothing but barrenness and decay ; when love and con- 
fidence were dead, everything reposed upon the instinct of blind 
obedience. He could, indeed, mention no more than two definite 

1 Reminiscence of Professor G. Weber of Heidelberg. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

grounds for German misery, the destruction of the old 
Hapsburg emperordom, and the standing armies, these masses 
of drones, which in peace sucked the land dry and in war left it 
undefended. Anyone endowed with perspicacity could easily 
recognise that the imaginative man, who, on this occasion, once 
more comported himself as the spokesman of Rhenish Prussia, 
was on the point of going over, bag and baggage, to join the 
ultramontanes. Among the few favourable signs of the times, 
he extolled above all the Bavarian concordat which, he said, had 
only one fault, that it still left excessive powers in the hands of 
the state. For this reason, Gentz and Adam Miiller took a very 
friendly view of the extraordinary book ; but for Rhenish Prussia 
there could be no one more dangerous than the demagogic 
Capuchin, and King Frederick William had good reason for regard- 
ing this work as an attempt to inflame the Rhinelanders against 
the Prussian state. 

While an obscure, aimless, but fierce embitterment mani- 
fested itself among the cultured classes, during the summer the 
masses also suddenly broke into disturbance. The old racial 
hatred against the Jews, and the anger on account of the usurious 
practices of recent years, broke out into fury. In Wiirzburg, 
Carlsruhe, Heidelberg, Darmstadt, and Frankfort, mobs assem- 
bled, stormed some of the Jews' houses, and maltreated the 
inhabitants. The movement extended all over the Teutonic world, 
as far as Copenhagen and Amsterdam. It seemed as if the old 
popular superstition had something in it, and as if the great 
comet which this summer flamed in the heavens had brought 
disaster and confusion over the world. Here and there isolated 
Teutonising students may have played a part in the disturbances, 
and the mocking war-cry, Hep ! Hep ! which was then heard 
for the first time, would seem to have originated in cultured 
circles, for it is supposed that the word is formed from the initials 
of the phrase Hicrosolyma est perdita. Nevertheless a connection 
between the Christo-Germanic dreams of the Burschenschaft and 
these wild outbreaks of long-repressed popular passion, is neither 
demonstrable nor probable. The political ideas of the academic 
youth remained incomprehensible to 'the masses ; and in Heidel- 
berg, under Thibaut's leadership, the students even assembled, 
at the peril of their lives, in order to defend the Jews against 
the rage of the mob. The governments, however, in their alarm, 
saw in these tumults nothing more than a new proof of the secret 
workings of a revolutionary party. In great alarm, Metternich 


History of Germany 

instructed Count Buol that, after consultation with the statesmen 
assembled at Carlsbad, the Bundestag must, in case of need, 
summon troops from the adjoining garrison towns, since the senate 
of Frankfort was displaying much too weak a front towards the 
promoters of disturbance. 1 

No one who knows the contagious energy of political crime 
will deny that, after all that had happened, the crowns were 
justified in undertaking, and were even compelled to undertake, 
a strict investigation into the ultimate causes of the murder 
of Kotzebue and the attempt on Ibell's life, and to 
initiate severe proceedings against certain writers who openly 
defended political assassination. Since both the criminals belonged 
to the Unconditionals, the suppression of the Burschenschaft was 
unavoidable for a time at least. Yet nothing but courageous, 
firm, and calm action on the part of the governments could bring 
unstable public opinion to its senses once more, and at the Ger- 
man courts there was no trace of such statesmanlike certainty 
of aim. Gloomy epochs appear from time to time in which even 
noble nations seem to be smitten by epidemic mental disorder. 
Thus almost all the German governments fell a prey to a wild 
delusion of persecution. The two enigmatic crimes, the excited 
language of the newspapers (among which the Isis and the Neuc 
Stuttgarter Zeitung were especially foolish), the stormy proceedings 
of the two first Landtags all these things in conjunction made 
the minor courts extremely uneasy. There was superadded the 
obscure feeling that the nation had, in truth, little ground to con- 
gratulate itself upon the Vienna treaties. 

The South German courts, which were hailed in the press as 
pillars of the constitutional faith, displayed themselves the most 
disturbed of all. King William of Wiirtemberg sent the court of 
St. Petersburg so dire a description of the revolutionary senti- 
ments of the German youth that Stourdza exulted loudly, and 
even the ultra-conservative Blittersdorff found this appeal of 
a German prince to a foreign court a contemptible act. 2 Bahn- 
maier, the pious theologian of Tubingen, was deprived of a minor 
post, because in an official report he had truthfully declared 
that Sand's action was not regarded by the students as a crime, 
but as a patriotic aberration. The court of Munich immediately 
applied to Austria and Prussia, urgently demanding that common 

1 Metternich to Buol, August 14 ; Bernstorfi to Goltz, August 15, 1819. 

2 Blittersdorff 's Reports, St. Petersburg, April 26 and 30, 1819. 

1 80 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

measures should be taken against the universities ; certain 
teachers who had expressed their satisfaction concerning the death 
of Kotzebue were immediately suspended from office ; and since 
Sand sent a message to his king from prison, to the effect that the 
latter had nothing to fear for himself, the timid Max Joseph imme- 
diately drew the conclusion that godless designs were manifestly 
cherished against other German princes. 1 Finally, the govern- 
ment of Baden, in whose territory the crime had been committed, 
had quite extraordinary ideas regarding the extent of the " dema- 
gogic intrigues," as the new official expression phrased it. The 
investigation had disclosed a half truth. The government 
believed itself to have ascertained that in the Burschenschaft there 
existed a secret society " whose principal motto is tyrannicide, 
and which has its centre in the vicinity of Giessen, in the abode 
of a certain Follenius." But the Badenese government did not 
discover how few and powerless were the Unconditionals, 
cherishing the illusion that the German Landtags desired to com- 
bine to establish a German parliament beside the Bundestag, 
and then to declare the indivisible German republic. It was 
consequently with ardent gratitude that Berstett received " the 
gracious communication of the most sapient views of his majesty 
the emperor," when Metternich wrote that the Austrian court 
was determined to take serious steps against the professors and 
the abandoned writers, " who are daily, in every possible way, 
instilling their revolutionary principles into the mind of youth, 
to the point of intoxication." Berstett immediately instructed 
the Badenese federal envoy to follow the Austrian lead, and 
declared to the cabinet of St. Petersburg, "We desire to press for- 
ward to the source of this hellish conspiracy, which aims at nothing 
less than the overthrow of all divine and human institutions ; 
we desire to suppress the despotism which the professors are 
endeavouring to exercise over the political opinions of Germany, 
under the segis of an inexperienced and far too impressionable 
youth." 2 

Far more momentous was the change of sentiments at the 
court of Berlin. As with all other important resolves on the part 
of this government, the reactionary tendency of the year 1819 
proceeded from the monarch in person. The king became daily 

1 Krusemark's Report, May 21 ; Zastrow's Reports, April 14 and August 4; 
Ministerial Despatch to Zastrow, April 23, 1819. 

2 Metternich to Berstett, April 17 ; Berstett to Nesselrode, May 9; to Metter- 
nich, May 29, 1819. 


History of Germany 

more dissatisfied with his chancellor, and with Hardenberg's 
" curious " entourage. From the foolish articles of the liberal 
journals, which Wittgenstein sedulously laid before him, Frederick 
William concluded that a powerful conspiracy existed, and 
expressed his gratitude to Eylert, the court bishop, when the latter, 
on the occasion of the Ordensfest, stigmatised the rebellious spirit 
of the age in a clamorous speech. When the news of Sand's 
crime now arrived, and when the murder found so many blinded 
defenders, the conscientious monarch felt wounded in his most 
sacred sentiments ; he regarded it as his royal duty to intervene 
with inconsiderate severity, gave the police authorities extra- 
ordinary powers (May 4th), and in addition established a minis- 
terial committee to conduct proceedings against the demagogues. 
The Prussian students at the university of Jena were ordered to 
leave that town, and although the young fellows at first talked 
much of heroic resistance to the tyrannical order, in the end, when 
the time expired, they all obeyed to the last man. 

Yet not even this experience induced the king to ask himself 
whether, after all, the spirit of insubordination in the academic 
world could be so powerful as he had imagined. He considered 
what Metternich had reported to him concerning the intrigues of 
political parties working in obscurity had now been completely 
justified by the course of events ; he refused to sign the new gym- 
nastic ordinance when it was laid before him, sent urgent advice 
for the adoption of severe measures both to Weimar and to Carls- 
ruhe, on the ground that the " unhappy disorders among the 
university youth have attained to a truly alarming height " ; and 
commanded Count Bernstorff to consult with the Austrian envoy 
Zichy (who had just received instructions by courier) concerning 
extraordinary resolutions on the part of the Bundestag. 1 The 
new director of the department of police, Privy Councillor Kamptz, 
with the support of Wittgenstein, ardently threw himself into the 
work of investigation. A Mecklenburger by birth, and therefore 
accustomed to a deathly stillness in public life, he really seems 
to have believed in the great conspiracy, but at the same time 
he desired to avenge himself upon his literary opponents. There 
at once flocked to his assistance a rabble rout of depraved men, 
who were accustomed to thrive in the miasmatic atmosphere of 
mistrust and suspicion : the councillors Tzschoppe, Grano, and 
Dambach, men animated by vulgar ambition, who undertook 

1 Bernstorff to Varnhagen, April 23 ; Krusemark's Report, April 16 ; In- 
structions to Krusemark, May 17 and June 15, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

the journeyman's work of the prosecutions with tenacious and 
bloodthirsty zeal. 

Whilst the German courts were thus mastered by blind terror, 
Metternich luxuriated in the sentiment of gratified vanity. Once 
again he had foreseen everything, the devilish plans of the repro- 
bates who dreamed of German unity had been disclosed ; now 
was the opportunity to exploit the anxiety of the German crowns, 
" to give matters the best possible turn, to draw from them the 
greatest possible advantage." During the spring of this year, 
Emperor Francis visited the Italian courts. Metternich, who 
with the Prussian envoy Krusemark, travelled in the monarch's 
train, sent to his wife from Rome and Naples reports of the 
journey which produce on the mind of an unprejudiced reader 
somewhat the impression as if a commercial clerk greedy of know- 
ledge had written them and Baron Miinchhausen of happy memory 
had appended certain historical and statistical observations. He 
displayed his sentiment for art by playing the patron to certain 
fashionable French and English painters. On the other hand, 
the exhibition which the German painters had instituted in the 
Palazzo Caffarelli in honour of the emperor was hardly deemed 
worthy of a glance. The Viennese could make nothing of the 
high-flown idealism of these Nazarenes ; moreover the artists of 
San Isidoro had long hair and wore Old German coats, and, not- 
withstanding the artists' Catholic sentiments, these peculiarities 
rendered them extremely suspect in the emperor's eyes. The 
political aim of the journey was ostensibly attained. Emperor 
Francis was hailed everywhere by the polite world as protector 
of Italy. He visited the Vatican as guest of the pope, who over- 
whelmed the ruler of the leading Catholic power with tokens of 
honour, and decorated the archduke Rudolf with the cardinal's 
purple. This sufficed to determine Metternich's judgment. Why 
should he concern himself to glean information about Roman 
affairs from Niebuhr, the Prussian envoy, who, despite his con- 
servative inclinations, despite his respect for the pope's gentleness 
and for the sagacity of Cardinal Consalvi, had speedily come to the 
conclusion that the eternal city had been far happier under 
Napoleonic rule than under the restored priestly dominion ? To 
the Austrian statesman, conditions in the Pontifical State seemed 
altogether admirable, whilst the lazz,aroni of Naples beneath the 
blessings of Bourbon rule were " a hundred-fold more civilised 
than they had been twenty years before." He declared it alto- 
gether impossible that the plaintive but spiritless Italians should 


History of Germany 

ever venture upon raising the standard of revolt making this 
prophecy barely a year before the revolution simultaneously 
broke out in Naples and in Piedmont. 

He manifested the same certainty of statesmanlike insight 
in his judgment of German affairs. To him this outwearied people 
seemed long overripe for revolution. " I vouch for it," he wrote 
to his wife, " that in the year 1789 the condition of the world 
was perfectly healthy when compared with the state of affairs 
to-day ! " Even before the Wart burg festival, he had several 
times discussed with the South German envoys whether there 
ought not to be instituted in Vienna a common foyer for the 
observation of the German revolution. Now came one appeal 
for help after another from the minor courts. They all complained 
of their own heedlessness, and expressed their admiration for the 
penetrating insight of the great statesman who alone had fore- 
seen the reckless purposes of the Burschen. How was it possible 
that this vainest of men should now be free from a self-admiration 
verging upon lunacy ? Since the solitary giant of the eighteenth 
century had passed away (he doubtless referred to Frederick II), 
Metternich found that the human race had become contemptibly 
petty. " My spirit," he declared, " cannot endure anything 
petty ; I command a view which is incomparably wider than 
that which other statesmen see, or desire to see. I cannot refrain 
from saying to myself twenty times a day how right I am and how 
wrong they are. And yet it is so easy, so clear, so simple, to find 
the only right path ! " Thus the idealistic pride of the German 
youth was countered by the cold arrogance of the man of the 
world, who was never inspired with enthusiasm for any abstract 
idea, who had never given a thought to the great interests 
of human civilisation, but who regarded fear, that meanest of 
human passions, as his natural ally, and who, amid all the follies 
of police persecution, continued to imagine himself a wise advocate 
of statesmanlike moderation, saying : " The sacred mean where 
truth is to be found, is accessible to but few." 

Without even asking for proofs, he regarded it as estab- 
lished that the " Jena Fehm " chose its members by lot, in 
order to despatch them throughout Germany for the work of 
assassination ; the power of the individual German states was 
inadequate to deal with so terrible a conspiracy. Consequently 
when King Max Joseph consulted the court of Vienna, as well as 
that of Berlin, regarding the suspension of the Bavarian constitu- 
tion, Metternich returned an evasive answer. The press, the 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

universities, and the chambers must be gagged by the common 
action of all the federal states, under Austria's leadership. " With 
God's help, I hope to avert the German revolution just as I have 
overthrown the conqueror of the world ! " He was firmly sup- 
ported by his monarch. Now, as always, Emperor Francis desired 
repose. Never must the quiet life of his press, of his postulate 
Landtags, and of those schools which in Old Austria were termed 
universities, be disturbed by the follies of his German neighbours. 
He whole-heartedly approved his minister's theory that every 
federal prince would commit "a felony against the Federation " 
should he allow freedom to the press, since, owing to the existence 
of a common language, the virus of this freedom might infect 
German-speaking Austria. He declared with cynical frankness 
that it was necessary to play upon the fears of these weak 
governments, and he empowered his statesmen, in case of need, 
to threaten that Austria would secede from the Federation. 

At length Prussia was won over. It was possible to count 
upon the old friends, the high tories of England-Hanover, for 
count Miinster was one of the pillars of reaction, and the English 
parliament rarely troubled itself about the internal affairs of 
Germany. Miinster did not forget the undisciplined conduct 
of the Burschen of Jena during a chance visit he had recently 
made to the town, and the English diplomats were prepared 
to swear that the whole of Germany was enthusiastically advocat- 
ing political assassination. 1 Nor was any opposition to be feared 
from Prussia. It is true that Capodistrias, who happened to 
be visiting an Italian spa, was still regarded by the Austrians 
as an extremely suspect person, and he had quite recently refused 
an invitation from Metternich because he wished to avoid dis- 
tressing explanations. But at this moment the views of the 
Greek were of little account at the court of St. Petersburg when 
compared with the advice of Nesselrode, who always agreed with 
Metternich, and who obstinately continued to repeat to the Ger- 
man envoys that it was incredible so talented a nation could permit 
the continuance of the dangerous exceptional privileges of its 
universities ! As a work of supererogation, Emperor Francis 
wrote personally to the czar, expressing his sympathy on account 
of Kotzebue's murder, and taking the opportunity to complain 
of the conduct of Alexander's former tutor, Laharpe, because in 
Italy Laharpe was making an improper use of his imperial pupil's 

1 Apologia of th Jena Burschenschaft to Count Munster, July, 1819. Report 
of von Cruickshank, grand-ducal Saxon Resident, Berlin, July 28, 1819. 

185 o 

History of Germany 

name, and, in the name of Russia, was stimulating disaffection in 
Rome. The czar paid no attention to this imperial denuncia- 
tion, but as far as German affairs were concerned he took the 
same view as Nesselrode. The hatred of Russia which found 
expression in the attacks made by the Jena students upon 
Kotzebue and Stourdza was regarded by him as a personal 
affront, and he expressed a vigorous censure of Charles Augustus' 
laxity in his proceedings against the demagogues. 1 To sum up, 
the Austrian court had a perfectly free hand for its campaign 
against the German revolution. 

It seemed for a time as if the first blow would be directed 
by the Bundestag. Despite all his good-will, after Sand's crime 
Grand Duke Charles Augustus had not been able to spare his 
university the institution of certain severe measures. He com- 
manded that a stricter discipline should be imposed, and ordered 
that, until further notice, foreigners should be admitted to the 
university only upon special recommendation from their respective 
governments, because the spirit of the students " takes here and 
there a dangerous turn, and much of this poison is brought to 
Jena from foreign schools." 8 Since the Isis continued to rage, 
measures were at length taken against Oken. After the senate 
had vainly uttered remonstrances, it was necessary to lay before 
the good blusterer the choice of abandoning his professorial posi- 
tion, or giving up his newspaper. Since Oken rejoined, after his 
manner, that he had no answer to make to such a proposal, he 
was dismissed from his professorship amid the lively condolences 
of his professorial colleagues. Soon afterwards he had to 
transfer his newspaper to Leipzig. He himself endeavoured to 
settle in Wiirzburg, but this was forbidden by the direct order of 
the king. 3 He then passed some time in learned labours in Paris, 
being the first refugee of the German agitation. At the Bun- 
destag, the Hanoverian government, alarmed by the exodus of the 
Gottingen students, had made confidential enquiry as early as 
December, 1818, whether all the states which possessed univer- 
sities ought not to agree upon common measures to secure academic 

1 Krusemark's Reports, May 21 and June 30 ; Blittersdorff's Reports, St. 
Petersburg, April 21. May 30, 1819. 

* Rescript of Grand Duke Charles Augustus and of Duke Augustus of Gotha 
to the academy in Jena, March 30. Count Edling, Instructions to the federal 
envoy, von Hendrich, March 28, 1819. 

3 Zastrow's Report, October 9, 1819. 

1 86 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

tranquillity. 1 This suggestion was immediately utilised by the 
grand duke to avoid worse happenings, and to defend his Jena 
against unjustified attacks. He made the formal proposal that 
the Bundestag should issue rules for university discipline, but 
without imposing limitations upon ancient academic liberties. 
" No country," says a cabinet memorial, " is richer than Ger- 
many in men of thoroughly grounded learning, men of culture, 
loyal in the state service, efficient servants of the church, and 
these advantages have been secured through the work of the 
German universities." Never, continued the document, must the 
universities, which Count Buol himself in his inaugural address 
had declared to be a proud monument to German development, 
never must they be transformed into schools. " Freedom of 
opinion and of teaching must be preserved to them, for truth would 
be found here, in the open conflict of opinions ; the pupils must 
be safeguarded against one-sidedness, against reliance upon 
authority, and must be trained to become independent." There 
was appended a cordial defence of the students. They had 
desired in their Burschenschaft to realise the fine idea of the unity 
of the Germans ; those who in the war had been utilised as fit 
to bear arms must not immediately thereafter be treated as 
infants. When this declaration 2 was read in the Bundestag, 
on March nth, before Sand's crime had been committed, the 
assembly was greatly embarrassed. Count Buol and several of 
the other envoys urgently begged Hendrich, the representative 
of the Ernestine ruler, to withdraw his proposal, because this 
matter did not fall within the competence of the Federation. 3 
Charles Augustus, however, held firmly to his resolve, 4 and subse- 
quently, after the assassination of Kotzebue, sent Privy Councillor 
Conta to Frankfort in order to advocate the proposal. But " from 
the personality of the federal envoys," Conta gained the con- 
viction that a federal resolution was unattainable, and merely 
endeavoured in confidential conversation to secure an agreement 
among the envoys of those states immediately concerned in the 
matter. 5 

The views of the court of Vienna differed from those of 

1 Hendrich's Report, December 28, 1818. 

2 Grand Duke Charles Augustus, Rescripts to Hendrich, January 26 and 
February 17, 1819. 

3 Hendrich's Reports, March 12, 1819. 

4 Charles Augustus, Rescript to Hendrich, March 16, 1819. 

s Conta, Report to the Grand Duke, May 4. Goltz's Report, Frankfort, 
May 17. Blittersdorff's Report, St. Petersburg, May 8, 1819. 

I8 7 

History of Germany 

its perplexed envoy. The Hofburg desired to utilise the Weimar 
proposal to induce the Federation to direct an immediate blow 
against the universities. Gentz and Nesselrode heard with disgust 
the bold language of the prince who, at such a moment, still ven- 
tured to defend the free struggle of opinions and the dreams of 
unity which inspired the German students. Metternich, on the 
other hand, expressed the opinion, " This old Burseh cannot be 
punished with contempt, for he is used to it." Such was the 
tone in which an Austrian statesman now ventured to speak of 
the most renowned member of the German estate of princes the 
days of Wallenstein threatened to return. Consequently Count 
Buol was instructed to agree to the discussion of the Weimar 
proposal, in order then to carry through a counter-proposal which 
Gentz had elaborated in accordance with the ideas of Adam 
Miiller, a master-stroke of pusillanimity in the way of police 
regulations. The plans of the house of Austria for the reform 
of the German universities consisted principally of two proposals. 
The students were to be deprived of their exceptional position, 
and in disciplinary matters, as well as others, were to be exclu- 
sively subject to the control of the ordinary police ; for through 
the agency of the college servants and similar persons the police 
could readily be kept informed of the proceedings of the young 
people. Further, all the German governments were to pledge 
themselves that no university teacher who had been deprived of 
his office for promulgating dangerous doctrines should ever be 
reinstated at any German university. It was upon this latter 
point that the Hofburg laid especial stress. In Gentz's view, all 
the sins of the students were due simply to the reckless doctrines 
of their professors, and he brazenly declared it to be unquestion- 
able that Oken, Fries, Luden, and Kieser were the true assassins 
of Kotzebue. Emperor Francis, suspicious of everything which 
lay beyond his own immediate circle of vision, held the same view. 
He urgently commended to all the courts the acceptance of the 
Austrian proposal, and personally begged the king of Prussia 
to give it his friendly support. 1 

The slowness of the regular proceedings of the Federation 
offered, however, a certain guarantee against surprises. When 
the customary sending for instructions began, and the govern- 
ments had maturely considered the difficult question, it once 
more became plain how little the Austria of Metternich had in 
common with German civilisation. In Austria it was only the 

1 Krusemark's Report, May 21, 1819. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

medical faculties which enjoyed the complete freedom of teaching 
and study that prevailed at German universities. In Berlin, 
on the other hand, there was a lively feeling that to take forcible 
action against academic freedom might readily destroy all the 
foundations of German culture. Even the timid Ancillon was, 
after all, unable altogether to renounce the cause of the German 
professors, and gave the Hofburg to understand that for 
Germany all this was more difficult than for Austria, because 
Germany possessed great universities, which were teaching institu- 
tions, and not simply educational institutions, and which could 
thrive only in freedom. l Eichhorn, who for a year past had reported 
upon German affairs in the Prussian foreign office, composed 
for the Bundestag an able memorial (July loth) which did not, 
indeed, express itself so considerately towards the arrogance of 
the younger generation as had done Duke Charles Augustus, but 
which was in full agreement with the practical details of the 
Weimar proposal. In Eichhorn's view, the chief institutions of 
the German universities, as they had come into being in the course 
of historical development, seemed thoroughly healthy ; he warned 
the governments against the attempt to intervene in this world 
of freedom with threats and exhortations, saying, " The utter- 
ance of a government is of necessity also an act " ; he even 
ventured to express the simple thought, one which at that moment 
was an extremely bold one, that under certain reservations 
students' societies might perhaps be permitted, for the innu- 
merable prohibitions issued for centuries past had been without 
avail ; and finally, he expressly declared against the proposal 
that a dismissed professor should never be reappointed at any 
university. It would suffice, he said, if the governments should 
conscientiously communicate to one another the reasons for any 
such dismissal, for certainly no German prince would ever take into 
his service a corrupter of youth. In the committee of the Bun- 
destag, the views of Prussia were by no means all carried into effect ; 
the Austrian proposal that no discharged professor should ever 
be reinstated, was adopted by Bavaria, Hanover, and Baden, 
despite Prussia's opposition. But in the further course of the 
negotiations, Austria everywhere encountered the hostility of 
particularism, whose existence is nowhere better justified than 
in the domain of academic life. Even these alarmed petty 
princes did not wish that the peculiarities of their universities 
should undergo complete atrophy, and would only agree upon 
1 Ancillon, Instruction to Krusemark, June 15, 1819. 

I listory of Germany 

a few common rules ; it was all the harder to overcome their 
resistance since university affairs were unquestionably outside 
the competence of the Federation. 

Metternich felt that he would never attain his ends 
through the instrumentality of the Bundestag, and in any case 
the anarchical condition of the Frankfort assembly had long 
before aroused the anger of the court of Vienna. Count Buol, 
with his poverty of ideas and his tactless violence, was unable 
to lead the assembly. Just as little was the good-natured 
Goltz fitted for the position he occupied ; owing to an indis- 
cretion he had quite recently been recalled, and with difficulty 
had secured forgiveness from his court. 1 Thus it might happen 
that some of the envoys of the lesser states, Wangenheim, Harnier, 
and Lepel from the two Hesses, Smidt of Bremen, and others, 
secretly supported by the crafty Bavarian Aretin, would come 
to constitute a liberal opposition, a state of affairs utterly 
unjustified in an assembly of diplomats, because this opposition 
would base its actions, not upon instructions from the courts, 
but simply upon the personal convictions of the envoys. In 
the sittings in committee, the representatives of these minor 
states were arrogantly inclined to display the superiority of 
their culture and their eloquence to the envoys of the two 
great powers. At the same time the liberals were the advo- 
cates of particularism, being indefatigable in the discovery of 
wiles and machinations to hinder the completion of the federal 
military organisation. Just at this time, Wangenheim privately 
showed his colleagues an autograph memorial from the king of 
Wurtemberg wherein an attempt was made, altogether in the 
sense of the Confederation of the Rhine, to incite the German 
sovereigns against the military dictatorship of the two great 
powers, and this document was so spitefully worded that Austria 
and Prussia were forced to make serious representations in 
Stuttgart. * 

A speedy and comprehensive decision, such as was desired 
by the court of Vienna, was not to be secured from this 
assembly. Consequently, as early as April, Gentz advised 
that a confidential understanding should first of all be secured 
with the greater courts, and Metternich agreed with the 
proposal, as soon as he was informed of the tardy course of 
proceedings at the Frankfort committee. It was his intention 

1 Goltz's Report to the king, March 9, 1819. 
J Krusemark's Report, January n, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

to go to Bohemia in July, in order to disclose to the king 
of Prussia, who at this season was in the habit of visiting 
the spa of Teplitz, the programme of certain provisional federal 
laws. Nothing but federal laws, he repeatedly wrote to Berlin, 
would serve to remedy the far-advanced evil of revolutionary 
conspiracies ; the time had long passed in which measures 
on the part of isolated states of the Federation would suffice. 1 
If an agreement with Prussia were secured, the representatives 
of the two great powers would in Carlsbad come to an under- 
standing about the laws of exception with the ministers of 
the greater states of the Federation, and these laws would have 
to be adopted and promulgated by the Bundestag without 
further deliberation, for who among the petty powers would 
venture to resist the desires of the nine most powerful German 
courts if these had unanimously decided upon a course of 
action. After the exceptional laws had been completed, the 
ministers of the federal states were finally to assemble in Vienna 
in the course of the winter in order to effect that enlargement 
of the elements of the federal constitution which had been 
promised since the year 1815 (of course in an ultra-conservative 
sense), and especially to establish binding general rules as 
regards representative institutions. This plan closely resembled 
a coup d'etat. It contemptuously overrode all the constitutional 
rights of the Bundestag, and involved the severest criticism 
of the federal constitution, implying that from this Federation 
no definite action could be secured by any other means than 
by intimidation and the use of arbitrary power. 

Delighted at heart, Gentz now worked with holy zeal at the 
proposals for the Carlsbad meeting : provisional exceptional 
laws against the universities, the press, and the demagogues ; 
with, in addition, an interpretation of article 13 for which 
the follies of the Badenese chambers gave a welcome pretext. 
If the liberals had unscrupulously interpreted article 13 as 
the promise of a representative system, Gentz was quite 
ready with an opposing sophistical argument which was at 
least as well-founded as the other. When article 13 spoke of 
a representative constitution, it meant estates and nothing more. 
If the German states, Gentz wrote to Soutzo the hospodar, 
should adopt a democratic representative system, all federative 
unity would be broken up, and Austria would find it beneath 
her dignity to participate any longer in such a federation. 

1 Krasemark's Reports, Rome, June 4; Perugia, June 22, 1819. 


History of Germany 

Meanwhile, in profound secrecy, the minor kingdoms, and also 
the especially trustworthy courts of Baden, Mecklenburg, and 
Nassau, were invited to send their leading ministers to Carlsbad 
in July, and all joyfully accepted the proposal. No information 
was vouchsafed to the other cabinets : in the case of some 
because the time was short, and because only a small group 
of ministers could rapidly come to any conclusion ; in the 
case of others, because Emperor Francis regarded them with 
mistrust. As late as July, the Weimar envoy innocently 
reported from Berlin that the forthcoming Carlsbad congress 
was beyond question chiefly directed against France. 1 

At the court of Vienna no words could any longer be 
found sufficiently strong for the description of the grand duke 
of Weimar. The Maecenas of the German wits, it was mock- 
ingly said at the Hofburg, had now become the patron of 
German political assassins ; a few hotspurs were already recall- 
ing the fate of John Frederick. The good prince held his own 
as long as he could. In the spring of this year he even 
thought of nominating the dreaded Gagern as his federal envoy, 
but General Wolzogen fortunately dissuaded him. 2 Meanwhile 
there came to hand serious exhortations from Russia, and 
plain threats from Austria. On the journey to Carlsbad, Metter- 
nich bluntly declared to a statesman of one of the minor courts 
that the only legal ground for the existence of the petty federal 
states was the federal act, that only as members of the Federa- 
tion had they secured the recognition of the European powers, 
and that by felony against the Federation they would forfeit 
their existence. However certain it was that this preposterous 
legal view was absolutely contrary to the international character 
of the federation of German states, and that it infringed the 
sovereignty of all the German princes which had been so often 
and so ceremoniously recognised, Charles Augustus was well 
aware how much this sovereignty was worth in the way of 
substantial support, and he was not so foolish as to attempt 
with the paper strength of a paragraph in the federal consti- 
tution to undertake a struggle for power against the declared 
will of all the greater states of the Federation. Once again, 
in the evening of his days, he had bitter experience of the 
falsity of particularism from which he had suffered all his life. 
He had silently to accept what he was unable to prevent, 

1 Cruickshank's Report, July 10, 1819. 

2 Goltz's Report, May 25, 1819. 


and could do no more than secretly resolve to apply the Carls- 
bad decrees as leniently as possible. Next to Weimar, the 
curia of the free towns was especially suspect to the cotirt 
of Vienna ; the venerable and patriarchal senates of the four 
communes owed this undeserved reputation to the good Smidt, 
the federal envoy of Bremen, who really cherished a genuine 
admiration for the federal constitution and for the house of 
Austria, but who always desired that the promises of the federal 
act should be seriously carried out, and who occasionally gave 
offence by his bourgeois candour. 

The Bundestag itself, just as much as the minor courts, 
remained without any news of the Carlsbad undertaking. After 
its deliberations about the universities, this body had fallen 
altogether into the disfavour of the Hofburg, and Gentz himself 
said something which would shortly before have still been 
regarded as high treason, namely, that this assembly was not 
a whit better than the Reichstag of Ratisbon. The affair was to 
be a secret even from Count Buol, and the unhappy Goltz had 
once more to play the part which he had played in the spring 
of 1813, when he sat among the French troops with a govern- 
mental committee in Berlin, while the king in Breslau was 
preparing for war against France. It was simply a matter of 
rumour in Frankfort that the visits which so many German 
ministers were making to Carlsbad, ostensibly for the sake 
of their health, might also perhaps lead to political conversa- 

As late as July 3ist, Smidt sent to his senate an innocent 
memorial concerning the matters which, in his opinion, ought 
to be discussed at Carlsbad. He, also, thought it desirable 
to allay the excitement of public opinion, but he wished to 
reconcile " the German nations " with existing circumstances, 
so that they should not ever and again be embittered by the 
sight of the political and economic prosperity of conquered 
France, and he therefore recommended to the Bundestag lively 
action on behalf of the general welfare, such as the Federation 
had already displayed in the organisation of the federal army, 
which, however, unfortunately had not yet come into existence. 
Smidt hoped that the Bundestag would by degrees effect the 
abolition of the internal customs-dues of Germany, but was 
careful to warn against any exaggerated hopes, so that Austria, 
which hardly needed the German market, might not be rendered 
hostile ; he hoped for a federal court of justice, hoped for a 

History of Germany 

common foreign policy conducted by the diplomatic committee 
of the Bundestag, and hoped for many other excellent things. 
So little notion had he of Metternich's designs. 

How significant a contrast ! On the one hand, the amor- 
phous federalist dreams of an upright patriot, in his native 
republic the prototype of a cautious and practical statesman, 
who, with childlike confidence, expected the impossible from 
the incurable futility of the Germanic federation ; on the other 
hand, the cynicism of an un-German policy which proposed 
to enforce calm upon the peoples by police pressure, but which 
pursued its secret aims with finished cunning and clear calcu- 
lation. There could have been no doubt in such a competition 
to which side victory must accrue, even if there had not 
existed a ludicrous inequality of forces. The Hanseatic states- 
man never dreamed that his innocent memorial would be 
betrayed to the court of Vienna, and that there, notwithstand- 
ing his ardent asseverations of fealty to the house of Austria, 
it would be regarded askance as a new indication of demagogic 
sentiments. The nine courts in the conspiracy had nothing 
to fear from these petty opponents, and Gentz triumphantly 
announced to his friend Pilat that a moment of sublime import- 
ance in German history had arrived. 

Meanwhile, in the course of July, the first arrests and 
domiciliary searches took place in Berlin ; on July I3th, Privy 
Councillor Kamptz reported to the chancellor upon the result. 1 
Abruptly and roughly, with criminal levity, he had loosed his 
pack of hounds upon all who might by any possibility have 
the remotest relationship to the Burschenschaft. Yet the 
number of arrested persons remained extremely small, for Metter- 
nich was deliberately lying when he indicated Prussia as the 
breeding place of revolutionary designs. The Prussian univer- 
sities, in especial, had remained comparatively unaffected by 
the Teutonising movement. What the Austrian and his 
Prussian adherents were aiming at was, not the revolutionary 
sentiment, but German national pride, and this unquestionably 
found its strongest support in the people, the army, and the 
officialdom of Prussia. In Berlin, Jahn was the first victim. 
He was brought to Spandau, and then sent to the fortress of 
Kiistrin. His position was a serious one, for among the papers 
of the students and school-boys who had been arrested, the 

1 Hardenberg's Diary, July 13, 1819. 
194 " 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

Golden Sayings and other foolish outpourings of the Turnvater's 
heart had been discovered, all extremely suspicious to the 
minds of timid underlings. 

Since the state was supposed to be in danger, it was con- 
sidered legitimate to intercept and examine letters. In the case 
of quite a number of young men charged with isolated acts 
of folly or quite harmless epistolary utterances, the hearing 
was adjourned from month to month. For example, the two 
Swiss students Ulrich and Wyss had to undergo prolonged 
examination because in one of their letters the observation was 
found that Sand's crime would injure the good cause. It 
seemed that " the good cause " could mean nothing but a 
demagogic conspiracy. When the accused asked what precisely 
was meant by " demagogic," the examining judge, an extremely 
youthful referendary, answered that the term demagogic meant 
" any forcible evocation of a constitution." Again, one of 
the most respected burghers of Berlin, G. A. Reimer the book- 
seller, a man in a large way of business, a bold venturer but 
a prudent calculator, one of the first representatives of the 
reawakening economic energies of the German bourgeoisie, had 
his house searched because he was undoubtedly acquainted 
with Niebuhr, Eichhorn, and Schleiermacher, and because the 
devotees of gymnastics frequently visited his hospitable home. 
Grano and Dambach participated in person in the important 
affair. Reimer himelf was absent on a journey, and since 
Eichhorn, as a friend of the family, gallantly offered his 
services to Reimer's wife, and insisted that the examining 
officers should show their search-warrant, these subordinates 
revenged themselves by sending in a shameless report in which 
they expressed the definite opinion that Eichhorn one of the 
leading officials of the monarchy might very probably be 
connected with the conspiracy. Among Reimer's papers were 
found a few of Schleiermacher's letters dating from the days 
of the peace of Tilsit, in which the writer spoke of an 
approaching popular rising, and this phrase, which related to 
an uprising against foreign dominion, was sufficient to throw 
suspicion even upon the great theologian. During the next 
few months, his sermons were subjected to police supervision. 
The spies reported that he was accustomed to speak of " the 
liberation of the spiritual powers of mankind which we owe to 
the teaching of Christ " ; the hymns sung by the congregation 
were suspect ; and, to crown all, " four students with beards, after 


History of Germany 

receiving the Holy Communion, continued kneeling, apparently 
in devout prayer." * 

Kamptz did not hesitate to publish numerous sentences from 
the letters of the arrested persons, some of these sentences being 
distorted, and he published them although he was one of the most 
zealous defenders of secret judicial procedure. In the Vossische 
Zcitung he wrote so defamatory an article concerning Jahn's 
arrest that the prisoner instituted a prosecution for slander which 
could be suppressed only by an appeal to legal technicalities. 
In the Jahrb richer der Gesetzgebung, he endeavoured to instruct the 
Prussian judges, telling them that even if they had to do with 
nothing more than criminal theories, they must regard these as 
constituting the offence of high treason. Stagemann was forced 
to open the columns of the Staatszeitung to the most ridiculous 
revelations, and, like many another upright official, consoled 
himself with the view that, after all, the suspicions could not be 
utterly groundless, because if they were the highest police authori- 
ties would not talk with such absolute confidence. In these 
revelations it was stated that a gymnast sixteen years of age was 
responsible for the horrible utterance : " Oh ! excellent Sand, 
you did not know what blockheads we were ! " The same young 
rascal, who had plainly just been intoxicated by reading Schiller's 
Robbers, had also written : "I should like to see someone hanging 
on every tree between here and Charlottenburg ; then I could 
breathe more freely"; and further down, "To kill the whole 
eight-and-thirty of them would be a trifle, the work of a moment." 
As regards this last utterance, the Staatszeitung sagely remarked 
that the eight-and-thirty Serene Highnesses of the Germanic 
Federation were plainly signified. These scandalous absurdities 
appeared in the official journal of the monarchy, side by side with 
admirable essays displaying the perspicacity of a benevolent and 
just government. If the idiocy of official understrappers could 
thus expose this glorious state to universal ridicule, is it surprising 
that public opinion began to despair ? The Prussian state 
resembled a man whose intelligence is in other respects sound 
but who has become the prey of a fixed idea ; in all other 
branches of the administration the ancient and honourable 

1 Account by Wyss of his arrest on July 7 ; Report of the commissaries Grano, 
Dambach, and Eckert upon the domiciliary search at G. A. Reimer's, July n ; 
Police Report to the superintendent of police Le Coq, November 14, 1819, et seq. 
These and other papers relating to the history of the persecution of the demagogues, 
I owe to the kindness of G. Reimer of Berlin, Further details will be found in the 
Prenssische Jahrbucher, July, 1879. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

traditions were preserved, and it was only against the demagogues 
that the depraved elements among the officialdom had free play. 

On the Rhine, with the guidance of his vulgar instinct, 
Kamptz had selected for attack the very men who represented 
the Prusso-Gerinan spirit in the difficult province. In Cologne, 
for example, the procurator, L. von Miihlenfels, was arrested, 
an enthusiastic patriot, who had proved his courage at Denne- 
witz. He was acquainted with the brothers Follen, but had 
never been initiated into their secret designs. Simultaneously 
in Bonn domiciliary searches were made in the houses of Arndt 
and the brothers Welcker. Vainly did Humboldt guarantee 
the innocence of his young friend F. G. Welcker, the philologist, 
begging the chancellor to consider how readily the new 
university might be destroyed if a new professor, so recently 
appointed as a man worthy of all honour, were to be exposed 
to so ridiculous a prosecution. 1 In Giessen, as professor of 
archaeology and philology, Welcker had already aroused the anger 
of the Rhenish Confederates by his nationalist enthusiasm ; subse- 
quently, when professor in Gottingen, he had been denounced 
by Kamptz to the Hanoverian government, and he now had to 
wait six years before Minister Schuckmann informed him that 
the investigation had disclosed nothing amiss. 

Still more cruel was the fate of Arndt. Anyone who in an 
age of anonymous journalism has the courage to defend his 
political opinions with candid vigour will not in the long run 
escape arousing intense hatred. As soon as the domiciliary 
searches at Bonn were reported, the numerous enemies whom 
Arndt had made among all parties set busily to work ; his pere- 
grinations in the service of the fatherland were represented to 
the monarch as suspicious proofs of an adventurer's inconstancy, 
and the king, who for a long time to come remained firmly con- 
vinced of the existence of a secret association threatening the 
order of society, provisionally forbade the continuance of his 
lectures. The man who had formerly raised his voice on behalf 
of the reconquest of the German river, regarded it as "a terrible 
irony " that here, on the liberated Rhine, he should become the 
victim of exceptional legal procedures. He wrote to the chancellor : 
" They certainly will not discover me to be a rascal and a traitor, 
to be a base slave who calls wrong right." For two decades he 
was to suffer under an injustice which remains the most detest- 
able of all the sins of this demagogue-hunt. Before long, the 

1 Humboldt to Hardenberg, July 20, 1819. 

History of Germany 

bloodhound's scent of Kamptz's tools put them on the trail even 
of the chancellor's confidants. The indefatigable Grano appeared 
in person on the Rhine in order to go through Dorow's papers. 
Justus Gruner, too, who, stricken with a mortal illness, was seek- 
ing relief in Wiesbaden, was visited by the police agents, and the 
closing days of his brief life were embittered by an affront 
which the passionate man profoundly resented. 

It seems improbable that Hardenberg can have believed in 
all the fables of the demagogue-hunters. Even now, from time 
to time the old man displayed his kindly heart. He gave assist- 
ance to the wife of the unhappy Jahn, two of whose children died 
during the latter's prolonged imprisonment ; and he wrote in a 
friendly spirit to Dorow, saying that Dorow might confidently 
disclose all his secrets, for then his innocence would be plainly 
manifest to all. Yet even in Hardenberg's private letters there 
is not a word to be found of regret or hesitation, but rather a 
number of severe remarks upon the recklessness of the dema- 
gogues. He, too, had been convinced by Wittgenstein, whom 
he regarded as a faithful friend, and he believed in the existence 
of a grave danger to the state, even though he could not approver 
every step taken by the prosecutors. At a later date, his 
panegyrists, Benzenberg and Constant, maintained that Harden- 
berg was in appearance only at the head of the reactionary party. 
This assertion is incorrect. He still held firmly to his constitu- 
tional designs, but they could not be realised unless the king were 
completely at ease regarding the safety of the state. 

The older men among the accused bore their fate with 
a quiet dignity which should alone have sufficed to show the 
baselessness of suspicion. Neither Arndt, F. G. Welcker, nor 
Miihlenfels, ever allowed their monarchical sentiments to be 
impaired or their Prussian loyalty to be disturbed by the injustice 
done them ; while Reimer continued with undiminished fervour, 
and notwithstanding all the affronts that had been offered him, 
to preach courage and confidence to his morbidly depressed friend 
Niebuhr. 1 The hot-blooded Carl Theodor Welcker stood alone 
among the victims in the fierceness of his anger. He was an 
unconditional admirer of the representative system, and at the 
time of the Vienna congress, in a speech upon " Germany's Free- 
dom," had demanded a German parliament. It was natural 
enough, therefore, that such experiences should lead him to pass 

1 I have published the correspondence between G. A. Reiraer and Niebuhr iu 
the Preussische Jahrbucher, August, 1876. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

an extremely hostile judgment upon the Prussian state a judg- 
ment which found only too ready an acceptance among the liberals 
of the south-west. In the case of the younger men, on the other 
hand, it was by persecution that many of them were first driven 
into revolutionary courses, so that, for some, existence was 
blighted in the bud, whilst others were forcibly estranged from 
the fatherland. Such was the case with Franz Lieber, who, 
after long wanderings, found a new home in America, and there 
defended the ideal of the federal republic with all the wealth 
of ideas of the German historical school of law, for Lieber was 
the most talented among the publicists of modern democracy. 

Although the majority in the Bundestag hailed the 
wholesome severity of the Prussian government with servile 
gratitude, 1 the stupidity of the persecution of the demagogues 
was really of sinister importance to Prussia, and to the relation- 
ship of Prussia to the nation. Niebuhr had prophesied : " What 
a life without love, without patriotism, without joy, full of dis- 
affection and anger, must result from such relationships between 
subjects and governments ! " This prophecy was literally ful- 
filled. Whilst the particularist liberals had hitherto vilified the 
Prussian monarchy without reason, they were now able to throw 
themselves with delight upon the open wound in the body of the 
German state. Since the German-Austrians remained com- 
pletely aloof from the national movement, and since Metternich 
had hitherto found little opportunity for making arrests, Prussia 
now was regarded as the power of darkness in German life ; and 
in the minds of the self-satisfied constitutionalists of the south- 
west an anti-Prussian prejudice became firmly established which, 
however foolish it might be, yet exercised a real power, and was 
a serious hindrance to our political evolution. The futility 
of the proceedings against Arndt and Jahn made people feel 
that there had been no ground for police interference at 
all. But at least one genuine conspirator had been seized, 
Adolf Follen, in Elberfeld. At his rooms was found the pro- 
posal for the constitution of the German republic ; but while 
so many innocent persons had to suffer, he, with the character- 
istic unscrupulousness of the Unconditionals, was able to delude 
the examining judge. 

Louder and louder became the rumour that the Carlsbad 
assembly was to prescribe definite forms and limits for the German 

1 Goltz's Report, July 20, 1819. 

History of Germany 

Landtags. To avert this danger, even at the eleventh hour, two 
sovereigns independently endeavoured to promulgate constitu- 
tions. The princess regent Pauline of Lippe-Detmold, one of 
the ablest women of her day, had for a considerable period been 
engaged in a dispute with her estates because she desired a reform 
of the old Landtag composed of thirty-two knights and seven 
towns, and wished that each of the three estates should have 
equal voting power. She was the benefactress of her little 
country ; the burghers and the peasants were upon her side to 
the last man ; and she spoke with frankness (which aroused 
unfavourable comment in Vienna) of the natural right of the people 
to representation of all classes. But where matters of positive 
law were concerned, she was, after the feminine manner, far from 
precise. As formerly had been King Frederick of Wiirtemberg, 
she had been inspired with a vigorous sense of sovereignty by 
the destruction of the Holy Empire, and having no longer to 
dread the imperial majesty, she considered, in addition, that 
she was no longer bound by local agreements. The old estates 
exhibited a no less vigorous resistance than in Wiirtemberg, and 
complained to the Federation. Councillor Schlosser, the same 
man who had formulated the protest of the estates of Jiilich- 
Cleves, was their literary spokesman. When the Carlsbad 
conferences drew near, the princess immediately foresaw that the 
decrees which would there be promulgated would harmonise little 
with her liberal views, and, quickly making up her mind, on 
June 6th she promulgated a new constitution for her territory. This 
liberal coup d'etat, however, miscarried. Supported by the prince 
of Schaumburg-Lippe, who claimed a co-sovereignty, the old estates 
once more appealed to the Federation. After a profoundly secret 
discussion, in which Wangenheim displayed the whole abundance 
of his constitutional learning, the Bundestag resolved to offer 
mediation to the disputants, and summoned the princess to dis- 
continue, for the time being, the carrying out of her new 
fundamental law. This " for the time being " endured until 
the year 1836, when at length, with the co-operation of the 
Bundestag, a compromise was effected. 

The king of Wiirtemberg had better success. Who could 
possibly foresee and counteract the devious machinations of this 
master of falseness ? King William had been the first to pro- 
pound the idea that the Federation should impose fixed limits 
upon the powers of the diets. When he broke off the negotiations 
with his own Landtag he expressly declared that he wished first 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

to await the decrees of the Bundestag concerning the rights of 
the German chambers, and since then he had not abandoned 
this heartfelt desire. Von Maucler, his new prime minister, like 
Zentner in Bavaria, trained the officialdom to become a strictly 
obedient and unconditionally dependent " guard," as the liberals 
mockingly phrased it. Even the influential privy councillor von 
Gros, who in former days, when professor at Erlangen, had enjoyed 
the special favour of Hardenberg, was a shrewd bureaucrat of 
the enlightened Rhenish Confederate order. Finally, Count 
Wintzingerode, son of the minister of Frederick I, who had 
recently been appointed to the portfolio of foreign affairs, had, 
as envoy in Vienna, acquired Metternich's full confidence by 
his levelheadedness and strictly monarchical sentiments. 1 The 
work of the Wiirtemberg government was characterised through- 
out by a rigid and shrewd absolutism. To the martinet mind 
of the king, the noisy licence of the students seemed abominable, 
and Wintzingerode was already discussing with him the question 
whether it was not advisable to establish, beside the university 
of Tubingen, a new Carlsschule with a semi-military discipline. 
Consequently the invitation to the Carlsbad conferences was 
far from unwelcome to the king. On the other hand, he was 
unwilling to forego the reputation of being the most liberal among 
the German princes, and he desired to complete his constitutional 
work as a sovereign prince, unmolested by the Federation. 

For the past two years he had been playing a double game, 
which had gradually become a necessity to his intriguer's dis- 
position. He defended the absolute freedom of the Wiirtemberg 
press against the Federation and the great powers, but would 
not allow a word to be said against himself. In Frankfort, 
through the instrumentality of Wangenheim, the enthusiastic 
venerator of the federal law, King William advocated the ideas 
of liberal federalism, and when the hotspur went a little too far, 
Wintzingerode, who for his part regarded the federal act as a 
" nonsensical idea," had to offer excuses to the Hofburg, and to 
lay stress upon the ultra-conservative views of the king. How 
successfully could this Machiavellian policy be now continued if 
the constitutional deliberations could be resumed simultaneously 
with participation in the Carlsbad conferences. Thus the estates 
might be rendered docile by fear of the Carlsbad decrees ; 
while if in Carlsbad a proposal should be made conflicting 
with the interests of the court of Stuttgart, the Wiirtemberg 

1 Krusemark's Report, June 4, 1819. 

2O I p 

History of Germany 

plenipotentiary might entrench himself behind the Landtag and 
give regretful assurances that the proposal would never be 
accepted by the stiff-necked Swabians. Thus would the defiant 
resistance of the representatives of the ancient rights be broken, 
and the king's liberal reputation would be preserved. 

This political trap was set with considerable skill. On June 
loth the king astonished the country by issuing a writ for fresh 
elections, and on July I3th the Landtag assembled in Ludwigsburg. 
What a change of mood had taken place during the past two 
years. The efficiency of the royal dictatorship, which on the 
whole worked for good, had conciliated many hot advocates of the 
old rights, and had diminished the mistrust felt for the crown. 
The folly of the obstinate resistance of the old estates had now 
become clear to many ; all were dominated, as Schott, a member 
of the Landtag, openly declared, by dread of the impending 
Carlsbad decrees, which might so readily " endanger the most 
valuable right of the country, the free agreement." Sober- 
minded hopes were now concentrated upon this corner-stone of 
Swabian freedom ; if the new order could come into existence by 
general agreement, people were prepared to give way in matters 
of detail. The Old Wiirtembergers who had for so long a time 
lived under the protection of the convention of Tubingen and 
under the succession settlements, could not even conceive of 
political liberty without a fundamental convention secured by 
mutual agreement, and Schiller had voiced his fellow-country- 
men's most cordial sentiments when he sang : 

And over every house, every throne, 
Hovers the treaty like a guardian angel. 

, Several of the leaders of the old opposition, Waldeck, Massen- 
bach, and Bolley, did not reappear in the new Landtag ; others, 
such as the worldly-wise Weishaar, had in the interim come to 
terms with the government. In order to protect his popular 
representatives from temptation, the king dealt with Paulus, the 
zealous advocate of the old rights, who was on a visit to his native 
land, by simply expelling him from the country. The deadly 
enemy of the Wurtemberg scriveners, the outspoken F. List, was 
excluded from the Landtag by an extremely simple expedient. 
Since on the day of the election he had not quite completed the 
thirtieth year of his life, the local authority of Reutlingen, acting on 
orders from above, announced to the electors that their votes were 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

invalid, but that " they would be allowed to record fresh votes 
on the following Monday." * When subsequently List, having 
now unquestionably become eligible for election, endeavoured 
to secure a seat in another constituency, he was involved in a 
prosecution instituted on account of the revolutionary lan- 
guage of his electoral address, and thus it was possible to keep 
the inconvenient man at a distance during the entire session of 
the Landtag. The precaution was hardly necessary, for the oli- 
garchy of the advocates of the old rights had already quietly made 
its peace with the ministry. The assembly opened with proofs 
of devotion, which contrasted strangely with the defiance of 
earlier days, and which were little calculated to cure the monarch 
of his cynical contempt for mankind. The Landtag thanked 
the king because he had " once more entered the path leading 
to a convention upon which from ancient days the constitution 
of the country has developed," and immediately nominated a 
committee for the discussion of the new constitutional proposal, 
which differed from the previous proposals that had been rejected 
chiefly in respect of conciseness of form and aptness of phrasing. 
On September 2nd the committee issued its report, and if the 
old Landtag sinned through pedantic .slowness, the new one con- 
ducted its work at a furious speed because it desired to counter 
the Carlsbad decrees by an accomplished fact. 

