Revolutionary Movements In Germany
Author: Maurice, C. Edmund

Part I.

1848

Popular demonstrations in various parts of Germany in the great
revolutionary year 1848 were no doubt partly due to the outbreaks in France
and elsewhere, but it is also apparent that discontent at home had been long
turning the people toward revolt. The agitation that began in March - the
month following the "February Revolution" and the declaration of a republic in
France - was the work of a patriotic party that cherished not only aspirations
for extending popular rights in the several States, but also a prophetic
desire for German unity.

The Congress of Vienna (1815) attempted to adjust the balance of power in
Europe. Some sort of union for the States was imperatively required by the
general situation, but there was fear of making Germany too strong. The
Congress created the German Confederation, constituted by a union of
independent States, under the hegemony or political headship of Austria. This
confederation (bund) lacked strength in the Central Government, and although
it reduced the number of States from more than three hundred to thirty-nine,
it still perpetuated elements of unwieldiness and discord. At the head of the
Austrian Government, as chief minister of the Emperor Ferdinand I, was
Metternich, who for many years had been the great reactionary leader of
Europe. He was compelled now to face conditions such as, in his long and
varied career of statecraft and diplomacy, he never had confronted. Ferdinand
himself, always a weak ruler, succumbed to the revolution provoked by his
minister, whose downfall was followed by the Emperor's abdication (December 2,
1848) in favor of his nephew, Francis Joseph, the present ruler of Austria.

The most interesting of the German struggles of 1848 was that in Saxony.
Robert Blum ^1 was present at a ball in Leipsic when the news arrived of the
French revolution. He at once hastened to consult his friends; and they
agreed to act through the Town Council of Leipsic, and sketched out the
demands that they desired should be laid before the King. These were: "A
reorganization of the constitution of the German Bund in the spirit and in
accordance with the needs of the times, for which the way is to be prepared by
the unfettering of the press, and the summoning of representatives of all
German peoples to the Assembly of the Bund." The Town Council adopted this
address on March 1st, and sent a deputation with it to Dresden; and, on the
3d, the people gathered to meet the deputation on its return. The following
is the account given by the son of Robert Blum:

[Footnote 1: Blum, born at Cologne in 1807, was a writer and an agitator,
leader of the Liberal party in Saxony. He was executed in November, 1848. -
Ed.]

"By anonymous placards on the wall the population of Leipsic was summoned
on the evening of March 3d to meet at the railway station the deputation
returning from Dresden. Since the space was too narrow in this place, the
innumerable mass marched to the market-place, which, as well as the
neighboring streets, they completely filled. In perfect silence the thousands
awaited here the arrival of the deputation, which, at last, toward nine
o'clock, arrived and was greeted with unceasing applause. Town Councillor
Seeburg spoke first of the deep emotion of the King; after him spoke
Biedermann. But the crowd uproariously demanded Robert Blum.

"At last Blum appeared on the balcony of the Town Council House. His
voice alone controlled the whole market-place, and was even heard in the
neighboring streets. He too sought, by trying to quiet them, to turn them
away from the subject of the address and of the King's answer. But the people
broke uproariously into his speech with the demand, 'The answer! The answer!'
It could no longer be concealed that the petitions of the town had received
harsh rejection. Then came a loud and passionate murmur. The masses had
firmly hoped that the deputation would bring with them from Dresden the news
of the dismissal of the hated ministers.

"But Blum continued his speech, and they renewed their attention to him.
'In constitutional countries,' said he, 'it is not the King, but the ministers
who are responsible. They, too, bear the responsibility of the rejection of
the Leipsic proposals. The people must press for their removal.' He added
that he would bring forward in the next meeting of the town representatives
the proposal that the King should dismiss the Ministry, 'which does not
possess the confidence of the people.' Amid shouts of exultation and applause,
the appeased assembly dispersed."

Blum was as successful with his colleagues as with the crowd; and the
Town Council now demanded from the King the dismissal of his ministers, the
meeting of the Assembly, and freedom of the press. The King tried to resist
the last of these three proposals, pleading his duty to the Bund. But even
the Bundestag had felt the spirit of the times, and on March 1st had passed a
resolution giving leave to every government to abolish the censorship of the
press. The King seemed to yield, and promised to fulfil all that was wished;
but the reactionary party in Dresden had become alarmed at the action of the
men of Leipsic; and so, on March 11th, when the men of Leipsic supposed that
all was granted, General von Carlowitz entered their city at the head of a
strong force, and demanded that the Town Council should abstain from exciting
speeches; that the Elocution Union should give up all political discussion;
that the processions of people should cease; and above all, that the march
from Leipsic to Dresden, which was believed to be then intended, should be
given up.

