網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

short of the French. It gave no political liberty or influence under any form, no representative constitution to those to whom it had given clear and distinct property, and consequently the feelings, influences on the human mind, and the requirements which the possession of property brings along with it. The people hold the property, and the crown, by its system of functionarism and military organisation, endeavours to hold all the rights and prerogatives belonging to, and morally and civilly essential to property, all the civil and political liberties of the proprietors of the country.

As a necessary sequence of the emancipation of the country population from feudal services to the noble landowner, the town populations were emancipated from the restrictions and privileges of their feudal lords, viz. the incorporations of trades and burgesses. Every man was entitled to be admitted to the rights of burgess or citizen on paying a certain fixed sum (in Berlin it is thirty thalers) for his burgess ticket, and is entitled, whether he has or has not served an apprenticeship, to exercise any calling or trade. This second step, completed the change in the social economy of Prussia, and altogether obliterated its former character of feudality as far as regarded the people, although the government still clings to the feudal principle of autocracy, without any representation of the proprietors of the country. If these were small privileged classes of nobility, and incorporated bodies, interwoven with royalty, as under the old feudal arrangements of society, and kept by exclusive privileges and distinctions apart from the main body of a people, and closely united to each other and to the crown by every tie of interest and honour, this order of things might, although opposed to the spirit of the times, and to the gradual but great advance of society in an opposite direction, linger on, as in Austria and other feudally constituted countries, in a feeble existence, waiting the blast that is to overturn it. But in a whole nation of proprietors, it is a false social economy -an order of things too unnatural to be stable.

In France, the body of proprietors possessing the land of the country have obtained a portion at least, of political liberty, a representation, by a part at least, of their own body in the legislature, and may, without any very violent convulsion, give themselves hereafter the civil liberty they still want, in proportion as the public mind becomes prepared to cast off the trammels on individual liberty and free agency imposed by functionarism and government interference. Prussia has not taken this step, and is now in the false position of holding fast by a power which has no roots in the new social economy she has adopted. The government has cast loose the absolute kingly power from its sheetanchor, the feudal system, and is now clinging to the twig of functionarism to save itself from being hurried along with the stream of social improvement.

France and Prussia should be viewed by the social economist consecutively. They have the same two antagonist principles in their social economy, although in France the ultimate predominance of the power of property over absolute kingly power is no longer doubtful. Functionarism in France, enormous as it is, will be broken down as a state element for the support of kingly power, by the element of popular power in the constitution, the Chamber of Deputies. But in Prussia the people have no shadow even, of legislative power, no kind of representative chamber, and are abjectly patient under the total want of civil and political liberty. Property, and a prodigious social reform, have been thrust upon them by their government in a kind of speculation on improvement, rather than attained by any invincible desire of their own, or by any national struggle for their ameliorated social condition. All has been done for them, not by them; and they enjoy the physical good this change has brought them, like a body of emancipated slaves who receive their own natural rights as gifts from their former masters, and sit down in grateful contentment. The kingly power, both in Prussia and in France, seems aware of its false position,

and anxious to reconstruct an order of hereditary aristocracy endowed with entailed landed property and privilege, as a social power for the support of monarchy. But in social economy, as in human life, the nulla pes retrorsum is the principle of nature. The abolition of primogeniture, and the consequent diffusion of landed property through society, have morally, as well as territorially, done away with the class of privileged feudal aristocracy as an influential social element in both countries. It would be the show, not the reality, of a nobility that could be re-established now in Prussia or in France. The social position and importance of an hereditary aristocracy are besides filled up by the new social power-the body of functionaries, in the social arrangements which have sprung up from the ashes of the French Revolution.

CHAP. IV.

PRUSSIA.-NOT CONSTITUTING ONE NATION.- PRUSSIAN POLICY
IN THIS CENTURY.-ATTEMPT TO FORM NATIONAL CHARACTER.
WHY NOT SUCCESSFUL. MILITARY ORGANISATION OF
PRUSSIA. LIABILITY TO MILITARY SERVICE OF ALL PRUS-
SIANS. -SERVICE IN THE LINE. IN THE ARMY OF RESERVE. -
FIRST DIVISION.SECOND.-EFFECTS OF THE SYSTEM ON THE
POLITICAL BALANCE OF EUROPE. ITS ADVANTAGES.-ITS DIS-
ADVANTAGES COMPARED TO A STANDING ARMY.-ITS GREAT
PRESSURE ON TIME AND INDUSTRY.-ITS INFERIORITY AS A
MILITARY FORCE. AMOUNT OF MILITARY FORCE OF PRUSSIA.—
DEFECT IN THE CONTINENTAL ARMIES.
OFFICERS.-MEN.TOO DELICATELY BRED IN THE PRUSSIAN
ARMY. LONGEVITY OF OFFICERS. THE PROBABLE ISSUE
POLICY OF

--

NON-COMMISSIONED

OF A WAR BETWEEN PRUSSIA AND FRANCE.
ENGLAND IF SUCH A WAR ARISE.

[ocr errors]

THE Prussians are not nationalised by those moral influences which bind men together into distinct communities. They are not, like the English, the French, the Spaniards, a people distinct in character, spirit, and modes of living -a nation unamalgamated and unamalgamable with others. They have no national language, literature, or character; no old established customs, manners, traditions, modes of living and thinking, laws, rights, or institutions of ancient times peculiar to and distinctive of Prussians. Their history as a nation is but of yesterday, and is not properly their history, but that of the sovereigns of a small part of the present Prussia of Brandenburg- - who beginning the world about a century ago with a margraveship of about one and a half million of subjects have, by good luck and military talent, gathered together a kingdom of shreds and patches of other countries, containing about fourteen millions of people. These have no national history of

sians, and connecting the present with the past by feelings of veneration and hereditary attachment. Prussia has, in ordinary parlance, only a geographical or political meaning denoting the Prussian government, or the provinces it governs—not a moral or social meaning. The Prussian nation is a combination of words rarely heard, of ideas never made, the population not being morally united by any common sentiment or spirit of nationality distinguishing them in character, mind, or habits from the other German populations around them, the Austrian, Bavarian, Saxon, or Hanoverian. The German populations have never been distinguished by any strong spirit of nationality. They have always been divisible, like a flock of sheep, into any parcels at the pleasure of their shepherds, without vigorous indications of such national distinctiveness, character, and feelings of their own, as might render their division and amalgamation with other groups dangerous or impracticable. To remedy this defect in their social structure, to kindle a spirit of nationality, form a national character, and raise a Prussian nation bound together by moral influences like the French or English, as well as by mere territorial and political arrangements, is the great under-principle which has run through all the domestic policy of the Prussian government in this century. Frederic the Great had no higher policy than to retain the territories he had acquired by the means which acquired them — a strong standing army, and a military system superior to that of other powers. His successors adhered to the same policy; but the first shock with the armies of a people animated by national spirit dissolved the dull German delusion, that drill and discipline alone are sufficient in modern warfare to replace the higher moral influences. Germans against Germans, monarch against monarch, in a scramble for territory, and the people in apathy and indifference, and with no interest at issue, the contending potentates made conquests according to the number of their highly disciplined troops. War was really what it was often compared to, a game at

« 上一頁繼續 »