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Career of Charlemagne, by Guizot, Francois P. G.

Life of Charlemagne

World History Center

Holy Roman Empire, The
Book: Chapter XIX: Peace Of Westphalia: Last Stage In The Decline Of The Empire
Author: Bryce, James
Date: 1901

 

Page Nineteen

Chapter XIX: Peace Of Westphalia: Last Stage In The Decline Of The Empire

The Peace of Westphalia is the first, and, with the exception perhaps of
the Treaties of Vienna in 1815, the most important of those attempts to
reconstruct by diplomacy the European states-system which have played so large
a part in modern history. It is important, however, not as marking the
introduction of new principles, but as winding up the struggle which had
convulsed Germany since the revolt of Luther, sealing its results, and closing
definitely the period of the Reformation. Although the causes of disunion
which the religious movement called into being had now been at work for more
than a hundred years, their effects were not fully seen till it became
necessary to establish a system which should represent the altered relations
of the German states. It may thus be said of this famous peace, as of the
other so-called 'fundamental law of the Empire,' the Golden Bull, that it did
no more than legalize a condition of things already in existence, but which by
being legalized acquired new importance. To all parties alike the result of
the Thirty Years' War was thoroughly unsatisfactory: to the Protestants, who
had lost Bohemia, and still were obliged to hold an inferior place in the
electoral college and in the Diet: to the Catholics, who were forced to permit
the exercise of heretical worship, and leave the church lands in the grasp of
sacrilegious spoilers: to the princes, who could not throw off the burden of
imperial supremacy: to the Emperor, who could turn that supremacy to no
practical account. No other conclusion was possible to a contest in which
every one had been vanquished and no one victorious; which had ceased because
while the reasons for war continued the means of war had failed.
Nevertheless, the substantial advantage remained with the German princes, for
they gained the formal recognition of that territorial independence whose
origin may be placed as far back as the days of Frederick the Second, and the
maturity of which had been hastened by the events of the last preceding
century. It was, indeed, not only recognized but justified as rightful and
necessary. For while the political situation, to use a current phrase, had
changed within the last two hundred years, the eyes with which men regarded it
had changed still more. Never by their fiercest enemies in earlier times, not
once by the Popes or Lombard republicans in the heat of their strife with the
Franconian and Swabian Caesars, had the Emperors been reproached as mere
German kings, or their claim to be the lawful heirs of Rome denied. The
Protestant jurists of the sixteenth or rather of the seventeenth century were
the first persons who ventured to scoff at the pretended lordship of the
world, and declare their Empire to be nothing more than a German monarchy, in
dealing with which no superstitious reverence need prevent its subjects from
making the best terms they could for themselves, and controlling a sovereign
whose religious predilections made him the friend of their enemies.

