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The conspicuous and wonderful progress of | liant conqueror, economist, accomplished writer, Prussia from an obscure and mean state to a king. the philosopher of Sans Souci. By means of the dom of great power and extensive dominions, industrial wealth developed, the army created, and attained chiefly by the genius, valour and labour the treasury filled by his father, Frederick II. of Frederick the Great, was arrested by the wars performed those exploits in war which have astonof Napoleon, and the sovereign and people were ished the world; and he imparted in peace to the harassed by conquering armies and oppressed by institutions of the kingdom that active intelligence calamities which for a time extinguished that king- and vitality, in the strength of which his name dom as an independent state. A brief narrative of still lives among the people in undying vigour. these events, and a sketch of the present condition His nephew, Frederick III., was ambitious and of Prussia, ought to be interesting as well as in- warlike, and left his kingdom heavily in debt. structive.
The dissolute morals of court favourites and proThe personal characters, the mental powers, and fuse and wasteful grants to unworthy persons were the educational acquirements of the predecessors disgraceful to the monarch and to the court, the of Frederick William II. have scarcely any pro- immorality of which was more conspicuous when minent similarity:
compared with the decorum and simplicity of his Frederick I., who crowned himself, was acknow- predecessor. He kept two mistresses, both of ledged king by the means of bribery, to the extent whom he elevated to the rank of countess. The of 6,000,000 dollars, of which the Jesuits at administrative machinery of the state was not disVienna received 200,000 dollars. The reign of turbed, and passed in transit as it were from Frederick William was one of the most rigid Frederick the Great, over the reign of his succeseconomy and the most severe civil and military sor, into the hands of Frederick William II. discipline. He sold his father's jewels and house- This amiable and virtuous prince soon purified hold property, and after paying off the public the immorality of the court; he arrested the most debts, lived in a coarse and inexpensive style. scandalous and intriguing of his father's mistresses, Instead of giving splendid fêtes to foreign ambas- the Countess Lichtenau, displaced Wolner, a corsadors, he invited them into his smoking-room, in rupt character, abolished the tobacco monopoly, which there was a long uncovered deal table and and adopted measures for the re-establishment of benches; and he entertained them with pipes, economy and order in the finances. Men of tobacco, and his favourite drink-good beer. learning, science, virtue and wisdom never had a Francis of Lorraine, afterwards Emperor, is said kinder friend than Frederick William II., who, to have received no other hospitality than the the more he was personally known, the more he cheer offered in this room. He was remorselessly was affectionately esteemed. cruel towards those who in the least degree op- On the 7th May, 1794, Frederick William stipuposed his despotism, which he called duty to the lated, by the treaty of Bâle, the neutrality of Prussia state. Yet this monarch had redeeming qualities. and North Germany; and he declared that the fiscal His financial economy, his avoiding war and pro- sacrifices which he had up to that time made for moting industry, should not be forgotten as emi- the defence of Germany were beyond his revenues. nently advantageous to his subjects; nor should This neutrality was highly disapproved of by the his exertions in favour of the persecuted Protes- Emperor Francis, and the Court and Ministry of tants of Salzburg, 16,300 of whom he afterwards Vienna, Frederick William, however, maintained settled and provided for in the neighbourhood of his neutrality until his death, which was caused by Tilsit, on the banks of the Niemen.
dropsy, on the 16th November, 1797. Far different was the character of his accom- The Polish war, the expense of the army which plished son, styled “the Great," “Sanspareil," he marched against the French before his treaty of * the Only," " the Northern Justinian,” the bril- I neutrality, not only exhausted all the money left
YOL. XIX,-NO. CCXXIII.
him by his uncle in 1786, but increased his ex- | The King with 12,000 men retreated towards the penditure so greatly that he bequeathed a debt of Oder; and at Erfurth, 14,000 who retreated to about £9,750,000 to be provided for by the late that fortress surrendered on the 15th : the Prince king, Frederick William III.