The discussion was completed by September i8th ; in two days 
one hundred and twenty-one articles had been passed. The 
bicameral system, which previously had been so passionately 
resisted, was now accepted almost without a struggle, on the 
ground that the question was already decided " by relationships 
which cannot possibly be left out of consideration." All parties 
felt that if dangerous proceedings on the part of the Bundestag 
were to be averted, some sort of concession must be made to 
the mediatised who had been so unjustly treated by the crown. 
Dominated by this fear, the Landtag even went too far to meet 
the wishes of the high nobility, conceding to the crown no more 
than the right of nominating at most one-third of the members 
of the Upper House (the proceedings of which were to be private), 
an arrangement which rendered insoluble disputes between the 
two chambers extremely likely to occur. The idol of the repre- 
sentatives of the ancient rights, the estates treasury, was also 
half-heartedly defended by Uhland and a small minority. The 

1 Proclamation of the Local Authority of Reutlingen to Peter Votteler, the 
coppersmith, and others, July 10, 1819. 


History of Germany 

majority had learned in the interim that this antediluvian insti- 
tution was incompatible with the unity of the modern state, and, 
as Schott phrased it, what they desired was, not a feudal, but a 
representative constitution. When the matter was put to the 
vote, the opposition was withdrawn, and Uhland, in giving his 
affirmative vote, formally declared : ' The most important thing 
remains ; let us, above all, secure the convention, the primeval 
rock of our ancient rights." An address from Stuttgart burghers, 
drafted by F. List, sharply criticising the overhasty proceedings 
of the estates, was not published until after the close of the 
deliberations. On September 24th, the king signed the new funda- 
mental convention ; the constitution was steered safely to port 
a moment before the Carlsbad decrees became known to the 
country. Two days later, King William wrote to Emperor 
Francis, who had warned him against the work of constitution- 
building, to say that the course he had taken had been inevitable, 
but that, in order to please the emperor, he would postpone the 
summoning of the new Landtag. 

Thus at length was realised what the Swabian poet had so 
often demanded : 

That among the stout people of Swabia 
Right shall prevail, and the convention. 

Beyond question the political utility of the new constitution 
was by no means increased through its having been secured by 
common assent. Instead of being a work constructed upon a 
single design, it was a laboriously secured compromise, taking 
over into the new time many institutions of the Old Wiirtem- 
berg system which had now become useless or even altogether 
impracticable. For example, the extensive property of the 
Lutheran church was to be restored. The servile committee 
spoke of this decision as " one of the finest and greatest ideas 
which a ruler had ever conceived," and declared, " we will not 
desecrate the present moment with a review of the considerations 
which may seem to suggest the undesirability of this restitution." 
But the great idea proved utterly impracticable to carry out, for 
the church land, confiscated years ago, had been fused with the 
royal domains. Side by side with the ministry there was to exist 
a privy council ; the state debts were to be administered by 
officials appointed by the estates ; a standing committee of the 
Landtag was to meet in Stuttgart ; there was to be a small estates 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

treasury, which was to provide, however, for the Landtag's own 
expenses alone all these being vestiges of Old Wiirtemberg 
institutions, which could serve only to render modern administration 
difficult without increasing the power of the Landtag. The Swa- 
bian parochial spirit had been careful to secure the powerlessness 
of the second chamber. Since not one of the sixty-four chief 
administrative districts would renounce having its own represen- 
tative, the result was that, with the representatives of the knight- 
hood, the clergy, and the seven good towns, there were no less 
than four-and-ninety representatives^ the great majority of whom 
were necessarily persons of no particular account. King William 
could henceforward enjoy the agreeable hope that he would 
be able, in his strictly centralised state, to carry on undisturbed 
his customary rigidly bureaucratic regime. Freedom of the 
press was promised, " but subject to laws now existing, or to be 
enacted in the future, against the misuse of this liberty." Only 
through painful experience were people to learn that such high- 
sounding promises of " general fundamental rights " were in 
reality utterly valueless, for even the censorship had not been 
directly abolished. As a work of supererogation, article 3 
provided that all organic decrees of the Bundestag should, as was 
proper, apply also to Wiirtemberg. 

Notwithstanding all defects, the Wiirtembergers could not 
be persuaded out of the belief that their fundamental law was 
the most liberal in Germany. The constitution, like that of 
Baden, was a half-way house between the feudal and the repre- 
sentative systems, for at least the deputies from the supreme 
administrative districts to the second chamber represented the 
entire people with the exception of the nobility and the clergy. 
In addition, this constitution possessed, in the standing com- 
mittee of the Landtag, a peculiar institution, which was, indeed, 
of little practical value, but which in the opinion of the day 
seemed a formidable bulwark of popular rights. The populace 
had manifested its participation in the labours of the Landtag 
by sending in numerous petitions, directed chiefly against the 
bicameral system. The most remarkable of these petitions 
emanated from Reutlingen, a town whose German sentiments 
were always above reproach, demanding (for the first time in this 
quiet epoch) the summoning of a national German parliament, 
on the ground that " in this way only, all the German states can 
enjoy a genuinely representative constitution." On Septem- 
ber 25th, amid loud rejoicings, the monarch swore fealty to the 


History of Germany 

constitution. It was decided to coin the inevitable medals, and 
when three days later the king and the Landtag appeared at the 
Cannstadt popular festival, Swabian enthusiasm for liberty flamed 
up fiercely. The unsuspecting crowd was still in happy ignorance 
of what the plenipotentiary of this popular king had meanwhile 
been contriving in Carlsbad. 

The peculiar conditions in which the new fundamental law 
had come into existence were extremely injurious to the national 
sentiment of the Swabian land. The constitution had arisen out 
of a secret struggle against the Germanic Federation. All the 
speeches of the popular representatives voiced the belief that it 
was necessary to defend Swabian liberties against the tyranny 
of the Federation. In such circumstances, the tribal pride of 
the Swabians, already excessive, gained new force. Since in the 
centralised authority of Germany the crowns alone were repre- 
sented, and in the individual states the subjects alone, youthful 
liberalism almost everywhere acquired a particularist tendency, 
and nowhere was this separatist spirit more powerful than in 
Wiirtemberg, where already the view spontaneously prevailed that 
the fundamental law, acquired largely in opposition to the will of 
the Germanic Federation, was superior to that Federation. 


On July 22nd, Metternich reached Carlsbad, inspired by 
the proud conviction that " from this place either the salvation 
or the ultimate destruction of the social order will proceed." 
Emperor Francis had abandoned a proposed visit to his Lombardo- 
Venetian kingdom because the repression of the German revolution 
seemed a more urgent matter. The intimates with whom the 
Austrian statesman first conversed were, in addition to Gentz, 
his two friends of the Vienna congress, the Hanoverians, Counts 
Hardenberg and Minister. In any case, in all matters where no 
intervention of parliament was to be feared, Metternich could 
unconditionally rely upon the highly reactionary sentiments 
of the tory cabinet, and subsequently he wrote gratefully to the 
prince regent : " One is always certain to find your royal high- 
ness on the road of sound principles." But all other assistance 
was worthless in default of an unconditional understanding with 
the crown of Prussia. In order to bring this about, Metternich 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

hastened to Teplitz, and there, on July 2gth, had a private con- 
versation with King Frederick William, which determined the 
course of German policy for years to come. The king showed 
himself to be extremely discomposed on account of the sinister 
demagogic plans which, as Wittgenstein assured him, had been 
disclosed by the latest domiciliary searches ; he was annoyed, 
and with good reason, on account of the chancellor's inefficiency 
and the dilatoriness of his ministry, which had kept him waiting 
seven months for an answer to urgent enquiries. He complained, 
" My own people fail me," and he committed himself confidingly 
to the advice of this Austrian who in Aix-la-Chapelle had already 
given him such admirable counsel. Metternich understood how to 
strike the iron while it was hot. For Prussia, he declared, the 
day had now arrived for a choice between the principle of conser 
vatism and political death ; the great conspiracy had its origin 
and its seat in Prussia, and it penetrated even the ranks of the 
highest officials ; still everything could yet be saved if the crown 
would make up its mind not to grant any popular representation 
in the modern democratic sense of the term, and would content 
itself with estates. At the same time he handed in a memorial 
in which he repeated the ideas voiced by him at Aix-la-Chapelle. l 
The king's assent to these proposals was a matter of course, for 
even Hardenberg's constitutional plan had never aimed at more 
than a representation of the three estates, and had not dreamed 
of a representation of the people as a whole. 

Upon the monarch's orders, Hardenberg, Bernstorff, and Witt- 
genstein now held confidential conversations with the Austrian. The 
chancellor laid his constitutional proposal before his Viennese 
friend, and secured the latter's complete approval. 2 On August 
ist, Hardenberg and Metternich signed a convention evidently 
drafted by Metternich, concerning the general principles of the 
federal policy of the two great powers. The convention was to be 
kept permanently secret owing to " the prejudices which inspire 
many of the German governments against a closer and most whole- 
some union between the two leading German courts." The parties 

1 This memorial is perhaps identical with an Austrian memorial which at 
Troppau was subsequently handed to Count Bernstorff, and which has been pub- 
lished by P. Bailleu in the Historische Zeitschrift, pp. 50 and 190, 1883. See 
Appendix VII. 

2 Hardenberg's Report to the king, August 16, 1819. See Appendix VII. 

3 Agreement concerning the Principles by which the Courts of Austria and 
Prussia have determined to be guided in the Internal Affairs of the Germanic 
Federation. Teplitz, August i, 1819. See Appendix VIII, 


History of Germany 

to the convention went on to recall the constitutional aim of the 
Germanic Federation, as guaranteed by Europe ; and then 
declared (article 2) that as European powers it was their duty to 
watch over the political existence of the Federation, while as 
German federal states it was their duty to care for the safety of 
the federal constitution. For this reason, within the interior of the 
Federation, no principles must be applied that were incompatible 
with its existence, and all decisions of the Bundestag must be 
faithfully carried out as laws of the Federation. The article of 
the federal act which imposed upon the Federation the duty of 
caring for the internal safety of Germany, an article unques- 
tionably intended solely to avert the danger of breaches of the 
public peace, thus received an entirely new and utterly arbitrary 
interpretation ; it was to serve to subject to a uniform rule the 
internal affairs also of the federal states. Since the revolutionary 
party threatened the existence of all governments (thus proceeded 
the agreement) the present opportunity must be utilised in order 
to secure closer union among the German courts, and to estab- 
lish at the Bundestag the rule of the majority. First of all, 
therefore, there must be an agreement about article 13 of the 
federal act and here followed an astounding pledge which, as far 
as Metternich was concerned, constituted the kernel of the docu- 
ment. Article 7 ran as follows : " Prussia is resolved to apply 
this article in its literal sense to her own domains only after her 
internal financial affairs shall have been fully regulated ; that is to 
say, she is determined that for the representation of the nation she 
will not introduce any general system of popular representation 
incompatible with the geographical and internal configuration of 
her realm, but that she will give her provinces representative 
constitutions (landstdndische verfassungen), and will out of these 
construct a central committee of territorial representatives." 

Naturally this clause involved a mutual pledge, for, beyond 
question, Emperor Francis was equally resolved not to introduce 
any general system of popular representation. Article 7 in 
essentials conveyed nothing new, for Hardenberg had long before 
resolved that the constitution should not be promulgated until 
after the completion of the new financial laws, which were now 
nearly ready ; while the ordinance of May, 1815, expressly pre- 
scribed that territorial representation was to proceed from the 
provincial diets. All the more ignominious therefore was the 
form of the pledge. Like a repentant sinner, and without any 
formal counter-pledge, the monarchy of Frederick the Great gave 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

a foreign power a promise about the subsequent conduct of 
certain internal affairs whose control every self-respecting state 
should keep within its own hands ; and Metternich reported with 
delight to his emperor that " Prussia has given an engagement 
not to concede any popular representation." This was the most 
shameful humiliation which Hardenberg had ever brought upon 
Prussia. The policy of peaceful dualism was now to be tested, 
and its outcome proved to be the subjection of Prussia to Austria's 
leadership. The chancellor signed the document because he saw 
no other way of retaining his king's shaken confidence ; and 
because the promise, taken literally, certainly contained nothing 
which ran counter to the hitherto accepted principles of Prussian 
policy. But both parties to the agreement cherished hidden 
designs. By the term " central committee," Hardenberg, as he 
was soon to show, understood a large national Landtag, whereas 
Metternich, now, as before in Aix-la-Chapelle, was thinking only 
of a small committee of about one-and-twenty members, and 
secretly hoped that even this shadow of a Prussian central 
administration (of which his emperor was extremely afraid) might 
yet be prevented from coming into existence. Thus Prussia had 
completely come over to the side of the new Viennese doctrine, 
in accordance with which article 13 promised representation of 
estates merely, and not popular representatives. Both the powers 
pledged themselves " to assist those states which (under the 
name of estates) have already introduced systems of popular 
representation, to return to methods better adapted to the 
Federation," and, with this end in view, to await first of all the 
proposals of the governments concerned. 

The press was the second object of the Carlsbad deliberations. 
The two great powers were agreed regarding the principles 
of a memorial by Gentz, which described in the most emphatic 
language how, in view of the equality in civilisation in the different 
states, and the complex circumstances of intercourse among the 
Germans, no individual state could preserve itself from infection, 
and how, therefore, every prince who tolerated press licence 
within his own land committed high treason against the Federa- 
tion. For this reason a strict federal press law was essential, and, 
above all, " the German governments must mutually pledge them- 
selves that none of the editors who have become notorious 
to-day are to be allowed to undertake the editorship of new papers ; 
and, generally speaking, must pledge themselves to reduce as far 
as possible the number of newspapers." 


History of Germany 

The third topic for the conference was the universities and 
the schools. Metternich had a very low estimate of the political 
capacity of the professors, basing this judgment, characteristic- 
ally enough, upon the opinion that no professor knew how to 
pay due regard to the value of property ; but he considered the 
political activity of these unpractical people to be indirectly most 
dangerous, because they taught " the union of the Germans to 
constitute a single Germany," and because the rising generation 
was being brought up "to pursue this insane aim." It was for 
this reason that he laid so much stress upon the speedy dismissal 
of demagogic teachers, and Hardenberg was weak enough to throw 
overboard forthwith all the reasonable principles of that memorial 
by Eichhorn which Count Bernstorff had only a few days before 
sent to the Bundestag. He agreed to the stipulation " that pro- 
fessors whose sentiments are notoriously bad, and who are involved 
in the intrigues of the disorderly students of to-day, shall imme- 
diately be deprived of their chairs, and that no one who is thus 
dismissed from any German university shall be reappointed to a 
university in any other German state." Finally, it was arranged 
that the same rules should be extended to the teachers in the 

Such were the contents of this unhappy convention. It 
seemed as if a sinister destiny presided over this unfortunate 
nation which was so laboriously striving to emerge from its state 
of disintegration, forbidding to it all possibility of self-under- 
standing, forcibly imposing barriers in the way of any advance 
towards political power. Many of the disastrous aberrations of 
the German patriots in later years are explicable solely out of 
the absolute confusion of all political ideas which was the neces- 
sary outcome of the unnatural alliance of the two great powers. 
It was the aim of the two powers to provide for the authority 
of the Germanic Federation a reinforcement which was beyond 
question urgently needed : but they enlarged the competence of 
the Federation far beyond the prescriptions of the federal act ; 
they allowed it a right of intervention into the internal affairs 
of the individual states, a right of intervention incompatible with 
the nature of a federation of states ; they even spoke of felony 
on the part of German princes against the Federation, as if 
sovereignty by Napoleon's grace had already been annihilated, 
and as if the majesty of the old empire had been re-established. 
This " Unitarian " policy, however, did not originate out of 
nationalist sentiment, but out of Austrian particularism. The 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

Germanic Federation was to receive the authoritative powers of 
a sovereign state in order to annul for all time the desire of the 
Germans " to unite themselves to form a single Germany " ; in 
order that the spiritual slumber of the peoples of Austria might 
continue undisturbed by the higher civilisation and the more 
lively spiritual energies of their German neighbours. In the 
most definite terms possible, acting upon repeated commands 
from his monarch, Metternich declared that he desired to save 
the Germanic Federation by Austrian co-operation, or, failing 
this, to separate the Austrian states from Germany, in order to 
save Austria by herself and there was not yet to be found in the 
German nation a single mind to realise the unspeakable good 
fortune such a separation would be, or to voice the liberating 
cry, " Let us separate from Austria ! " 

The means employed to further this policy were as corrupt- 
ing and as un-German as were the aims of those who initiated it. 
The Germanic Federation did not as yet possess either a federal 
army or a federal supreme court, or indeed any kind of universally 
national institution except the Bundestag ; and such a Federa- 
tion, which could not even protect the Germans against the foreign 
world, was now (according to the wording of the Teplitz conven- 
tion), " in the purest spirit of the Federation," to be empowered 
to disturb by prohibitions and prosecutions the holy of holies of 
the nation of Martin Luther, the free movement of ideas. Thus 
German policy sank, as it was aptly phrased, to the level of a 
German police system ; for decades the entire life of the Bun- 
destag was devoted to urgency police measures. The natural 
opposition between the absolutist centralised authority and the 
constitutional member-states became accentuated to the degree 
of irreconcilable enmity ; anyone who would not abandon belief 
in political freedom was henceforward compelled to fight the 
German Bundestag, and thus the liberal party, although this 
party almost alone had grasped the idea of national unity with 
enthusiasm, was forced unwittingly and unwillingly into the 
arms of particularism. At the congress of Vienna all parties had 
felt that there must be conceded to the nation some of the 
" rights of Germanism," that from the side of the Federation 
a certain moderate degree of political liberty must be guaranteed, 
and it was only because the arrogance of Rhenish Confederate 
sovereignty made it impossible to secure an agreement about this 
minimum that the federal act had gone no further than to make 
promises expressed in very general terms. Now, all at once, 


History of Germany 

everything was turned topsyturvy. It was held that upon the 
Federation devolved, not the smallest possible, but the greatest 
possible measure of political rights. No longer was the Federa- 
tion to be the citadel of the nation's freedom, but it was to pre- 
scribe limits which the Landtags, the press, and the universities 
were never to exceed. With what unprecedented frivolity, too, 
was it proposed to rob of their legal rights " the editors who are 
to-day in ill-repute, the notoriously disaffected teachers " as if 
the arbitrary powers of the Committee of Public Safety to deal 
with suspects were to be renewed upon the peaceful soil of 
Germany ! 

What was the cause of this sinister mistrust felt for a loyal 
and law-abiding people ? The Landtags of Bavaria and Baden, 
in the zeal of youthful inexperience, had brought forward a few 
foolish proposals ; and yet at this very time the docile conduct 
of the Wurtemberg estates showed that it was merely necessary 
for the governments to draw the reins a little tighter in order to 
control the presumption of their harmless popular representatives. 
The press, again, had sinned gravely by its aimless blustering and 
scolding, nor was Gentz entirely wrong in what he said in his 
memorial concerning the misbehaviour of the journals. ' To- 
day," he wrote, " there is not in Germany a single newspaper pub- 
lished as the outcome of private enterprise which those of the 
right way of thinking can regard as their organ, and this is a state 
of affairs which was unprecedented during the time of bloodiest 
anarchy in France." But beyond question, in Germany the press 
did not represent public opinion ; the mass of the nation by no 
means shared the indignation expressed by the journalists ; and 
anyone familiar with the German fondness for fault-finding could 
unhesitatingly venture to prophesy that the great majority of 
German newspapers would always be on the side of the opposi- 
tion. It is true that the inadequate manner in which so many 
cultured men expressed their condemnation of Kotzebue's assas- 
sination showed that a portion of the higher classes had begun 
to despair of the existing order ; but unquestionably a policy of 
blind and rough persecution was the best means to increase this 
despair. Finally, the revolutionary follies of the students 
certainly needed the strong hand ; but they were restricted to three 
or four universities, and, even in these, involved no more than 
small circles ; while if the universities were to be officially stig- 
matised as the nurseries of treason, the only result would be to 
drive the patriotic spirit of the young men into devious courses. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

The worst feature of all was that the state which had restored 
freedom to Germany, the one which had everything to hope from 
national unity and nothing to dread, now voluntarily put its neck 
under the yoke of the Austrian dominion, and therefore, to that 
portion of the nation which could not see beyond the next day, 
assumed the semblance of a sworn enemy. The star of the 
Frederician state had become obscured by clouds of suspicion. 
By the anxious mood of a noble monarch misled by blind coun- 
sellors, and through the perplexities of the aging Hardenberg, 
this state had been diverted from the paths in which it had risen 
to greatness, and when Austria had gathered in the Teplitz 
harvest Metternich declared with satisfaction to the Russian 
envoy, " Prussia has ceded us a place which many Germans had 
designed for Prussia herself ! " 

As soon as the two great powers had come to an unreserved 
agreement, the victory of Austrian policy was decided. No one 
in the Carlsbad assembly was prepared to oppose them on prin- 
ciple. Count Schulenburg, the Saxon, now made common cause 
with the two Hanoverians, for he, like them, was a strict advo- 
cate of the feudal state-system. Baron von Plessen, of Mecklen- 
burg, a man of far more liberal and mobile intelligence, was by 
the traditions of his homeland forced into more or less the same 
position. Even the representatives of the so-called constitutional 
states manifested uncritical docility. Count Rechberg, the true 
originator of the Bavarian plan for a coup d'etat, did, indeed, 
in accordance with the custom of Munich, cherish some mis- 
trust for Austria ; but he was far more afraid of the revolution, 
and this latter fear decided his conduct, although he had been 
expressly instructed not to approve anything which infringed 
Bavarian sovereignty or the Bavarian constitution. Baron von 
Berstett gave such terrible accounts of the disorders of the Carls- 
ruhe representative assembly that in Gentz's opinion to listen to 
him was at once a horror and a delight. Marschall of Nassau 
outbid even the reactionary fanaticism of the Badenese states- 
man ; nor did Count Wintzingerode leave anything to be desired 
in respect of hostility towards the demagogues, although to him 
was allotted the thorny task of avoiding anything that might 
completely undermine the reputation of the most exemplary of 
constitutional kings. 

The members of the Carlsbad assembly fortified one 
another in their fears of the great conspiracy, and Metternich 


History of Germany 

was able to handle them so adroitly that Bernstorff wrote 
to the chancellor, " We can settle everything here, but later 
it will be impossible ! " 'So completely did they adopt the 
Austrian view of German affairs that at length they all came to 
believe that they were doing a great and good work, and honestly 
rejoiced in the fine patriotic unity of the German crowns. ' The 
issue lies in God's hand," wrote Bernstorff when their work had 
been completed ; " but at any rate a great thing has already 
been achieved in that amid the storms of the time the German 
princes have been able to express their principles and intentions 
openly, definitely, and unanimously." 1 The sense of satisfaction 
was all the stronger because the German statesmen were working 
entirely among themselves, and no foreign power even attempted 
to exercise any influence over the Carlsbad negotiations. As 
yet no one dreamed that this fine spectacle of national inde- 
pendence and harmony was nothing else than the subjection of 
the German nation to the foreign dominion of Austria. 

Owing to the complexity of German life there was, indeed, 
a counterpoise for every weight, and even this brilliant triumph 
of the house of Austria had to be purchased at the cost of 
a trifling ill success. The two great powers had agreed that, 
in the first instance, only three items from the programme 
of the Teplitz convention should be laid before the Carlsbad 
assembly for immediate settlement. An agreement was first to 
be secured concerning the necessary laws against the press, the 
universities, and the demagogues, while the other measures for 
strengthening the federal authority, and especially the interpreta- 
tion of article 13, were to be deferred until the ministerial con- 
ferences of the following autumn. Such was the sense in which 
Metternich spoke when, on August 6th, in a long address, he opened 
the first of the three-and-twenty conferences which henceforward 
were held almost every evening until August 3ist ; at the same 
time he laid before the assembly a convention, which, as far as 
many of its propositions were concerned, was a literal repetition 
of the Teplitz conversation, but from which everything which 
concerned the two great powers alone had been prudently omitted. 
All those present declared their assent with the liveliest gratitude ; 
but Wintzingerode moved that the interpretation of article 13 
should be included among the urgent items of the discussion. 
The king of Wiirtemberg, he said, was quite willing even now, as 
he had formerly been in Frankfort and Vienna, to accept " a 

1 Bernstorfi to Hardenberg, September 2, 1819. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

boundary line " for the rights of the Landtags to be estab- 
lished by the federal authority, and in this way to abate the 
pretensions of his Ludwigsburg Landtag so long as nothing 
in this boundary line conflicted with the peculiar interests of 

Metternich joyfully accepted this unexpected proposal. As 
he admitted to his Prussian friend, he hoped " that it might be 
possible to avert the conclusion of a premature agreement 
between the king of Wiirtemberg and the estates of his country," 
and he developed in detail the new Austrian doctrine in accord- 
ance with which article 13 was to allow estates only, and not 
representative constitutions ; if the Federation would formally 
agree to this interpretation, which was the only right one, then 
it would be the duty of Bavaria and Baden to modify their consti- 
tutions also in the requisite sense. The great majority eagerly 
agreed. At first even Bavaria and Baden seemed inclined to 
accept the Viennese interpretation ; l and in the intoxication of 
victory, " in a sort of inspiration," as he himself informs us, on 
August igih, Gentz composed a great memorial Concerning the 
Difference between the Representation of Estates and a General Repre- 
sentative System perhaps the most preposterous example extant 
of unscrupulous political sophistry as manipulated by a skilled 

Making a clever use of certain phrases employed by Haller 
and Adam Miiller, Gentz showed how the old German provincial 
diets were based upon differences in caste and law, of which God 
himself was the author, while the foreign representative system 
was based upon the revolutionary illusion of popular sovereignty 
and universal equality before the law. On the one side was a 
strong monarchical authority, restricted only in the exercise of 
particular rights ; on the other, the subordination of the crown 
to the arbitrary will of popular representatives, a state of anarchy 
which was utterly irreconcilable with the rights of the Federation. 
Ultimately this would lead to the formation of a chamber of 
deputies in addition to the Bundestag, and consequently to a 
general revolution. If no decent way of retreat was left open to 
those German princes who, in drawing up their constitutions, had 
failed to be guided by the only admissible interpretation of 
article 13, " there is nothing left for the rest of us but to renounce 
the Federation." There was not a sentence in this work which 
was not in flat contradiction with universally known historical 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, August 8 and 13, 1819. 


History of Germany 

facts, for it was unquestionable that the modern German mon- 
archy had acquired its strength in no other way than in 
continuous conflict with the old estates, and that in the new 
constitutional states the power of the crown was incomparably 
higher than in the feudal territories of Saxony, Hanover, and 
Mecklenburg, where the whole state-system was oligarchical in 
character. Just as certain was it that the Landtags of the South 
German states did not represent the people in general, but were 
semi-feudal corporations, or at most the Badenese Lower House 
might be regarded as a representative chamber in the neo-French 
sense of the term. Nevertheless, behind this doctrine, which in 
appearance was hammered out with so arbitrary caprice, there 
lurked an extremely definite political aim. When Gentz was 
expressing his fervour against the revolutionary representative 
system, he had in mind Rotteck's theory, which unquestionably 
deduced the rights of the system of popular representation from 
the principle of popular sovereignty ; and when he extolled the 
Old German provincial diets, he was not thinking of the stormy 
days of feudal licence, but of the docile postulate Landtags of the 
new Austria, and this peaceful life of the Austrian crown-lands 
was to serve as an example for the whole of Germany. 

In the history of German party struggles, Gentz's memorial 
long continued to exercise an influence. From the first, it 
charmed the suggestible crown prince of Prussia, who here 
at length found a masterly formulation of his own ideas ; and 
subsequently when the memorial became known to wider circles it 
long remained the arsenal from which the feudal party in Prussia 
drew most of its weapons. At the moment of its issue, however, 
it was a grave political error, and proved disadvantageous 
to the working out of Metternich's plans. The represen- 
tatives of Bavaria and Baden rivalled Count Munster in lively 
complaints of the presumption of the chambers. Wintzingerode 
strongly recommended that by a federal law the suffrage should 
be restricted to the leading landowners, and that, above all, the 
publication of the proceedings of the Landtags should be for- 
bidden, for this publicity was a foreign discovery which all the 
statesmen in Carlsbad were unanimously agreed in stigmatis- 
ing as purely demagogic. Wintzingerode made this proposal, 
assuredly acting on instructions, at the very moment when his king 
offered the Landtag of Ludwigsburg publicity and a compara- 
tively unrestricted suffrage. Such being the mood of the South 
German courts, it was certain that a federal law to restrict the 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

rights of the Landtags in favour of those of the crown could be 
carried through if Austria moved cautiously. 

Instead of this, Metternich demanded a return to the old 
estates, and to the Wiirtemberger this was " the worst of evils," 
an absolutely unacceptable proposal. In his long struggle with 
the advocates of the good old law, King William had experienced 
all too painfully that the renowned Old German estates might 
readily become more dangerous than a modern system of 
popular representation. He took a firm stand here, not from 
liberalism, but because he trembled for the prestige of his crown. 
A whole series of Wiirtemberg memorials, ambiguous, full of con- 
tradiction, as chameleon-like as the policy of the Swabian king 
himself, opposed the Austrian suggestion. On one occasion 
Wintzingerode went so far as to maintain boldly that the principle 
of popular sovereignty had been already granted. " The die is 
cast, the governments have thought it necessary to concede this 
point ; however much they may regret it, the game must be 
played out." On another occasion, conversely, he desired that this 
dangerous principle should be forbidden by the federal authority. 
Amid all these shifts and doublings one thing only remained 
certain, that the Wiirtemberg minister would under no conditions 
agree to the re-establishment of the old estates. Quite unam- 
biguously he referred to the difficulties which arise " out of the 
Old Wiirtemberg constitution, out of its suppression, out of its 
more recent recognition, and its subsequent impracticability." 
Meanwhile he had succeeded in bringing over to his side the 
ministers of Bavaria, Baden, and Nassau ; these Rhenish Con- 
federate courts knew no worse enemy to their monarchical supreme 
authority than the nobility, whose powers would inevitably be 
increased by the reconstitution of the old estates. Thus the 
modern bureaucratic theory of the state which prevailed in the 
south came suddenly and sharply into conflict with the feudal 
views of Austria and of the central lands of North Germany. 
The Prussian minister, who had expressed himself in vigorous 
terms against the representative system, " this foreign shoot 
grafted upon an old stem," now found it advisable for the sake 
of harmony " to make every allowance for the embarrassments 
of the Wurtemberg government." 1 

It was finally decided, as Austria had intended from the 
first, that the federal interpretation of article 13 should be 
deferred to the Vienna conferences, and that meanwhile at 

* JBernstorff to Hardenberg, August 25, 1819. 

History of Germany 

Carlsbad the assembly should content itself with enunciating a 
general principle to which all the federal states could agree. 
Temporarily Gentz had to lay aside his memorial, and now worked 
at a presidential address which was to be read at the Bundestag as 
an introduction to the Carlsbad decrees. In this, a formal protest 
was entered against the democratic notions with which the 
unambiguous principle of representative estates had been falsely 
confused, and the hope was expressed that until a federal law 
had been enacted, the German governments would give to article 
13 no other interpretation than one which would be " com- 
pletely harmonious with the maintenance of the monarchical 
principle and of federal unity." This new formula was unani- 
mously accepted, and, notwithstanding its dangerous laxity, it 
corresponded better to existing conditions than the old formula, 
for this federation, with its absolutist centralised authority, could 
continue to exist only if the monarchical power remained active 
in its member-states. In this way the attempt at a complete 
misinterpretation of article 13 was for the time frustrated, cer- 
tainly by the opposition of the South German courts, not, how- 
ever, through their loyalty to their constitutions, but owing to 
their dread of the old estates. 

The other negotiations, however, proceeded so easily and 
rapidly that Bernstorff was actually embarrassed by this excess 
of harmony, and declared to the Austrian minister of state that 
his king was bound only by the Teplitz convention, and that as 
regards anything further than this he must reserve his approval. 1 
The secret of the deliberations was inviolably preserved. Buol 
and Goltz in Frankfort merely received laconic orders that for 
the present the prorogation of the Bundestag for the recess should 
be postponed. Not until August i8th, when the proceedings were 
already drawing to a close, did Metteniich and Bernstorff send 
to the king of Denmark, as duke of Holstein, a brief confidential 
communication regarding the aim of the conferences, at the same 
time begging the Copenhagen cabinet to instruct its federal envoy 
to accept unconditionally the enclosed presidential proposals. 
Haste was requisite owing to the approaching recess of the 
Bundestag, and, further, complete unanimity was essential, for the 
sake of the impression to be produced upon the nation. Conse- 
quently ' Your excellency will perform a true service for 
Germany for every day earlier in which you send instructions to 
your royal envoy." The only thing enclosed with this despatch 

1 Bernstorfi to Hardenberg, August 13, 1819. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

was the draft of the provisional federal press law. 1 If a royal 
court was fobbed oft with such scanty views, it was natural that 
absolutely no attention should be paid to the petty states. It 
was assumed that most of them would lack courage to resist, 
and no communication was sent to them. Others were indirectly 
threatened, and Bernstorff reported to the chancellor, " We have 
provided against unseemly observations on the part of the 
free towns." a To avoid offending the touchy elector of 
Hesse, towards the end his envoy in Vienna, Baron von Miinch- 
hausen, was invited to join the deliberations, and took part in 
the last six sittings. Von Fritsch, on the other hand, was treated 
with open contempt when he appeared at Carlsbad, commissioned 
by Grand Duke Charles Augustus to learn what was going on. 
Metternich allowed him as a guest to participate in only one 
sitting of little importance, and then sent him home again 
without any further information. Gentz wrote with satisfaction 
in his diary : " The innocents have now left Carlsbad." 

In order to ensure the carrying out of the emergency laws 
against the demagogues, a provisional federal executive ordinance 
was now adopted, empowering the Bundestag to supervise 
the carrying out of all federal resolutions by a committee, 
and in case of need to employ military coercion against any 
recalcitrant federal state. Bernstorff, to whom so wide an 
extension of the rights of the Federation seemed a serious matter, 
received definite instructions from Berlin to approve the law. 
" Without vigorous executive measures," wrote the chancellor 
to him, " we shall never carry through any federal decision. In 
default of such measures, such a state as Bremen might frus- 
trate all the efficiency of the Federation." 3 Thus the Bundestag 
was given powers which, if vigorously utilised, might lead to the 
control of particularism ; but even this strengthening of the cen- 
tralised authority, in itself a wholesome thing, merely aroused 
ill-feeling among the people because it was to serve solely for 
the purposes of the persecution of the demagogues. 

Next came the second proposal, that for legislation about 
the universities. To this end, Gentz had elaborated an intro 
ductory presidential address abounding in frivolous accusations. 
He maintained that the universities had become estranged from 

1 Metternich and Bernstorff to Minister Rosenkrantz in Copenhagen, August 
18, 1819. 

2 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, September 2, 1819. 

3 Hardenberg to Bernstorff, August 17, 1819. 


History of Germany 

their original character, from their renown acquired in better 
days, and blamed " a great part of the university teachers," on 
the ground that they had filled the heads of the students with 
the phantom of a so-called cosmopolitan culture certainly the 
last accusation which could justly be brought against the Christo- 
Germanic hotheads. Supported by such considerations, the law 
demanded, at every German university, the appointment of an 
extraordinary governmental plenipotentiary to supervise the 
maintenance of order, to watch over the spirit of the teachers, 
and to give that spirit " a wholesome direction." Anyone who 
was dismissed from his professorial chair on account of breach 
of duty or the diffusion of dangerous doctrines, was (in accordance 
with the idea long cherished by Metternich) never again to receive 
a professorial position in any German state. Finally, the old 
laws against the students' associations were rendered more severe, 
and in especial were extended to the Burschenschaft, for " the 
aim of this body to bring about a permanent community and 
correspondence between the different universities is simply inad- 
missible." Thus the natural intercourse between the individual 
state-institutions of Germany, in so far as they had not wholly 
succumbed to particularism, was now forbidden from the federal 
side. Alike in form and content, the law was a gross outrage 
upon the German universities, and would have destroyed 
academic freedom had not the majority of the governments, 
faithful to their good old traditions, given it a comparatively 
liberal interpretation. 

Bernstorff, who, next to Gentz, was the most cultured of 
the statesmen at Carlsbad, was unwilling that this difficult ques- 
tion should be dealt with in so summary a fashion. He pro- 
posed that they should merely come to an agreement upon certain 
general disciplinary principles, and leave the rest to more detailed 
elaboration by the Bundestag. But his colleagues answered 
with one voice that there was danger in delay ; and since Harden- 
berg, who now sailed entirely in Wittgenstein's wake, also shared 
the view of the majority, Bernstorff was able to do no more than 
secure, as a single alleviation, that under certain conditions the 
rights of the governmental plenipotentiary might be transferred 
to the former curator, so that, after all, the universities should 
not without exception be formally placed under police super- 
vision. In other respects the Austrian proposals were adopted 
almost unaltered ; the measured and well-informed report of the 
Bundestag committee on the universities, which was sent to 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

Prince Metternich while the conferences were in progress, was 
left unnoticed. 1 

The motive force of the conferences, Emperor Francis's 
anxiety regarding any disturbance of his hereditary domains, 
was most plainly manifested in the third proposal, the provisional 
press law. For this law, as for all the others, Gentz had prepared 
an introductory presidential discourse, describing in vivid colours 
how every one of the federal states was endangered by the free- 
dom of the press in the lands of its German neighbours, and how 
this danger had recently been increased by the publicity of the 
proceedings of the Landtags. During the sittings, Metternich 
spoke yet more plainly, saying that it lay in the very nature of 
the Federation that its members must guarantee one another's 
freedom from moral and political injury, and must guarantee one 
another against attacks on the part of the press. Freedom of 
the press was unquestionably more injurious for the great states, 
which in Germany might be simultaneously attacked from thirty 
different centres, than for the petty states, whose writers would ever 
be ready to treat the home governments with discretion, if only 
they could retain a free hand against their powerful neighbours. 
Therefore, in order to protect herself against the attacks of the 
German press, Austria proposed that " the necessity of preventive 
measures," i.e., of the censorship, should be recognised as the rule, 
though this was a plain infringement of article 18 of the federal 
act, which did not, indeed, expressly forbid censorship, but estab- 
lished freedom of the press as an elementary principle. For the 
next five years all newspapers and all books comprising less than 
twenty sheets were to be subject to the censorship, but every 
federal state was to be free, should it so desire, to subject even 
larger works to the censorship. Here also the intention was, not 
to prescribe a minimum of freedom, but to establish a maximum 
which must on no account be exceeded. 

Since henceforward newspapers were not to be published 
without the approval of the state authority, the press law 
immediately drew the conclusion that every German govern- 
ment was responsible to the Federation, and to the individual 
federal states, for the good behaviour of its press. Upon the 
demand of an injured government, or upon its own free initiative, 
the Bundestag was to be empowered to prohibit newspapers and 
books, and, in accordance with the Teplitz convention, the editor 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, August 25 ; Goltz's Report to Bernstorff, Frank- 
fort, August 28, 1819* 


History of Germany 

of a newspaper thus suppressed was not to be allowed to edit 
any other paper within five years. Unquestionably this respon- 
sibility of the sovereign German princes to a conference of envoys 
was a monstrosity from the point of view of constitutional law ; 
but since at Carlsbad the statesmen were all agreed in regarding 
the press as their common enemy, they accepted without demur 
even this attack upon the sacredness of sovereignty, regarding it 
as self-evident that every well-disposed government would, under 
all circumstances, Joyfully accept the suppression of a newspaper. 
On this occasion also, Hardenberg showed how completely he was 
now dominated by Wittgenstein's party. Upon his express orders, 
Bernstorff had to agree that freedom from the censorship should 
be allowed only to works consisting of more than twenty sheets ; 
Austria had desired to concede that works consisting of more 
than fifteen sheets should be exempt. l 

These negotiations concerning the press were weighty with 
consequences in relation also to another domain of our political 
life. Among the reasons which were brought forward to show 
the necessity of the censorship, Metternich laid especial emphasis 
on the fact that the demagogues very logically hoped that the 
adjudication upon press offences would be in the hands of juries, 
but trial by jury, together with public and oral procedure, were 
unconditionally rejected by all the members of the conferences, 
who considered them, as Gentz phrased it, to be " axioms of 
the revolution." The foolish phrases which the Badenese Land- 
tag had showered upon the palladium of popular freedom, 
received their inevitable answer. It was the curse of these days 
of hatred and suspicion that both parties now came to draw up 
for themselves catechisms of rigid political dogmas, each holding 
to its own catechism with all the moroseness of German partisan 
hatred, so that for years every possibility of an understanding 
was prevented. To the doctrinaires of the reaction, the private 
procedure of the law courts, which served only to expose the excel- 
lent German judiciary to undeserved suspicion, seemed to be a 
pillar of the monarchical principle. 

Somewhat more lively, but by no means unfriendly, were 
the proceedings concerning the fourth law, the aim of which was 
the suppression of demagogic intrigues. Although as yet no sign 
had been discovered of a revolutionary movement for whose 
control the existing courts would not suffice, all the participators 
in the conferences agreed in the view that the terrible con- 

1 Hardenberg to Bernstorff, August 25, 1819. 

The Carlsbad Decrees 

spiracy ramifying throughout Germany could not be mastered 
in any other way than by an extraordinary federal centralised 
authority. The only question was, whether the Federation was 
merely to conduct the investigations, or was also to pass judg- 
ment. By the institution of an extraordinary federal jurisdic- 
tion, the existing legal institutions of all the federal states would 
be seriously infringed, and the generally recognised principle that 
no one must be withdrawn from the jurisdiction of his natural 
judges would be infringed. Consequently Bernstorff proposed 
that they should be satisfied with a central committee of enquiry. l 
The chancellor, however, asked Kircheisen and Kamptz their 
advice, and these two men were still inspired by the first 
savage zeal of the demagogue-hunt, and dreaded nothing so much 
as that the demagogues of Bonn might be acquitted by the 
Rhenish juries from whom, indeed, in this case, no impartial 
judgment was to be expected. But Kamptz, as an able lawyer, 
knew how to adduce better grounds than this for his opinion. 
For those who seriously believed in the existence of a grave 
danger threatening the entire Federation (and unfortunately this 
illusion prevailed at the Prussian court), the introduction of a 
federal committee of enquiry was unquestionably a dangerous 
half-measure, for, in view of the complexity of German legal 
institutions, it was inevitable that the sentences the courts would 
pass on the demagogues would be contradictory, and that there- 
fore the federal authority which conducted the enquiry would be 
exposed to universal hatred and contempt. For this reason 
Hardenberg replied that the federal central committee would be 
effective only if it were endowed also with judicial powers ; in the 
old empire the imperial courts had always dealt with breaches 
of the public peace directly, before their own forum. 2 At the 
same time he sent a proposal for the establishment of a provisional 
federal jurisdiction, which Bernstorff had now to defend. 

At first the majority of the Carlsbad statesmen were inclined 
to favour the Prussian proposal, and Metternich also was delighted 
with it. But thereupon, quite unexpectedly, a powerful opponent 
showed himself in the field, Emperor Francis. The sole human 
trait in the policy of this rigid despot was that he endeavoured 
to defend the existing order against high and low ; his flatterers 
gave the name of justice to what was in reality no more than a 
pedantic adherence to the ancient and traditional. When rebels 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, August 8, 1819. 

2 Hardenberg to Bernstorff, August 13, 1819. 


History of Germany 

raised their heads against him, he by no means shrank from 
courts-martial and cruel measures of exception ; but so long as 
the danger did not affect him personally, justice must pursue its 
customary course. Moreover, he was influenced by his old mis- 
trust of the unruly Germans ; he could rely upon his own 
Austrian courts, and he would not trust a single Austrian traitor 
to German judges. Finally, it has to be remembered (and herein 
lies the cream of the joke) that he did not himself really believe 
in the existence of the great German conspiracy, and merely 
wished to derive the utmost possible advantage from the fears of 
the other courts ; consequently he dreaded that an extra- 
ordinary federal jurisdiction might, after all, secure no serious 
result, and might therefore make itself a laughing-stock. His 
leading judge, Baron von Gartner, an old imperial jurist of the 
school of Kamptz, had to draw up an opinion for the conferences, 
which, appealing to the privilegia de non evocando of the electors, 
declared that the sovereign rights of the German princes could 
only be preserved if the federal central committee had its powers 
restricted to the conduct of the enquiries. 

Vainly did Kamptz endeavour to instruct his former pupil. 
In his usual pompous style he wrote : ' ' The laudes Gartneriana. 
uttered in Carlsbad were all the more agreeable to me because 
they have shown me, as you yourself I hope now gratefully recog- 
nise, that you owe to my example and to my good teaching all 
that you know." He then went on to expound how dangerous 
it would be that judgment upon the demagogues should be left 
to so many subordinate judges, to their weakness, to their wooing 
of popular favour, to their dread of the newspapers ; this would 
be to establish anew the " coimperium " of the complainants which 
was now to be annihilated. 1 In vain did Hardenberg send this 
writing to Carlsbad and ask the conferences to consider that, after 
all, a tribunal established by the Germanic Federation could not 
be regarded as a foreign jurisdiction ; a central committee 
with no more than investigatory powers, would, he said, show 
itself to be utterly useless, and would only arouse bad 
blood. 2 Emperor Francis would not be persuaded. On 
August 28th he announced his final determination : "I will never 
decide who is to judge until I know precisely what is to be 
judged. What would happen if the joint committee failed to 
find anything at all of importance, or very little ? What 

1 Kamptz to Gartner, August 31, 1819. 

1 Hardenberg to Bernstorff, August 25, September i, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

would happen if the members of this committee differed in 
their views ? " l The emperor's attitude sufficed to settle that 
of the majority in Carlsbad. 2 

Metternich, too, very unwillingly had had to give tongue in 
the sense of his monarch, and did so just as cynically as the latter, 
saying that, after all, no one as yet knew " how many guilty 
of high treason would be found as a result of the committee of 
enquiry," and adding that a formal federal court with judicial 
powers "if it should give very little result, would certainly be 
far more compromising than useful." The consequence was 
that the central committee was to have only the power of insti- 
tuting an enquiry into the conduct of the demagogues, but the 
right was reserved for the Bundestag, in case of need, to give 
this committee judicial powers as well. Metternich urgently 
begged the Prussian minister to accept the failure, and not to 
renew the dispute at the Bundestag. " This would lose our game." 
The result of the enquiry might after all render it possible to 
enlarge the powers of the central committee, and to make it 
a court of justice. 3 The committee was to meet in Mainz 
a fortnight after the federal resolution had been passed, was 
immediately to attempt to ascertain all the facts of the demagogic 
intrigues, was to issue instructions to the prosecuting authorities 
of the individual states, was to demand documentary reports 
from them, was, at its discretion, to hear certain suspects in 
person, and finally, for the enlightenment of the nation, was 
to draw up a comprehensive report upon the affair. To keep 
the Ernestines and the free towns out of the matter, an arrange- 
ment was made at Carlsbad to select the seven states which were 
to nominate the seven members of the central committee of 
enquiry, those chosen being Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Hanover, 
Baden, Nassau, and, last of all, Darmstadt, so that the 
courts excluded from the conferences should have at least one 

Thus it was that Emperor Francis prevented those courts 
which at the congress of Vienna had rejected Prussia's proposal 
to institute ordinary federal jurisdiction from, four years later, 
establishing an extraordinary federal tribunal for the punish- 
ment of the demagogues. But what was determined on in place 

1 His Majesty's Decision, Schonbrunn, August 28, 1819. 

2 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, September 7, 1819. 

8 Metternich to Bernstorff, September 5, 1819, with a Memorial upon the 
central committee of enquiry. 


History of Germany 

of this, was in reality far more sinister. A judicial tribunal, bound 
by the forms of judicial procedure, at least offered certain 
safeguards against arbitrary conduct, whereas the new central 
committee of enquiry, which could intervene in the ordinary 
legal procedure only by way of denunciation, writ, and arrest, had 
from the first the aspect of a tyrannical instrument, was by the 
people immediately christened "the Black Committee," was daily 
discredited by the contradictory judgments passed by the various 
territorial courts, and, as Hardenberg had foreseen, became the 
object of universal detestation. 

The four laws were all approved, and whatever was still 
lacking in respect of the interpretation of article 13 could easily 
be postponed until the Vienna conferences, which were to be held 
in November, for all parties were agreed upon " the maintenance 
of the monarchical principle." Even an enlargement of the rights 
of the majority at the Bundestag, such as had been planned by 
the two great powers in Teplitz, could perhaps also be secured 
in Vienna. The results exceeded all Metternich's expectations. 1 
" Never," he declared, " have more exemplary harmony and 
urbanity prevailed than at our conferences." When all met 
once more, on September ist, to take leave of one another, every- 
one was in a good humour, and one of the ministers was so 
extremely enthusiastic that he proposed to his colleagues that they 
should sing the Ambrosian hymn of praise. Naturally, at the 
close of " this ever memorable meeting," the master of state- 
craft who had conducted affairs so admirably was hailed with 
the united expression of unbounded respect and gratitude, and 
due praise was also given to the great talents of Councillor Gentz. 
A wonderful amount had, in fact, been accomplished in a few 
days. This cumbrous federation, which seemed inapt for any 
development, suddenly, and with revolutionary impetuosity, 
grasped political rights which had never been allotted to the 
ancient empire ; it arrogated to itself dominion even over 
branches of internal political life which the powerful central- 
ised authority of the modern German Empire leaves to the 
territories without restriction ; so recklessly did it transgress 
the limits of its fundamental law that clear-sighted professors 
of constitutional law like Albrecht were able to maintain that 
after the Carlsbad decrees the Germanic Federation had aban- 
doned the character of a federation of states, and had become 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, September 2, 1819. 

transformed into a federal state a view shared by many of 
Metternich's sympathisers, and especially by Ancillon. Without 
opposition, Germany's princes allowed all these limitations of their 
sovereignty to be imposed upon them by Austria. Metternich 
wrote in triumph : "If the emperor doubts being emperor of 
Germany he greatly deceives himself." 

Never since Prussia had existed as a great power, never since 
the days of Charles V and Wallenstein, had the house of Austria 
been able to set foot so heavily upon the neck of the German 
nation. Just as masterfully as in former days Emperor Charles 
had imposed the Interim of Augsburg upon the contentious Reichs- 
tag of the conquered Schmalkaldians, so now did Metternich 
call a halt to a new national movement of the Germans ; just as 
contemptuously as Granvelle had at that time laughed at the 
peccata Germanice-, so did Gentz now mock at the tribulations of the 
Old Bursch of Weimar and his liberal train ; and just as submis- 
sively as in those days the weakly Joachim II, so now did a 
Hohenzollern stand before the Austrian ruler. But Austria had 
soon to learn that the crown which Emperor Francis had once 
torn from his own head was not to be regained by the trickeries 
of a false diplomacy. In earlier days Austria's dominion had 
always been a misfortune to the Germans ; the more brightly the 
star of the Hapsburgs shone, the more prostrate was the condition 
of the German nation. That great emperor who, in Augsburg, 
had once desired to control Protestantism, had at any rate offered 
the Germans something to replace their lost freedom, a mighty 
thought, one capable of filling even a Julius Pflugk with enthusiasm, 
the great conception of the Catholic world-empire. But what 
could they offer to the nation, these petty spirits who now 
endeavoured to tread in the footsteps of Emperor Charles ? 
Nothing but oppression and coercion, nothing but an unscrupulous 
distortion of the federal law, which must inevitably make their 
solitary national institution loathsome to the Germans, throwing 
as makeweight into the scale the lie that Germany was to be 
rescued from an imaginary danger. 

For the real interests of the nation Metternich had nothing 
but a mocking smile. An exhortation from the minor courts 
regarding the unfulfilled pledge for the facilitation of commercial 
intercourse throughout Germany was met by the Austrian 
statesmen with empty phrases. He had had to promise the 
Prussian minister that the odious dispute regarding the federal 
fortresses should at length be brought to a close. Upon Prussia's 


History of Germany 

demand, too, Langenau and Wolzogen had already appeared in 
Carlsbad, the latter to the alarm of the strict Austrian party, 
who regarded him with suspicion as an emissary of the German 
revolutionaries. But amid so many more important matters, 
Metternich found no time for the promised discussion with the 
two generals. 1 Moreover, in relation to his policy, what mat- 
tered the safeguarding of the German frontiers when compared 
with the great civilising tasks of the censorship and the prosecu- 
tion of the students ? And since the new rulers of Germany 
were incomparably smaller and of less account than had been 
the Hapsburg heroes of the days of Schmalkald and of the Thirty 
Years' War, since these new rulers owed their successes, not to 
the might of victorious arms, but solely to the foolish terrors of 
the German courts, the inevitable reaction set in, not, as in the 
days of Maurice and Gustavus Adolphus, firmly and forcibly, but 
slowly, unnoticed and yet all the more certainly. Austria had 
offered the Germans a stone in place of bread. As soon as Prussia 
determined to deal honourably with the needs of this nation, 
and to provide that economic unity which Prussia alone could 
give, from that moment the spectre of German dualism, whose 
hideous features had once again been displayed, began gradually 
to fade, and the thinking part of the nation came gradually to 
realise that the withdrawal of Austria from the Germanic Federa- 
tion, so arrogantly threatened in Carlsbad, offered the only 
possible means of rescuing the fatherland. 

But this prospect was still remote. At the moment, the 
Hofburg was jubilant with victory. In an affectionate auto- 
graph note, Emperor Francis thanked the king of Prussia for his 
vigorous common action " against the disturbers of that estab- 
lished order upon which the existence of the thrones depends." 2 
Gentz sang the glories of " the greatest step backwards which has 
been made in Europe for thirty years," and to the Austrian envoy 
in London Metternich expressed the hope that this deed of salva- 
tion would find an echo throughout Europe. In actual fact, in 
Spain alone had the ideas of pure reaction hitherto secured so 
decisive a success. Among the great civilised nations it was Ger- 
many which first gave the example of a coup d'etat from above, 
an example which eleven years later served as prototype for the 
July ordinances in France. The policy of moderation which the 
Quadruple Alliance had observed down to the time of the con- 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, August 25 and September 2, 1819. 

2 Emperor Francis to King Frederick William, August 29, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

gress of Aix-la-Chapelle, was now at an end ; the power which 
had acquired the leading position in the European alliance openly 
manifested itself on the side of the principles of oppression. 

