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History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 by C. A. Fyffe

Part 17 out of 21

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the flag of Victor Emmanuel. Persano reached Naples on the 3rd of August,
and on the next day the negotiations between the two Courts were broken
off. On the 19th Garibaldi crossed from Sicily to the mainland. His march
upon the capital was one unbroken triumph.

[Persano and Villamarina at Naples.]

[Departure of King Francis, Sept. 6.]

[Garibaldi enters Naples, Sept. 7.]

It was the hope of Cavour that before Garibaldi could reach Naples a
popular movement in the city itself would force the King to take flight, so
that Garibaldi on his arrival would find the machinery of government, as
well as the command of the fleet and the army, already in the hands of
Victor Emmanuel's representatives. If war with Austria was really
impending, incalculable mischief might be caused by the existence of a
semi-independent Government at Naples, reckless, in its enthusiasm for the
march on Rome, of the effect which its acts might produce on the French
alliance. In any case the control of Italian affairs could but half belong
to the King and his Minister if Garibaldi, in the full glory of his
unparalleled exploits, should add the Dictatorship of Naples to the
Dictatorship of Sicily. Accordingly Cavour plied every art to accelerate
the inevitable revolution. Persano and the Sardinian ambassador,
Villamarina, had their confederates in the Bourbon Ministry and in the
Royal Family itself. But their efforts to drive King Francis from Naples,
and to establish the authority of Victor Emmanuel before Garibaldi's
arrival, were baffled partly by the tenacity of the King and Queen, partly
by the opposition of the committees of the Party of Action, who were
determined that power should fall into no hands but those of Garibaldi
himself. It was not till Garibaldi had reached Salerno, and the Bourbon
generals had one after another declined to undertake the responsibility of
command in a battle against him, that Francis resolved on flight. It was
now feared that he might induce the fleet to sail with him, and even that
he might hand it over to the Austrians. The crews, it was believed, were
willing to follow the King; the officers, though inclined to the Italian
cause, would be powerless to prevent them. There was not an hour to lose.
On the night of September 5th, after the King's intention to quit the
capital had become known, Persano and Villamarina disguised themselves, and
in company with their partisans mingled with the crews of the fleet, whom
they induced by bribes and persuasion to empty the boilers and to cripple
the engines of their ships. When, on the 6th, King Francis, having
announced his intention to spare the capital bloodshed, went on board a
mail steamer and quitted the harbour, accompanied by the ambassadors of
Austria, Prussia, and Spain, only one vessel of the fleet of followed him.
An urgent summons was sent to Garibaldi, whose presence was now desired by
all parties alike in order to prevent the outbreak of disorders. Leaving
his troops at Salerno, Garibaldi came by railroad to Naples on the morning
of the 7th, escorted only by some of his staff. The forts were still
garrisoned by eight thousand of the Bourbon troops, but all idea of
resistance had been abandoned, and Garibaldi drove fearlessly through the
city in the midst of joyous crowds. His first act as Dictator was to
declare the ships of war belonging to the State of the Two Sicilies united
to those of King Victor Emmanuel under Admiral Persano's command. Before
sunset the flag of Italy was hoisted by the Neapolitan fleet. The army was
not to be so easily incorporated with the national forces. King Francis,
after abandoning the idea of a battle between Naples and Salerno, had
ordered the mass of his troops to retire upon Capua in order to make a
final struggle on the line of the Volturno, and this order had been obeyed.

[The Piedmontese army enters Umbria and the Marches. Sept. 11.]

[Fall of Ancona, Sept. 25.]

As soon as it had become evident that the entry of Garibaldi into Naples
could not be anticipated by the establishment of Victor Emmanuel's own
authority, Cavour recognised that bold and aggressive action on the part of
the National Government was now necessity. Garibaldi made no secret or his
intention to carry the Italian arms to Rome. The time was past when the
national movement could be checked at the frontiers of Naples and Tuscany.
It remained only for Cavour to throw the King's own troops into the Papal
States before Garibaldi could move from Naples, and, while winning for
Italy the last foot of ground that could be won without an actual conflict
with France, to stop short at those limits where the soldiers of Napoleon
would certainly meet an invader with their fire. The Pope was still in
possession of the Marches, of Umbria, and of the territory between the
Apennines and the coast from Orvieto to Terracina. Cavour had good reason
to believe that Napoleon would not strike on behalf of the Temporal Power
until this last narrow district was menaced. He resolved to seize upon the
Marches and Umbria, and to brave the consequences. On the day of
Garibaldi's entry into Naples a despatch was sent by Cavour to the Papal
Government requiring, in the name of Victor Emmanuel, the disbandment of
the foreign mercenaries who in the previous spring had plundered Perugia,
and whose presence was a continued menace to the peace of Italy. The
announcement now made by Napoleon that he must break off diplomatic
relations with the Sardinian Government in case of the invasion of the
Papal States produced no effect. Cavour replied that by no other means
could he prevent revolution from mastering all Italy, and on the 10th of
September the French ambassador quitted Turin. Without waiting for
Antonelli's answer to his ultimatum, Cavour ordered the King's troops to
cross the frontier. The Papal army was commanded by Lamoricière, a French
general who had gained some reputation in Algiers; but the resistance
offered to the Piedmontese was unexpectedly feeble. The column which
entered Umbria reached the southern limit without encountering any serious
opposition except from the Irish garrison of Spoleto. In the Marches, where
Lamoricière had a considerable force at his disposal, the dispersion of the
Papal troops and the incapacity shown in their command brought the campaign
to a rapid and inglorious end. The main body of the defenders was routed on
the Musone, near Loreto, on the 19th of September. Other divisions
surrendered, and Ancona alone remained to Lamoricière. Vigorously attacked
in this fortress both by land and sea, Lamoricière surrendered after a
siege of eight days. Within three weeks from Garibaldi's entry into Naples
the Piedmontese army had completed the task imposed upon it, and Victor
Emmanuel was master of Italy as far as the Abruzzi.

[Cavour, Garibaldi, and the Party of Action.]

Cavour's successes had not come a day too soon, for Garibaldi, since his
entry into Naples, was falling more and more into the hands of the Party of
Action, and, while protesting his loyalty to Victor Emmanuel, was openly
announcing that he would march the Party of on Rome whether the King's
Government permitted it or no. In Sicily the officials appointed by this
Party were proceeding with such violence that Depretis, unable to obtain
troops from Cavour, resigned his post. Garibaldi suddenly appeared at
Palermo on the 11th of September, appointed a new Pro-Dictator, and
repeated to the Sicilians that their union with the Kingdom of Victor
Emmanuel must be postponed until all members of the Italian family were
free. But even the personal presence and the angry words of Garibaldi were
powerless to check the strong expression of Sicilian opinion in favour of
immediate and unconditional annexation. His visit to Palermo was answered
by the appearance of a Sicilian deputation at Turin demanding immediate
union, and complaining that the island was treated by Garibaldi's officers
like a conquered province. At Naples the rash and violent utterances of the
Dictator were equally condemned. The Ministers whom he had himself
appointed resigned. Garibaldi replaced them by others who were almost
Republicans, and sent a letter to Victor Emmanuel requesting him to consent
to the march upon Rome and to dismiss Cavour. It was known in Turin that at
this very moment Napoleon was taking steps to increase the French force in
Rome, and to garrison the whole of the territory that still remained to the
Pope. Victor Emmanuel understood how to reply to Garibaldi's letter. He
remained true to his Minister, and sent orders to Villamarina at Naples in
case Garibaldi should proclaim the Republic to break off all relations with
him and to secure the fleet. The fall of Ancona on September 28th brought a
timely accession of popularity and credit to Cavour. He made the Parliament
which assembled at Turin four days later arbiter in the struggle between
Garibaldi and himself, and received from it an almost unanimous vote of
confidence. Garibaldi would perhaps have treated lightly any resolution of
Parliament which conflicted with his own opinion: he shrank from a breach
with the soldier of Novara and Solferino. Now, as at other moments of
danger, the character and reputation of Victor Emmanuel stood Italy in good
stead. In the enthusiasm which Garibaldi's services to Italy excited in
every patriotic heart, there was room for thankfulness that Italy possessed
a sovereign and a statesman strong enough even to withstand its hero when
his heroism endangered the national cause. [501]

[The armies on the Volturno.]

[Meeting of Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi, Oct. 26.]

[Fall of Gaeta, Feb. 14, 1861.]

The King of Naples had not yet abandoned the hope that one or more of the
European Powers would intervene in his behalf. The trustworthy part of his
army had gathered round the fortress of Capua on the Volturno, and there
were indications that Garibaldi would here meet with far more serious
resistance than he had yet encountered. While he was still in Naples, his
troops, which had pushed northwards, sustained a repulse at Cajazzo.
Emboldened by this success, the Neapolitan army at the beginning of October
assumed the offensive. It was with difficulty that Garibaldi, placing
himself again at the head of his forces, drove the enemy back to Capua. But
the arms of Victor Emmanuel were now thrown into the scale. Crossing the
Apennines, and driving before him the weak force that was intended to bar
his way at Isernia, the King descended in the rear of the Neapolitan army.
The Bourbon commander, warned of his approach, moved northwards on the line
of the Garigliano, leaving a garrison to defend Capua. Garibaldi followed
on his track, and in the neighbourhood of Teano met King Victor Emmanuel
(October 26th). The meeting is said to have been cordial on the part of the
King, reserved on the part of Garibaldi, who saw in the King's suite the
men by whom he had been prevented from invading the Papal States in the
previous year. In spite of their common patriotism the volunteers of
Garibaldi and the army of Victor Emmanuel were rival bodies, and the
relations between the chiefs of each camp were strained and difficult.
Garibaldi himself returned to the siege of Capua, while the King marched
northwards against the retreating Neapolitans. All that was great in
Garibaldi's career was now in fact accomplished. The politicians about him
had attempted at Naples, as in Sicily, to postpone the union with Victor
Emmanuel's monarchy, and to convoke a Southern Parliament which should fix
the conditions on which annexation would be permitted; but, after
discrediting the General, they had been crushed by public opinion, and a
popular vote which was taken at the end of October on the question of
immediate union showed the majority in favour of this course to be
overwhelming. After the surrender of Capua on the 2nd of November, Victor
Emmanuel made his entry into Naples. Garibaldi, whose request for the
Lieutenancy of Southern Italy for the space of a year with full powers was
refused by the King, [502] declined all minor honours and rewards, and
departed to his home, still filled with resentment against Cavour, and
promising his soldiers that he would return in the spring and lead them to
Rome and Venice. The reduction of Gaeta, where King Francis II. had taken
refuge, and of the citadel of Messina, formed the last act of the war. The
French fleet for some time prevented the Sardinians from operating against
Gaeta from the sea, and the siege in consequence made slow progress. It was
not until the middle of January, 1861, that Napoleon permitted the French
admiral to quit his station. The bombardment was now opened both by land and
sea, and after a brave resistance Gaeta surrendered on the 14th of
February. King Francis and his young Queen, a sister of the Empress of
Austria, were conveyed in a French steamer to the Papal States, and there
began their life-long exile. The citadel of Messina, commanded by one of
the few Neapolitan officers who showed any soldierly spirit, maintained its
obstinate defence for a month after the Bourbon flag had disappeared from
the mainland.

[Cavour's policy with regard to Rome and Venice.]

[The Free Church in the Free State.]