These demands were met by Blum with an indignant protest. "Five men,"
said he, "who manage the army cannot understand that, though their bullets may
kill men, they cannot make a single hole in the idea that rules the world."
The town councillors of Leipsic were equally firm. Carlowitz abandoned his
attempt as hopeless; and on March 13th the King summoned a Liberal Ministry
which abolished press censorship, granted publicity of legal proceedings,
trial by jury, and a wider basis for the Saxon Parliament, and promised to
assist in the reform of the Bund.

In the mean time the success of the French revolution had awakened new
hopes in Vienna. Soon after the arrival of the news, a placard appeared on
one of the city gates bearing the words: "In a month Prince Metternich will be
overthrown! Long live Constitutional Austria!" Metternich himself was greatly
alarmed, and began to listen to proposals for extending the power of the Lower
Austrian Estates. Yet he still hoped by talking over and discussing these
matters to delay the execution of reforms till a more favorable turn in
affairs should render them either harmless or unnecessary.

But great as was the alarm caused by the South German risings, and great
as were the hopes which they kindled in the Viennese, the word that was to
give definiteness and importance to the impulses that were stirring in Vienna
could not come from Bavaria or Saxony. Much as they might wish to connect
themselves with a German movement, the Viennese could not get rid of the fact
that they were, for the present, bound up with a different political system.
Nor was it wholly clear that the German movement was as yet completely
successful. The King of Prussia seemed to be meditating a reactionary policy
and had even threatened to despatch troops to put down the Saxon Liberals; and
the King of Hanover also was disposed to resist the movement for a German
Parliament. It was from a country more closely bound up with the Viennese
Government, and yet enjoying traditions of more deeply rooted liberty, that
the utterance was to come which was eventually to rouse the Viennese to
action.

The readiness of the nobles to accept the purely verbal concession
offered by Metternich in the matter of the "Administrators" had shown Kossuth
^1 that there could be no further peace. But he still knew how and when to
strike the blow; and it was not by armed insurrection so much as by the
declaration of a policy that he shook the rule of Metternich. On March 3d a
Conservative member of the Presburg Assembly brought forward a motion for
inquiry into the Austrian bank-notes. Kossuth answered that the confusion in
the affairs of Austrian commerce produced an evil effect on Hungarian
finances; and he showed the need of an independent Finance Ministry for
Hungary. Then he went on to point out that this same confusion extended to
other parts of the monarchy.

[Footnote 1: Louis Kossuth, the famous leader of the Hungarian insurrection of
1848, was at this time about forty-six years of age. The sovereignty of
Hungary had been in the hands of the Hapsburgs since 1687. - Ed.]

"The actual cause of the breaking up of peace in the monarchy, and of all
the evils which may possibly follow from it, lies in the system of
government." He admitted that it was hard for those who had been brought up
under this system to consent to its destruction. "But," he went on, "the
people lasts forever, and we wish also that the country of the people should
last forever. Forever too should last the splendor of that dynasty whose
representatives we reckon as our rulers. In a few days the men of the past
will descend into their graves; but for that scion of the House of Hapsburg
who excites such great hopes, for the Archduke Francis Joseph, who at his
first coming forward earned the love of the nation - for him there waits the
inheritance of a splendid throne which derives its strength from freedom
Toward a dynasty which bases itself on the freedoms of its peoples enthusiasm
will always be roused; for it is only the freeman who can be faithful from his
heart; for a bureaucracy there can be no enthusiasm."

He then urged that the future of the dynasty depended on the hearty union
between the nations which lived under it. "This union," he said, "can be
brought about only by respecting the nationalities, and by that bond of
constitutionalism which can produce a kindred feeling. The bureau and the
bayonet are miserable bonds." He then went on to apologize for not examining
the difficulties between Hungary and Croatia. The solution of the
difficulties of the empire would, he held, solve the Croatian question too. If
it did not, he promised to consider that question with sympathy, and examine
it in all its details. He concluded by proposing an address to the Emperor
which should point out that it was the want of constitutional life in the
whole empire which hindered the progress of Hungary; and that, while an
independent government and a separate responsible ministry were absolutely
essential to Hungary, it was also necessary that the Emperor should surround
his throne, in all matters of the Government, with such constitutional
arrangements as were indispensably demanded by the needs of the time.

This utterance has been called the "Baptismal Speech of the Revolution."
Coming as it did directly after the news of the French revolution, it gave a
definiteness to the growing demands for freedom; but it did more than this.
Metternich had cherished a growing hope that the demand for constitutional
government in Vienna might be gradually used to crush out the independent
position of Hungary, by absorbing the Hungarians in a common Austrian
parliament; and he had looked upon a Croatian question as a means for still
further weakening the power of the Hungarian Diet. Kossuth's speech struck a
blow at these hopes by declaring that freedom for any part of the empire could
be obtained only by working for the freedom of the whole; he swept aside for
the moment those national and provincial jealousies which were the great
strength of the Austrian despotism, and appealed to all the Liberals of the
empire to unite against the system which was oppressing them all. Had Kossuth
remained true to the faith which he proclaimed in this speech, it is within
the limits of probability that the whole Revolution of 1848-1849 might have
had a different result.

