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IV.

CHAP. Herr v. Bismarck was steadily working. Austria

desired to see a State formed in the North, which 1864–66. should attach itself to her policy, and form a source

of annoyance to Prussia. But she did not desire to grant the Duchies the independence they demanded. The Duchies wished to free themselves entirely from the influence of the two great Powers, and to form an independent State, a member naturally of the German Confederation, under the rule of the Prince of Augustenburg. These three aims were so irreconcilable that it would require much tact and patience to avoid a collision. Of the three, that of the Duchies is the juster and more logical. By the law of the agnatic succession, which was in force in the Duchies before the introduction of the law of the cognate succession, the Duke of Augustenburg was the rightful heir to the Ducal Throne. The Treaty of London had, no doubt, settled the succession on King Christian, and had formed the Duchies and Denmark into one State, preserving to the former their political rights; but as this State had been dissolved, the Duchies would enter into the enjoyment of those laws which existed before their close union with Denmark. This latter country had ceded the Duchies to Austria and Prussia without reserve; and it would be an inconsequent act were these two countries to ignore those rights for which they had fought. The Duchies might say with force : ‘You went to war to force Denmark to respect our ancient and traditional rights ; now that you have been

CH AP.

IV.

victorious with our help you surely cannot avoid placing us in full possession and enjoyment of those

1864-66, rights. Holstein-Lauenburg has always formed part of the German Confederation, and there. is no reason that she should cease to do so. Slesvig, however, is, and has been, in a different position. On no ground can the German Confederation lay any claim to her. She is willing to form one State with Holstein, and to enter the Confederation, but not as a vassal to any Power.'

For political reasons, however, it is clear that Prussia could not allow the formation of a new State in the North, which would almost inevitably, like the Middle and most of the smaller States, lean towards Austria, and add one more to the opponents of Prussian policy in Germany. It is equally clear that Austria could not permit the incorporation with Prussia of a country which would increase her seaboard and enable her to take a stronger and more menacing position.

Each party worked actively in the Duchies in favour of their respective views. Prussia, forgetting her former statements, attacked the legitimacy of the claim of the Duke of Augustenburg, and prevented the assembling of the Provincial Diets. To place matters on a more satisfactory footing, an agreement was come to at Gastein (August 14, 1865) between Gastein the two Powers, by which it was settled that the tion. Duchies should be separated ; that Prussia should be entrusted with the administration of Slesvig, and

Conven

IV.

CHAP. Austria with that of Holstein. Austria further ceded

Lauenburg to Prussia for the sum of 2,500,000 1864-66.

Danish dollars (about 250,0001.); and Prussia was also to have possession of Kiel, in order to commence building naval establishments there. The fortress of Rendsburg was to be garrisoned in common. Considerable excitement was produced in the Duchies by this compact. One of the chief complaints they had had against Denmark was her refusal to allow them to become united; and they now found their friends and protectors following the same iine of policy.

General Manteuffel was named Governor of Slesvig, and endeavoured to win the sympathies of the inhabitants. He met, however, with little success. The people of Slesvig had no desire to form part of the Prussian kingdom, and they were grieved to find that the hopes they had cherished were blasted. The Austrian Governor of Holstein, General von Gablenz, pursued a line of policy which was distasteful to Prussia, because it was successful in alienating the Duchy from her, and in making it look to Austria as its natural ally. Prussia had always been opposed to the meeting of the Provincial Diets, as she well knew that they would pass resolutions acknowledging the Duke of Augustenburg as their rightful ruler, and demanding the union and autonomy of the Duchies. In January 1866 a mass meeting was held at Altona, with the sanction of General von Gablenz,

1 Herr v. Bismarck was raised to the dignity of Count for his skill in obtaining possession of Slesvig,

CHAP.

IV.

Holstein

vincial

Prussia.

at which resolutions were passed demanding the convocation of the Provincial Diets. Austria was

1864–66. perfectly ready to agree to these resolutions. Count Bismarck thereupon addressed a note to Count demaņds Mensdorff (the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs), tion of Proin which a long series of complaints was made against Diets. the course which Austria was pursuing in Holstein, tatlons of and which, if continued, would seriously endanger the good relations hitherto existing between the two Powers. Austria, who saw clearly the goal towards which Prussia was striving, replied that she would never consent to the annexation of the Duchies to Prussia, even at the cost of a rupture. It required but little foresight to see that war would very probably be the consequence, and the two Powers commenced their preparations. Austria applied to the Austria ap

peals to the Diet and to the Middle States to aid her in case of Diet. attack on the part of Prussia, and the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Army Corps were mobilized. Prussia addressed a circular note to the German States in which she begged them to inform her what course they would pursue, supposing she were attacked by Austria. The majority of these States referred her to the Diet. Prussia then endeavoured to arrive at a Prussian

proposals. peaceful solution by making overtures at Vienna. She proposed that Austria should have the conduct of affairs in South Germany, if North Germany and Slesvig-Holstein were resigned to her. Austria declined the proposal, foreseeing that war was inevitable, and preferring that it should come sooner than later.

CHAP.

IV.

preserve peace.

The European Powers now stepped in, to use

their influence in preventing an outbreak of hostilities. 1864–66.

Identic notes were despatched from London, Paris, Attempts of European and St. Petersburg, to Berlin, Vienna, Florence, and

Frankfort, inviting the Powers to a conference to discuss the three following questions, and, if possible, to solve them by diplomacy: 1. The Duchies ; 2. Venice; 3. The Reform of the German Constitution. Prussia, Italy, and the Diet at once accepted the invitations. Austria said that she would attend only under certain conditions. She must exact a promise that the discussions at the Conference were not to lead to any territorial aggrandisement or increase of power to any of the Powers taking part in it. She also disclaimed any intention ever to cede Venice, and declined to receive therefor any money compensation or any other equivalent. As these conditions amounted to a refusal, the three Powers withdrew their invitations, and declared their en

deavours to have failed. Austria now took a question in decided step. She placed the solution of the of the Diet. Slesvig-Holstein question in the hands of the Diet,

promising to abide by its decision, and stated at the same time that she had given her Governor in Holstein orders to summon the Diet of the Duchy. Prussia at once, and with justice, declared that this step was a breach of the Gastein Convention ; for by a secret article in that compact, and which was now published in the Official Gazette at Berlin, the two Powers had bound themselves not to take any

Austria places

the hands

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