Thus in the spring of 1861, within two years from the outbreak of war with
Austria, Italy with the exception of Rome and Venice was united under
Victor Emmanuel. Of all the European Powers, Great Britain alone watched
the creation of the new Italian Kingdom with complete sympathy and
approval. Austria, though it had made peace at Zürich, declined to renew
diplomatic intercourse with Sardinia, and protested against the assumption
by Victor Emmanuel of the title of King of Italy. Russia, the ancient
patron of the Neapolitan Bourbons, declared that geographical conditions
alone prevented its intervention against their despoilers. Prussia, though
under a new sovereign, had not yet completely severed the ties which bound
it to Austria. Nevertheless, in spite of wide political ill-will, and of
the passionate hostility of the clerical party throughout Europe, there was
little probability that the work of the Italian people would be overthrown
by external force. The problem which faced Victor Emmanuel's Government was
not so much the frustration of reactionary designs from without as the
determination of the true line of policy to be followed in regard to Rome
and Venice. There were few who, like Azeglio, held that Rome might be
permanently left outside the Italian Kingdom; there were none who held this
of Venice. Garibaldi might be mad enough to hope for victory in a campaign
against Austria and against France at the head of such a troop as he
himself could muster; Cavour would have deserved ill of his country if he
had for one moment countenanced the belief that the force which had
overthrown the Neapolitan Bourbons could with success, or with impunity to
Italy, measure itself against the defenders of Venetia or of Rome. Yet the
mind of Cavour was not one which could rest in mere passive expectancy as
to the future, or in mere condemnation of the unwise schemes of others. His
intelligence, so luminous, so penetrating, that in its utterances we seem
at times to be listening to the very spirit of the age, ranged over wide
fields of moral and of spiritual interests in its forecast of the future of
Italy, and spent its last force in one of those prophetic delineations
whose breadth and power the world can feel, though a later time alone can
judge of their correspondence with the destined course of history. Venice
was less to Europe than Rome; its transfer to Italy would, Cavour believed,
be effected either by arms or negotiations so soon as the German race
should find a really national Government, and refuse the service which had
hitherto been exacted from it for the maintenance of Austrian interests. It
was to Prussia, as the representative of nationality in Germany, that
Cavour looked as the natural ally of Italy in the vindication of that part
of the national inheritance which still lay under the dominion of the
Hapsburg. Rome, unlike Venice, was not only defended by foreign arms, it
was the seat of a Power whose empire over the mind of man was not the sport
of military or political vicissitudes. Circumstances might cause France to
relax its grasp on Rome, but it was not to such an accident that Cavour
looked for the incorporation of Rome with Italy. He conceived that the time
would arrive when the Catholic world would recognise that the Church would
best fulfil its task in complete separation from temporal power. Rome would
then assume its natural position as the centre of the Italian State; the
Church would be the noblest friend, not the misjudging enemy, of the
Italian national monarchy. Cavour's own religious beliefs were perhaps less
simple than he chose to represent them. Occupying himself, however, with
institutions, not with dogmas, he regarded the Church in profound
earnestness as a humanising and elevating power. He valued its independence
so highly that even on the suppression of the Piedmontese monasteries he
had refused to give to the State the administration of the revenue arising
from the sale of their lands, and had formed this into a fund belonging to
the Church itself, in order that the clergy might not become salaried
officers of the State. Human freedom was the principle in which he trusted;
and looking upon the Church as the greatest association formed by men, he
believed that here too the rule of freedom, of the absence of
State-regulation, would in the end best serve man's highest interests. With
the passing away of the Pope's temporal power, Cavour imagined that the
constitution of the Church itself would become more democratic, more
responsive to the movement of the modern world. His own effort in
ecclesiastical reform had been to improve the condition and to promote the
independence of the lower clergy. He had hoped that each step in their
moral and material progress would make them more national at heart; and
though this hope had been but partially fulfilled, Cavour had never ceased
to cherish the ideal of a national Church which, while recognising its Head
in Rome, should cordially and without reserve accept the friendship of the
Italian State. [503]

[Death of Cavour, June 6, 1861.]

[Free Church in Free State.]

It was in the exposition of these principles, in the enforcement of the
common moral interest of Italian nationality and the Catholic Church, that
Cavour gave his last counsels to the Italian Parliament. He was not himself
to lead the nation farther towards the Promised Land. The immense exertions
which he had maintained during the last three years, the indignation and
anxiety caused to him by Garibaldi's attacks, produced an illness which
Cavour's own careless habits of life and the unskilfulness of his doctors
rendered fatal. With dying lips he repeated to those about him the words in
which he had summed up his policy in the Italian Parliament: "A free Church
in a free State." [504] Other Catholic lands had adjusted by Concordats
with the Papacy the conflicting claims of temporal and spiritual authority
in such matters as the appointment of bishops, the regulation of schools,
the family-rights of persons married without ecclesiastical form. Cavour
appears to have thought that in Italy, where the whole nation was in a
sense Catholic, the Church might as safely and as easily be left to manage
its own affairs as in the United States, where the Catholic community is
only one among many religious societies. His optimism, his sanguine and
large-hearted tolerance, was never more strikingly shown than in this
fidelity to the principle of liberty, even in the case of those who for the
time declined all reconciliation with the Italian State. Whether Cavour's
ideal was an impracticable fancy a later age will decide. The ascendency
within the Church of Rome would seem as yet to have rested with the
elements most opposed to the spirit of the time, most obstinately bent on
setting faith and reason in irreconcilable enmity. In place of that
democratic movement within the hierarchy and the priesthood which Cavour
anticipated, absolutism has won a new crown in the doctrine of Papal
Infallibility. Catholic dogma has remained impervious to the solvents which
during the last thirty years have operated with perceptible success on the
theology of Protestant lands. Each conquest made in the world of thought
and knowledge is still noted as the next appropriate object of denunciation
by the Vatican. Nevertheless the cautious spirit will be slow to conclude
that hopes like those of Cavour were wholly vain. A single generation may
see but little of the seed-time, nothing of the harvests that are yet to
enrich mankind. And even if all wider interests be left out of view, enough
remains to justify Cavour's policy of respect for the independence of the
Church in the fact that Italy during the thirty years succeeding the
establishment of its union has remained free from civil war. Cavour was
wont to refer to the Constitution which the French National Assembly
imposed upon the clergy in 1790 as the type of erroneous legislation. Had
his own policy and that of his successors not been animated by a wiser
spirit; had the Government of Italy, after overthrowing the Pope's temporal
sovereignty, sought enemies among the rural priesthood and their
congregations, the provinces added to the Italian Kingdom by Garibaldi
would hardly have been maintained by the House of Savoy without a second
and severer struggle. Between the ideal Italy which filled the thoughts not
only of Mazzini but of some of the best English minds of that time--the
land of immemorial greatness, touched once more by the divine hand and
advancing from strength to strength as the intellectual and moral pioneer
among nations--between this ideal and the somewhat hard and commonplace
realities of the Italy of to-day there is indeed little enough resemblance.
Poverty, the pressure of inordinate taxation, the physical and moral habits
inherited from centuries of evil government,--all these have darkened in no
common measure the conditions from which Italian national life has to be
built up. If in spite of overwhelming difficulties each crisis has hitherto
been surmounted; if, with all that is faulty and infirm, the omens for the
future of Italy are still favourable, one source of its good fortune has
been the impress given to its ecclesiastical policy by the great statesman
to whom above all other men it owes the accomplishment of its union, and
who, while claiming for Italy the whole of its national inheritance, yet
determined to inflict no needless wound upon the conscience of Rome.


Germany after 1858--The Regency in Prussia--Army re-organisation--King
William I.--Conflict between the Crown and the Parliament--Bismarck--The
struggle continued--Austria from 1859--The October Diploma--Resistance of
Hungary--The Reichsrath--Russia under Alexander II.--Liberation of the
Serfs--Poland--The Insurrection of 1863--Agrarian measures in
Poland--Schleswig-Holstein--Death of Frederick VII.--Plans of
Bismarck--Campaign in Schleswig--Conference of London--Treaty of
Vienna--England and Napoleon III.--Prussia and Austria--Convention of
Gastein--Italy--Alliance of Prussia with Italy--Proposals for a Congress
fail--War between Austria and Prussia--Napoleon III.--Königgrätz--
Custozza-Mediation of Napoleon--Treaty of Prague--South Germany--Projects
for compensation to France--Austria and Hungary--Deák--Establishment of
the Dual System in Austria-Hungary.

[Germany from 1858.]

[The Regency in Prussia, Oct. 1858.]

Shortly before the events which broke the power of Austria in Italy, the
German people believed themselves to have entered on a new political era.
King Frederick William IV., who, since 1848, had disappointed every hope
that had been fixed on Prussia and on himself, was compelled by mental
disorder to withdraw from public affairs in the autumn of 1858. His
brother, Prince William of Prussia, who had for a year acted as the King's
representative, now assumed the Regency. In the days when King Frederick
William still retained some vestiges of his reputation the Prince of
Prussia had been unpopular, as the supposed head of the reactionary party;
but the events of the last few years had exhibited him in a better aspect.
Though strong in his belief both in the Divine right of kings in general,
and in the necessity of a powerful monarchical rule in Prussia, he was
disposed to tolerate, and even to treat with a certain respect, the humble
elements of constitutional government which he found in existence. There
was more manliness in his nature than in that of his brother, more belief
in the worth of his own people. The espionage, the servility, the overdone
professions of sanctity in Manteuffel's régime displeased him, but most of
all he despised its pusillanimity in the conduct of foreign affairs. His
heart indeed was Prussian, not German, and the destiny which created him
the first Emperor of united Germany was not of his own making nor of his
own seeking; but he felt that Prussia ought to hold a far greater station
both in Germany and in Europe than it had held during his brother's reign,
and that the elevation of the State to the position which it ought to
occupy was the task that lay before himself. During the twelve months
preceding the Regency the retirement of the King had not been treated as
more than temporary, and the Prince of Prussia, though constantly at
variance with Manteuffel's Cabinet, had therefore not considered himself at
liberty to remove his brother's advisers. His first act on the assumption
of the constitutional office of Regent was to dismiss the hated Ministry.
Prince Antony of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was called to office, and posts
in the Government were given to men well known as moderate Liberals. Though
the Regent stated in clear terms that he had no intention of forming a
Liberal party-administration, his action satisfied public opinion. The
troubles and the failures of 1849 had inclined men to be content with far
less than had been asked years before. The leaders of the more advanced
sections among the Liberals preferred for the most part to remain outside
Parliamentary life rather than to cause embarrassment to the new
Government; and the elections of 1859 sent to Berlin a body of
representatives fully disposed to work with the Regent and his Ministers in
the policy of guarded progress which they had laid down.

[Revival of idea of German union.]

This change of spirit in the Prussian Government, followed by the events
that established Italian independence, told powerfully upon public opinion
throughout Germany. Hopes that had been crushed in 1849 now revived. With
the collapse of military despotism in the Austrian Empire the clouds of
reaction seemed everywhere to be passing away; it was possible once more to
think of German national union and of common liberties in which all Germans
should share. As in 1808 the rising of the Spaniards against Napoleon had
inspired Blücher and his countrymen with the design of a truly national
effort against their foreign oppressor, so in 1859 the work of Cavour
challenged the Germans to prove that their national patriotism and their
political aptitude were not inferior to those of the Italian people. Men
who had been prominent in the National Assembly at Frankfort again met one
another and spoke to the nation. In the Parliaments of several of the minor
States resolutions were brought forward in favour of the creation of a
central German authority. Protests were made against the infringement of
constitutional rights that had been common during the last ten years;
patriotic meetings and demonstrations were held; and a National Society, in
imitation of that which had prepared the way for union with Piedmont in
Central and Southern Italy, was formally established. There was indeed no
such preponderating opinion in favour of Prussian leadership as had existed
in 1848. The southern States had displayed a strong sympathy with Austria
in its war with Napoleon III., and had regarded the neutrality of Prussia
during the Italian campaign as a desertion of the German cause. Here there
were few who looked with friendly eye upon Berlin. It was in the minor
states of the north, and especially in Hesse-Cassel, where the struggle
between the Elector and his subjects was once more breaking out, that the
strongest hopes were directed towards the new Prussian ruler, and the
measures of his government were the most anxiously watched.

[The Regent of Prussia and the army.]

[Scheme of reorganisation.]

The Prince Regent was a soldier by profession and habit. He was born in
1797, and had been present at the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube, the last fought
by Napoleon against the Allies in 1814. During forty years he had served on
every commission that had been occupied with Prussian military affairs; no
man better understood the military organisation of his country, no man more
clearly recognised its capacities and its faults. The defective condition
of the Prussian army had been the principal, though not the sole, cause of
the miserable submission to Austria at Olmütz in 1850, and of the
abandonment of all claims to German leadership on the part of the Court of
Berlin. The Prince would himself have risked all chances of disaster rather
than inflict upon Prussia the humiliation with which King Frederick William
then purchased peace; but Manteuffel had convinced his sovereign that the
army could not engage in a campaign against Austria without ruin. Military
impotence was the only possible justification for the policy then adopted,
and the Prince determined that Prussia should not under his own rule have
the same excuse for any political shortcomings. The work of reorganisation
was indeed begun during the reign of Frederick William IV., through the
enforcement of the three-years' service to which the conscript was liable
by law, but which had fallen during the long period of peace to two-years'
service. The number of troops with the colours was thus largely increased,
but no addition had been made to the yearly levy, and no improvement
attempted in the organisation of the Landwehr. When in 1859 the order for
mobilisation was given in consequence of the Italian war, it was discovered
that the Landwehr battalions were almost useless. The members of this force
were mostly married men approaching middle life, who had been too long
engaged in other pursuits to resume their military duties with readiness,
and whose call to the field left their families without means of support
and chargeable upon the public purse. Too much, in the judgment of the
reformers of the Prussian army, was required from men past youth, not
enough from youth itself. The plan of the Prince Regent was therefore to
enforce in the first instance with far more stringency the law imposing the
universal obligation to military service; and, while thus raising the
annual levy from 40,000 to 60,000 men, to extend the period of service in
the Reserve, into which the young soldier passed on the completion of his
three years with the colours, from two to four years. Asserting with
greater rigour its claim to seven years in the early life of the citizen,
the State would gain, without including the Landwehr, an effective army of
four hundred thousand men, and would practically be able to dispense with
the service of those who were approaching middle life, except in cases of
great urgency. In the execution of this reform the Government could on its
own authority enforce the increased levy and the full three years' service
in the standing army; for the prolongation of service in the Reserve, and
for the greater expenditure entailed by the new system, the consent of
Parliament was necessary.

[The Prussian Parliament and the army, 1859-1861.]

[Accession of King William, Jan., 1861.]