There still remained a serious piece of secret work to be 
completed before, as Metternich phrased it, the bomb could burst 
in Frankfort. What had been effected in Carlsbad was no more 
than a conversation between nine federal states, a conversation 
which from the point of view of federal law had no formal validity, 
although these states controlled the majority of the inner council. 
For an enlargement and alteration of the federal act, such as was 
involved in the Carlsbad decrees, unanimity was necessary. Thus 
it was essential to secure the silent submission of thirty federal 
states to the orders of the nine, to enforce the majority rule, pro- 
posed at Teplitz, in actual fact upon the inner council of the 
Bundestag. The lever of intimidation which had done such good 
service in Carlsbad must once more be utilised in Frankfort. 
Metternich desired to prevent any discussion in the Bundestag, 
for the decrees of the Carlsbad conspiracy could not bear critical 
illumination. So short-sighted was his cunning, that he was 
unable to see how foolish it was to humiliate the German central 
authority before the whole nation at the very moment in which 
this authority was to receive enlarged powers odious to public 
opinion. On September ist, Metternich communicated the Carls- 
bad decrees to the presidential envoy, instructed him to arrange 
for their speedy adoption, and then to adjourn for the recess. 
The same instructions went simultaneously to Count Goltz, who 
was now at length initiated by Buol, Plessen, and Marschall into 
the secrets of Carlsbad. 1 Some of the other Carlsbad conspirators 
did not even think it necessary to inform their own federal envoys. 
It was not until September I3th that the court of Carlsruhe sent its 
federal envoy the laconic order : " Since, according to information 
received, in one of the next sittings the Austrian envoy will give 
a report concerning the Carlsbad conferences, you will accept the 
Austrian proposal without further parley " ; and the Badenese 
envoy was to vote for the seven states appointed in Carlsbad as 
members of the central committee of investigation. 2 

Not even yet was precise information given to the govern- 
ments which had been excluded from the conferences. Bernstorff 
contented himself with sending the Prussian envoys at the minor 

1 Bernstorff to Goltz, September i ; Goltz's Report, September 7, 1819. 

2 Ministerial instructions to the Badenese federal envoy, September 13, 1819, 


History of Germany 

courts a brief summary of the events of the conferences, as frag- 
mentary as had been the casual communication made to the 
Danish court. 1 The Carlsbad decrees were to be approved with- 
out examination by Austria's vassals, just as in former days had 
been the act of the Confederation of the Rhine by the faithful 
followers of Napoleon. In fine competitive zeal, the diplomats 
of the nine initiates declared to the minor courts that nothing but 
harmony of all the governments could rescue Germany from 
its dangerous position ; and, wherever necessary, the Austrian 
envoy played his last trump, threatening the secession of 
Austria. Only to the court of Darmstadt, which had been 
granted a place in the central committee of enquiry, was a 
more detailed report vouchsafed. The envoys of the two great 
powers, Handel and Otterstedt, went to the grand duke, related 
to him the essential matters, and adjured him " to ensure the 
salvation of the common fatherland by the unconditional 
unanimity of all members of the Federation." The dignified 
old ruler was but ill-pleased at the threatened limitation of his 
sovereignty, but he believed in the great demagogic peril, and 
merely reserved for himself the right, when the Carlsbad decrees 
should be promulgated, of promising his country that the con- 
stitution should be established on May i, 1820. The govern- 
ments, he said warningly, must not give the appearance of desiring 
to restrict the arbitrary acts of others while imposing no limits 
upon their own. 2 

Thus everything was prepared for the great coup. On 
September I4th, Buol gave the Bundestag the first confidential 
communication regarding the Carlsbad conferences. On September 
i6th, he read the presidential address sent him by Metternich, and 
then proposed the speedy adoption of the agreed observations 
concerning article 13, together with the four laws. Most of 
the federal envoys now learned for the first time the text of the 
Carlsbad decrees. It was the most important and comprehen- 
sive proposal ever submitted to the Bundestag, and to deal with 
it, Buol, without a word of contradiction, proposed a period of 
four days, a period which, in view of the methods of intercourse 
of that time, made it impossible to send home for instructions. 
The vote was to be taken on September 20th, whereas the rules for 

1 Bernstorff, Brief Summary of the results of the Carlsbad proceedings. 
(Undated, presumably of September 9, 1819.) 

z Bernstorff, Instruction to Otterstedt, September i ; Otterstedt's Reports, 
Darmstadt, September n and 13, 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

the conduct of business demanded that at least fourteen days 
should elapse. The consequence was that at the time when 
the decrees were passed in Frankfort the great majority . of the 
German governments had had no information as to their 
wording. There was absolutely no constitutional discussion of the 
proposals, but not one of the envoys censured this omission. 

On the day of the vote no one ventured any formal opposi- 
tion, but to Austria's alarm it appeared that, notwithstanding all 
threats, only a portion of the envoys were empowered to give 
unconditional approval. Many were still awaiting instructions ; 
others, after the German manner, had all kinds of reflections and 
wishes to announce. For example, the court of Dresden found 
the Carlsbad decrees too liberal, and expressed the hope that 
throughout Germany, as in the kingdom of Saxony, all printed 
matter, without exception, should be subjected to the censorship. 
Wangenheim, too, brought forward a whole series of strictures, 
thus offering fresh proof of the untrustworthiness of the court 
of Wiirtemberg, for in Carlsbad Wintzingerode had cheerfully 
accepted all four of the laws. The Wiirtemberg envoy raised 
particularist objections against the federal executive organisa- 
tion, finding it too severe that every federal state should be 
responsible for the behaviour of its own press, and so on. Electoral 
Hesse also entered a protest against the federal executive 
organisation which so greatly infringed the rights of sovereignty. 

It was with the greatest tension that the assembly awaited 
the vote of the Luxemburg envoy. Everyone knew that his royal 
master, who treated all German affairs with deliberate contempt, 
had left him without instructions. But Buol and Goltz had dis- 
cussed the matter with Count Griinne, who frankly declared that 
although he had not received plenary powers, " he would no longer 
withhold his assent from a formally compiled decree " appending 
an insignificant proviso in favour of the national peculiarities of 
Luxemburg. As Goltz reported to his king, the game was won, 
" for in this way that ostensible unanimity could be secured, and 
the fifteenth and sixteenth curiae and the free towns could be 
deprived of any pretext for divergent manifestations." l When 
the representative of the king of the Netherlands showed so 
accommodating a disposition, how could the smaller powers resist ? 
The envoys of the Ernestine houses and the sixteenth curia voted 
aye, although they had to acknowledge that as yet they had 
received instructions from some only of their principals. Weimar, 

1 Goltz's Report to the king, September 28, 1819. 

History of Germany 

too, was among those who voted aye. The proxy of the fifteenth 
curia did not hesitate to lie, and declared the serene highnesses 
had ordered him to give an affirmative vote, although it was 
obvious that he had not received instructions from the two 
Schwarzburgs. After all this, there was nothing left for the 
envoys of the free towns but " in default of special instructions, 
to join in the universally expressed unanimity." 

A unanimous vote had been secured ; the Bundestag had 
submitted to the decrees of the nine. But was it possible to 
venture to publish in the minutes this remarkable decision, exactly 
as it had been taken, with all its clauses and reservations ? As 
Goltz admitted to his monarch, it was all too plainly manifest 
" that the general assent was dependent, not upon conviction, 
but rather upon acceptance of the force of circumstances." If 
public opinion, as to whose hostility there was a general under- 
standing, was to be silenced by a fine manifestation of the 
unanimity of the German thrones, Austria, after all the tricks and 
lies of this unsavoury negotiation, must not shrink from one last 
falsification. Vigorously supported by Goltz and Plessen, Buol 
suggested to his colleagues that " in order to increase the 
impression to be made," it was essential that the published minutes 
should be purged from all observations. 1 Everyone agreed with- 
out hesitation. Thus it was that the actual details of the voting 
were buried in a profoundly secret register, which was to serve 
" only as an authentic record of the proceedings," and might 
perhaps be used as a text for subsequent deliberations. 2 But the 
published minutes related the " unanimous adoption of the 
Carlsbad decrees," and specified that all four laws should 
" immediately enter into force in all the federal states." Great was 
the shock when the Germans suddenly learned that the Bundestag, 
which had been deaf to all the pressing needs of the nation, had 
with such undignified haste, and with manifest contempt for the 
prescriptions of the federal act, adopted coercive laws destined 
to gag the mental life of the country. Even the minor courts 
experienced so lively a sense of coercion, that the Prussian envoy 
urgently advised his government not to string the bow too 
tightly, and to invite all the governments without exception to 
the Vienna conferences. When the work was finished, the presi- 
dential envoy invited his colleagues to a brilliant banquet. Count 
Goltz secured forgiveness for former mistakes, and received the 

1 Goltz's Reports to the king and to Bernstorff, September 18, 22, and 28. 1819. 
- First published in the year 1861 in C. L. Aegidi's work, From the Year 1819. 


The Carlsbad Decrees 

cordial gratitude of his court for the happy discharge of a difficult 
task. l 

It was under such auspices, with a falsified vote, that the 
dominion of the house of Austria at the German Bundestag began. 
It was with another falsified vote, with a fraudulently secured 
declaration of war against Prussia, that in the year 1866 this 
dominion was to find its worthy close. 3 

1 Bernstorff to Goltz, October 9, 1819. 

2 See Appendix VI. This was added by Trcitschke in the final volume of 
his History. It deals with the history of the Burschenschaft, especially with 
reference to the murder of Kotzebue and the Trial of Sand. Its main reference 
is therefore to pp. 187 etseq, TRANSLATORS' NOTE. 



PRINCE METTERNICH could count with certainty upon having 
incurred the anger of the liberal parties, for, according to his 
own modest assertion, " in three weeks he had completed what 
thirty years of revolution had been unable to effect." He 
had never thought it worth while to try to learn the character 
of the German people ; he had no idea how highly this ideal- 
istic nation prized freedom of thought, and how terribly it 
would perforce be affronted by the attack upon the press and 
the universities. The Carlsbad decrees confused public opinion 
and wrought havoc from the first. Among the moderates, 
the hope of peaceful development in German affairs disappeared. 
Republican ideas, which in our monarchical history lacked all 
foundation, began to gain the upper hand now that Germany's 
princes appeared as the sworn enemies of popular freedom ; 
the enthusiasm for the great free state of America, which had 
hitherto been no more than theoretical, became in many minds 
a practical party sentiment. The wild song of the Uncondi- 
tionals, A way with the Princes, now made its way into wider 

The nation got out of tune with its political system and 
with its finest historical memories. The fine patriotic enthu- 
siasm of recent years was dispersed. From everyone's lips 
fell bitter complaints that the blood spilled at Leipzig and 
Belle Alliance had been spilled in vain. While the German 
liberals had at first adopted a few Jacobin principles, half 
unconsciously as it were, now, when they were threatened with 
oppression and persecution under the name of the Old German 
law, they went over with flying banners into the French camp, 
becoming intoxicated with a constitutionalist theory which but 
scantily concealed the republican ideal. The victors greedily 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

collected those fragments of spurious political wisdom which 
fell from the table of the vanquished ; German liberal policy 
bowed before French ideas as slavishly as had German poesy 
bowed before French in the days of Louis XIV. The new 
ideas of the historical school of law, created out of the depths 
of German life, fell into disrepute, and anyone who combated 
the aberrations of the degenerate conservative party, turned 
to that revolutionary doctrine of natural law which had long 
before been refuted by German science. In its anger at the 
injustice it had suffered, German liberalism really became beside 
itself ; it forgot the priceless blessings of the wars of libera- 
tion, began to take a lighter view of the heroes of those 
struggles as " deceivers or deceived," and gradually succumbed 
to a cosmopolitan revolutionary fanaticism which must neces- 
sarily prove disastrous to a developing nation. 

Although under the menace of the censorship, which imme- 
diately came into operation, the press could say very little, 
the diplomatic world could not escape the general anger. In 
Frankfort, in Stuttgart, in Munich, everywhere, the rage of 
the cultured classes found expression in violent language. 
Everywhere the new Black Committee was compared with the 
Committee of Public Safety of the Convention. 1 No one felt 
the injustice more keenly than the professors, who found that 
they were all scorned and calumniated by the Federation on 
account of the follies of two or three men of Jena. What must 
Dahlmann and Falck, two of the leading advocates of the 
German law in Kiel, feel when Holstein, and at the same time 
Schleswig, which was not a part of the Federation, now received 
the censorship as their first gift from Germany, when for fifty 
years, since the days of Struensee, these regions had enjoyed 
unrestricted freedom^of the press under the absolutist regime of 
the Danish autocrat. The Kieler Blatter suspended publication, 
because it would not consent to subject itself to any censor. 
Dahlmann, who was in the future so often to find the apt 
word for the feelings of incensed national sentiment, declared 
that by the federal decrees the German universities had been 
"degraded and injured in a manner impossible to forget." 
He gave notice to Baron von Stein that his collaboration in 
the Monumenta Germania would cease for so long as at the 


1 Goltz, Reports from Frankfort, September 22 and 28, and October 26 ; 
Zastrow's Reports from Munich, October 9 ; Kuster's Report from Stuttgart, 
October 12, 1819. 


History of Germany 

head of this undertaking there were those federal envoys who 
had participated in the affront to the German professorial 
caste. " My good name," he wrote, " is worth more to me 
than any scientific undertaking. I cannot believe that it will 
be possible, when our hands are thus tied, to garner the noble 
fruits of science from a soil stained with oppression and 
persecution, as soon may be the case." On the birthday 
of the king-duke, Dahlmann, in his academic address, came 
forward as advocate of the calumniated universities, speaking 
of lese-majeste as " the sole and peculiar offence of those 
who have never done any wrong." He defended the right 
of the new time to find its own political forms, saying, "He 
also is an innovator who endeavoured to re-establish the 
obsolete " ; and he prophesied that, since the new federal laws 
sacrificed the intimate essence to the empty forms of peace, 
they would serve merely to secure a police-ridden semblance 
of order, and not to establish order itself. 

Even in the highest circles of society, severe criticism was 
by no means lacking. Hans von Gagern sent his friend Plessen 
a warning letter which, amid many oddities, contained a number 
of valuable expressions. " Do not," he wrote, " cheat your 
masters ; do not lead them to believe that everything which 
is now happening in the way of innovation, and love of inno- 
vation, is, when it comes from their side, nothing but forbear- 
ance and graciousness." Even Stein, who took a very harsh 
view of the follies of the Jena professors and of the Carlsruhe 
enemies of the nobility, condemned the appointment of the 
new governmental plenipotentiaries as an affront to the univer- 
sities. When the sleuth-hounds of the demagogue-hunt now 
accused the baron himself of participating in the great 
conspiracy, his fury broke bounds, " Vox faucibus haeret," 
he exclaimed, " in face of such bestial stupidity, or such devilish 
wickedness, or such base levity, originating in a thoroughly 
foul mind." Even the princes, who bent their necks beneath 
the yoke, subsequently found occasion for bitter meditations 
when they recalled to mind that never had any German emperor 
treated the least among his imperial princes so contemptuously 
as the Vienna court had now treated the entire Bundestag. 
" This attack upon the still youthful constitution of Germany," 
wrote the duke of Oldenburg, " has served only to alarm the 
impartial, to offend public opinion, and to arouse criticism." 
The ill-feeling of the petty courts began to give occasion 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

for serious anxiety ; after all, Metternich thought it advisable 
to pay due weight to the warnings of the Prussian federal 
envoy, and arranged with the cabinet of Berlin that none of 
the German courts should be excluded from the ministerial 
conferences of the ensuing winter. 1 

The general discontent was loudly re-echoed in the foreign 
press. It was only the French ultras who rejoiced, making 
known their opinion that for France also a Carlsbad coup d'etat 
would be useful. Not even the Moniteur ventured openly to 
approve Austria's doings. In France, declared this paper, 
such laws would be impossible to apply, for Europe no longer 
had any place for despotism. The liberal publicists outbade 
one another in the expression of their anger. First of all, 
of course, came the inevitable Archbishop de Pradt, rushing 
into the field with one of those voluminous works which, as 
Gentz said, could be read just as well forwards or backwards ; 
in August, already, before he had heard a word about the 
proceedings in Bohemia, he published the first section of his 
writing, The Carlsbad Congress, declaring that the times of 
Pilnitz and Brunswick had come back again. Still more 
furiously did Etienne rage in the Minerve ; and similar strains 
were heard from the Censeur and the Independant, and from 
almost all the liberal periodicals of France and England. " The 
Germans," they declared, "have put themselves outside the pale 
of humanity by imposing a disgraceful system of slavery ; they 
have become subject to the prescriptions of Sulla, to the tyranny 
of Tiberius ; everywhere else in the world arbitrary power 
conceals itself beneath a mask, but in Germany it stalks shame- 
lessly and openly in the light of day." 

The tone thus set was henceforward faithfully maintained. 
The strengthening of Central Europe, so inconvenient to Ger- 
many's neighbours, no longer seemed dangerous, now that the 
Germanic Federation had displayed this mute submission to 
the house of Austria. For thirty years Germany remained 
for all the press of western Europe the classical land of every 
kind of political contemptibility, utterly unworthy of the respect 
of free Britons and Frenchmen ; and the nation which twice 
within two years had planted her victorious banners upon 
Montmartre, was treated by her vanquished neighbour with 
contemptuous benevolence as a good-natured race of philistines, 
composed of people who passed their time over beer, tobacco, 
* Kmsemark's Report, Vienna, October 16, 1819. 
2 37 

History of Germany 

and philosophy, and who, justly recognising their own 
limitations, had comfortably renounced all plans for political 
power and liberty. The Germans themselves had so thoroughly 
accepted the consciousness of the hopeless " misere allemande," 
that they willingly accepted such manifestations of uncritical 
arrogance as proofs of the superiority of western European 
civilisation, and were no longer disturbed in their sense of 
cosmopolitan brotherly love. 

Notwithstanding the hostility of the nation, the Carlsbad 
decrees were everywhere carried out with a promptness and 
precision which from time immemorial had been unknown 
in the case of any imperial or federal law. The central com- 
mittee of enquiry immediately assembled. The most mischievous 
of its members was Hormann, the Bavarian, that fanatical 
Bonapartist who for years past in the Alemannia had been 
attacking the Borussomaniacs, and who now hoped that he 
would be able completely to exterminate them. Pfister of 
Baden and Musset of Nassau worked hand in hand with 
Hormann. Prussia had at first appointed the wretched Grano 
as her plenipotentiary, but a sense of shame soon became active 
in Berlin at the contemplation of such a representative. Grano 
was recalled, and was replaced by President von Kaisenberg, 
a distinguished lawyer, who conducted the duties of his repulsive 
office with great circumspection and notable moderation, and, 
in continuous conflict with Hormann, managed to prevent much 
evil and many arbitrary acts. 

The censors and the university plenipotentiaries immediately 
began their work. The Burschen of Jena, in a quietly phrased 
letter to the grand duke, expressed their regret that they 
had been publicly misunderstood, and on November 27th 
obediently dissolved their association. When they broke up 
there were heard the verses of Binzer : 

The bond has been severed, 
'Twas black-red-and-gold. 
This God has permitted. 
Who knows what He willed ? 

sentimental complaints, which certainly breathe no thought 
of revolutionary designs. Some of the more faithful adherents 
met the same night in order to reconstitute the dissolved asso- 
ciation, These new secret Burschenschafts, which henceforward 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

continued to meet in almost all the universities, since they were 
in unceasing conflict with the police, bore from the first a 
more revolutionary colour than did the old national league, 
and yet in essentials they were even less dangerous than this 
had been. The serious soldiers of the War of Liberation soon 
left the universities ; their youthful successors were the ordinary 
freshmen from the schools, who wished to enjoy the pleasures 
of student life without restraint, and who engaged in quarrels 
with their opponents, the corps and the Landsmannschafts 
(which now everywhere sprang to life once more), with far 
more zeal than they devoted to political oratory. But the 
wholesome moral influence of the Burschenschaft movement 
was preserved for the universities, and the detestable roughness 
of the good old time never became completely reinstated. After 
Oken's dismissal, the professors of Jena were left undisturbed ; 
Fries, alone, on account of his foolish essay about the highly 
well-born French monkeys, had to suspend his lectures for 
several years. What pitiable results were these after the 
Austrian presidential envoy had, before all the world, launched 
his accusations at the entire order of German professors ! 

The carrying into effect of the new federal laws took 
place everywhere under the immediate supervision of the envoys 
of Austria and Prussia. The two great powers would not leave 
this supervision to the Bundestag. This body had been dis- 
credited by its contentiousness and its inactivity, and finally by 
the enforced vote of September. In Vienna and at the friendly 
courts the question had for months been under consideration 
whether it was not advisable that all important federal affairs 
should be directly discharged by the governments, and that 
the federal assembly should merely be summoned to Mannheim 
for three months in every year, 1 as a modest diet. Conse- 
quently the Austrian envoys received instructions that the 
enforcement of the censorship and of the disciplinary measures 
applied to the universities should be carefully supervised in the 
petty states. In his own federal territories, indeed, Emperor 
Francis could do nothing to carry the Carlsbad decrees into 
effect ; in this peaceful Austrian world there was no demagogue, 
no member of the Burschenschaft, not even a liberal newspaper, 
to expel. It was only to show their goodwill that in October 
the Viennese police organised a hunt against the numerous 
private tutors from Switzerland ; but since against those 

* Berkheim's Reports, Frankfort, April 2, 1819, 'and subsequent dates. 


History of Germany 

arrested no stronger evidence could be found than "a few letters 
breathing bad principles," the emperor was forced to content 
himself with keeping the offenders in prison for a short time, 
and then showing them across the frontier. 1 

The court of Berlin showed itself to be almost more zealous. 
The king was and remained convinced of the necessity of the 
exceptional laws ; he commanded all his envoys in Germany 
to supervise the carrying of these into effect ; and informed 
the greater federal states that he counted upon their active 
co-operation. The only state that did not require any such 
exhortation was his faithful ally England-Hanover. The suspect 
Thuringian courts, on the other hand, were, like the Hansa 
towns, simply informed of the king's earnest desire ; but to 
them no confidential words were expressly vouchsafed. 8 Mean- 
while, Humboldt, who had an honest veneration for Charles 
Augustus, was soon able to secure the restoration of friendly 
relationships with the court of Weimar. He wrote to the 
grand duke : "In my opinion, if people hold fast to the 
principles of justice, if those liable to punishment are visited 
with due severity, if the masses, who seek nothing but 
repose and internal security, are treated with confidence, and 
if on these lines action is consistently taken, no danger need 
be feared. In such times as these, it is inevitable that the 
spirit of faction should arise. Since, however, I am convinced 
that, to a government, party spirit is equally disastrous and 
unworthy, I shall do my best to work against it wherever 
I may encounter it, whether it be directed against ourselves 
or against any other country." 3 The Weimar government 
had been intimidated to such an extent that it was already 
designing to submit to the Landtag an alteration of the consti- 
tution in conformity with the latest federal decrees. But 
when, in October, this government approached Bernstorff on the 
subject, the Prussian sense of justice once more manifested 
its undiminished force, and the minister rejoined that this 
" delicate operation " was no doubt desirable, but in the exist- 
ing situation might well miscarry, and in that case might have 
extremely disagreeable consequences at once at home and 

1 Kruscmark's Report, October 30, 1819. 

* Instructions to the envoys in Dresden, Munich, Stuttgart, and Darmstadt, 
October 2 ; Instructions to Count Keller in Erfurt, and to the charges d'affaires 
in Hamburg and Frankfort, October 2, 1819. 

3 Humboldt to Grand Duke Charles Augustus, October 9, 1819, 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

abroad. 1 Thereupon the proposal was dropped, and Prussia 
had once again safeguarded the existence of a German terri- 
torial constitution. 

On September 28th, a circular despatch, composed by 
Ancillon, was sent to the envoys in foreign countries, describing 
with theological unction how the four powers had re-established 
legitimacy and property, and how Germany had afresh confirmed 
this policy. " Germany by its geographical position is the 
centre of gravity, or, better expressed, the heart of Europe, 
and it is impossible that the heart should be disordered with- 
out this disorder being speedily sensible in the most remote 
extremities of the political body." When this document was 
improperly published, having been disclosed in Paris, the whole 
liberal press of Europe resounded with a cry of distress concern- 
ing Prussia. 

Soon afterwards, on the anniversary of the battle of Leipzig, 
the king commanded the publication of the Carlsbad decrees. 
On the same day he approved the censorship edict, which the 
chancellor had elaborated with the greatest possible speed. 
Scholl and Koreff, the two magnetic wizards, the same worth- 
less fellows whom Wittgenstein was accustomed to suspect 
as Hardenberg's liberal seducers, had in this matter given 
faithful service to their patron ; z the committee appointed 
in the spring to elaborate the press law was not even consulted. 
The new edict, in essentials an elaboration of Wollner's censor- 
ship ordinance of the year 1786, went far beyond the Carlsbad 
prescriptions, declaring in its preamble that all printed matter 
without exception should, as hitherto, be subjected to the 
censorship; even the exemption from censorship previously con- 
ceded to the academies and the universities was suspended for 
the five years' duration of the edict. The only thing to offer 
any guarantees against arbitrary acts was the newly constituted 
supreme college of censorship ; but under the lax administra- 
tion of Councillor von Raumer, this ultimate court of appeal 
never attained to any vigorous efficiency. Meanwhile, Ancillon, 
Nicolovius, and Kohler, the members of the old press law 
committee, remained assiduously at work. They held fast to 
the principles of their late referendary, Hagemeister, and on 
November gih handed to the ministry of state a proposal 
which, in sharp contradiction with the censorship edict, made 

1 Cruickshank's Report, October 30, 1819. 

2 Hardenberg's Diary, October 4, 1819. 


History of Germany 

freedom of the press the general rule, and reserved the cen- 
sorship for political newspapers alone. 1 This well-intentioned 
suggestion was ignored, a striking testimony to the sudden 
change of sentiment in Hardenberg's policy. Characteristic 
was Ancillon's attitude, for he found it possible simultaneously 
to elaborate this liberal press law and to impress upon the 
diplomats the need for the strict enforcement of the Carlsbad 
decrees. Certain severe ordinances were also issued regarding the 
discipline of the universities, but through Altenstein's happy 
intervention, the force of these was largely mitigated by the 
mildness of their practical application. 

Since the arrests of July, throughout the realm of Prussia, 
Kamptz's tools had been able to track out only two more 
notable demagogues. De Wette's incredible letter to Sand's 
mother became known and was laid before the king. As soon 
as the matter was proved, Frederick William, unaffected by the 
requests of the university of Berlin, ordered that the theologian 
should be dismissed. By his orders, de Wette received a 
letter couched in the following terms : "It would go against 
his majesty's conscience if a man who considers assassination 
justified under certain conditions and provisos were to remain 
in a position in which he is entrusted with the instruction 
of youth." De Wette endured the severe, but just, punishment 
with a Christian submission which served merely to give fresh 
proof how little revolutionary energy there really was in the 
theoretical radicalism of this professorial circle ; at the very 
moment when he was expelled from Prussia, he invoked God's 
blessing once again upon this king and upon this state which 
he had served to the best of his ability. 

Gorres' conduct was more defiant. Warned in good time 
by his friend Willemer, when his book upon " Germany and 
the Revolution " was published he escaped the threatened prose- 
cution by flight, and, from Strasburg, then demanded a safe 
conduct : he would render an account only to the jurors of 
his Rhenish home. The crown could not parley in this way 
with an accused person ; nor would the king concede to him 
trial by jury, for, after the town of Coblenz had just intervened 
on behalf of its fellow-citizen in a truly arrogant petition, it 
could easily be foreseen that the Rhinelanders would make 
an improper use of the opportunity afforded by such a trial 

1 Published by F. Kapp. Prussian Press Legislation during the Reign of 
Frederick Williarn II}. (Archiv. f. Gesch, d.d. Buchhandels, VI, p. 185.) 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

for an offensive manifestation against the Prussian regime. In 
accordance with the outlook of the old absolutism, the king 
regarded himself as justified, in cases of political danger, in 
personally nominating the judges, and did not change his mind 
on this point even when the Rhenish public prosecutors declared 
that there was no ground for a criminal charge. Frederick 
William considered that he did not exceed his prerogative when 
he had the fugitive informed, through the instrumentality of 
Hardenberg, that Gorres must first answer the summons and 
then leave it to the monarch to decide before what court he 
should be tried. But to Gorres, the king's procedure seemed 
an invasion of Rhenish liberties, and he refused to leave 

Public opinion, already in an extremely bad humour, now 
broke out into fierce anger when the editor of the Rheinische 
Merkur was thus expelled by the Prussian state (with good 
cause, indeed, but only on account of inconsiderate words, and 
in a manner which involved infringement of legal forms), and 
when his ancient and deadly enemies the French (whom he 
could now no longer harm in any way) generously and with 
unconcealed and malicious joy granted him asylum. In inter- 
course with the Strasburg Jesuits, Gorres was soon completely 
won over to the side of those clericalist efforts towards which 
he had already been drawn in Coblenz. The unstable roman- 
ticist, who had at one time in mighty dithyrambs extolled the 
victorious flights of the black eagle, now, blinded by religious 
and political hatred, formed for himself a horrible caricature 
of the Prussian monarchy, the region of Protestant and 
unimaginative barrenness and of dead bureaucratic rules. 
Henceforward it was his pride, in the name of German and 
Catholic freedom, to fight against " this malformed and rigid 

Besides Gorres, C. T. Welcker and about fifty authors, 
students, and publicists, threatened by the prosecution of the 
demagogues, had taken refuge in Strasburg. Thus Alsace, 
which, four years before, Germany had desired to liberate from 
the French yoke, now offered asylum to the dissatisfied of 
Germany, and many of those thus expelled, declared to their 
revolutionary friends in Strasburg that they would have done 
well at an earlier date to cast in their lot with free France ! 
It was proposed to found here on the frontier a free German 
newspaper, but the hopeless poverty of the refugees^ and a 


History of Germany 

strict prohibition from Berlin of the import of all German 
newspapers published in foreign countries, frustrated the design. 
The central committee of enquiry immediately reported to the 
Bundestag the dangerous intrigues that were going on in Stras- 
burg, and both the great powers demanded of the neighbour 
court of Carlsruhe that strict supervision should be exercised. 
Berstett acted on these instructions with fiery zeal. He entered 
into correspondence with the legitimist mayor of Strasburg ; 
placed de Wette, who had just come to Heidelberg, under 
police supervision, and declared with servile enthusiasm that 
Baden regarded herself as Germany's outpost and made it a 
point of honour to safeguard the fatherland against the 
onslaughts of " Teutonising Jacobins upon the left bank of the 

Two German states only, Bavaria and Wiirtemberg, offered 
a feeble opposition to the federal laws ; but since both these 
governments had already approved the decrees unconditionally, 
their subsequent attempts at resistance were essentially dis- 
honest, petty, and devoid of all prospect of success. In Munich 
there was once more displayed that scandalous weakness which 
had been characteristic of this court since the fall of Montgelas. 
When Count Rechberg returned from Bohemia, he was over- 
whelmed with reproaches by his colleagues Lerchenfeld and 
Reigersberg. The former dreaded the destruction of political 
freedom, and in a passionate letter to his friend Wangenheim 
had already expressed his liberal discontent with the Carlsbad 
decrees. 2 The latter trembled for Bavaria's position of 
European power, proudly believing that Bavaria was self- 
sufficient, and could dispense with the Federation. In secret, 
Montgelas also gave his assistance, for the ancient opponent 
of Austria hoped once more to get his hand on the tiller. 
When the Carlsbad decrees were laid before the ministerial 
council, Lerchenfeld and Reigersberg accused the foreign minister 
of having exceeded his instructions. In fact, the Bavarian 
constitution was the only one which did not in set terms 
accept the legal validity of the federal laws. 

King Max Joseph, however, in so far as he was able to 

1 Berstett to Metternich, October 2 and 22 ; to Schuckmann, November 26 ; 
Metternich to Berstett, October 30 ; Schuckmann to Berstett, November i, 1819. 

2 Printed by F. von Weech, Correspondence and Documents bearing on the 
History of the Ministerial Conferences of Carlsbad and Vienna, p. 16. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

come to any decision, was filled with dread of the demagogues, 
although the crown prince, in an earnest letter, implored him 
not to abandon the constitution. Annoyed by the dissensions 
among his councillors, he had not been willing to attend the 
ministerial council in person, and had instead sent the faithful 
Wrede. As soon as Rechberg was attacked, Wrede, quickly 
making up his mind, laid his hands upon the documents, and 
in the name of the king declared that what was past was 
past, and that the only thing which remained for discussion 
was the acceptance of the Carlsbad decrees. 1 Thus the attack 
on Rechberg was averted, and, after further lively disputes, 
the two parties in the ministry met in a pitiable compromise. 
The Carlsbad decrees were published, but with an appendix 
which declared that they were to be valid " subject to our 
sovereignty, and in accordance with the constitution and the 
laws of our kingdom." It was only the federal executive 
ordinance (whose carrying out did not indeed depend upon the 
crown of Bavaria but upon the Federation) which was omitted 
from the publication ; the censorship, too, in accordance with 
the Bavarian constitution, was to be restricted to political 

If this proviso were to have any meaning at all, it signi- 
fied that Bavaria was to be exempted from the decrees which 
the court of Munich had already twice formally approved, first 
in Carlsbad and then in Frankfort. The two great powers 
immediately armed for defence, and, in view of the plans for 
a coup d'etat which the Bavarian crown had recently laid before 
them, the proviso did in fact seem dishonourable. Emperor 
Francis personally expressed his annoyance to the Bavarian 
envoy ; 2 sent his father-in-law an autograph letter, warning 
him against " partisan intrigues " ; and gave strict instructions 
to his envoy in Munich. Still more vigorously did Bernstorff 
bear testimo'ny. " If the Bavarian government recalls," he 
wrote to Zastrow on November ist, " in what urgent need 
it stood a few months ago, what counsel it then asked 
from us, and to what an extent the desire to give this govern- 
ment a firm standing-ground in future from which to resist 
improper presumptions, has co-operated in bringing into existence 
the Carlsbad decrees, it will readily understand our astonishment. 

1 Zastrow's Reports, October 9 and 20, December 23, 1819. Further details 
in Appendix IX. 

2 Krusemark's Report, October 30, 1819. 


I listory of Germany 

If the Bavarian government wishes to secede from the 
Federation, and as far as future difficulties are concerned to 
confide in its own powers (which may not always prove suffi- 
cient), we must advise those federal states which are of the 
same way of thinking with ourselves to oppose this first devia- 
tion from the federal decrees." When General Zastrow simul- 
taneously communicated these views to Vienna, and read to 
the Bavarian minister the instructions which had been hailed 
with joy, 1 Count Rechberg felt profoundly contrite, and begged 
the Prussian to give him a note which he could lay before 
his colleagues. Zastrow responded to the request (November 
8th), and now the Bavarian heroics lamentably collapsed. In 
a humble answer Rechberg declared that his king had never 
had any idea of seceding from the Federation, and that the 
sole aim of the publication had been " to pacify the subjects 
of the crown." 2 

Deeds corresponded to words. The censorship of the 
newspapers and the supervision of the universities were in 
Bavaria effected with the greatest possible severity, and the 
sending of Hormann to the Mainz committee left no further 
doubt open regarding the sentiments of the court of Munich. 
A petition on the part of the indefatigable Hornthal against 
the Carlsbad decrees was brusquely rejected by the ministers. 
Certain officers who assembled in Ratisbon and Kelheim in 
order to defend Bavarian constitutional rights against the 
attacks of their country's old enemy, Austria, were reminded 
by Colonel Zoller of the duties of military discipline, and were 
speedily silenced. 8 To strengthen the repentant sinners, on 
December 7th Ancillon despatched another unctuous memorial 
in which he said : " Truth has forces of its own to which 
in the end people must submit. Everything that increases 
Germany's unanimity favours its unity. Sovereignty has no 
other enemies to fight against than those who 'hypocritically 
feign for it a suspect veneration." * At the same time Ancillon 
gave assurances that his king had not the remotest desire 
to see the Bavarian constitution abolished ; it would suffice if this 
constitution were to be manipulated in a strictly monarchical 

1 Bernstorfl: Instruction to Zastrow, November i ; to Krusemark, November 2. 
Krusemark's Report, November 10, 1819. 

* Rechberg to Zastrow, November 13, 1819. 

3 Zastrow's Report, November 17, 1819. 

4 Ancillon to Zastrow, December 7, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

sense. Prussia, therefore, advised against the introduction of 
a Bavarian constitution based upon provincial diets, such as 
the envoy in St. Petersburg, Count Bray, upon Metternich's 
suggestion, had just before recommended to the court of 
Munich. l 

At length the vacillating Max Joseph felt fully reassured. 
He knew that he could go hand-in-hand with the court of 
Prussia without any infringement of his oath to the constitu- 
tion. Wrede, too, who, in his fickle way, had showed himself 
for a time to be greatly concerned on behalf of Bavarian 
sovereignty, was converted by a flattering letter from Metter- 
nich, and assured the Prussian envoy of his profound detestation 
of the liberal views of Lerchenfeld. The last-named had con- 
siderable difficulty in retaining his post, for his demagogic letter 
to Wangenheim was betrayed to the king, and aroused the 
monarch's most intense anger. 2 The humiliation of the court 
of Munich was complete, and the victory of the two great 
powers was secured for the future when Rechberg now refused 
to go to the ministerial conferences at Vienna. He desired 
to remain in Munich, in order to keep the unreliable monarch 
in view. In Vienna, Zentner was to represent the Bavarian 
crown, and Rechberg's knowledge of men led him to predict 
that this bureaucrat, suspect for his liberalism, would return 
from the shores of the Danube a warm admirer of Metternich. 3 

The dishonesty of the Bavarian court seemed respectable 
when compared with the conduct of the crown of Wiirtemberg. 
As early as October ist, King William promulgated the Carls- 
bad decrees without proviso, and on the same day introduced 
the censorship. Yet a few days earlier he had sworn fealty 
to the new constitution, which promised the freedom of the 
press, and which in many other respects conflicted with the 
declarations made at Carlsbad by the Wiirtemberg minister, 
Wintzingerode. Perhaps, like Hardenberg, he salved his con- 
science with the fact that the federal press law was valid for 
five years only. This double-faced attitude was excused to 
the great powers, as far as might be, by tortuous assurances. 
After all that had happened, declared Wintzingerode to the 
Prussian envoy, the crown owed its people a proof of con- 
fidence. In Vienna, on the other hand, the king allowed it to be 

1 Blittersdorff's Report, St. Petersburg, October 25, 1819. 

2 Zastrow's Reports, December 23, 1819, January 9, 1820. 

3 Zastrow's Report, October 27, 1819. 


History of Germany 

understood that, were it possible, he would gladly recall what had 
happened. 1 When the town of Esslingen sent in a petition 
against the Carlsbad decrees, Wintzingerode administered a 
sharp rebuke to the censor who had passed this dangerous 
document. Simultaneously the same minister prepared a diplo- 
matic campaign for the conferences of Vienna, and, in order 
to secure for his court support among the small fry, he next 
had the minutes of the Carlsbad conferences, which it had 
been agreed to keep secret, sent to several of the minor courts 
excluded from those conferences. 

Meanwhile King William endeavoured to destroy the one 
thing which in this gloomy epoch of our history was something 
to rejoice about, namely, the harmony of the German crowns 
vis-a-vis the foreign world. In October he went to Warsaw 
in order to incite his imperial brother-in-law against the two 
German great powers, but Metternich thereupon immediately 
ordered the Austrian envoy, Lebzeltern, to pay a simultaneous 
visit to the Polish capital. 2 The precaution was hardly neces- 
sary. Czar Alexander gave his brother-in-law an extremely 
cool reception, for this excess of falseness disgusted him, 
although he himself by no means invariably eschewed crooked 
paths. He did not hesitate to say openly before the foreign 
diplomats that twice formally to accept the Carlsbad decrees, 
then to work against them, and, finally, to appeal to him 
(the czar) for help, was an unsavoury practice (de la mauvaise 
besogne). 3 The king of Wiirtemberg had to depart with 
nothing effected, and subsequently, on a visit to Carlsruhe, he 
endeavoured to induce the court of Baden to join with him 
in a liberal sonderbund ; but neither the grand duke nor the 
ultra-conservative Berkheim, who was now the duke's principal 
stand-by, would yield to these incitations. At the same time 
King William sent an urgent request to the Bavarian govern- 
ment not to display any needless hesitation about enforcing 
the Carlsbad decrees, for, after he had unreservedly recognised 
these decrees, no other German prince must exhibit a more 
liberal spirit. 4 

1 Kuster's Report, Stuttgart, October 12 ; Krusemark's Reports, Vienna, 
September 22, October 2, 1819. 

* Instruction to Krusemark, October i, 1819. 

3 Lebzeltern 's Report from Warsaw (in Krusemark's Report, Vienna, Decem- 
ber 8) ; Blittersdorff's Report, St. Petersburg, November 7, 1819. 

4 Berstett to Grand Duke Louis, Vienna, December 12 ; Zastrow's Report, 
Munich, December 6, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

This king, who vacillated in so undignified a manner 
between despotic inclinations and ambition to pose as a liberal, 
was extolled by his loyal people in ignorant good faith, as 
the mainstay of Teutonic freedom. " Never has Wiirtemberg 
attained a more glorious position," wrote Wangenheim with 
delight, " and if this position is occupied with firmness and 
maintained with intelligence, the country will acquire an internal 
strength which will fit it to cope with all others." 1 When 
King William returned from Warsaw, the inhabitants of 
Stuttgart assembled in crowds to greet him at the gate, took 
the horses out of his carriage, and dragged it in triumph 
to the palace. Here the school children awaited him, and 
they sang : " Praise God from whom all blessings flow," the 
people joining in, and grown men being moved to tears. In 
the evening, bonfires flamed on the hills, and in the theatre 
Uhland's Ernest of Swabia was played. There were thunders 
of applause when a stirring prologue sang the glories of the 
prince who in a time of wild confusion magnanimously extended a 
hand to his people, and when this prologue declared, " The gods still 
descend to earth." To supply an effective background for the 
brilliant spectacle of Swabian freedom, the poet described the 
intense gloom of Prussian affairs, and said, alluding to Gorres : 

Such is the curse of that unhappy state 

Where freedom and the law in ruins lie, 

Where those late deemed the saviours of their land 

Must flee for refuge to a foreign hearth. 

In this way were praises showered by a German tribe 
upon a prince who had just been endeavouring to spur on the 
Russians against his German allies. In the intoxication of 
enthusiasm for Wurtemberg freedom, no one gave a thought 
to the common fatherland. Now that the Germanic Federation 
had estranged itself from the people, particularism once again 
stalked abroad unashamed. In Ulm a number of Wurtemberg 
officers, led by General Hiigel, combined to send the king an 
address turgid with Rhenish Confederate megalomaniac The 
memorialists began by singing the praises of their const tution, 
" engendered by the spirit of truth, and conceived by the love 
of right " ; and they went on to vent their anger in abusive 

1 Wangenheim to Harlmann, November 6, 1819. 
* Zastrow's Report, November 17, 1819, 

249 s 

History of Germany 

terms upon " the foreign governments who rail against the 
happiness of the Wiirtemberg people, and who cherish the 
insane illusion that they will be able to hale Wiirtembergers 
abroad before a foreign inquisition, to judge them by the laws 
of other lands than our own." In conclusion, they actually 
demanded war against the two great powers, speaking yet more 
plainly than a few months before had spoken the liberals of 
the Bavarian chambers, describing it as " the most glorious 
of struggles on behalf of the most sacred possessions of a full- 
grown people," and declaring " the entire nation will flock to 
our ranks, full of enthusiasm ! " However childish these boasts 
might seem, the incident was taken seriously both in Vienna 
and Berlin, for what would become of the Germanic federal 
army if this unbridled spirit of political partisanship, which 
had already more than once manifested itself in the Bavarian 
army, was now to infect some of the other minor Napoleonic 
contingents ? Both the great powers demanded in Stuttgart 
that severe proceedings should be taken against the signatories 
to the address. King William complied, but the punishments, 
he inflicted were so trifling as to leave no doubt about his 
own true opinion. Such a policy, false and contradictory 
in every word, was not likely to impose any obstacle in the 
way of Austria's triumphal campaign. 

King William's journey to Warsaw seemed all the more 
foolish because in Russia the state of perplexity and insecurity 
with which the policy of that country had become affected 
in the spring of 1818 still persisted. Now, as before, Nessel- 
rode was Metternich's devoted disciple, and unreservedly 
approved all that had been done in Carlsbad ; 1 the views of 
Capodistrias in this matter were strongly opposed to those of 
Nesselrode ; the czar was in essentials of the latter 's way of 
thinking, but was not firm enough to reject unhesitatingly 
the liberal ideas of his Greek friend. Immediately after the 
Carlsbad conferences, Emperor Francis had written personally 
to the czar explaining how gravely the repose of Europe was 
endangered by the criminal neglect displayed by the minor 
German crowns in their proceedings " against the fools and 
the noisy complainants." Next the two German great powers, 
directly their work was completed, laid before the czar the 

1 BlittersdorfTs Reports, St. Petersburg, August 14, 1819, and subsequent 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

new federal decrees, and received the warmest expressions of 
Alexander's gratitude. All the foreign ministers at the court 
of St. Petersburg agreed in reporting that the czar was abso- 
lutely convinced of the imminent danger of a general revolu- 
tionary uprising ; it was only for this reason, Alexander 
repeatedly declared, that the Russian army remained upon a 
war footing. 1 

Meanwhile Capodistrias was pursuing a liberal policy upon 
his own account. He called the representatives of Bavaria 
and Baden seriously to task, asking them why the courts of 
these countries had so frivolously abandoned their sovereignty. 
What would happen now, he asked Blittersdorff, if the 
Bundestag were to entrust to the crown of Bavaria the carrying 
out of executive measures against Baden ? " Fear," he said, 
" is always an evil counsellor, and fear seems to have dictated 
the Carlsbad decrees. If the German princes are sovereigns 
merely in order to submit themselves to another's authority, 
well and good, let them choose an overlord, but let them choose 
one overlord, not eight-and-thirty." It would be well, he 
said in 'conclusion, that the court of Carlsruhe should think 
twice before agreeing, at the Vienna conferences, to accept new 
decrees which would convert the Germanic Federation into a federal 
state ! The Russian envoys to the minor courts, Anstett in 
Frankfort, Pahlen in Munich, and Koselowski in Stuttgart, did 
not know what to make of these extraordinary contradictions, 
and therefore acted on the old Muscovite principle that 
disturbances of the peace in Germany must be advantageous 
to Russia, omitting nothing which might serve to encourage 
resistance to the German great powers. 

At length, on November 30th, Capodistrias took a somewhat 
bolder line, simultaneously despatching four comprehensive 
memorials : an answer to Lebzeltern, the Austrian envoy ; 
a verbal note to the two German great powers ; a circular 
despatch to the Russian envoys in Germany ; and, finally, an 
additional memoir dealing with the consequences of the recent 
federal decrees. 3 The bombastic phraseology of these documents 
showed only too clearly that the Greek could not venture to 

1 Krusemark's Report, December 8, 1819. Report from Lowenhjelm, 
Swedish envoy at St. Petersburg (appended to Krusemark's Report, January 2, 

2 Blittersdorfi's Report, St. Petersburg, November 4, 1819. 

3 Capodistrias to Lebzeltern, November 30, 1819. The three other documents 
are published by F. von Weech, Correspondence, pp. 19 et seq. 


History of Germany 

express his whole opinion. To sum up the verbiage, Czar 
Alexander hailed the Carlsbad decrees as fresh proof of his 
allies' magnanimous intentions. But he could not give that 
unconditional approval which the Prussian court anticipated, 
for he noted with profound distress that unanimity was lacking 
among the German governments themselves, and that many 
of them were to-day showing by their actions their disapproval 
of that which yesterday they had accepted as a matter of 
principle. In view of these dissensions, and of the severely 
disordered state of Germany which was manifested by the 
commencement of emigration, the czar was unable to give any 
definite opinion until he had consulted the court of St. James's. 
Thus Russia sought advice from her sworn enemies, from 
the English tones, and England stood absolutely firm on 
Austria's side ! Count Miinster, who remained Castlereagh 's 
sole adviser in all German questions, was a yet more zealous 
advocate of the Carlsbad policy than Metternich himself ; from 
Bohemia he had sent emphatic instructions to the privy council 
of the duchy of Brunswick (which was under the guardianship 
of the prince regent) to impress upon its members th correct 
doctrine of the German representative estates. The German 
great powers were not likely to find much difficulty in parrying 
so hopelessly maladroit a thrust. Hardenberg immediately 
wrote to Castlereagh (December 3oth), asking him in a friendly 
way to give a brusque reception to this sophist Capodistrias 
(" who already gave us so much trouble at Aix-la-Chapelle) " ; 
the czar, declared Hardenberg, is really quite of our way of 
thinking. Metternich wrote in similar terms. 1 Castlereagh, 
of course, hastened to reply to his old friend that all the 
latter's undertakings received his cordial good wishes, and on 
January I4th despatched an answer to the Russian court calcu- 
lated to disperse " the visions of Count Capodistrias." In 
point of form his rejoinder was cautiously worded. He had 
to avoid irritating the whigs in parliament, where, in a fierce 
speech, Lord Minto had just been reproaching him on account 
of " the league of the courts against the peoples." Conse- 
quently he refused to accept Metternich's proposal that he 
should discuss with the other courts of the Quadruple Alliance 
the adoption of common measures to be undertaken upon 
the death of Louis XVIII ; and in his despatch to the Russian 
envoy he took the line that, as a matter of principle, England's 

1 Krusemark's Report, January 2, 1820. 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

policy was one of non-intervention. 1 Nevertheless he essentially 
espoused the cause of Austria, approving the campaign against 
the revolution, and finding that there was no occasion to com- 
plain of what had been done. The Badenese government, too, 
considered it its duty to reject the Greek's warnings in forcible 
terms : " The federal act," wrote Berstett, " is for Germany 
to-day the law and prophets." 2 After this Capodistrias kept 
quiet, and for a time Nesselrode once more gained the upper 
hand. 8 Nor was a word of contradiction heard from the 

Thus Metternich could pursue his course undisturbed, in 
arrogant security. He contended that throughout Europe the 
beneficial consequences of his " diplomatic counter-revolution " 
could already be observed. The French ministers now opposed 
the independents far more decisively than for a long time 
past, while in the English parliament the tory cabinet continued 
to gain victory after victory. 4 Never had Gentz written more 
proudly and more confidently than in this happy winter. To 
the attacks of the French press he scornfully rejoined : " The 
moment is perhaps not far distant when all good fathers in 
Germany will recognise that what blindness or bitterness has 
termed the death-blow of the German universities was really 
the beginning of their rebirth." When the French deputies, 
in an access of unbridled partisan frenzy, expelled Gregoire 
the regicide from the chamber, the Oesterreichsche Beobachter 
expressed its approval of this action in the statesmanlike words : 
" The result cannot fail to encourage those of the right way 
of thinking, seeing how profoundly it has depressed their oppo- 
nents." Adam Miiller declared to his friend : " There now 
exists on both sides of the Rhine a firm association on behalf 
of the cause of God and truth, and this association is your 
work." The Germans were to learn again at Christmas precisely 
what was understood at Vienna by the cause of God and truth. 
At the very time when the German demagogues were being 
haled to prison, General Mack, the man who had capitulated 
at Ulm, was reinstated by Emperor Francis in all his honours 
and dignities. "By an excess of imperial grace " g (as General 
Krusemark could not refrain from observing) all the accumulated 

1 Krusemark's Reports, January 2 and April 10, 1820. 
1 Berstett to Capodistrias, December 10, 1819. 
s Krusemark's Reports, January 17 and February 12, 1820. 
< Krusemark's Report, December 26, 1819. 


1 listory of Germany 

pay which had been withheld from Mack since the glorious 
days of Ulm was now paid over to the hero. 1 



Of enormously greater value to the Hofburg than the 
friendly attitude of the foreign powers was a struggle within 
the Prussian ministry, a struggle whose connection with the 
Carlsbad decrees was indirect merely, but which ended in a 
victory for the Austrian party. On August 5th the chancellor 
had returned to Glienicke in good spirits, believing that by 
the Teplitz convention he would have regained the king's confi- 
dence, and sanguinely devoting himself to the completion of 
his plans for reform. The new tax law and national debt 
law were nearly ready. Hardenberg desired to secure Stein's 
opinion on these measures, despatching a gracefully worded 
letter speaking of himself as Stein's pupil in financial matters, 
and making the friendly enquiry, " Why can we not work 
together ? " But the proud imperial baron remained firm in 
his hatred, and overwhelmed Hardenberg's proposals with 
criticism although he knew absolutely nothing about them. 
Meanwhile the design for a constitution also attained its final 
form. The malicious tongues of the capital were wagging 
confidently with assurances that for a long time past the chan- 
cellor had abandoned his constitutional ideas ; and it was 
generally asserted that upon receipt of the news of Kotzebue's 
assassination he had exclaimed, " A constitution for Prussia 
has now become impossible ! " But no one could give any 
direct authority for this rumour, and if it were not simply 
invented, the exclamation was no more than the involuntary 
outcome of a first moment of panic. This much is certain, 
that now, when circumstances were extremely unfavourable, 
Hardenberg resumed his work on behalf of the constitution. 
On August nth he laid his final proposal before the king, 
an elaboration of the plan which had been approved by Metter- 
nich in Teplitz ; and, after further confidential discussions in 
Charlottenburg, to which Witzleben was also a party, Frederick 
William once more commanded that a special committee should 
be formed out of the constituent committee of the council of 
state to draft the constitution on the lines of Hardenberg's 

1 Krusemark's Report, December 13, 1819. 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

proposals. This special committee consisted of the chancellor, 
Humboldt, Schuckmann, Ancillon, Daniels, and Eichhorn. 1 
Six additional weeks elapsed, for Daniels was detained by the 
business of organising the Rhenish judiciary. At length, on 
October I2th, the special committee held its first sitting, and 
Hardenberg's proposal, Ideas for a Representative Constitution in 
Prussia, emerged into the light of day. 