The Hungarian chancellor, Mailath, was so alarmed at Kossuth's speech
that he hindered the setting out of the deputation which was to have presented
the address to the Emperor. But he could not prevent the speech from
producing its effect. Although Presburg was only six hours' journey from
Vienna, the route had been made so difficult that the news of anything done in
the Hungarian Diet had hitherto reached Vienna in a round-about manner, and
had sometimes been a week on its way.

The news of this speech, however, arrived on the very next day; and
Kossuth's friend Pulszky immediately translated it into German and circulated
it among the Viennese. A rumor of its contents had spread before the actual
speech. It was said that Kossuth had declared war against the system of
government, and that he had said state bankruptcy was inevitable. But as the
news became more definite the minds of the Viennese fixed upon two points -
the denunciation of the men of the past, and the demand for a constitution for
Austria. So alarmed did the Government become at the effect of this speech
that they undertook to answer it in an official paper.

The writer of this answer called attention to the terrible scenes which
he said were being enacted in Paris, which proved according to him that the
only safety for the governed was in rallying round the government. This
utterance naturally excited only contempt and disgust; and the ever-arriving
news of new constitutions granted in Germany swelled the enthusiasm which had
been roused by Kossuth's speech.

The movement still centred in the professors of the University. On March
1st Doctor Loehner had proposed, at one of the meetings of the Reading and
Debating Society, that negotiations should be opened with the Estates, and
that they should be urged to declare their Assembly permanent, the country in
danger, and Metternich a public enemy. This proposal marked a definite step
in constitutional progress. The Estates of Lower Austria, which met in
Vienna, had indeed from time to time expressed their opinions on certain
public grievances; but these opinions had been generally disregarded by
Francis and Metternich; and, though the latter had of late talked of enlarging
the powers of the Estates, he had evidently intended such words partly as mere
talk in order to delay any efficient action, and partly as a bid against the
concessions which had been made by the King of Prussia. That the leaders of a
popular movement should suggest an appeal to the Estates of Lower Austria was
therefore an unexpected sign of a desire to find any legal centre for action,
however weak in power, and however aristocratic that centre might be.

Doctor Loehner's proposal, however, does not seem to have been generally
adopted; and, instead of the suggested appeal to the Estates, a programme of
eleven points was circulated by the debating society. When we consider that
the revolution broke out in less than a fortnight after this petition, we
cannot but be struck with the extreme moderation of the demands now made. Most
of the eleven points were concerned with proposals for the removal either of
forms of corruption, or of restraints on personal liberty, and they were
directed chiefly against those interferences with the life and teaching of the
universities which were causing so much bitterness in Vienna. Such demands
for constitutional reforms as were contained in this programme were certainly
not of an alarming character. The petitioners asked that the right of
election to the Assembly of Estates should be extended to citizens and
peasants; that the deliberative powers of the Estates should be enlarged; and
that the whole empire should be represented in an assembly, for which,
however, the petitioners asked only a consultative power. Perhaps the three
demands in this petition which would have excited the widest sympathy were
those in favor of the universal arming of the people, the universal right of
petition, and the abolition of the censorship.

The expression of desire for reform now became much more general and even
some members of the Estates prepared an appeal to their colleagues against the
bureaucratic system. But the character and tone of the utterances of these
new reformers some what weakened the effect which had been produced by the
bolder complaints of the earlier leaders of the movement, for while the
students of the University and some of their professors still showed a desire
for bold and independent action, the merchants caught eagerly at the sympathy
of the Archduke Francis Charles, while the booksellers addressed to the
Emperor a petition in which servility passes into blasphemy.

These signs of weakness were no doubt observed by the Government; and it
was not wonderful that, under these circumstances, Metternich and Kolowrat
should have been able to persuade themselves that they could still play with
the Viennese, and put them off with promises which need never be fulfilled.
Archduke Louis alone seems to have foreseen the coming storm, but was unable
to persuade his colleagues to make military preparations to meet it. In the
mean time the movement among the students was assuming more decided
proportions; and their demands related as usual to the great questions of
freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of teaching; and to these
were added the demand for popular representation, the justifications for which
they drew from Kossuth's speech of March 3d.