The general principles on which the proposed reorganisation was based were
accepted by public opinion and by both Chambers of Parliament; it was,
however, held by the Liberal leaders that the increase of expenditure
might, without impairing the efficiency of the army, be avoided by
returning to the system of two-years service with the colours, which during
so long a period had been thought sufficient for the training of the
soldier. The Regent, however, was convinced that the discipline and the
instruction of three years were indispensable to the Prussian conscript,
and he refused to accept the compromise suggested. The mobilisation of 1859
had given him an opportunity for forming additional battalions; and
although the Landwehr were soon dismissed to their homes the new formation
was retained, and the place of the retiring militiamen was filled by
conscripts of the year. The Lower Chamber, in voting the sum required in
1860 for the increased numbers of the army, treated this arrangement as
temporary, and limited the grant to one year; in spite of this the Regent,
who on the death of his brother in January, 1861, became King of Prussia,
formed the additional battalions into new regiments, and gave to these new
regiments their names and colours. The year 1861 passed without bringing
the questions at issue between the Government and the Chamber of Deputies
to a settlement. Public feeling, disappointed in the reserved and
hesitating policy which was still followed by the Court in German affairs,
stimulated too by the rapid consolidation of the Italian monarchy, which
the Prussian Government on its part had as yet declined to recognise, was
becoming impatient and resentful. It seemed as if the Court of Berlin still
shrank from committing itself to the national cause. The general confidence
reposed in the new ruler at his accession was passing away; and when in the
summer of 1861 the dissolution of Parliament took place, the elections
resulted in the return not only of a Progressist majority, but of a
majority little inclined to submit to measures of compromise, or to shrink
from the assertion of its full constitutional rights.

[First Parliament of 1862.]

[Dissolution, May, 1862.]

[Second Parliament of 1862.]

[Bismarck becomes Minister, Sept., 1862.]

The new Parliament assembled at the beginning of 1862. Under the impulse
of public opinion, the Government was now beginning to adopt a more
vigorous policy in German affairs, and to re-assert Prussia's claims to
an independent leadership in defiance of the restored Diet of Frankfort.
But the conflict with the Lower Chamber was not to be averted by revived
energy abroad. The Army Bill, which was passed at once by the Upper
House, was referred to a hostile Committee on reaching the Chamber of
Deputies, and a resolution was carried insisting on the right of the
representatives of the people to a far more effective control over the
Budget than they had hitherto exercised. The result of this vote was the
dissolution of Parliament by the King, and the resignation of the
Ministry, with the exception of General Roon, Minister of War, and two of
the most conservative among his colleagues. Prince Hohenlohe, President
of the Upper House, became chief of the Government. There was now an open
and undisguised conflict between the Crown and the upholders of
Parliamentary rights. "King or Parliament" was the expression in which
the newly-appointed Ministers themselves summed up the struggle. The
utmost pressure was exerted by the Government in the course of the
elections which followed, but in vain. The Progressist Party returned in
overwhelming strength to the new Parliament; the voice of the country
seemed unmistakably to condemn the policy to which the King and his
advisers were committed. After a long and sterile discussion in the
Budget Committee, the debate on the Army Bill began in the Lower House on
the 11th of September. Its principal clauses were rejected by an almost
unanimous vote. An attempt made by General Roon to satisfy his opponents
by a partial and conditional admission of the principle of two-years'
service resulted only in increased exasperation on both sides. Hohenlohe
resigned, and the King now placed in power, at the head of a Ministry of
conflict, the most resolute and unflinching of all his friends, the most
contemptuous scorner of Parliamentary majorities, Herr von Bismarck. [505]


The new Minister was, like Cavour, a country gentleman, and, like Cavour,
he owed his real entry into public life to the revolutionary movement of
1848. He had indeed held some obscure official posts before that epoch, but
it was as a member of the United Diet which assembled at Berlin in April,
1848, that he first attracted the attention of King or people. He was one
of two Deputies who refused to join in the vote of thanks to Frederick
William IV. for the Constitution which he had promised to Prussia.
Bismarck, then thirty-three years old, was a Royalist of Royalists, the
type, as it seemed, of the rough and masterful Junker, or Squire, of the
older parts of Prussia, to whom all reforms from those of Stein downwards
were hateful, all ideas but those of the barrack and the kennel alien.
Others in the spring of 1848 lamented the concessions made by the Crown to
the people; Bismarck had the courage to say so. When reaction came there
were naturally many, and among them King Frederick William, who were
interested in the man who in the heyday of constitutional enthusiasm had
treated the whole movement as so much midsummer madness, and had remained
faithful to monarchical authority as the one thing needful for the Prussian
State. Bismarck continued to take a prominent part in the Parliaments of
Berlin and Erfurt; it was not, however, till 1851 that he passed into the
inner official circle. He was then sent as the representative of Prussia to
the restored Diet of Frankfort. As an absolutist and a conservative,
brought up in the traditions of the Holy Alliance, Bismarck had in earlier
days looked up to Austria as the mainstay of monarchical order and the
historic barrier against the flood of democratic and wind-driven sentiment
which threatened to deluge Germany. He had even approved the surrender made
at Olmütz in 1850, as a matter of necessity; but the belief now grew strong
in his mind, and was confirmed by all he saw at Frankfort, that Austria
under Schwarzenberg's rule was no longer the Power which had been content
to share the German leadership with Prussia in the period before 1848, but
a Power which meant to rule in Germany uncontrolled. In contact with the
representatives of that outworn system which Austria had resuscitated at
Frankfort, and with the instruments of the dominant State itself, Bismarck
soon learnt to detest the paltriness of the one and the insolence of the
other. He declared the so-called Federal system to be a mere device for
employing the secondary German States for the aggrandisement of Austria and
the humiliation of Prussia. The Court of Vienna, and with it the Diet of
Frankfort, became in his eyes the enemy of Prussian greatness and
independence. During the Crimean war he was the vigorous opponent of an
alliance with the Western Powers, not only from distrust of France, and
from regard towards Russia as on the whole the most constant and the most
natural ally of his own country, but from the conviction that Prussia ought
to assert a national policy wholly independent of that of the Court of
Vienna. That the Emperor of Austria was approaching more or less nearly to
union with France and England was, in Bismarck's view, a good reason why
Prussia should stand fast in its relations of friendship with St.
Petersburg. [506] The policy of neutrality, which King Frederick William
and Manteuffel adopted more out of disinclination to strenuous action than
from any clear political view, was advocated by Bismarck for reasons which,
if they made Europe nothing and Prussia everything, were at least inspired
by a keen and accurate perception of Prussia's own interests in its present
and future relations with its neighbours. When the reign of Frederick
William ended, Bismarck, who stood high in the confidence of the new
Regent, was sent as ambassador to St. Petersburg. He subsequently
represented Prussia for a short time at the Court of Napoleon III., and was
recalled by the King from Paris in the autumn of 1862 in order to be placed
at the head of the Government. Far better versed in diplomacy than in
ordinary administration, he assumed, together with the Presidency of the
Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[Bismarck and the Lower Chamber, 1862.]

There were now at the head of the Prussian State three men eminently suited
to work with one another, and to carry out, in their own rough and military
fashion, the policy which was to unite Germany under the House of
Hohenzollern. The King, Bismarck, and Roon were thoroughly at one in their
aim, the enforcement of Prussia's ascendency by means of the army. The
designs of the Minister, which expanded with success and which involved a
certain daring in the choice of means, were at each new development so ably
veiled or disclosed, so dexterously presented to the sovereign, as to
overcome his hesitation on striking into many an unaccustomed path. Roon
and his workmen, who, in the face of a hostile Parliament and a hostile
Press, had to supply to Bismarck what a foreign alliance and enthusiastic
national sentiment had supplied to Cavour, forged for Prussia a weapon of
such temper that, against the enemies on whom it was employed, no
extraordinary genius was necessary to render its thrust fatal. It was no
doubt difficult for the Prime Minister, without alarming his sovereign and
without risk of an immediate breach with Austria, to make his ulterior aims
so clear as to carry the Parliament with him in the policy of military
reorganisation. Words frank even to brutality were uttered by him, but they
sounded more like menace and bluster than the explanation of a
well-considered plan. "Prussia must keep its forces together," he said in
one of his first Parliamentary appearances, "its boundaries are not those
of a sound State. The great questions of the time are to be decided not by
speeches and votes of majorities but by blood and iron." After the
experience of 1848 and 1850, a not too despondent political observer might
well have formed the conclusion that nothing less than the military
overthrow of Austria could give to Germany any tolerable system of national
government, or even secure to Prussia its legitimate field of action. This
was the keystone of Bismarck's belief, but he failed to make his purpose
and his motives intelligible to the representatives of the Prussian people.
He was taken for a mere bully and absolutist of the old type. His personal
characteristics, his arrogance, his sarcasm, his habit of banter,
exasperated and inflamed. Roon was no better suited to the atmosphere of a
popular assembly. Each encounter of the Ministers with the Chamber
embittered the struggle and made reconciliation more difficult. The
Parliamentary system of Prussia seemed threatened in its very existence
when, after the rejection by the Chamber of Deputies of the clause in the
Budget providing for the cost of the army-reorganisation, this clause was
restored by the Upper House, and the Budget of the Government passed in its
original form. By the terms of the Constitution the right of the Upper
House in matters of taxation was limited to the approval or rejection of
the Budget sent up to it from the Chamber of Representatives. It possessed
no power of amendment. Bismarck, however, had formed the theory that in the
event of a disagreement between the two Houses a situation arose for which
the Constitution had not provided, and in which therefore the Crown was
still possessed of its old absolute authority. No compromise, no
negotiation between the two Houses, was, in his view, to be desired. He was
resolved to govern and to levy taxes without a Budget, and had obtained the
King's permission to close the session immediately the Upper House had
given its vote. But before the order for prorogation could be brought down
the President of the Lower Chamber had assembled his colleagues, and the
unanimous vote of those present declared the action of the Upper House null
and void. In the agitation attending this trial of strength between the
Crown, the Ministry and the Upper House on one side and the Representative
Chamber on the other the session of 1862 closed. [507]

[King William.]

[The conflict continued, 1863.]

[Measures against the Press.]

The Deputies, returning to their constituencies, carried with them the
spirit of combat, and received the most demonstrative proofs of popular
sympathy and support. Representations of great earnestness were made to the
King, but they failed to shake in the slightest degree his confidence in
his Minister, or to bend his fixed resolution to carry out his military
reforms to the end. The claim of Parliament to interfere with matters of
military organisation in Prussia touched him in his most sensitive point.
He declared that the aim of his adversaries was nothing less than the
establishment of a Parliamentary instead of a royal army. In perfect
sincerity he believed that the convulsions of 1848 were on the point of
breaking out afresh. "You mourn the conflict between the Crown and the
national representatives," he said to the spokesman of an important
society; "do I not mourn it? I sleep no single night." The anxiety, the
despondency of the sovereign were shared by the friends of Prussia
throughout Germany; its enemies saw with wonder that Bismarck in his
struggle with the educated Liberalism of the middle classes did not shrink
from dalliance with the Socialist leaders and their organs. When Parliament
reassembled at the beginning of 1863 the conflict was resumed with even
greater heat. The Lower Chamber carried an address to the King, which,
while dwelling on the loyalty of the Prussian people to their chief,
charged the Ministers with violating the Constitution, and demanded their
dismissal. The King refused to receive the deputation which was to present
the address, and in the written communication in which he replied to it he
sharply reproved the Assembly for their errors and presumption. It was in
vain that the Army Bill was again introduced. The House, while allowing the
ordinary military expenditure for the year, struck out the costs of the
reorganisation, and declared Ministers personally answerable for the sums
expended. Each appearance of the leading members of the Cabinet now became
the signal for contumely and altercation. The decencies of debate ceased to
be observed on either side. When the President attempted to set some limit
to the violence of Bismarck and Roon, and, on resistance to his authority,
terminated the sitting, the Ministers declared that they would no longer
appear in a Chamber where freedom of speech was denied to them. Affairs
came to a deadlock. The Chamber again appealed to the King, and insisted
that reconciliation between the Crown and the nation was impossible so long
as the present Ministers remained in office. The King, now thoroughly
indignant, charged the Assembly with attempting to win for itself supreme
power, expressed his gratitude to his Ministers for their resistance to
this usurpation, and declared himself too confident in the loyalty of the
Prussian people to be intimidated by threats. His reply was followed by the
prorogation of the Assembly (May 26th). A dissolution would have been worse
than useless, for in the actual state of public opinion the Opposition
would probably have triumphed throughout the country. It only remained for
Bismarck to hold his ground, and, having silenced the Parliament for a
while, to silence the Press also by the exercise of autocratic power. The
Constitution authorised the King, in the absence of the Chambers, to
publish enactments on matters of urgency having the force of laws. No
sooner had the session been closed than an edict was issued empowering the
Government, without resort to courts of law, to suppress any newspaper
after two warnings. An outburst of public indignation branded this return
to the principles of pure despotism in Prussia; but neither King nor
Minister was to be diverted by threats or by expostulations from his
course. The Press was effectively silenced. So profound, however, was the
distrust now everywhere felt as to the future of Prussia, and so deep the
resentment against the Minister in all circles where Liberal influences
penetrated, that the Crown Prince himself, after in vain protesting against
a policy of violence which endangered his own prospective interests in the
Crown, publicly expressed his disapproval of the action of Government. For
this offence he was never forgiven.

[Austria from 1859.]