This work showed that, although years had undermined 
the old statesman's energy of will, the boldness and incisiveness 
of his ideas remained undiminished. 2 In accordance with the 
thorough-going ancient Prussian manner, and in sharp contrast 
with the improvised constitutions of the south, he desired to 
establish parliamentary rights upon the broad foundation of 
self-government in the commune, the circle, and the province. 
The septuagenarian still believed himself to possess the energy 
requisite for a reconstruction of the entire state administration 
from below upwards. He no longer displayed any trace of 
those bureaucratic-liberal ideas which he had formerly mani- 
fested in the issue of the gendarmerie edict, and nothing could 
be move unjust than Stein's reproach that Hardenberg was a 
man simply of " liberal phrases and despotic realities, paying 
no regard to existing institutions." Hardenberg, rather, just 
like Stein himself, started from the principle, "we have nothing 
but free proprietorship," and all representative rights were to 
depend upon free landed proprietorship. Consequently a com- 
munes' ordinance, to give the communes the management of 
their own affairs, was indicated as the most pressing need 
of the moment. The circle diet was to consist of deputies 
indirectly elected by the rural and urban communes and others 
directly elected by the manorial landowners, thus representing 
three estates (or four estates if there were any mediatised nobles), 
and these bodies were to form undivided assemblies, not bound 
by instructions from the electors. Thus it was not the landed 
nobility but great landed proprietorship as a whole which 
received especial representation ; the manorial landowners did 
indeed receive the name of " circle estates," but they were 
not as such given integral votes at the circle diet, having 
merely the right to elect representatives to that diet. Every 
Christian landowner of full legal age and of unblemished reputa- 
tion was eligible for election. The circle diets were to elect 

1 Cabinet Order to the Chancellor, August 23, 1819. 

2 Ideas for a Representative Constitution in Prussia. See Appendix X. 


History of Germany 

representatives of the three estates to the provincial diet, 
of which body the mediatised and the bishops were to 
be ex officio members ; the king himself had declared represen- 
tation of the universities undesirable, except in so far as the 
universities were landowners. All these representative bodies 
were chiefly concerned with the administration of local affairs 
and of debts, and with the assessment of taxes. On the other 
hand, the general Landtag, elected by the provincial diets, was 
to have no executive powers, and was merely to receive annual 
ministerial reports upon the administration, relating especially 
to the state of the finances, and was to discuss the new laws 
for the monarchy as a whole. 

Here it was plain how differently from Metternich the 
Prussian chancellor interpreted the pledges of the Teplitz con- 
vention. He seriously desired that there should be a respected 
(if not very large) Prussian diet, and not a paltry central 
committee ; leaving it for the constituent committee to con- 
sider whether the unicameral or the bicameral system would 
be preferable for this general representation of the three estates. 
He was further careful to leave open the difficult questions 
of initiative in legislation, of publicity, and of ministerial 
responsibility. He also left open the question whether the 
provincial diets were to represent the newly formed provinces 
or the feudal territories of former days. Foreign affairs and 
military concerns (in so far as they did not involve personal 
obligations) were beyond the competence of the diet. An 
enumeration of certain fundamental rights followed : equality 
before the law, freedom of conscience, and so on. Prescriptions 
regarding freedom of the press and the administration of justice 
were also mooted. All this was done at the very moment 
when Hardenberg was enforcing the Carlsbad policy, for in his 
eyes the new federal laws were no more than exceptional laws 
for a few years of special need. In conclusion, the chancellor 
insisted upon the firm maintenance of the monarchical principle, 
and recalled the saying salus publica suprema lex esto. 

The proposal offered numerous points for criticism. In 
view of the endless complexity of social conditions in the 
country districts, a single communes' ordinance for the entire 
monarchy was plainly impossible. Still more questionable was 
the notion that the suffrage was to be granted exclusively 
on account of landed proprietorship, for in the towns this plan 
would lead to numerous absurdities. A dubious proposal also 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

was the re-establishment (assumed to be possible) of the old 
territories, although it was true that difficulties were involved 
in the taking over of the complicated debts of these territories 
by new provincial administrations. Open to criticism, above 
all, was the unfortunate system of threefold indirect elections. 
The danger was obvious that a general Landtag of this kind, not 
elected but delegated, would become estranged from the nation, 
and that the monarchy would assume the character of a federa- 
tive state. Nevertheless, in the existing posture of affairs, the 
point of supreme importance was that a parliament should be 
constituted for the monarchy in its entirety ; the form of this 
parliament was of comparatively little moment. In essentials, 
Hardenberg's proposals amounted to the summoning of a united 
Landtag, such as assembled in the year 1847. It was not impossible 
that such an assembly, summoned in 1820, would in the course 
of a generation have been able to lead the state gradually 
and peacefully into the paths of a purely representative system. 
Every sentence of the memorial disclosed the serious 
and straightforward character of the chancellor's determination. 
With great caution he had avoided introducing anything which 
might alarm the king, and for this reason he had, above all, 
withdrawn military affairs and foreign policy from the compe- 
tence of the diet. Moreover, he had gone as far as possible 
to meet the desires of the feudal party, and yet, in the incon- 
spicuous section about the circle diets, the proposal contained 
a bold and far-reaching reform. The lords of the manor were 
deprived of their integral votes at the circle assemblies, their 
voting power being reduced to a moderate amount in harmony 
with the relative economic forces of the new time. In this 
way redress was given for one of the bitterest and most 
justified complaints of the peasants in the east ; the feudal 
dominion of the nobility in the rural districts collapsed, being 
replaced by representation of the interests of three social groups, 
among which the lords of the manor still, indeed, received 
a considerable preponderance of power, but were no longer 
given an absolute dominance. Hardenberg's plan was, in fact, 
to complete the reforms of 1807-12, to destroy the last vestiges 
of the feudal Order. Readily comprehensible was the anger 
with which the feudalist party at the court raged against the 
old Jacobin. Had he not, in his maladroit closing words, 
betrayed his " ideas " ; had he not shown that he honoured 
the salut public as the greatest of all goods ? 


History of Germany 

It is true that the chancellor laid before the committee 
no more than the outline of a proposal, a light sketch of 
suggestions which bore a similar relationship to Humboldt's 
constitutional memorial as that which a skeleton bears to a 
living body. Everything depended upon how the committee 
would fill in these outlines. There seemed no reason to expect 
that any of the members of that body would offer opposition 
on principle. Eichhorn and Daniels gladly approved the leading 
elements of the proposal. In the brief months of his career 
as a minister of state, Humboldt found only two opportunities 
of expressing his views upon the principles involved in the 
constitutional dispute, and showed in both instances that 
Hardenberg's compromise was his own. When two decayed 
rural poor-houses which the state had long before handed over 
to the estates of Electoral Mark, had to be re-established, 
and the estates, after their custom, protested against the alleged 
infringement of their rights, Humboldt replied : " I do not 
deny that in my view profound difficulties are at present 
involved in the settlement of all matters connected even 
remotely with a representative constitution." He advised 
the monarch to adopt a middle course. The government 
should immediately undertake the urgently necessary reform of 
the poor-relief system of Electoral Mark, but should promise 
the estates that their views should subsequently be given due 
consideration as soon as the new provincial representation should 
come into existence. The estates of County Mark, which once 
more petitioned for the re-establishment of their ancient institu- 
tions, received a firm and friendly answer to the effect that 
the provinces would not be left without representative institu- 
tions, but that the needs of national unity made it impossible 
" to leave in isolated and unaltered existence that which had 
hitherto obtained in utterly different circumstances." 1 It was 
as if Hardenberg himself had dictated the answer. Ancillon, 
too, still favoured the chancellor's plan ; in his book Political 
Science he had just expressed a strong commendation of the 
advantages of the bicameral system. Even Schuckmann had 
hitherto continued to express himself in favour of the design 
to establish a constitution. 

As soon as the news that Humboldt was one of the 
members of a new constituent committee had been bruited 

1 Humboldt to Schuckmann, October 24 ; to Bodelschwingh-Plettenberg, 
September 22, 1819. 

2 5 8 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

abroad, the flagging hopes of the liberals began to revive. 
Councillor Gravell, the indefatigable journalistic advocate of 
a constitution, republished, in November, the notorious letter 
sent by the youthful Gentz to King Frederick William, and 
declared in his defiant preface : " There are two great days in 
the life of nations : the day on which the king ascends the 
throne, and the day on which a constitution is granted ; on 
the first of these days, the accident of time, on the second, 
wisdom itself, concludes a new alliance between prince and 
people. Frederick William's people is now approaching the 
second of these great days, for the year 1820 brings the evangel 
of the future, the day of the foundation of a representative 
constitution." The Oppositionsblatt, the radical paper of 
Weimar, went so far as to prophesy in December that in the 
following year there would be promulgated a Prussian constitu- 
tion satisfactory to the wishes of the boldest. 

The challenging language of the old estates, whose arro- 
gance had continually increased since the announcement of 
the Carlsbad decrees, served merely to strengthen the chancellor 
in his constitutional designs. " Filled with consolation and 
hope by the newest decrees of the august German federal 
assembly," the lords of the manor of W 7 est Havelland memorialised 
the king on November I7th to express their indignation 
concerning " the unseemly presumption of the so-called popular 
representatives of other German lands," and they continued 
as follows : " Well acquainted with the state of mind of the 
countryfolk, the most vigorous element of the nation, we are 
able to assert that these are in general far from inclined to 
lend ear to the widespread intrigues of those who desire to 
lead the people astray. On the contrary, they earnestly hope 
for the continuance of their ancient institutions, upon which 
their present favourable situation depends. All the German 
lands owe the happiness they have enjoyed for half a millen- 
nium to the existence of the representation of estates, to a 
system which can be altered by a convention alone." There 
followed a petition for the re-establishment of the old rights, 
and there was enclosed a defiant letter to Hardenberg, condemn- 
ing the abolition of the privileges of the estates as an attack 
upon property. Soon afterwards, the estates of County Ruppin 
demanded that the crown should summon to the constituent 
committee elected deputies of the old estates from the individual 
provinces in rotation a demand which was soon to acquire 


History of Germany 

practical importance. Both these petitions were rejected by 
the chancellor in sharp terms. 1 

Nevertheless Hardenberg's new constituent committee did 
not display much vitality. It resolved, first of all, to draw 
up a general plan for the representative institutions as a whole, 
and then to pass step by step from the consideration of the 
communes' ordinance to the representative systems of the circles, 
the provinces, and the entire monarchy. But before the end 
of the year no more than two sittings had been held, and 
two only of the members of the committee, Ancillon and Eich- 
horn, had issued written opinions regarding the general design. 
Both demanded a bicameral system, and both considered that 
the central representative body should have " a legislative as 
well as a deliberative voice." 2 From the first the efficiency 
of the committee was paralysed by the enmity between Harden- 
berg and Humboldt, who were now measuring strength in 
a fierce struggle. 

Humboldt did not enter the ministry until August I2th, 
after the completion of his work at Frankfort, and had from 
the very first to endure the offensive mistrust of Hardenberg. 
The minister for representative affairs was allowed for many 
weeks no word of information concerning the chancellor's 
" Ideas " ; and when the design for a constitution was at length 
disclosed, he was just as much taken by surprise as were the 
other members of the committee. There were, indeed, good 
reasons for Hardenberg's insulting attitude, for Humboldt since 
accepting office had unceasingly laboured to secure for himself 
and the other ministers that independent and responsible posi- 
tion which was in his view essential, but which was incom- 
patible with the rights of the chancellor. His ultimate aim 
was the overthrow of Hardenberg. He hardly cared to con- 
ceal his opinion that the chancellor was a man of ill-omen, 
and an opportunity was soon offered for joining battle. On 
August gth the king had informed the ministry of his well- 
grounded displeasure that the cabinet order of January nth 
still remained unanswered. 3 The ministerial council met in 

1 Petition to the king from the lords of the manor of the West Havelland 
and Zauche circles, November 17 ; Petition of the estates of County Ruppin, 
December 21, 1819. 

* Minutes of the constituent committee, October 12 and 28. Ancillon and 
Eichhorn, Ideas concerning the Representative Constitution. 

' Cabinet Order to the Ministry of State, August 9, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

order at length to fulfil the king's command, and the new 
member was able to concentrate the widely divergent opinions 
of his colleagues upon a single definite idea. 

Humboldt considered that the principal ground of previous 
errors was to be found in the chancellor's position of power, 
and he won over the majority of the ministers to his side, 
for Bernstorff and Klewitz were absent, and Wittgenstein 
carefully abstained from attendance. Hardenberg vainly 
endeavoured to dissuade the ministers from taking up such a 
position ; barely eight days after Humboldt's entry, the mood 
of the ministry had become so difficult that the chancellor 
already foresaw the necessity for a change. 1 On August 26th 
the ministry of state subscribed an answer to the king, 
compiled by Humboldt, and contrasting strangely with the 
opinions previously given by individual members. Humboldt's 
report made no more than a superficial reference to the 
principal questions in the cabinet order of January nth, 
concerning educational matters, the press, and insubordination 
among the officials ; the kernel of his disquisition was found 
in the repeatedly expressed opinion that, in consequence of the 
chancellor's position, there could be recognised " hardly any 
trace of the idea of a centralisation of administration in the 
ministry of state, with joint responsibility." He consequently 
demanded a complete fusion of the chancellorship with the 
ministry, so that the chancellor should effectively preside over 
the ministry of state, should report in full to this body, but in 
urgent cases should be empowered to act on his own responsi- 
bility ; the minutes of the ministry of state were to be 
immediately sent to the king, and no proposal was to be laid 
before the monarch without previous knowledge of the minister 

In other respects the ministers made very few recommen- 
dations. They gently indicated that some among them had 
more confidence than had his majesty in the good sense of the 
majority of the nation ; they expressed a hope that they would 
receive more precise information regarding the most recent police 
enquiries, and desired that the secret police " should not shun 
the light of day upon its actions." There were interpolated 
a few quite indefinite complaints regarding " vacillation in respect 
of supreme administrative principles," and a number of unjus- 
tified and even utterly frivolous grievances. For example, the 

1 Hardenberg's Diary, August 19, 1819. 

History of Germany 

indispensable reform of taxation was condemned in advance, on 
the ground that " new taxes of an extremely dubious character 
must be avoided." The king was begged not to grant the consti- 
tution without consulting the ministry of state ; and yet all the 
ministers belonged to the great constituent committee of the 
year 1817, a body before which the proposals of the new smaller 
special committee must be laid as a matter of course. 1 

If the report were approved by the monarch, this would 
inevitably involve the chancellor's resignation, although of all 
the ministers Humboldt alone desired such an outcome. Since 
Hardenberg no longer held any special portfolio, and since owing 
to his deafness it was simply impossible for him to assume the 
effective presidency of the ministry of state, Humboldt's proposals 
would completely deprive him of power, and the existing unified 
government (whose serious defects it was indeed impossible to 
overlook) would be replaced by a many-headed collective regime 
devoid alike of will and leadership. In view of the lament- 
able proofs of dissension and inefficiency which this ministry 
had furnished in recent months, who could possibly desire 
such a change ? This very report, despite its specious 
unanimity, had come into existence only as the outcome of lively 

Hardenberg immediately prepared for defence. He once 
more declared that upon the king's command he was perfectly 
willing " to retire to solitude with an extremely thankful heart," 
and begged the monarch " to give the ministry whatever degree 
of independence it might desire," also to approve the sending 
in of ministerial minutes ; but in the hands of the chancellor 
must be left the rendering of regular reports to the monarch, these 
being based upon the reports the chancellor himself received 
from the ministers. In manifest irritation, he went on to show 
how the report of the ministry of state made short work of every- 
thing else, and looked upon a restriction of the chancellor's power 
as the " sole panacea." The imposition of new taxes was, he 
said, " unavoidable, and necessary for the good of the state." 
Repeatedly he reproached the ministers for taking much too 
light a view of "the aberrations of the Zeitgeist, of the danger 
of a future generation of revolutionaries " ; and in conclusion 
he rallied with indignation to the support of his friend Wittgen- 
stein, " who during the seven years in which he has been chief 

1 Report of the Ministry of State to the king, August 26, with marginal notes 
by the chancellor dated September 10, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

of the secret police has taken no single step without my full 

The breach between the two rivals was now plain to all, 
and widened to such an extent that Bernstorff and Wittgenstein 
considered it necessary to abstain from regular attendance at 
the sittings of the ministry of state. General Witzleben, a 
personal friend of both the disputants, and regarding both as 
indispensable, vainly endeavoured to secure a compromise. 1 
Hardenberg threatened to resign, and after the king had refused to 
consent to exceedingly severe measures, secured on October 2ist 
the issue of a none the less extremely ungracious cabinet order 
expressing to the ministry the monarch's displeasure concerning 
the superficiality of the last report, and confirming the chan- 
cellor in all his powers. In future the reports of the ministers 
were, indeed, to be sent directly to the crown, but the right was 
reserved for the chancellor of deciding upon which of these 
reports he would himself also report. 2 The ministers were to 
remain in a dependent position which was disagreeable to them- 
selves and was in many respects disadvantageous for the rapid 
discharge of business, but which was inevitable as long as the 
chancellorship existed. In conclusion, the king once more 
reproved the ministers for their continued failure to send him 
the several opinions which he had commanded on January nth. 
Hitherto the ministers had prudently avoided furnishing these 
opinions, but, in response to the monarch's repeated commands, 
they were at length forced to comply, 3 and now it became incon- 
trovertibly plain that the struggle against the chancellor had 
been initiated by Humboldt alone. In their earlier opinions 
three only of the ministers had complained of Hardenberg 's 
tutelage, 4 and not until after Humboldt's entry into the ministry 
had they all suddenly become aware that the primary cause of 
the trouble lay in the chancellor's dominant position. In such 
a situation ^ further attempt at mediation on the part of the 
excellent Witzleben was of necessity fruitless. 5 Humboldt was 
forced to retreat, after Hardenberg had repelled his attacks for 
the second time. 

1 Two Cabinet Orders to Wittgenstein and Bernstorff, October 7. Witzleben, 
Memorial concerning the Report of the Ministry of State and the Marginal Notes 
by the Chancellor, September, 1819. 

2 Two Cabinet Orders to the Chancellor and the Ministry of State, October 21. 
Hardenberg's Diary, October 12 and 14, 1819. 

3 Report of the Ministry of State to the king, November 10, 1819. 

4 Vide supra, p. 138. 

5 Witzleben, Memorial concerning the Cabinet Order of October 21, 1819. 


History of Germany 

With this struggle for power there now became asso- 
ciated the far more important dispute regarding the most 
recent development of federal politics. On September 8th 
Humboldt brought up the persecution of the demagogues 
for discussion, and induced the ministers, notwithstanding 
the opposition of Bernstorff and Schuckmann, to ask the 
monarch whether the new precautionary measures were to 
be treated as legal or as extraordinary measures. A strict 
exhortation to obedience was the reply (September i6th). 
Thereupon the new federal decrees were laid before the ministry 
of state, and were discussed in three sittings (October 5th and 27th, 
November 3rd). 1 There were stormy scenes ; it was rumoured in 
Berlin that Humboldt had spoken of the Carlsbad decrees as 
" scandalous, un-German, an affront to a thinking nation." The 
lengthy draft-report which he laid before the ministry on October 
5th showed no trace of such rash expressions. The considera- 
tions he brought forward dealt exclusively with the danger to 
Prussia's sovereignty. ' We certainly do not fail to recognise 
the beneficial tie which unites Prussia to Germany, but the 
feeling that we belong to an independent monarchy, to one not 
incorporated in Germany, is ever predominant." The Carlsbad 
decrees gave the Bundestag the dangerous right of interfering 
in the internal affairs of the monarchy ; Prussia, moreover, 
since everything was decided in accordance with the suggestions 
of Austria, " was numbered among the states whose condition 
was considered to be, as it were, a morbid one." Article 13 
of the federal act did not apply to the Prussian state, for 
before that article existed the king had promised a constitution 
to the entire monarchy, not excepting the non-German provinces. 
The police reports upon the demagogues showed " that the 
number of these men is small and their position in civic life 
insignificant." With the support of such considerations Hum- 
boldt proposed that a demand should be made of the Bundestag 
for the promulgation of the Carlsbad decrees as extraordinary 
measures for two years ; further, the minister for foreign affairs 
should be empowered to discuss with the appropriate ministers 
any federal decrees which concerned the internal affairs of 

The latter proposal seemed altogether superfluous, for the 
minister for foreign affairs already possessed the desired powers ; 

1 Minutes of the sittings of the Ministry of State, October 5 and 27, November 
3, 1819 (recorded by Humboldt). 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

but the former was as untactful as it was weak. For at the 
time when Humboldt presented his report the Bundestag had 
long since adopted the Carlsbad decrees, doing so with the 
king's express approval ; and while the ministry was still dis- 
cussing the matter, these decrees were formally promulgated in 
Prussia, once more upon the monarch's command. In accord- 
ance with the constitutional laws of the absolute monarchy, 
the ministry was faced with an accomplished fact ; unless it 
were possible to persuade the king to abandon the Austrian 
policy (and Humboldt 's involved phrases were certainly incom- 
petent to secure this end) nothing could be done to alter what 
had happened. Although almost all the other ministers had 
serious objections to the Carlsbad decrees in respect alike of 
form and content, their general mood was one of hesitation, 
owing to the manifest impossibility that the struggle could 
lead to a favourable issue. Two only among them, Boyen 
and Beyme, supported Humboldt's proposals. In his Prussian 
pride, General Boyen had always remained unaffected by the 
illusions of peaceful dualism ; his soldierly common sense was 
sickened by the obscure intrigues of the demagogue-hunters, 
whose suspicions embraced even Gneisenau, and Groben, the 
Christian romanticist. Boyen had of late years given all his 
sympathies to liberalism, although in his own department he 
never carried out a single practical reform ; and he had recently 
become closely associated with Humboldt. 

Thus the struggles of political life suddenly brought together 
three men who in reality had very little in common. Beyme's 
old-fashioned and ineffective philanthropy was the precise con- 
verse of Humboldt's Hellenist outlook ; nor did Boyen and 
Humboldt love one another, and while at the congress of Vienna 
they had fought a duel. Unfortunately both his new allies 
pursued their aims with just as little skill as Humboldt himself. 
The minister of war sent in an opinion full of ideas, pithily 
describing the natural contrast between Austria, the obstinately 
inert Catholic power, and Prussia, whose policy it was to strive 
ever freely upwards. It was Boyen' s wish that as far as 
possible the relationship of Prussia to Austria should be 
restricted to a simple defensive alliance, although on account 
of the cumbrousness of the Austrian financial and military 
systems " we shall probably have to bear the first brunt of 
the campaign." He considered an increase of the federal 
authority undesirable so long as Prussia did not possess a 

265 T 

History of Germany 

predominant influence at the Bundestag, and so long as the 
Federation did not guarantee for Prussia the safety of the 
latter's non-German provinces. Here was the candid confession 
of faith of a Frederician patriot, but his observations contri- 
buted nothing towards the decision of the question at issue. 
Beyme, too, started from the sovereignty of the crown of 
Prussia, and showed how from the outlook of international 
law the latest decrees had effected a profound change in the 
character of the Federation. Not one of the three ministers 
touched the kernel of the matter ; not one of them declared 
in plain terms that the Carlsbad policy was the outcome of 
foolish anxiety, and that the strengthening of the federal authority 
was injurious only because it was intended to subjugate men's 
minds, instead of being effected for the increase of national 

Bernstorff defended himself skilfully against Humboldt's 
masked attacks. He openly declared: "The whole of Ger- 
many is at one in recognising that the federal treaty was the 
issue of the pressure of the moment, that it was the unripe 
fruit of precipitate negotiations, and that it effected a very 
unsatisfactory compromise between conflicting views and 
interests." Such being the situation, the only course open 
was to lead on the incompetent Bundestag by means of a 
confidential understanding between the two great powers. If 
the Carlsbad decrees were justified (and even Humboldt had 
not ventured to dispute this in set terms), their efficiency must 
not be paralysea, and least of all must the king be led to 
contradict himself. All the other ministers declared themselves 
conditionally or unconditionally adverse to Humboldt's proposal, 
Altenstein expressing himself in a characteristic opinion which 
plainly disclosed the anger felt by the man of refined culture 
on account of the affront inflicted on the universities. " The 
only thing that I dread is general oppression," thus wrote 
the well-meaning man ; " but if this oppression be not utterly 
annihilating it will, after all, do little harm. Science can bear 
it, and often can thrive under it like a palm tree." 1 

Meanwhile Bernstorff had left for the Vienna conferences. 
Without asking his opinion again, the ministry voted on the 
matter on November 3rd. Humboldt's report was rejected, 
but the ministers could not agree upon the formal approval 

1 Humboldt's Report, October 5. Opinion of Bernstorff, beginning of October ; 
of Beyne, October 20 ; of Boyen, October 26 ; of Altenstein, November 3, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

of the Carlsbad decrees. The deplorable spectacle of hopeless 
disharmony, which had now continued for months, found an 
appropriate close when the minutes of these three ministerial 
sittings were sent to the monarch, accompanied by a few 
opinions, but without any resolution or any report. Such a 
government could not endure, and a change which should restore 
energy and unity was indispensable. 

Hardenberg recognised that he must bring matters to a 
crisis. To induce the king to take a resolute line he invoked 
the aid of Ancillon (November nth), sending him the minutes 
of the ministry, and writing that, under the pretext of defending 
the sovereignty of the crown and the rights of its subjects, 
Humboldt's party was in reality taking the side of the revolu- 
tionaries, was endeavouring to undermine the principles of the 
country's foreign policy, and to overthrow the chancellor and 
Bernstorff. He had made up his mind not to stick at |half 
measures, for, "if we hesitate we shall unquestionably rush 
upon destruction, dragging down with us Germany, and perhaps 
even Europe." But since he did not wish to sit as judge 
in his own cause, he begged Ancillon to give him " the opinion 
of an enlightened and unbiased patriot." Ancillon was to be 
an unbiased judge of Bernstorff ! Hardenberg might just as 
well have asked Bernstorff himself. Ancillon' s answer, sent 
four days later under the seal of profoundest secrecy, must 
have been read by the shrewd old chancellor with a mischievous 
smile. He knew its tenour in advance. 

Bernstorff 's mentor hardly troubled to maintain the mask 
of non-partisanship. He spoke in Bernstorff 's name. " The 
count relies on the king's firmness and on your excellency's 
support. United these are invincible, and Germany's evil 
genius will be exorcised." The objections of the opposition, 
" which are at once a misfortune and a scandal," were regarded 
by Ancillon as so paltry that it was difficult to believe in the 
good faith of the three ministers. " In order to help on the 
cause of truth on its way to triumph," he had, " con amore " 
prepared a gigantic memorial, opening the flood-gates after his 
customary manner. The work, he said, " has grown under 
my pen." On three and thirty closely ^written folios he gave 
a terrible description of the spirit of instability which had 
transformed itself, first of all into the spirit of faction, and 
subsequently into the spirit of revolution. Fortunately Austria 
and Prussia had in good time seen through the sinister designs 


History of Germany 

of those who aimed at the institution of a great German 
federal republic. The Carlsbad decrees were equally wise 
whether regarded as permanent or as transitory measures. 
With these, Hardenberg closes, and Bernstorff opens, a great 
and glorious career. 1 Bishop Eylert also sent in an opinion 
couched in the same sense as that of Ancillon. The decision 
could no longer be postponed, for the foreign diplomats had 
already got wind of the dispute, and were sending in terrible 
reports of the revolutionary dangers which threatened the 
venerable chancellor. 2 

To complete the confusion, in two additional departments 
there now broke out quarrels which, though without political 
significance on their own account, reacted upon the ministerial 
crises. The unnatural subdivision of the ministry of justice 
into two sections had long given rise to deplorable friction. 
In the new provinces of the east, Kircheisen conducted the 
organisation of the courts wholly in the spirit of a conversative 
jurist of the old school, but did his work with ability and 
success. Beyme, on the other hand, took an unfavourable 
view of all his colleague's suggestions. Regarding the institu- 
tions of Rhenish law as ideally satisfactory, he endeavoured 
to introduce some of these into the eastern provinces. More- 
over, he had just asked the Rhenish public prosecutors for 
their opinion whether Gorres's latest writing was liable to prose- 
tion, and had endorsed their negative response. Weary of 
the unending disputes, Kircheisen now (November 27th) applied 
to the king to ask whether Beyme exercised any control over 
the affairs of Old Prussian legal administration. Were this 
the case, he said, he must ask to be allowed to resign. 3 

The war minister, too, no longer felt secure in his post. 
The king had now determined to carry out that military plan 
which he had been meditating for years. It was his wish to 
associate the Landwehr more intimately with the army of the line, 
giving the Landwehr in time of peace the form it was destined 
to assume in time of war. Boyen, however, could not reconcile 
himself to the well-planned and altogether innocuous proposal, 

1 Hardenberg to Ancillon, November u. Ancillon's Reply, November 15, 
1819 ; with Appendix, Considerations sur les derniers decrets de la Diete. 

2 Report of the Swedish envoy von Taube to Count Engestrom in Stockholm, 
Berlin, November 9, 1819. 

s Kircheisen's Report to the king, November 27, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

considering that if carried into effect it would lead to the 
destruction of "the very spirit which makes the Landwehr." 
Greatly exercised in mind by the struggles in the ministry 
of state and embittered on account of the evil arts of the 
demagogue-hunters, he began to give credence to the sinister 
rumours that a Landwehr revolt was imminent. In the diplo- 
matic corps, belief was general that the court of Vienna was 
engaged in secret machinations against the detested democratic 
troops ; 1 and it is probable that Duke Charles of Mecklenburg, 
with his supporters, also made use of this favourable moment 
when reaction was in flood to enforce his old objections to the 
Landwehr system. On the other hand, the partisan phrases 
of liberalism had contributed to render difficult a purely objec- 
tive consideration of the problems of military organisation. 
Unquestionably a bold democratic idea underlay the Prussian 
army law ; a nation with such a military system could not 
be ruled in definite opposition to its own will, nor would it 
be possible that direct participation in legislation and adminis- 
tration should be permanently denied it. But what a 
caricature, what a distortion of these truths was displayed in the 
foolish newspaper articles which extolled the national army 
of the Landwehr as a bulwark against the hireling spirit of 
the officers of the line. The well-meant writing by Captain 
von Schmeling, The Landwehr and the Gymnastic Art, declared 
that the circle committees which dealt with the work of enrol- 
ment provided the first germ of the Prussian constitution, this 
assertion leading von Schmeling's opponents to enquire with 
indignation whether a great state could be governed by means 
of a hundred petty circle parliaments. 

The king was uninfluenced by such aberrations of party 
spirit. He considered the Landwehr indispensable to the safety 
of the state, aiming only to increase its warlike efficiency and 
at the same time to diminish military expenditure in time of 
peace. But in these sultry times distrust was in the air. The 
Austrian party had long regarded the minister of war with 
suspicion ; now Boyen himself became a prey to baseless fears. 
The organiser of the Prussian national army dreaded lest the 
reorganisation of the Landwehr should lead to the destruction 
of his great work, and in a rage sent in his resignation. It 
was in vain that in a kindly worded despatch (December gth) 

1 Report of the Badencse envoy, General von Stockhorn, Berlin, December 21, 


History of Germany 

the king urged him to reconsider his decision. Boyen, as 
he declared to Hardenberg (December I3th), desired " to 
escape from circumstances in which I might at times find it 
difficult to harmonise my principles with changing events " ; 
and as a parting word to the chancellor implored him to pro- 
ceed with the utmost possible caution with alterations in the 
Landwehr organisation, " because the proposed changes are of 
the greatest importance in relation to the peculiar situation of 
our state, in relation to the prosperity of our industry, and 
for the maintenance of a good understanding with the civil 
authorities ; and because they affect above all the ministry of 
the interior." l 

As soon as Boyen abandoned hope, his friend Grolman 
also gave free rein to his long repressed discontent. During 
his brief period of office, the chief of the general staff had 
displayed a fine activity. He had elaborated the proposal 
for the fortification of the eastern provinces ; in co-operation 
with Crelle, surveyor of public works, he had drawn up a plan 
for the construction of main roads throughout the monarchy ; 
he had begun the trigonometrical survey of the country ; and 
he had given his own department, which still formed a sub- 
section of the ministry of war, so notable a sphere of indepen- 
dent activity that the complete separation of the general staff 
from the ministry of war could now be no more than a 
question of time. Amid these manifold labours, he had 
followed the course of politics with all the zeal of his passionate 
nature. Throughout life this talented man held rigidly to 
his principles ; neither in 1814 nor in 1815 would he visit 
the French Babylon which he had helped to subdue with his 
own good sword. Thus it was that even after the peace he 
remained faithful to the idealistic emotion of the wars of 
liberation, and was quite unable to understand the relaxation 
which affects ordinary men when the time of struggle is over. 
To him it seemed that the age was exhausted, petty, con- 
temptible ; and when Boyen resigned, he also declared to the 
king (December I7th), " In view of existing circumstances and 
of the distressing years I have lived through since 1815 I am 
compelled to resign." The blunt, almost defiant, tenour of 
this despatch could not fail to annoy the king. At first he 
had taken Boyen's resignation in good part, but now he inferred 

1 Boyen to Hardenlierg, December 13, 1819. Cf. the documents concerning 
Boyen's resignation published in the Militar Wochenblatt, 1892. No. 79. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

that the two friends were acting in collusion, and accepted 
the resignations with manifest displeasure. He did, indeed, 
vouchsafe the minister of war a word of recognition for past 
services, but from General Grolman he did not conceal that 
he found it difficult to understand to what Grolman referred, 
in speaking of " the distressing years lived through since 1815. " l 

What a disaster that two of the most faithful and far- 
sighted of the king's servants should thus withdraw to sulk 
in their tents at the very moment when it was indispensable 
that all good men should stand shoulder to shoulder. The 
court of Vienna jubilantly hailed " this new triumph of ths 
good cause," for at the Hofburg Boyen's Frederician sentiments 
had always been in bad odour. 2 In the army the great loss 
was generally regretted. Klausewitz considered it expedient 
to write a memorial expounding the political necessity of the 
Landwehr system. He showed how slight in Germany was 
the danger of a revolution, but how considerable the possibility 
of a hostile attack from two sides, and said plainly that sooner 
or later the crown, if it wished to maintain the new army 
organisation, would have to summon to its aid representa- 
tives of the nation. He expressly warned the men of 1806 
" against ruining an edifice upon which our magnificent destiny 
in the years '13, '14, and '15 stood, as a goddess of victory 
stands upon her war-chariot." 

The next few days were to show that all such anxieties 
were needless, and that the action of the two generals had 
been premature. In a cabinet order of December 22nd the 
king recognised in cordial phrases how happily the Landwehr 
had thriven up to this time, how willingly the nation had 
borne the sacrifices imposed upon it ; and he went on to com- 
mand a new classification of the Landwehr, which was " not 
to involve the slightest alteration in the nature of the institu- 
tion " ; sixteen Landwehr brigades were formed, and were incor- 
porated in the divisional structure of the line. Henceforward 
the division (the old mixed brigades had received this name 
since 1818) was to comprise, in addition to the technical troops, 
one brigade of infantry of the line, one brigade of Landwehr 

1 Witzleben to Hardenberg, December 18 ; Grolman 's Request to the king, 
December 17 ; Cabinet Order to Grolman, December 20, to Boyen, December 25 ; 
Boyen to Hardenberg, December 17 and 27 ; Hardenberg to Boyen, December 25, 

3 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, Vienna, December 25, 1819. 


History of Germany 

infantry, and one cavalry brigade. Thus was effected the 
organisation of the Landwehr which persisted in essentials until 
the days of the regency. The two halves of the army 
now became somewhat more closely associated, though not 
as yet intimately enough ; it was hoped that by the common 
manoeuvres of the divisions the difference between the two 
branches would be to some extent diminished. The hazy belief 
that the Landwehr might pursue an independent existence was 
abandoned at any rate in principle. By this cabinet order 
the strength of the peace effectives was legally established, and 
in view of the rapid increase in population there was a prospect 
that the military burden would gradually diminish. As a whole 
the reform was a valuable one, for the Landwehr could now 
be led to war without any important changes in its formation. 
Unfortunately, economic considerations prevented any far- 
reaching changes. The most dangerous defect of the new 
military system, the weakness of the army of the line (which 
numbered no more than 136,000 men) was left unremedied. 
The universal demand was for economy ; the national debt 
must be paid off at once, and there must no longer be a 

For this system of timid and rigid penuriousness Boyen's 
successor, General von Hake, was well suited. Twice before, 
in Scharnhorst's days, Hake had for brief periods been in charge 
' of military administration. He was a diligent and conscien- 
tious worker, but pedantic, narrow-minded, a man without 
ideas, without enthusiasm. During his tenure of office the views 
of the civil officialdom reacquired that excessive influence upon 
the military system they had had during the first years of the 
reign of Frederick William III. Many unquestionable defects 
continued unrelieved because all monetary expenditure was 
shunned, but fortunately the king made the army his own 
immediate concern, and kept the soldierly spirit alive by his 
personal intervention. The talented initiator of the army 
law was succeeded by an ordinary military routinist, and it 
was not surprising that the mass of the uninformed conceived 
a false notion of the reasons for this change, and lent ear 
to the most sinister rumours. Years passed before it was 
generally recognised that on this occasion General Boyen had 
been mistaken and had opposed an indispensable reform. 

The resignation of the minister of war set the ball rolling, 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

for naturally the proceedings in the ministerial council had 
not been without influence upon Boyen's decision. Hardenberg 
regarded the general's fall as the first defeat sustained by the 
opposition. 1 Armed with Ancillon's "unbiased opinion," he had 
immediately demanded the dismissal of the three ministers, 
and since the king, still hoping for a reconciliation, postponed 
his decision regarding Humboldt and Beyme, on December 28th 
the chancellor formally mooted the cabinet question. It was 
time, for meanwhile Humboldt and Beyme had advanced a 
step further. In the ministry of state, without the previous 
knowledge of the chancellor, they had secured the passing of a 
resolution by which all the lord-lieutenants should immediately 
be summoned to Berlin. Should this be done it could be 
foreseen with certainty that the chiefs of the provincial adminis- 
tration, led by the ever-dissatisfied Schon, would, just as they 
had done two years before, 2 lay before the throne a mass of 
grievances, justified and unjustified. At this moment such an 
opposition would have been a positive danger to the state. 
A valuable but extremely unpopular reform was imminent, and 
it was one which could be successfully carried into effect by 
a vigorous and united government alone. The last great work 
of Hardenberg, the laws concerning the new taxes and the 
closing of the national debt account, was within the next few days 
to be completed by the council of state. It was impossible 
that the experienced helmsman should allow the high officialdom 
to disturb him in setting his course amid the storms of general 
indignation that were likely to break out when the new taxes 
were announced. In both his ministerial reports Humboldt 
had declared that he still found it impossible to believe in 
the existence of a deficit, and that he therefore regarded the 
new taxes as superfluous. Utterly erroneous, and even incom- 
prehensible as this view was, it was shared by a large propor- 
tion of the critically minded higher officials (for, in accordance 
with the good Old Prussian tradition, the heads of the official- 
dom considered themselves foreordained to protect the people 
from fiscal oppression). Was it possible for the chancellor to 
tolerate as one of his nearest subordinates a minister who held 
such views concerning the most vital problem of the immediate 
future ? 

The discontent of the three ministers in the matter of the 

1 Hardenberg's Memorandum, Christmas, 1819. See Appendix XI. 
* Vide supra, vol. II, pp. 469, 470. 


History of Germany 

Carlsbad decrees was well founded ; but Hardenberg, none the 
less, was in a posture of legitimate self-defence. He was not 
fighting simply for the retention of his own power, but on 
behalf of well-considered reforms by which alone could be 
furnished a substitute for the abolished excise, and by which 
alone could be restored the balance between national income 
and national expenditure. Thus it was not solely on personal 
grounds that he now made urgent representations to the king 
that further co-operation with Humboldt and Beyme was impossible. 
He used a number of acrimonious expressions ; recalled the 
manner in which Beyme had espoused the cause of Gorres ; 
declared that he had definite information of Humboldt's inten- 
tion to oppose the tax laws in the council of state, designing 
then " to leave the service refulgent with a popularity acquired 
at such a cost " ; and did not hesitate to inform the king 
of the contemplated summoning of the lord-lieutenants. More 
firmly than ever before did he believe in the dangerous 
intrigues of the revolutionary party. He desired to dismiss 
the lord-lieutenant of Silesia because it seemed to him that 
Merckel was too lenient in his treatment of the gymnasts ; the 
military educational institutions must have a new director to 
safeguard the young officers against the influence of the 
Teutonising Jacobins. 1 So extraordinarily complicated had 
become the posture of affairs that the reordering of Prussian 
finance was at this moment inseparably connected with the 
policy of the Carlsbad decrees. 

Even had the king been less firmly convinced that this 
policy was essential, he no longer had any choice open. Was 
it possible for Frederick William to follow Humboldt's advice, 
and to propose in Frankfort that the term of application of the 
provisional press law should be reduced from five years to two ? 
Was he, for the sake of so futile a half -measure, to change 
the basis of his European policy ? In these days of legitimism, 
the system of European alliances was inseparably con- 
nected with the internal affairs of the states, and it was 
impossible for a great power to follow the example of the 
pseudo-states of the Confederation of the Rhine, and to play 
a dishonourable game between its own people and foreign 
powers. A belated attack upon the Carlsbad decrees would 
involve a separation from Austria, and the dissolution, or at 
least the enfeeblement, of that great Quadruple Alliance to 

1 Hardenberg to the king, December 28, 1819. 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

which during recent years the monarchy had owed its security 
and its European prestige. Thus detached from its old allies, 
the state would be completely isolated ; from the liberalising 
particularism of the German petty states it would receive 
neither a powerful nor a loyal support, and would perhaps 
be forced before long to make common cause with France ; 
it would at any rate be compelled to arm, and to keep ever 
on the watch. Hence Prussia would have to abandon that 
policy of economy, of quiet collection of energies, by which 
alone her restoration could be brought about, and would be 
forced to hold herself in readiness to effect a premature solution 
of the great problem which power was to dominate German 
political life. Was the long-planned re-establishment of order 
in the finances to be once again postponed, at the dictates 
of an opposition which simply denied the existing necessities 
and which had hitherto contented itself with sterile refusals ? 

The king did nothing but what was essential when on 
December 3ist, in very brief words, he relieved the two 
ministers of their duties in the council of state and the ministry 
of state. Schuckmann and Kircheisen once again received 
the undivided leadership of the ministry of the interior and the 
ministry of justice respectively. At the same time General 
Pirch was appointed director of military educational institutions. 1 
Beyme was painfully surprised, and obeyed " with a lacerated 
heart." Humboldt accepted the blow with his customary 
philosophic calm ; and since he had received a special bounty 
after the war, he renounced his retiring pension, an action 
which was thankfully noted by the king. In laying down his 
office he wrote to the monarch that he did so " inspired with 
the consciousness that he had had the king's weal and that 
of the state ever before his eyes." 2 Unquestionably this man 
who cared so little for political influence and political fame did 
not deserve the reproach made by Hardenberg and Gneisenau 
that his conduct had been dictated solely by personal ambition. 
He regarded the chancellor's power as disastrous, and he recog- 
nised the errors of the Carlsbad policy ; but in this struggle 
he did not display simplicity, greatness, and resolution. 

Hardenberg rejoiced at having won the game. Humboldt's 

1 Three Cabinet Orders, dated December 31, 1819, to the ministry of state, 
to Beyme, and to Humboldt. 

2 Beyme to the king, January i ; Humboldt to the king, January i ; Cabinet 
Order to Humboldt, January 6, 1820. 


History of Germany 

arrogance had led him to aspire to the chancellorship, and 
his overweening ambition had led to his fall it was in this 
manner that the changes in the ministry were represented to 
the foreign diplomats. The way seemed clear. The chancellor 
at once submitted his tax proposals to the king, and after 
the first audience he wrote proudly in his diary, Nascitur novus 
ordo. 1 If the finances could only be set in order, the most 
serious objection to the constitution would be removed, and 
Hardenberg determined on a course which was unparalleled 
in Prussian history, the opening of a central representative 
assembly for Prussia. The far-reaching character of the old 
man's plans was astonishing. Yet his delight in victory was 
premature. With the fall of the three ministers, the constituent 
committee lost its best talents, and the ministerial council 
was deprived of the only members who seriously desired that 
the constitution should come into existence. In this confused 
struggle the victor was not Hardenberg, but Wittgenstein, who 
had throughout been collaborating in the background and 
behind Wittgenstein stood Metternich. Before long, the 
Austrian party, to whose assistance the chancellor had appealed 
in order to get rid of his rivals, turned against Hardenberg 
himself in order to destroy the design for a constitution, which 
now had no other supporter at the court. 


The entire historical process arises out of the continuous 
action and reaction between the conscious human will and 
environing circumstances. Just as the reason immanent in 
things can be realised only through the voluntary energy of 
a great man, of one who understands the signs of the 'times, 
so also the sins and errors of politicians are limited by the 
character of the states and by the power of the ideas which 
have come into existence in the course of history. Great was 
the error of the crown of Prussia when in Carlsbad it set 
itself in opposition to the living forces of the new century ; 
and yet this state was modern from the foundation upwards, 
was unable to estrange itself completely from the new time, 
and at this very moment began a fiscal reform by which it 
was enabled in respect of economic development to outsoar all 

1 Stockhorn's Report, February 19 ; Bernstorff to Hardenberg, Vienna, 
January 12 ; Hardenberg's Diary, January 10, 1820. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

the other states of Germany. In Teplitz, Hardenberg had been 
completely dominated by his belief in the absolute community 
of interests of the two German great -powers, and had complied 
with Austria's wishes to the point of unselfishness. Neverthe- 
less the opposition between the two powers was grounded upon 
their ancient history ; and the individual human will could 
not do away with that opposition, so long as the problem 
which power was to dominate German political life remained 
unsolved. Almost at the very moment in which the court of 
Berlin seemed wholly submissive to Austrian leadership, it made 
a fresh advance along the lines of the Frederician policy, and 
began to form a customs-union with the neighbouring German 
states. The first step was a trifling one, almost ludicrously 
trifling when judged by latter-day standards, but it was the 
inconspicuous beginning of a policy which was to bind the Ger- 
man states indissolubly to Prussia in the bonds of economic 
interest and which was to prepare the way for the liberation 
from Austria. 

Since the Prussian customs-law had come into operation, 
making itself felt at the outset by Germany's smaller neigh- 
bours only through its severities, there had everywhere been 
voiced with renewed strength the demand for the abolition of 
all internal tolls, this being the commencement of a passionate 
agitation for German commercial unity, the precursor and 
prototype of the subsequent struggles on behalf of political 
unity. The entire nation seemed united in a single great idea; 
nevertheless, views as to ways and means were widely divergent, 
and the only exit, an adhesion to the existing unity of the 
Prussian market, was for long shunned in unfortunate blindness, 
until at length its adoption was enforced by bitter need alone. 
Soon after the peace there began a stream of immigration 
into impoverished Prussia, the number of immigrants being 
about one-half of the excess of births over deaths ; the great 
majority of them were young persons from the neighbouring 
German countries, coming to seek their fortune in the land of 
social freedom. When the internal tolls were now abolished 
in the monarchy, in the towns near the frontier, at least, the 
advantages which the Prussian man of business secured from 
his widely extended free market were plainly manifest. Thus 
some of the wine merchants of Bingen moved over to the 
Prussian bank of the Nahe, for prices in Prussia were often 
three times as high as those prevailing in the overstocked 


History of Germany 

Hessian market. The officialdom of the minor courts was 
still accustomed to the guild system, to the difficulties imposed 
upon settlement and upon marriage, to the thousand annoyances 
characteristic of petty social legislation ; here, as yet no one 
had any idea of the superiority of Prussian commercial policy. 
To many well-meaning officials in Saxony and Thuringia, the 
Prussian tax laws seemed needless fiscal severities, for their 
own countries had a trifling military expenditure, and were 
therefore able to get along with an extremely modest income. The 
consequence was that along the home frontiers of Prussia, under 
the protection of the petty courts, there ensued a war df all 
against all, a disastrous state of affairs which to-day we find 
it difficult to conceive. People became brutalised by the evil 
trade of smuggling. To the duty-free bonded warehouses which 
were found everywhere adjacent to Prussian territory, there 
came every day a number of sturdy bronzed fellows, their coats 
worn shiny from carrying burdens, many of them with a sheath- 
knife in the belt ; they shouldered the heavy bales of goods, 
a princely custom-house officer accompanied them as far as 
the frontier, and dismissed them with a " God speed " upon 
their crooked path. The common people could never hear 
enough about the wild adventures of bold smugglers, of which 
the present generation knows only through old-fashioned 
romances and tales for boys. Thus our loyal populace became 
accustomed to regard the laws with contempt. The disorderly 
and revolutionary spirit which gradually gained the upper hand 
in the petty states was in truth actually nurtured by the minor 
courts, nurtured by the sins of the demagogue-hunt and by 
the criminal folly of this commercial policy. 

Yet it was not the petty states which favoured smuggling 
that were generally blamed for these disastrous consequences, 
but Prussia, which earnestly endeavoured to put a stop to 
smuggling ; not the courts which obstinately adhered to their 
dishonest fiscal dodges, their antiquated and unpractical customs- 
ordinances, but Prussia, the state which had reorganised and 
transformed its fiscal system. Incapable of understanding the 
vital conditions of a great nation, the minor courts seriously 
demanded that Prussia should immediately reverse the step 
taken after such mature consideration, should annul the reform 
whose influence was making itself felt throughout all ramifi- 
cations of the national life; they demanded that this reversal 
should be effected before the new system had been given a 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

fair trial and half Germany agreed with the preposterous 

Outside the circle of the Prussian officials, there were, 
during these first years, no more than two writers of note 
who ventured unreservedly to defend Maassen's work. The 
indefatigable Benzenberg, in his book, Concerning Prussia's 
Monetary Economy and new Fiscal System, once again displayed 
his practical abilities. In his association with Hardenberg, 
he had learned to regard economic problems with the eye of 
a statesman. He knew that all serious criticism of a fiscal 
system must begin with the question, "What items of national 
expenditure are absolutely essential? " a question utterly ignored 
by most of the publicists of that day. He was thus able to 
demonstrate that Prussia could not dispense with the income 
from her customs. He did not hesitate to praise the army 
law and the new tax laws as the greatest benefits of the most 
recent years of the reign of Frederick William III. He insisted 
that they must be maintained against all possible resistance, 
and demanded of the neighbour states that they should accept 
the king's invitation, and should negotiate with Prussia con- 
cerning the mutual abolition of customs-dues. He vigorously 
attacked the fantasy of federal customs. In August, 1819, he 
sent an open letter to F. List, asking how it was possible 
for the Bundestag, " which has no kind of legislative powers," 
to bring about any such reform, or how it could even conduct 
the customs-administrations. Was the abolition of internal 
tolls possible without a proportionate taxation of internal con- 
sumption ? The sober-minded man's voice could not be heard 
amid the general clamour ; besides, he had long been an object of 
suspicion to the liberals because he had an unprejudiced admira- 
tion for the peculiar merits of the Prussian state. 

As early as January, 1819, E. W. Arnoldi of Gotha, one 
of the most efficient of German merchants, hailed the Prussian 
customs-law as the foundation of a union of all the German 
states. " Let us," he wrote in the Allgemeine Anzeiger, 
1 ' cordially accept the hand now held out to us ; Prussia places 
the principle of mutuality in the forefront of her law, declaring 
herself prepared to effect agreements with her neighbours." 
At an earlier date, in Hamburg, this excellent man had sat 
at the feet of Bnsch, and had gained a free outlook upon 
world commerce such as was still quite foreign to the inland 
pettiness of the majority of his commercial associates. He was 


History of Germany 

profoundly distressed on account of the childish immaturity 
of the business world, which did practically nothing to shake 
off the yoke of an absurd system of commercial legislation. 
For years past he had entertained the idea of a league of 
German manufacturers to represent their common interests. 
Then, in his native town, he founded a chamber of commerce 
under the name of Corporation Hall (Innungshalle), and founded 
also a commercial school which speedily attained success. 
Finally he discovered a wide domain of fruitful activity in the 
field of insurance, which was still completely in foreign hands. 
The great Phoenix Assurance Company of London had agencies 
in all the larger German towns, making excessive profits out 
of the Germans by immoderately high premiums, for the small 
native insurance companies which were to be found in isolated 
towns of the north did not extend their activities beyond the 
place of origin. But in 1819 Arnoldi asked the German nation 
how long it was prepared to go on providing money for 
English money boxes, and proposed the formation of a mutual 
fire insurance bank for the whole of Germany. Two years 
later this institution came to life in Gotha, the first beginning 
of the extensive development of our national system of insur- 
ance. The general hatred of England's commercial supremacy 
redounded to the advantage of Arnoldi's bold enterprise. 
Throughout the interior of Germany, abuse was showered on 
England and the Hansa towns (for to the South Germans these 
towns seemed no better than English counting-houses) ; the 
reawakening of the Napoleonic cult and the French sympathies 
of the southern liberals were favoured by this mood. It is 
true that but little thought had as yet been devoted to the 
question how German industry could be protected against exces- 
sive foreign competition. This much only seemed indubitable, 
that all the recently introduced new tolls ought immediately 
to be abolished, and that the freedom of commercial intercourse 
promised in article 19 of the federal act must be secured by 
the Bundestag. 

Even Friedrich List, the generous-minded and talented 
agitator who inveighed against the internal tolls with all the 
energy of his impetuous nature, shared the general error. Just 
as Gorres, in the Rheinische Merkur, had formerly advanced 
the idea of the political power and unity of the fatherland, 
so did List now advocate the commercial unity of Germany 
a man of kindred spirit, ardent, brilliant, a master of forceful 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

speech, filled with profound and genuine passion, prone to 
fantastic aberrations. A true imperial townsman, he had 
grown up in Reutlingen, a city proud of its freedom, and 
had been engaged in unceasing disputes with the Wiirtemberg 
scriveners ; he was one of those born fighters for whom destiny 
seems ever to provide new quarrels, even when these are 
unsought. He lost his mother and his only brother in conse- 
quence of the roughness of brutal officials ; and after he had 
subsequently passed some years amid the soul-destroying pseudo- 
activities of the Wurtemberg scriveners' offices, his detestation 
of the autocratic spirit of the Rhenish Confederate officialdom 
became limitless, and he made it the aim of his life to awaken 
a spirit of independence in burgher and in peasant, to enlighten 
them regarding their nearest interests, to liberate political 
economy from the formulas of the professorial chair, and to 
expound it in popular language. By birth simply a German, 
just as was the imperial knight Stein, his bold plans from 
the first transcended the limits of his Swabian home, and for 
this reason to the interrelated and interconnected Wiirtembergers 
he soon became suspect as a foreign disturber of the peace. 
In his view, a new epoch of commercial and political greatness, 
more enduring than the glories of the Hanseatic league, was 
to dawn for the German fatherland. He possessed a rare 
power of inspiring the masses with enthusiasm, an agitator's 
talent such as in our history, so poor in great demagogues, 
has been possessed by only two other men, Robert Blum and 
Lassalle. In April, 1819, in conjunction with several manufac- 
turers belonging to the minor states, Miller of Immenstadt, 
Schnell of Nuremberg, and E. Weber of Gera, List founded 
the Union of German Merchants and Manufacturers, which was 
soon joined by the majority of the great firms of South and 
Central Germany. Since the Wurtemberg government regarded 
the position of consulting adviser to the Union as incompatible 
with official dignity, List quickly made up his mind, and 
resigned his position as professor at Tubingen. 