It is very instructive to turn suddenly from Dante or Peter de Andlo to a
book published shortly before A.D. 1648, under the name of Hippolytus a Lapide
^1, and notice the matter-of-fact way, the almost contemptuous spirit in
which, disregarding the traditional glories of the Empire, he comments on its
actual condition and prospects. Hippolytus, the pseudonym which the jurist
Chemnitz assumed, urges with violence almost superfluous that the Germanic
constitution must be treated entirely as a native growth: that the so-called
'lex regia' and the whole system of Justinianean absolutism which the Emperors
had used so dexterously, were in their applications to Germany not merely
incongruous but positively absurd. With eminent learning, Chemnitz examines
the early history of the Empire, draws from the unceasing contests of the
monarch with the nobility the unexpected moral that the power of the former
has been always dangerous, and is now more dangerous than ever, and then
launches out into a long invective against the policy of the Hapsburgs, an
invective which the ambition and harshness of the late Emperor made only too
plausible. The one real remedy for the evils that menace Germany he states
concisely - 'domus Austriacae extirpatio:' but, failing this, he would have
the Emperor's prerogative restricted in every way, and provide means for
resisting or dethroning him. It was by these views, which seem to have made a
profound impression in Germany, that the states, or rather France and Sweden
acting on their behalf, were guided in the negotiations of Osnabruck and
Munster. By extorting a full recognition of the sovereignty of all the
princes, Catholics and Protestants alike, in their respective territories,
they bound the Emperor from any direct interference with the administration,
either in particular districts or throughout the Empire. All affairs of
public importance, including the rights of making war or peace, of levying
contributions, raising troops, building fortresses, passing or interpreting
laws, were henceforth to be left entirely in the hands of the Diet. The Aulic
Council, which had been sometimes the engine of imperial oppression, and
always of imperial intrigue, was so restricted as to be harmless for the
future. The 'reservata' of the Emperor were confined to the rights of
granting titles and confirming tolls. In matters of religion, an exact though
not perfectly reciprocal equality was established between the two chief
ecclesiastical bodies, and the right of 'Itio in partes,' that is to say, of
deciding questions in which religion was involved by amicable negotiations
between the Protestant and Catholic states, instead of by a majority of votes
in the Diet, was definitely conceded. Both Lutherans and Calvinists were
declared free from all jurisdiction of the Pope or any Catholic prelate. Thus
the last link which bound Germany to Rome was snapped, the last of the
principles by virtue of which the Empire had existed was abandoned. For the
Empire now contained and recognized as its members persons who formed a
visible body at open war with the Holy Roman Church; and its constitution
admitted schismatics to a full share in all those civil rights which,
according to the doctrines of the early Middle Age, could be enjoyed by no one
who was out of the communion of the Catholic Church. The Peace of Westphalia
was therefore an abrogation of the sovereignty of Rome, and of the theory of
Church and State with which the name of Rome was associated. And in this
light was it regarded by Pope Innocent the Tenth, who commanded his legate to
protest against it, and subsequently declared it void by the bull 'Zelo domus
Dei' ^2.'

[Footnote 1: De Ratione Status in Imperio nostro Romano-Germanico.]

[Footnote 2: Even then the Roman pontiffs had lapsed into that scolding, anile
tone (so unlike the fiery brevity of Hildebrand, or the stern precision of
Innocent III) which is now seldom absent from their public utterances. Pope
Innocent the Tenth pronounces the provisions of the treaty, 'ipso iure nulla,
irrita, invalida, iniqua, iniusta, damnata, reprobata, inania, viribusque et
effectu vacua, omnino fuisse, esse, et perpetuo fore.' In spite of which they
were observed.

This bull may be found in vol. xvii. of the Bullarium. It bears date
Nov. 20th, A.D. 1648.]

The transference of power within the Empire, from its head to its
members, was a small matter compared with the losses which the Empire suffered
as a whole. The real gainers by the treaties of Westphalia were those who had
borne the brunt of the battle against Ferdinand the Second and his son. To
France were ceded Brisac, the Austrian part of Alsace, and the lands of the
three bishoprics in Lorraine - Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which her armies had
seized in A.D. 1552: to Sweden, northern Pomerania, Bremen, and Verden. There
was, however, this difference between the position of the two, that whereas
Sweden became a member of the German Diet for what she received (as the king
of Holland was, until 1866 a member for Dutch Luxemburg, and as the kings of
Denmark, up till the accession of the present sovereign in 1863, were for
Holstein), the acquisitions of France were delivered over to her in full
sovereignty, and for ever (as it seemed) severed from the Germanic body. And
as it was by their aid that the liberties of the Protestants had been won,
these two states obtained at the same time what was more valuable than
territorial accessions - the right of interfering at imperial elections, and
generally whenever the provisions of the treaties of Osnabruck and Munster,
which they had guaranteed, might be supposed to be endangered. The bounds of
the Empire were further narrowed by the final separation of two countries,
once integral parts of Germany, and up to this time legally members of her
body. Holland and Switzerland were, in A.D. 1648, declared independent.

