« TrướcTiếp tục »
nobles and superior clergy of Holstein, in petitions presented at two successive times to the German Diet, complained of having been deprived of their political privileges by their sovereign. The Diet, in reply, advised them to wait patiently for the new constitution, which their king was preparing for them. The Diet of Sweden was exclusively occupied with matters of internal regulations. Some steps were taken towards the repeal of those laws, which prohibited the importation of foreign commodities and imposed heavy taxes on the use of certain luxuries.
One of the measures of the diet was, to present an address to the king, recommending that publicity should be given to the proceedings of inferior tribunals, and of chambers of police. The king, in his answer, admitted his conviction of the advantages of publicity; but chiefly because he wished it to be seen how far publicity was included in the plan of a new form of proceedings, presented by the committee of legislation, he, for the present, rejected the proposal of the Diet.
The session of the Diet, which, by the fundamental compact, ought to last only four months, was, in consequence of their own desire, prolonged seven months more. It was terminated on the 22nd of December by a speech from the king, which, both in language and sentiment, was such as an able and honest constitutional king might address to a free people. "We experience," said he, "the happy influence of an almost insular sition"; and when he uttered this sentiment and looked to the conduct of France in Spain, and to the pretensions of the Holy Alliance, he probably felt, that it was that
almost insular position, which de terred foreign bayonets from being pointed against his throne. "If,” continued he, "the laws which govern us, have not acquired all the perfection which could be desired, the changes to be made must be the work of time. To endea vour to accomplish those changes hastily, would be to put to hazard all present advantages, and the finest hopes for the future. To precipitate the natural progress which belongs to the genius of our institutions, would be to expose them to those catastrophes of which the present age has furnished striking examples."
Among the minor states of Germany, considerable attention was excited by the discussion, in the second chamber of the States of Baden, on the military establishment of the grand Duchy, and by the obstinacy with the representatives of the people resisted the wishes of their rulers. The ministers had fixed the estimate for that branch of the revenue at 1,684,000 florins. After some debate, they consented to a reduction of 48,000 florins, but they insisted on the sum of 1,600,000 florins, as absolutely necessary to defray the expenses of the military establishment, such as it had been agreed to by the cham ber itself, and such as the obliga tions of Baden, as a member of the German confederation, required: and they showed, that in the other states of Germany the assembly of the states had allowed a military establishment more considerable in proportion. The chamber would not enter into any details, but persisted in refusing to allow more than 1,500,000 florins. The government then declared, that it had need of the sum re
quired, to fulfil its obligation as a member of the confederation, and which, by article 68 of the constitution, the assembly of the states could not hinder it from discharging. It therefore required, that the chamber, without abandoning the already voted resolution, should be content with that declaration, and should not prevent the government from including in the budget, by virtue of its right as a confederate state, the military establishment at the sum of 1,600,000 florins. The chamber voted upon this point, on the 30th of January; when the proposal of the government was rejected by 30 votes to 29. The session closed a day or two after wards: and the grand duke fixed the budget at the sum which his ministers had proposed.
The States of the grand duchy of Weimar were occupied, among other things, with the assimilation of the Jews to the other classes of citizens. The discussions were brought to a close towards the end of May, and the regulations, which were then adopted, exhibit curious mixture of liberal indulgences and illiberal restrictions. The poll-tax paid by the Jews is abolished; and they are declared liable to military service. That the number of the Jewish families may not increase, only one son of a family is allowed to marry. Marriages between Jews and Christians are declared legal, but the children are to be educated in the Christian religion. The Jews must take family names and have fixed abodes, though they may sojourn anywhere for a time. If they carry on trade, they must pay a protecting duty and a particular toll: they shall not deal in salt, drugs, or grocery. They shall not take 6 per cent., except for
bills of exchange at short dates:
Hesse Cassel was thrown into
The king of Prussia had long promised new political institutions to his people; but it had likewise been long understood, that this promise, instead of being performed in its spirit by the establishment of a representative body with an integral part of the legislative power for the whole kingdom, was to be eluded by the organization of provincial estates with limited powers. At length, on the 3rd of August, the anniversary of his birth-day, there was published the
long-expected edict of Frederick William, for the introduction of representative assemblies into the monarchy, by the establishment of provincial assemblies in what was called the spirit of the antient German constitution. A committee, of which the crown prince was president, had been appointed by his majesty to prepare this measure, and to consult upon it with experienced men from each pro vince. Upon the report of this committee, his majesty gave a decree, dated June 5, which ordered 1st, that provincial assemblies should be called into action; 2dly, that landed property should be the basis of the representation; and 3rdly, that the provincial estates should be the leading organ of the various subordinate estates in each province.
With respect to the powers of the provincial estates, his majesty was to cause to be sent to them for their discussion the project of such laws as concerned the province only; and so long as there were no general assemblies of the States, such general projects of laws, also, as related to changes in the rights of persons and property, and to the taxes. They were likewise to examine and decide upon petitions and remonstrances, which concerned the special welfare and interest of the whole province or a part of it; and, in general, to conduct all the communal affairs of the province, subject, of course, to his majesty's approbation.
To the general decree, were annexed special laws containing detailed regulations respecting the eligibility of the deputies, the right of election, the convocation and the duration of the provincial assemblies, the communal assemblies, the assemblies of circles, &c.
The special laws were all dated 1st of July, and related severally to the provincial estates-First, of the march of Brandenburgh and the marquisate of lower Lu satia;-Secondly, to those of the kingdom of Prussia, comprising east Prussia, Lithuania, west Prussia; Thirdly, to those of Pomera nia and Rugen.
The estates of the first province were to meet at Berlin; of the second, at Koningsberg and Dantsic alternately; and of the third, at Stettin.
No changes were to be made in these special laws, without the concurrence of the provincial assemblies.