The new Commercial Union immediately sent the Bundestag 
a petition for the carrying out of article 19, for the abolition 
of all internal tolls, and for the passing of a German customs- 
law, which should counter the tariffs of foreign countries by 
the imposition of severe retaliatory duties, until the whole of 
Europe should come to an agreement to establish general free- 
dom of trade for List, like most South Germans of that day, 

281 U 

History of Germany 

adhered on principle to the doctrine of free trade. Repulsed 
in Frankfort, List then besieged the courts, the men of business, 
and everyone else he could think of, with his demands, and 
in his journal, the " Organ of German Merchants and Manu- 
facturers " (Organ des deutschen Handels- und Gewerbstandes) , 
he unweariedly and pitilessly laid bare the errors of German com- 
mercial policy. Thus by his unresting activities he did more 
than any of his contemporaries to secure the permeation of the 
nation with a conviction that the existing state of affairs was 
untenable. Great and bold dreams, which only our own genera- 
tion sees in course of fulfilment, coursed through his mobile 
intelligence : he thought of a unified system of industrial legisla- 
tion, of a German postal system, of national exhibitions ; he 
hoped that the romantic imperial dreams of the younger genera- 
tion would be expelled by the work of a practical national 
policy ; and he foresaw the time when a free constitution, a 
German parliament, would be the outcome of commercial unity. 
In excess of self-satisfaction he spoke of himself as the creator 
of the customs-union, but no unprejudiced person can admit 
that List was justified in this claim. 

It was not the way of the patriots of that time to expound 
and to adhere to a definite programme, a clearly elaborated 
political idea. Only in the interior of the South German middle- 
sized states did the constitutional movement now begin to evoke 
consistent and definitely expressed party opinions. Those who 
wrote about Germany as a whole, were still satisfied with 
exhibiting a brilliant ideal image to contrast with the wretched 
present, going on to produce a rapid succession of impressions and 
hints for practical statesmen. Just as Gorres innocently pub- 
lished in the Rheinische Merkur a whole squadron of plans for a 
German constitution, so did List pass by leaps from one design 
to another. Now he desired that the German internal tolls should 
be farmed out to a joint-stock company ; now Germany was to 
adhere to the Austrian prohibitive system ; now again it occurred 
to him that Prussia might lead the way to unity. In his peti- 
tion to the Bundestag he declared : " We are involuntarily led 
to the idea that the liberal government of Prussia (a country 
which, owing to its territorial situation, must more than all 
others desire freedom of trade) cherishes the great design of 
inducing, by means of this customs-system, the other states of 
Germany to come to terms in the end for the institution of complete 
free trade. This idea becomes tantamount to certainty when 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

we take into account the declaration of the Prussian government 
that it desires to conclude special commercial treaties with neigh- 
bouring states." Unfortunately the passionate man was unable 
to hold fast to this simple and accurate view. In so far as amid 
his unstable activities it is possible to recognise a single dominant 
tendency, he was an opponent of Prussian commercial policy. 
After all divagations, he returned again and again to the idea 
which Prussia had long before abandoned as unattainable, the 
idea of a federal customs-system. List's knowledge of Prussian 
affairs was extremely defective ; his Commercial Union was held 
together by the hope that the Prussian customs-law would speedily 
be repealed ; it maintained correspondents in all the larger 
German states, with the characteristic exception of Prussia. 

Nothing but the charm which adhered to the name of " Ger- 
many " can explain why so many excellent and perspicacious 
men continued to hope for a commercial policy instituted by the 
Germanic Federation. The Bundestag had done everything it 
could to disillusion enthusiasts. The report upon List's petition 
was entrusted to Martens, the Hanoverian, a man who like most 
other " German Great-Britons " was delighted with the existence 
of English commercial supremacy upon German soil. With the 
zealous and yet timid spirit of the politician whose outlook is 
that of a policeman, he began by asking what right this Union 
had to pose as representative of the German commercial classes, 
and suggested that the high governments would do well to keep 
a watchful eye upon their subjects. To the immediate question 
he contributed little more than a drastic description of the enor- 
mous difficulties which had been placed in the way of commercial 
unity now that the German states had become sovereign powers 
(May 24th). Some of the federal envoys desired that a special 
committee should at least be appointed ; but if this were done, 
the petitioners might imagine that the step had been taken at 
their instigation ! l To avert so criminal a misinterpretation, 
the federal assembly went no further than to decide that it would 
occupy itself with article 19 at some subsequent date. Some 
weeks afterwards (July 22nd) the Ernestine courts once again 
reminded the Bundestag of the unhappy article ; List's friend, 
E. Weber, and the manufacturers of the Thuringian forest, would 
not give the assembly any peace. On this occasion, Baden, 
Wiirtemberg, the two Hesses, and the Ernestines, delivered 
orations in praise of freedom of trade in Germany. They were 

1 Berkheim's Report, Frankfort, June 25, 1819. 

History of Germany 

well-intentioned, cost nothing, and inspired the assembly with 
such enthusiasm that it actually determined to appoint a special 
committee after the recess, in 1820. Such was the assistance 
which German commerce could expect from Frankfort. The 
Prussian envoy rightly regarded it as incredible that this assembly 
should even conceive itself capable of undertaking so difficult a 
task. 1 

Notwithstanding these experiences, many years were still to 
elapse before it was generally recognised to be impossible to carry 
out the empty promises of article 19. The Badenese govern- 
ment, in especial, obstinately adhered to the fantasy of a federal 
customs-system. Its long and narrow territory, one in which 
transit trade was considerable, suffered with especial severity 
from the distresses of internal tolls, and Berstett, the Badenese 
minister of state, noted with considerable anxiety the growing 
embitterment of the people. This man of limited views hoped 
that the economic prosperity of the nation might atone for its 
scandalous disintegration, might afford " material compensation 
for the loss of many ideas which, though chimerical, are regarded 
with affection." For this reason he recommended to the Carlsbad 
conferences, in a lengthy memorial (August I5th), that a federal 
customs-system should be introduced, securing free trade for a 
population of thirty millions ; but the thoroughly confused docu- 
ment, full of contradictions, made no attempt whatever to deal 
with the great question, how it would be possible to include Han- 
over, Holstein, Luxemburg, and German Austria, in a national 
customs-system. Metternich was disagreeably surprised by the 
proposal, one to which it was simply impossible for Austria to 
consent, and he went so far as to question the competence of the 
Federation in this matter. " Commerce," he contended, " its 
extension and its restriction, are within the first attributes of 
sovereignty." According to the Austrian doctrine, the Federa- 
tion was unquestionably competent to maltreat the universities, 
although the federal act said not a word about the matter ; on 
the other hand, freedom of trade, which was expressly fore- 
shadowed in the federal convention, would infringe the sove- 
reignty of the federal states. It would hardly have been possible 
to give a more forcible indication of the Hof burg's attitude towards 
the vital problems of the German nation. At length, however, 
after repeated pressure from Baden and Wiirtemberg, the Aus- 
trian statesman agreed that the customs question should appear 

1 Goltz's Report, July 20, 1819. 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

upon the agenda of the forthcoming Vienna conferences. He 
knew very well what was likely to be the outcome of such 

Meanwhile the ablest among the Badenese financiers, 
Nebenius, had expounded in a brilliant memorial his ideas 
concerning the conditions of German free trade. This work was 
privately undertaken, and never exercised any influence, even 
indirectly, upon the development of the customs-union, but in 
clarity and definiteness it excelled all that had hitherto been 
written by private individuals concerning German commercial 
policy. The learned compiler of the Badenese constitution 
acquired in these years, by his work on economic conditions in 
Great Britain, 1 a scientific repute which was subsequently 
increased by the appearance of his book Public Credit. This last 
is a classical work which can never pass completely out of date ; 
like Ricardo's books it will always remain invaluable to students 
of political economy as a school of strictly methodical thought 
His memorial on the German customs-system, compiled in 
January, 1819, also displays throughout the secure vision of the 
trained expert. In April, 1819, it was confidentially communi- 
cated to the members of the Badenese Landtag, and in the 
following winter was submitted to the Vienna conferences by 
Berstett as a noteworthy private opinion. Maassen, Klewitz, and 
the other authors of the Prussian customs-law had, indeed, 
nothing to learn from the counsels of the Badenese statesman. 
For them what was true in his memorial was not new, and what 
was new was not true. 

In the cautious phraseology beloved of Nebenius, the memorial 
took a decisive line against the Prussian customs-law, bringing 
the evils of this system into strong relief, and failing to recognise 
its advantages. The proposition was defended, " No German 
state, Austria excepted, can effectively protect its domain against 
foreign competition " an opinion which Prussia's statesmen 
were just beginning to refute by practical demonstration. The 
authors of the law of May 26th started from the needs of the 
Prussian economy, whereas Nebenius opened with the considera- 
tion of the distresses of German commerce. Consequently the 
former regarded the matter chiefly from the financial outlook, 
while the latter concerned himself with politico-economical aspects. 
Thus Prussian statesmen desired a gradual expansion of the 

1 Bemerkungen iiber den Zustand Grossbritanniens in Staatswirtschaftlicher 
Hinsicht, Carlsruhe, 1818. 


History of Germany 

Prussian customs-system, subject to the conditions imposed by 
the interests of Prussian finances. Nebenius, on the other hand, 
in accordance with the general opinion of the age, demanded a 
system of German federal customs, a customs administration 
subject to the Bundestag. The policy he advocated was the 
precise opposite of that which was brought into being by the 
actual customs-union ; it was plain that the first step along 
the path indicated by Nebenius must lead to the repeal of the 
Prussian customs-law ; and must therefore annihilate the very 
foundation of the subsequent customs-union. The struggle of 
those days in matters of commercial policy centred in the single 
question whether the Prussian customs-law was or was not to be 
maintained. In this dispute, Nebenius took the wrong side. His 
memorial contested the leading political idea of Prussian com- 
mercial policy, and anyone who wishes to regard it as the pioneer 
work which led to the formation of the customs-union must, by 
the same token, describe Great Germans and Little Germans as 
persons of identical views. Obviously both parties were aiming 
at German unity, unfortunately by divergent routes. 

The statesmanlike sense of the talented Badenese was by 
no means equal to his economic insight. Though he doubted 
whether Austria could enter the customs-union, he did not attain 
to definite conclusions upon this matter. As late as 1835, he 
regarded Austria's accession as possible ; should this take place, 
the customs-union " would constitute the finest of all possible 
markets." The weighty political reasons which made such an 
idea unacceptable to Prussia never became clear to him. Just 
as little could he understand why Prussia, as a European power, 
was forced to maintain the unconditional independence of her 
customs administration. He demanded that the customs 
administration should be centralised under the control of the 
Federation, that the customs-officials should be sworn in to the 
Federation alone. Even in the discussion of subsidiary questions 
he was not always able to look beyond the narrow circle of vision 
of his native petty state. With few exceptions he desired that 
the dues should be levied at the frontiers alone, because, in the 
view of the Badenese officialdom, this arrangement would bring 
special advantages to the frontierland of Baden. Maassen, on 
the other hand, had bonded warehouses and customs-houses 
instituted in all the larger Prussian towns, for a lively forwarding 
trade was obviously impossible without such facilities. 

Side by side with these errors, the memorial does indeed 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

display a number of well thought-out and practically useful pro- 
posals, but there is not one of these with which the Prussian 
cabinet was not already familiar, not one which it had not already 
put into application. Nebenius very clearly developed the propo- 
sition that freedom of trade is impossible without a customs- 
union. This idea, which to us to-day seems trivial and 
self-evident, was completely new to the diplomacy of the petty 
states of those days. But the fact was well known to the statesmen 
of Berlin, for Prussia had offered free trade to those states alone 
which had been willing to enter the Prussian customs-system. 
Equally well thought-out were the principles of the tariff pro- 
posed by Nebenius. He desired to impose moderate dues upon 
articles in general use and upon colonial produce ; the raw 
materials necessary for domestic manufacture were to be duty 
free ; manufactured articles were to be protected by dues which 
approximately corresponded to the customary premium upon 
smuggling ; hostile action on the part of foreign countries was 
to be countered by retaliatory tariffs. Such ideas were unques- 
tionably excellent, but, at the very time when Nebenius wrote, 
the Prussian tariff was published, and it was guided throughout 
by these same principles. Independent consideration had led the 
South German economist to the same ideas which Eichhorn had 
frequently indicated as the corner stone of the Prussian system, 
namely, freedom, reciprocity, and no prohibitions. Was it not 
a striking indication of the general obscurity of thought charac- 
teristic of those days that a man of such astuteness should 
approximate so closely to the ideas of the Prussian customs- 
system, and yet should never propound the question whether the 
structure of German commercial unity ought not to be erected 
upon the solid foundation of this system. Nebenius also advanced 
the principle that the distribution of the revenue derived from 
the customs should be proportionate to population. But at the 
time when his memorial became known in Berlin, Prussia 
had already incorporated this momentous idea in a treaty. 
Nebenius went on to show that customs unity is impossible 
unless internal consumption is taxed on like principles ; until 
this end is secured, we must be satisfied with provisional taxes. 
This view also had long prevailed in Berlin ; it was precisely 
because Eichhorn and Maassen were familiar with the wide 
differences in the fiscal systems of the neighbour states that they 
had no desire to suggest a premature unification. They knew 
just as well as Nebenius^ that it would suffice to conclude J a 


History of Germany 

customs-treaty for a few years ; like him they confidently hoped 
that the immeasurable blessings of freedom of trade would prevent 
the dissolution of a customs-union once it had been formed. 

When the ordinary German biographer has not much to 
say about the character of his hero, he is accustomed to extol 
the man's unpretentious modesty. This phrase has become an 
accepted part of the ceremonial of the historic art ; it recurs as 
irresistibly as the graceful declaration that every great plebeian who 
has risen to fame sprang from parents who were honest though 
poor. Nebenius, too, has been freely besprinkled with such 
commendations. Those who had to deal with him upon affairs 
of state took a very different view, for in the diplomatic world 
Nebenius was generally regarded as a person of high intelligence 
but as an extremely disagreeable negotiator. He was numbered 
among those men of a quietly learned character whose 
unadorned exterior conceals an extremely irritable sense of self- 
esteem, men who bear contradiction very badly, refutation still 
worse. Although he was far from being inclined to the loud 
boasting characteristic of Friedrich List, he was by no means 
disposed to hide his light under a bushel. He admitted, indeed, 
that no one individual could justly claim to be the originator of 
the customs-union. Yet he plumed himself on the ground that 
his memorial had for the first time propounded the idea of a general 
customs-association ; that, apart from a single error, it had 
accurately prophesied the constitution of a subsequent customs- 
union. He failed to see that this single error concerned the vital 
problem of German commercial policy ; he failed equally to 
recognise that the greater part of his memorial dealt solely with 
the expression of wishes in matters where Prussia had already 
taken effective action. His great service and his only one lies 
in this, that, simultaneously with the Prussian statesmen and 
independently of them, he had thought out the correct solution 
of some of the important problems of German commercial policy ; 
but the decisive question whether there should be a federal 
customs-system or adhesion to the Prussian customs-union, was 
rightly answered in Berlin and wrongly answered by Nebenius. 
He came nearer to the truth than did List. If List may be com- 
pared with Gorres, of Nebenius it may be said that of the future 
customs-union he foresaw about as much as Paul Pfizer foresaw of 
the modern German empire. 

In the year 1819, no one as yet had any clear conception of 
the commercial league which was to come into existence one and 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

a half decades later. As Eichhorn was accustomed to say after- 
wards, " The idea had not as yet begun to develop." The warp 
of the great tissue had already been stretched. The Prussian 
customs-system had come into existence ; Prussia had expressed 
her desire to enlarge this system, and, in a spirit freed from all 
pettiness, to guarantee her German neighbours an abundant share 
in the income from the common tolls. But the woof, the good- 
will of the neighbour states, was still wanting. On all sides there 
was yet lacking a definite conception of the loose federal forms 
which could alone render possible an undertaking never yet ven- 
tured, a permanent commercial league between jealous sovereign 
states. The necessary goodwill was subsequently enforced by 
necessity. The administrative forms of the customs-union were 
not thought out in advance either by Nebenius or by any other 
thinker. Theory can never solve such problems ; their solution 
was found in the paths of practical politics, through negotiations 
and mutual concessions between the German states. The 
Badenese thinker wrote as an irresponsible private individual ; 
he was able boldly and unhesitatingly to conceive the unity of the 
entire fatherland. He held to this ideal with invincible firm- 
ness, and it was because he took so high a flight that he adopted 
the impossible plan of federal customs. Prussia's statesmen 
had a precious good to safeguard, the commercio-political unity 
of their state, acquired with so much difficulty, and still seriously 
threatened. Accused by the enthusiasts, now of obstinate petti- 
ness, now of self-satisfied arrogance, they had to endure with 
patience, and, cautiously building upon the groundwork of existing 
institutions, they attained their lofty goal. 

At the right moment the originators of the Prussian customs- 
law secured a powerful diplomatic ally in the new referendary 
for German affairs, J. A. F. Eichhorn, to whom his chief, 
Count Bernstorff, gave a free hand in the domain of commercial 
policy. Among the heroes of toil who in weary days continued 
to maintain the great traditions of Prussia, who amid peaceful 
activities laid the foundations of their country's renewed 
greatness, Eichhorn stands in the first rank. His whole career 
had prepared him to effect the peaceful subdual of particularism. 
His youth had been passed in Wertheim at the confluence of the 
Main and the Tauber, in the very heart of the decayed world of 
the old empire, and throughout life he was never able to forget 
how he had in this region seen the official of the imperial court of 


History of Germany 

chancery, clad in his Old Franconian attire, executing the orders 
of emperor and empire. Filled with enthusiasm for the deeds 
of Frederick the Great, he had then moved northward to serve 
the state of his election ; and to him as to many others it was 
revealed that Prussia inspires the warmest love in those Germans 
who have laboured to acquire this sentiment. In Cleves he wit- 
nessed the collapse of the Prussian regime, in Hanover the fiscal 
arts of a small-minded annexationist policy, and despite all this 
remained true to his state. Then he took part in Schill's bold 
adventure, and in Berlin entered into confidential association 
with Stein and Gneisenau, with Humboldt, Altenstein, and 
Kircheisen, all of whom immediately accepted this unknown and 
youthful stranger as an equal. A pupil of Spittler, having 
received a thorough and many-sided education, as first syndic 
of the university of Berlin he came into intimate personal contact 
with men of the learned world. Profoundly religious, he formed 
a close friendship with Schleiermacher, and by marriage became 
connected with the great theologians' family of Sack. The days 
of the War of Liberation were passed by him with uplifted heart, 
first as an officer on Blucher's staff, and subsequently as a member 
of Stein's central administration. In this latter position he was 
afforded ample opportunity of becoming acquainted with the 
inmost soul of the minor German governments. The enthusiasm 
of these great years was preserved by him unshaken in the quiet 
succeeding epoch of peace. 

When at the age of forty he received the important post in 
the foreign office, he became inspired with the hope of founding 
a permanent union such as previously, under the central adminis- 
tration, had had no more than a temporary, inchoate, and 
undesired existence ; of binding the German states for ever to the 
crown of Prussia by the bonds of justice, confidence, and interest. 
He regarded this as the fulfilment, the transfiguration, of the 
dreams of 1813. In article 19 of the federal act he recognised 
" the well-meant intention of the German princes, without 
prejudice to their sovereignty, to guarantee for German subjects 
the benefits of a common fatherland"; and he believed that 
Prussia possessed the power which was lacking to the Federa- 
tion of securing these benefits of a fatherland for the Germans. 
Beside that incisive boldness which has often made itself admired 
in the great epochs of our history, people are apt to over- 
look that cold, tenacious, and enduring patience which in the 
endless and tedious bargainings with German particularism had 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

become second nature to Prussian statecraft. No other of our 
statesmen had so masterly a grasp as Eichhorn of this Old Prus- 
sian virtue. Year in and year out the talented man had to wade 
through the sticky slime of pettifogging negotiations, merely to 
read about which after the event arouses positive nausea. Yet 
nothing disturbed the freshness of his mind ; never did he lose 
sight of the great aim which loomed behind the trifling work of 
the hour ; again and again, after severe illnesses, he braced his 
weakly frame for unresting activity. His eyes were everywhere ; 
like a physician at a sick bed he supervised the moods of the minor 
courts, their malice, their egotism, their hopeless stupidity. He 
sometimes relieved the tedium of his work with a light word. 
" What can be the real intentions of the ducal Saxon houses ? " 
he wrote on one occasion, "I don't believe they know them- 
selves ! " Yet in spite of all the trouble the petty states gave 
him, he never ceased to preserve for them respect and good feeling, 
and with a federal and friendly sentiment never failed to accede 
to all their reasonable wishes. Not. infrequently, spume from the 
foul waves of the demagogue hunt bespattered even his honour- 
able name ; but he remained always true to himself, valiantly 
did all he could to assist his persecuted friends, and nevertheless 
succeeded in retaining the king's confidence. For many years 
Prince Metternich employed all his worst arts against the detested 
patriot, who was regarded in Vienna as Prussia's evil genius. 
Simultaneously he was attacked by the liberal press as a man 
with the disposition of a slave. Unruffled, he continued to add 
stone after stone to the inconspicuous structure of German com- 
mercial unity, enduring in silence the unfair judgments of public 
opinion, for any attempt at open justification would inevitably 
have led to his fall. A time came, however, when the courts 
recognised his services ; all the orders of the Germanic Federa- 
tion, except one from Austria, were bestowed upon the unpre- 
tentious privy councillor, and the state-documents of the grateful 
members of the customs-unions extolled him as " the soul of the 
Prussian ministry." The nation, however, never fully recog- 
nised how much it owed to Eichhorn. 

It was his hope to enlarge the Prussian customs-system by 
degrees, by means of treaties with the German neighbour-states. 
He had not drawn up in advance any fixed plan for the forms and 
limits of this enlargement ; rightly recognising the difficulty of 
the undertaking, he left such matters to be decided by the incal- 
culable course of events. In the year 1819 the question whether 


History of Germany 

the limits of the Prussian customs should be reached at the 
Main or at the lake of Constance, was not within the domain of 
practical politics ; this question might influence the dreams of 
the leader of Prusso-German policy, but it could not direct 
his work. One thing only was certain, that the new customs- 
system must be maintained, that it must constitute the fixed 
nucleus for the reorganisation of German commerce. He 
demanded a free hand for Prussia's commercial policy, decisively 
refusing to permit Austrian intervention in this sphere. Yet he 
was far from being inspired with any hostility towards the 
Hofburg ; to him, a conservative animated by the ideas of 
1813, the notion of detaching the Germanic Federation from 
Austria remained utterly alien. When quite an old man he 
combated Radowitz's plans of union, regarding them as unrealisable 

A vexatious evil, and one requiring immediate attention, 
was the situation of the numerous enclaves The customs- 
boundaries were speedily advanced so far as to embrace, almost in 
their entirety, the Anhalt duchies and a part also of the small 
Thuringian regions which were surrounded by Prussian terri- 
tory. All goods brought to these regions were subjected to the 
Prussian import duties. It was not until the new system of fron- 
tier supervision came into operation, in the beginning of the year 
1819, that Eichhorn invited these states to treat with the Berlin 
cabinet regarding the customs-question. In accordance with a 
reasonable compromise, the king was prepared to hand over to 
the sovereigns of the enclaves the income which the imports to 
these furnished to his state treasury. This somewhat brusque 
method of procedure, which in the papers of the ministry of 
finance was spoken of as " our enclave system," could not fail 
to arouse some hostility among the minor courts ; but it was 
essential to show these neighbours that in matters of commercial 
policy they were dependent upon Prussia. Nothing but amiable 
weakness could allow the success of the great customs-reform 
to depend upon the previous assent of a dozen or so of petty 
suzerains who, after the manner of the German princes, could be 
convinced by nothing but the eloquence of accomplished facts. 
The only thing injured was the vanity of the neighbour overlords, 
for it was manifest that Prussia's action redounded to the economic 
interests of the enclaves. An independent commercial policy 
for these pitiable fragments of territory was inconceivable. It 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

would be impossible for their economy to thrive if Prussia 
excluded them from her customs-system, and surrounded them 
with her barriers ; moreover, trade within the province of Saxony 
would be grievously disturbed, if all goods passing through Anhalt 
or Schwarzburg had to be placed under seal and subjected to the 
examination of the customs-officials. It was equally impos- 
sible for Prussia to leave the trade of the enclaves altogether 
unsuper vised. The contribution of these trifling regions to the 
general revenue from the Prussian customs was no more than 
one eightieth part of the whole, but by smuggling they might 
readily become a serious danger to Prussian finances. 

The wholesome severity of the Berlin financiers secured for 
the enclaves free trade in the Prussia market, and for their state- 
treasuries the promise of an assured and abundant income such 
as they never could have acquired through their own unaided 
energies. The Prussian government acted in good faith, it was 
prepared that its own enclave system should be utilised against 
Prussia herself, declaring on several occasions that should a South 
German customs-union come into existence the Wetzler enclave 
must be subjected to this customs-system. 1 Altogether unten- 
able, therefore, was the complaint repeatedly voiced by the injured 
petty princes, that Prussia's enclave system was an infringe- 
ment of international law. There was excellent legal warrant 
for subjecting to the Prussian transit dues all goods destined for 
the enclaves, and if the Berlin court thought fit, along certain 
lines of traffic, to raise the transit dues to the level of the import 
duties, no valid objection could be offered to this course. 

When Eichhorn invited the petty states to join in friendly 
conventions in the matter of the enclaves, he simultaneously 
declared that the king was prepared to discuss the adhesion to 
the Prussian customs-union of other territories than these 
enclaves. He laid stress on the national character of the customs- 
law, pointing out that it was conceived in the spirit of article 19 
of the federal act, that it was intended, first of all, to abolish the 
internal tolls in a portion of Germany, and further to facilitate 
the adhesion to the system of other federal states. The king, 
he said, had earned the gratitude of the federal associates by thus 
beginning to liberate the German market from the dominion of 
the foreign world. Henceforward Prussia's commercial policy 
continued faithfully to pursue this national tendency ; the 

1 My authority for this statement is, among others, Memorial of the Ministry 
oi Finance, December 28, 1824. 


History of Germany 

suggestion frequently mooted in later years, that Belgium or 
Switzerland should be accepted into the customs-union, was always 
promptly rejected by Berlin. It was not cosmopolitan freedom 
of trade at which Prussia aimed, but the commercial unity of the 
fatherland. In a note signed by Bernstorff, sent to the Gotha 
privy council under date June 13, 1819, it was stated that in 
the law of May 26th the king's main intention was " to tax trade 
in foreign commodities, and to ward off the competition of non- 
German factories from Prussia herself and from those other Ger- 
man states which in these respects will adhere to Prussia's rules. 
It is the king's strong desire that the measures, adopted solely in 
order to tax commodities of foreign origin and to protect native 
Prussian industry against the produce of non-German factories 
shall not, as far as can be avoided, redound in any way to the 
disadvantage of allied federal German states. The note went 
on to advise the formation of a Thuringian commercial union, 
which should then join the Prussian customs-union, thus indicat- 
ing the precise course which fourteen years later led to the 
commercio-political union of Prussia and Thuringia. 

The Staatszeitung gave an official assurance in the same 
sense, declaring : " Prussia, not merely on account of her own 
situation, but also because she regards the co-ordination of the 
individual interests of the German states with her own general 
interest as eminently desirable, strongly desires to further the 
plan of complete freedom of trade between the federal states ; and 
it is Prussia's greatest wish to secure the removal of all the diffi- 
culties which may seem to oppose the carrying of this plan into 
execution." Towards Christmas of the year 1819, when the 
delegates of List's Union visited Berlin in order to win over the 
government to the idea of a German customs-union, they received 
the following assurance from Hardenberg and three of the 
ministers : " It is far from being the desire of the Prussian govern- 
ment to impair the welfare of the German neighbour states by one- 
sided measures. This government would be delighted if all the 
governments of Germany could come to a general agreement 
regarding the principles of a common commercial system such as 
would favour the welfare of all parties to that agreement. The 
Prussian government, for its own part, would gladly do anything 
in its power to secure for the whole of Germany the advantages 
of a system of free trade based upon justice. But we cannot 
fail to recognise that the organisation of the individual German 
states by no means fits them as yet for common action in these 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

matters, especially when it is remembered that the arrange- 
ments for such common action must be carried out in the like spirit 
by all. As yet, therefore, it seems that no more can be effected 
than that individual states which consider that their interests 
suffer from the present posture of affairs should endeavour to 
come to an understanding with those members of the Federation 
from whose actions, in their view, their troubles arise, and that 
in this manner harmonious arrangements should spread from 
frontier to frontier, aiming at the increasing abolition of the 
internal barriers of separation." l 

Herein was given definite and concise expression to the 
fundamental idea of such a national commercial policy as, in view 
of the futility of the Bundestag, was alone possible of attainment. 
Concerning proposals that were still inchoate, no government 
could speak more plainly than did Prussia. But, owing to the 
epidemic infatuation which now affected public opinion, and amid 
the loud chorus of complaints directed against absolutist Prussia, 
the frank expressions and actions of the Berlin cabinet were 
utterly ignored. People persuaded themselves into the illusion 
that Prussia was selfishly separating herself from the great father- 
land. Invectives rained upon the arrogance and particularism 
of Berlin, proceeding above all from the petty courts which had 
to accept the enclave system. Even to Charles Augustus of 
Weimar it seemed an extremely arrogant suggestion that his 
administrative districts of Allstedt and Oldisleben, which were 
surrounded by Prussian territory, should be subjected to the 
Prussian customs-system, and he wrote in the following terms 
to the court of Berlin : "A strict carrying into effect of the law 
of May 26th seems so little in harmony with the principles of the 
federal act that assuredly this matter will form the subject of 
the next proceedings of the Bundestag, and his majesty of Prussia, 
as a federal prince, will find it necessary to make conciliatory 
proposals to the Federation. 2 

Eichhorn could not agree to such naive proposals. He 
could not sacrifice the customs-system of the province of Saxony to 
the preferences of Austria and of the majority of the Bundestag, 
but continued to hope that the recognition of their own advantage 
would lead the petty Thuringian dynasts to accept Prussia's 
offer, and to sign treaties recognising the adhesion of their 

1 Preussische Staatszeitung, 1819, No. 131. Idem, December 28, 1819. 

2 Despatch from Privy Councillor Edling and Conta to Count Bernstorff, 
Weimar, January 26, 1819. 


History of Germany 

iutra-Prussian enclaves to the Prussian customs-system. All the 
minor neighbours did, in fact, apply to the court of Berlin, but 
only to demand the immediate abolition of the enclave system, 
although they made no suggestions as to how this abolition 
would possibly be effected. The well-meaning prince, Giinther 
Frederick Charles of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, considered 
himself especially aggrieved. The larger moiety of his realm, 
the Unterherrschaft which included the capital, a region con- 
taining nearly 30,000 inhabitants, was surrounded by Prussian 
territory and incorporated into the Prussian customs-system. 
Since the crown of Prussia, as assign of Electoral Saxony, also 
exercised the postal monopoly and certain other suzerain rights, 
very little of his cherished sovereignty was left to the prince. 
Consequently Lestocq, the much-worried envoy of the Thuringian 
states, and subsequently the Sondershausen privy council itself, 
had to besiege the Prussian court with demands for " the 
repeal of an ordinance to which, for its part, Schwarzburg- 
Sondershausen is firmly resolved never to agree." 

Klewitz answered courteously to the effect that matters 
could without difficulty be arranged by a treaty ; further he 
promised the prince duty-free passage for goods destined for the 
court ; but any change in the law, he said bluntly, was impos- 
sible, in view of the danger of smuggling from the little neighbour 
state. 1 Sondershausen would not take the hint. For several 
months in succession the Prussian government was continually 
harassed with demands whether it was not at length willing to 
do away with an arrangement which so grossly infringed the 
rights of Sondershausen sovereignty. The prince personally 
directed to the king " a most devout request," that the king, 
" giving renewed proof of your majesty's generally honoured 
and universally valued liberality and magnanimity shall give 
occasion for the most unrestricted and most devoted gratitude." 8 
All was vain ; the humble form of the request could not conceal 
its arrogant content. Then von Weise came in person to Berlin, 
an excellent old man who in conjunction with his son, the privy 
councillor, ruled Sondershausen in patriarchal fashion. But he 
also failed to secure his end. 

1 Lestocq to Bernstorff, January 22 ; Despatch from the Sondershausen Privy 
Council to Bernstorff, February 27 ; to Klewitz. February 9 ; Klewitz to Chan- 
cellor von Weise. January 30. to Fernstorff, March 18, 1819. 

t Von Weise to Hoffmann, April 23 ; Prince Giinther to King Frederick 
William, July 29, 1819. 


Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

In Erfurt, meanwhile, Vice-president von Motz had taken 
up the quarrel. He knew the most intimate secrets of par- 
ticularism, for his governmental district was in close association 
with nearly a dozen petty territories. As a good neighbour, he 
was on intimate terms with the two von Weises, and now did his 
first service on behalf of Germany's growing commercial unity 
(which was soon to thank him for greater things) by representing 
to his friends how childish it was to cling to a customs suzerainty 
which could never possibly become effective. 1 The prince, a 
patron of the arts, had long desired to establish a Sondershausen 
national theatre in the charming valley of the Wipper, but funds 
were lacking ; should he adhere to the Prussian customs system, 
this would help him out of his difficulties. The consideration 
was not without effect. 

Towards the end of September the elder von Weise returned 
to Berlin, and since this time he really meant business he was 
received with extreme friendliness. Maassen and Hoffmann con- 
ducted the negotiations, remaining in continuous communication 
with Eichhorn. While still unacquainted with Nebenius' memorial, 
Hoffmann suggested on his own initiative that the simplest thing 
would be, ignoring petty fiscal details, to allot the general 
income from the customs-dues proportionally to population.* 
Thus was discovered that measuring-scale based on population 
which served Prussia as the foundation of all her subsequent 
customs-treaties. Von Weise immediately accepted this favour- 
able offer, and on October 25, 1819, was signed the first treaty of 
accession to the Prussian customs, in virtue of which the prince 
of Sondershausen " without prejudice to his suzerain rights " 
subjected the Unterherrschaft to the Prussian customs-law, receiv- 
ing a share in the customs revenue proportionate to the population 
of the region, and provisionally a round sum of 15,000 thalers. 
The pygmy ally was not granted any co-operation in customs 
legislation, and had simply to accept Prussia's commercial 
treaties and all other alterations which the ministry of finance 
might determine. In other respects, his suzerain rights were 
meticulously respected ; even the customs inspection on 
Schwarzburg territory was to be effected solely by the princely 

Loud was the rejoicing in the valley of the Wipper. The 
prince expressed his profound gratitude for this new proof of 

1 From the Memoirs of Frau von Brinken, Motz's daughter. 

2 Hoffmann to Maassen, October 10, 1819. 

297 x 

History of Germany 

royal magnanimity ; ' at length it was possible to him to open 
his celebrated smoking theatre, where he vied with the burghers 
of his capital city for the favour of the muses of the dramatic 
and the nicotian arts. From the financial point of view the agree- 
ment unquestionably allotted a lion's share to Sondershausen . 
The impecunious Thuringian mountain-land consumed far less 
than the eastern provinces in general of the colonial produce 
which provided the bulk of the customs revenue, but, for political 
reasons, Prussia was glad to make the monetary sacrifice. 

All the more reasonable seemed the expectation that the 
other petty states would follow Sondershausen 's example. In 
the preamble to the treaty, the king had once more declared that 
he was ready to enter into similar agreements with other federal 
princes. Rudolstadt was already beginning to negotiate. Hoff- 
mann also expected that he would speedily come to terms with 
Brunswick, Weimar, and Gotha, and began in his proposals to 
transcend the principles of the enclave system. The Prussian 
state, even if it should renounce all plans of conquest, was at 
least compelled by the unhappily dismembered configuration of 
its domains to cherish commercio-political ambitions. The 
Prussian customs system could with difficulty be carried out 
unless, in addition to the enclaves, certain partially enclosed neigh- 
bour states were to be subjected to the Prussian customs-law. 
Take the case of Anhalt-Bernburg, a small proportion of whose 
frontier was not coterminous with that of Prussia, and which 
was therefore conscientiously treated as foreign territory. What 
was Prussia's reward for this scrupulousness ? A formidable 
smuggling traffic, which increased from month to month, and 
which threatened to swallow all the customs revenue of the pro- 
vince of Saxony. Already in October, 4,023 cwt. of goods, for the 
most part colonial produce, had been imported into the little 
Harz towns adjoining "Ballenstedt, to vanish there without leav- 
ing a trace. This region, at least, in Hoffmann's view, must 
immediately be included within the Prussian customs barrier. As 
soon as the treaty with Sondershausen was made public it would 
be impossible for the petty neighbours to fight against their own 
interests any longer. 2 

The hope proved fallacious. The customs treaty, which 
to us to-day seems so much a matter of course, was to remain 

1 Von Weisc, junior, to Hoffmann, November, 1819. 

2 Lestocq to Berr.storff, October 29; Hoffmann to Bernstorff, December 18 

Change of Mood at the Prussian Court 

for several years a solitary specimen. Immediately the report 
of its conclusion became disseminated, a cry of wrath resounded 
at all the courts. Prince Giinther had to bear serious 
reproaches from his serene colleagues because he had so shame- 
fully sacrificed the treasure of sovereignty ; alarmed at the 
general indignation, the other petty neighbours, who had been 
about to follow his example, withdrew from the negotiations. 
The duke of Ccethen took the lead among Prussia's opponents, 
declaring in the name of the minor princes : " Voluntarily they 
can not and will not submit, for to do this would be a breach 
of their most sacred duties towards their subjects, their houses, 
and their own honour ; he went on defiantly to demand that 
Prussia should place at his disposal a toll-free strip of Prussian 
territory twenty kilometres wide and extending as far as 
the Saxon frontier, in order to secure for the house of Anhalt 
free access to world-commerce. Looking on with ostensible 
good-nature, but surreptitiously inciting to further resistance, 
there stood behind the incensed pygmies Prussia's faithful 
federal ally, Austria. The courts secretly resolved that at 
the Vienna conferences they would with united forces secure 
the repeal of the Prussian customs-law ; only if this first 
beginning of German customs unity were swept from the 
earth would it be possible for the Bundestag to establish a 
national commercial policy. The entire nation outside Prussia 
joyfully participated in this frenzy of particularist passion. 
All the songs and speeches in favour of German unity were 
forgotten, directly Prussia addressed herself to securing for the 
Germans " the benefits of a common fatherland." 

Prussia's statesmen had hoped that during the very first 
years after the new law came into operation some of the Ger- 
man neighbours would be won over to the policy of practical 
German unity. But now Prussia was forced to assume the 
defensive. The victorious struggle for the maintenance, and 
subsequently for the extension, of the customs-area remained 
for many years the principal task of Prussian statecraft. 
Through his peaceful success in this campaign, King Frederick 
William atoned for the errors committed in Carlsbad, and 
established the boundary stones for the new Germany. He 
was the right man for this work of German patience, so incon- 
spicuous, and yet of such momentous importance. Equable 
and ever devoted to his aim, loyal and firm, animated by 
a sense of justice which disarmed mistrust, always prepared 


History of Germany 

to encounter a converted opponent with upright benevolence, 
he gradually liberated the debris of Germany from the bonds 
imposed by Germany's own folly and by foreign intrigues, 
preparing the way for greater times. The present must not 
display less gratitude than did Frederick the Great when he 
said, referring to his father's inconspicuous life-work : " For 
the energy of the acorn we have to thank the shade of the 
oak tree which covers it." 







THE power of inert daily custom sometimes robs genius of 
the fruits of its activity, but it also frequently hinders injustice 
in its presumptuous career. A coup d'etat such as Prince 
Metternich had succeeded in effecting in Carlsbad and Frank- 
fort could not be promptly repeated, and least of all in the 
greatly subdivided German world. The anxiety of the summer 
of 1819 had been dissipated, the new exceptional laws temporarily 
sufficed to allay the real and the imaginary dangers of a dema- 
gogic rising, and in proportion to the degree in which they 
once more felt safe were the minor courts again influenced 
by the sentiment which ever dominated them in peaceful times 
regard for their own sovereignty. 

It is true that Bavaria, by a conciliatory declaration to the 
two great powers, had mitigated the objections she had herself 
made against the Carlsbad decrees, and that the king of 
Wiirtemberg had failed to secure the assistance demanded in 
Warsaw. Nor was the efficiency of the federal decrees at all 
restricted by the fact that the court of Munich had permitted itself 
a trifling excess of independent power in refraining from pro- 
mulgating the federal executive ordinance, and in introducing 

1 Treitschke's Prefaces to Book III constitute Appendix XII, and will be 
found at the end of this volume. 


I listory of Germany 

the censorship for political periodicals alone ; for the federal 
executive organisation, which gave new powers solely to the 
Federation and not to the individual states, was unquestionably 
in legal force now that the Bundestag had promulgated it, 
and such abundant provision was made for the good behaviour 
of Bavarian authors by the ordinary executive authority of 
the police, that subsequently Zentner was able truthfully to 
declare that in this way the aim of the Carlsbad press law 
"was just as efficiently and often more certainly attained than 
it would have been by a censorship." * Nevertheless Harden- 
berg felt that all these half-hearted attempts at resistance 
gave expression to a hidden discontent which might very readily 
become dangerous. Who could foresee whether the Bavarian 
crown prince might not soon gain supreme influence at 
the court of his indulgent father ? The young prince was 
definitely opposed to the Carlsbad decrees ; his whole nature 
revolted against them ; they conflicted with " the liberal and 
popular German sentiment " of which he loved to boast, and 
with the pride of sovereignty characteristic of the house of 
Wittelsbach. It was known in Berlin that henceforward 
Bavaria and Wiirtemberg would be on their guard ; both these 
courts had instructed their plenipotentiaries that at the 
ministerial discussions in Vienna they were to approve nothing 
which conflicted with their respective territorial constitutions. 
The high-handed conduct of the two great powers in Carlsbad 
had offended even the ultra-conservative minor courts of the 
north ; while the elderly king of Saxony, despite all his devotion 
to the house of Austria, displayed his dissatisfaction at the 
contemptuous way in which he had been treated by the 
Bundestag. All these considerations urged caution, and 
although Hardenberg had successfully repulsed the attacks of 
Count Capodistrias, he thought it advisable to avoid rousing 
further suspicion in the minds of the Russian statesmen, and to 
refrain from giving them any excuse for secret machinations in 
Germany. When General Scholer reported that the court of 
St. Petersburg looked forward with lively anxiety to the minis- 
terial discussions in Vienna, Bernstorff immediately gave a 
reassuring answer to the effect that there was no intention 

1 Zentner, Memorial concerning the Renewal of the Carlsbad Decrees, 
May 28, 1824. 

2 Zastrow's Report, Munich, November 17 ; Kuster's Report, Stuttgart, 
November 29, 1819. 


The Vienna Conferences 

in Vienna to initiate any changes, but that the sole aim of 
the conferences was to carry out and to develop the federal 
act. 1 

The experiences of the last few weeks had, moreover, 
made the chancellor feel that Prussia's own interests might 
be seriously endangered by any further advance along the 
path entered at Teplitz. Hardenberg had there facilitated an 
extension of the competence of the Federation which conflicted 
with the legal character of the federal constitution, and which 
it would hardly be possible to maintain in default of an inde- 
pendent centralised authority. In the interim he had come 
to consider that it would not be possible to perform the next 
and most important task of his German policy, the maintenance 
of the new customs system, if the federal authority should 
become competent to undertake arbitrary interference in this 
matter. When, with the king's approval, he gave Count Berns- 
torff instructions for his conduct at the Vienna assembly, he 
wrote : "It is, above all, the minor states which, misled by 
an erroneous and arrogant conception of their sovereignty, 
are apt to regard as infringements of that sovereignty the 
necessary undertakings of the great states." The first modest 
attempt to enlarge the Prussian customs area had brought all 
Prussia's smaller neighbours into the tilting ground, and there 
was no doubt that in Vienna they would endeavour to annul 
the Prussian customs-law by means of a decision of the entire 
Federation. Was Prussia herself to sharpen the weapons of 
these opponents, to work at this juncture for the establishment 
of a permanent federal jurisdiction, to subject the vital problems 
of Prussian commerce and the entire future of German commer- 
cial policy to the incalculable pretensions of a tribunal in which 
the minor states had the decisive voice ? As soon as Harden- 
berg devoted serious attention to one of the great problems 
of practical German unity, the very nature of things led him 
back to that sober conception of the federal law which 
Humboldt had formed when the Bundestag first assembled ; 2 
he recognised that the economic interests of the nation must 
be pursued independently of the Federation, that they could 
be furthered solely by negotiations between the individual 

At the Vienna congress, Hardenberg had still endeavoured 

1 Bernstorff to Ancillon. December 7, 1819. 

2 Vide supra, vol. II, p. 400. 


History of Germany 

to secure a strong federal authority, one which should be com- 
petent to control the internal activities of the individual states ; 
but now that the Federation had acquired " a different organi- 
sation and development from that which we had anticipated," 
this seemed to him neither possible nor desirable. The federal 
constitution, such as it was, reposed upon the sovereignty of 
the individual states ; the Viennese negotiations promised 
to be fruitful only if this principle should be unreservedly 
recognised. It was for this reason, moreover, that the chancellor 
expressly reiterated Prussia's old demand that the matter of 
the federal military organisation should at length be settled ; 
he also desired that the Carlsbad decrees should for a few 
years be inviolably maintained as urgency laws, but he was 
opposed to granting the Federation a more powerful influence 
in the internal affairs of the individual states. Consequently 
there was to be no permanent federal jurisdiction, nor yet any 
definitive federal executive organisation, so long as the provisional 
federal executive organisation remained untried. Nor did 
Hardenberg any longer wish to abolish the provision in the 
federal constitution whereby, in all decrees concerning organic 
institutions, unanimity must be secured, for the minor states 
remained unwilling to agree to a juster distribution of votes 
at the Bundestag. Regarding article 13 of the federal act, 
he expressed no more than a few diffident wishes ; and in con- 
clusion he enunciated the dry opinion that it would perhaps 
be best " to acquiesce entirely in the general admonitions of 
the presidential address at the last session of the Bundestag. 1 

Metterm'ch, too, began cautiously to give way. It is 
true that shortly before the opening of the conferences he 
wrote boastfully enough to the loyal Berstett : " Count upon 
us. Count that Prussia will hold firm ; I guarantee it. 
Count, finally, upon the enormous majority of the German 
governments, and above all upon yourself. You will find me 
here too, just as you left me on the last day in Carlsbad ; 
and you will also find the emperor, unquestionably an enormous 
moral force ! " 2 But he certainly felt that he could not again 
venture, as in those victorious days in Bohemia, to play the part 
of dictator. His intention that the general representative 
system should everywhere be replaced by the representation 
of estates had been frustrated in Carlsbad ; still less, therefore, 

1 Instruction to Bernstorff, November 10, 1819. 
a Metternich to Berstett, October 30, 1819. 


The Vienna Conferences 

could he expect to carry out this intention in Vienna, at cere- 
monious and formal ministerial conferences, where the arts 
of intimidation and surprise would avail him nothing. He 
therefore prudently adapted himself to circumstances, and, in 
issuing on October i6th the invitations to the minor sovereigns, 
he employed a modest and disarming form of expression. All 
that was intended was " a preliminary discussion " between the 
German governments, so that the Bundestag might receive 
unanimous instructions concerning the important decrees which 
Count Buol had promulgated on September 2oth. 1 

In the latter half of November, when the invited 
plenipotentiaries of all seventeen votes of the inner council 
reported themselves to Metternich, he found most of them 
favourably disposed, prepared to do everything which could 
in any way help to establish " the monarchical principle " 
more firmly, but also full of alarm regarding a possible further 
curtailment of their sovereignty. Willingly, therefore, he 
adopted the conciliatory methods urged upon him by Bernstorff 
in preliminary confidential conversations. Both statesmen were 
agreed " not to diverge by a hair's breadth " from the 
September decrees, nor to allow any further discussion of what 
had been effected in the past. Henceforward, however, the 
Carlsbad policy was to be retained " within the limits of the 
achievable ; by the paths of " moderation and harmony," an 
endeavour was to be made to effect a compromise with those 
members of the Federation who held divergent views ; as con- 
cerned the difficult interpretation of article 13, the monarchical 
principle and the federal unity were to be simultaneously 
maintained, and yet due regard was to be shown for those states 
which by their constitutions " had already to a large extent 
lost sight of these two joint considerations." 2 To allay in 
advance the suspicions of the minor courts, Metternich over- 
flowed with ardent asseverations of loyalty to the Federation. 
The federal act, he declared in the very first sitting, was held 
sacred by the court of Vienna ; even should some verbal error 
have crept into the document, Emperor Francis would never 
allow a word of this holy charter to be altered. This was 
an unambiguous announcement that Austria did not again 

1 Metternich to Berstett, October 16, 1819, with letter of invitation to the 
Grand Duke of Hesse, etc. 

2 Bernstorff's Report, November 24 ; Bernstorff to Ancillon, November 23, 
1819, to Goltz, March 25, 1820. 


History of Germany 

purpose to effect an arbitrary strengthening of the federal 
authority such as had been determined on in Carlsbad. 

The representatives of the two great powers had anticipated 
at the outset lively opposition on the part of Bavaria and 
Wiirtemberg, but they were soon agreeably disillusioned. 1 
Zentner, the Bavarian plenipotentiary, knew how to gratify the 
wishes of both parties in the Munich cabinet, and adopted 
a middle course which was, in existing circumstances, the 
only sound policy for his state. He openly professed his loyalty 
to the constitution, and with juristic acumen advocated that 
strictly particularist view of the federal law which, at first at 
the Vienna congress, and subsequently at the Bundestag, had 
been obstinately maintained by the house of Wittelsbach. 
According to the Bavarian doctrine, the fundamental law of 
the Federation was comprised exclusively in the first eleven 
articles of the federal act ; the " special provisions " of the 
nine concluding articles, dealing with the internal affairs of the 
federal states, were regarded in Munich as no more than a 
voluntary agreement between sovereign powers, and were not 
considered unconditionally binding. But there was never any 
doubt as to the Bavarian's intentions. He displayed not a 
sign of the liberal tendencies erroneously attributed to him ; he 
avoided uttering a word which might arouse suspicion in this 
circle, and did so all the more scrupulously because his 
colleagues expressly assured him that the court of Munich 
had by its appeal for help contributed to bring about the 
Carlsbad decrees. So long as the sovereignty of the Wittels- 
bachs and their territorial constitution remained intact, he 
would gladly share in any measures tending to secure " order " ; 
and since in the negotiations he showed himself an able man 
of business, always accommodating and courteous, hard-working 
and well informed, altogether free from duplicity, he was soon, 
as Rechberg had prophesied, on good terms even with Metter- 
nich. He speedily formed a close friendship with Bernstorff, 
and once more the understanding between the two principal 
purely German states proved natural and wholesome ; as parties 
now stood, they could indeed do little positive good, but they 
were able to prevent many of the follies of reactionary party 

Less friendly, but perhaps even less dangerous, was the 

1 Bernstorfi's Reports. November 30 and December 7 ; Bernstorff to 
Ancillon, November 30, 1819. 


The Vienna Conferences 

attitude of Wiirtemberg. A singular obscurity continued to 
prevail regarding the designs of the court of Stuttgart, an 
obscurity which corresponded with the character of King 
William. The Prussian envoy to this court was altogether 
unable to see his way clearly ; now one of the ministers would 
assure him that in essentials the court was in complete 
sympathy with the Carlsbad decrees, and now again the king 
would express ultra-liberal sentiments to the Russian envoy. 1 
A similar uncertainty was betrayed in the choice of plenipoten- 
tiaries for the conference. Wintzingerode remained in Stuttgart 
for reasons identical with those which kept Rechberg in Munich ; 
he was unwilling to lose immediate contact with his king, 
and he desired to retain the decisive voice in the privy council. 
Count Mandelsloh, a good-natured, easy-going, rather dull old 
gentleman, whose political innocence was above suspicion, was 
furnished with credentials for Vienna, and yet Stuttgart policy could 
never work straightforwardly. This blameless envoy received 
as assistant, without voting power, Baron von Trott, a liberal 
Rhenish Confederate bureaucrat, a man after the Swabian 
king's own heart, shrewd, active, and ambitious. For some 
months past he had been regarded as King William's chief 
confidant, though no one could say how long he was likely 
to retain this position, for at the court of Stuttgart the change 
of roles was usually very rapid. In Vienna he was ill 
received from the first, for he had the reputation of being 
a Bonapartist, and was inclined to Wangenheim's trias plans ; 
Miinchhausen, the envoy of Electoral Hesse, actually refused 
to sit in council with a man who had once served as prefect 
under King Jerome. Being thus suspect on all hands, and in 
addition being on terms of personal enmity with his chief, it 
was impossible for Trott to play any part in the conferences, 
and it was only at intervals, when some trifling intrigue was 
initiated from Stuttgart, that he emerged from obscurity. 3 

Among the other plenipotentiaries, the most notable was 
Baron du Thil, the Darmstadt minister of state, a man of 
keen statesmanlike intelligence, reputed an ultra-conservative 
monarchist, but one who took a freer and more accurate view 

1 Kiister's Reports, September 21, October 23, November 29. and following 
dates, 1819. 

* Kiister's Report, October 26, 1819. 

s Further details are given by Aegidi, The Final Act of the Vienna 
Ministerial Conferences, II, p. 62. 


History of Germany 

than did most liberals of the practical aims of the national 
policy and of the German vocation of the Prussian state ; here 
in Vienna he acquired among the Prussian statesmen a prestige 
which at a later date was to bear valuable fruit for Germany's 
unity. ' He too, however, always displayed anxiety when there 
was any talk of enlarging the powers of the Federation. Most 
of the other ministers held similar views, down to the good 
Fritsch, who represented the Ernestine court, and Senator Hach, 
the plenipotentiary of the free towns. This mood of the 
statesmen unquestionably harmonised with the sentiments of 
the nation. 