The Peace of Westphalia is an era in imperial history not less clearly
marked than the coronation of Otto the Great, or the death of Frederick the
Second. As from the days of Maximilian it had borne a mixed or transitional
character, well expressed by the name Romano-Germanic, so henceforth it is in
everything but title purely and solely a German Empire. Properly, indeed, it
was no longer an Empire at all, but a Confederation, and that of the loosest
sort. For it had no common treasury, no efficient common tribunals ^1, no
means of coercing a refractory member ^2; its states were of different
religions, were governed according to different forms, were administered
judicially and financially without any regard to each other. The traveller in
Central Germany used, up till 1866, to be amused to find, every hour or two,
by the change in the soldiers' uniforms, and in the colour of the stripes on
the railway fences, that he had passed out of one and into another of its
miniature kingdoms. Much more surprised and embarrassed would he have been a
century ago, when, instead of the present twenty-nine there were three hundred
petty principalities between the Alps and the Baltic, each with its own laws,
its own court (in which the ceremonious pomp of Versailles was faintly
reproduced), its little army, its separate coinage, its tolls and
custom-houses on the frontier, its crowd of meddlesome and pedantic officials,
presided over by a prime minister who was generally the unworthy favourite of
his prince and the pensioner of some foreign court. This vicious system,
which paralyzed the trade, the literature, and the political thought of
Germany, had been forming itself for some time, but did not become fully
established until the Peace of Westphalia, by emancipating the princes from
imperial control, had made them despots in their own territories. The
impoverishment of the inferior nobility and the decline of the commercial
cities caused by a war that had lasted a whole generation, removed every
counterpoise to the power of the electors and princes, and made absolutism
supreme just where absolutism wants all its justification, its states too
small to have any public opinion, states in which everything depends on the
monarch, and the monarch depends on his favourites. After A.D. 1648 the
provincial estates or parliaments became obsolete in most of these
principalities, and powerless in the rest. Germany was forced to drink to its
very dregs the cup of feudalism, feudalism from which all the feelings that
once ennobled it had departed.

[Footnote 1: The Imperial Chamber (Kammergericht) continued, with frequent and
long interruptions, to sit while the Empire lasted. But its slowness and
formality passed that of any other legal body the world has yet seen, and it
had no power to enforce its sentences. Till 1689 it sat at Speyer, whence the
saying 'Spirae lites spirant et non exspirant;' in that year the French laid
Speyer in ashes, and the Chamber was in 1693 established at Wetzlar. The Aulic
council was little more efficient, and was generally disliked as the tool of
imperial intrigue.]

[Footnote 2: The 'matricula' specifying the quota of each state to the
imperial army could not be any longer employed.]

It is instructive to compare the results of the system of feudality in
the three chief countries of modern Europe. In France, the feudal head
absorbed all the powers of the state, and left to the aristocracy only a few
privileges, odious indeed, but politically worthless. In England, the
mediaeval system expanded into a constitutional monarchy, where the oligarchy
was still strong, but the commons had won the full recognition of equal civil
rights. In Germany, everything was taken from the sovereign, and nothing
given to the people; the representatives of those who had been fief-holders of
the first and second rank before the Great Interregnum were now independent
potentates; and what had been once a monarchy was now an aristocratic
federation. The Diet, originally an assembly of magnates meeting from time to
time like our early English Parliaments, became in A.D. 1654 a permanent body,
at which the electors, princes, and cities were represented by their envoys.
In other words, it was now not a national council, but an international
congress of diplomatists.

Where the sacrifice of imperial, or rather federal, rights to state
rights was so complete, we may wonder that the farce of an Empire should have
been retained at all. A mere German Empire would probably have perished; but
the Teutonic people could not bring itself to abandon the venerable heritage
of Rome. Moreover, the Germans were of all European peoples the most
slow-moving and long-suffering; and as, if the Empire had fallen, something
must have been erected in its place, they preferred to work on with the clumsy
machine so long as it would work at all. Properly speaking, it has no history
after this; and the history of the particular states of Germany which takes
its place is one of the dreariest chapters in the annals of mankind. It would
be hard to find, from the Peace of Westphalia to the French Revolution, a
single grand character or a single noble enterprise; a single sacrifice made
to great public interests, a single instance in which the welfare of nations
was preferred to the selfish passions of their princes ^1. The military
history of those times will always be read with interest; but free and
progressive countries have a history of peace not less rich and varied than
that of war; and when we ask for an account of the political life of Germany
in the eighteenth century, we hear nothing but the scandals of buzzing courts,
and the wrangling of diplomatists at never-ending congresses.

