ePub 版

lations as gave a superior weight to property-holders. From that time autocratic government in Christian Europe had a precarious tenure outside of Russia. Though Austria in 1851 cancelled the constitution which the stress of revolution had elicited three years before, it was deemed prudent in 1861 to gratify the public with an equivalent instrument.

During the agitations of 1848-49 the idea of German unity received more or less emphasis in connection with that of popular rights. There was a widespread feeling that the existing Confederation was a poor makeshift, and not a few had the boldness to speak distinctly in favor of reconstituting the Empire, with the headship vested in the Hohenzollern or Prussian dynasty. Frederic William IV., however, considered that it would involve too great a peril to enter upon such an enterprise without the co-operation or consent of the leading sovereigns.

Among those who discountenanced at this time the imperial scheme was a stanch upholder of Prussian royalty, whose courage and activity in stemming the democratic uprising were especially conspicuous. Apprehensive that union with a group of smaller States would rather detract from the distinctive position of Prussia than add to her lustre, Bismarck opposed the project for making an Emperor of his King, and spoke for the maintenance of a good understanding with Austria. But it was not long before a closer connection with the affairs of the Confederation greatly changed his views. Dislike of Austrian ascendency and the ambition to gain a decisive headship for Prussia among the German States became ruling motives with him. In 1859 he wrote: “I see in our relation to the Confederacy a weakness of Prussia which sooner or later we must heal with fire and sword.” When, in 1862, he took his place as Chancellor of the realm, under King William I., there was doubtless very little mist before his eyes as to the policy which he meant to pursue for the glory of Prussia and the strength of Germany.

The way to the goal lay through a brief and decisive conflict with each of the great rival powers, Austria and France. In either instance the immediate cause of conflict was comparatively trivial, and would not have stood in the way of peace had there not been back of it the much more potent cause of national jealousies and rival ambitions. Bismarck was not anxious for peace, at least in the former instance, though he had a prudent regard for the advantage which would accrue to Prussia from the ability to cast the odium of beginning war upon her antagonists. Hence the entanglements which grew out of the joint occupation of Schleswig and Holstein by Prussia and Austria were allowed in 1866 to issue in a rupture. The result of the conflict was a long step toward the new German Empire. Austria, in consequence of her defeat on the battle-field of Sadowa, consented to the dissolution of the existing Confederacy, and left Prussia free to exercise her pleasure with the smaller German States. Hannover, Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfurt were annexed without delay, and definitive possession was also taken of Schleswig and Holstein. At the same time the States of Southern Germany were brought into close military relation with Prussia, which was now recognized as the head of a North German Confederacy.

It only needed threatened peril or aggression from without to unite the Southern States with the northern group, and to substitute an Empire for a Confederacy. The jealousy of the French people and the impolicy of Napoleon III. prepared for this result by precipitating the war of 1870. Close upon the news of victory followed the proclamation of the new German Empire. In an address to the German people, Jan. 18, 1871, King William declared that, in response to the request of German princes and free cities, he had concluded to assume the imperial dignity. Two months later occurred the first meeting of the Imperial Parliament.

In the foreign policy of the realm the management of Bismarck was undoubtedly a marked success; and so far as the founding of the Empire was dependent upon that management, its existence is a monument to the sagacity and well-directed daring of the great minister. In supervising internal affairs, on the other hand, he encountered a fair share of checks and reverses. A strong opposition party was ever on hand. Since the inauguration of the Empire two factors in particular have been a source of disquiet and perplexity, - clericalism and socialism. Our next topic will give occasion to refer to the former; a sentence or two may properly be given here to a notice of the latter.

As represented by its first organizer, Lassalle, who died in 1864, German socialism, or social democracy, was not of the most extravagant type. Its aim was rather to reform, than to disintegrate and to reconstruct society. State supervision, used for the benefit of the working classes, was to be the principal means of ameliorating the condition of the toiling mass. But this moderate programme was soon changed by the addition of a revolutionary element. Under the inspiration of such teachers as Karl Marx, not a few socialists began to agitate in favor of communistic doctrines, and to assail the existing order of society in its foundations. A comparatively free course was given to the party for a score of years, and it continually advanced in strength. At length in 1878 a double attempt upon the life of the Emperor, by fanatical representatives of the faction, gave the government a favorable opportunity to use repressive measures. The meetings of socialists were put under the ban, and their publications were suppressed. Such means forced them to employ less ostentatious methods of propagandism. They were not, however, driven from the field, and a modified type of socialistic teaching remains a considerable factor in German politics.




The extensive prerogatives in the management of ecclesiastical affairs which the peculiar conditions of the Reformation era had devolved upon the State were continued into the nineteenth century. The consistorial form of church government, which was dominant in Germany in the early part of the century, gave the real headship to the temporal ruler, since the members of the consistory were rather his agents, than representatives of the congregations. From this point, however, there has been a tendency toward freedom and selfaction, as is apparent from the rise of separatists, the

formation of free associations, and the introduction of the synodal or representative system. The State has by no means withdrawn its hand from ecclesiastical affairs, but in tolerating or sanctioning these developments it has enlarged the area of self-action for religious society.

A principal source of separatism lay in opposition to the Union which had been initiated in Prussia in 1817, and had been copied in several other sections of Germany. While Frederic William III., in publishing the Union, had disclaimed any intent to interfere with doctrinal standards, a suspicion arose in some minds that the outcome of his scheme would be a lapse from dogmatic definiteness, a sliding away from the robust creeds of the fathers. Moreover, the action of the monarch in providing a liturgy (1821) for the Union Church was regarded as a marked departure from a neutral position, since the liturgy had its doctrinal implications. Thus a double grievance was afforded. While the Union was considered as being in itself a stroke for latitudinarianism, the King's liturgy was looked upon as a positive means for educating the people away from the teachings of a pure and stanch orthodoxy. As was noticed previously, zealous Lutherans in particular felt aggrieved. The subject of the liturgy received indeed a relative settlement (1828–29), most of the clergy and the people being satisfied with the measure of discretion in the use of liturgical forms which the government came to allow. There was a minority, however, especially in Silesia, which was not easily appeased. Resisting the pressure toward conformity which was brought to bear upon them, they assumed an independent status (1830– 35). During the reign of Frederic William III. the

« 上一頁繼續 »