It was the curse of the Carlsbad policy that every increase 
of the federal authority was henceforward regarded as a danger 
to civic freedom. In a people in which a sense of national 
pride and in which thoughts of the fatherland were only just 
beginning to reawaken, it was inevitable that particularism 
should manifest itself with renewed energy now that the policy 
of centralisation was pursuing false aims. During these very 
days, W. J. Behr; the leader of the Franconian liberals, pub- 
lished in Wiirzburg a' writing upon The Influence of the 
Federation upon the Constitution of its Member States, which 
secured warm approval from the press and faithfully represented 
average liberal views. In this work, the particularist doctrine 
of the court of Munich was greatly surpassed. We find in it 
not a single word about a German nation, nor any allusion 
to the great tasks of civilisation which that nation could per- 
form with united energies alone. The dissolution of the Holy 
Empire and of the Confederation of the Rhine had proved, it 
was contended, the impracticability of a German national state. 
The Germanic Federation was merely a free association of 
co-existing peoples, which kept the peace one with another, 
and which combined for the joint defence of their safety 
against the foreign world ; but these peoples desired to retain 
their individual sovereignty unimpaired. The Federation had 
nothing whatever to do with the internal affairs of its member 
states, and since sovereignty and subordination are utterly 
incompatible, the only resource of the Federation against a 
recalcitrant member was exclusion. Woe unto us, said the 
author, if " the spirit of a national state comes to animate 
our German federation of states, leading it to lust after the 
exercise of supreme authority ! " The treatise closed with a 

1 Otterstedt's Report, Darmstadt, June 10, 1820, and subsequent dates. 


The Vienna Conferences 

panegyric on Bavaria's free constitution. Thus completely 
had the new constitutional glories expunged the memories of 
ten centuries of history ; the nation of the Othos and the 
Hohenstaufen had been dissolved into "coexisting peoples." 

Since Metternich and Bernstorff both felt that it was neces- 
sary to reckon with this strong particularist tendency, soon 
after the opening of the conferences there became manifest an 
unexpected transposition of parties. The great powers walked 
hand in hand with Bavaria, receiving in most cases the approval 
of those very minor states which had shortly before been mis- 
trustfully excluded from the Carlsbad deliberations. The two 
reactionary courts, on the other hand, which in Carlsbad had 
shown themselves most subservient, Baden and Nassau, formed 
the opposition in Vienna, playing there the part of " the Ger- 
man ultras," as Bernstorff phrased it. To Berstett's limited 
intelligence, the urgent grounds which forced the court of Vienna 
to walk cautiously seemed non-existent ; he thought only of 
Badenese domestic embarrassments, of the Carlsruhe Landtag 
which was shortly to reassemble, of the grand duke's angry 
exclamation, "It is better to be devoured by lions than by 
swine ! " As Bernstorff wrote, Berstett desired " to see his 
own work destroyed by federal intervention," and hoped for 
a comprehensive redrafting of the federal act which would 
impose strict limits upon the territorial constitutions ; as a 
minimum he wished for a new exceptional law to prohibit 
publicity of the proceedings of the chambers throughout the 
five years' duration of the Carlsbad decrees. 1 Vainly did 
Berstett's companion, the restless young Blittersdorff, bring the 
assistance of his incisive pen. Nos ultras soon became a 
nuisance even to their old Austrian patron. One after another 
of Berstett's plans came to nought, and at length he was 
reduced to attempting, by continually bringing forward fresh 
proposals, to postpone the end of the conferences, " hoping 
to inspire in the Badenese Landtag a wholesome sense of terror 
through the long continuance of the present meeting." 2 So 
remarkable were the bubbles arising out of the marsh of German 
federal policy. The statesman who thus expressly defended 
the necessity for a strong centralised authority was animated, 
not by a national sentiment, but by the dread of revolution, 

1 Bernstorff to Ancillon, November 30 and December 25, 1819. Berstett's 
Reports, Weech, Correspondence, pp. 34 et seq. 

2 Bernstorff's Report, April 9 ; Bernstorff to Ancillon, April 9, 1820. 

History of Germany 

and by the frank and excessive self-esteem of particularism ; 
as Bernstorff declared, he continually confused " the separate 
affairs of Baden with the loftier and more general concerns 
of the community." The issue of the Viennese negotiations 
filled these reactionary centralists with profound disgust. 
Blittersdorff wrote angrily : " By her half measures, Austria 
ensures the victory of the new ideas ; in this connection the 
Vienna final act may be stigmatised as the most disadvan- 
tageous charter of peace which has been signed by Austria for 
many years." 1 

Yet more passionate was the anger of Berstett's friend, 
Marschall of Nassau. He had expected that in Vienna the 
war of annihilation against the new constitutions would imme- 
diately break out ; and before the opening of the conferences 
he had drafted a memorial describing in glowing terms " the 
injurious and illegal characteristics " of the Wiirtemberg funda- 
mental law. Because this constitution was couched in the 
form of a convention, it was, by the doctrinaires of both parties, 
despite its extremely modest content, regarded as the master- 
piece of liberalism. Marschall conceived that he was listening 
to the alarm bells of revolt when the burghers of Stuttgart 
declared in an address : " Cultured Europe, from the banks 
of the Tagus to those of the Niemen, is united in accepting the 
principle that ruler and people cannot be conceived of without 
a convention of acquiescence." He insisted that in its very 
origin this constitution " pays homage to the democratic prin- 
ciple that is fermenting in Germany ; the maintenance and 
establishment of the internal repose of Germany are dependent 
upon its public disavowal." To the chief of the all-powerful 
Nassau bureaucracy, the anxiously restricted municipal freedom 
of the Swabians seemed an attempt " to republicanise the 
state from below upwards " ; and since he himself was quarrel- 
ling with the Landtag about the domains, he regarded it as 
an indignity that King William, following his father's example, 
had conceded to the state his proprietary rights in the crown- 
lands, wrathfully exclaiming, " A German prince has declared 
his family property to be national property ! " a He was 

1 Blittersdorff, Observations upon the Present Political Crisis, November 3, 

* Marschall, Observations uy.on the Wiirtemberg Constitution, Vienna, 
November 17. 1819, published by Aegidi, Zeitschrift fur deutsches Staatsrecht, I, 
P- 149- 


The Vienna Conferences 

speedily to learn how unfavourable was the air of Vienna to 
such designs. Noting the confidential understanding between 
Bernstorff and Zentner, he was confirmed in his old opinion 
that "the political ferment" issued from this detested North 
German great power, and he stormed with uncontrolled violence 
against the Prussian minister. 

The representatives of the Guelph houses, Miinster and 
Hardenberg, as might be expected of these retainers of the high 
tones, held very similar views to the two reactionary hotspurs, 
but they had no desire to embroil themselves with the great 
powers. How different was now Metternich's position from 
what it had been in Carlsbad. It is true that he continued 
to seem to the world the admired leader of German statesmen, 
and in honour of the master the laborious work, which after 
six months' negotiations was at length brought to a conclusion, 
was dated May I5th, Metternich's birthday. But whereas in 
Carlsbad he had played the chief, in Vienna before almost 
every important step he came to an agreement with Bernstorff, 
who here for the first time displayed an entirely independent 
attitude, and who for his part held secret council with Zentner. 
The Austrian did not allow his disappointment to find 
expression, and in his letters continued to boast as usual of 
the undisturbed triumphs of his new diplomatic campaign. 
In reality, the policy of compromise which was followed at 
these conferences, while it expressed the moderate sentiments 
of the Berlin cabinet, was far from conforming to the intimate 
wishes of the Hofburg ; for everyone knew that the two ultras, 
Berstett and Marschall, together with Plessen of Mecklenburg, 
were Metternich's favourites. 

Supported by Kiister, the second Prussian plenipotentiary, 
who had been familiar with the mode of thought of the minor 
courts since the days of Ratisbon, Bernstorff, by prudent pliancy 
and open good feeling, speedily acquired an extremely favourable 
position, so that Zentner termed him " the soul of the con- 
ferences." l He avoided speaking too frequently in the plenary 
assemblies, for Prussia held the presidency in eight of the ten 
committees which prepared the labours of the conferences, and 
was represented in all ten of them. The net outcome of the 
tedious deliberations could not be expected to be otherwise than 
scanty. Their course proved for all time that a federation which 
admits the sovereignty of its member states must renounce any 

J Zastrow's Report, Munich, July 5, 1820. 

313 Y 

History of Germany 

idea of a healthy federal development. Nevertheless an agree- 
ment was secured concerning the interpretation of several of the 
articles of the federal act which had been all too concisely drafted, 
and also regarding certain general principles for the constitutional 
life of the individual states. The amplification of the federal law 
which was here effected was at least somewhat more practical 
than the federal act itself ; and what was above all fortunate was 
the complete avoidance of any arbitrary steps which might cause 
fresh offence to the embittered nation. 

The foundation upon which the conferences themselves rested 
was far from being legally incontestable in the light of the federal 
constitution. Just as modestly as in his letter of invitation did 
Metternich declare, when opening the conferences on November 
25th, that the assembly was not a congress, and could not properly 
speaking come to any definite decisions, but had met merely in 
order "in a preparatory but binding manner" to agree upon a 
common treatment of federal affairs ; it did not purpose any 
limitation of the sphere of activity of the Bundestag, but proposed 
to define the scope and boundaries of this sphere. Since the Bundes- 
tag had as yet failed to bring into being any of the promised 
organic institutions, it was certainly an obvious thought to come 
to the assistance of this body by a confidential deliberation 
among the leading statesmen, a deliberation which could not be 
paralysed either by the tedious procedure of the Bundestag or by 
the hocus-pocus of sending for instructions. In Carlsbad, only 
one party had been present ; while here in Vienna the entirety 
of the members of the Federation were represented. But article 
10 of the federal act had expressly assigned to the federal 
assembly, as the first business of that body, the drafting of the 
fundamental laws. Should the Bundestag be deprived of this 
task, its prestige, which in any case had been profoundly reduced 
since the September decrees, would be completely destroyed, 
and the hopeless futility of the German central authority would 
be proclaimed to the entire world. What a ludicrous spectacle : 
whilst in Vienna negotiations were proceeding concerning the 
structure of the federal constitution, the highest German authority 
quietly enjoyed its recess from the end of September until 
January 20th ; and then Count Buol, who had meanwhile 
received the commands of the Vienna assembly, proposed a 
further prorogation until April 10. Vainly did semi-official news- 
paper articles endeavour to appease public opinion by the assur- 
ance that the committees were still unceasingly at work ; the 


The Vienna Conferences 

nation knew just as well as the federal envoys themselves that the 
machine in Frankfort was completely at a standstill. 1 During a 
period of seven months there was but one occasion on which the 
Bundestag gave a notable sign of life, and this was when it requested 
the French court to suppress the Elsasser Patriot, a joint organ of 
the liberals on both banks of the Rhine. 2 

Meanwhile matter for discussion at the Vienna conferences 
continued to accumulate. The first committee, appointed to 
determine the competence of the Federation, found itself compelled 
to elucidate almost all the difficult questions of principle involved 
in the federal law, and quite spontaneously the problem arose 
for consideration whether it was not desirable that the principles 
thus agreed upon should be assembled in a great federal 
constitutional law. After the majority had quietly come to 
an understanding upon the matter, on March 4th Metternich 
proposed that out of the articles upon which an agreement had 
here been secured there should be compiled a supplementary 
act to the federal act, which should then, " in conformity with 
article 10 of the federal act," be submitted to the Bundestag for 
formal ratification. 

Thus in conformity with article 10 this same article was to 
be suspended, and the drafting of the fundamental laws, which 
was the privilege of the Bundestag itself, was to be simply 
transferred to a ministerial conference concerning which the 
federal act had not a word to say ! Not even Metternich had 
ever before interpreted the prescriptions of the German federal 
law so boldly. What did it matter to him that as recently as 
November he had declared that nothing more was contemplated 
than a friendly discussion between the federated governments ? 
He now confidently maintained that the authority of this minis- 
terial assembly was supreme, that of the Bundestag subordinate 
merely. Yet however certain it was that the Austrian proposal 
was open to serious objections from the legal point of view, this 
proposal was an adroit diplomatic way out of the difficulty, for 
it offered the simplest means of securing a definite result from the 
tedious negotiations, and at the same time of thrusting the 
Bundestag completely on one side. This latter aim was one which 
Metternich had continuously in view, for he was profoundly dis- 
quieted by the medley of parties in the Eschenheimer Gasse. 
Neither Count Buol nor his Prussian colleague was competent to 

1 Goltz's Reports, January 18 and 25, 1820. 

2 Goltz's Reports, February 15 and April 27, 1820. 


I li story of Germany 

control the envoys of the lesser federal states. The recall 
of Goltz, who earnestly desired to escape from the incessant 
bickering at Frankfort, had for some time been under con- 
sideration ; but no suitable successor was forthcoming, for 
Solms-Laubach was regarded by the Vienna court as suspect, 
while the king considered Hatzfeldt unsuitable, for he was 
a Catholic, and Prussia must act at the Bundestag as leader 
of the Protestant courts. For the present, therefore, tho 
inadequate representation was left unaltered, and Goltz meroly 
received instructions that where questions of federal law were 
involved he was to seek the advice of the learned Kliiber. 1 The 
leaderless Bundestag was simply impossible to count on. If it 
should be allowed to rediscuss the Vienna agreement, it was easy 
to foresee that Wangenheim and his liberal friends, with or with- 
out permission from their courts, would unfurl the standard of 
the opposition, and that their speeches, disseminated by the pub- 
lished minutes throughout the length and breadth of the land, 
would stir up public opinion. Amid the anarchy of this Federa- 
tion anything was possible, even a struggle between the federal 
envoys and their respective ministerial chiefs. Such a misfortune 
could only be avoided by settling matters once for all in Vienna, 
and by forcing the Bundestag once more, as in the previous 
autumn, to yield to the force of accomplished facts. To this 
had the Germanic Federation come in five brief years : the most 
trifling emendation of its fundamental law could be secured in 
no other way than by the evasion and humiliation of its highest 

The so-called final act, which was now, in accordance with 
Metternich's proposal, compiled out of the resolutions that had 
been formulated, contained in the thirty-four articles of its first 
part detailed prescriptions concerning the nature and the sphere 
of activity of the Federation. Almost every sentence of these 
general propositions was a triumph of particularism. In the first 
sitting, Metternich had continued to speak of the Bundestag as 
the supreme legislative authority of the Federation, and promised 
that the sovereignty of each individual state should be " restricted 
only in so far as was demanded by the aim of Germany's unity." 
Zentner immediately entered a protest, to the effect that the 

1 Bernstorff to Hardenberg, February 19, April 3 and 17 ; Hardenberg's and 
Bernstorfi's Requests to the king, July 18 and August 2 ; Hardenberg to the 
king. August 5 ; Cabinet Councillor Albrecht to BernstorfT, September 27, 1820. 

The Vienna Conferences 

phrase " German unity " gave occasion for misunderstandings, 
and that a supreme legislative authority was impossible in a 
federation. Metternich at once gave way, and answered pro- 
pitiatingly that of course he had thought only of legislation 
in accordance with general agreement. The tone thus set 
was maintained by the majority throughout the subsequent 
negotiations ; the final act declared the Germanic Federation 
to be an association based upon international law, a community 
of independent states with reciprocally equal treaty rights a 
conception which to the court of Wiirtemberg actually seemed 
to err on the side of undue unification. Yet the honest Fritsch 
sometimes felt sick at heart when he saw the German common- 
wealth thus volatilised into a loose relationship of mutual agree- 
ments ; in this way, he wrote complainingly, these sovereign 
independent states would make their subjects so unhappy that 
the demand for unity would become a popular movement and 
would lead to a popular revolution. Nevertheless the envoy of 
the Ernestines in the end heedlessly adhered to the decisions 
of the majority. Nor did Bernstorff oppose the particularist 
interpretation of the federal law, for this interpretation indis- 
putably corresponded to the wording and to the spirit of the 
federal act. It sufficed him that beneath these doctrinaire 
general articles there was after all concealed a practically valu- 
able decision. Article 6 permitted the cession of sovereign rights 
in favour of a federal ally, and in this way Prussia, without the 
majority becoming cognisant of the fact, gained a free hand for 
the treaties of accession to the Prussian customs system. 

The Bundestag was to represent the Federation " in its 
entirety " ; the federal envoys remained, " unconditionally 
dependent " upon their sovereigns, being responsible to the latter 
alone for obedience to instructions and for the conduct of business 
(article 8). The aim of this prescription was at once to prevent 
any independent action on the part of the members of the Bundes- 
tag and to make it impossible for the Landtags to interfere in 
the proceedings of the federal assembly. But herein it became 
manifest how incompetent a congress of diplomats is to under- 
take difficult legislative tasks. Since Zentner, Hach, and 
Berg, were the only experienced lawyers attending the con- 
ferences, the work of these proved in matter of form no less 
defective than had been the federal act, and the wording of 
article 8 betrayed the unsteady hands of juristic amateurs. This 
article forbade the territorial assemblies from calling the federal 


History of Germany 

envoys to account, but did not forbid them to take their 
constitutional ministers to task concerning the nature of the 
instructions sent to Frankfort, and it was speedily to become 
apparent that the conference had served only to enrich the federal 
law with a new insoluble problem. So long as the Federation 
continued to exist, no definite answer was ever found to the 
difficult question whether the Landtags were entitled to exercise 
an indirect influence upon the course of federal policy. 

Party feeling ran high when the constitutional unanimity 
of the federal decisions now came up for discussion. Berstctt 
and Marschall put forth all their eloquence, demanding majority 
decisions upon every question which did not transcend the 
essential purpose of the Federation, and giving clearly to under- 
stand that they still hoped at the appropriate time, by means 
of a majority vote, to secure the passing of a federal customs- 
law and of a federal decree concerning the rights of the 
Landtags. 1 It was the arriere pensee of these remarkable 
"Unitarians" which made it necessary for the Prussian minister 
to take his stand upon the specifications of the federal act ; just 
as little would he sacrifice his customs-law to the preferences of 
the Bundestag majority as would Zentner sacrifice the Bavarian 
constitution. As long as the minor states, comprising barely 
a sixth of the nation, could outvote the other five-sixths, the 
preposterous right of the Liberum Veto remained an indispensable 
resource for the more vigorous states. The unhappy experiences 
of recent years had put this matter beyond doubt, and for this 
reason Hardenberg, who in Teplitz had still thought of enlarging 
the rights of the federal majority, had long since changed his 
mind. Even Metternich now recognised the impracticability of 
his Teplitz plans. He warned the assembly against attempting 
to transform the federation of states into a federal state, and 
vigorously protested against the obnoxious expression Li be nun 
Veto on the ground that the right of veto was inseparable from 
sovereignty. Prussia suggested an intermediate course. Should 
an organic institution, while supported by a majority at the 
Bundestag, fail to secure unanimous acceptance, the states of 
the majority were to be rendered competent to enter into an 
agreement among themselves, resembling the concordats of Old 
Switzerland. The proposal was rejected, for the formation of 
dangerous separate leagues (Sondcrbundc) was dreaded. The 
upshot was that in essentials there was retained the prescription 

1 Bcrnstorff's Report, April 16, 1820 . 

The Vienna Conferences 

of article 7 of the federal act which demanded unanimity for 
all fundamental laws and organic institutions. The solitary 
advantage secured by the lengthy discussion was an obscure 
interpretation of the obscure expression " organic institutions " ; 
this was to signify " permanent institutions as means for the 
fulfilment of the declared aims of the Federation." 

Equally paltry was the outcome of the laborious delibera- 
tions concerning the so-called " permanent jurisdiction." How 
strange had been the change of roles. Prussia, which at the 
Vienna congress had been the most ardent advocate of a per- 
manent federal court of justice, now insisted upon the precise 
wording of the federal act no less definitely than did Bavaria, 
the old opponent of federal jurisdiction, and proposed that since 
the federal law recognised only an arbitral method of procedure, 
every voice of the inner council should nominate a distinguished 
jurist as arbitral judge. From these seventeen, the contending 
parties should in each individual case elect five judges, 
and certain additional guarantees should be given for the 
impartiality of the arbitral decision. Metternich, on the other 
hand, who five years earlier had cheerfully sacrificed federal 
jurisdiction to Bavarian opposition, now gave secret support to 
the North German petty states, all of which, with suspicious zeal, 
demanded the institution of a permanent federal tribunal. 

Every member of the conference knew where was to be found 
the key of this enigma. In reality the dispute had nothing to do 
with federal jurisdiction, but concerned the Prussian customs-law, 
which overhung Prussia's smaller neighbours like a threatening 
cloud. Since the regular exercise of judicial powers was not 
within the competence of the Federation, it was not now suggested 
(as Humboldt had still hoped five years earlier) that the proposed 
permanent jurisdiction should take the place of the old imperial 
court of chancery, but that it should serve merely to settle 
disputes between the federal states. What a piece of good luck 
it would be for Electoral Hesse, Nassau, Mecklenburg, Anhalt, and 
the Thuringian states, if they were to be empowered to bring 
their innumerable grievances against the Prussian customs 
system before a permanent federal court consisting of sixteen 
non-Prussians and one Prussian ! In this manner, perhaps, the 
dreaded Prussian enclave system could be bloodlessly abolished 
by way of civil procedure. Kiister rejoined, not without irony, 
that a permanent federal tribunal endowed with so limited a 
sphere of activity " would for most of the time sit about doing 


History of Germany 

nothing, and perhaps its very existence would serve to awaken 
and foster litigiousness." Since Prussia and Bavaria stood 
firm, the conference at length decided to content itself " for 
the present " with the existing arbitral ordinance of 1817, by 
which disputes were to be submitted to the supreme court of a 
federal state chosen by both parties. Bernstorff was but half 
satisfied with his success ; he knew how little an ordinary law 
court of the German highlands was fitted for the decision of 
difficult questions of constitutional law ; but none the less he 
regarded it as a definite gain that the proposed federal court, of 
necessity partisan through and through, should not have come 
into existence. 1 

The new federal executive organisation, which henceforward 
took the place of the provisional arrangements of Carlsbad, was 
conceived in the same spirit of particularist caution. It was 
to be the rule that the Bundestag should deal only with the 
governments, and should have executive powers in relation to 
these alone. Solely if the government of one of the federal 
states should actually apply for help to the Federation, or in 
case of open revolt, was the Federation empowered to take direct 
proceedings against subjects. 

In all these deliberations, Bernstorff had gone hand in hand 
with Zentner. Very different was the party grouping in respect 
of the second portion of the final act, which, in eighteen articles 
(articles 35-52), furnished prescriptions concerning the foreign 
policy and the military system of the Federation. In these 
" military-and-political questions," Prussia now, as always, 
espoused the cause of federal unity. In Hardenberg's view, effec- 
tive protection against the foreign world was the solitary advantage 
which the nation might hope to secure in the field of federal 
policy, which had proved so sterile as far as internal affairs were 
concerned. King Frederick William was still unable to reconcile 
himself to his failure to secure the entry of Posen and Old Prussia 
into the Federation. All the more earnestly, therefore, did he 
now desire to conclude a perpetual defensive alliance between 
the Germanic Federation, Austria, and Prussia ; if this should 
prove impossible, he demanded that there should at least be 
furnished a definite answer to the question which still remained 
unsettled, what precisely was a federal war. If one of the two 
great powers should be attacked in its non-German provinces, 

1 Bernstorff to Goltz, March 25, 1820. 

The Vienna Conferences 

the Federation must be empowered to declare war by a simple 
majority vote, and if no such decision were taken, the states of 
the minority must not be forbidden to furnish help to the 
attacked party. The king had chiefly in mind his own unpro- 
tected eastern frontier, but thought also of Austrian Italy, for 
in this matter he was in agreement with the chancellor, holding 
that any attack upon Austria endangered Prussia as well. His 
intentions aroused general and vigorous opposition. The middle- 
sized states already performed their federal duties unwillingly, and 
were far from inclined to submit, to any increase of the burden. 
On this occasion even Zentner was reserved and almost hostile ; 
his conduct showed that the court of Munich was secretly pre- 
pared, in certain circumstances, to pursue the policy of armed 
neutrality as leader of a pure German federation. 1 The foreign 
world also set itself in motion. The foreign envoys to the Bun- 
destag all described to their courts in lively colours the imminent 
menace of a great central European national league ; the St. 
Petersburg cabinet showed itself greatly annoyed at the lack of 
confidence on the part of its German ally ; even friendly England 
confidentially warned the court of Vienna that it was necessary 
to avoid driving the czar into the arms of France. 1 In view of 
all those considerations, Metternich could not make up his mind 
to give unconditional support to the Prussian proposal ; he was 
afraid of " compromising the Federation in the eyes of Europe." 

After an obstinate and sordid dispute, the conference 
agreed that federal declarations of war would be made only 
by a two-thirds majority, in plenum. Offensive wars, on the 
other hand, begun by any federal state with non-German posses- 
sions acting as a European power, were to remain " completely 
foreign to the Federation." Upon the angry requisition of 
Bavaria and Wurtemberg, the clause just quoted, to give it a 
more formal significance, had to be embodied in a special article 
(46). 3 Not till after this, in article 47, came the prescription 
for the case of an attack upon the non-federal provinces of German 
federal states. In such an event, the Bundestag might decide by 
a simple majority in the inner council that the federal 
domain was endangered, and might then proceed to declare a 
federal war in the customary manner. There was no formal 

1 Bernstorff's Report, January 29, 1820. 

~ Bernstorff's Reports, December 7, 1819, January 9, 1820 ; Bernstorfi to 
Ancillon, March 4 ; Krusemark's Report, March 5, 1820. 
3 Bernstorff's Report, April 9, 1820. 


History of Germany 

prohibition against the participation by individual federal states 
in the European wars of the German great powers, and such 
participation was consequently permitted, since the individual 
powers retained the right to conclude alliances. The king of 
Prussia was but ill-pleased by the partial success of his negotia- 
tors, and Metternich consoled him with a reference to the future, 
in which perhaps there might be concluded a perpetual alliance 
between Germany, Austria, Prussia, and the Netherlands. 1 It 
was not until a much later date, when the policy of peaceful 
dualism was shattered, that it was learned in Berlin what a scourge 
Prussia had manufactured for herself with this article 47, and 
how readily it could be misused by the majority of the Bundestag 
in order to involve the North German great power in the wars 
of the house of Austria. At this moment it would not have been 
possible to understand such fears. It was by all parties regarded 
as axiomatic that Austria and Prussia would always go hand 
in hand, and that the minor states would always prefer a con- 
venient neutrality. 

Not even in Vienna was the matter of the federal military 
system finally settled, for Austria dealt with the affair with her 
customary slackness. All that was decided was that the con- 
tingents of the smallest federal states should consist solely of 
infantry. Once again, as previously in Frankfort, Wolzogen 
had to conduct interminable negotiations with his colleague 
Langenau concerning the federal fortresses ; but although the 
king, now as before, declared himself prepared, in accordance with 
Austria's previously expressed wishes, to vote for the fortification 
of Ulm, Metternich displayed no inclination to offend his South 
German neighbours by such proposals. The petty states even 
endeavoured to apply to the garrisons of the federal fortresses 
the sacred principle of the unconditional equality of all members 
of the Federation, and this although Prussia was justified by the 
terms of the European treaties in occupying Luxemburg jointly 
with the Netherlands, and Mainz jointly with Austria. With much 
labour and pain Prussia at length secured an agreement that 
these treaties should be recognised ; and that Mainz, Luxemburg 
and Landau should be taken over by the Federation. As regards 
the fourth federal fortress, on the other hand, it was again 
impossible to come to terms. High Germany still remained 
without military protection, and the house of Rothschild continued 
to reap usurious gains by the use of the money which had been 

1 Hardcnbcrg's Instruction to Bernstorff, January 22, 1820. 

The Vienna Conferences 

provided for the German fortresses. 1 How accurate a description 
had the crown prince Louis of Bavaria given of this federal policy, 
directed towards essentially false aims, when in his marvellous 
lapidary style he said : " Are we not harnessing our horse the 
wrong way about ? We seem to oppose unity where unity ought 
to exist, against the foreign world ; whereas we eagerly seek unity 
in internal affairs for the suppression of freedom ! " He did not 
know that his beloved Bavaria had in the matter of the federal 
military system proved just as refractory as the other kingdoms 
of the Confederation of the Rhine, and that Prussia alone had 
honestly and earnestly aimed at the defence of the fatherland. 

The third portion of the final act (articles 53-65) opened with 
the statement, " The independence of the members of the Federa- 
tion excludes, in general, the exercise of any influence by the 
Federation in the internal affairs of its members." It was only 
regarding the rights of subjects, about which the federal act had 
already given assurances, that the final act furnished certain 
" general provisions," the application of these being, however, 
expressly reserved for the individual states. In this connection, 
of course, the momentous article 13 of the federal act demanded 
the first consideration. To all the members of the conference 
it seemed beyond question that this article could be interpreted 
solely in a rigidly monarchical spirit ; except for Trott and 
Fritsch, not one of them was suspect of liberal inclinations. The 
ultra-conservative sentiments of the assembly were greatly rein- 
forced when, in the course of the winter, alarming intelligence 
began to pour in from southern and western Europe. In January, 
1820, a revolt broke out in the Spanish army ; in February 
occurred the murder of the Due de Berry, the heir to the Bourbon 
throne ; the edifice of legitimacy was crumbling everywhere, and 
the Bundestag dolorously agreed with Count Reinhard, who 
reported the assassination which had taken place in Paris, when he 
said, " Such an occurrence will cause the whole of civilised Europe 
to mourn." * Immediately afterwards, a sinister conspiracy was 
discovered in London, the disturbance spread all over Spain, and 
involved Portugal as well. The revolution once more raised its 
head in every corner of the world. All the more firmly was the 

1 BernstorfFs Reports, January 31, March 12 and 18, April 30, May 7 and 15, 

3 Reinhard, Note to the federal presidential envoy, February 18, Reply from 
the Bundestag, February 19, 1820. 

History of Germany 

determination maintained in Vienna to uphold the quiet of Central 
Europe. The conservatives of every land directed their hopeful 
glances towards the assembly of German statesmen. ' The 
Vienna conferences are the anchor of safety," said Richelieu to a 
plenipotentiary of Emperor Francis ; " by them, with God's help, 
\\ill be effected the preservation of the order of society." l 

None the less, even the proceedings concerning the represen- 
tative systems were characterised by that conciliatory caution 
with which the Viennese deliberations were stamped throughout. 
It was only the two ultras, Berstett and Marschall, who demanded 
a comprehensive interpretation of article 13 in the absolutist 
sense. 1 Bernstorff, on the other hand, raised the counter- 
consideration, that several of the German princes were already bound 
by solemn pledges. Zentner absolutely refused to discuss any 
alteration of the Bavarian constitution. Even the king of Den- 
mark, who had long hoped to abolish the feudal representative 
institutions of Schleswig-Holstein, at once had the declaration 
made that as a sovereign prince the form of his representative 
institutions was a matter for his own decision alone. Thus it 
happened that Metternich could not venture to return to 
the doctrine of representation expressed by him at Carlsbad. 
" We are not here engaged in renovation," he declared to one of 
his confidants ; "we are building afresh, nous ne revenons pas sur 
nos pas." He wrote to Rechberg in January saying that it was 
impossible to uproot the forms which had, unhappily, during the 
last three years been implanted in Germany ; let Wiirtemberg 
therefore, he said with a cynical humour which hardly concealed 
his ill-will, retain her constitution as a punishment ! 

The assembly felt that it was at least necessary for the nation 
to be appeased by the honourable fulfilment of article 13. Prussia 
therefore proposed that the Federation should furnish a general 
guarantee for the representative constitutions. Berstett opposed 
this, for the zealous centralist regarded the strengthening of the 
federal authority as open to serious objection, now that it might 
prove to the advantage of the rights of the nation. Since most of 
the other courts desired that the mediatisation of the nation should 
be strictly maintained, and that all direct contact between the 
Federation and its subjects should be carefully prevented, the 
conference was content with the indefinite prescription (article 54) 
that it was the duty of the Bundestag to see to it that article 13 

1 Krusemark's Report, March 27, 1820. 
- Bernstorff 's Report, December 25, 1819, 


The Vienna Conferences 

should not remain unfulfilled in any state of the Federation ; more- 
over, for every member of the Federation the right was reserved 
of demanding for its constitution a federal guarantee. This was 
followed by the well-meant proposal that the existing constitu- 
tions should be subject to alteration " only in accordance with 
the methods specified by these constitutions themselves." This 
suggestion was also opposed by Berstett as an attack upon the 
monarchical principle. Bernstorff, too, now showed some anxiety, 
on the ground that no one could say with certainty what 
constitutions still really existed in Germany ! Was Prussia to 
pledge herself that the pitiable vestiges of the feudal estates in her 
old territories were to be abolished only with the consent of these 
estates ? In that case a constitution for the realm as a whole 
would be impossible. " The new constitution," wrote the 
chancellor to Bernstorff, " must issue from the will, the wisdom, 
and the justice of the king alone." He therefore demanded 
complete freedom for the Prussian crown, and upon Bernstorff's 
proposal the conference gave article 56 the unimpeachable 
phrasing that "representative constitutions existing in recognised 
efficiency " could be altered only in accordance with constitutional 
methods. 1 

Next came the principal article of the new German consti- 
tutional law. The " monarchical principle," which in Carlsbad, 
in accordance with Wurtemberg's proposal, had secured general 
recognition, and which was in fact essential to the existence of this 
federation of princes, was formally recognised as the rule for all 
the German territorial constitutions. Article 57 specified : " The 
entire state-authority must be centred in the supreme head of 
the state, and it is only in the exercise of certain definite rights 
that by a representative constitution the sovereign can be bound 
to accept the co-operation of the estates." Great was the delight 
of Gentz when the committee of the conferences had agreed upon 
this article. For so long a time he had been conducting a paper 
warfare against Montesquieu's tripartition of authority and 
Rotteck's popular sovereignty ; now he beheld all these anarchical 
doctrines " irrevocably overthrown " by a solemn decision of 
the German areopagus ; and since, judging after his kind as a 
publicist, he overestimated the importance of such struggles in 
the field of pure theory, he wrote with arrogant joy in his diary, 
under date December 14, 1819, " One of the greatest and worthiest 

1 Instruction from the Chancellor, December 25 ; Bernstorff's Report, Decem- 
ber 31, 1819. 


History of Germany 

results of the negotiations of our time a day more important than 
that of Leipzig!" His loyal follower, Adam Miiller, also desired 
that the precious article should be adopted into the code of the 
general European constitutional law, and henceforward for three 
decades article 57 was by some passionately attacked and by 
others passionately defended from German professorial chairs as 
" the motto of the monarchical system." Its practical value was 
incomparably smaller than these doctrinaires assumed. Once 
again the amateur lawyers of the conferences had failed to find 
a definite legal form of expression for their sound political ideas. 
The wording of the article seemed so elastic that in case of need 
every one of the existing constitutions could be considered 
compatible with it, and Bavaria could agree to it just as readily 
as Saxony and Hanover. This announcement of the monarchical 
principle effected absolutely no change in existing facts ; it was 
only with the system of purely parliamentary government, which 
in Germany now first began to secure isolated and impotent 
advocates, that the article was irreconcilable. 

A like obscurity of ideas upon constitutional law was 
displayed when the conference turned to consider the right of the 
Landtags to vote supply. The deliberators vaguely recognised 
that no well-ordered system of national administration would 
be possible if the popular representatives were to be empowered 
at their discretion to veto any item of national expenditure. 
But as yet there had been no thorough discussion, either theoretical 
or practical, of the difficult problems of constitutional budgetary 
rights. No one had as yet mooted the simple question whether 
in reality the voting of the budget was the legal title in virtue of 
which the constitutional state provided for its expenditure ; no 
one had drawn attention to the indisputable fact that by far the 
larger moiety of the expenditure of the German states (the 
payment of regular salaries, interest on the national debts, 
etc.) reposed upon older laws ; and that consequently the popular 
chambers did not possess the right to overide these laws by the 
arbitrary refusal of supply. Gropingly the conference endeavoured 
to find a way out of the difficulty. Marschall proposed that the 
representative chambers should not be competent to refuse supply 
where this was indispensable to the fulfilment of the existing 
administrative laws. Yet thoughtful members of the conference 
could not but feel that the proposal of this extremist might readily 
be misused for the destruction of the budgetary rights of the 
Landtags. Ultimately it was considered advisable to pass over 


The Vienna Conferences 

this thorny question in silence, and to let the matter rest with 
the self-evident declaration (article 58) that no representative 
constitution could restrict the sovereigns in the fulfilment of their 
federal duties. 

Among all the prescriptions of the new constitutions, to 
the timidities of the diplomatic mind there was none which 
seemed so dangerous as the publicity of the proceedings of the 
Landtags. There was full agreement in Vienna, as there had been 
in Carlsbad, that this demagogic monstrosity was utterly inaccept- 
able. The ministers of the constitutional states gave vent to 
loud complaints concerning the unbridled character of parlia- 
mentary eloquence. 1 Everyone agreed that the unrestricted 
publication of such speeches conflicted with the wholesome 
provisions of the new press law ; and Metternich expressed the 
opinion that the result of this abuse would be the irremediable 
destruction of every state with a population of less than ten 
millions. Nevertheless Zentner objected to the idea of any 
alteration in the Bavarian constitution. On this occasion also 
the ultras were defeated, and a half -measure was again adopted. 
Article 59 provided that the procedure of the Landtags must be 
careful to secure that, neither in the actual debates in the 
chambers, nor in the subsequent publication of these, should the 
legal limitations upon freedom of speech be transcended. The 
net result of all this was that the desired transformation of 
the German constitutional law amounted to very little more 
than empty words. 

For the mediatised, the final act conceded the right of appeal 
to the Federation. All the other promises of the second portion 
of the federal act, however, after fruitless discussions, were 
referred to the Bundestag " for further elaboration " for this 
humorous postponement until the Greek kalends remained always 
the ultimate resource when no agreement could be secured. It 
was only in respect of the paragraph in the federal act (article 18) 
which promised that common measures should be taken to maintain 
copyright that Metternich permitted himself a further notable 
proposal. Literary piracy, having been expelled from Prussia, 
continued to flourish undisturbed in Austria and in most of the 
petty states. Every volume of the great Brockhaus encyclo- 
paedia was immediately pirated by a Stuttgart firm, and it was 
in vain that the rightful publisher imprinted upon the title pages 
of the new edition Calderon's motto, " As the author wrote, not 

1 Bernstorff's Report, December 12, 1819. 

History of Germany 

as the thief printed." In the circles of the Old Wiirtemberg 
officialdom the favouring of reprinting was actually regarded as 
a patriotic duty, because the practice brought so much money 
into the country ; and even among the lawyers the view still 
largely prevailed that reprinting was a natural right, because the 
idea of literary property was incapable of legal definition. A 
number of booksellers of standing, led by Perthes and Brockhaus, 
after vainly stating their grievances to the Bundestag, petitioned 
the Vienna conferences, Brockhaus recommending that a super- 
visory authority should be established in Leipzig, resembling the 
French "Direction de rimprimerie et de la Librairie." 

The harmless proposal thus made by the honest liberal 
was now turned to the service of the aims of the higher police, 
this being done in an Austrian memorial which Metternich 
submitted to the conference. The memorial was unmistakably from 
the pen of Adam Miiller, who resided in Leipzig as Austrian 
consul-general. It started from the principle that the censorship 
and the protection of literary property were inseparably 
associated. Where freedom of the press prevailed, the book trade 
was altogether beyond the scope of the civil law, whereas by 
the censorship the Germanic Federation " adopted printed matter 
as its very origin into the complete nexus of civil law, and refused 
to recognise any state of ideas pursuing an independent course 
beside the real state." Consequently the association of German 
booksellers, whose existence had been tacitly tolerated for a 
considerable period, must be recognised as a formal corporation 
and must be subjected to the strict supervision of a federal 
authority in Leipzig. No other writings than those which had 
been registered at this directorate general would enjoy legal 
protection. German booksellers in foreign lands could also join the 
corporation as associates, but only if they belonged to a state 
in which the censorship existed, for it would be manifestly unjust 
to treat the " outlaw " publishers of England and France on equal 
terms with the legitimate booksellers of Germany and Russia 
Such was the Plan for the Organisation of the German Book Trade. 
The aim was unmistakable ; the censorship, which had as yet 
been introduced provisionally only, and for a term of five years, 
was quietly to be constituted a permanent institution of the 
federal law, and was to be recognised as the precondition of 
literary property. The conference, however, proved disinclined 
to strengthen the Carlsbad decrees, and the distinction between 
the legitimate and the outlaw booksellers was too subtle for it. 


The Vienna Conferences 

Adam Miiller's proposal was allowed to lie on the table, an 
instructive specimen of Austrian legal wisdom. 

The conference worked with unceasing diligence, although 
in pleasure-loving Vienna there was no lack of banquets and 
festivities. Day after day, at the long table in Metternich's 
anteroom, there assembled, now the committees, and now the 
plenum. It seemed as if the harvest had already been happily 
garnered when Wiirtemberg suddenly endeavoured to destroy 
the fruits of the long and laborious work of mutual adjustment. 
Ill-humouredly enough had King William hitherto given a free 
hand to his conservative minister Wintzingerode, who spoke with 
unconcealed contempt of " our admirable constitution," and who 
was endeavouring to regain the confidence of the two great 
powers. From time to time Metternich sent a didactic despatch to 
Stuttgart in order to strengthen the half-converted court in its 
good intentions, and in order to keep it in a state of salutary 
timidity by the display of the spectre of revolution. Writing to 
Trauttmansdorff, the Austrian envoy, he declared that in Germany 
the firm establishment of public order was even more urgently 
necessary than in France, for across the Rhine the revolutionary 
transformation of all property relationships had already been 
completed, " but the plans of the German demagogues are 
simultaneously directed towards a republic and an agrarian law." 
Then, in January, it was bruited abroad that the conference 
proposed to infringe the forms of the federal law, and simply to 
impose its decisions upon the Bundestag. 

So precious an opportunity of posing once more as the 
advocate of freedom, and of tripping up his serene princely 
colleagues, was one which King William found it impossible 
to forego. Count Mandelsloh immediately received instructions 
to declare that the king would never agree to such a plan, 
that the two great powers could not be allowed to ignore the 
Bundestag. This was an unpleasant task to impose upon the 
peace-loving envoy, who passed all his evenings quietly enjoying 
himself in Metternich's brilliant salon, who in his reports could 
never lavish enough praise on the " urbanity " of the great 
statesman, and who from time to time would interweave into 
his despatches some such profound statement as, " Here, too, 
in my opinion,^ sunset is an extremely interesting moment." 
Mandelsloh did not dare to carry out the command. Not 
until Metternich proposed that the decisions of the conferences 

329 z 

History of Germany 

should be incorporated in a federal supplementary act, not until 
March 4th, did the Wiirtemberger interpose the timid objection 
that it might be as well to secure the assent of the European 
powers which had signed the act of the Vienna congress. 
All the other envoys furiously protested against this view, 
so that Mandelsloh was forced to withdraw lu's observation. 
Meanwhile he had received express commands from Stuttgart 
that he was definitely to reject Metternich's proposal, and at 
length, on March 2Qth, he handed in a formal protest, appealing 
to the constitutional rights of the Bundestag, and referring once 
more to the possible veto of the guarantors of the congress act. 

The coup had been long prepared. Whilst Mandelsloh was 
endeavouring to secure support from among his colleagues in 
Vienna, Wintzingerode had written to Munich, where Lerchenfeld 
attempted for a time to support Wiirtemberg's undertaking. In 
Frankfort, Wangenheim hawked round a memorial among the 
federal envoys, urgently warning them of the danger that a new 
instrument was about to be introduced into the federal con- 
stitution. The king journeyed to Weimar to seek the assistance 
of Charles Augustus, and to influence the czar through the 
instrumentality of his sister-in-law, the grand duchess Maria 
Pavlovna. l The unexpected blow at first caused lively anxiety 
in Vienna. Many even believed that all their labour had been 
wasted, since the final act could be adopted only by a unanimous 
decision. The two great powers, however, immediately resolved 
to encounter the Wiirtemberger in earnest. "It is necessary," 
wrote Bernstorff, " to show this monarch, whose designs are but 
ill concealed, that he would display himself as the openly declared 
enemy of all the rest of Germany " ; and again, " he is endeavour- 
ing to break up our union, but this will lead only to his own 
disgrace ; we leave him as his only choice to join us, or else to 
leave the Federation as an enemy, for otherwise Capodistrias 
would triumph \" 2 

Prussia had, indeed, good ground for annoyance. After all 
that had happened during these months, with Wiirtemberg's volun- 
tary co-operation, this belated protest was merely a frivolous 
playing with the letter of the federal constitution, and the repeated 
reference to the foreign veto served to render the actions of 

1 Zastrow's Report, March 29 ; Goltz's Report, April 25 ; Bernstorfi's Report. 
April 9, 1820. 

3 Bernstorfi's Report, March 27; Bernstorfi to Ancillon, March 27, to 
Hardenberg, March 27, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

the Stuttgart court even more open to suspicion. Was all the 
weary and distressing business of the Viennese negotiations to be 
recommenced in Frankfort ? Were these princes who, through 
the instrumentality of their ministers, had just effected the long 
promised elaboration of the elements of the federal constitution, 
and who in doing this had conscientiously observed the voting- 
regulations of the Bundestag, now to have the completed work 
examined, and perhaps altered, by their own federal envoys ? 
Certainly the dignity of the Bundestag would suffer if it were 
compelled to adopt the Vienna decisions without discussion ; 
but what would become of the dignity of the German sovereigns 
if this congress of envoys, which was dependent solely upon the 
instructions of its mandataries, were to be allowed to exercise 
a higher authority, overriding that of a free union of all the German 
governments ? What result was likely to be secured by a renewed 
deliberation in Frankfort ? One only, that Wangenheim (sup- 
ported, perhaps, by the orators of the South German chambers) 
would subject the decision of the conference to malicious criticism, 
and ultimately, after arousing much vexation, would reluctantly 
adhere to the decision of the majority. Metternich thoroughly 
understood his opponent when he wrote to Emperor Francis, 
" The matter is to go through in the end, but the king desires it 
to appear as if he submitted to force." 

All the courts without exception shared this view. King 
William had no success in Weimar ; while the Bavarian ministerial 
council rejected Wiirtemberg's proposals, after Wrede, unques- 
tionably commissioned by King Max Joseph, had spoken decisively 
in favour of loyalty to the Federation. All the members of the 
conference exchanged written pledges not to separate until the 
final act had been definitively established, and not to tolerate 
any further discussion at the Bundestag. Austria undertook 
"to press the refractory court hard," as Bernstorff phrased it. 1 
Both Emperor Francis and Metternich wrote to Stuttgart, 
declaring most emphatically that the conference would never 
allow the Bundestag to undertake a revision of the agreement 
that had been secured ; moreover, the court of Vienna was far, 
they said, from proposing that the Vienna decisions should, like 
the Carlsbad decrees, be brought before the Federation as a 
presidential proposal, for, since all the members of the Federation 
had taken an equal share in the work, the Hofburg was unwilling 
to appear as the sole lawgiver. This language proved efficacious. 

1 Bernstorff's Reports, April 2 and 3, 1820. 

History of Germany 

In a smooth answer (April I4th), WinUingerode announced his 
assent to the views of the conference, and endeavoured to repre- 
sent the whole dispute as a misunderstanding. In order to build 
a golden bridge for the defeated enemy, the name " supplementary 
act," which was offensive to the Wurtembergers, was then 
suppressed, and it was further arranged that the final act should 
not be formally ratified in Vienna, but that this ratification should 
be effected subsequently in Frankfort, the act becoming a federal 
law in virtue of uniform instructions to the federal envoys. King 
William personally wrote a subservient reply to Emperor Francis, 
and since he had nevertheless to find some vent for his spleen 
on account of the reverse he had sustained, he overwhelmed 
Trott with distinctions, and shortly afterwards recalled the 
unhappy Mandelsloh with every sign of disfavour from his post 
as envoy to Vienna, an action which the Hofburg took much amiss 
as proof of ill-will. 1 

On May 24th the conferences were closed, and after the 
conclusion of the Viennese drama it was necessary that the 
satyrs of the Bundestag should begin their torch-dance. How 
many pointed observations regarding their inactivity had these 
unfortunates had to endure meanwhile from the liberal press. 
On April loth, the prolonged recess having at length come to an 
end, the Bundestag reassembled in private sitting, and resolved, 
in accordance with instructions received from Metternich, that 
it would continue for the present to hold private sittings only, 
since the Vienna conference was not yet finished. Meeting again 
on April 2oth, it was decided to hold a further private sitting a week 
later. Goltz, however, sadly admitted that this was only done 
" to palliate the enduring inactivity of the assembly in the eyes 
of the public " ; the state of affairs was distressing and was 
compromising before the world ; it would indeed be still worse if 
it were to devolve on the Bundestag to complete what had been 
left unfinished at Vienna, for then beyond question nothing 
would be accomplished ! Thus things went on, in inviolable 
privacy. Again and again the Prussian envoy complained of the 
" entire lack of matter for discussion." - An opinion from Wiir- 
temberg regarding the exterritoriality of the Mainz committee 
of inquiry, a notification from Denmark that two censors had been 
appointed for Holstein such state-secrets constituted the only 

1 Krusemark's Report, June 10 and 21 ; Kiister's Report, June 13 and July 4, 
i Sao. 

Goltz's Reports. April n and 25 ; Kiipfer's Reports, May 12 and 23, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

subject-matter of these confidential deliberations. At length, 
on June 8th, for the first time this year, the Bundestag held a 
public sitting. The assembly " formed itself into a plenum," 
and the Vienna final act was read. After a brief presidential 
address, the two great powers declared their assent, and subse- 
quently the representatives of the remaining sixty-one votes 
exhausted all the floral wealth of German official rhetoric in 
saying, as previously arranged, precisely the same thing in various 
different ways. Wiirtemberg alone was unable to refrain from 
prefacing its assent by a few malicious observations regarding 
the irregularity of the procedure. Wintzingerode felt that this 
partial contradiction was an infringement of the pledge that had 
been given, and therefore simultaneously assured the Austrian 
cabinet that the declaration had previously been sent to Count 
Mandelsloh in Vienna, but had unfortunately failed to arrive 
in time. Metternich administered a sharp reproof to the eternally 
quarrelling petty court, demanding why Wiirtemberg must once 
again disturb the general harmony " in a case where all wished 
the same thing." 1 Thus it was that on the fifth anniversary 
of the federal act the second and last fundamental law of the 
Germanic Federation was adopted. 

The best criticism of the work was to be found in the 
remarkable fact that, with the exception of the court of Stuttgart 
and of the two ultras Marschall and Berstett, all the participators 
were or appeared to be satisfied with it. Charles Augustus had 
contemplated the Viennese negotiations with profound anxiety, 
and had empowered Fritsch to withdraw under protest in case 
of need, should the conference endeavour to interfere with the 
internal life of the individual states. He now saw, however, 
that in essentials everything remained as before. Thankfully 
recognising the moderation of the great powers, in the spring 
he went to Prague to visit Emperor Francis, who gave the duke 
a very friendly reception, and seemed to have completely for- 
gotten his former anger against the Old Bursch. 2 The senates of 
the free towns, which were in such bad odour at the court 
of Vienna, also breathed more freely, and the ardent expressions 
of gratitude which at the close of the conferences Hach directed 
to the house of Austria were beyond question honestly meant. 

1 Wintzingerode to Metternich, June 9 ; Metternich's Reply, June 19 ; 
Kuster's Report. Stuttgart, June 20 and July 3, 1820. 

2 Piquet's Report, Vienna, June 21, 1820. 


History of Germany 

On his return to Munich, Zcntncr was overwhelmed with 
favours by the king, and was immediately appointed minister of 
state. ' The cabinet of Berlin was almost equally well satisfied. 
Bernstorff's straightforward and amiable conduct had overcome 
many of the prejudices against Prussia which the minor courts 
had continued to cherish even after the wars of liberation. 
The newly established friendly relationship with Bavaria seemed 
to promise a tranquil course for federal policy, and Ancillon wrote 
happily to Munich : " The final act has solved as successfully 
as was possible in the circumstances the problem of reconciling the 
sovereignty of the individual states with the power of the whole." 2 
It was impossible for Metternich to look back with like satis- 
faction upon the conferences at which so many of his most 
cherished plans had been quietly buried. Often enough he had 
had to learn what a tough passive resistance was offered in this 
motley German community of states to any far-reaching resolve. 
He knew that he was not speaking the truth when on May i7th 
he wrote to the Emperor, quite in the arrogant tone of Carlsbad, 
saying : "A word spoken in Austria becomes an inviolable law 
throughout Germany. The measures adopted at Carlsbad will 
now first enter upon their genuine life." Nevertheless he had 
good reasons for considering his success by no means entirely 
unsatisfactory. In the existing situation of Old Austria, in 
appearance so mighty and enviable, and yet staggering under 
the impossible task of ruling Germany, Italy, and Hungary, the 
Hofburg must rest content if the Germanic Federation should 
continue to make tolerably easy progress along the beaten track. 
Metternich's masterful conduct in Carlsbad had served only to 
alarm the minor courts, whereas his accommodating and con- 
ciliatory behaviour in Vienna secured for him a confidence which 
was far more valuable ; and at this moment, when the revolution 
broke out in southern Europe, it was indispensable to avoid all 
dissensions in Germany. In view of his personal character, and 
in view also of his position as Austrian statesman, it was 
impossible that he should ever cherish positive plans for the pro- 
motion of our national welfare. It would suffice, therefore, that 
at Frankfort, as of old at Ratisbon, the mill-wheel should continue 
to turn with its regular murmur ; it mattered not to him whether 
there was any corn being ground. In all seriousness, then, he 
wrote to a confidant that the conference had completed a colossal 

1 Zastrow's Report, June 7, 1820. 

Instruction to Zastrow, June 7, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

task in a very brief period of time. With unremitting diligence 
he had delivered addresses and drafted articles ; nor had his zeal 
been affected even by the death of a daughter to whom he 
was profoundly attached. It was not given to a Metternich to 
understand that all this empty verbalism was utterly futile. 

After the conferences the nation found itself in a situation 
neither better nor worse than before, and it accepted the final 
act with great indifference. The edifice of the federal constitution, 
marred in its very inception, was ripe for the hands of the house- 
breakers ; a few well meant but belated improvements were 
incompetent to render the structure secure. Yet how long a time 
was still to ensue before this generation, which had again relapsed 
hopelessly into particularism, was to recognise that what Ancillon 
extolled as " the reconciliation between the sovereignty of the 
individual states and the power of the whole" was neither more 
nor less than the quadrature of the circle ! 