[Footnote 1: There was indeed one ruler of consummate powers; but his policy
was self-regarding throughout, and though he did much for his state and
people, he did nothing by them, and gave no opportunity for the development of
political life among them.]

Useless and helpless as the Empire had become, it was not without its
importance to the neighbouring countries, with whose fortunes it had been
linked by the Peace of Westphalia. It was the pivot on which the political
system of Europe was to revolve: the scales, so to speak, which marked the
equipoise of power that had become the grand object of the policy of all
states. This modern caricature of the plan by which the theorists of the
fourteenth century had proposed to keep the world at peace, used means less
noble and attained its end no better than theirs had done. No one will deny
that it was and is desirable to prevent a universal monarchy in Europe. But
it may be asked whether a system can be considered successful which allowed
Frederick of Prussia to seize Silesia, which did not check the aggressions of
Russia and France upon their neighbours, which was for ever bartering and
exchanging lands in every part of Europe without thought of the inhabitants,
which permitted and has never been able to redress that greatest of public
misfortunes, the partitionment of Poland. And if it be said that bad as
things have been under this system, they would have been worse without it, it
is hard to refrain from asking whether any evils could have been greater than
those which the people of Europe have suffered through constant wars with each
other, and through the withdrawal, even in time of peace, of so large a part
of their population from useful labour to be wasted in maintaining a standing
army.

The result of the extended relations in which Germany now found herself
to Europe, with two foreign kings never wanting an occasion, one of them never
the wish, to interfere, was that a spark from her set the Continent ablaze,
while flames kindled elsewhere were sure to spread hither. Matters grew worse
as her princes inherited or created so many thrones abroad. The Duke of
Holstein acquired Denmark, the Count Palatine Sweden, the Elector of Saxony
Poland, the Elector of Hanover England, the Archduke of Austria Hungary and
Bohemia, while the Elector (originally Margrave) of Brandenburg assumed, on
the strength of non-imperial territories to the northeastward which had come
into his hands, the style and title of King of Prussia. Thus the Empire
seemed again about to embrace Europe; but in a sense far different from that
which those words would have expressed under Charles and Otto. Its history
for a century and a half is a dismal list of losses and disgraces. The chief
external danger was from French influence, for a time supreme, always
menacing. For though Lewis the Fourteenth, on whom, in A.D. 1658, half the
electoral college wished to confer the imperial crown, was before the end of
his life an object of intense hatred, officially entitled 'Hereditary enemy of
the Holy Empire ^1,' France had nevertheless a strong party among the princes
always at her beck. The Rhenish and Bavarian electors were her favourite
tools. The 'reunions' begun in A.D. 1680, a pleasant euphemism for robbery in
time of peace, added Strasburg and other places in Alsace, Lorraine, and
Franche Comte to the monarchy of Lewis, and brought him nearer the heart of
the Empire; his ambition and cruelty were witnessed to by repeated wars, and
by the devastation of the Rhine countries; the ultimate though short-lived
triumph of his policy was attained when Marshal Belleisle dictated the
election of Charles VII in A.D. 1742. In the Turkish wars, when the princes
left Vienna to be saved by the Polish Sobieski, the Empire's weakness appeared
in a still more pitiable light. There was, indeed, a complete loss of hope and
interest in the old system. The princes had been so long accustomed to
consider themselves the natural foes of a central government, that a request
made by it was sure to be disregarded; they aped in their petty courts the
pomp and etiquette of Vienna or Paris, grumbling that they should be required
to garrison the great frontier fortresses which alone protected them from an
encroaching neighbour. The Free Cities had never recovered the famines and
sieges of the Thirty Years' War: Hanseatic greatness had waned, and the
southern towns had sunk into languid oligarchies. All the vigour of the
people in a somewhat stagnant age either found its sphere in rising states
like the Prussia of Frederick the Great, or turned away from politics
altogether into other channels. The Diet had become contemptible from the
slowness with which it moved, and its tedious squabbles on matters the most
frivolous. Many sittings were consumed in the discussion of a question
regarding the time of keeping Easter, more ridiculous than that which had
distracted the Western churches in the seventh century, the Protestants
refusing to reckon by the reformed calendar because it was the work of a Pope.
Collective action through the old organs was confessed impossible, when the
common object of defence against France was sought by forming a league under
the Emperor's presidency, and when at European congresses the Empire was not
represented at all ^2. No change could come from the Emperor, whom the
capitulation of A.D. 1658 deposed ipso facto if he violated its provisions.
As Dohm ^3 said, to keep him from doing harm, he was kept from doing anything.