The course which affairs were taking at Berlin excited the more bitter
regret and disappointment among all friends of Prussia as at this very time
it seemed that constitutional government was being successfully established
in the western part of the Austrian Empire. The centralised military
despotism with which Austria emerged from the convulsions of 1848 had been
allowed ten years of undisputed sway; at the end of this time it had
brought things to such a pass that, after a campaign in which there had
been but one great battle, and while still in possession of a vast army and
an unbroken chain of fortresses, Austria stood powerless to move hand or
foot. It was not the defeat of Solferino or the cession of Lombardy that
exhibited the prostration of Austria's power, but the fact that while the
conditions of the Peace of Zürich were swept away, and Italy was united
under Victor Emmanuel in defiance of the engagements made by Napoleon III.
at Villafranca, the Austrian Emperor was compelled to look on with folded
arms. To have drawn the sword again, to have fired a shot in defence of the
Pope's temporal power or on behalf of the vassal princes of Tuscany and
Modena, would have been to risk the existence of the Austrian monarchy. The
State was all but bankrupt; rebellion might at any moment break out in
Hungary, which had already sent thousands of soldiers to the Italian camp.
Peace at whatever price was necessary abroad, and at home the system of
centralised despotism could no longer exist, come what might in its place.
It was natural that the Emperor should but imperfectly understand at the
first the extent of the concessions which it was necessary for him to make.
He determined that the Provincial Councils which Schwarzenberg had promised
in 1850 should be called into existence, and that a Council of the Empire
(Reichsrath), drawn in part from these, should assemble at Vienna, to
advise, though not to control, the Government in matters of finance. So
urgent, however, were the needs of the exchequer, that the Emperor
proceeded at once to the creation of the Central Council, and nominated its
first members himself. (March, 1860.)


[Centralists and Federalists in the Council.]

[The Diploma of Oct 20, 1860.]

That the Hungarian members nominated by the Emperor would decline to appear
at Vienna unless some further guarantee was given for the restoration of
Hungarian liberty was well known. The Emperor accordingly promised to
restore the ancient county-organisation, which had filled so great a space
in Hungarian history before 1848, and to take steps for assembling the
Hungarian Diet. This, with the repeal of an edict injurious to the
Protestants, opened the way for reconciliation, and the nominated
Hungarians took their place in the Council, though under protest that the
existing arrangement could only be accepted as preparatory to the full
restitution of the rights of their country. The Council continued in
session during the summer of 1860. Its duties were financial; but the
establishment of financial equilibrium in Austria was inseparable from the
establishment of political stability and public confidence; and the
Council, in its last sittings, entered on the widest constitutional
problems. The non-German members were in the majority; and while all
parties alike condemned the fallen absolutism, the rival declarations of
policy submitted to the Council marked the opposition which was
henceforward to exist between the German Liberals of Austria and the
various Nationalist or Federalist groups. The Magyars, uniting with those
who had been their bitterest enemies, declared that the ancient
independence in legislation and administration of the several countries
subject to the House of Hapsburg must be restored, each country retaining
its own historical character. The German minority contended that the
Emperor should bestow upon his subjects such institutions as, while based
on the right of self-government should secure the unity of the Empire and
the force of its central authority. All parties were for a constitutional
system and for local liberties in one form or another; but while the
Magyars and their supporters sought for nothing less than national
independence, the Germans would at the most have granted a uniform system
of provincial self-government in strict subordination to a central
representative body drawn from the whole Empire and legislating for the
whole Empire. The decision of the Emperor was necessarily a compromise. By
a Diploma published on the 20th of October he promised to restore to
Hungary its old Constitution, and to grant wide legislative rights to the
other States of the Monarchy, establishing for the transaction of affairs
common to the whole Empire an Imperial Council, and reserving for the
non-Hungarian members of this Council a qualified right of legislation for
all the Empire except Hungary. [508]

[Hungary resists the establishment of a Central Council.]

The Magyars had conquered their King; and all the impetuous patriotism that
had been crushed down since the ruin of 1849 now again burst into flame.
The County Assemblies met, and elected as their officers men who had been
condemned to death in 1849 and who were living in exile; they swept away
the existing law-courts, refused the taxes, and proclaimed the legislation
of 1848 again in force. Francis Joseph seemed anxious to avert a conflict,
and to prove both in Hungary and in the other parts of the Empire the
sincerity of his promises of reform, on which the nature of the provincial
Constitutions which were published immediately after the Diploma of October
had thrown some doubt. At the instance of his Hungarian advisers he
dismissed the chief of his Cabinet, and called to office Schmerling, who,
in 1848, had been Prime Minister of the German National Government at
Frankfort. Schmerling at once promised important changes in the provincial
systems drawn up by his predecessor, but in his dealings with Hungary he
proved far less tractable than the Magyars had expected. If the Hungarians
had recovered their own constitutional forms, they still stood threatened
with the supremacy of a Central Council in all that related to themselves
in common with the rest of the Empire, and against this they rebelled. But
from the establishment of this Council of the Empire neither the Emperor
nor Schmerling would recede. An edict of February 26th, 1861, while it made
good the changes promised by Schmerling in the several provincial systems,
confirmed the general provisions of the Diploma of October, and declared
that the Emperor would maintain the Constitution of his dominions as now
established against an attack.

[Conflict of Hungary with the Crown, 1861.]

In the following April the Provincial Diets met throughout the Austrian
Empire, and the Diet of the Hungarian Kingdom assembled at Pesth. The first
duty of each of these bodies was to elect representatives to the Council of
the Empire which was to meet at Vienna. Neither Hungary nor Croatia,
however, would elect such representatives, each claiming complete
legislative independence, and declining to recognise any such external
authority as it was now proposed to create. The Emperor warned the
Hungarian Diet against the consequences of its action; but the national
spirit of the Magyars was thoroughly roused, and the County Assemblies vied
with one another in the violence of their addresses to the Sovereign. The
Diet, reviving the Constitutional difficulties connected with the
abdication of Ferdinand, declared that it would only negotiate for the
coronation of Francis Joseph after the establishment of a Hungarian
Ministry and the restoration of Croatia and Transylvania to the Hungarian
Kingdom. Accepting Schmerling's contention that the ancient constitutional
rights of Hungary had been extinguished by rebellion, the Emperor insisted
on the establishment of a Council for the whole Empire, and refused to
recede from the declarations which he had made in the edict of February.
The Diet hereupon protested, in a long and vigorous address to the King,
against the validity of all laws made without its own concurrence, and
declared that Francis Joseph had rendered an agreement between the King and
the nation impossible. A dissolution followed. The County Assemblies took
up the national struggle. They in their turn were suppressed; their
officers were dismissed, and military rule was established throughout the
land, though with explicit declarations on the part of the King that it was
to last only till the legally existing Constitution could be brought into
peaceful working. [509]

[The Reichsrath at Vienna, May, 1861-Dec., 1862.]

[Second session of the Reichsrath, 1863.]

[The Reichsrath at Vienna, May, 1861-Dec., 1862.]

[Second session of the Reichsrath, 1863.]

Meanwhile the Central Representative Body, now by enlargement of its
functions and increase in the number of its members made into a Parliament
of the Empire, assembled at Vienna. Its real character was necessarily
altered by the absence of representatives from Hungary; and for some time
the Government seemed disposed to limit its competence to the affairs of
the Cis-Leithan provinces; but after satisfying himself that no accord with
Hungary was possible, the Emperor announced this fact to the Assembly, and
bade it perform its part as the organ of the Empire at large, without
regard to the abstention of those who did not choose to exercise their
rights. The Budget for the entire Empire was accordingly submitted to the
Assembly, and for the first time the expenditure of the Austrian State was
laid open to public examination and criticism. The first session of this
Parliament lasted, with adjournments, from May, 1861, to December, 1862. In
legislation it effected little, but its relations as a whole with the
Government remained excellent, and its long-continued activity, unbroken by
popular disturbances, did much to raise the fallen credit of the Austrian
State and to win for it the regard of Germany. On the close of the session
the Provincial Diets assembled, and throughout the spring of 1863 the
rivalry of the Austrian nationalities gave abundant animation to many a
local capital. In the next summer the Reichsrath reassembled at Vienna.
Though Hungary remained in a condition not far removed from rebellion, the
Parliamentary system of Austria was gaining in strength, and indeed, as it
seemed, at the expense of Hungary itself; for the Roumanian and German
population of Transylvania, rejoicing in the opportunity of detaching
themselves from the Magyars, now sent deputies to Vienna. While at Berlin
each week that passed sharpened the antagonism between the nation and its
Government, and made the Minister's name more odious, Austria seemed to
have successfully broken with the traditions of its past, and to be fast
earning for itself an honourable place among States of the constitutional

One of the reproaches brought against Bismarck by the Progressist majority
in the Parliament of Berlin was that he had isolated Prussia both in
Germany and in Europe. That he had roused against the Government of his
country the public opinion of Germany was true: that he had alienated
Prussia from all Europe was not the case; on the contrary, he had
established a closer relation between the Courts of Berlin and St.
Petersburg than had existed at any time since the commencement of the
Regency, and had secured for Prussia a degree of confidence and goodwill on
the part of the Czar which, in the memorable years that were to follow,
served it scarcely less effectively than an armed alliance. Russia, since
the Crimean War, had seemed to be entering upon an epoch of boundless
change. The calamities with which the reign of Nicholas had closed had
excited in that narrow circle of Russian society where thought had any
existence a vehement revulsion against the sterile and unchanging system of
repression, the grinding servitude of the last thirty years. From the
Emperor downwards all educated men believed not only that the system of
government, but that the whole order of Russian social life, must be
recast. The ferment of ideas which marks an age of revolution was in full
course; but in what forms the new order was to be moulded, through what
processes Russia was to be brought into its new life, no one knew. Russia
was wanting in capable statesmen; it was even more conspicuously wanting in
the class of serviceable and intelligent agents of Government of the second
rank. Its monarch, Alexander II., humane and well-meaning, was irresolute
and vacillating beyond the measure of ordinary men. He was not only devoid
of all administrative and organising faculty himself, but so infirm of
purpose that Ministers whose policy he had accepted feared to let him pass
out of their sight, lest in the course of a single journey or a single
interview he should succumb to the persuasions of some rival politician. In
no country in Europe was there such incoherence, such self-contradiction,
such absence of unity of plan and purpose in government as in Russia, where
all nominally depended upon a single will. Pressed and tormented by all the
rival influences that beat upon the centre of a great empire, Alexander
seems at times to have played off against one another as colleagues in the
same branch of Government the representatives of the most opposite schools
of action, and, after assenting to the plans of one group of advisers, to
have committed the execution of these plans, by way of counterpoise, to
those who had most opposed them. But, like other weak men, he dreaded
nothing so much as the reproach of weakness or inconstancy; and in the
cloud of half-formed or abandoned purposes there were some few to which he
resolutely adhered. The chief of these, the great achievement of his reign,
was the liberation of the serfs.

[Liberation of the Serfs. March, 1861.]

It was probably owing to the outbreak of the revolution of 1848 that the
serfs had not been freed by Nicholas. That sovereign had long understood
the necessity for the change, and in 1847 he had actually appointed a
Commission to report on the best means of effecting it. The convulsions of
1848, followed by the Hungarian and the Crimean Wars, threw the project
into the background during the remainder of Nicholas's reign; but if the
belief of the Russian people is well founded, the last injunction of the
dying Czar to his successor was to emancipate the serfs throughout his
empire. Alexander was little capable of grappling with so tremendous a
problem himself; in the year 1859, however, he directed a Commission to
make a complete inquiry into the subject, and to present a scheme of
emancipation. The labours of the Commission extended over two years; its
discussions were agitated, at times violent. That serfage must sooner or
later be abolished all knew; the points on which the Commission was divided
were the bestowal of land on the peasants and the regulation of the village
community. European history afforded abundant precedents in emancipation,
and under an infinite variety of detail three types of the process of
enfranchisement were clearly distinguishable from one another. Maria
Theresa, in liberating the serf, had required him to continue to render a
fixed amount of labour to his lord, and had given him on this condition
fixity of tenure in the land he occupied; the Prussian reformers had made a
division of the land between the peasant and the lord, and extinguished all
labour-dues; Napoleon, in enfranchising the serfs in the Duchy of Warsaw,
had simply turned them into free men, leaving the terms of their occupation
of land to be settled by arrangement or free contract with their former
lords. This example had been followed in the Baltic Provinces of Russia
itself by Alexander I. Of the three modes of emancipation, that based on
free contract had produced the worst results for the peasant; and though
many of the Russian landowners and their representatives in the Commission
protested against a division of the land between themselves and their serfs
as an act of agrarian revolution and spoliation, there were men in high
office, and some few among the proprietors, who resolutely and successfully
fought for the principle of independent ownership by the peasants. The
leading spirit in this great work appears to have been Nicholas Milutine,
Adjunct of the Minister of the Interior, Lanskoi. Milutine, who had drawn
up the Municipal Charta of St. Petersburg, was distrusted by the Czar as a
restless and uncompromising reformer. It was uncertain from day to day
whether the views of the Ministry of the Interior or those of the
territorial aristocracy would prevail; ultimately, however, under
instructions from the Palace, the Commission accepted not only the
principle of the division of the land, but the system of communal
self-government by the peasants themselves. The determination of the amount
of land to be held by the peasants of a commune and of the fixed rent to be
paid to the lord was left in the first instance to private agreement; but
where such agreement was not reached, the State, through arbiters elected
at local assemblies of the nobles, decided the matter itself. The rent once
fixed, the State enabled the commune to redeem it by advancing a capital
sum to be recouped by a quit-rent to the State extending over forty-nine
years. The Ukase of the Czar converting twenty-five millions of serfs into
free proprietors, the greatest act of legislation of modern times, was
signed on the 3rd of March, 1861, and within the next few weeks was read in
every church of the Russian Empire. It was a strange comment on the system
of government in Russia that in the very month in which the edict was
published both Lanskoi and Milutine, who had been its principal authors,
were removed from their posts. The Czar feared to leave them in power to
superintend the actual execution of the law which they had inspired. In
supporting them up to the final stage of its enactment Alexander had
struggled against misgivings of his own, and against influences of vast
strength alike at the Court, within the Government, and in the Provinces.
With the completion of the Edict of Emancipation his power of resistance
was exhausted, and its execution was committed by him to those who had been
its opponents. That some of the evils which have mingled with the good in
Russian enfranchisement might have been less had the Czar resolutely stood
by the authors of reform and allowed them to complete their work in
accordance with their own designs and convictions, is scarcely open to
doubt. [510]

[Poland, 1861, 1862.]