The main business of the conferences ended in a colourless 
compromise which was without any profound subsequent effect. 
Far more influential was an episode of the Viennese delibera- 
tions, the struggle concerning the Prussian customs-law. When 
Hardenberg was giving Bernstorff instructions, he once more 
impressed upon the latter that a federal customs system was 
impossible in the existing posture of affairs in the German states. 
He went on to repeat word for word the reply he had just given 
to the delegates of List's Commercial Union, and had the following 
statement published in the Staatszeitung : " The only solution 
of the problem is that individual states which consider themselves 
injuriously affected by present conditions should endeavour to 
enter into agreements with those members of the Federation 
through whose action, in their view, their troubles arise, and that 
in this way uniform arrangements should spread from frontier to 
frontier, aiming at the increasing abolition of internal barriers of 
separation." l In this way the commercio-political programme 

1 In the year 1865, when K. L. Aegidi, in his work The Days before the Customs- 
Union, published for the first time this passage from Bernstorff s instructions, 
the true history of the customs-union had already been utterly obscured by par- 
tisan fables, and the information was generally received as an astonishing disclosure. 
Yet the instructions contained no secrets, being couched in the precise words which 
had previously been published in the year 1819 in most of the German papers, 
as Hardenberg's official answer to F. List and his associates. Vide supra, p. 292. 


History of Germany 

of the Prussian government once again found unambiguous 
expression. Prussia, while firmly maintaining the customs-law, 
declared herself ready to grant access to her own customs system, 
or to grant commercial advantages to other federal states, by way 
of free conventions ; but she also recognised (and herein con- 
sisted her superiority) that all complaints against internal tolls 
would get no further than empty words so long as the German 
states were unable to unite in the acceptance of a common 

Bernstorff was prepared to encounter vigorous resistance, for 
he knew that these sober-minded ideas of commercial policy, 
which have to-day become current coin, were then utterly 
incomprehensible to the great majority of the German courts. 
But the passionate outbreak of " odious prejudices " which 
he was fated to experience in Vienna exceeded his worst expecta- 
tions. The frank ignorance of political economy characteristic 
of the epoch, held its saturnalia at the conferences, and almost 
the entire force of German diplomacy declared war against the 
Prussian customs-law. As soon as commercial questions came 
up for discussion, there was a complete change in party grouping. 
In nearly all other matters the Prussian plenipotentiary was 
supported by the majority of the assembly, but in the commercio- 
political discussions he was as completely isolated as in the field 
of military affairs, being regarded as the disturber of the peace 
of German unity. The very same courts which in all other 
respects eagerly endeavoured to restrict the scope of federal 
activities, hoped by means of an illegal federal decree to annul 
that valuable reform which had bestowed upon Prussian Germany 
the advantages of free trade. The sophistical contention was 
reiterated on all hands that the Prussian law conflicted with 
article 19 of the federal act, although this article merely con- 
tained a promise that the Bundestag was to " deliberate " 
concerning commerce and traffic. 

Even well-wishers did not hesitate to declare that this 
unhappy law was the work of Prussia's evil genius, and that its 
universal outcome was to inspire the other states with mistrust 
and to alienate their affections. Prussia was sure to rue the day 
of its adoption ! Strangely enough, the attacks of the incensed 
advocates of German commercial freedom were directed exclu- 
sively against Prussia, although other states of the Federation 
were guilty of the same crimes. Bavaria, like Prussia, had quite 
recently (July 22, 1819) promulgated a new customs-law, but no 


The Vienna Conferences 

one troubled to censure this. Again, the Austrian prohibitive 
system did not merely impose upon all commodities burdens far 
greater than those imposed by the Prussian law, but it further 
absolutely forbade the import of certain German wares, and in 
especial of Franconian and Rhenish wines. Not one among the 
German ministers took any exception to this. Metternich declared 
roundly to Berstett, " I consider that Austria is quite unconcerned 
in the commercial question," and the Badenese statesman 
accepted this assertion as self-evident. 1 The very passion of 
the minor states in the matter served to show how closely their 
interests were intertwined with those of Prussia, and how little 
concern they had in Austrian affairs. Some of the ministers of 
the small states advocated the idea of federal customs. Fritsch, 
for instance, had been instructed by Charles Augustus to do his 
best to secure the abolition of all customs-barriers at the federal 
frontiers, while Berstett continued to hold the opinion that the 
Federation could best allay the national dissatisfaction by 
proclaiming general freedom of trade. Others desired merely 
that there should be free trade in products of German origin, but 
neither these nor the advocates of general free trade had any idea 
how their designs were to be carried out. Against the foreign 
world, said Berstett cheerfully, every one of the federal states 
should be entitled to enforce whatever tariff it pleased, for it would 
suffice if the internal customs-barriers were abolished. These 
genuine enthusiasts were joined by certain members of the Federa- 
tion who scarcely troubled to conceal their sordid motives. The 
duke of Coburg appeared in person in Vienna, resolved to veto 
the federal military organisation should he fail to secure unre- 
stricted freedom of trade, but since the conference did not come 
to an understanding about the federal military law, his ingenious 
plan was frustrated. Still more arrogant was Marschall's 
behaviour. With the keen instinct of hatred, he suspected that 
the new customs legislation, the work of the " demagogic sub- 
alterns" of the Berlin officialdom, might some day secure for 
Prussia the hegemony of the north ; by the destruction of the 
customs-law he hoped at once to humiliate this sinister state and 
to cut off the head of the snake of revolution. 

Like views animated the court of Cassel, which had opened 
a tariff war against Prussia without even attempting to come to 
an understanding with its neighbour. By the law of Sep- 
tember 17, 1819, the import and transit of many Prussian goods 

1 Berstett's Report to the grand duke, January 10, 1820. 

History of Germany 

was prohibited or subjected to heavy dues. The surplus yield 
of the increased duties was to be utilised for the advantage of tho 
Hessian men of business who had helped to frustrate the 
Prussian customs-law a promise which, it is needless to say, the 
avaricious elector never fulfilled. In Berlin there was at first 
some thought of retaliation. The king, however, adhered strictly 
to the promise that the Prussian customs were to apply chiefly 
to commodities of non-German origin, and desired whenever 
possible to avoid hostile measures against German states. More- 
over, an opinion was issued by the ministry of finance that the 
Hessian retaliatory duties were extremely injurious to Hesse 
herself, but innocuous to Prussia, and " need therefore be opposed 
for form's sake only." The envoy in Cassel privately expressed 
these views to the elector. Meanwhile Prussia constructed the 
high road from Cologne to Berlin by way of Hoxter and Pader- 
born, avoiding the passage through Hessian territory. The trade 
of the north-east with the south passed along the line from Hanau 
to Wiirzburg, and the Hessian roads were gradually deserted. 
The elector was forced to abate his retaliatory tariff, and all the 
more obstinately therefore did he desire to secure the passing of 
a federal decree which might destroy the customs-barriers of his 
invincible neighbour. 

Among the opponents of Prussia the most coarsely outspoken 
of all was Duke Ferdinand of Coethen, a vain and frivolous 
man, who in the year 1806 had been forced to leave the Prussian 
military service on the ground of proved incapacity, and who now 
hastened to the town on the Danube in order to avert " the 
mediatisation of the ancient house of Anhalt." The real ruler 
of his little country was his wife Julia, Countess of Brandenburg 
by birth, and half-sister of the king of Prussia, a cultured and 
intelligent woman, immeasurably proud of her rank, with the 
strong Catholic predilections of the romanticist school. Since 
Metternich did not underestimate the value of such an ally, 
he had commissioned Adam Miiller to act as Austrian charge 
d'affaires at the court of Anhalt in addition to being consul-general 
at Leipzig, and the celebrated publicist of the ultramontane party 
soon became the indispensable adviser of the romanticist duchess. 
Miiller's hatred of his Prussian home was inspired with all the 
fanaticism of the convert. His fertile brain conceived the design 
of a magnificent artifice of petty princely statecraft, which was 
to riddle the Prussian customs legislation from within, and was 
at least to make it impracticable in the province of Saxony. The 


The Vienna Conferences 

Elbe, for a few miles of its course, flowed through the land of 
Coethen, and the Elbe was one of the rivers concerning which 
the Vienna congress had agreed that there was to be " complete 
freedom of navigation." What a brilliant prospect opened for 
Coethen's power if the conference could be induced to make the 
freedom of the Elbe a federal affair at once and unconditionally ! 
In that case the duke, although his territory was completely sur- 
rounded by that of Prussia, could initiate an independent Euro- 
pean commercial policy, misusing the freedom of navigation on 
the Elbe in order to establish a smugglers' alsatia in the heart of 
the Prussian state, flooding the hated neighbour with contra- 
band, and perhaps forcing it to change its customs system. 
Eagerly did the petty sovereign pursue this friendly scheme. He 
was undisturbed by conscientious scruples, and was quite unable 
to grasp the distinction between power and impotence. 
Repeated and well-meant invitations that he should voluntarily 
join the Prussian customs system had been all bluntly rejected in 
the vulgar and clamant tone characteristic of the despatches of 
this court. " Anhalt," he proudly declared, " can seek its salva- 
tion only in the general union of European states based upon 
international law and in the resources which its geographical 
situation offers in the matter of great rivers." 

Most of the plenipotentiaries of the other states complained 
more or less strenuously of " the selfishness of the only member 
of the Federation which imposed obstacles upon the realisation 
of the ideal of German commercial unity." The Hansa towns 
alone, satisfied with their cosmopolitan commercial position, 
coldly rejected all attempts at the initiation of a common German 
commercial policy. Zentner, likewise, once more distinguished 
himself by circumspection, refusing to sacrifice the new Bavarian 
customs-law to the shapeless phantasm of a general freedom of 
trade whose conditions were still entirely unknown. Metternich, 
on the other hand, with an ill-concealed and malicious joy, 
hounded on the minor states against Prussia. The Viennese court 
was an adept in making use for its own purposes of that dread of 
Prussian ambition by which they were all profoundly influenced. 
In October, Count Bombelles, acting on express orders from 
Emperor Francis, had threatened the grand duke of Weimar that, 
unless the Carlsbad decrees were strictly enforced everywhere, 
the two great powers would be compelled to secede from the 
Federation, and that the emperor would then find it necessary 
to secure for his Prussian ally " a more powerful position in 


History of Germany 

Germany." No less unscrupulously did Metternich now utilise 
the jealousy of the minor courts in order to resist Prussia's com- 
mercial policy. He could not indeed venture to furnish open 
support to the opponents of his indispensable federal ally, especially 
considering that he did not desire to effect even the most trifling 
alteration in the Austrian customs-system. But he secretly 
encouraged the aggrieved parties, and instilled into theif minds 
the idea that the Prussian customs-law was the work of a faction 
whose aims had nothing whatever in common with " loyal federal 
sentiment." - He had summoned to Vienna as commercio-political 
adviser Adam Miiller, the originator of the Anhalt smuggling 

The nation was just as far as were its statesmen from having 
attained clarity regarding the problem of customs unity. After 
the Carlsbad experiences, it had no agreeable anticipations 
regarding the political outcome of the conferences. It was only 
the abolition of the internal tolls, and in especial of the Prussian 
customs-barriers, which seemed to all parties a modest desire that 
could readily be fulfilled through the exercise of a little goodwill 
on the part of the governments. A pamphlet entitled Candid 
Words by a German of Anhalt gave drastic expression to the view 
held by nearly all non-Prussians regarding the commercial policy 
of Berlin. The author, whose intentions were plainly good, con- 
sidered that to describe as enclaves those states which were sur- 
rounded by Prussian territory touched the honour of the regions 
thus situated, and he declared that it was absolutely contrary to 
law for Prussia to tax " foreigners." The condemnation of public 
opinion must assist the cause of " truth and justice " to its inevit- 
able victory. 

List appeared at the conference as spokesman of the mer- 
chants and manufacturers, attended by his faithful associates 
J. J. Schnell and E. Weber, and submitted a memorial whose 
lofty patriotic emotion seemed strangely out of place in the 
atmosphere of narrow-minded particularist and self-seeking policy 
characteristic of the Viennese assembly. In eloquent phraseology 
he declared that the complete independence of the individual 
states was incompatible with the unity of the nation ; the Federa- 
tion must provide the blessings of free trade for thirty million 

1 This information was given personally by Count Bombelles to his Prussian 
colleague in Dresden, von Jordan (Jordan's Report, October 18, 1819.) 

' At a later date Metternich was reminded of these utterances by Marschall 
(Marschall to Metternich, September 10, 1820). 


The Vienna Conferences 

Germans, and thus create a genuine federation of the German 
nation. What, then, was the practical proposal which followed 
these spirited words ? List demanded that the German states 
should farm out their customs to a joint-stock company, and 
guaranteed that the shares would be taken up ; this company 
would found the German federal customs system, and would 
relieve the governments of all trouble regarding vexatious details ! 
Strange indeed was the ardent patriot's splendid self-deception. 
He maintained that Prussia was inclined to abandon her customs- 
law, although he had just received an official assurance from 
Berlin to the contrary effect. He was suspiciously shadowed by 
the Viennese police, and wrote home saying, " We are surrounded 
with spies on every side, quartered upon one spy, and served by 
another." l He knew that Metternich had declared in the con- 
ference that no negotiations were to be tolerated with the 
individuals who gave themselves out to be the representatives 
of the German commercial class, because the Bundestag had 
already condemned the German Commercial Union as an illegal 
and inadmissible undertaking. But none of these things dis- 
turbed his touching confidence. When even Adam Miiller now 
expressed a favourable opinion regarding a memorial by List 
on German industrial exhibitions, and when, in an audience, 
Emperor Francis assured the indefatigable agitator that the 
Austrian government would gladly do all it could to advantage 
the German fatherland, he imagined that he had now well-nigh 
attained his end, and wrote : " The eyes of all are now turned 
towards the imperial Austrian government. How Austria's noble- 
minded and philanthropic emperor would renew the bonds of 
attachment between the German-speaking peoples if so great a 
benefit were to be received by them at his hands ! " When this 
hope likewise proved delusive, he turned his sanguine expectations 
towards the South German courts, considering that his cause 
had only gained by the delay. 2 Thus it was that this distinguished 
patriot grasped at every straw ; while the Prussian customs-law, 
which was to prove the keystone of our economic unity, seemed 
to him, as to almost the entire nation, a source of destruction. 

In the conference, Marschall opened the campaign by a 
memorial dated January 8th, which overwhelmed the Prussian 
state with such coarse abuse that Bernstorff returned it to its 
author. By the new customs institutions, declared this work, 

1 List to his wife, Vienna, February 18, 1820. 
8 List to his wife, March 15, 1820. 


History of Germany 

an attack was made upon the property rights of hundreds of 
thousands of individuals, whose property was thereby diminished. 
The Nassauer went on defiantly to demand the abolition of all 
dues that had been introduced since the year 1814, and the 
immediate fulfilment of the decisions of the Vienna congress 
concerning the navigation of inland waterways ; for the rest, 
he demanded complete freedom for every German state to impose 
what tariffs it pleased upon foreign imports, so long as no internal 
tolls were enforced. The last proposal was preposterous, for no 
isolated state could protect itself against the foreign world if 
its interior German frontiers remained unguarded, but this manifest 
truth escaped Marschall's notice. He was like a blind man 
talking of colours, for Nassau had no frontier dues at all. 

Then Berstett renewed his old complaints against the 
internal dues, and distributed among his colleagues Nebenius' 
brilliant memorial upon the federal customs. But a calm con- 
sideration of the question could not fail to convince anyone that 
a federal customs administration was impossible, and even the 
Badenese minister dropped the plan of his talented subordinate. 1 
There followed new and savage attacks by Marschall, so gross and 
uncouth that at the close of the conferences Bernstorff wrote to 
the Prussian federal envoy : " It would be beneath the dignity of our 
court to manifest any personal indication of wounded sensibilities 
towards this man who in no respect whatever is deserving of 
notice." Goltz, therefore, was indifferently to hold aloof from 
his colleague of Nassau. Next Fritsch, in the name of the 
Thuringians, entered a protest against Prussia's enclave system, 
and demanded that every producer should be allowed to dispose 
of his commodities freely throughout Germany, and that every 
consumer should be permitted to supply his needs by the nearest 
possible route. Meanwhile the duke of Coethen, whose arrogant 
conduct Bernstorff found it impossible to describe in adequate 
terms, intervened with repeated passionate protests. 3 He com- 
plained that he had to endure all the burdens of the Prussian 
customs system while receiving none of its advantages, whereas 
in fact all he had to do was to accept Prussia's offers, and all these 
advantages would accrue to him. He threatened to appeal to the 
foreign guarantors of the federal act for the protection of the 
cause of the ancient house of Anhalt, " a cause sublime beyond 
the possibility of attack." Ultimately, he absolutely refused to 

1 Bernstorff's Reports, January 16 and February 6, 1820. 
- Bernstorff's Reports, April 22 and May 7, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

subscribe to the final act unless the Federation would secure for 
him " free communication with Europe," saying, " So long as the 
dukes of Anhalt find themselves in a condition of oppressive and 
involuntary tributary dependence upon a powerful neighbour 
state, as far as this old princely house is concerned there can 
be no federal act, and consequently no final act." 

During this dispute Bernstorff maintained a distinguished 
calm and an upright candour. He openly complained that by 
its vaguely worded promises the federal act had awakened expec- 
tations that could never be fulfilled. All dishonourable sugges- 
tions were firmly and proudly rejected by the Prussian minister ; 
there could be no question about the repeal of the new law. At 
the same time he was never weary of reiterating in new circum- 
locutions the ideas previously published in the Staatszeitung. It 
was impossible, he said, that such a union should be secured in 
any other way than as the outcome of gradual preparation, and 
through the most laborious effectuation of a compromise between 
conflicting interests. Nothing but treaties between the individual 
states could put an end to the existing economic troubles. " If 
this happens both in the south and in the north of Germany, and 
if these endeavours are made with the co-operation and under the 
aegis of the Federation, we may well hope that by this route 
(doubtless a tedious one but perhaps the only one practicable) 
we may arrive at the abolition of the existing barriers, and in 
respect of trade and traffic may secure such a unity of legislation 
and administration as is possible to an association of free and 
distinct states like the Germanic Federation." To the invectives 
of the duke of Coethen he dryly replied that in Dresden a con- 
ference of the Elbe riverine towns had now been sitting for several 
months, and it was there alone that the question of the freedom 
of navigation upon the Elbe could be settled. 

This was indeed a historic moment. The great struggle 
of two centuries, the old irreconcilable opposition between 
Austrian and Prusso-German policy was renewed in these incon- 
spicuous negotiations, without the protagonists themselves being 
aware of the profound significance of the dispute. Who can fail, 
in this connection, to be impressed with memories of the Frank- 
fort diet of princes of 1863 ? On one side was the house of 
Austria, followed by the serried forces of the enthusiasts and the 
particularists, receiving the jubilant approval of the liberal world, 
uttering to the nation promises of some indefinite happiness, 
promises whose only defect was that they were empty phrases, 


History of Germany 

On the other side was Prussia, bearing the ill-will of the nation, 
and opposing a frigid negative to the high-flown plans of her 
adversary. Yet behind this negative and apparently barren 
attitude was the sole idea which could bring us salvation. The 
whole future of German politics depended upon the triumph of 
Prussia's clear-sighted honesty over this alliance between obscurity 
and the spirit of untruth. And Prussia was victorious. 

Since the opposition was united only in its hatred and was 
not agreed upon any positive idea, in the oommercio-political 
committee of the conference Bernstorff secured a decisive success 
as early as February loth, inducing the committee to restrict its 
proposals to certain resolutions " which shall be rather prepara- 
tory than decisive, and which shall not prematurely occupy the 
ground of any future federal decisions." 1 Consequently the 
committee went no further than to propose that the Bundestag, 
in accordance with article 19, should consider the furthering of 
commerce to be one of its principal aims. It was only regarding 
the freedom of the grain trade, which Prussia had advocated three 
years earlier in Frankfort, that all members of the committee 
seemed finally agreed, and the committee proposed that the 
question should be settled by a speedy understanding. On 
March 4th, when these propositions were read in the conference, 
as soon as the name of the Bundestag was mentioned, one of those 
present broke out into loud laughter, wherein the entire assembly 
cheerfully joined. Yet these very statesmen, who thus so plainly 
manifested their judgment regarding the functional capacity of 
the Bundestag, had quite recently still arrogantly hoped to annul 
the Prussian customs-law by a federal decision ! The committee's 
proposals were adopted, and in order to gain over even the 
refractory duke of Coethen a separate protocol was added, in virtue 
of which the participating states pledged themselves to maintain 
inviolably the decisions of the Vienna congress regarding river- 
navigation, and to conduct vigorous negotiations to secure this 

A separate protocol was also added regarding the freedom 
of the grain trade, but Metternich in the end frustrated this 
solitary valuable design upon which all parties were agreed. He 
continually postponed the final decision, and when at length the 
conference desired to settle the matter, it appeared that Emperor 
Francis, to the lively regret of his minister, had already left for 
Prague. Bernstorff innocently reported a few days later that 

1 Bcrnstorfi's Report, February n. 1820. 

The Vienna Conferences 

his majesty's reply had still failed to come to hand. 1 The con- 
ference had to break up without coming to a decision upon this 
protocol. It was not until the middle of June that the Austrian 
answer reached the Bundestag. The good emperor, who had 
spoken so paternally to List regarding the welfare of the German 
fatherland, now laconically declared that the Vienna protocol " was 
properly speaking intended solely to provide for the further 
development of the principles therein expressed " ; consequently 
no formal agreement to this protocol was necessary, but that 
the postponed deliberations at the Bundestag should now imme- 
diately begin. This therefore took place. In his presidential address 
Buol sang the praises of free trade in grain, but expressed himself 
in such extremely general terms that even the unsuspicious Goltz 
immediately remarked that Austria had some secret design. 2 
The Bundestag therefore set to work with its usual assiduity, and 
three months later (October 5th) resolved to ask for information 
regarding the condition of legislation in the individual states. 
Free trade in grain vanished into that mysterious abyss in whose 
profound were stored the for ever uncompleted federal decisions. 
Such were Austria's loving services on behalf of German free trade. 

The course of the conferences confirmed in every respect 
Bernstorffs prediction that it was impossible for a federation 
devoid of political unity to pursue a common commercial policy. 
In view of these experiences, some of the South German statesmen 
at length began to lend a friendly ear to Bernstorff's counsels. 
The economy of the German highlands, in their straitened 
situation between the customs-barriers of France, Austria, and 
Prussia, could hardly breathe any longer, especially since, with 
the exception of Bavaria, not one of the South German states 
possessed an ordered customs system. The question now became 
pressing whether an attempt should not be made to unite this 
dismembered area into a commercio-political sonderbund, to do 
the very thing for which the Prussian state had just been 
reproached as a breaker of the federal peace. Du Thil was the 
first to suggest such a plan, and subsequently the court of Darm- 
stadt was glad to plume itself on this service. 3 But it was through 
Berstett's lively activity that the idea first gained energy. Like 

1 Bernstorff s Report, May 31, 1820. 

2 Goltz's Report, June 20 and 27, 1820. 

3 Councillor von Hofmann, to President von Kraft in Meiningen, Darmstadt 
March 20, 1828. 

345 2 A 

History of Germany 

du Thil, the Badenesc statesman cherished the honest hope that 
" a whole would gradually arise " out of this sonderbund ; for 
the present he had also in mind retaliations against the Prussian 
duties, and gave a blunt refusal when Bernstorff assured him 
that Prussia would gladly conclude commercial treaties with a 
South German customs-union. Marschall, too, joined in the 
scheme only because he anticipated that South Germany would 
now with united energies initiate a tariff-war against Prussia. 
Wiirtemberg, finally, toyed with trias plans, and hoped that the 
commercial union would lead to a political league of constitutional 
" pure Germany " an idea which found favour neither in Munich 
nor in Darmstadt. 

Thus great being the differences of political aim, after tedious 
confidential negotiations the success attained by Berstett was 
but mediocre. On May igth, the two South German kingdoms, 
Baden, Darmstadt, Nassau, and the Thuringian states, exchanged 
pledges that in the course of the current year they would send 
plenipotentiaries to Darmstadt, there to discuss the formation 
of a South German customs-union upon the basis of a draft- 
agreement. The cautious Zentner, who had to safeguard his 
Bavarian customs-law, absolutely refused to go any further than 
this. Still, a path had now been entered which might perhaps 
provide an escape from the miseries of the internal tolls. The 
liberal press gratefully hailed the patriotic action of its 
favourites. List, the optimist, considered that the ideal of German 
customs unity was now approaching realisation, and when shortly 
afterwards he visited Frankfort he found his patron Wangen- 
heim in an intoxication of delight, for pure Germany was at length 
acting as torchbearer to the entire nation ! 1 Less sanguine, but 
thoroughly friendly, was Bernstorff's view of the intentions of 
the South German courts. He assured Berstett of his approval, 
for if the middle-sized states should be able on their own initiative 
to set their chaotic commercial life in order, it might be possible 
subsequently for them to effect an understanding with Prussia. 
He wrote to the king saying that although the undertaking was 
not free from a number of hostile political and economic arrieres 
penstes, Prussia had no reason to disapprove of it, especially seeing 
that it was extremely doubtful whether it would be carried to a 
successful issue. 2 

The attempt to annihilate the Prussian customs-law by an 

1 List to his wife, Frankfort, August 22, 1820. 

1 Bernstorfi's Reports, January 29, 1820, and subsequent dates. 


The Vienna Conferences 

exercise of the federal authority had miscarried. Meanwhile, 
however, the duke of Coethen cheerfully continued his smuggling 
war against the Prussian tolls, thus at the same time hindering the 
negotiations concerning the Elbe navigation. How often had 
foreigners made mock of the furiosa dementia of the Germans, 
who imposed tariffs to close their magnificent rivers to them- 
selves ! Only since France had seized the left bank of the Rhine 
had this proverbial trouble of Germany been somewhat mitigated. 
In the year 1804, the oppressive Rhine-dues were replaced by 
the Rhenish octroi, whose principal aim was merely to provide 
for the necessary expenditure upon the upkeep of the banks and 
the towing paths, and this new ordinance worked so well that the 
Vienna congress extended its application to the other German 
rivers upon which traffic was regulated by convention. Since 
then navigation on the Weser had in fact been freed ; after a 
long dispute with Bremen, Oldenburg had at length been induced 
by the mediation of the Bundestag to abandon the illegal Elsfleth 
tolls (August, 1819). The relationships between the ten riverine 
towns of the Elbe were more difficult to adjust. Articles 108-116 
of the Vienna congress act, which had been edited by W. Hum- 
boldt, enunciated the principle that navigation was to be free 
upon the rivers in which traffic was regulated by convention, this 
meaning that no one was to be hindered from navigating these 
rivers ; while the duty was imposed upon the riverine states of 
initiating negotiations within six months to secure a uniform 
and fixed navigation tax whose scale should approximately cor- 
respond to that of the Rhenish octroi. 

It was plain that these excellent promises could materialise 
only if the levying of the navigation tax were, in accordance with 
the express prescription of article 115, to remain completely 
detached from the customs system of the riverine states, and if 
there should be instituted a strict riverine police system to 
prevent all concerned from misusing the privileges of free naviga- 
tion in order to promote a smuggling traffic with their neighbours. 
It was only upon such conditions that Prussia, who regarded the 
above-mentioned article of the congress act as her own work, 
could lend a hand to its being carried into execution. How was 
it possible, as a Prussian state-paper subsequently asked, to expect 
a powerful state " to tolerate a worm gnawing at its vitals, eating 
away the inmost roots of its life ? " 1 Neither the promised free- 
dom of Elbe navigation nor the proper yield of the Prussian 
1 Instruction to Nagler, February 27, 1827. 


History of Germany 

import duties could be secured, unless Anhalt, which was com- 
pletely surrounded by the province of Saxony, were to join the 
Prussian customs system. After the Old Dessauer had pur- 
chased all the landed estates of his domain, agriculture and 
forestry had continued to prosper in the little land of Anhalt under 
the careful supervision of its princes, and all the natural interests 
of this area, in which agriculture and arboriculture flourished, 
but in which manufacturing industry was still entirely lacking, 
demanded that it should enjoy free trade with the adjoining 
industrial regions of Prussia. The sole obstacles in the way of 
an agreement were the insane sovereign arrogance of the duke 
of Coethen, and the more far-sighted hostility of his counsellor, 
Adam Miiller. The duke angrily rejected the " suggestions of 
accession "to the Prussian customs made by the Berlin cabinet. 
Was it impossible for people to see, he asked on one occasion, 
" that the utter unnaturalness of such a state of affairs, the sub- 
ordination of a sovereign prince to the customs administration 
of a neighbouring state, was altogether unfavourable to the 
existence of friendly relationships with the government of that 
state ! " 

Since nothing could be effected with this court by the 
influence of reason, Prussia contented herself for the present with 
maintaining her enclave system against Anhalt. The Prussian 
import duties were imposed upon all goods proceeding to Anhalt 
by land, but the shippers upon the Elbe were allowed to furnish 
security for the payment of the Prussian taxes, the charge being 
remitted when evidence was produced that goods had been left 
in Anhalt. 

The outcome of the mitigation was shameless fraud. The 
Anhalt smuggling traffic increased month by month, and the 
Prussian financiers impatiently awaited the regulation by treaty 
of these intolerable conditions ; until at length in June, 1819, four 
and a half years later than had been prescribed by the Vienna 
congress, the Elbe navigation conference was opened in Dresden. 
There Hamburg and Austria zealously advocated the liberation 
of the river, which could indeed bring them nothing but advantage, 
for the Hansa towns imposed no taxes on navigation, while the 
yield of the high taxes on the Bohemian section of the Elbe was 
but trifling, since there was little traffic upon the uppermost 
reaches of the stream. But Denmark, Mecklenburg, and Anhalt 

1 Despatch from the ducal government of Coethen to Count Bernstorff, 
March 27, 1823. 


The Vienna Conferences 

were more difficult to deal with. Most obstinately of all did 
Hanover defend the status quo, for the Guelph kingdom generously 
left the trouble and expense of maintaining the waterway of the 
Lower Elbe to the Hamburg senate, while in Brunshausen, near 
Stade, a few miles above the mouth, Hanover itself exacted high 
dues from all vessels entering the river. The Hanoverian pleni- 
potentiary entered a formal protest against any attempt to inter- 
fere with these property rights of the Guelph crown, on the ground 
that this was a marine customs duty which had nothing whatever 
to do with the question of Elbe navigation, and on the further 
ground that it could not possibly have been the intention of the 
Viennese assurances " to shatter the basis of all national happi- 
ness, the right of property." Discussion was useless ; the con- 
ference had to leave the Stade tolls quite out of the question, 
and to confine its endeavours to facilitating navigation above 
Hamburg. After the negotiations had lasted for two years, 
during which the Prussian plenipotentiary had often been reduced 
to the verge of despair, on July 23, 1821, the Elbe navigation act 
at length came into existence an inadequate compromise, whose 
form and content displayed traces of arduous struggles. Still, 
the navigation taxes were somewhat reduced, and traffic upon 
the stream soon began to increase. 

Throughout this intolerable dispute the Prussian govern- 
ment maintained a conciliatory attitude, although Mauve, the 
Prussian representative, was by no means distinguished for the 
conciliatoriness of his methods. Prussia abandoned her transit dues 
on the Elbe traffic, although these constituted an important asset 
in her commercial policy, and was ready to reduce the navigation 
taxes to a lower figure than her smaller neighbours desired to 
concede. She declared, however, from the first that she would 
not tolerate the existence of a smugglers' alsatia within the 
interior of her own state, and that consequently she could not 
subscribe to the Elbe navigation act unless Anhalt would adhere 
to the Prussian customs system. The plenipotentiary added 
warningly that it was to the personal interest of the minor 
governments to support the customs system of their great 
neighbour, " since in this way the disadvantageous consequences 
of the existing disintegration of Germany will be mitigated in 
their favour." Fierce was the wrath of the duke of Coethen when 
he was informed of this unprecedented manifestation of Prussian 
arrogance, and when simultaneously Bernstorff, in a new hor- 
tatory despatch to the Coethen government, openly declared " the 


History of Germany 

North German states have to look to Prussia for protection of 
their existence, of their welfare and independence, and of their 
institutions for the common weal." l The duke, who was at 
Carlsbad with his royal brother-in-law, immediately reported 
everything to Marschall. " I flatter myself," he wrote, " that 
all right-thinking persons are on my side, and that they will all 
refuse to agree that Prussia can be] permitted to do anything 
she pleases. I do not enter into the question whether confidence 
can be placed in a cabinet represented by such a man." He scorn- 
fully continued, " The most ridiculous feature of all is that the 
king is just as friendly with us as usual," and he went on to beg 
the Nassauer to bring influences to bear upon Wittgenstein, 
" who is entirely well-disposed," to secure the overthrow of the 
party favouring the customs-law. Marschall replied in a similar 
strain: "Hitherto such phrases have indeed been heard in the 
mouths of German revolutionaries, but never in that of the repre- 
sentative of a German king. If Prussia protects northern 
Germany and all Germany, conversely, northern Germany and 
all Germany protect Prussia. Rights and obligations are 
thoroughly mutual. Whoever maintains the opposite, infringes the 
first and chief basis of the Federation, and moves to a region 
outside its orbit. In especial, the most powerful of the German 
federal states has on every possible occasion plainly expressed 
the opposite principle, at once in the Federation and in Europe, 
and has applied it in practice whenever opportunity has arisen." a 
Meanwhile this most powerful of the federal states continued 
to play a double game. Metternich, who was also in Carlsbad, 
did indeed, in accordance with Prussia's desire, hold a few con- 
versations with the duke, ostensibly in order to accommodate 
the quarrel. 3 But at the same time the Coethen government 
sent in a complaint to the Bundestag, and demanded the release 
of a ship employed in Elbe navigation belonging to a certain 
Friedheim, a merchant of Coethen, this ship having been 
impounded by the Prussian customs office at Miihlberg because 
the captain had refused to furnish security for the payment of 
the Prussian dues. It subsequently transpired, and Munch, the 
Austrian plenipotentiary in Dresden, was forced to admit the fact 
to the Prussian envoy, that Adam Miiller had incited Friedheim 

1 Bernstorff to the ducal government of Coethen, June 30, 1820. 

2 Duke Ferdinand of Coethen to Marschall, Carlsbad, July 22 ; Marschall's 
Reply, August 3, 1820. 

* Prince Hatzfeldt to Metternich, Carlsbad, July 10, to Bernstorff, July 14, 


The Vienna Conferences 

to this refusal in order that the dispute might be brought before 
the Bundestag. 1 

Since Prussia remained firm, the three dukes of Anhalt ulti- 
mately found it convenient to make a concession, and solemnly 
promised the Dresden conference " to offer to come to an under- 
standing with Prussia, in any possible way, to secure the payment 
of the Prussian taxes." Trusting in this ducal word, Frederick 
William regarded the dispute as settled ; he ratified the act 
and released the unhappy Coethen ship (so that the complaint to 
the Bundestag lost all substance). Bernstorff once more invited 
the courts of Anhalt to negotiate in Berlin regarding the conditions 
of their adhesion to the Prussian customs. Months passed, 
however, and no plenipotentiary from Anhalt put in an appear- 
ance. The duke of Coethen, who would take no denial, had suc- 
ceeded in inducing his well-meaning cousins of Dresden and 
Bernberg, who were desirous of keeping their word, to change 
their minds. He led them to promise him not to accede to the 
Prussian customs system unless he did the same, and meanwhile 
he had arranged with Adam Miiller for a new piece of trickery. 

Since the Elbe navigation act was to come in force in March, 
1822, Klewitz resolved that in January the enclave system against 
Anhalt should be temporarily suspended. The financial party 
in Berlin had long demanded this step, but Eichhorn, benevo- 
lently disposed towards the neighbour land, had hitherto prevented 
it. Consequently the three dukedoms were surrounded with 
Prussian custom-houses ; but navigation on the Elbe was freed, 
as the act directed, Prussia contenting herself with the inspection 
of ships consigned to Anhalt. Adam Miiller's sordid design 
counted upon this fidelity to the treaty on the part of Prussia 
Naturally the inspection of the ships on the Elbe became a mere 
farce when the Anhalters had made up their minds to act dis- 
honestly. Several great English export firms arranged with 
Coethen merchants to undertake smuggling transactions in the 
grand style, under the protection of the duke. The whole little 
country became a smugglers' house of call, a place of assignation 
for the rogues and thieves of the German north. The great 
majority of the loyal Coetheners invoked blessings upon the head 
of their sovereign prince, who provided for them cheap commo- 
dities and rich profits through this unsavoury smuggling traffic. 
It was astonishing to note the sudden increase in the consuming 
capacity of the fortunate inhabitants, as if a shower of gold had 

1 Jordan's Report, Dresden, November 12, 1821. 

I listory of Germany 

fallen over the country. While the ratio of the population of 
Anhalt to that of Prussia was as nine to one thousand, the general 
consumption in Anhalt of imported goods became, when com- 
pared with that of Prussia, as sixty-four to one thousand, while 
the consumption of cotton goods, which in Prussia were subject 
to a high duty, became as 165 to one thousand. For drugs, on'the 
other hand, which were but moderately taxed by the Prussian 
customs-law the Anhalters displayed less inclination, for here the 
ratio of their consumption to that of Prussia was no more than 
thirteen to one thousand. In this unnatural consumption, the ducal 
customs officials set a good example to the people. Customs 
inspector Klickermann of Dessau, as Prussia learned from the 
records of her Elbe customs offices, received during the 
year 1825 for personal domestic consumption the following goods 
which passed duty-free along the river : 53 hogsheads of wine, 
4 hogsheads of rum, 98 sacks and one barrel of coffee, 13 sacks 
of pigment and pepper about 1,000 cwt. in all. In the course 
of a year more than half a million thalers were withheld from 
the Prussian treasury through the Anhalt smuggling trade ; when 
Anhalt was finally subjected to the Prussian customs system, 
the yield of the customs in the provinces of Brandenburg and 
Saxony promptly rose from 3,135,000 to 4,128,000 thalers. 

In the long run, the possession of a sovereign crown devoid 
of power demoralises the wearer. How thoroughly must the 
sense of rectitude of the minor courts, which now recognised no 
supreme power competent to judge their actions, have under- 
gone perversion, when this upright Ascanian house, which from 
of old had enjoyed a well deserved respect and which had sent so 
many of its valiant sons into the ranks of the Prussian army, now 
heedlessly and audaciously ventured to undermine the legisla- 
tion of its former loyal protector by these gross malpractices. 
It was a misfortune that the honourable doyen of the united house 
of Anhalt, Leopold Frederick Francis of Dessau, of imperishable 
memory in his own land, had died shortly before. It is hardly 
likely that he would have tolerated the twofold breach of treaty, 
twofold because at the Vienna congress Anhalt had pledged her- 
self to suppress smuggling, and because subsequently in Dresden 
she had solemnly promised to come to an understanding with 

In order to comply with this last obligation, ostensibly at 
least, in January, 1822, Duke Ferdinand at length sent his court 
chamberlain Sternegg to Berlin, instructing him to treat with 


The Vienna Conferences 

Hardenberg alone, for to speak to Bernstorff would be beneath 
the dignity of the Coethener. The chancellor, however, bluntly 
insisted that the envoy must apply to the foreign office, and 
there it became apparent that Sternegg was not empowered to 
make any offers concerning accession to the Prussian customs, 
but had come simply to hand in a demand for indemnification. 
By the reasonable standard of population, the damage to Coethen 
amounted to about 40,000 thalers for three years. The duke's 
figure was ten times this amount, and he expressed himself greatly 
astonished when Prussia entered the damage caused by the Coethen 
smugglers on the other side of the account. After prolonged 
and acrimonious discussions, the duke at length advanced the 
proposal that by a territorial exchange Prussia should provide 
for the Anhalt enclave permanent free communication with 
Saxony ; if that were done, the three courts were prepared to 
adhere to the Prussian customs system experimentally for a few 
years. Bernstorff immediately and sternly rejected this " pre- 
posterous " suggestion, the negotiator was forced to withdraw, 
and Anhalt was left surrounded with Prussian customs barriers. l 
But the smuggling traffic continued to flourish as before, for the 
frontier supervision of Prussia was powerless in face of the ill- 
will of the ducal authorities. Although the court of Berlin was 
precisely informed concerning Adam Miiller's intrigues, it was 
quite unable to believe that Prince Metternich approved the 
activities of his consul-general. Year after year the Prussian 
eagle patiently endured the bites of the Anhalt mouse, 
always hoping that the three dukes would at length fulfil their 

And in this dispute, which displayed all the egotism, all the 
arrogance, and all the folly of particularism, the German press 
rallied to the support of the Anhalt smugglers like one man. The 
cry of distress of the free Coetheners was the cradle-song of Ger- 
man commercial unity, that unity which two generations later 
was to attain its final goal upon this same stream of the Elbe amid 
the lamentations of the free Hamburgers. With unprecedented 
blindness, the inhabitants of the petty states, at every turn in 
the confused struggle, took an erroneous view of their own welfare 
and of that of the fatherland, subsequently on each occasion, as 
soon as the dreaded accession to the Prussian customs system 

1 Bernstorff, Ministerial Despatch to the Anhalt governments, February 18, 
1822. Reports of von Meyern, Badenese chargd d'affaires, Berlin, January 5 
and 19, February 19, May 18, and October 22, 1822. 


History of Germany 

had at length been completed, to recognise with gratitude the 
necessity of the change. No less regularly did the particularist 
spirit conceal its egotism beneath the fine trappings of freedom, 
taking for its excuse, now freedom of trade, now the right of 
free and independent action on the part of the German tribes, 
and now raising both these pleas at once, and just as regularly 
was public opinion, dominated by liberalism, led astray by 
these exalted words of power. 

Ineradicable prejudices against the Prussian customs-law co- 
operated with that thoughtless sentimentality which unreflectingly 
regards it as mean, in a struggle between strength and weakness, 
to take the side of the stronger. A contributory cause was the 
legal formalism of our political culture, owing to which people 
had no suspicion that in relationships between states, formal 
right is null if unsupported by living force. Was not Coethen 
just as much a sovereign state as Prussia ? How could it be sug- 
gested to this sovereign state to accede to a customs system, which 
could indeed bring nothing but advantages in its train, and whose 
necessity was a logical consequence of the geographical situation 
of the smaller state, but which would conflict with the latter's 
right of free self-determination ? If Coethen chose to utilise 
the freedom of the Elbe in order to inflict malicious damage upon 
her neighbour, in which article of the federal act was such a step 
forbidden ? The consideration that by the Vienna treaties Anhalt 
had pledged herself to abolish smuggling, was tacitly ignored. 
Bignon, the old advocate of the German minor states, also entered 
the arena with an open letter upon the Prusso-Anhalt dispute. 
He dolorously complained that France could no longer as in former 
days exercise from the Lower Rhine supreme judicial functions 
over Germany ; but, he said, " in the nature of things France 
is destined always to rule, and if she has lost the sceptre of power, 
she still wields the sceptre of public opinion." In the eyes of 
the sceptre-bearer of public opinion, Prussia, as was natural, could 
not find grace. It was by this path of usurpations, exclaimed 
Bignon, that long ago the house of Capet had proceeded 
step by step to effect the annihilation of the great vassals of 
France. The German liberals faithfully echoed the Bonapartist's 

The majority at the Bundestag likewise inclined a favourable 
ear towards the Coethen court's complaint, which was not 
withdrawn even after the liberation of Friedheim's vessel. In 
the summer of 1821, King Frederick William, passing through 


The Vienna Conferences 

Frankfort, protested in vigorous terms against the accusation 
that he desired to mediatise Anhalt, but protested in vain. The 
minor courts would not be persuaded out of their belief that Prussia 
desired, as Berstett phrased it, " to round off her geographical 
leanness at the expense of some of her smaller neighbours." 
Blittersdorff, recently appointed Badenese federal envoy, and 
the more intelligent among his colleagues, were well aware how 
little possibility there was " in view of the well-known character 
of the duke, or rather of the duchess," of reckoning upon a reason- 
able arrangement ; but they considered that this was " the 
opportunity for the Bundestag to display its staying power and 
vital energy." l The point of importance was to humiliate Prussia 
in face of a weakling neighbour ; to prove to the North German 
great power that, to quote Marschall, Prussia was just as much 
protected by Coethen, as Coethen by Prussia. Of the greater 
federal states, Bavaria alone showed any comprehension of the 
relationships of power, for after the Munich government had so 
recently learned by personal experience the difficulty of intro- 
ducing a new customs system, it recognised that there was a 
trifling difference between a realm and an enclave. The others 
judged the question as if it had been a civil trial, and since the 
legal questions involved were certainly open to dispute, there 
developed at the Bundestag a savage feud which, dragging out its 
course for many years, continually afforded fresh and welcome 
opportunity for the liberal newspapers to stigmatise Prussia as 
the disturber of the peace of Germany. 

Such was for Prussia the upshot of the commercio-political 
negotiations in Vienna and Dresden. The new customs-law had 
been maintained unaltered against the opposition of almost all 
the other federal states ; the freedom of the Elbe had been 
secured (if to a somewhat scanty degree) ; and the old view of 
the Prussian government that the Federation could contribute 
absolutely nothing to the advantage of German commerce, had 
been once again confirmed. Equally well established, however, 
was the recognition, that in the present mood of the individual 
states negotiations with these offered no prospect of success. 
What unteachable animosity had encountered Bernstorff, what 
arrogant language had he been forced to listen to, first 
in Vienna, and subsequently in Dresden ! After these dis- 
couraging experiences, the reasonable decision had been formed in 
Berlin that henceforward no further invitations should be issued, 

1 Blittersdorff's Reports, Frankfort, January 30 and June 27, 1821. 


History of Germany 

but that Prussia should wait quietly until financial stress should open 
the eyes of her minor neighbours. It was in these circumstances 
that strict injunctions were issued to all the envoys in Germany to 
adopt an extremely reserved attitude, and to every enquiry about 
commercio-political affairs to answer simply that as early as the 
year 1818 the king had declared himself prepared to negotiate, 
that he continued to hope that other German states would accede 
to his customs system, and that it was now left for his neighbours 
to meet goodwill with goodwill. Eichhorn based this resolve 
upon the consideration that the jealousy of the dynasties, as 
experience had shown, would only be stimulated by further invi- 
tations. " Such proposals may be misinterpreted, as being at once 
demands that they should alter their internal legislative systems 
and suggestions endangering their independence." l Against the 
deep-rooted distrust of the minor courts there was but one weapon 
available, equanimity, which would allow the nature of things 
to do its own work. What did it matter, after all, if the press 
unceasingly declaimed against Prussia's selfish and separatist 
attitude ? Inasmuch as public opinion was more unreasonable 
even than were the courts, the cause of German commercial unity 
could look for no help from this quarter, and Prussia's best ally 
was the increasing financial need of the minor states. 



The plenipotentiaries of the constitutional states returned 
from Vienna feeling assured that for the present their constitu- 
tions had nothing to fear from the Federation. Whereas Zentner 
regarded this as a victory, Berstett was extremely displeased. 
He had confidently anticipated that the Vienna assembly would 
put his disorderly Carlsruhe Landtag to rout, but had now to 
return with empty hands. At the close of the conferences he 
directed a further urgent appeal to Metternich, saying that since 
political assassination was now raging in France the time had 
arrived for all the European powers to join in solemn guarantees 
for the maintenance of the monarchical principle. " The episode of 
the revolutions began with a declaration of the rights of the people. 
Could it not be brought to a close with a declaration of the rights 

1 Instructions to Otterstedt, November 2, 1822, February 20, 1825, etc. Eich- 
horn's Opinion, April 21, 1824. Instructions to the envoys, March 25, 1828. 


The Vienna Conferences 

of the thrones ? " This demand came at an extremely incon- 
venient moment for the Austrian statesman. He now needed 
tranquillity in Germany, even at the price of a truce with the 
detested liberals, for he foresaw that Austria might soon need all 
her energies to cope with the revolution in southern Europe. For 
this reason, he considered it necessary to moderate his friend's 
reactionary ardour. 

In a long and unctuous despatch to Berstett (May 4th) he 
first reiterated his old and cherished doctrine that in these 
stormy times the maintenance of the existing order was the aim 
of all well-disposed persons, adding the brilliant proposition, 
" Upon this point, with which all may be saved, and with which 
even that which has been lost may be in part reacquired, every 
endeavour must concentrate." This axiom, which the entire 
diplomatic world had long before learned to recognise as part of 
the permanent linguistic equipment of the Austrian chancellery, 
was succeeded by words which were unprecedented in Metternich's 
mouth. " But when we speak of the existing order, we think 
not only of the old order in the narrower sense of the term, that 
order which has been left absolutely intact in very few states, 
but we think also of newly introduced institutions, so soon as these 
have acquired a certain degree of constitutional strength. In 
such times as the present, the transition from the old to the new 
hardly involves greater dangers than the return from the new to 
that old which has become extinct. The attempt to do either 
may lead to material disorders which must to-day be avoided at 
all cost. The objection that among the constitutions hitherto 
introduced in Germany there are some which are devoid of founda- 
tion, and which consequently lack all standing-ground., must be 
regarded as baseless. Every institution that has come into 
existence (unless, like the Cortes constitution of 1812, it 
be the work of pure caprice and senseless delusion) contains 
materials contributing towards a better system." He went 
on to remind the lesser courts of the harmony that prevailed 
among the great powers, of the union between the German 
federal states which had recently been consolidated in Vienna, 
and exhorted them in conclusion to a strictly legal and constitu- 
tional regime. In case of need there remained open to them 
" an appeal for help to the community. If Austria, her internal 
condition remaining undisturbed, still possesses a notable mass 
of moral energies and material means, she will be prepared to 
employ all these for the advantage of her federal allies as well 


History of Germany 

as for her own." 1 Thus there was not a word about the 
re-establishment of the old estates. In Carlsbad, Metternich 
had damned the South German constitutions as demagogic ; but 
he now proclaimed their legal foundation inviolable. 

It was the good fortune of his life that all the work of his 
own pen filled him with genuine admiration. This most recent 
production produced a state approximating to ecstasy, and in a 
covering letter to Berstett he could not refrain from saying : 
" Every word in my despatch has been created out of the depths 
of my intelligence. The repose which dominates it is the repose 
of my own soul. I shall have attained an aim very dear to me 
if by my words (and the term ' words ' seems to me too weak to 
convey the value of my work), 2 I succeed in showing your excel- 
lent ruler what we desire, believe, and hope ! " When, shortly 
afterwards, probably with its author's previous consent, the 
despatch was published in several German and French newspapers, 
Metternich hoped that all thoughtful politicians, all but the 
wildest of the radicals, would thank him for his formal recognition 
of the new constitutions. Soon enough was he to be disillusioned. 
Since the great public now made its first acquaintance with a 
private memorial by the dreaded statesman, and since it was as 
yet unfamiliar with the remarkable flowers of speech of the Metter- 
nichian style, the conciliatory sense of the content for the most 
part escaped notice. The press found the kernel of the writing 
in its phrases about the maintenance of the existing order, and 
paid no attention whatever to the exhortations to fidelity to 
the constitution, which had been the practical purpose of the 
despatch. The note of May 4th acquired a European reputation. 
For two decades it was regarded by the opposition in all countries 
as " the programme of conservatism, the war-cry of the struggle 
against the progressive movement of the age," whereas it was 
really intended to warn the Badenese court against any reac- 
tionary coup de main. 

Berstett, for his part, rightly understood his master's inten- 
tions, and bitterly complained to the faithful Marschall that 

1 The version of the Note of May 4, 1820, printed by Welcker (Wichtige Ur- 
kundcn, p. 335), completely agrees, except for a few words obviously misread or mis- 
written, with the original preserved in the archives of the ministry for foreign affairs 
in Carlsruhe. The memorial printed in Metternich's Posthumous Papers, III, p. 
372, the wording of which differs in numerous respects, must therefore, like many 
other documents in this collection, be no more than a rough copy. 

2 Et le mot de paroles me semble bien faible pour exprimer la valeur de mon 
travail. Metternich to Berstett, May 4, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

" our final act, edited in the purest German style" afforded so 
little assistance to well-intentioned governments ; but, he said, 
"if we can expect neither energy nor aid from without, we must 
a tout prix endeavour to maintain peace within." 1 Thus, 
strangely enough, it was in part thanks to Metternich's thoughtful 
advice that the Badenese court effected a reconciliation with 
the diet which had shortly before been so ungraciously dismissed. 
This moderation did not, indeed, prevent the Austrian statesman 
from personally supervising the persecution of the demagogues 
in Baden, as throughout Germany. He could not deny himself 
the pleasure of playing the part of his own sheriff's officer. Even 
the Heidelberg executioner who had so devoutly preserved the 
relics of Sand did not escape Metternich's paternal eye, and the 
Badenese minister was exhorted in a long autograph letter to 
take vigorous measures, " for if such proceedings are completely 
ignored, the cancer will never be cured." 2 

As long as the Badenese court could reckon upon Austria's 
support, it prepared for open war against the diet. Certain 
liberal officials were refused leave of absence to attend the sittings 
of the Landtag, and the Mainz committee of enquiry was asked 
to institute a political prosecution against Winter, the Heidelberg 
bookseller, the valiant advocate of the freedom of the press. 3 
But by the time the Landtag met in June, and forthwith demanded 
that all its members should be summoned, the government could 
no longer count upon foreign aid ; moreover, news of the pro- 
gress of the revolution in southern Europe alarmed the court. 
The government therefore withdrew its refusal to grant leave, 
Winter was set at liberty by a judicial decision, and Berstett met 
the house with astonishing friendliness. Most of the members 
of the Landtag had, moreover, been sobered by the painful 
experiences of recent months, so that on this occasion more 
caution was displayed. Several of the representatives had been 
won over by proofs of favour from the court, and a few had been 
definitely corrupted ; the grand duke openly admitted to the 
Prussian envoy that to secure a good understanding with these 
gentlemen was an expensive affair.* In a word, the close of this 
Landtag was just as peaceful as its opening had been stormy. 