[Footnote 1: Erbfeind des heiligen Reichs.]

[Footnote 2: Only the envoys of the several states were present at Utrecht in
1713.]

[Footnote 3: Quoted by Ludwig Hausser, Deutsche Geschichte.]

Yet little was lost by his inactivity, for what could have been hoped
from his action? From the election of Albert the Second, A.D. 1437, to the
death of Charles the Sixth, A.D. 1740, the sceptre had remained in the hands
of one family. So far from being fit subjects for undistinguishing invective,
the Hapsburg Emperors may be contrasted favourably with the contemporary
dynasties of France, Spain, or England. Their policy, viewed as a whole from
the days of Rudolf downwards, had been neither conspicuously tyrannical, nor
faltering, nor dishonest. But it had been always selfish. Entrusted with an
office which might, if there be any power in those memories of the past to
which the champions of hereditary monarchy so constantly appeal, have stirred
their sluggish souls with some enthusiasm for the heroes on whose throne they
sat, some wish to advance the glory and the happiness of Germany, they had
cared for nothing, sought nothing, used the Empire as an instrument for
nothing but the attainment of their own personal or dynastic ends. Placed on
the eastern verge of Germany, the Hapsburgs had added to their ancient lands
in Austria proper, Styria and Tyrol, non-German territories far more
extensive, and had thus become the chiefs of a separate and independent state.
They endeavoured to reconcile its interests with the interests of the Empire,
so long as it seemed possible to recover part of the old imperial prerogative.
But when such hopes were dashed by the defeats of the Thirty Years' War, they
hesitated no longer between an elective crown and the rule of their hereditary
states, and comported themselves thenceforth in European politics not as the
representatives of Germany, but as heads of the great Austrian monarchy.
There would have been nothing culpable in this had they not at the same time
continued to entangle Germany in wars with which she had no concern: to waste
her strength in tedious combats with the Turks, or plunge her into a new
struggle with France, not to defend her frontiers or recover the lands she had
lost, but that some scion of the house of Hapsburg might reign in Spain or
Italy. Watching the whole course of their foreign policy, marking how in A.D.
1736 they had bartered away Lorraine for Tuscany, a German for a non-German
territory, and seeing how at home they opposed every scheme of reform which
could in the least degree trench upon their own prerogative, how they strove
to obstruct the imperial chamber lest it should interfere with their own Aulic
council, men were driven to separate the body of the Empire from the imperial
office and its possessors ^1, and when plans for reinvigorating the one
failed, to leave the others to their fate. Still the old line clung to the
crown with that Hapsburg gripe which has almost passed into a proverb. Odious
as Austria was, no one could despise her, or fancy it easy to shake her
commanding position in Europe. Her alliances were fortunate: her designs were
steadily pursued: her dismembered territories always returned to her. Though
the throne continued strictly elective, it was impossible not to be influenced
by long prescription. Projects were repeatedly formed to set the Hapsburgs
aside by electing a prince of some other line ^2, or by passing a law that
there should never be more than two, or four, successive Emperors of the same
house. France ^3 ever and anon renewed her warnings to the electors, that
their freedom was passing from them, and the sceptre becoming hereditary in
one haughty family. But it was felt that a change would be difficult and
disagreeable, and that the heavy expense and scanty revenues of the Empire
required to be supported by larger patrimonial domains than most German
princes possessed. The heads of states like Prussia and Hanover, states whose
size and wealth would have made them suitable candidates, were Protestants,
and so excluded both by the connexion of the imperial office with the Church,