It had been the belief of educated men in Russia that the emancipation of
the serf would be but the first of a series of great organic changes,
bringing their country more nearly to the political and social level of its
European neighbours. This belief was not fulfilled. Work of importance was
done in the reconstruction of the judicial system of Russia, but in the
other reforms expected little was accomplished. An insurrection which broke
out in Poland at the beginning of 1863 diverted the energies of the
Government from all other objects; and in the overpowering outburst of
Russian patriotism and national feeling which it excited, domestic reforms,
no less than the ideals of Western civilisation, lost their interest. The
establishment of Italian independence, coinciding in time with the general
unsettlement and expectation of change which marked the first years of
Alexander's reign, had stirred once more the ill-fated hopes of the Polish
national leaders. From the beginning of the year 1861 Warsaw was the scene
of repeated tumults. The Czar was inclined, within certain limits, to a
policy of conciliation. The separate Legislature and separate army which
Poland had possessed from 1815 to 1830 he was determined not to restore;
but he was willing to give Poland a large degree of administrative
autonomy, to confide the principal offices in its Government to natives,
and generally to relax something of that close union with Russia which had
been enforced by Nicholas since the rebellion of 1831. But the concessions
of the Czar, accompanied as they were by acts of repression and severity,
were far from satisfying the demands of Polish patriotism. It was in vain
that Alexander in the summer of 1862 sent his brother Constantine as
Viceroy to Warsaw, established a Polish Council of State, placed a Pole,
Wielopolski, at the head of the Administration, superseded all the Russian
governors of Polish provinces by natives, and gave to the municipalities
and the districts the right of electing local councils; these concessions
seemed nothing, and were in fact nothing, in comparison with the national
independence which the Polish leaders claimed. The situation grew worse and
worse. An attempt made upon the life of the Grand Duke Constantine during
his entry into Warsaw was but one among a series of similar acts which
discredited the Polish cause and strengthened those who at St. Petersburg
had from the first condemned the Czar's attempts at conciliation. At length
the Russian Government took the step which precipitated revolt. A levy of
one in every two hundred of the population throughout the Empire had been
ordered in the autumn of 1862. Instructions were sent from St. Petersburg
to the effect that in raising this levy in Poland the country population
were to be spared, and that all persons who were known to be connected with
the disorders in the towns were to be seized as soldiers. This terrible
sentence against an entire political class was carried out, so far as it
lay within the power of the authorities, on the night of January 14th,
1863. But before the imperial press-gang surrounded the houses of its
victims a rumour of the intended blow had gone abroad. In the preceding
hours, and during the night of the 14th, thousands fled from Warsaw and the
other Polish towns into the forests. There they formed themselves into
armed bands, and in the course of the next few days a guerilla warfare
broke out wherever Russian troops were found in insufficient strength or
off their guard. [511]

[Poland and Russia.]

The classes in which the national spirit of Poland lived were the so-called
noblesse, numbering hundreds of thousands, the town populations, and the
priesthood. The peasants, crushed and degraded, though not nominally in
servitude, were indifferent to the national cause. On the neutrality, if
not on the support, of the peasants the Russian Government could fairly
reckon; within the towns it found itself at once confronted by an invisible
national Government whose decrees were printed and promulgated by unknown
hands, and whose sentences of death were mercilessly executed against those
whom it condemned as enemies or traitors to the national cause. So
extraordinary was the secrecy which covered the action of this National
Executive, that Milutine, who was subsequently sent by the Czar to examine
into the affairs of Poland, formed the conclusion that it had possessed
accomplices within the Imperial Government at St. Petersburg itself. The
Polish cause retained indeed some friends in Russia even after the outbreak
of the insurrection; it was not until the insurrection passed the frontier
of the kingdom and was carried by the nobles into Lithuania and Podolia
that the entire Russian nation took up the struggle with passionate and
vindictive ardour as one for life or death. It was the fatal bane of Polish
nationality that the days of its greatness had left it a claim upon vast
territories where it had planted nothing but a territorial aristocracy, and
where the mass of population, if not actually Russian, was almost
indistinguishable from the Russians in race and language, and belonged like
them to the Greek Church, which Catholic Poland had always persecuted. For
ninety years Lithuania and the border provinces had been incorporated with
the Czar's dominions, and with the exception of their Polish landowners
they were now in fact thoroughly Russian. When therefore the nobles of
these provinces declared that Poland must be reconstituted with the limits
of 1772, and subsequently took up arms in concert with the insurrectionary
Government at Warsaw, the Russian people, from the Czar to the peasant,
felt the struggle to be nothing less than one for the dismemberment or the
preservation of their own country, and the doom of Polish nationality, at
least for some generations, was sealed. The diplomatic intervention of the
Western Powers on behalf of the constitutional rights of Poland under the
Treaty of Vienna, which was to some extent supported by Austria, only
prolonged a hopeless struggle, and gave unbounded popularity to Prince
Gortschakoff, by whom, after a show of courteous attention during the
earlier and still perilous stage of the insurrection, the interference of
the Powers was resolutely and unconditionally repelled. By the spring of
1864 the insurgents were crushed or exterminated. General Muravieff, the
Governor of Lithuania, fulfilled his task against the mutinous nobles of
this province with unshrinking severity, sparing neither life nor fortune
so long as an enemy of Russia remained to be overthrown. It was at Wilna,
the Lithuanian capital, not at Warsaw, that the terrors of Russian
repression were the greatest. Muravieff's executions may have been less
numerous than is commonly supposed; but in the form of pecuniary
requisitions and fines he undoubtedly aimed at nothing less than the utter
ruin of a great part of the class most implicated in the rebellion.

[Agrarian measures in Poland.]

[Agrarian measures in Poland, 1864.]

In Poland itself the Czar, after some hesitation, determined once and for
all to establish a friend to Russia in every homestead of the kingdom by
making the peasant owner of the land on which he laboured. The
insurrectionary Government at the outbreak of the rebellion had attempted
to win over the peasantry by promising enactments to this effect, but no
one had responded to their appeal. In the autumn of 1863 the Czar recalled
Milutine from his enforced travels and directed him to proceed to Warsaw,
in order to study the affairs of Poland on the spot, and to report on the
measures necessary to be taken for its future government and organisation.
Milutine obtained the assistance of some of the men who had laboured most
earnestly with him in the enfranchisement of the Russian serfs; and in the
course of a few weeks he returned to St. Petersburg, carrying with him the
draft of measures which were to change the face of Poland. He recommended
on the one hand that every political institution separating Poland from the
rest of the Empire should be swept away, and the last traces of Polish
independence utterly obliterated; on the other hand, that the peasants, as
the only class on which Russia could hope to count in the future, should be
made absolute and independent owners of the land they occupied. Prince
Gortschakoff, who had still some regard for the opinion of Western Europe,
and possibly some sympathy for the Polish aristocracy, resisted this daring
policy; but the Czar accepted Milutine's counsel, and gave him a free hand
in the execution of his agrarian scheme. The division of the land between
the nobles and the peasants was accordingly carried out by Milutine's own
officers under conditions very different from those adopted in Russia. The
whole strength of the Government was thrown on to the side of the peasant
and against the noble. Though the population was denser in Poland than in
Russia, the peasant received on an average four times as much land; the
compensation made to the lords (which was paid in bonds which immediately
fell to half their nominal value) was raised not by quit-rents on the
peasants' lands alone, as in Russia, but by a general land-tax falling
equally on the land left to the lords, who had thus to pay a great part of
their own compensation: above all, the questions in dispute were settled,
not as in Russia by arbiters elected at local assemblies of the nobles, but
by officers of the Crown. Moreover, the division of landed property was not
made once and for all, as in Russia, but the woods and pastures remaining
to the lords continued subject to undefined common-rights of the peasants.
These common-rights were deliberately left unsettled in order that a source
of contention might always be present between the greater and the lesser
proprietors, and that the latter might continue to look to the Russian
Government as the protector or extender of their interests. "We hold
Poland," said a Russian statesman, "by its rights of common." [512]

[Russia and Polish nationality.]

Milutine, who, with all the fiery ardour of his national and levelling
policy, seems to have been a gentle and somewhat querulous invalid, and who
was shortly afterwards struck down by paralysis, to remain a helpless
spectator of the European changes of the next six years, had no share in
that warfare against the language, the religion, and the national culture
of Poland with which Russia has pursued its victory since 1863. The public
life of Poland he was determined to Russianise; its private and social life
he would probably have left unmolested, relying on the goodwill of the
great mass of peasants who owed their proprietorship to the action of the
Czar. There were, however, politicians at Moscow and St. Petersburg who
believed that the deep-lying instinct of nationality would for the first
time be called into real life among these peasants by their very elevation
from misery to independence, and that where Russia had hitherto had three
hundred thousand enemies Milutine was preparing for it six millions. It was
the dread of this possibility in the future, the apprehension that material
interests might not permanently vanquish the subtler forces which pass from
generation to generation, latent, if still unconscious, where nationality
itself is not lost, that made the Russian Government follow up the
political destruction of the Polish noblesse by measures directed against
Polish nationality itself, even at the risk of alienating the class who for
the present were effectively won over to the Czar's cause. By the side of
its life-giving and beneficent agrarian policy Russia has pursued the
odious system of debarring Poland from all means of culture and improvement
associated with the use of its own language, and has aimed at eventually
turning the Poles into Russians by the systematic impoverishment and
extinction of all that is essentially Polish in thought, in sentiment, and
in expression. The work may prove to be one not beyond its power; and no
common perversity on the part of its Government would be necessary to turn
against Russia the millions who in Poland owe all they have of prosperity
and independence to the Czar: but should the excess of Russian
propagandism, or the hostility of Church to Church, at some distant date
engender a new struggle for Polish independence, this struggle will be one
governed by other conditions than those of 1831 or 1863, and Russia will,
for the first time, have to conquer on the Vistula not a class nor a city,
but a nation.

[Berlin and St. Petersburg, 1863.]

It was a matter of no small importance to Bismarck and to Prussia that in
the years 1863 and 1864 the Court of St. Petersburg found itself confronted
with affairs of such seriousness in Poland. From the opportunity which was
then presented to him of obliging an important neighbour, and of profiting
by that neighbour's conjoined embarrassment and goodwill, Bismarck drew
full advantage. He had always regarded the Poles as a mere nuisance in
Europe, and heartily despised the Germans for the sympathy which they had
shown towards Poland in 1848. When the insurrection of 1863 broke out,
Bismarck set the policy of his own country in emphatic contrast with that
of Austria and the Western Powers, and even entered into an arrangement
with Russia for an eventual military combination in case the insurgents
should pass from one side to the other of the frontier. [513] Throughout
the struggle with the Poles, and throughout the diplomatic conflict with
the Western Powers, the Czar had felt secure in the loyalty of the stubborn
Minister at Berlin; and when, at the close of the Polish revolt, the events
occurred which opened to Prussia the road to political fortune, Bismarck
received his reward in the liberty of action given him by the Russian
Government. The difficulties connected with Schleswig-Holstein, which,
after a short interval of tranquillity following the settlement of 1852,
had again begun to trouble Europe, were forced to the very front of
Continental affairs by the death of Frederick VII., King of Denmark, in
November, 1863. Prussia had now at its head a statesman resolved to pursue
to their extreme limit the chances which this complication offered to his
own country; and, more fortunate than his predecessors of 1848, Bismarck
had not to dread the interference of the Czar of Russia as the patron and
protector of the interests of the Danish court.

[Schleswig-Holstein, 1852-1863.]

[The Patent of March 30, 1863.]