But, while Hungary supplied the model of constitutional government, the
hope for a wider national life connected itself more and more with the idea of
a united Germany. Two days after the delivery of Kossuth's speech an impulse
had been given to this latter feeling by the meeting at Heidelberg of the
leading supporters of German unity; and they had elected a committee of seven
to prepare the way for a constituent assembly at Frankfort. Of these seven,
two came from Baden, one from Wurtemberg, one from Hesse-Darmstadt, one from
Prussia, one from Bavaria, and one from Frankfort. Thus it will be seen that
South Germany still kept the lead in the movement for German unity; and the
president of the committee was that Izstein, of Baden, who had been known to
Germany chiefly by his ill-timed expulsion from Berlin. But, though this
distribution of power augured ill for the relations between the leaders of the
German movement and the King of Prussia, the meeting at Heidelberg was not
prepared to adopt the complete programme of the Baden leaders, nor to commit
itself to that Republican movement which would probably have repelled the
North German Liberals.

The chief leader of the more moderate party in the meeting was Heinrich
von Gagern, the representative of Hesse-Darmstadt. Gagern was the son of a
former minister of the Grand Duke of Nassau, who had left that State to take
service in Austria, and who had acted with the Archduke John in planning a
popular rising in the Tyrol in 1813. Heinrich had been trained at a military
school in Munich. He had steadily opposed the policy of Metternich, had done
his best to induce the universities to cooperate in a common German movement,
and had tried to secure internal liberties for Hesse-Darmstadt, while he had
urged his countrymen to look for the model of a free constitution rather to
England and Hungary than to France. During the constitutional movement of
1848 he had become Prime Minister of Hesse-Darmstadt; and he seems to have had
considerable power of winning popular confidence. Although he was not able to
commit the meeting to a definitely monarchical policy, he had influence enough
to counteract the attempts of Struve and Hecker to carry a proposal for the
proclamation of a republic; and his influence increased during the later
phases of the movement.

It was obvious that, in the state of Viennese feeling, a movement in
favor of German unity, at once so determined and so moderate in its character,
would give new impulse to the hopes for freedom already excited by Kossuth's
speech; and the action of the reformers now became more vigorous because the
students rather than the professors were guiding the movement. Some of the
latter, and particularly Professor Hye, were beginning to be alarmed, and were
attempting to hold their pupils in check. This roused the distrust and
suspicion of the students; and it was with great difficulty that Professors
Hye and Endlicher could prevail on the younger leaders of the movement to
abstain from action until the professors had laid before the Emperor the
desire of the university for the removal of Metternich. This deputation
waited on the Emperor on March 12th, but it proved of little avail; and when
the professors returned with the answer that the Emperor would consider their
wishes, the students received them with laughter and resolved to take the
matter into their own hands. The next day was to be the opening of the
Assembly of the Estates of Lower Austria; and the students of Vienna resolved
to march from the University to the Landhaus.

In the great hall of the University, now hidden away in an obscure part
of Vienna but still retaining traces of the paintings which then decorated it,
the students gathered in large numbers on March 13th. Various rumors of a
discouraging kind had been circulated; this and that leading citizen were
mentioned as having been arrested; nay, it was even said that members of the
Estates had themselves been seized, and that the sitting of the Assembly would
not be allowed to take place. To these rumors were added the warnings of the
professors.



Part II.

Fuester, who had recently preached on the duty of devotion to the cause
of the country, now endeavored, by praises of the Emperor, to check the desire
of the students for immediate action; but he was shouted down.

Hye then appealed to them to wait a few days, in hopes of a further
answer from the Emperor. They answered with a shout that they would not wait
an hour; and then they raised the cry of "Landhaus!" Breaking loose from all
further restraint they set out on their march, and as they went numbers
gathered round them. The people of Vienna had already been appealed to, by a
placard on St. Stephen's Church, to free the good Emperor Ferdinand from his
enemies; and the placard further declared that he who wished for the rise of
Austria must wish for the fall of the present ministers of state.

The appeal produced its effect; and the crowd grew dense as the students
marched into the narrow Herren Gasse. They passed under the archway which led
into the courtyard of the Landhaus; there, in front of the very building where
the Assembly was sitting, they came to a dead halt; and, with the strange
hesitation which sometimes comes over crowds, no man seemed to know what was
next to be done. Suddenly in the pause which followed, the words "Meine
Herren" were heard from a corner of the crowd. It was evident that some one
was trying to address them; and the students nearest to the speaker hoisted
him upon their shoulders. Then the crowd saw a quiet-looking man, with a
round, strong head, short-cropped hair, and a thick beard. Each man eagerly
asked his neighbor who this could be; and, as the speech proceeded, the news
went round that this was Doctor Fischhof, a man who had been very little known
beyond medical circles and hitherto looked upon as quite outside political
movements. Such was the speaker who now uttered what is still remembered as
the "first free word" in Vienna.

