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Governments rushed wildly from one extreme to the other, at first yielding in a most reckless and haphazard manner everything the mob demanded, and then retracting their promises, and taking back all, and even more than they had given.
The Church itself determined not to be left alone in the general cry for new rights and privileges. The German Roman Catholic bishops held a meeting at Wurzburg in October, under the presidency of Cardinal Schwarzenberg, in order to obtain full freedom for their Church ; freedom of possession and disposition of the Church property ; conduct of the education of the priests, and of the people; and free intercourse with Rome. In the concordats which Austria and Wurtemberg concluded with the Papal See, most of these demands were granted ; and in Prussia the clergy were placed on a better footing than before. Menzel remarks that the revival of religion was one of the most important results of the German Revolution, and is surprised that the Catholics played no part notwithstanding the favourable opportunity offered to them in the revolutionary time. Many Catholic societies were formed at this period. Similar meetings to that of the Catholic bishops were held by the Evangelicals at Wittenberg, and by the Lutherans at Leipzig.
The discussions on the fundamental rights of the German people' were finished on December 21. The most important of these rights, as settled by the Parliament, were :-Equality of all Germans before
Resolutions of Parliament.
the law; protection of personal liberty ; universal military service ; right of meeting ; trial by jury;
1848. equality of all religions ; freedom of the press ; abolition of feudal burdens, of fidei commissa, and of capital punishment. The larger kingdoms and States in Germany declined to accept the conclusion to which the Parliament had arrived, till the Constitution had been settled on a firm basis. And how inopportune was the publication of these Rights ? The two chief capitals in Germany in open revolt ; the western States harassed and traversed by revolutionary bands; the Emperor of Austria a fugitive from his capital ; part of the dislocated Assembly of Prussia at Brandenburg, the other part at Berlin, each declaring the other illegal and traitorous; the protestations, orders, and prayers of the Frankfort Parliament totally disregarded. In all this confusion the Assembly which was to preserve order and peace in Germany, could find no better means of fulfilling their mission than by giving forth to the world a long list of abstract rights which Germans should possess.
The debates respecting the Constitution having Plans for : commenced in October, lasted all through the mention. winter. The form of the new Constitution puzzled the Parliament at Frankfort. The idea of a Federative State was difficult of realisation. Not only were the relations of the several States to each other difficult to define accurately, and not only was the opposition which the Middle States would offer to
the plan hard to surmount, but the position of the two great Powers, Austria and Prussia, taxed the ingenuity and brains of the framers and promoters of the new scheme. An article which appeared in the • North British Review ’in 1869, puts the difficulty very clearly:
:-'If the German provinces of Austria were to enter the Bundes Staat, it was first necessary that they should be dissevered from their political connection with the rest of the Austrian Empire, and the establishment for the future of a merely personal union between the German and non-German dominions of the house of Hapsburg-Lothringen. If this condition could not be fulfilled, and the work of constituting a centralised confederacy had to be proceeded with, then Austria must be excluded from the new State. If not, then a return to an international confederacy of the old kind was the only alternative left.'
The Constitution as settled by the Frankfort Parliament was as follows:
The government was to be exercised by a chief of the empire, and a Reichstag, with an upper and lower house. Half of the members of the upper house were to be named by the Government, and the other by the representatives of the several States. The lower house was to be elected by direct votes, one deputy to every 70,000 souls. The central power was to be the international representative of Germany: the several States were not to receive or send envoys or consuls.
navy, railways, post, coinage, &c., were all to be under the immediate superintendence of the central
1849. power. The central power was to have a suspensive veto; but when a resolution had passed the Reichstag three times, it was to become law without the sanction of the central power. But who was to be Question of head of the empire? There was the difficulty. The struggle lay between Austria and Prussia. Those who remembered the great deeds of the latter in 1813 in behalf of Germany, her great military power, her entire Germanity (if a word may be coined), men like Gagern and Bunsen, were strongly in favour of the elimination of Austria and the establishment of Prussia in the place to which she was entitled. This party received the name of Small Small GerGermans,-in contradistinction to the Austrian and Great party, who termed themselves Great Germans. The party. former party forced through the Parliament the resolutions that the head of the empire must be a reigning Prince, that he should take the title of Emperor of the Germans; and on March 28 by 290 Election of to 248 votes Frederick William IV. was elected Prussia as Emperor, and the Imperial Crown declared hereditary in the House of Hohenzollern.
Austria tried to counteract the effect of these resolutions by proposing that a directory of seven sovereigns under Austrian presidency should be the head of the central Government—that the Imperial crown, in fact, should be put in commission. But in order to obtain this majority Gagern and his party
the King to accept
CHAP. had formed a compact with the Left. They had
promised the Left a purely democratic electoral law, and to vote against the absolute veto of the future Emperor. This compact was signed on March 26,
1849, by 114 members of the Gagern party. The Refusal of choice, then, of the King of Prussia as Emperor could
not have been made without the Left, and this aid Imperial
made its acceptance impossible at Berlin. The result of the vote is well known. The King refused the proffered honour. The reasons for this refusal have often been discussed; the majority being of opinion that the refusal resulted chiefly from the time and manner of making the offer of the Imperial dignity. Europe was barely recovering from the shock of last year; it was therefore imprudent to wound and insult a powerful State, the traditional bulwark of the old order of things. To this state of affairs Governments were now desirous of returning as far as possible ; but to accomplish this by an act dictated by a revolutionary assembly would call forth opposition from men who supposed that a Head would thus be given to a movement barely suppressed. A crown too, the property and in the disposal of the reigning princes of Germany, could not be transferred by a narrow majority in a representative assembly. Frederick William IV. could not, and never would consent to become a democratic emperor.
The refusal embittered the feeling amongst the people, who were far more national than their rulers,