of Orange was of the number. This latter monarch conferred great benefits on The incapacity or want of bravery of those who Prussia. He was naturally cautious in his de- commanded the numerous fortresses appears uncisions, and grave in his deportment. Napoleon exampled. It is impossible to believe that they considered his mind feeble, and his disposition un- were the same race as the men led to battle by certain. In the early part of the war in defence of Frederick II. Prince Eugene of Würtemberg Germany against France, he, as Prince Royal, was defeated on the 17th by Dupont; and Bercommanded a division of the Prussian army, and nadotte on the same day took Halle by assault, invested Landau; but after his succession to the and captured 5000 Prussians. Marshal Davoust crown, in the twenty-seventh year of his age, he occupied Leipzig on the 18th, Wittenberg on the continued to observe his father's policy of neutrality 20th, and Berlin on the 25th. On the same day -a policy which proved calamitous to his kingdom the strong fortress of Spandau capitulated, without and to his people.
resistance, to Lannes. Napoleon entered Berlin on From his accession until the year 1806, his con- the 27th. duct with regard to the other states of Germany, The vast regions from Bayonne and the Medihis foreign diplomacy, and his submitting to the terranean, from the British Channel and the German dictation of Napoleon for so long a period, would Ocean to the Baltic and the Vistula, were thus, in the seem to have merited the chastisement and humi- beginning of December, 1806, under the dictatorliation which the French Emperor inflicted on ship of Napoleon Bonaparte. The bravery of the Frederick William III. But the misfortunes which Prussian troops and the blunders of their generals befel Prussia were generally deplored.
are conspicuons during the whole fatal war of Napoleon did not even inform the King of twenty-four days, west of the Oder, which ended Prussia of his project for annihilating the German by the surrender of Blucher on the 7th of Novemempire, of which the King was one of the Electors, ber. The fortresses scarcely made any resistance. until he had completed that act of despotism on Romberg, with 6000 troops in Stettin, gave the the 12th June, 1809, by instituting the confedera- first example of pusillanimity by surrendering, tion of the Rhine, of which he was the absolute without resistance, on the 29th October, to Lasalle. dictator.
Custrin was delivered in like manner by IngersNapoleon by these acts not only proved the leben on the 31st. Magdeburg, after holding out faithlessness of his alliance, and the insincerity of for fifteen days, surrendered with 16,000 troops, his professions, but he had for some time treated 800 pieces of artillery, and an immense store of the King of Prussia with the most insulting con- munitions of war. tempt.
Napoleon, conceiving that Frederick William Russia being allied with Prussia, England and was incapable of decision in his policy, and was Sweden were induced to join the coalition, both governed either by fear, the influence of his queen being then at war with France.
and of Russia, concluded that he could not depend The war, however, declared by Prussia against on finally detaching Prussia from the war against France was precipitate. The army, brave and im- Russia. He therefore resolved to act personally petuous for battle, had as commander-in-chief the with insolence towards the King, to harass his subDuke of Brunswick in the dotage of old age, for jects, and to reduce both to abject submission. he was then not less than seventy-two years. The After the evacuation of Dantzig, Konigsberg, officers under him proved incapable commanders and other places east of the Oder, the King of and ignorant tacticians.
