« 上一页继续 »
though her father and mother did not at first approve of the match. In the course of his wedding tour he accidentally met at Venice, Frederick William IV., at that time king of Prussia, who invited him to dinner, and conversed much with him on German politics.
Bismarck took part in the proceedings of the Prussian Diet in 1847, and joined the Conservative party. During the revolution of 1848, in which the Prussian king was himself carried away by the popular enthusiasm, Bismarck remained calm and collected, evidently believing that the unity of Germany was not to be procured by noisy declamation, vehemence of shouting, and clapping of hands. This movement was democratical in nature, and if German unity had been obtained by it, it would have taken the republican rather than the monarchical form.
In 1848, Bismarck was recognised as one of the chief leaders of the Conservative party. He was at this time bitterly opposed to democracy. In fact, all through his career he has held the view that the more democratic the constitution of a country is, the less likely is it that its affairs will be administered with ability and energy.
In 1851, Bismarck was appointed a privy councillor, and sent to the Frankfort Diet as the representative of Prussia. About this time the prince of Prussia, now emperor of Germany, was introduced to Bismarck, and soon became intimate with him. The position of Prussia at this time was very humiliating, Austria being the doininant power in Germany. During the eight years in which Bismarck remained ambassador to the 'Diet he became thoroughly acquainted with German politics, and gradually acquired a leading influence in the conduct of affairs.
In 1858, as it was found that the king was suffering from mental disease, his successor, the present emperor, was declared regent. One of his first acts was to dismiss the ministry in power, the successors of which removed Bismarck from his post as ambassador to the Frankfort Diet. The regent then appointed him ambassador at St. Petersburg, where he went in 1859. At the coronation of King William in 1861, Bismarck stated to the king his views of the policy that Prussia should pursue in foreign and domestic questions. King William was evidently pleased with the bold policy of the ambassador, and requested him to forward to him his opinions in writing. In 1862, he was appointed Prussian ambassador at Paris.
At the latter part of this year, however, a ministerial crisis occurred in Prussia, which resulted in the appointment of Bismarck as Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Ministry. At this time he was very unpopular with the great masses of the people. Soon after a direct breach took place between the chamber and the ministry, resulting in the dissolution of the former ; and the determination of the king and his ministers to levy the taxes without the casual votes being passed. He now proceeded to carry out a vigorous foreign policy, and announced to the Austrian government the determination of the king to alter the relations existing between the two countries with respect to the German Bund.
In 1863, the king of Denmark dying without children, the question of Schleswig-Holstein assumed alarming proportions. As few people are able to understand the merits of this question, it will be useless for us here to enter into the subject. The Diet, at which both Prussia and Austria were represented, resolved that these duchies should be severed from Denmark; and accordingly these two powers made war upon the latter, and gained, of course, an easy victory. The duchies were formally ceded to Austria and Prussia by the treaty of Vienna, 1864.
The duchies being now wrested from Denmark, a dispute arose between the victors as to the appropriation of the spoil. As they were not able to agree on this point, war broke out between them in 1866. On the 7th of May in this year, Bismarck was shot at by a youth named Karl Blind. The minister showed great personal courage in this incident, and held his assailant firmly till the police arrived. On the 3rd of July, 1866, the battle of Sadowa was fought between the forces of Austria and Prussia, ending in the utter defeat of the Austrians. This great victory may be chiefly ascribed to the military skill of the Prussian commander, the Count Von Moltke.
in that year.
By the treaty of Prague, signed 23rd August, 1866, the German Bund was dissolved, and a new formation of Germany made, from which Austria was excluded. The kingdom of Hanover was abolished, and its territory joined to Prussia.
In the next year a dispute arose between France and Prussia over the question of the duchy of Luxemburg, but this was amicably settled by the Conference of the European powers which met at London in 1867.
As the German Bund was now dissolved, the next work of Count Bismarck was in the formation of a new constitution, comprising the whole of the German powers except Austria. Of this North German Confederation, Count Bismarck was appointed chancellor. In June, 1867, the king of Prussia, accompanied by his minister, visited the Exhibition of Arts and Industry, which was held at Paris
In the middle of the year 1870, Europe was in a calm and peaceful state. A storm, however, suddenly arose, which has proved one of the most disastrous in its effects that has ever afflicted this continent. The people of Spain having ejected Queen Isabella from her throne, invited a relation of the king of Prussia to become their king. Having obtained the permission of the Prussian monarch, Prince Leopold signified his willingness to accept the vacant throne. The French government at once made this acceptance a question of war
or peace. Prince Leopold, seeing the excitement which his candidature was producing in France, withdrew from the position he had assumed ; but the French government required of the Prussian king a pledge that he would not approve of such a proceeding in future. The latter, declining to accede to this demand, war was declared between the two countries.
At the commencement of the war the French gained a slight advantage at Saarbrück, but shortly after they were completely defeated at Weissenburg and Worth by the Crown Prince of Prussia. The next great battle of the campaign was that of Sedan, in which the French suffered an amount of accumulated misfortune scarcely paralleled in the history of any nation. At the close of the engagement, the French army, consisting of 90,000 men, together with the Emperor Napoleon and the French generals, surrendered to the king of Prussia, and were sent as prisoners of war into Germany.
Later on in the year Marshal Bazaine, who with a large French army was shut up in Metz, was compelled to surrender to the Prussians. The siege of Paris was then formed by the victorious army, and early in 1871 this war was brought to a close by the surrender of the French capital through the pressure of famine. By the treaty of peace, Alsace and Lorraine, containing the important fortresses of Metz and Strasburg, were ceded to Germany, and a large sum of money exacted to meet the expenses of the war. Shortly before this event the king of Prussia assumed the title of emperor of Germany; and more recently Count Bismarck has been elevated to the dignity cf a prince.
THE COUNCIL OF HORSES..
Were we designed for daily toil,
A general nod approved the cause,