By the Treaty of London, signed on May 8th, 1852, all the great Powers,
including Prussia, had recognised the principle of the integrity of the
Danish Monarchy, and had pronounced Prince Christian of Glücksburg to be
heir-presumptive to the whole dominions of the reigning King. The rights of
the German Federation in Holstein were nevertheless declared to remain
unprejudiced; and in a Convention made with Austria and Prussia before they
joined in this Treaty, King Frederick VII. had undertaken to conform to
certain rules in his treatment of Schleswig as well as of Holstein. The
Duke of Augustenburg, claimant to the succession in Schleswig-Holstein
through the male line, had renounced his pretensions in consideration of an
indemnity paid to him by the King of Denmark. This surrender, however, had
not received the consent of his son and of the other members of the House
of Augustenburg, nor had the German Federation, as such, been a party to
the Treaty of London. Relying on the declaration of the Great Powers in
favour of the integrity of the Danish Kingdom, Frederick VII. had resumed
his attempts to assimilate Schleswig, and in some degree Holstein, to the
rest of the Monarchy; and although the Provincial Estates were allowed to
remain in existence, a national Constitution was established in October,
1855, for the entire Danish State. Bitter complaints were made of the
system of repression and encroachment with which the Government of
Copenhagen was attempting to extinguish German nationality in the border
provinces; at length, in November, 1858, under threat of armed intervention
by the German Federation, Frederick consented to exclude Holstein from the
operation of the new Constitution. But this did not produce peace, for the
inhabitants of Schleswig, severed from the sister-province and now excited
by the Italian war, raised all the more vigorous a protest against their
own incorporation with Denmark; while in Holstein itself the Government
incurred the charge of unconstitutional action in fixing the Budget without
the consent of the Estates. The German Federal Diet again threatened to
resort to force, and Denmark prepared for war. Prussia took up the cause of
Schleswig in 1861; and even the British Government, which had hitherto
shown far more interest in the integrity of Denmark than in the rights of
the German provinces, now recommended that the Constitution of 1855 should
be abolished, and that a separate legislation and administration should be
granted to Schleswig as well as to Holstein. The Danes, however, were bent
on preserving Schleswig as an integral part of the State, and the
Government of King Frederick, while willing to recognise Holstein as
outside Danish territory proper, insisted that Schleswig should be included
within the unitary Constitution, and that Holstein should contribute a
fixed share to the national expenditure. A manifesto to this effect,
published by King Frederick on the 30th of March, 1863, was the immediate
ground of the conflict now about to break out between Germany and Denmark.
The Diet of Frankfort announced that if this proclamation were not revoked
it should proceed to Federal execution, that is, armed intervention,
against the King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein. Still counting upon
foreign aid or upon the impotence of the Diet, the Danish Government
refused to change its policy, and on the 29th of September laid before the
Parliament at Copenhagen the law incorporating Schleswig with the rest of
the Monarchy under the new Constitution. Negotiations were thus brought to
a close, and on the 1st of October the Diet decreed the long-threatened
Federal execution. [514]

[Death of Frederick VII., November, 1863.]

[Federal execution in Holstein. December, 1863.]

Affairs had reached this stage, and the execution had not yet been put in
force, when, on the 15th of November, King Frederick VII. died. For a
moment it appeared possible that his successor, Prince Christian of
Glücksburg, might avert the conflict with Germany by withdrawing from the
position which his predecessor had taken up. But the Danish people and
Ministry were little inclined to give way; the Constitution had passed
through Parliament two days before King Frederick's death, and on the 18th
of November it received the assent of the new monarch. German national
feeling was now as strongly excited on the question of Schleswig-Holstein
as it had been in 1848. The general cry was that the union of these
provinces with Denmark must be treated as at an end, and their legitimate
ruler, Frederick of Augustenburg, son of the Duke who had renounced his
rights, be placed on the throne. The Diet of Frankfort, however, decided to
recognise neither of the two rival sovereigns in Holstein until its own
intervention should have taken place. Orders were given that a Saxon and a
Hanoverian corps should enter the country; and although Prussia and Austria
had made a secret agreement that the settlement of the Schleswig-Holstein
question was to be conducted by themselves independently of the Diet, the
tide of popular enthusiasm ran so high that for the moment the two leading
Powers considered it safer not to obstruct the Federal authority, and the
Saxon and Hanoverian troops accordingly entered Holstein as mandatories of
the Diet at the end of 1863. The Danish Government, offering no resistance,
withdrew its troops across the river Eider into Schleswig.

[Plans of Bismarck.]

[Union of Austria and Prussia.]

[Austrian and Prussian troops enter Schleswig. Feb., 1864.]

From this time the history of Germany is the history of the profound and
audacious statecraft and of the overmastering will of Bismarck; the nation,
except through its valour on the battle-field, ceases to influence the
shaping of its own fortunes. What the German people desired in 1864 was
that Schleswig-Holstein should be attached, under a ruler of its own, to
the German Federation as it then existed; what Bismarck intended was that
Schleswig-Holstein, itself incorporated more or less directly with Prussia,
should be made the means of the destruction of the existing Federal system
and of the expulsion of Austria from Germany. That another petty State,
bound to Prussia by no closer tie than its other neighbours, should be
added to the troop among whom Austria found its vassals and its
instruments, would have been in Bismarck's eyes no gain but actual
detriment to Germany. The German people desired one course of action;
Bismarck had determined on something totally different; and with matchless
resolution and skill he bore down all opposition of people and of Courts,
and forced a reluctant nation to the goal which he had himself chosen for
it. The first point of conflict was the apparent recognition by Bismarck of
the rights of King Christian IX. as lawful sovereign in the Duchies as well
as in the rest of the Danish State. By the Treaty of London Prussia had
indeed pledged itself to this recognition; but the German Federation had
been no party to the Treaty, and under the pressure of a vehement national
agitation Bavaria and the minor States one after another recognised
Frederick of Augustenburg as Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. Bismarck was
accused alike by the Prussian Parliament and by the popular voice of
Germany at large of betraying German interests to Denmark, of abusing
Prussia's position as a Great Power, of inciting the nation to civil war.
In vain he declared that, while surrendering no iota of German rights, the
Government of Berlin must recognise those treaty-obligations with which its
own legal title to a voice in the affairs of Schleswig was intimately bound
up, and that the King of Prussia, not a multitude of irresponsible and
ill-informed citizens, must be the judge of the measures by which German
interests were to be effectually protected. His words made no single
convert either in the Prussian Parliament or in the Federal Diet. At
Frankfort the proposal made by the two leading Powers that King Christian
should be required to annul the November Constitution, and that in case of
his refusal Schleswig also should be occupied, was rejected, as involving
an acknowledgment of the title of Christian as reigning sovereign. At
Berlin the Lower Chamber refused the supplies which Bismarck demanded for
operations in the Duchies, and formally resolved to resist his policy by
every means at its command. But the resistance of Parliament and of Diet
were alike in vain. By a masterpiece of diplomacy Bismarck had secured the
support and co-operation of Austria in his own immediate Danish policy,
though but a few months before he had incurred the bitter hatred of the
Court of Vienna by frustrating its plans for a reorganisation of Germany by
a Congress of princes at Frankfort, and had frankly declared to the
Austrian ambassador at Berlin that if Austria did not transfer its
political centre to Pesth and leave to Prussia free scope in Germany, it
would find Prussia on the side of its enemies in the next war in which it
might be engaged. [515] But the democratic and impassioned character of the
agitation in the minor States in favour of the Schleswig-Holsteiners and
their Augustenburg pretender had enabled Bismarck to represent this
movement to the Austrian Government as a revolutionary one, and by a
dexterous appeal to the memories of 1848 to awe the Emperor's advisers into
direct concert with the Court of Berlin, as the representative of
monarchical order, in dealing with a problem otherwise too likely to be
solved by revolutionary methods and revolutionary forces. Count Rechberg,
the Foreign Minister at Vienna, was lured into a policy which, after
drawing upon Austria a full share of the odium of Bismarck's Danish plans,
after forfeiting for it the goodwill of the minor States with which it
might have kept Prussia in check, and exposing it to the risk of a European
war, was to confer upon its rival the whole profit of the joint enterprise,
and to furnish a pretext for the struggle by which Austria was to be
expelled alike from Germany and from what remained to it of Italy. But of
the nature of the toils into which he was now taking the first fatal and
irrevocable step Count Rechberg appears to have had no suspicion. A seeming
cordiality united the Austrian and Prussian Governments in the policy of
defiance to the will of all the rest of Germany and to the demands of their
own subjects. It was to no purpose that the Federal Diet vetoed the
proposed summons to King Christian and the proposed occupation of
Schleswig. Austria and Prussia delivered an ultimatum at Copenhagen
demanding the repeal of the November Constitution; and on its rejection
their troops entered Schleswig, not as the mandatories of the German
Federation, but as the instruments of two independent and allied Powers.
(Feb. 1, 1864.)

[Campaign in Schleswig. Feb.-April, 1864.]

Against the overwhelming forces by which they were thus attacked the Danes
could only make a brave but ineffectual resistance. Their first line of
defence was the Danewerke, a fortification extending east and west towards
the sea from the town of Schleswig. Prince Frederick Charles, who commanded
the Prussian right, was repulsed in an attack upon the easternmost part of
this work at Missunde; the Austrians, however, carried some positions in
the centre which commanded the defenders' lines, and the Danes fell back
upon the fortified post of Düppel, covering the narrow channel which
separates the island of Alsen from the mainland. Here for some weeks they
held the Prussians in check, while the Austrians, continuing the march
northwards, entered Jutland. At length, on the 18th of April, after several
hours of heavy bombardment, the lines of Düppel were taken by storm and the
defenders driven across the channel into Alsen. Unable to pursue the enemy
across this narrow strip of sea, the Prussians joined their allies in
Jutland, and occupied the whole of the Danish mainland as far as the Lüm
Fiord. The war, however, was not to be terminated without an attempt on the
part of the neutral Powers to arrive at a settlement by diplomacy. A
Conference was opened at London on the 20th of April, and after three weeks
of negotiation the belligerents were induced to accept an armistice. As the
troops of the German Federation, though unconcerned in the military
operations of the two Great Powers, were in possession of Holstein, the
Federal Government was invited to take part in the Conference. It was
represented by Count Beust, Prime Minister of Saxony, a politician who was
soon to rise to much greater eminence; but in consequence of the diplomatic
union of Prussia and Austria the views entertained by the Governments of
the secondary German States had now no real bearing on the course of
events, and Count Beust's earliest appearance on the great European stage
was without result, except in its influence on his own career. [516]

[Conference of London. April, 1864.]

The first proposition laid before the Conference was that submitted by
Bernstorff, the Prussian envoy, to the effect that Schleswig-Holstein
should receive complete independence, the question whether King Christian
or some other prince should be sovereign of the new State being reserved
for future settlement. To this the Danish envoys replied that even on the
condition of personal union with Denmark through the Crown they could not
assent to the grant of complete independence to the Duchies. Raising their
demand in consequence of this refusal, and declaring that the war had made
an end of the obligations subsisting under the London Treaty of 1852, the
two German Powers then demanded that Schleswig-Holstein should be
completely separated from Denmark and formed into a single State under
Frederick of Augustenburg, who in the eyes of Germany possessed the best
claim to the succession. Lord Russell, while denying that the acts or
defaults of Denmark could liberate Austria and Prussia from their
engagements made with other Powers in the Treaty of London, admitted that
no satisfactory result was likely to arise from the continued union of the
Duchies with Denmark, and suggested that King Christian should make an
absolute cession of Holstein and of the southern part of Schleswig,
retaining the remainder in full sovereignty. The frontier-line he proposed
to draw at the River Schlei. To this principle of partition both Denmark
and the German Powers assented, but it proved impossible to reach an
agreement on the frontier-line. Bernstorff, who had at first required
nearly all Schleswig, abated his demands, and would have accepted a line
drawn westward from Flensburg, so leaving to Denmark at least half the
province, including the important position of Düppel. The terms thus
offered to Denmark were not unfavourable. Holstein it did not expect, and
could scarcely desire, to retain; and the territory which would have been
taken from it in Schleswig under this arrangement included few districts
that were not really German. But the Government of Copenhagen, misled by
the support given to it at the Conference by England and Russia--a support
which was one of words only--refused to cede anything north of the town of
Schleswig. Even when in the last resort Lord Russell proposed that the
frontier-line should be settled by arbitration the Danish Government held
fast to its refusal, and for the sake of a few miles of territory plunged
once more into a struggle which, if it was not to kindle a European war of
vast dimensions, could end only in the ruin of the Danes. The expected help
failed them. Attacked and overthrown in the island of Alsen, the German
flag carried to the northern extremity of their mainland, they were
compelled to make peace on their enemies' terms. Hostilities were brought
to a close by the signature of Preliminaries on the 1st of August; and by
the Treaty of Vienna, concluded on the 30th of October, 1864, King
Christian ceded his rights in the whole of Schleswig-Holstein to the
sovereigns of Austria and Prussia jointly, and undertook to recognise
whatever dispositions they might make of those provinces.

[Great Britain and Napoleon III.]