He began by dwelling on the importance of the day and on the need of
"encouraging the men who sit there," pointing to the Landhaus, "by our appeal
to them, of strengthening them by our adherence, and leading them to the
desired end by our cooperation in action. He," exclaimed Fischhof, "who has
no courage on such a day as this is only fit for the nursery." He then
proceeded to dwell at some length on the need for freedom of the press and
trial by jury. Then, catching, as it were, the note of Kossuth's speech of
March 3d, he went on to speak of the greatness which Austria might attain by
combining together "the idealist Germans, the steady, industrious, and
persevering Slavs, the knightly and enthusiastic Magyars, the clever and
sharp-sighted Italians." Finally he called upon them to demand freedom of the
press, freedom of religion, freedom of teaching and learning, a responsible
ministry, representation of the people, arming of the people, and connection
with Germany.

In the mean time the Estates were sitting within. They had gathered in
unusually large numbers, being persuaded by their President that they were
bound to resist the stream of opinion. Representatives as they were of the
privileged classes, they had little sympathy with the movement that was going
on in Vienna. Nor does it appear that there was anyone among them who was
disposed to play the part of a Confalonieri or Szechenyi, much less of a
Mirabeau or a Lafayette. Many of them had heard rumors of the coming
deputation; but Montecuccoli, their President, refused to begin the
proceedings before the regular hour. While they were still debating this
point they heard the rush of the crowd outside; then the sudden silence, and
then Fischhof's voice. Several members were seized with a panic and desired
to adjourn. Again Montecuccoli refused to yield, and one of their Liberal
members urged them to take courage from the fact of this deputation to make
stronger demands on the Government.

But before the Assembly could decide to act the crowd outside had taken
sterner measures. The speakers who immediately followed Fischhof had made
little impression; then another doctor, named Goldmark, sprang up and urged
the people to break into the Landhaus. So, before the leaders of the Estates
had decided what action to take, the doors were suddenly burst open, and
Fischhof entered at the head of the crowd. He announced that he had come to
encourage the Estates in their deliberations, and to ask them to sanction the
demands embodied in the petition of the people. Montecuccoli assured the
deputation that the Emperor had already promised to summon the Provincial
Assemblies to Vienna, and that, for their part, the Estates of Lower Austria
were in favor of progress. "But," he added, "they must have room and
opportunity to deliberate." Fischhof assented to this suggestion, and
persuaded his followers to withdraw to the courtyard. But those who had
remained behind had been seized with a fear of treachery, and a cry arose that
Fischhof had been arrested. Thereupon Fischhof showed himself, with
Montecuccoli, on the balcony; and the President promised that the Estates
would send a deputation of their own to the Emperor to express to him the
wishes of the people. He therefore invited the crowd to choose twelve men, to
be present at the deliberations of the Estates during the drawing up of the
petition. While the election of these twelve was still going on, a Hungarian
student appeared with the German translation of Kossuth's speech. The
Hungarian's voice being too weak to make itself heard, he handed the speech to
a Tyrolese student, who read it to the crowd. The allusion to the need of a
constitution was received with loud applause, and so also was the expression
of the hopes for good from the Archduke Francis Joseph.

But however much the reading of the speech had encouraged the hopes of
the crowd, it had also given time for the Estates to decide on a course
without waiting for the twelve representatives of the people; and, before the
crowd had heard the end of Kossuth's speech the reading was interrupted by a
message from the Estates announcing the contents of their proposed petition.
The petition had shrunk to the meagre demand that a report on the condition of
the state bank should be laid before the Estates, and that a committee should
be chosen from Provincial Assemblies to consider timely reforms and to take a
share in legislation.

The feeble character of the proposed compromise roused a storm of scorn
and rage; and a Moravian student tore the message of the Estates into pieces.
The conclusion of Kossuth's speech roused the people to still further
excitement; and, with cries for a free constitution, for union with Germany,
and against alliance with Russia, the crowd once more broke into the Assembly.
One of the leading students then demanded of Montecuccoli whether this was the
whole of the petition they intended to send to the Emperor. Montecuccoli
answered that the Estates had been so disturbed in their deliberations that
they had not been able to come to a final decision. But he declared that they
desired to lay before the Emperor all the wishes of the people.

Again the leaders of the crowd repeated, in slightly altered form, the
demands originally formulated by Fischhof. At last, after considerable
discussion, Montecuccoli was preparing to start for the Castle at the head of
the Estates when a regiment of soldiers arrived, but they were unable to make
their way through the crowd, and were even pressed back out of the Herren
Gasse.

