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as a full restoration of the mighty power which God has created in the German people—a power to be used if we need it! If we do not need it, we will not use it and we will seek to avoid the necessity for its use.
This at. tempt is made somewhat more difficult by threatening arti. cles in foreign newspapers, and I may give special admoni. tion to the outside world against the continuance of such articles. They lead to nothing. The threats made against us, not by the government but in the newspapers, are in. credibly stupid, when it is remembered that they assume that a great and proud power such as the German Empire is capable of being intimidated by an array of black spots made by a printer on paper, a mere marshalling of words. If they would give up that idea, we could reach a better understanding with both our neighbors. Every country is finally answerable for the wanton mischief done by its newspapers, and the reckoning is liable to be presented some day in the shape of a final decision from some other country. We can be bribed very easily-perbaps too easily -with love and goodwill. But with threats, never!
We Germans fear God, and nothing else in the world!
It is the fear of God which makes us love peace and keep it. He who breaks it against us ruthlessly will learn the meaning of the warlike love of the Fatherland which in 1813 rallied to the standard the entire population of the then small and weak kingdom of Prussia; he will learn, too, that this patriotism is now the common property of the entire German nation, so that whoever attacks Ger. many will find it unified in arms, every warrior having in his heart the steadfast faith that God will be with us.
AGAINST LIBERALISM: A PRUSSIAN ROYALIST
CONFESSION OF FAITH
DELIVERED JUNE 1, 1847
WILL not take the trouble to examine the solidity of
the various grounds of right, on which each of us
presumes himself to stand; but, I believe, it has become certain, from the debate and from everything which I have gathered from the discussion of the question, that a different construction and interpretation of the older estates legislation was possible and practically existent not among laymen only, but also among weighty jurists — and that it would be very doubtful what a court of justice, if such a question were before it, would decree concerning it. Under such circumstances, the declaration would, according to general principles of law, afford a solution.
This declaration has become implicit upon us, implicit by the patent of the third of February of this year; by this the King has declared that the general promises of former laws have been no other than those fulfilled by the present law. It appears that this declaration has been regarded by a portion of this assembly as inaccurate, but such is a fate to which every declaration is equally subject. Every declaration is considered by those whose opinions it does not confirm, to be wrong, or the previous conviction could not have been sincere. The question really is, in whom the right resides to issue an authentic and legally binding declaration. In my opinion, the King alone; and this conviction, I believe, lies in the conscience of the people. For when yesterday an honorable deputy from Königsberg asserted that?
there was a dull dissatisfaction among the people on the proclamation of the patent of the third of February, I must reply, on the contrary, that I do not find the majority of the Prussian nation represented in the meetings which take place in the Böttchershöfchen. (Murmurs.)
In inarticulate sounds I really cannot discover any refutation of what I have said, nor do I find it in the goose-quills of the newspaper correspondents; no! not even in a fraction of the population of some of the large provincial towns. It is difficult to ascertain public opinion; I think I find it in some of the middle provinces, and it is the old Prussian conviction that a royal word is worth more than all the constructions and quirks applied to the letter of the law.
Yesterday a parallel was drawn between the method employed by the English people in 1688, after the abdication of James II, for the preservation of its rights, and that by which the Prussian nation should now attain a similar end. There is always something suspicious in parallels with foreign countries. Russia had been held up to us as a model of religious toleration; the French and Danish exchequers have been recommended as examples of proper finances.
To return to the year 1688 in England, I must really beg this august assembly, and especially an honorable deputy from Silesia, to pardon me if I again speak of a circumstance which I did not personally perceive. The English people was then in a different position to that of the Prussian people now; a century of revolution and civil war had invested it with the right to dispose of a crown, and bind up with it conditions accepted by William of Orange.
On the other hand, the Prussian sovereigns were in possession of a crown, not by grace of the people, but by God's
grace; an actually unconditional crown, some of the rights of which they voluntarily conceded to the people example rare in history. I will leave the question of right, and proceed to that concerning the utility and desirability of asking or suggesting any change in the legislation as it actually now exists. I adhere to the conviction, which I assume to be that of the majority of the assembly, that periodicity is necessary to a real vitality of this assembly; but it is another matter whether we should seek this by way of petition. Since the emanation of the patent of the third of February, I do not believe that it would be consonant with the royal pleasure, or that it is inherent with the position of ourselves as estates, to approach his Majesty already with a petition for an amendment of it.
At any rate let us allow the grass of this summer to grow over it. The King has repeatedly said, that he did not wish to be coerced and driven; but I ask the assembly what should we be doing otherwise than coercing and driving him, if we already approached the throne with requests for changes in the legislation ?
To the gravity of this view I ask permission of the assembly to add another reason. It is certainly well known how many sad predictions have been made by the opponents of our polity connected with the fact that the government would find itself forced by the estates into a position which it would not have willingly taken up. But although I do not assume the government would allow itself to be coerced, I still think that it is in the interests of the government to avoid the slightest trace of unwillingness as to concessions, and that it is in all our interests not to concede to the enemies of Prussia the delight of witnessing the fact that, by a petition - a vote - presented by us as the representatives
of sixteen millions of subjects, we should throw a shade of unwillingness upon such a concession.
It has been said that his Majesty, the King, and the commissioner of the diet have themselves pointed out this path. For myself, I could not otherwise understand this than that, as the King has done, so also the commissioner of the diet indicated this as the legal way we should pursue in case we. found ourselves aggrieved; but that it would be acceptable to his Majesty, the King, and the government that we should make use of this right, I have not been able to perceive. If, however, we did so, it would be believed that urgent grounds existed for it — that there was immediate danger in the future; but of this I cannot convince myself. The next session of the assembly is assured; the Crown, also, is thereby in the advantageous position, that within four years, or even a shorter period, it can with perfect voluntariness, and without asking, take the initiative as to that which is now desired.
Now, I ask, is not the edifice of our State firmer toward foreign countries ? — will not the feeling of satisfaction be greater at home, if the continuation of our national polity be inaugurated by the initiative of the Crown, than by petition from ourselves ? Should the Crown not find it good to take the initiative, no time is lost. The third diet will not follow so rapidly upon the second, that the King would have no time to reply to a petition presented under such circumstances by the second. Yesterday a deputy from Prussia — I think from the circle of Neustadt - uttered a speech which I could only comprehend as meaning that it was our interest to pull up the flower of confidence as a weed preventing us from seeing the bare ground, and cast it out.
I say with pride that I cannot agree with such an opinion.