Neufchatel and Vallengin were not included in these arrangements.
It is impossible to consider such provincial assemblies as giving Prussia even the similitude of a free constitution: they are instruments framed, not with a view to promote liberty, but to facilitate and perhaps improve the adminis tration of the country under arbitrary power. Still, they are not without their use. Even when they do not operate as a check upon despotism, they enlighten its understanding, and they mitigate its spirit. However feeble their powers may be, they at least unite men in assemblies for the discussion of public matters: and, at some happier moment than the present, they may overstep the limits prescribed to them, and become the authors of political amelioration.
The Prussian government continued to exhibit a most sensitive apprehension of every thing connected with secret associations or liberal institutions. In the beginning of the year, edicts were issued against all private assemblies,
the object of which was, to pray and to read the bible. The nocturnal meetings of the Moravian brethren were prohibited. The preachers of this sect were for bidden to go in future from one congregation to another. It was intended by these measures to prevent all suspicious correspondence and the circulation of news. At Cologne, public notice was given, that Prussian subjects, who should go as soldiers to Greece, were not to expect any kind of assistance on their return; and "the less so, as the distress, which there awaits them, will have been wholly drawn on them by transgressing their duty as subjects, in attaching themselves to a cause foreign to those duties, and in its own nature criminal." The press was, as usual, the object of particular solicitude. In May, all the booksellers of Berlin were invited, by a circular from the police, to take great precautions in the sale of books, and to refuse such as had suspicious titles, or contained dangerous maxims. Those, who transgressed this admonition, were threatened with the loss of their licenses.
In Wirtemberg there was a journal, entitled "The German Observer," which excited considerable attention by the freedom and severity of its political discussions. Austria and Prussia signified to the court of Stutgard their -high displeasure at the toleration of so liberal a press; and, finding that, notwithstanding this estimation of their opinions and wishes, the publication of the obnoxious journal still continued, they brought it under the notice of the German Diet. A committee was appointed to
investigate the subject. In their report, the committee declarred that the German Observer was
so full of articles of arevolutionary nature, that the only difficulty lay, not in discovering, but in selecting proofs of its delinquency; that it advocated revolutionary principles, not accidentally and occasionally, but regularly and perseveringly; that all the articles, original as well as borrowed, narrative, argu mentative, satirical, political, serious, religious, and literary, were exclusively directed to the circulation of revolutionary views and doctrines; and that the libel on the central committee at Mentz (which gave the first ground for these proceedings)might of itself be justly considered as a direct attack on the diet. They, there fore, recommended to the Diet, to suppress that journal entirely, and to prohibit the Editor, Mr. S. G. Lusching, from engaging for the next five years in the editing of any similar publication in any of the states of the confederation.
On the 30th of May, the report and proposal of the committee were discussed in the Diet. The ambassador of Wirtemberg declined voting. The legations of the elector of Hesse and of the grand Duchy of Hesse Darmstadt, without entering into the merits of the case, thought that the diet was not competent to suppress a journal without previous instructions on that express point given to the members by their respective Sovereigns, but that they might request the ambassador of Wirtemberg to apply to his own government to take steps for the suppression of the German Observer, and if the government of Wirtemberg should refuse, they might then take their own measures. The Saxon Ducal legations concurred in this opinion, which was opposed by the ambassador of Austria, as president.
Ultimately a great majority of votes agreeing with the report of the committee, the resolution proposed was put and carried. It was not stated, what share Hanover took in this important discussion.
The government of Wirtemberg not thinking it prudent to incur the further displeasure of their powerful neighbours, the German Observer was suppressed. Their ambassador reported to the Diet that the decree had been executed; and on the 3rd of July the representative of Austria, as president of the Diet, replied to this intimation in language most ominous to the independence of Ger
"The Emperor and King, my master," said this minister at the conclusion of his answer, "has done justice to the conduct of his representative, and to the resolution of this illustrious assembly, founded on the federal law of Sept. 20, 1819; and his Imperial Majesty has thought fit for the present to dispense with the execution of the order he had previously given, to direct, at the same time, the attention of the Diet to other journals, edited in a manner not less dangerous and perturbative; such as the Gazette of the Neckar, Annals of Marchard, and National Chronicle of the Germans, because his Majesty supposes that a sentence, pronounced according to the laws, of the confederation, against the German Observer, will make jour nalists more circumspect, and censors more vigilant.
"The Minister President has consequently heard with pleasure the declaration that the government of Wirtemberg, highly disapproving of some periodical papers which appear in the kingdom of Wirtemberg, proposes to stop
the abuses of the press by severe censorship regulations; which will prevent for the future, in a manner conformable to the objects of the confederation, the degeneracy of the press."
The harshness, with which Wirtemberg was treated in this transaction, arose probably in no small measure from her having withheld her concurrence from a measure, which the allied sovereigns had deemed beneficial to the triumph of sound principles in Germany. In the beginning of the year, they communicated to the Diet the tenor of the proceedings which had been adopted at, and the circular which had been issued from, Verona ; and a resolution, amounting to an approbation of those proceedings and that circular, was proposed by the Austrian representative. The resolution was carried: but Wirtemberg, though the vote delayed in order to give her minister time to receive new instructions, refused to concur in it. In this opposition she was countenanced by Hesse Cassel and Hesse Darmstadt, and in some degree by Bavaria and Hanover.
In Bavaria the government had, ever since the downfal of Napoleon's tyranny, exhibited a very liberal spirit: but it was no longer at liberty to follow the course, which its own principles and feelings suggested; there was a controlling power, acting from without, which forced it to advance in the career of jealousy and re
New instructions were given to the censors of the Bavarian journals, founded on the decree of the German Diet of 1819, and commanding that no article should be allowed to pass, which might give cause to remonstrances from