and by the majority of Roman Catholics in the electoral college ^4, who,
however jealous they might be of Austria, were led both by habit and sympathy
to rally round her in moments of peril. The one occasion on which these
considerations were disregarded shewed their force. On the extinction of the
male line of Hapsburg in the person of Charles the Sixth, the intrigues of the
French envoy, Marshal Belleisle, procured the election of Charles Albert of
Bavaria, who stood first among the Catholic princes. His reign was a
succession of misfortunes and ignominies. Driven from Munich by the
Austrians, the head of the Holy Empire lived in Frankfort on the bounty of
France, cursed by the country on which his ambition had brought the miseries
of a protracted war ^5. The choice in 1745 of Duke Francis of Lorraine,
husband of the archduchess of Austria and queen of Hungary, Maria Theresa, was
meant to restore the crown to the only power capable of wearing it with
dignity: in Joseph the Second, her son, it again rested on the brow of a
Hapsburg ^6. In the war of the Austrian succession, which followed on the
death of Charles the Sixth, the Empire as a body took no part; in the Seven
Years' War its whole might broke in vain against one resolute member. Under
Frederick the Great Prussia approved herself at least a match for France and
Austria leagued against her, and the semblance of unity which the predominance
of a single power had hitherto given to the Empire was replaced by the avowed
rivalry of two military monarchies. The Emperor Joseph the Second, a sort of
philosopher-king, than whom few have more narrowly missed greatness, made a
desperate effort to set things right, striving to restore the disordered
finances, to purge and vivify the Imperial Chamber. Nay, he renounced the
intolerant policy of his ancestors, quarrelled with the Pope ^7, and presumed
to visit Rome, whose streets heard once more the shout that had been silent
for three centuries, 'Evviva il nostro imperatore! Siete a casa vostra: siete
il padrone ^8.' But his indiscreet haste was met by a sullen resistance, and
he died disappointed in plans for which the time was not yet ripe, leaving no
result save the league of princes which Frederick the Great had formed to
oppose his designs on Bavaria. His successor, Leopold the Second, abandoned
the projected reforms, and a calm, the calm before the hurricane, settled down
again upon Germany. The existence of the Empire was almost forgotten by its
subjects: there was nothing to remind them of it but a feudal investiture now
and then at Vienna (real feudal rights were obsolete ^9); a concourse of
solemn old lawyers at Wetzlar puzzling over interminable suits ^10; and some
thirty diplomatists at Regensburg ^11, the relics of that Imperial Diet where
once a hero-king, a Frederick or a Henry, enthroned amid mitred prelates and
steel-clad barons, had issued laws for every tribe from the Mediterranean to
the Baltic ^12. The solemn triflings of this so-called 'Diet of Deputation'
have probably never been equalled elsewhere ^13. Questions of precedence and
title, questions whether the envoys of princes should have chairs of red cloth
like those of the electors, or only of the less honourable green, whether they
should be served on gold or on silver, how many hawthorn boughs should be hung
up before the door of each on May-day; these, and such as these, it was their
chief employment not to settle but to discuss. The pedantic formalism of old
Germany passed that of Spaniards or Turks; it had now crushed under a mountain
of rubbish whatever meaning or force its old institutions had contained. It
is the penalty of greatness that its form should outlive its substance: that
gilding and trappings should remain when that which they were meant to deck
and clothe has departed. So our sloth or our timidity, not seeing that
whatever is false must be also bad, maintains in being what once was good long
after it has become helpless and hopeless: so now at the close of the
eighteenth century, strings of sounding titles were all that was left of the
Empire which Charles had founded, and Frederick adorned, and Dante sung.