The British Government throughout this conflict had played a sorry part, at
one moment threatening the Germans, at another using language towards the
Danes which might well be taken to indicate an intention of lending them
armed support. To some extent the errors of the Cabinet were due to the
relation which existed between Great Britain and Napoleon III. It had up to
this time been considered both at London and at Paris that the Allies of
the Crimea had still certain common interests in Europe; and in the
unsuccessful intervention at St. Petersburg on behalf of Poland in 1863 the
British and French Governments had at first gone hand in hand. But behind
every step openly taken by Napoleon III. there was some half-formed design
for promoting the interests of his dynasty or extending the frontiers of
France; and if England had consented to support the diplomatic concert at
St. Petersburg by measures of force, it would have found itself engaged in
a war in which other ends than those relating to Poland would have been the
foremost. Towards the close of the year 1863 Napoleon had proposed that a
European Congress should assemble, in order to regulate not only the
affairs of Poland but all those European questions which remained
unsettled. This proposal had been abruptly declined by the English
Government; and when in the course of the Danish war Lord Palmerston showed
an inclination to take up arms if France would do the same, Napoleon was
probably not sorry to have the opportunity of repaying England for its
rejection of his own overtures in the previous year. He had moreover hopes
of obtaining from Prussia an extension of the French frontier either in
Belgium or towards the Rhine. [517] In reply to overtures from London,
Napoleon stated that the cause of Schleswig-Holstein to some extent
represented the principle of nationality, to which France was friendly, and
that of all wars in which France could engage a war with Germany would be
the least desirable. England accordingly, if it took up arms for the Danes,
would have been compelled to enter the war alone; and although at a later
time, when the war was over and the victors were about to divide the spoil,
the British and French fleets ostentatiously combined in manoeuvres at
Cherbourg, this show of union deceived no one, least of all the resolute
and well-informed director of affairs at Berlin. To force, and force alone,
would Bismarck have yielded. Palmerston, now sinking into old age,
permitted Lord Russell to parody his own fierce language of twenty years
back; but all the world, except the Danes, knew that the fangs and the
claws were drawn, and that British foreign policy had become for the time a
thing of snarls and grimaces.

[Intentions of Bismarck as to Schleswig-Holstein.]

Bismarck had not at first determined actually to annex Schleswig-Holstein
to Prussia. He would have been content to leave it under the nominal
sovereignty of Frederick of Augustenburg if that prince would have placed
the entire military and naval resources of Schleswig-Holstein under the
control of the Government of Berlin, and have accepted on behalf of his
Duchies conditions which Bismarck considered indispensable to German
union under Prussian leadership. In the harbour of Kiel it was not
difficult to recognise the natural headquarters of a future German fleet;
the narrow strip of land projecting between the two seas naturally
suggested the formation of a canal connecting the Baltic with the German
Ocean, and such a work could only belong to Germany at large or to its
leading Power. Moreover, as a frontier district, Schleswig-Holstein was
peculiarly exposed to foreign attack; certain strategical positions
necessary for its defence must therefore be handed over to its protector.
That Prussia should have united its forces with Austria in order to win
for the Schleswig-Holsteiners the power of governing themselves as they
pleased, must have seemed to Bismarck a supposition in the highest degree
preposterous. He had taken up the cause of the Duchies not in the
interest of the inhabitants but in the interest of Germany; and by
Germany he understood Germany centred at Berlin and ruled by the House of
Hohenzollern. If therefore the Augustenburg prince was not prepared to
accept his throne on these terms, there was no room for him, and the
provinces must be incorporated with Prussia itself. That Austria would
not without compensation permit the Duchies thus to fall directly or
indirectly under Prussian sway was of course well known to Bismarck; but
so far was this from causing him any hesitation in his policy, that from
the first he had discerned in the Schleswig-Holstein question a favourable
pretext for the war which was to drive Austria out of Germany.

[Relations of Prussia and Austria, Dec., 1854-Aug., 1865.]

[Convention of Gastein, Aug. 14, 1865.]

Peace with Denmark was scarcely concluded when, at the bidding of Prussia,
reluctantly supported by Austria, the Saxon and Hanoverian troops which had
entered Holstein as the mandatories of the Federal Diet were compelled to
leave the country. A Provisional Government was established under the
direction of an Austrian and a Prussian Commissioner. Bismarck had met the
Prince of Augustenburg at Berlin some months before, and had formed an
unfavourable opinion of the policy likely to be adopted by him towards
Prussia. All Germany, however, was in favour of the Prince's claims, and at
the Conference of London these claims had been supported by the Prussian
envoy himself. In order to give some appearance of formal legality to his
own action, Bismarck had to obtain from the Crown-jurists of Prussia a
decision that King Christian IX. had, contrary to the general opinion of
Germany, been the lawful inheritor of Schleswig-Holstein, and that the
Prince of Augustenburg had therefore no rights whatever in the Duchies. As
the claims of Christian had been transferred by the Treaty of Vienna to the
sovereigns of Austria and Prussia jointly, it rested with them to decide
who should be Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, and under what conditions.
Bismarck announced at Vienna on the 22nd of February, 1865, the terms on
which he was willing that Schleswig-Holstein should be conferred by the two
sovereigns upon Frederick of Augustenburg. He required, in addition to
community of finance, postal system, and railways, that Prussian law,
including the obligation to military service, should be introduced into the
Duchies; that their regiments should take the oath of fidelity to the King
of Prussia, and that their principal military positions should be held by
Prussian troops. These conditions would have made Schleswig-Holstein in all
but name a part of the Prussian State: they were rejected both by the Court
of Vienna and by Prince Frederick himself, and the population of
Schleswig-Holstein almost unanimously declared against them. Both Austria
and the Federal Diet now supported the Schleswig-Holsteiners in what
appeared to be a struggle on behalf of their independence against Prussian
domination; and when the Prussian Commissioner in Schleswig-Holstein
expelled the most prominent of the adherents of Augustenburg, his Austrian
colleague published a protest declaring the act to be one of lawless
violence. It seemed that the outbreak of war between the two rival Powers
could not long be delayed; but Bismarck had on this occasion moved too
rapidly for his master, and considerations relating to the other European
Powers made it advisable to postpone the rupture for some months. An
agreement was patched up at Gastein by which, pending an ultimate
settlement, the government of the two provinces was divided between their
masters, Austria taking the administration of Holstein, Prussia that of
Schleswig, while the little district of Lauenburg on the south was made
over to King William in full sovereignty. An actual conflict between the
representatives of the two rival governments at their joint headquarters in
Schleswig-Holstein was thus averted; peace was made possible at least for
some months longer; and the interval was granted to Bismarck which was
still required for the education of his Sovereign in the policy of blood
and iron, and for the completion of his own arrangements with the enemies
of Austria outside Germany. [518]

[Bismarck at Biarritz, Sept., 1865.]

The natural ally of Prussia was Italy; but without the sanction of Napoleon
III. it would have been difficult to engage Italy in a new war. Bismarck
had therefore to gain at least the passive concurrence of the French
Emperor in the union of Italy and Prussia against Austria. He visited
Napoleon at Biarritz in September, 1865, and returned with the object of
his journey achieved. The negotiation of Biarritz, if truthfully recorded,
would probably give the key to much of the European history of the next
five years. As at Plombières, the French Emperor acted without his
Ministers, and what he asked he asked without a witness. That Bismarck
actually promised to Napoleon III. either Belgium or any part of the
Rhenish Provinces in case of the aggrandisement of Prussia has been denied
by him, and is not in itself probable. But there are understandings which
prove to be understandings on one side only; politeness may be
misinterpreted; and the world would have found Count Bismarck unendurable
if at every friendly meeting he had been guilty of the frankness with which
he informed the Austrian Government that its centre of action must be
transferred from Vienna to Pesth. That Napoleon was now scheming for an
extension of France on the north-east is certain; that Bismarck treated
such rectification of the frontier as a matter for arrangement is hardly to
be doubted; and if without a distinct and written agreement Napoleon was
content to base his action on the belief that Bismarck would not withhold
from him his reward, this only proved how great was the disparity between
the aims which the French ruler allowed himself to cherish and his mastery
of the arts by which alone such aims were to be realised. Napoleon desired
to see Italy placed in possession of Venice; he probably believed at this
time that Austria would be no unequal match for Prussia and Italy together,
and that the natural result of a well-balanced struggle would be not only
The completion of Italian union but the purchase of French neutrality or
mediation by the cession of German territory west of the Rhine. It was no
part of the duty of Count Bismarck to chill Napoleon's fancies or to teach
him political wisdom. The Prussian statesman may have left Biarritz with
the conviction that an attack on Germany would sooner or later follow the
disappointment of those hopes which he had flattered and intended to mock;
but for the present he had removed one dangerous obstacle from his path,
and the way lay free before him to an Italian alliance if Italy itself
should choose to combine with him in war.

[Italy, 1862-65.]

Since the death of Cavour the Italian Government had made no real progress
towards the attainment of the national aims, the acquisition of Rome and
Venice. Garibaldi, impatient of delay, had in 1862 landed again in Sicily
and summoned his followers to march with him upon Rome. But the enterprise
was resolutely condemned by Victor Emmanuel, and when Garibaldi crossed to
the mainland he found the King's troops in front of him at Aspromonte.
There was an exchange of shots, and Garibaldi fell wounded. He was treated
with something of the distinction shown to a royal prisoner, and when his
wound was healed he was released from captivity. His enterprise, however,
and the indiscreet comments on it made by Rattazzi, who was now in power,
strengthened the friends of the Papacy at the Tuileries, and resulted in
the fall of the Italian Minister. His successor, Minghetti, deemed it
necessary to arrive at some temporary understanding with Napoleon on the
Roman question. The presence of French troops at Rome offended national
feeling, and made any attempt at conciliation between the Papal Court and
the Italian Government hopeless. In order to procure the removal of this
foreign garrison Minghetti was willing to enter into engagements which
seemed almost to imply the renunciation of the claim on Rome. By a
Convention made in September, 1864, the Italian Government undertook not to
attack the territory of the Pope, and to oppose by force every attack made
upon it from without. Napoleon on his part engaged to withdraw his troops
gradually from Rome as the Pope should organise his own army, and to
complete the evacuation within two years. It was, however, stipulated in an
Article which was intended to be kept secret, that the capital of Italy
should be changed, the meaning of this stipulation being that Florence
should receive the dignity which by the common consent of Italy ought to
have been transferred from Turin to Rome and to Rome alone. The publication
of this Article, which was followed by riots in Turin, caused the immediate
fall of Minghetti's Cabinet. He was succeeded in office by General La
Marmora, under whom the negotiations with Prussia were begun which, after
long uncertainty, resulted in the alliance of 1866 and in the final
expulsion of Austria from Italy. [519]

[La Marmora.]

[Govone at Berlin, March, 1866.]

[Treaty of April 8, 1856.]

Bismarck from the beginning of his Ministry appears to have looked forward
to the combination of Italy and Prussia against the common enemy; but his
plans ripened slowly. In the spring of 1865, when affairs seemed to be
reaching a crisis in Schleswig-Holstein, the first serious overtures were
made by the Prussian ambassador at Florence. La Marmora answered that any
definite proposition would receive the careful attention of the Italian
Government, but that Italy would not permit itself to be made a mere
instrument in Prussia's hands for the intimidation of Austria. Such caution
was both natural and necessary on the part of the Italian Minister; and his
reserve seemed to be more than justified when, a few months later, the
Treaty of Gastein restored Austria and Prussia to relations of friendship.
La Marmora might now well consider himself released from all obligations
towards the Court of Berlin: and, entering on a new line of policy, he sent
an envoy to Vienna to ascertain if the Emperor would amicably cede Venetia
to Italy in return for the payment of a very large sum of money and the
assumption by Italy of part of the Austrian national debt. Had this
transaction been effected, it would probably have changed the course of
European history; the Emperor, however, declined to bargain away any part
of his dominions, and so threw Italy once more into the camp of his great
enemy. In the meantime the disputes about Schleswig-Holstein broke out
afresh. Bismarck renewed his efforts at Florence in the spring of 1866,
with the result that General Govone was sent to Berlin in order to discuss
with the Prussian Minister the political and military conditions of an
alliance. But instead of proposing immediate action, Bismarck stated to
Govone that the question of Schleswig-Holstein was insufficient to justify
a great war in the eyes of Europe, and that a better cause must be put
forward, namely, the reform of the Federal system of Germany. Once more the
subtle Italians believed that Bismarck's anxiety for a war with Austria was
feigned, and that he sought their friendship only as a means of extorting
from the Court of Vienna its consent to Prussia's annexation of the Danish
Duchies. There was an apparent effort on the part of the Prussian statesman
to avoid entering into any engagement which involved immediate action; the
truth being that Bismarck was still in conflict with the pacific influences
which surrounded the King, and uncertain from day to day whether his master
would really follow him in the policy of war. He sought therefore to make
the joint resort to arms dependent on some future act, such as the
summoning of a German Parliament, from which the King of Prussia could not
recede if once he should go so far. But the Italians, apparently not
penetrating the real secret of Bismarck's hesitation, would be satisfied
with no such indeterminate engagement; they pressed for action within a
limited time; and in the end, after Austria had taken steps which went far
to overcome the last scruples of King William, Bismarck consented to fix
three months as the limit beyond which the obligation of Italy to accompany
Prussia into war should not extend. On the 8th of April a Treaty of
offensive and defensive alliance was signed. It was agreed that if the King
of Prussia should within three months take up arms for the reform of the
Federal system of Germany, Italy would immediately after the outbreak of
hostilities declare war upon Austria. Both Powers were to engage in the
war with their whole force, and peace was not to be made but by common
consent, such consent not to be withheld after Austria should have agreed
to cede Venetia to Italy and territory with an equal population to Prussia.

[Bismarck and Austria, Aug., 1865-April, 1866.]