Prussia had not, except at Memel, a single man The King of Prussia’s whole forces, exclusive of under his command not one subject who was those in the numerous fortresses, did not exceed allowed to obey him. 100,000 men. Napoleon marched rapidly towards Never was a monarch so thoroughly humiliated, Saxony with an army of 200,000 men, commanded never were subjects so oppressed, as were the under him by Soult, Ney, Bernadotte, Davoust, King and the Prussians by Napoleon--not only Murat, Lannes, and Angereau. The French were from the day the conqueror entered Berlin, but victorious at Saalburg, where the Prussian out, after the peace of Tilsit. posts were routed; 8000 of their number were But both king and subjects had their revenge. crushed, the young and brave Prince Louis Fer- The battles of Leipzig and Waterloo were fought; dinand killed, and the left wing of the Prussian and, by the treaty of Vienna, Frederick William army turned, which at once left Napoleon master acquired a great part of Saxony, all Westphalia of Saxony. On the 14th of October, exactly four- and the Rhenish Provinces, including within them teen days after Napoleon crossed the Rhine, the Coblentz, Ehrenbreitstein, Treves, Cologne, Juliers, fatal battle of Jena, or rather the two battles of and Aix-la-Chapelle. Since that day the ascenJena and Auerstadt, were fought, and the whole dancy and power of Prussia in Germany has been Prussian army thoroughly routed. The Duke of astounding. Brunswick was wounded, and died a few weeks A long peace, from the year 1814 to his death, afterwards ; but not until the conqueror informed enabled Frederick William III. not only to repair him that the Guelphs ceased to reign in Germany. all the devastations of war, but to witness the The Prussians lost 30,000 in killed and prisoners. general prosperity of his people; the diffusion of education among all classes; the solid progress of city from bodily infirmity or madness; and in rare agriculture, of manufactures, and of trade; and a instances, from extraordinary circumstances, servhigh state of financial credit.
ing in the ranks is allowed to expire after one A careful examination of the sentiments and year's service. After the first three years' service views of the late king, and the condition of the he is compelled to enter into the army of reserve, agricultural population within his dominions, lead or Erster Aufgebothe, which is called out for exerus to believe that they would have been liberated cise, reviews, and field manoeuvres for from fourfrom personal bondage long before his death, even teen to twenty-eight days annually. if his kingdom had not undergone the most unex- After the age of thirty-two this service is ampled spoliation of modern times; but that de- changed to that of the Zweiten Aufgebothe, or vastation no doubt accelerated the abolition of second reserve, which in case of war constitutes rural serfage in Prussia.
the reserve for garrison duty. After the fortyLanded property in Germany, as well as in many ninth year the soldier is placed on the Landsturm, continental states, was formerly held under baronial, or levy en masse, which is mustered and exercised peasant and roturier tenures. The first was that in the special locality where those reside who have of the nobility, who were exempted from public passed the age of forty-nine years. The whole taxes, and enjoyed many special privileges, as still nation is, therefore, a vast military camp, all the the case in Hungary. The serfs born on the male inhabitants above twenty years of age constibaronial lands were adscripti gleba, and laboured tuting one great army. The enormous burden to daily in cultivating the feudal property for the the state is not to be limited to the war budget: benefit of the lord. The latter had civil and cri- the loss caused by the withdrawal of labour from minal jurisdiction over his serfs in his baronial productive industry is incalculable; it may be court, who, if found guilty, were sent to prison or estimated at one-tenth of the whole productive flogged. There were also peasant holdings (Bauern- labour of the kingdom. Hofe), held usually under a seignoral tenure from Every male above twenty years of age belongs the superior lord, subject to the payment of certain to his special regiment. Wherever he is, he kuows dues, quit-rents, and a certain weekly portion of where to join it, the company to which he belongs, labour. It is to the late King of Prussia that the and the very place into which he steps, as an glory of abolishing feudal servitude is justly to be officer or as a private in the ranks. The whole attributed. Under Hardenberg's administration, military system is thus arranged and conducted not only the peasants but the serfs were made with the most strict and energetic discipline, and owners of the lands they occupied on payment with mathematical precision. only of the annual quit-rents which they had been Gratitude for the devoted loyalty of his old paying to the manorial baron. These quit-rents subjects, and the policy of securing the attachment were moderately valued, and commuted by pur- of those who became his new subjects in Saxony chasing them from the baron; and those who were and the Rhenish provinces, were the sentiments able to pay the commutation in money had the which prompted Frederick William III, to prooption of retaining the whole of the land they mise a constitution to Prussia. This promise he occnpied.