The desire now arose for better protection for the people; and a
deputation tried to persuade the burgomaster of Vienna to call out the City
Guard. Czapka, the burgomaster, was, however, a mere tool of the Government;
and he declared that the Archduke Albert, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army,
had alone the power of calling out the guard. The Archduke Albert was,
perhaps next to Louis, the most unpopular of the royal house. He indignantly
refused to listen to any demands of the people, and, hastening to the spot,
rallied the soldiers and led them to the open space at the corner of the
Herren Gasse, which is known as the "Freyung." The inner circle of Vienna was
at this time surrounded with walls, outside of which were the large suburbs in
which chiefly workmen lived.

The students seem already to have gained some sympathy with the workmen;
and for the previous two years the discontent caused by the sufferings of the
poorer classes had been taking a more directly political turn. Several of the
workmen had pressed in with the students in the morning into the inner town,
and some big men, with rough darned coats and dirty caps over their ears, were
seen clenching their fists for the fight. The news quickly spread to the
suburbs that the soldiers were about to attack the people. Seizing long poles
and any iron tools which came to hand, the workmen rushed forward to the gates
of the inner town. In one district they found the town gates closed against
them, and cannon placed on the bastion near; but in others the authorities
were unprepared; and the workmen burst into the inner town, tearing down
stones and plaster to throw at the soldiers.

In the mean time the representatives of the Estates had reached the
Castle, and were trying to persuade the authorities to yield to the demands of
the people. Metternich persisted in believing that the whole affair was moved
by foreign influence, and particularly by Italians and Swiss; and he desired
that the soldiers should gather in the Castle, and that Prince Windischgraetz
should be appointed commandant of the city. Alfred Windischgraetz was a
Bohemian nobleman who had previously been known chiefly for his strong
aristocratic feeling, which he was said to have embodied in the expression
"Human beings begin at barons." But he had been marked out by Metternich as a
man of vigor and decision who might be trusted to act in an emergency.

Latour, who had been the previous commandant of the Castle in Vienna,
showed signs of hesitation at this crisis; and this gave Metternich the excuse
for dismissing Latour and appointing Windischgraetz in his place. To this
arrangement all the ruling council consented; but, when Archduke Louis and
Metternich proposed to make Windischgraetz military dictator of the city, and
to allow him to bring out cannon for firing on the people, great opposition
arose. The Archduke John was perhaps one of the few councillors who really
sympathized with Liberal ideas; but several of the Archdukes, and particularly
Francis Charles, heartily desired the fall of Metternich; and Kolowrat shared
their wish. This combined opposition of sincere reformers and jealous
courtiers hindered Metternich's policy; and it was decided that the City Guard
should first be called out, and that the dictatorship of Windischgraetz should
be kept in reserve as a last resource.

In the mean time the struggle on the streets was raging fiercely.
Archduke Albert had found to his cost that the insurrection was not, as he had
supposed, the work of a few discontented men. The students fought gallantly;
but a still fiercer element was contributed to the insurrection by the workmen
who had come in from the suburbs. One workman was wounded in his head, his
arm, and his foot; but he continued to encourage his friends, and cried out
that he cared nothing for life; either he would die that day, or else "the
high gentlemen should be overthrown." Another who had had no food since the
morning entreated for a little refreshment that he might be able to fight the
better; and he quickly returned to the struggle. In those suburbs from which
the workmen had not been able to break into the inner town, the insurrection
threatened to assume the form of an attack on the employers. Machines were
destroyed, and the houses of those employers who had lowered wages were set on
fire.

It was this aspect of the insurrection which encouraged the nobles to
believe that, by calling out the guard, they would induce the richer citizens
to take arms against the workmen; and this policy was carried still further
when, on the application of the rector of the University, the students also
were allowed the privilege of bearing arms. But the ruse entirely failed; the
people recognized the City Guard as their friends, and refused to attack them;
and the rumor soon spread that the police had fired on the City Guard. It was
now evident that the citizen soldiers were on the side of the people; and the
richer citizens sent a deputation to entreat that Metternich should be
dismissed.

But the Archduke Maximilian was resolved that, as the first expedient
proposed by the Council had failed, he would now apply some of those more
violent remedies which had been postponed at first. He therefore ordered that
the cannon should be brought down from the Castle to the Michaelerplatz. From
this point the cannon would have commanded, on the one side the Herren Gasse,
where the crowd had gathered in the morning, and in front the Kohlmarkt, which
led to the wide street of Amgraben. Had the cannon been fired then and there,
the course of the insurrection must, in one way or other, have been changed.
That change might have been as Maximilian hoped, the complete collapse of the
insurrection; or, as Latour held, the cannon might have swept away the last
vestige of loyalty to the Emperor, and the republic might have been instantly
proclaimed. But in any case the result must have been most disastrous to the
cause both of order and liberty; for the passions which had already been
roused, especially among the workmen, could hardly have failed to produce one
of those savage struggles which may overthrow one tyranny, but which usually
end in the establishment of another. Fortunately, however, the Archduke
Maximilian seems to have had no official authority in this matter; and, when
he gave the order to fire, the master-gunner, a Bohemian named Pollett,
declared that he would not obey the order, unless it was given by the
commander of the forces or the commander of the town. The Archduke then
appealed to the subordinates to fire, in spite of this opposition; but Pollett
placed himself in front of the cannon and exclaimed: "The cannon are under my
command; until there comes an order from my commander, and until necessity
obliges it, let no one fire on friendly unarmed citizens. Only over my body
shall you fire." The Archduke retired in despair.