After an outspoken address from Rotteck, the government 

1 Berstett to Marschall, October 13, 1820. 

2 Metternich to Berstett, June 23, 1820. 

3 Berstett to Marschall, August 10, 1820. 

4 Kiister'a Report, Carlsruhe, August 22, 1820. 


History of Germany 

promised that its severe press edict, which permitted no more 
than four political newspapers throughout the country, should 
be mitigated in correspondence with the Carlsbad decrees ; an 
agreement was secured regarding some excellent laws to effect 
the abolition of certain manorial dues ; while in the matter of the 
national finances a compromise was secured by voting a 
lump sum. In September, the Landtag was peacefully dis- 
missed, and, drawing a long breath of relief, Berstett reported 
to his friend in Nassau that by his mild handling of the diet he had 
secured a respite for a couple of years. The two ultras of the 
Vienna conference now began to believe that, after all, the new 
constitutions, adroitly manipulated, were quite endurable, and 
might even be favourable to particularism. " The diets," said 
Marschall, " individualise our states more and more, and increas- 
ingly contribute to the annihilation of that principle of unity 
which is the leading aim of the revolutionary party." Playing 
the part of a faithful echo, Berstett wrote to Vienna : " The 
similarity of the new constitutions in South Germany has by no 
means led to a closer approximation of the individual lands in the 
sense desired by our Germanisers ; there may rather be noticed 
the continued increase of distinctive peculiarities." 1 Thus were 
the Nassauer and the Badenese able to find common cause for 
rejoicing in the thought how remote was the day of German 

Even the dreaded Wurtemberg constitutional convention, 
whose annulment Marschall had again demanded shortly before, 
proved in the clever hands of King William a work of blameless 
innocence. In January, 1820, the first ordinary Landtag of the 
kingdom was opened. Lindner, who had been expelled from 
Weimar, and who after a prolonged stay in Alsace was now 
advocating King William's ideas in the Stuttgart press, had, in 
emotional terms, prepared the nation for the grandeur of this 
historic moment. Niebuhr's friend Count Moltke visited Wur- 
temberg in order to study the constitutional system at the source 
in this pattern land of German freedom ; 3 and the crown did 
not fail to remind the German world from time to time by some 
fine-sounding catchword that the ruler of \Vurtemberg was ani- 
mated with a liberal spirit. How the liberal press rejoiced when 

1 Marschall to Berstett, August 18 ; Bcrstett to Metternich, September 12, 

a Wangenheim to Hartmann, March 8, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

Maucler, the minister of state, solemnly assured the representa- 
tive assemblies that the king favoured publicity ! The country 
was indeed well pleased by the homage thus rendered by its 
German neighbours, but the political exhaustion ensuing on the 
passionate struggle for the good old law endured for many years. 
The elections took place almost without a fight, even electoral 
meetings and speeches by the candidates were quite exceptional. 
Almost everywhere the high-bailiffs indicated to the electors the 
names of the men in whom they themselves reposed confidence, 
and neither force nor bribery was requisite to induce the peasants, 
whose vote was decisive in most of the electoral districts, to 
follow the suggestions of authority. The old bourgeois ruling 
class, which had so long governed the duchy of Wiirtemberg, 
likewise easily adapted itself to the constitutional monarchy. 
The great majority of the second chamber was composed of 
officials, and allowed itself to be led so docilely by its prudent 
president Weishaar in accordance with the desires of Maucler, 
that even Ancillon was moved to express his cordial approval 
of the humility of this representative assembly. 1 After the 
leaders of the old-law party had made peace with the crown, an 
opposition party was not reconstituted ; there were no more 
than a few isolated independent deputies to draw attention on 
their own initiative to the numerous unfulfilled promises of the 
constitutional charter, to all the organic laws which that charter 
had held in prospect. The liberal king was well pleased with the 
meekness of the Landtag, and delighted to declare in the presence 
of the foreign diplomats that the behaviour of his loyal estates 
might well serve as an example to other lands. 2 He considered 
his work of reform temporarily finished ; legislation was arrested, 
and the further development of the constitution was indefinitely 
postponed. The constitutional regime, which had been so ardently 
desired, proved in its opening years far more sterile than had been 
the precedent epoch of royal dictatorship. 

The nobility of the country was largely responsible for the 
arrest of public life. No doubt it was difficult for the members 
of these proud families which had been immediates of the empire 
to overcome their ill-feeling against a crown which had done 
them so much injustice, and to participate as subjects in the 
inconspicuous labours of a petty Landtag. Yet in the end the 

1 Ancillon, Ministerial Despatch to Councillor von Schoultz-Ascheraden, 
March 10, 1820. 

2 Kuster's Report, June 27, 1820. 

361 2 B 

History of Germany 

constitution had conceded them all that it was possible to demand 
in accordance with the Vienna treaties. Should they wish 
in this democratic century to maintain their prestige, they must 
recognise without reserve the new legal groundwork of society, 
and must at least make trial whether it was possible upon so 
narrow a stage to play the part of a popular aristocracy courageously 
defending the laws of the country. To its own misfortune as well 
as to that of its native land the high nobility of Swabia scorned 
to attempt even this much. The Upper House showed itself dis- 
inclined for business and hostile to all reform ; from the first it 
excluded the public from its proceedings (a course permitted by 
the fundamental law, but not enjoined), and soon became so 
utterly estranged from the people that its reputation was almost 
as evil as that of the Bourbon nobility. Through the resistance 
of the privileged classes the urgently necessary abolition of the 
feudal burdens, a reform strongly desired by King William, was 
postponed again and again throughout an entire generation. In 
the winter of 1820, when the first Landtag reassembled after a 
recess of several months' duration, the members of the Upper 
House did not appear in sufficient numbers to form a quorum, 
and this remarkable spectacle was witnessed twice again during 
the next eight years. Since the constitution had already made 
provision for such an eventuality, the Lower House sat alone, and 
the house that did not sit was assumed to give its assent. Within 
a year after the fundamental treaty had been concluded, it was 
already necessary to have recourse to an involuntary unicameral 
system. A parliament thus mutilated could do very little effective 

In December, 1820, the parliamentary peace was suddenly 
disturbed by the appearance upon the scene of Friedrich List. 
The undismayed opponent of the scriveners' regime had with 
tireless activity been carrying on the campaign in his paper, the 
Volksfreund. He alone ventured to say in plain terms that the 
old noble caste had come to terms with the new bureaucracy. 
Unfortunately he lacked the caution and forbearance indis- 
pensable to the publicist amid the narrow conditions of petty- 
state life ; no one would forgive him for such cruel articles as 
the Conversations between Minister Grand-Vizier and King's 
Counsellor Brazenface. Twice before the bureaucracy had 
succeeded in keeping their deadly enemy out of the Landtag, but 
on this occasion he had been duly elected by the democratic 
inhabitants of Reutlingen, and immediately raised a general 


The Vienna Conferences 

uproar by the effervescent violence of his speeches, so rich in 
ideas. But once again a means was found to get rid of the 
disturber of the peace. List had issued an election address, 
wherein, in harsh terms, he expressed his opposition to the 
omnipotence of the officialdom : " Distress and poverty 
everywhere ; honour nowhere, income nowhere, cheerfulness 
nowhere except for those in official uniform ! " All the 
demands which he had previously voiced in the Volksfreund were 
here reiterated. He asked for publicity of judicial procedure, 
unrestricted freedom for the municipalities, a reduction in the 
great army of the officialdom, and in addition, in accordance 
with the newest articles of politico-economical doctrine, sale of 
the domains and the introduction of a single direct tax. 

The address was an extraordinary medley of good ideas and 
immature impressions, but assuredly contained nothing of a 
criminal nature. The ruling class, however, both within 
and without the chambers, considered that the foundations of 
its power were imperilled. The court in Esslingen was imme- 
diately instructed to initiate a prosecution against List for 
slandering the civil service, and Maucler then suggested to the 
legislative assembly that the accused should be expelled the Landtag 
on the ground that the constitution specified that no one could 
be a delegate who was involved in a criminal prosecution. Vainly 
did List show that he was accused only of a misdemeanour and 
not of a crime ; vainly did Uhland and some of his friends issue a 
warning to the effect that if such an interpretation of the funda- 
mental law were accepted the government would be empowered 
to expel any undesired member from the chambers. The majority 
willingly complied with the minister's suggestion, which was sup- 
ported with all the accessories of sophistical art, acting on 
this occasion with the partisanship of a caste whose dominance 
is threatened ; an address from Heilbronn which took the part 
of the menaced man with the candour characteristic of the imperial 
town was expunged from the records amid stormy speeches against 
Jacobinism and sansculottery. The judges now demanded of 
the expelled member that he should answer also to a charge 
brought against him on account of the speech he had delivered 
in the Landtag in his own defence, and when he refused to comply 
they threatened him with the use of the forcible measures the 
law placed at their disposal for dealing with persistent contumacy 
of this kind, among which five-and-twenty lashes were prescribed 
as a maximum penalty. List did not care to favour the master 


History of Germany 

class with the elevating spectacle of a popular representative 
tied to the whipping-post. He consented to plead, was con- 
demned to imprisonment in a fortress when the proceedings had 
lasted for more than a year, and then eluded punishment by flight. 

After this he spent two years abroad, always hoping that 
at home a sense of shame would become active ; and in actual 
fact even Wintzingerode was annoyed at the bureaucracy's thirst 
for revenge. The king, however, was not to be appeased ; and 
when the fugitive's wife besought pardon, he answered, with cus- 
tomary arrogance, that List's enterprise might have involved 
extremely serious consequences for the state, and that it therefore 
did not matter whether it had been inspired by malice or simply 
by stupidity. At length List believed he might venture to return, 
but he was immediately seized and sent to Hohenasperg, and was 
put to literary hard labour, that is to say, was employed in copy- 
ing military documents. Not until the beginning of the year 
1825 was he set at liberty, upon the condition that he should 
renounce his civil rights and should immediately leave the country. 
Thus was banished the most brilliant political intelligence to 
be found at that time in South Germany, falling a victim, like so 
many other distinguished Swabians, to the pettiness of his home- 
land. A severe and yet benevolent destiny sent the impetuous 
agitator just at the right moment to gain experience in the 
new world of America, so that when he returned home with 
the wealth of enlightenment produced by many years of travel 
he was able to fertilise the parochial German world with 
an abundance of new ideas. In Germany but little attention 
was paid to this scandalous case, for List was not backed up by 
any party. Such was the nature of this ardent spirit that he 
was confined always to the formulation of bold designs, to the 
indication of paths that were to be followed in the future ; and 
the liberal press had unwillingly to make the best of the. disagree- 
able fact that the most liberal-minded of German princes, with 
the approval of his Landtag, had punished a great-hearted 
patriot with a cruelty which could give points to the demagogue- 
hunters of Berlin and of Mainz. 

The expulsion of List was, for many years, of momentous 
significance to the development of constitutional life in Wiirtem- 
berg. There is no stronger bond between human beings than 
injustice suffered in common. By their maltreatment of their 
colleague, the majority of the deputies had signed away their 
souls to the minister ; those of the minority were discouraged ; 


The Vienna Conferences 

and the weakly indications of spontaneous will which were still 
manifest in the opening days of the session gradually passed into 
abeyance. The Landtag sank into an easy-going life of inactivity, 
and among the people indifference gained the upper hand to such 
an extent that before long the government found it necessary to 
stimulate the electors to exercise the right of suffrage by the 
payment of fees and by imposing penalties for abstention. Of 
the extravagant desires for freedom which had greeted the 
appearance of the constitution, few were fulfilled ; but the king 
cared for material interests so efficiently that even the liberal 
Wangenheim and his friend Privy Councillor Hartmann never 
became completely alienated from the able and energetic ruler; 
and the country secured one at least of the blessings which this 
simple-minded age expected from constitutional life, namely, 
a reduction of taxation. Amid the wider relationships of France, 
and also in some of the German middle-sized states, people 
learned soon enough that political freedom and thrifty adminis- 
tration do not necessarily coincide. Almost everywhere the 
constitutional state was forced to undertake a continuous enlarge- 
ment of the sphere of its activities, being compelled to accede 
to the innumerable claims of bourgeois society, which now began 
to secure eloquent advocates in the chambers ; fulfilling more 
extensive functions than the old absolutism, it was perforce costlier. 
For the present the Wiirtembergers were spared this disillusion- 
ment, for the excessive expenditure of the court was curtailed, 
and the king insisted upon strict economy in all branches of 
the administration. The country was by no means dissatisfied 
with its strict bureaucratic regime and its mediocre Landtag. 

Yet how was it possible for the restless ambition of King 
William to remain content with the modest duties of the terri- 
torial prince. He brooded over the defeat he had sustained at 
the Vienna conferences, and felt it necessary to secure satisfac- 
tion, were it under a mask. In earlier years, as long as Queen 
Catharine was alive, he had still at times cherished dreams of 
the German kingly crown. For long, however, these audacious 
hopes had ceased to befool him. But that federation within a 
federation which Wangenheim and Trott described so seductively, 
now seemed possible, when some of the middle-sized states were 
treating jointly with the Roman see, and when the great Darm- 
stadt deliberation regarding the South German customs-union 
was close at hand. 

From September, 1820, onwards a writing, ostensibly pub- 


History of Germany 

lished in London, and entitled Manuscript from South Germany 
by George Erichson , was busily circulated from Stuttgart. It was 
the programme of the trias policy. All the malicious invectives 
with which the Munich Alemannia had formerly incited its 
Bavarian readers against the North Germans recurred here, but 
more insidiously expressed, and therefore more dangerous : 
Berlin had the best tailors, Augsburg the best silversmiths ; the 
cunning and untrustworthy North German should in the field be 
employed only as hussar and freebooter, for the sturdy peasants 
of the South formed the kernel of the German army ; a political 
union between the migratory commercial folk of the north and 
the settled population of the highlands might perhaps become 
feasible centuries hence, but was to-day as impossible to effect 
as had been the union of the English and the Scottish in the days 
of Edward I and so on. But whereas Aretin and Hermann had 
never concealed their particularist aims, this new preacher of 
di sunion claimed to direct national policy. A Polish partition, he 
declared, had imperceptibly been effected in Germany ; of the 
twenty-nine million inhabitants of the Germanic Federation, 
nineteen million belonged to the foreign powers, Austria, Prussia, 
England, Denmark, and Holland ; the best federal harbours were 
in the hands of the northern corsairs, of the Hansa towns ; a 
hors d'ceuvre in the German body, they were the booty of a mer- 
cantile caste in England's pay. There was therefore only one 
means of salvation for the pure German states : they must 
cut loose from the foreigners, and reconstruct by themselves the 
free league of independent tribes which was Germany's primitive 
constitution. The leadership of the league belonged to the 
Bavarians and the Alemans, the two nuclear stocks, which had 
just been reunited under their new kingly crowns. The great 
statesmen of the south had been the first to recognise that Ger- 
many's renascence could be effected solely through French help, and 
it was out of love for Germany that they had become the friends 
of France. When the warriors of Wiirtemberg and Bavaria, in 
alliance with the French, had gained victories never to be for- 
gotten, they served the spirit of the century and assured for all 
time the independence of the fatherland. It was for this reason 
that they continued to wear with pride the cross of the legion 
of honour. To-day, moreover, Wiirtemberg had once again 
become " the refuge of German liberty and independence " ; its 
king had given the great and immortal example of a constitution 
based upon a convention. The two kings of the south had 


The Vienna Conferences 

recognised the god-given democratic principle ; in Carlsbad and 
in Vienna they had been the protectors of German freedom ; 
Germany reverenced them as the guarantors of her national 

Between the lines, the hope found expression that Prussia 
would cede her western provinces to the king of Saxony ; then 
the league of pure Germany would be able to fulfil its natural 
function, and as an " intermediate" state " would maintain the 
balance between France, Prussia, and Austria. 

Since the Germanic Federation had been in existence, no 
such impudent attack upon the principles of the federal law had 
hitherto been attempted. The advocate of the German trias 
attacked the newly-fashioned constitution of Germany with as 
much hostility as that formerly displayed by Hippolytus a 
Lapide in his onslaught upon the decrepit Holy Empire. This 
adroit epigone did not indeed possess the wealth of ideas or the 
forceful rhetorical impetuosity of that passionate advocate of 
the Swedish-French party, but in the arbitrariness of his historical 
constructions and in the unscrupulousness of his raison d'etat he 
strongly resembled the old publicist. The nauseous fundamental 
principle of the foreign dominion came to light once more in the 
Manuscript ; it was Bonapartist through and through, displaying 
the basic idea of la troisieme Allemagne, voicing the old democratic 
catchwords, breathing invectives against the Hansa towns, and 
reiterating the proposal to thrust Prussia towards the east. 
In former days, Dalberg had extolled the Confederation of the 
Rhine in almost identical words, and it was manifestly 
impossible for this new league of pure Germany to come into 
existence in any other way than by French aid. 

With how much anger would public opinion have received 
such a book at the time of tHe peace of Paris ! But the great 
epochs of our recent history have with sinister regularity been 
succeeded by periods of discontent in which national pride has 
almost disappeared amid the petty vexations of party life, and 
in which the very men and the very actions which are beyond 
all praise have been most certainly exposed to the ingratitude of 
short-lived man. Five years after the War of Liberation, the 
author of the Manuscript could confidently proclaim : " Prussia 
belongs to Germany just as little as Alsace " ; and throughout 
the minor states there were already to be found a few well- 
meaning patriots to agree with the writer, men to whom it did 
not seem ludicrous in the name of the vanquished of Dennewitz 


History of Germany 

and Wartenburg to deny the warlike efficiency of the victors. In 
Frankfort, Borne had only one fault to find with the book, that 
it did not tell the whole truth. Shortly afterwards, F. von Spaun, 
the Bavarian liberal, a zealous advocate of the illuminati and 
of Bavarian pride of power, declared in his Obiter Dicta on the 
Course of Events that South Germany had rendered good service 
to the allies, but had nothing to thank the allies for in return. 
We Bavarians, he said, have no need of the Germanic Federa- 
tion ; if " our Max " should call us, thousands of the heroes who 
conquered at Leipzig would flock to the blue and white standard ! 

It was, indeed, only a few deluded persons who took so 
extreme a view. Even Wangenheim was far from harbouring 
the traitorous hidden thoughts of the Manuscript. He considered, 
it is true, that if the independence of the minor states were 
threatened it would be permissible to appeal to the foreign 
guarantors of the federal act (though such an appeal " would 
always be a doubtful step ") ; but he never had any thought of 
forming a new Confederation of the Rhine. His league of the 
lesser powers was to be built upon the foundation of the federal 
act, was to come into existence peacefully, sustained solely by 
the moral force of the South German crowns, held together by 
the attractive energy of their free constitutions. In this diluted 
form, the ideas of the Manuscript were seductive to many other 
liberals. Behind the scenes, the sophistical work exercised an 
enduring influence, nourishing among the South German liberals 
a pride which was all the more injurious because it was grounded 
upon a fancied political superiority, and not upon the genuine 
merits of High German life, its ancient civilisation, its inex- 
haustible poetic faculty, its charming, natural, and democratic 
customs. It was from the turbid source of this writing that there 
also issued the party legend which continued to find credence 
for many decades, concerning the heroic struggle against the 
reactionary great powers which had been made at the Carlsbad 
conferences by the loyally allied liberal crowns of Bavaria and 

In Prussia, the glorification of the Confederation of the 
Rhine seemed so incomprehensible that no one in this country 
troubled to publish an answer, although the book aroused lively 
anger in the literary circles of Berlin. The only rejoinder was 
that entitled From North Germany, not a Manuscript written by 
J. L. von Hess of Hamburg, the man who in the year 1814 had 
written on behalf of The Freedom of the Hansa Towns. The 


The Vienna Conferences 

worthy Hanseat still spoke altogether in the spirit of the broad- 
minded patriotism of the War of Liberation, being free from 
particularist sentiment, although, after the Hanseatic manner, 
he was inclined to overvalue the "unrestricted freedom" of Ham- 
burg commerce. He cherished the hope that the state which had 
begun that national struggle would once again become " the 
centre of German unification " ; and he shamed his adversary 
by the incontrovertible reproof, that never had any North 
German writer used such malicious and unamiable language 
regarding his South German brethren not even in the days when 
Bavaria was fighting under the French flag. 

At the courts of Vienna and Berlin, the open appeal to a 
breach with the Federation aroused lively anxiety. Careful 
enquiry was made regarding the authorship of the work, and 
the first idea was that it had been written by Hormann or Aretin, 
since the pamphleteer in his introduction referred to Bavaria as 
his home ; moreover, Wangenheim declared at the Darmstadt 
conferences that the book could not have proceeded from any 
other source than Montegelas' party. 1 Subsequently a strong 
and unrefuted suspicion rested upon Lindner, and now it was 
that the libel first appeared in its true light. Invectives against 
the north on the part of such fanatical Bavarians were partly 
the outcome of ignorance ; but this Courlander, who had been 
intimately acquainted with North German life from childhood 
upwards, could not possibly have drawn his repulsive caricature 
of the North German people in good faith ; it must have been 
his intention to incite the south against the north, and from the 
days of Lindner to our own this evil practice has always been 
pursued with peculiar zeal by North German renegades. It was 
known that Lindner sometimes received literary commissions 
from King William ; quite recently he had been conducting an 
odious paper-war against Kessler, a liberal who had made himself 
obnoxious to the court by a candid description of Wiirtemberg 
conditions. 2 But Wintzingerode, acting on the king's orders, 
emphatically denied that King William had had any responsibility 
for the issue of the Manuscript, and his co-operation in this matter 
seemed indeed hardly conceivable. Who could have believed that the 
hero of Montereau should now undertake to defend the Confederation 
of the Rhine, and that with such unseemly and false self-praise 
he should extol his own services to the nation ? But when 

* * Nebenius' Report to Berstett, Darmstadt, November 14, 1820. 
2 Kiister's Report, February 12, 1820. 

3 6 9 

History of Germany 

Wintzingerode asked that severe measures should be taken against 
Lindner, because the proceedings of " this liberal lunatic " could 
not fail to embitter the great powers, the king obstinately 
refused ; and when the minister urgently renewed his application, 
the king at length informed the astonished man that he himself 
was the author of the Manuscript, that he had drafted the outlines, 
and that Lindner had merely filled them in. 1 Such were the means 
by which King William had endeavoured to revenge himself for 
the humiliation sustained in Vienna ! The count informed his 
master that he would be unable to answer for the expenses of 
the foreign office of little Wurtemberg if the confidence of the 
great powers were to be mocked in so lighthearted a manner 
but he retained office. At this time the German ministers still 
lacked a sense of personal responsibility, looking upon themselves 
in almost all cases merely as the servants of their princes. Wintz- 
ingerode considered it would have been unchivalrous to abandon 
the king in so anxious a moment, and was therefore forced to do 
his best to allay the suspicions of the German courts by mendacious 
assurances. It was labour lost. The keen insight of F. Gentz, 
which rarely failed him in literary matters, had enabled him from 
the first to detect the primary author of the Manuscript. 

The futility of the Wurtemberg trias plans was nowhere 
condemned more sharply than at the court which had thought of 
entrusting Lindner with the leadership of its own sonderbund. 
Five years earlier the trias idea had made its first appearance 
in the Bavarian press, but now, as then, the government remained 
unsympathetic. The Bavarian state was after all too great, its 
dynasty too proud, to indulge in such airy fantasies. How 
happy was King Max Joseph when for three years in succession 
he had again been untroubled by his loyal representative assem- 
blies. The reconciliation with the two great powers which had 
been effected by Zentner's prudence was thoroughly agreeable 
to the good-natured king. His mistrust of the liberals had 
increased yet further since the revolution in southern Europe 
had continually extended in scope, and since in the course of the 
summer the disturbance had even invaded Italy. When Gentz 
visited Munich in August, the king could hardly find words enough 
in which to express his devotion to the court of Vienna. He 
loved constitutions, he declared, just as little as Emperor Francis, 
and but for the unhappy Vienna congress would never have gone 
to such a length ; God be thanked, however, he had got off safely 

1 Wintzingerode. Count H. L. Wintzingerode, p. 69. 

The Vienna Conferences 

with nothing worse than a black eye, and devil a step further would 
he go now. Parliamentary institutions had effected no change 
in the customary bureaucratic regime. Even the reorganisation 
of the military system which had been promised the chambers 
remained unrealised, although two of the ablest generals, Rag- 
lovich and Baur, had for years been favouring the introduction 
of a Landwehr system modelled upon that of Prussia. The liberal- 
minded Lerchenfeld was entirely restricted to his work as a financial 
expert, and in this department his persistent and circumspect 
activities ultimately restored order, so that the price of the 
public funds increased during a few years by more than thirty 
per cent. The German policy of the court of Munich was 
directed by Rechberg and Zentner, both of whom, each after his 
own manner, were loyal to the great powers. At their instigation, 1 
the Allgemeine Zeitung published a criticism of the Manuscript 
which contained fierce mockery of all thoughts of a sonderbund. 

Meanwhile the last of the South German states, which had 
hitherto remained an absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional 
forms. Punctually, as had been promised, Grand Duke Louis 
of Hesse provided his land with a constitution by the edict of 
March 18, 1820 ; he hoped by this cautious concession, as he 
explained to the great powers, to fulfil all the expectations of the 
Vienna congress, to keep his pledged word, and at the same 
time " to secure the power of his government." 2 His confi- 
dential adviser, Grolmann, the professor of criminal jurisprudence, 
had recently with a heavy heart resigned his academic position 
at Giessen in order to accept a ministerial portfolio, feeling it his 
duty to throw his personal influence into the scale against the 
threatening anarchy. He was a man of mild and conciliatory 
disposition, professor rather than statesman, and considered that 
to the representatives of the people " all had been conceded which 
could be conceded without manifest danger of republicanisa- 
tion." 3 On this occasion, however, the venerable prince, who 
had grown grey in the views of benevolent absolutism, was utterly 
deceived regarding the mood of his country. During the long 
period of waiting, the people had been stirred up by nume- 
rous petitions and meetings ; in the mediatised territories of 

1 Zastrow's Report, November 15, 1820. 

* Note from the grand-ducal Hessian chargd d'affaires, Baron von Senden, to 
Ancillon, March 29. 1820. 

3 Grolmann to Count Solms-Laubach, March 25, 1820. 


History of Germany 

Odenwald the heavily burdened peasants had already come into actual 
conflict with the troops over the collection of the taxes. And now 
the long-desired constitution, which was to put an end to all dis- 
tresses, contained little more than a few prescriptions regarding 
the future Landtag. The genial patriarchal phraseology of the 
edict failed to secure its end owing to the extreme exiguity of the 
content. The rights of the representative bodies were very narrow ; 
the suffrage was extremely restricted ; and in the entire state, apart 
from the high officials, there were no more than 985 persons eligible 
for election. To crown the disaster, this fundamental law was 
promulgated at the very moment when the Spanish Cortes con- 
stitution, which had just been resurrected from the tomb, was 
published in the German newspapers and aroused the ecstasy of 
the liberal world. " A constitution with two chambers is no 
constitution at all," was a phrase frequently heard in the South 
German taverns when people were discussing the welfare of the 
Cortes and its hero Riego ; and F. von Spaun expressed the 
opinion, " Our Max need only wag his finger to get rid of the 
Upper House." How paltry seemed the liberties of Hesse in 
comparison with these Spanish glories ! 

The whole country was in a ferment. Certain anonymous 
pamphlets printed in Stuttgart, but proceeding from E. E. 
Hoffmann in Darmstadt, subjected the edict to unsparing and 
well-deserved criticism, and since the peasants had long been 
complaining of the pressure of taxation, the majority of the elections 
were adverse to the government. The Rhenish Hessians went so 
far as to elect the French general Eickemeyer, the man who had 
participated in the shameful surrender of Mainz, and who was 
therefore regarded at court, though unjustly, as a dangerous 
Jacobin. More than half the deputies immediately sent in a 
petition to the grand duke, couched in respectful terms, but very 
definitely expressing their view that it was impossible for them to 
recognise in the edict the promised " comprehensive constitutional 
charter," and stating that for this reason they were unable to 
swear fealty to it. Vainly did Hans von Gagern implore the 
dissatisfied representatives not to reject all possibility of under- 
standing. The remarkable imperial patriot was now pursuing the 
same path as many other diplomats of the petty states : formerly, 
in the nebulous region of federal policy, he had been a mere 
dreamer, but now, in the practical affairs of his homeland, where 
he felt firm ground under his feet, he proved a thoughtful politi- 
cian. Under his leadership, his colleagues among the lords of the 

37 2 

The Vienna Conferences 

manor and the minority of the remaining deputies sent in a 
counter-declaration to the effect that they were prepared to take 
the oath without hesitation, but only on the proviso that the grand 
duke would lay before them additional laws " for the complete 
development of the constitution." 

The situation of the little state began to become extremely 
insecure. The Prussian envoy, Baron von Otterstedt, known in 
the diplomatic world as noire ami aux mille affaires, an illuminate 
opponent of the liberals, who, in a state of continued excitement 
and mystery, oscillated between the courts of Darmstadt and 
Bieberich, depicted to his cabinet in the gloomiest possible colours 
" the truly devilish spirit " of the Hessian demagogues ;* and it 
was quite true that in Hesse a sense of pessimistic bitterness had 
notably gained the upper hand. Some of the non- jurors secretly 
hoped for a coup d'etat from above, anticipating that an outbreak 
of popular anger would ensue, and that this would constrain the 
court to make extensive concessions. The powerful mediatised, 
to whom nearly a quarter of the grand duchy belonged, likewise 
displayed a hostile spirit. Vainly had the government shortly 
before conceded them all the rights promised in the federal act, 
with a few more superadded, so that henceforward at the castle 
gate of Biidingen an Isenburg body-guard could be flaunted. 
The princes and counts were by no means satisfied, and they all 
absented themselves from the Landtag, although some years 
before they had fiercely demanded the summoning of the estates. 2 
Through Grolmann's prudence the danger was safely averted. 
He induced the grand duke to give way, soberly enough to do 
justice to the sentiments of the country, and modestly enough to 
admit past errors. In a graciously worded reply, the old ruler 
granted the request of Gagern's party, and promised that certain 
organic laws in amplification of the March edict should be sub- 
mitted to the representative assembly. After this concession, 
several of the members of the more decisive opposition also gave 
way, and on June 27th it was at length possible to open the 
Landtag. The obstinate non- jurors were excluded from the 
chamber, and the re-elections were effected everywhere without 
opposition. The Landtag immediately secured the publicity of 
its sittings, and therewith acquired great prestige, for the entire 
populace watched the deliberations with breathless attention. 
No misuse was made of the new powers ; the ministers displayed 

1 Otterstedt's Reports, June 10 and 26, July 4, 1820. 

8 Petition of the Nobles to the Grand Duke, March, 1816. 


History of Germany 

an accommodating spirit ; and under the able leadership of 
President Eigenbrodt, the noted sylviculturist, the course of the 
proceedings was at first peaceful. 

It seemed that everything was going smoothly. Even 
Marschall, who hitherto, after his manner, had abused the Darm- 
stadt demagogues to all the courts, was now pacified, declaring 
that the government had retained the upper hand, and that the 
monarchical principle was adequately safeguarded. 1 But Grol- 
mann was soon to learn how difficult it was to come to terms even 
with so reasonable a chamber. He found himself in an untenable 
position, for the legislative proposals regarding civic rights, 
ministerial responsibility, and the right of voting supply, which 
he now laid before the Landtag, in reality involved, not the 
amplification, but the repeal of the March edict, and among the 
representatives there was voiced ever more plainly the demand 
that Hesse, like the other South German states, should be granted 
a formal constitutional charter covering the whole field of con- 
stitutional law. How much simpler would it be to fulfil this 
cherished wish of the estates. The minister engaged in secret 
discussions with his brother-in-law, Arens, chancellor of the 
university of Giessen, a distinguished jurist ; with Councillor 
Hofmann, who ably conducted the finances of the state ; and 
finally with a youthful liberal official, Privy Councillor Jaup. 
Among these men, Jaup alone was inclined to the constitutional 
doctrine ; the three others all regarded a constitution as at best 
a necessary evil, and Arens was even a member of the ultra- 
conservative party and was in ill-repute in Giessen as an inexor- 
able persecutor of the demagogues. Nevertheless they all agreed 
in the view that the ferment throughout the country could be 
allayed in no other way than by the granting of a constitution. 

The grand duke expressed his approval, and on October I4th 
Hofmann astonished the Landtag by requesting it to lay before 
the government proposals concerning everything that was still 
desired in amplification of the March edict ; the points regarding 
which agreement was secured would then be formulated in 
a constitutional charter, and with its promulgation the 
March edict would become inoperative. The success of this 
measure instantly proved how accurately Grolmann had judged 
the situation. The word " constitution," which exercised an 
irresistible fascination over the hearts of this generation, worked 
like a charm : now the Hessians were going to be just as free as 

1 Marschall to the Duke of Nassau, June 30, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

the Bavarians, the Badenese, and the Wiirtembergers ! Loud 
acclamations of joy were heard on all sides. Eigenbrodt, the 
president, profoundly moved, said : " We now witness the dawn- 
ing of a glorious day, in which the bond of affection and confidence 
between a noble prince and a stalwart people will be established 
more firmly than ever before." He then closed the sitting, so 
that the great day might not be desecrated by the conduct of 
ordinary business. What a frenzy of applause greeted the grand 
duke when he appeared that evening in the theatre among his 
loyal people. Throughout the country the same enthusiasm was 
displayed ; everywhere was manifested, to quote the current 
catchword, the touching gratitude of happy children towards 
their beloved father. . 

At the courts the joyous intoxication of the Hessian people 
met with little response. How severely had the king of Wiirtem- 
berg been criticised because he had granted his constitution in 
the form of a convention, although he at least had been able to 
appeal in justification to the "good old law" of his Swabians. 
But now a second German prince had voluntarily come to an 
agreement with his estates, notwithstanding that these unques- 
tionably had no historic legal right to demand anything of the 
kind. Such an infringement of the monarchical principle seemed 
extremely dangerous. The heir-apparent and his brother Prince 
Emilius made no attempt to conceal their displeasure, and cen- 
sured the minister because behind their backs he had abused their 
aging father's good-nature. " If your brother-in-law desires to 
make peace with the Jacobins," said Prince Emilius openly to 
Arens, " I will declare war against him myself. It matters nothing 
to me that Grolmann should roll in the mire, but I will never 
forgive him for dragging my father down with him." l Of late 
Prince Emilius had gradually abandoned the Bonapartist ideals 
of his youth, and at the congress of Aix had effected a personal 
reconciliation with the new rulers of Europe. An admirable 
soldier, able, well-informed, and energetic, he was henceforward 
for many years one of the pillars of the ultra-conservative party 
in South Germany. Otterstedt, who enjoyed his especial con- 
fidence, said of him : "He lives only in and by the monarchical 
principle, knowing how to defend it like a true knight." The 
prince's mood became gloomier because in these very days the 
firmly established discipline of the little army, to which he was 
devoted body and soul, seemed shaken. Lieutenant Schulz, 

1 Prince Emilius of Hesse to Otterstedt, October 14, 1820. 


History of Germany 

that member of the Unconditionals who had disseminated his 
revolutionary Question and Answer Booklet among the peasants 
was acquitted by court-martial. So unjust a decision (and its 
injustice was admitted even by Grolmann) would have been 
impossible a year earlier. No one could fail to recognise that the 
exciting intelligence of the mutinies among the Spanish and 
the Italian troops had obscured the sense of military duty in the 
officers of the court-martial. 1 

Du Thil, moreover, who had taken no part in the decision 
of the ministry, was much concerned. He admitted, indeed, 
that the existence of a constitution might have a tran- 
quillising effect. Just as three hundred years earlier the whole 
world had been fiercely taking sides for and against transubstan- 
tiation, so now " constitution-mania is the fashionable disease." 
Nevertheless he regarded it as " a piece of incredible heedlessness 
to furnish a dreadful example of an assembly of popular repre- 
sentatives negotiating with a government about a constitution." * 
Otterstedt, finally, who was eternally in a state of excitement, 
spoke in his reports as if the Jacobins were in control ; he implored 
his government to express its formal disapproval in a ministerial 
despatch, and to suggest that Grolmann, after giving such proofs 
of untrustworthiness, must on no account be allowed to remain 
minister for foreign affairs. 

The old duke himself began to vacillate once more, and 
promised his son Emilius, in profound confidence, that Grol- 
mann should hand over the portfolio of foreign affairs to du Thil 
as soon as the great powers should express a desire to that effect. 3 
The diplomats of neighbouring states looked with intense anxiety 
towards " the theatre of intrigues " which now existed at Darm- 
stadt. Goltz, in Frankfort, considered it certain that the sinister 
Wangenheim must be taking a hand in this game ; Marschall 
lamented the manner in which " a weak ruler and an inexperi- 
enced and feckless minister had let the reins drop from their 
hands."* The Prussian court, however, maintained on this 
occasion, as always in connection with these constitutional 
struggles in the south, an attitude of benevolent reserve. The 
fussy envoy received strict instructions to avoid any 

1 Otterstedt's Report, October 23 ; Grolmann to Otterstedt, October 19, 1820. 

1 Du Thil to Otterstedt, October 23, 1820. 

Otterstedt's Reports, October 18, 23, 29 ; Prince Emilius of Hesse to Otter- 
stedt, October 29, 1820. 

* Goltz to Hardenberg, November 21 ; Marschall to Berstett, October 16, 


The Vienna Conferences 

interference. Bernstorff did not even think it desirable that 
Grolmann should be deprived of his position as minister for foreign 
affairs, for in that case he would pay even less attention to the 
opinion of the great powers. l Such being the mood of the Prussian 
statesmen, Metternich was likewise unwilling to take any decisive 
step, although on one occasion he despatched an extremely 
unfriendly note to Darmstadt, saying that as long as the averting 
of the Italian revolution occupied his whole energies, it was 
desirable that all complications should be avoided in Germany. 

Meanwhile the ultras in Darmstadt had recovered from their 
alarm, for the attitude of the chambers corresponded fully with 
the minister's expectations. Appeased by the promise of a 
constitution, the representatives henceforward showed them- 
selves extremely amenable, and Grolmann was able to assure the 
Prussian envoy with perfect justice that the grand duke's decision 
had prepared a defeat for the radical party, and that the govern- 
ment, now established upon popular confidence, was more 
powerful than ever before. Arens, too, declared to the anxious 
Prussian envoy that it was impossible to withstand the current 
of universal opinion, suggesting that this might be a pointer for 
Prussia herself ; while Gagern dictated to Otterstedt a despatch 
explaining to the court of Berlin that the Hessians could 
never consent to lag behind their South German neighbours, and 
that for this reason nothing short of a constitutional charter could 
content the Landtag. 2 These discourses did not fail of their 
effect ; and Otterstedt, being a well-meaning man, now considered 
it his duty to appease the discontent of the Austrian envoy von 
Handel, and also to exhort to circumspection the two princes, 
who were still profoundly ill-humoured. Owing to his represen- 
tations and to those of du Thil, the princes recognised that it would 
not become them to make an open stand against their father, and 
both of them therefore made conciliatory declarations in the Upper 
House. Finally, in order to win his sons over, the grand duke 
now summoned them to his ministry, thus proving once more, 
as Prince Emilius wrote with gratification, that the old ruler 
" desired vigorously to maintain the monarchical principle." 3 

In the ministerial council general agreement was now secured 
upon a good idea which deprived the doctrinaires of the 

1 Instructions to Otterstedt : from Bernstorff, Troppau, November n ; from 
Ancillon, Berlin, November 11, 1820. 

2 Grolmann to Otterstedt, October 17 ; Arens to Otterstedt, October 15 ; 
Memoire du Baron de Gagern, October 29, 1820. 

* Prince Emilius of Hesse to Otterstedt, October 29, 1820. 

377 2 C 

History of Germany 

monarchical principle of their ultimate formal objection. It was 
decided that the constitutional charter should indeed be drafted 
precisely in accordance with the accepted proposals of the estates, 
but should subsequently be bestowed upon the country by the 
crown without any further consultation of the Landtag, as a free 
gift of princely grace. Thus the fundamental law, although in 
reality secured by agreement with the Landtag, would take the 
form of a constitution granted from above, and the spectre of a 
political fundamental convention so terrifying to the rigid 
monarchists would be happily laid. At the same time, Lieutenant 
Schulz was dismissed the army, after Prince Emilius and the 
officers of his regiment had urgently petitioned the grand duke 
for " the removal of so unworthy a soldier " ; and when this had 
been done the princes for the first time became completely recon- 
ciled with the new order of affairs. 1 Respect for their elderly ruler 
induced the representative assemblies to accept with pleasure 
even the form of bestowal of the constitution, since in essential 
respects they had secured the fulfilment of almost all their desires ; 
nor was any contradiction expressed when the minister maintained 
the extremely debatable opinion that in the previous March the 
wisdom of the grand duke had enabled him to foresee the precise 
course of events. To sum up, by his skilful and firm manage- 
ment of the affair, Grolmann had first of all defeated the radicals, 
and had then completely disarmed the opposition at court, which, 
in view of the commencing decrepitude of the grand duke, might 
have caused incalculable damage. On December I7th the funda- 
mental law was signed, and then, with a renewed outburst of 
ardent delight, was accepted by the chambers. 

The Hessian constitution was very similar to the Badenese, 
but the Upper House, in accordance with the example set by Wiir- 
temberg, consisted only of nobles with a few members nominated 
by the sovereign prince. The landed gentry took their seats in 
the Lower House beside the representatives of the great towns 
and of the mixed electoral districts, so that " the aristocratic 
principle shall not gain the upper hand to an excessive degree " ; 
and since during the constitutional struggle experience had shown 
clearly enough how small was the value placed upon a Darmstadt 
house of peers by the old families which had been immediates of 
the empire, this difficulty was met in Hesse as it had been in 
Wurtemberg by the remarkable prescription that a chamber which 

1 Petition of Prince Emilius and the Officers of the Chevauxlegers to the 
Grand Duke, November, 1820. 


The Vienna Conferences 

did not form a quorum was to be regarded as assentient. In 
respect of the quorum required for the conduct of business in the 
Lower House, the Hessian constitution, like all the other new fun- 
damental laws of the south, contained extremely petty provisions. 
Since the bureaucracy regarded the legislative body as a govern- 
ment office which must conduct business for certain official 
hours, and since the popular representatives were salaried, the 
South German constitutions demanded that at least half, and in 
Bavaria and Wiirtemberg even two-thirds, of the representatives 
should always be present a pettifogging ordinance which has 
ever since remained an unfortunate peculiarity of German parlia- 
mentary life, and which has greatly lowered the popular prestige 
of our representative institutions. 

Taken as a whole, the Hessian fundamental law corresponded 
with the country's needs. Even the Prussian government recog- 
nised this, and expressed its warmest congratulations to the grand 
duke and his loyal subjects. " By the happy turn in the progress 
of this great affair," wrote Ancillon, " the monarchical principle, 
the fundamental principle of all German representative consti- 
tutions, has been maintained, inasmuch as his royal highness has 
himself deigned to grant this fundamental law to his estates, and 
since the freedom of his sovereign will and the lofty wisdom of 
his determinations have been manifested equally in what has been 
acceded to the wishes of the chambers and in what has been denied 
to these wishes." 1 The spirit of concord which animated this 
Landtag prevailed unenfeebled until the close of the session in 
the summer of 1821 ; nowhere did the honeymoon of constitutional 
life run its course so smoothly as in Darmstadt. Certain impor- 
tant laws were passed for the removal of the burdens on the 
peasantry, and henceforward the freeing of the soil was furthered 
with so much zeal that the complete economic enfranchisement of 
the countryfolk was secured at an earlier date in Hesse than in 
any other German state. The inhabitants of Hesse-Darmstadt, 
from the altitude of their modern conditions of life, looked down 
with intense self-satisfaction upon their neighbours in Electoral 
Hesse, and were accustomed to say, " When the last trump sounds, 
we will migrate to Electoral Hesse, for there they are always half 
a century behind the times." 

In this way throughout South Germany the constitutional 
form of government had become predominant, and unquestionable 
1 Ancillon to Senden, January 10, 1821. 

History of Germany 

as it was that this course of affairs was necessary and whole- 
some, it was equally unquestionable that it introduced serious 
obstacles in the way of national unification. It was by Napoleon 
and by the victories of the Confederation of the Rhine that in 
the dismembered fragments of the south there had been first 
awakened a sense of community, a consciousness of High German 
distinctive peculiarity, which in the eighteenth century had still 
slumbered. Now, when the South Germans had begun to esteem 
their beautiful homeland as the classic region of German free- 
dom, and to despise the great national memories of the armed 
north, this sense of separateness became accentuated. The 
chasm between north and south widened during subsequent years, 
and not until after painful disillusionments did the South Ger- 
mans learn that nothing but the unity of Germany could safeguard 
their political freedom 



WHILST the Vienna conferences were engaged in Sisyphean labours 
upon the federal constitution, in Berlin a task was concluded 
which, though little regarded outside of Prussia, was to prove 
of far greater importance to Germany's future than all the pro- 
ceedings of federal policy. In his old age, the chancellor put the 
finishing touches to the work of internal reform. He had regarded 
life with renewed confidence since the overthrow of his detested 
adversary Humboldt. He felt as if his youth had returned, and 
all the proud hopes of the first years of his chancellorship were 
revived. Just as then, a virtual dictator, he had twice emptied 
over the state a cornucopia of new laws, so now he proposed to 
terminate at a single stroke the reordering of the national economy. 
In the interim, a committee of the council of state, under the 
presidency of Klewitz and Billow, had completed the drafting 
of the new tax laws ; another committee, under the personal 
guidance of the chancellor, had examined the condition of the 
state finances and of the national debt. In the former committee 
J. G. Hoffmann was the leading intelligence ; in the latter 
C. Rother. These two men were among Hardenberg's closest 
intimates, and he regarded their achievements as his own. 

In three long addresses, he expounded his financial design to 
the king, and as soon as, on January iath, he had convinced 
the monarch of the essential soundness of his views, he proposed 
that all the new laws concerning taxation and the national debt 
should at once be promulgated ; l subsequently, in the course of 
the same year, were to be promulgated the new communes', circles', 
and provinces' ordinances, and finally the national constitution. 
In his impatience, he overlooked the fact that he had himself 
some time ago annulled the dictatorial authority with which the 

1 Hardenberg's Diary, January 10, n, and 12, 1820. 


History of Germany 

king had entrusted him in the early days of the chancellorship. 
The new ministry of state and the council of state had now been 
in existence for years, and the ordinance prescribing the consti- 
tution of the last-named authority declared in unambiguous terms 
that all proposals for new legislation and for the reform of existing 
laws must be made to the king through the instrumentality of 
the council of state. Hardenberg, indeed, who had grown grey 
in the enjoyment of power, had long ceased to observe this 
prescription, for it seemed to him absurd that in relation to his 
own officials an absolute monarch should be thus restricted by 
forms. The sixteen new laws of the year 1818 received the 
royal sanction only after they had been discussed in the 
council of state ; but in the following year, of twenty-seven 
new laws no more than sixteen were laid before that body. 1 

Thus the chancellor had already accustomed himself to ignore 
the council of state, and least of all in connection with the 
extremely unpopular finance laws did he desire to renounce this 
summary procedure. Since Humboldt's fall, the mood in official 
circles had become even more embittered. The love of scandal- 
mongering, the original sin of the capital, now became as con- 
spicuous as it had been shortly before the battle of Jena ; everyone 
indulged in criticism and complaint, doing this the more vigorously 
in proportion to the exalted character of his station. What 
abominable lies Varnhagen, filled with malicious glee, was now 
enabled every evening to unload into the foul morass of his 
diary ! After his recall he had been allotted a handsome pension, 
in order to content him and to blunt the point of his sharp pen. 2 
Moreover, he did not dare to attack the government openly. 
Instead, assuming the office of Acting Supreme Privy Knight of 
the Pen (as he was termed by the apt wit of the town), whispering 
and eavesdropping, he went stealthily about among the high 
officials and the authors of the capital. Here he learned from a 
most trustworthy source how scandalously General Knesebeck 
(a man of inviolable probity) was misusing military funds, not 
forgetting the while to line his own nest ; the no less honourable 
Rother, who had recently bought an estate in Silesia, must 
assuredly have obtained the funds for this purchase by pecu- 
lation ; no treasury-note, it was said in these circles, should be 

1 Such was the reckoning made in the year 1827 by Duke Charles of Meck- 
lenburg, president of the council of state (Memorial concerning the Council of 
State. March 8. 1827). 

1 Ministerial Despatch to Kiister, August 7, 1819. 


Last Reforms of Hardenberg 

kept in the house overnight, for it was impossible to trust such a 
government for as long as twenty-four hours. Amid this febrile 
access of fault-finding, it did indeed seem a serious matter to 
lay before the council of state the legislative proposal dealing with 
the national debt, with all the disagreeable secrets which would 
thus be laid bare. A passionate dispute concerning each individual 
item in the account would inevitably ensue, and it would be 
impossible to keep these dissensions quiet. Since political parties 
did not as yet possess any other arena, almost all the important 
discussions in the council of state had hitherto soon become known 
in the upper circles of Berlin, always with detestable exaggera- 
tions, and more than once the king had found it necessary to give 
the members of the council a reminder of the duty of official secrecy. 
The national credit was already insecure, and such gloomy 
rumours could not fail to give it a fatal blow. With incredible 
difficulty Klewitz was able to keep the quotation of treasury- 
bonds at seventy to seventy-one ; in the following February, 
however, liabilities to the Navigation Company would fall due, 
to the amount of more than three million thalers ; moreover, 
the deficit of the years 1817-19, a deficit whosQ existence Hum- 
boldt and his friends had so persistently denied, was now unmis- 
takable, and must immediately be met. The need of ready 
money was crying ; Rother had begun negotiations for a loan 
with several banks, and what would happen to these negotiations 
if the promised regulation of the national debt problem were to 
be once again postponed for many months, and if the public, which 
was in any case inclined to take a gloomy view of the country's 
financial straits, were to be further disquieted by partially true 
reports derived from the council of state ? So pressing was the 
pecuniary embarrassment that the immediate promulgation of 
the tax laws seemed to the chancellor indispensable. Whilst 
the ministry and the council of state might subsequently discuss 
the laws, and propose a few amendments, it was impossible for 
the state to wait a single month longer before tapping the new 
sources of revenue. " What would your majesty think," wrote 
Hardenberg to the king, " of the chief administrator of a large 
town, faced by the outbreak of a conflagration threatening 
universal destruction, and aware that the appliances for combating 
such an outbreak were defective, if, instead of immediately turning 
to account all the means at his disposal, he were first to propose 
a discussion in the town council concerning the provision of 
improved appliances ? " 


History of Germany 

The king's sense of justice made it impossible for him to agree 
to the use of such arbitrary measures. Frederick William was 
afraid that the disregard of formalities would yet further increase 
the disfavour with which the tax laws would certainly be received ; 
he insisted that the council of state should be consulted as pre- 
scribed by the regulations, and sent Witzleben from Potsdam with 
instructions to talk over the impatient chancellor. 1 As the king's 
confidant explained, what was now essential was " to reduce to 
order the finances of a state which resembled a dismasted ship 
driven about by the winds and the waves of this stormy time, a 
ship which could not merely be kept afloat by the wise captaincy 
of a great statesman, but which would arise renewed like a 
phoenix." In face of so comprehensive an undertaking, it would 
never do to disregard the fundamental laws of the state, and 
among these fundamental laws must be reckoned the ordinances 
concerning the council of state and the ministry of state, which, 
" until replaced, must be regarded as the national charter." In 
the last resort, the deficit in the revenue which would arise from 
the postponement of the tax laws, could now, as in the year 1808, 
be covered by deductions from official salaries. " No other motive 
actuates me," declared Witzleben in conclusion, " than my con- 
viction of the importance of the matter, and my anxiety that 
the lustre of a name which shines so brightly in the annals of 
the fatherland should not be dimmed through the infringement 
of laws which the bearer of that name had himself instituted." 2 

Hardenberg was by no means convinced even by these cordial 
exhortations, but he could not disregard the monarch's express 
desire. The king, however, had also come to recognise that the 
regulation of this matter of the debt would be impossible unless 
inviolable secrecy were preserved, and consequently, upon Rother's 
proposal, a compromise was adopted. It was determined that 
the rights of the two highest authorities should be respected as 
far as possible, and therefore that all the tax laws, which did in 
fact require a detailed re-examination, should be submitted to the 
ministry and the council of state, but the national debt edicts 
were to be immediately promulgated. 8 

1 Albrecht to Hardenberg, January 13 and 16, 1820. 

1 Witzleber, Humble Memorandum, January 16, 1820. C. Dieterici, in his 
Geschichte der Steuerreform in Preussen, Berlin, 1875, quotes (on p. 235) certain 
passages from this memorial, but erroneously describes it as a Royal Instruction 
to the chancellor. 

3 Rother to Hardenberg, January 16 ; Hardenberg to Rother, January 16; 
Hardenberg's Diary, January 16 and 17, 1820. 


Last Reforms of Hardenberg 

On January 17, 1820, the ordinance concerning the national 
debt was therefore issued, giving a statement of liabilities, and 
declaring this statement final. At length, four full years after the 
conclusion of peace, Prussians were to learn the tragical legacy 
of Napoleonic days. At the end of the year 1806, the entire 
national debt had been a little less than 54,500,000 thalers ; the 
debt now amounted to 180,091,720 thalers in interest-bearing 
bonds, more than 11,000,000 thalers in paper money on which 
no interest was paid, and nearly 26,000,000 thalers representing 
provincial debts taken over by the state ; thus the total debt 
was 217,248,762 thalers, about as much as the entire state revenue 
for four and a quarter years. Of the interest-bearing debt, the 
chief item consisted of 119,500,000 thalers. These bonds, intro- 
duced by Hardenberg in the year 1810, had since July i, 1814, 
regularly received interest at the rate of four per cent., and it was 
proposed that all the state debt should gradually be converted 
into treasury bonds. Twenty-four different varieties of debt 
with which the state had been burdened amid the turmoils of 
the time Russian and Polish promissory notes, bills for arrears 
of salary, vouchers given in exchange for army requisitions, 
Kalckreuth-Danzig bonds, etc. had already been converted into 
treasury bonds. In this matter Prussia acted with a fairness and 
honesty almost unparalleled in European financial history. For 
example, King Jerome had written down to a third of their 
nominal value the territorial bonds taken over with his Old Prus- 
sian provinces. When the region was restored to its former ruler, 
the matter had long ceased to rankle, and as far as legal obligation 
was concerned it was unquestionable that all Prussia need do 
was to assume responsibility for her share in the Westphalian debt 
at current valuation. The king, however, desired the name of 
Prussia to remain unsullied, and, notwithstanding the financial 
need of the hour, recognised the outstanding debt at the full 
original value of 7,200,000 thalers, and also paid the astonished 
creditors the arrears of interest for the years 1814 and 1815. 
Even this piece of meticulous honesty was rewarded with calumny 
at the hands of disaffected members of high society, Marwitz 
grumbling that the chancellor had thrown yet another gift into 
the rapacious maw of his favourite