did not fulfil. To each of the eight provinces into This great change in the tenures of property which the whole kingdom is divided he granted was completed between the years 1807 and 1821. elective councils (Provinzial Stande) which were In the other states of Germany, except Austria, convoked by the king to deliberate and report the serfage tenures may be said to have disappeared chiefly on matters of revenue. He was not bound before the revolution of 1848; and, in all, there in any degree by the recommendations of those are a great number of divisions and small proprie provincial councils; and his authority remained torships.
supreme in all matters, civil, military and fiscal. The inhabitants of towns were also liberated It may be said that the whole civil, military from the feudal thraldom of exclusive monopolies and judicial administration of the kingdom had, and corporations of trades which had existed since from the days of the Prussian Justinian, Frederick the early part of the reign of Frederick II. Every II., been systematised on geometrical principles. person in Prussia has been by the new law quali- The whole code of laws might be termed an fied to become a burgess by paying a sum for a Euclid of legislation, without the intermixture of ticket, which enabled him to follow any trade or those anomalies which render the sectional admiprofession without having served an apprenticeship. nistrations of other kingdoms discordant. The This last act completely abolished all feudal pre- provincial affairs were administered by similar tensions in the kingdom, and Prussia has in conse- machinery in all Prussia. Each province had its quence been designated a nation of proprietors. supreme civil president; its chief military comIt is also a nation of soldiers.
mandantship, supreme court of justice, a director The new military system of Prussia, which has of the provincial taxes, and a provincial consistory. been adopted by all Germany, except Austria, was The kingdom was divided further into twenty-five instituted by the deerees of 3rd September, 1814, regencies, each administered by a president and and 21st November, 1815, which ordain that every council. All these, again, were divided into 328 Prussian subject from twenty to twenty-five, with circles, each with a Landrath, or country magisout distinction of birth or profession, is bound to trate. These circles were also subdivided into serve three years as a private soldier in the ranks. communes and municipalities (Gemeinde). The + The only exception to this law is decided incapa- rural communes are administered by the council elected by the peasants and half-peasants, with a situation and the variety of climates, natural maSchulzen, or mayor, who presides. Each town terials and productions, of the several nations of has its Bürgermeister; and in the largest an Ober- the world. Bürgermeister and its elective council.
In modern Europe, France, Spain and Austria With regard to public institutions, we acknow- became, since the beginning of the reign of Louis ledge at once that a principle of absolutism has XIV., the greatest victims of the protective deluand does prevail in the institutions of education, sion. Prussia continued for a long period to follow as there certainly does in the military system of the example of those who looked only to competiPrussia. Although the late king deferred granting tion as the real encourager of native industry; the representative constitution which he had pro- that is to say, the example of Holland and Saxony. mised his subjects, it is incontestable that his Mr. Hoffman, a high authority, informs us that, measures with regard to public instruction, the “at the end of 1815, peace being established, it military organisation of the army, and especially became requisite to make some better and general of the Landwehr, and also the institutions of the arrangement in regard to the income and expendicommercial league, all prepared the Prussians for ture of the state. The national debt amounted to a liberal representative constitution, which it would about 200,000,000 thalers."* be impossible long to withhold from the people. New methods of taxation were devised, and then,
He joined the Holy Alliance, the professed object for the first time, the attention of the Prussian of which was, that peace should be enforced and Government was turned to the taxing foreign comsedition suppressed in all Germany, and in the modities for the purpose of revenue; and also of Austrian and Russian Empires. Its principles imposing certain duties upon native produce, &c., were, under a pacific mask, calculated to crush the for the like purposes. public liberty of Europe. If the three sovereigns In 1819, a general tax was imposed upon conwho signed this league had possessed the mind sumption of foreign wines and spirits, &c.; and at and ambition of Napoleon, their united power the same time home-made spirits, malt, mace and might have annihilated all civil freedom, and sub- tobacco-leaves were subjected to an excise duty. stituted a general European despotism. The pacific The devastation of Germany by France, and the spirit of Francis I., the real piety of Frederick calamities which his country, his family and subWilliam III., and the not remarkably warlike jects had in consequence experienced, made the disposition of Alexander, diminished and finally King of Prussia thonghtful, laborious, frugal, and dissipated the alarm caused by this, designed at provident. His ambition in the prudence of old the time, formidable conspiracy against the liberty age was to strengthen the power of Germany for of all Europe. The King of Prussia had, mean- its protection by a general union of its material, time, a more important and virtuous alliance in and, consequently, moral and political interests. contemplation-one likely to prove far more effi- To the former jealousies, and the disunion of the cient in preventing war than the league which German States, and the defection of Bavaria, Hesse prefixed a sacred designation to its character. Darmstadt, Hesse Cassel, Saxony, &c., he with
Although armed warfare had generally through- truth attributed the success of the French arms. out Europe terminated in 1814 and 1815, national He could have added, also, the political miscalcuhostilities—the wars of fiscal forts—called toll or lation of his own too cautious policy, in not at once custom-houses, with their garrisons of revenue joining Austria when the French invaded Germany. officers, were vigorously enforced and persevered To carry into execution the projected commerin by each state in the world, against all the other cial and fiscal union of Germany, many preparatory states.