In the mean time the deputation of citizens had reached the Castle. At
first the officials were disposed to treat them angrily, and even tried to
detain them by force; but the news of the concession of arms to the students,
the urgent pressure of Archduke John, and the accounts of the growing fury of
the people finally decided Metternich to yield; and, advancing into the room
where the civic deputation was assembled, he declared that as they had said
his resignation would bring peace to Austria he now resigned his office, and
wished good luck to the new government. Many of the royal family and of the
other members of the Council flattered themselves that they had got rid of a
formidable enemy without making any definite concession to the people.
Windischgraetz alone protested against the abandonment of Metternich by the
rulers of Austria.

Metternich had hoped to retire quietly to his own villa, but it had been
already burned in the insurrection; and he soon found that it was safer to fly
from Vienna and eventually to take refuge in England. He had, however, one
consolation in all his misfortunes. In the memoir written four years later he
expressed his certainty that he at least had done no wrong, and that if he had
to begin his career again, he would follow the same course he took before, and
would not deviate from it for an instant.

When, at half-past eight in the evening of March 13th, men went through
the streets of Vienna, crying out "Metternich is fallen!" it seemed as if the
march of the students and the petition of Fischhof had produced in one day all
the results desired. But neither the suspicions of the people nor the violent
intentions of the princes were at an end. The archdukes still talked of
making Windischgraetz dictator of Vienna. The workmen still raged in the
suburbs; and the students refused to leave the University for fear an attack
should be made upon it. But in spite of the violence of the workmen the
leaders of the richer citizens were more and more determined to make common
cause with reformers. Indeed both they and the students hoped to check the
violence of the riots, while they prevented any reactionary movement. The
Emperor also was on the side of concession. He refused to let the people be
fired on, and announced on the 14th the freedom of the press. But
unfortunately he was seized with one of his epileptic fits; and the
intriguers, who were already consolidating themselves into the secret council
known as the "Camarilla," published the news of Windischgraetz's dictatorship,
and resolved to place Vienna under a state of siege while the Emperor was
incapable of giving directions.

The news of Windischgraetz's accession to power so alarmed the people
that they at once decided to march upon the Castle; but one of the leading
citizens, named Arthaber, persuaded them to abandon their intention, and
instead to send him and another friend to ask for a constitution from the
Emperor. A struggle was evidently going on between Ferdinand and his
courtiers. Whenever he was strong and able to hold his own, he was ready to
make concessions. Whenever he was either ill or still suffering from the
mental effects of his illness, the Government fell into the hands of
Windischgraetz and the archdukes, and violent measures were proposed.

Thus, though Arthaber and his friends were received courteously and
assured of the constitutional intentions of the Emperor, at eleven o'clock on
the same night there appeared a public notice declaring Vienna in a state of
siege. But even Windischgraetz seems to have been somewhat frightened by the
undaunted attitude of the people; and when he found that his notice was torn
down from the walls, and that a new insurrection was about to break out, he
sent for Professor Hye and entreated him to preserve order. In the mean time
the Emperor had to some extent recovered his senses; and he speedily issued a
promise to summon the Estates of the German and Slavonic Provinces and the
congregations of Lombardo-Venetia.

But the people had had enough of sham constitutions; and the Emperor's
proclamation was torn down. This act, however, did not imply any personal
hostility to Ferdinand; for the belief that the Austrian ministers were
thwarting the good intentions of their master was as deeply rooted at this
time in the minds of the Viennese as was a similar belief with regard to Pius
IX and his cardinals in the minds of the Romans; and when the Emperor drove
out on March 15th, he was received with loud cheers.