Eight months had now passed since the signature of the Convention of
Gastem. The experiment of an understanding with Austria, which King William
had deemed necessary, had been made, and it had failed; or rather, as
Bismarck expressed himself in a candid moment, it had succeeded, inasmuch
as it had cured the King of his scruples and raised him to the proper point
of indignation against the Austrian Court. The agents in effecting this
happy result had been the Prince of Augustenburg, the population of
Holstein, and the Liberal party throughout Germany at large. In Schleswig,
which the Convention of Gastein had handed over to Prussia, General
Manteuffel, a son of the Minister of 1850, had summarily put a stop to
every expression of public opinion, and had threatened to imprison the
Prince if he came within his reach; in Holstein the Austrian Government had
permitted, if it had not encouraged, the inhabitants to agitate in favour
of the Pretender, and had allowed a mass-meeting to be held at Altona on
the 23rd of January, where cheers were raised for Augustenburg, and the
summoning of the Estates of Schleswig-Holstein was demanded. This was
enough to enable Bismarck to denounce the conduct of Austria as an alliance
with revolution. He demanded explanations from the Government of Vienna,
and the Emperor declined to render an account of his actions. Warlike
preparations now began, and on the 16th of March the Austrian Government
announced that it should refer the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein to the
Federal Diet. This was a clear departure from the terms of the Convention
of Gastein, and from the agreement made between Austria and Prussia before
entering into the Danish war in 1864 that the Schleswig-Holstein question
should be settled by the two Powers independently of the German Federation.
King William was deeply moved by such a breach of good faith; tears filled
his eyes when he spoke of the conduct of the Austrian Emperor; and though
pacific influences were still active around him he now began to fall in
more cordially with the warlike policy of his Minister. The question at
issue between Prussia and Austria expanded from the mere disposal of the
Duchies to the reconstitution of the Federal system of Germany. In a note
laid before the Governments of all the Minor States Bismarck declared that
the time had come when Germany must receive a new and more effective
organisation, and inquired how far Prussia could count on the support of
allies if it should be attacked by Austria or forced into war. It was
immediately after this re-opening of the whole problem of Federal reform in
Germany that the draft of the Treaty with Italy was brought to its final
shape by Bismarck and the Italian envoy, and sent to the Ministry at
Florence for its approval.

[Austria offers Venice, May 5.]

Bismarck had now to make the best use of the three months' delay that was
granted to him. On the day after the acceptance of the Treaty by the
Italian Government, the Prussian representative at the Diet of Frankfort
handed in a proposal for the summoning of a German Parliament, to be
elected by universal suffrage. Coming from the Minister who had made
Parliamentary government a mockery in Prussia, this proposal was scarcely
considered as serious. Bavaria, as the chief of the secondary States, had
already expressed its willingness to enter upon the discussion of Federal
reform, but it asked that the two leading Powers should in the meantime
undertake not to attack one another. Austria at once acceded to this
request, and so forced Bismarck into giving a similar assurance. Promises
of disarmament were then exchanged; but as Austria declined to stay the
collection of its forces in Venetia against Italy, Bismarck was able to
charge his adversary with insincerity in the negotiation, and preparations
for war were resumed on both sides. Other difficulties, however, now came
into view. The Treaty between Prussia and Italy had been made known to the
Court of Vienna by Napoleon, whose advice La Marmora had sought before its
conclusion, and the Austrian Emperor had thus become aware of his danger.
He now determined to sacrifice Venetia if Italy's neutrality could be so
secured. On the 5th of May the Italian ambassador at Paris, Count Nigra,
was informed by Napoleon that Austria had offered to cede Venetia to him on
behalf of Victor Emmanuel if France and Italy would not prevent Austria
from indemnifying itself at Prussia's expense in Silesia. Without a war, at
the price of mere inaction, Italy was offered all that it could gain by a
struggle which was likely to be a desperate one, and which might end in
disaster. La Marmora was in sore perplexity. Though he had formed a juster
estimate of the capacity of the Prussian army than any other statesman or
soldier in Europe, he was thoroughly suspicious of the intentions of the
Prussian Government; and in sanctioning the alliance of the previous month
he had done so half expecting that Bismarck would through the prestige of
this alliance gain for Prussia its own objects without entering into war,
and then leave Italy to reckon with Austria as best it might. He would
gladly have abandoned the alliance and have accepted Austria's offer if
Italy could have done this without disgrace. But the sense of honour was
sufficiently strong to carry him past this temptation. He declined the
offer made through Paris, and continued the armaments of Italy, though
still with a secret hope that European diplomacy might find the means of
realising the purpose of his country without war. [521]

[Proposals for a Congress.]

The neutral Powers were now, with various objects, bestirring themselves in
favour of a European Congress. Napoleon believed the time to be come when
the Treaties of 1815 might be finally obliterated by the joint act of
Europe. He was himself ready to join Prussia with three hundred thousand
men if the King would transfer the Rhenish Provinces to France. Demands,
direct and indirect, were made on Count Bismarck on behalf of the Tuileries
for cessions of territory of greater or less extent. These demands were
neither granted nor refused. Bismarck procrastinated; he spoke of the
obstinacy of the King his master; he inquired whether parts of Belgium or
Switzerland would not better assimilate with France than a German province;
he put off the Emperor's representatives by the assurance that he could
more conveniently arrange these matters with the Emperor when he should
himself visit Paris. On the 28th of May invitations to a Congress were
issued by France, England, and Russia jointly, the objects of the Congress
being defined as the settlement of the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein, of
the differences between Austria and Italy, and of the reform of the Federal
Constitution of Germany, in so far as these affected Europe at large. The
invitation was accepted by Prussia and by Italy; it was accepted by Austria
only under the condition that no arrangement should be discussed which
should give an increase of territory or power to one of the States invited
to the Congress. This subtly-worded condition would not indeed have
excluded the equal aggrandisement of all. It would not have rendered the
cession of Venetia to Italy or the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein to
Prussia impossible; but it would either have involved the surrender of the
former Papal territory by Italy in order that Victor Emmanuel's dominions
should receive no increase, or, in the alternative, it would have entitled
Austria to claim Silesia as its own equivalent for the augmentation of the
Italian Kingdom. Such reservations would have rendered any efforts of the
Powers to preserve peace useless, and they were accepted as tantamount to a
refusal on the part of Austria to attend the Congress. Simultaneously with
its answer to the neutral Powers, Austria called upon the Federal Diet to
take the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein into its own hands, and convoked the
Holstein Estates. Bismarck thereupon declared the Convention of Gastein to
be at an end, and ordered General Manteuffel to lead his troops into
Holstein. The Austrian commander, protesting that he yielded only to
superior force, withdrew through Altona into Hanover. Austria at once
demanded and obtained from the Diet of Frankfort the mobilisation of the
whole of the Federal armies. The representative of Prussia, declaring that
this act of the Diet had made an end of the existing Federal union, handed
in the plan of his Government for the reorganisation of Germany, and
quitted Frankfort. Diplomatic relations between Austria and Prussia were
broken off on the 12th of June, and on the 15th Count Bismarck demanded of
the sovereigns of Hanover, Saxony, and Hesse-Cassel, that they should on
that very day put a stop to their military preparations and accept the
Prussian scheme of Federal reform. Negative answers being given, Prussian
troops immediately marched into these territories, and war began. Weimar,
Mecklenburg, and other petty States in the north took part with Prussia:
all the rest of Germany joined Austria. [522]

[German Opinion.]

The goal of Bismarck's desire, the end which he had steadily set before
himself since entering upon his Ministry, was attained; and, if his
calculations as to the strength of the Prussian army were not at fault,
Austria was at length to be expelled from the German Federation by force of
arms. But the process by which Bismarck had worked up to this result had
ranged against him the almost unanimous opinion of Germany outside the
military circles of Prussia itself. His final demand for the summoning of a
German Parliament was taken as mere comedy. The guiding star of his policy
had hitherto been the dynastic interest of the House of Hohenzollern; and
now, when the Germans were to be plunged into war with one another, it
seemed as if the real object of the struggle was no more than the
annexation of the Danish Duchies and some other coveted territory to the
Prussian Kingdom. The voice of protest and condemnation rose loud from
every organ of public opinion. Even in Prussia itself the instances were
few where any spontaneous support was tendered to the Government. The
Parliament of Berlin, struggling up to the end against the all-powerful
Minister, had seen its members prosecuted for speeches made within its own
walls, and had at last been prorogued in order that its insubordination
might not hamper the Crown in the moment of danger. But the mere
disappearance of Parliament could not conceal the intensity of ill-will
which the Minister and his policy had excited. The author of a fratricidal
war of Germans against Germans was in the eyes of many the greatest of all
criminals; and on the 7th of May an attempt was made by a young fanatic to
take Bismarck's life in the streets of Berlin. The Minister owed the
preservation of his life to the feebleness of his assailant's weapon and to
his own vigorous arm. But the imminence of the danger affected King William
far more than Bismarck himself. It spoke to his simple mind of supernatural
protection and aid; it stilled his doubts; and confirmed him in the belief
that Prussia was in this crisis the instrument for working out the
Almighty's will.

[Napoleon III.]

A few days before the outbreak of hostilities the Emperor Napoleon gave
publicity to his own view of the European situation. He attributed the
coming war to three causes: to the faulty geographical limits of the
Prussian State, to the desire for a better Federal system in Germany, and
to the necessity felt by the Italian nation for securing its independence.
These needs would, he conceived, be met by a territorial rearrangement in
the north of Germany consolidating and augmenting the Prussian Kingdom; by
the creation of a more effective Federal union between the secondary German
States; and finally, by the incorporation of Venetia with Italy, Austria's
position in Germany remaining unimpaired. Only in the event of the map of
Europe being altered to the exclusive advantage of one Great Power would
France require an extension of frontier. Its interests lay in the
preservation of the equilibrium of Europe, and in the maintenance of the
Italian Kingdom. These had already been secured by arrangements which would
not require France to draw the sword; a watchful but unselfish neutrality
was the policy which its Government had determined to pursue. Napoleon had
in fact lost all control over events, and all chance of gaining the Rhenish
Provinces, from the time when he permitted Italy to enter into the Prussian
alliance without any stipulation that France should at its option be
admitted as a third member of the coalition. He could not ally himself with
Austria against his own creation, the Italian Kingdom; on the other hand,
he had no means of extorting cessions from Prussia when once Prussia was
sure of an ally who could bring two hundred thousand men into the field.
His diplomacy had been successful in so far as it had assured Venetia to
Italy whether Prussia should be victorious or overthrown, but as regarded
France it had landed him in absolute powerlessness. He was unable to act on
one side; he was not wanted on the other. Neutrality had become a matter
not of choice but of necessity; and until the course of military events
should have produced some new situation in Europe, France might well be
watchful, but it could scarcely gain much credit for its disinterested
part. [523]

[Hanover and Hesse-Cassel conquered.]

[The Bohemian Campaign, June 26-July 3.]

[Battle of Königgrätz, July 3.]

Assured against an attack from the side of the Rhine, Bismarck was able to
throw the mass of the Prussian forces southwards against Austria, leaving
in the north only the modest contingent which was necessary to overcome the
resistance of Hanover and Hesse-Cassel. Through the precipitancy of a
Prussian general, who struck without waiting for his colleagues, the
Hanoverians gained a victory at Langensalza on the 27th of June; but other
Prussian regiments arrived on the field a few hours later, and the
Hanoverian army was forced to capitulate on the next day. The King made his
escape to Austria; the Elector of Hesse-Cassel, less fortunate, was made a
prisoner of war. Northern Germany was thus speedily reduced to submission,
and any danger of a diversion in favour of Austria in this quarter
disappeared. In Saxony no attempt was made to bar the way to the advancing
Prussians. Dresden was occupied without resistance, but the Saxon army
marched southwards in good time, and joined the Austrians in Bohemia. The
Prussian forces, about two hundred and fifty thousand strong, now gathered
on the Saxon and Silesian frontier, covering the line from Pirna to
Landshut. They were composed of three armies: the first, or central, army
under Prince Frederick Charles, a nephew of the King; the second, or
Silesian, army under the Crown Prince; the westernmost, known as the army
of the Elbe, under General Herwarth von Bittenfeld. Against these were
ranged about an equal number of Austrians, led by Benedek, a general who
had gained great distinction in the Hungarian and the Italian campaigns. It
had at first been thought probable that Benedek, whose forces lay about
Olmütz, would invade Southern Silesia, and the Prussian line had therefore
been extended far to the east. Soon, however, it appeared that the
Austrians were unable to take up the offensive, and Benedek moved westwards
into Bohemia. The Prussian line was now shortened, and orders were given to
the three armies to cross the Bohemian frontier and converge in the
direction of the town of Gitschin. General Moltke, the chief of the staff,
directed their operations from Berlin by telegraph. The combined advance of
the three armies was executed with extraordinary precision; and in a series
of hard-fought combats extending from the 26th to the 29th of June the
Austrians were driven back upon their centre, and effective communication
was established between the three invading bodies. On the 30th the King of
Prussia, with General Moltke and Count Bismarck, left Berlin; on the 2nd of
July they were at headquarters at Gitschin. It had been Benedek's design to
leave a small force to hold the Silesian army in check, and to throw the
mass of his army westwards upon Prince Frederick Charles and overwhelm him
before he could receive help from his colleagues. This design had been
baffled by the energy of the Crown Prince's attack, and by the superiority
of the Prussians in generalship, in the discipline of their troops, and in
the weapon they carried; for though the Austrians had witnessed in the
Danish campaign the effects of the Prussian breech-loading rifle, they had
not thought it necessary to adopt a similar arm. Benedek, though no great
battle had yet been fought, saw that the campaign was lost, and wrote to
the Emperor on the 1st of July recommending him to make peace, for

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