measures were necessary. The geographical area By These wars had existed under the feudal system. of his old and new possessions extended over the They were continued when that barbarism was kingdom from the frontiers of France, Belgium and neutralised by standing armies and military des- Holland to those of Poland, with the exception of potism. They became in many countries most a small intervening strip of Hesse Cassel
. The inveterate, where their rulers were esteemed wise Elector of this State, and the Duke of Hesse in their generation, and in much the same progress Darmstadt, and the sovereigns of several smaller as that in which their inhabitants advanced in states, farmed, as it were, to Prussia their customs, civilisation. They were hostilities without blood-by the convention of the 27th of May, 1829, and shed; yet, by making princes, not their subjects, by that act laid open the frontier barriers between rich, they enabled kings to fight the most sangui- Eastern and Rhenish Prussia. The King of nary battles, and to massacre the greatest number Prussia had by this arrangement placed a double of each other's subjects. They were upheld by a line of customs' officers between Baden, Bavaria, fact and a fallacy-the fact of enriching the trea- Wurtemberg, Saxony, Nassau, Thuringia, and all sury of sovereigns, the fallacy of improving native the countries lying north of those states ; while at industry.
the same time the high duties of the French tariff, The pride of sovereigns and citizens to produce and possess all articles of necessity, convenience, * £30,000,000 sterling. The population of all the states of and luxury within their own, and to be thus the King of Prussia amounted, in 1815, to about 10,000,000 wealthy and independent of every other country, thalers, or £18,600,000 (about one-third of the taxes collected was a vision extremely flattering to a prince and á annually by the British revenue-officers). This debt includes people. It was a deception, inasmuch as it was floating-bills, usually from 10,000,000 to 14,000,000 thalers, rendered impossible by the actual geographical number of inhabitants in 1848 amounted to 16,112,848 souls
paying no interest, but circulating as a currency. The total
and the prolibitory system of Austria, left no other The French revolution of 1830 had spread outlet of importance for their manufactures and alarm over all the conservative spirit of Germany. other commodities. They consequently found it The students of her universities, in general visionalmost indispensable to adopt by convention, in ary and speculative, caught the republican infection, 1833, the fiscal propositions of Prussia.
and, under the name of “ Young Germany," caused Political circumstances, gravely considered and great, although in our opinion groundless, uneasijudged, were, however, those which, more than ness on the part of the several German governcommercial reasons, united the Germanic States ments. under this general bond of material, moral, and The Belgian revolution followed, and caused national interests.