[Footnote 1: The distinction is well expressed by the German 'Reich' and
'Kaiserthum,' to which we have unfortunately no terms to correspond.]

[Footnote 2: So the Elector of Saxony proposed in 1532 that, Albert II,
Frederick III, and Maximilian having been all of one house, Charles V's
successor should be chosen from some other. - Moser, Romische Kayser. See the
various attempts of France in Moser. The coronation engagements
(Wahl-capitulation) of every Emperor bound him not to attempt to make the
throne hereditary in his family.]

[Footnote 3: In 1658 France offered to subsidize the Elector of Bavaria if he
would become Emperor.]

[Footnote 4: Whether an Evangelical was eligible for the office of Emperor was
a question often debated, but never actually raised by the candidature of any
but a Roman Catholic prince. The 'exacta aequalitas' conceded by the Peace of
Westphalia might appear to include so important a privilege. But when we
consider that the peculiar relation in which the Emperor stood to the Holy
Roman Church was one which no heretic could hold, and that the coronation
oaths could not have been taken by, nor the coronation ceremonies (among which
was a sort of ordination) performed upon a Protestant, the conclusion must be
unfavourable to the claims of any but a Catholic.]

[Footnote 5: 'The bold Bavarian, in a luckless hour,
Tries the dread summits of Caesarean power;
With unexpected legions bursts away,
And sees defenceless realms receive his sway. . . .
The baffled prince in honour's flattering bloom
Of hasty greatness finds the fatal doom;
His foes' derision and his subjects' blame,
And steals to death from anguish and from shame.'

Johnson, Vanity Of Human Wishes.]

[Footnote 6: The following nine reasons for the long continuance of the Empire
in the House of Hapsburg are given by Pfeffinger (Vitriarius Illustratus),
writing early in the eighteenth century: -

1. The great power of Austria.
2. Her wealth, now that the Empire was so poor.
3. The majority of Catholics among the electors.
4. Her fortunate matrimonial alliances.
5. Her moderation.
6. The memory of benefits conferred by her.
7. The example of evils that had followed a departure from the blood of
former Caesars.
8. The fear of the confusion that would ensue if she were deprived of the
crown.
9. Her own eagerness to have it.]

[Footnote 7: The Pope undertook a journey to Vienna to mollify Joseph, and met
with a sufficiently cold reception. When he saw the famous minister Kaunitz
and gave him his hand to kiss, Kaunitz took it and shook it.]

[Footnote 8: 'You are in your own house; be the master.'

Joseph was the first Emperor since Charles the Bald who had kept his
Christmas at Rome.]

[Footnote 9: Joseph II was foiled in his attempt to assert them.]

[Footnote 10: Goethe spent some time in studying law at Wetzlar among those who
practised in the Kammergericht.]

[Footnote 11: Cf. Putter, Historical Development of the Political Constitution
of the German Empire, vol. iii.]

[Footnote 12: Frederick the Great said of the Diet, 'Es ist ein Schattenbild,
eine Versammlung aus Publizisten die mehr mit Formalien als mit Sachen sich
beschaftigen, und, wie Hofhunde, den Mond anbellen.']

[Footnote 13: Cf. Hausser, Deutsche Geschichte; Introduction.]

The German mind, just beginning to put forth the blossoms of its wondrous
literature, turned away in disgust from the spectacle of ceremonious
imbecility more than Byzantine. National feeling seemed gone from princes and
people alike. Of Frederick the Great, of Joseph II, there is no need to
speak, but even Lessing, who did more than any one else to create the German
literary spirit, says, 'Of the love of country I have no conception: it
appears to me at best a heroic weakness which I am right glad to be without
^1.' There were nevertheless persons who saw how fatal such a system was,
lying like a nightmare on the people's soul. Speaking of the union of princes
formed by Frederick of Prussia to preserve the existing condition of things,
Johannes von Muller writes ^2: 'If the German Union serves for nothing better
than to maintain the status quo, it is against the eternal order of God, by
which neither the physical nor the moral world remains for a moment in the
status quo, but all is life and motion and progress. To exist without law or
justice, without security from arbitrary imposts, doubtful whether we can
preserve from day to day our children, our honour, our liberties, our rights,
our lives, helpless before superior force, without a beneficial connexion
between our states, without a national spirit at all, this is the status quo
of our nation. And it was this that the Union was meant to confirm. If it be
this and nothing more, then bethink you how when Israel saw that Rehoboam
would not hearken, the people gave answer to the king and spake, "What portion
have we in David, or what inheritance in the son of Jesse? to your tents, O
Israel: David, see to thine own house." See then to your own houses, ye
princes.'

[Footnote 1: Quoted by Hausser.]

[Footnote 2: Deutschlands Erwartungenvom Furstenbunde, quoted in the Staats
Lexikon.]

Nevertheless, though the Empire stood like a corpse brought forth from
some Egyptian sepulchre, ready to crumble at a touch, there seemed no reason
why it should not stand so for centuries more. Fate was kind, and slew it in
the light.