But as Ferdinand listened to these cheers he must have noticed that,
louder than the "Es lebe der Kaiser" of his German subjects and the "Slawa" of
the Bohemians, rose the sound of the Hungarian "Eljen." For mingling in the
crowd with the ordinary inhabitants of Vienna was the Hungarian deputation,
which had at last been permitted by the Count Palatine to leave Presburg, and
which had arrived in Vienna to demand both freedoms that had been granted to
the Germans and also a separate responsible ministry for Hungary. They
arrived in the full glory of recent successes in the Presburg Diet; for,
strengthened by the news of the Viennese rising, Kossuth had carried, in one
day, many of the reforms for which his party had so long been contending. The
last remnants of the dependent condition of the peasantry had been swept away;
taxation had been made universal; and freedom of the press and universal
military service had been promised. Szechenyi alone had ventured to raise a
note of warning, and it had fallen unheeded.

In Vienna Kossuth was welcomed almost as cordially as in Presburg; for
the German movement in Vienna had tended to produce in its supporters a
willingness to lose the eastern half of the empire in order to obtain the
union of the western half with Germany. So the notes of Arndt's "Deutsches
Vaterland" were mingled with the cry of "Batthyanyi Lajos, Minister
Praesident!" Before such a combination as this, Ferdinand had no desire,
Windischgraetz no power, to maintain an obstinate resistance; and, on March
16th, Sedlnitzky, the hated head of the police, was dismissed from office. On
the 18th a responsible ministry was appointed; and on the 22d Windischgraetz
announced that national affairs would now be guided on the path of progress.

In the mean time that German movement from which the Viennese derived so
much of their impulse had been gaining a new accession of force in the north
of Germany. In Berlin the order of the Viennese movements had been to some
extent reversed. There the artisans, instead of taking their tone from the
students, had given the first impulse to reform. The King indeed had begun
his concessions by granting freedom of the press on March 7th; but it seemed
very unlikely that this concession would be accompanied by any securities that
would make it a reality. The King even refused to fulfil his promise of
summoning the Assembly; and it was in consequence of this refusal that the
artisans presented to the Town Council of Berlin a petition for the redress of
their special grievances. The same kind of misery which prevailed in Vienna
had shown itself, though in less degree, in Berlin; and committees had been
formed for the relief of the poor. The Town Council refused to present the
petition of the workmen, and, in order to take the movement out of their
hands, presented a petition of their own in favor of freedom of the press,
trial by jury, representation of the Germany people in the Bundestag, and the
summoning of all the Provincial Assemblies of the kingdom. This petition was
rejected by the King; and thereupon, on March 13th, the people gathered in
large numbers in the streets. General Pfuel fired on them; but instead of
yielding, they threw up barricades, and a fierce struggle ensued.

On the 14th the cry for complete freedom of the press became louder and
more prominent; and the insurgents were encouraged by the first news of the
Vienna rising. The other parts of the kingdom now joined in the movement. On
the 14th came deputations from the Rhine Province, who demanded in a
threatening manner the extension of popular liberties. On the 16th came the
more important news that Posen and Silesia were in revolt. Mieroslawsky, who
had been one of the leaders of the Polish movement of 1846, had gained much
popularity in Berlin; and he seemed fully disposed to combine the movement for
the independence of Posen with that for the freedom of Prussia, much in the
same way as Kossuth had combined the cause of Hungarian liberty with the
demand for an Austrian constitution. In Silesia, no doubt, the terrible
famine of the previous year, and the remains of feudal oppression, had
sharpened the desire for liberty; and closely following on the news of these
two revolts came clearer accounts of the Viennese rising and the happy tidings
of the fall of Metternich.

The King of Prussia promised, on the arrival of this news, to summon the
Assembly for April 2d; and two days later he appeared on the balcony of his
palace and declared his desire to change Germany from an alliance of states
into a federal state. But the suspicions of the people had now been
thoroughly aroused; and on March 18th, the very day on which the King made
this declaration, fresh deputations came to demand liberties from him; and
when he appealed to them to go home his request was not complied with. The
threatening attitude of the soldiers, and the recollection of their violence
on the preceding days, had convinced the people that until part at least of
the military force was removed they could have no security for liberty.

The events of the day justified their belief; for, while some one was
reading aloud to the people the account of the concessions recently made by
the King, the soldiers suddenly fired upon them, and the crowd fled in every
direction. They fled, however, soon to rally again; barricades were once more
thrown up; the Poles of Posen flocked in to help their friends, and the black,
red, and gold flag of Germany was displayed. Women joined the fight at the
barricades; and on the 19th some of the riflemen whom the King had brought
from Neuchatel refused to fire upon the people. Then the King suddenly
yielded, dismissed his ministers, and promised to withdraw the troops and
allow the arming of the people.

The victory of the popular cause seemed now complete; but the bitterness
which still remained in the hearts of the citizens was shown by a public
funeral procession through Berlin in honor of those who had fallen in the
struggle. The King stood bareheaded on the balcony as the procession passed
the palace; and on March 21st he came forward in public waving the black, red,
and gold flag of Germany.


 

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