still greater fears, especially on the part of Prussia The geographical position of the Prussian do- and Austria ; and from the moment Leopold marminion rendered that kingdom one of the most ried the daughter of Louis Philippe, and from the attackable countries in Europe. The possession hour that the Dutch were driven out of the citadel of the Rhenish provinces weakened rather than of Antwerp, German statesmen considered Belstrengthened her. Easy of approach from Austria, gium little else than a French province; and that Russia, and the Baltic, and exposed to immediate the port of Antwerp, according to the original attack in the event of war on the side of France design of Napoleon, was prepared to become, on and Belgium, the late king and his ministers were the earliest necessary opportunity, a great French long convinced that their defensive strength con- naval arsenal, with all the convenient advantages sisted only in the military power of the territories of the existing docks, and of the oak and other possessed by him east of the Elbe; and that the timber, and the coal and iron which Belgium can forces necessary to garrison Ehrenbreitstein, Co- so abundantly supply. blentz, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, and other places The Polish revolution created increased fears, in the Rhenish countries, required nearly half of and formed another consideration to justify Prussia his whole ancient power.
in making fiscal sacrifices in order to unite GerOn the breaking out of the first French revolu- many under apparently only a commercial, but in tion, Austria and several German states had to reality a political and national bond. meet the troops of France long before they ap- The necessity of a material and moral union of proached the Prussian frontiers ; now, however, the German nations was then promulgated with the latter were immediately exposed to an army extraordinary industry and effect. Volumes were marching in from France or Belgium, and the written on the subject-the public press and the safety of Prussia depended, it was evident, in the ablest political economists were especially engaged event of war, upon uniting all Germany by one in this patriotic service. It was urged that a common bond of mutual interest and security. All general union of fiscal interests was necessary for except Anstria had adopted the Prussian military the present and future prosperity and protection of system.
the country, and for maintaining Germany among With this view Prussia, it must be observed, the great powers of Europe. The illiberal comhad before 1830 levelled by negotiation the cus- mercial systems of England and France, especially toms' barriers which had surrounded the states of England, to which Germany had always been lying between her eastern and western dominions. the greatest customer, and most ready and certain I'he king had thus removed a separation which payer, were especially, and we admit with justice, gave him uneasiness, not without reason, with re- dwelt upon. gard to his Rhenish provinces, in which present Russia had also extended her commercial system dissatisfaction prevailed, while no ancient sympa- of prohibitions and high duties over all Poland, thies for Prussia had ever existed. Therefore, and prevented, except by contraband, the admiswhile the Bourbons continued to rule over France sion of the fabrics of Silesia and Saxony. and over Frenchmen ; and while the King of the The inconvenience of numerous customs' barriers Netherlands reigned at Brussels, kept down the formed not only impediments of the greatest inpolitical intrigues of the priests, encouraged and jury to the national commerce and the manufacshared in manufacturing and trading enterprise, turing interests of several states, but the expense of and garrisoned the southern frontiers and the citadel a multitude of guards to prevent smuggling, and of Antwerp, Prussia, with her strong Rhenish for- to collect taxes, was enormous in proportion to the tresses, had no serious cause for apprehension with revenue raised, while the moral effect was, at the regard to the safety of her western dominions. same time, exceedingly pernicious.
But those who form their conclusions by study- The maintaining numerous lines or circles of ing the character and history of nations, and espe- customs, necessary to secure any revenue from comcially those who have lived so long, with their modities entering or passing through the several mental faculties unimpaired, that their own expe- small states of Germany, was found attended with rience has been that of eventful history, will pre- such grievous inconvenience and expense, that in pare against future dangers by their remembrance 1826 Saxe-Weimar, Eisenach, Saxe-Coburg, Saxeof past and their perception of present events, as Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Schwartzwell as by their forecast of the probable effects of burg-Sonderhausen, Saxe-Rndolstadt, Anhaltthese on the circumstances likely to be forthcom. Dessau, Reuss-Schleitz, Reuss-Greitz, Reuss-Loben"ing. Among the few whom history will record as stein, Ebersdorf, with a total population of 894,778, Lelonging to this class, the late King of Prussia entered into a union for a general line of customs' will be one of the most justly conspicuous.
barriers to surround their extreme frontier; and,