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Vertheidigung des Staatsgrundgesetzes des Konigreichs Han
nover (Defence of the Constitution of Hanover of 1833).
F. FROMA. 8vo. Jena: 1838. Our German neighbours are a thinking and reasoning people. They possess not only English tenacity in clinging to rights which are undisputedly theirs, but they show a moderation peculiarly their own in canvassing the rights of their opponents, and are, perhaps, the only people in the world whom it would be possible by arguing to bring to a confession of their being in the wrong. It is peculiarly unfortunate that this disposition, from which, were it but oftener met with, so much advantage might be derived for society, occasions those who possess
it to be too often looked down upon by the turbulent and superficial. This has been particularly the fate of the Germans in the unceasing struggle which they have, since 1815, carried on for the acquisition of popular rights.
The work whose title stands at the head of our article, in an unusually succinct and clear demonstration of the general and territorial laws of Germany, as they bear upon the dispute between the king of Hanover and his subjects, displays this characteristic moderation in a degree, perhaps, never yet met with in political polemics. There are, no doubt, many of our readers who think that such an open violation of all ties which common prudence dictates as binding between a prince and his subjects, as is contained in king Ernest's decree of July 1837, ought to be met by more energetic measures than good reasoning; yet, it will by all be acknowledged as a triumph of no mean importance, that a writer, assuming the argument and premises of his antagonist, should achieve a complete refutation of all his conclusions, and should beat his enemy with the arms and upon the ground which the latter had chosen in full confidence of success.
If we could feel dissatisfied with the writer, it would be for his having given up too much debatable ground, and conceded more than is right in his consciousness of superiority; as for instance, where he acknowledges the right of the sovepowers to acceptance, or to the right of petitioning for modifications of the regal decrees (p. 53); as well as when he declares the characteristic distinction of the sovereignty in all German states to be monarchy, in a somewhat extended sense of the word. In short, he abandons, in the first instance, all the advantage he might have drawn from the general wording of the 13th art. of the act of the congress of Vienna, as well as from the interpretation of that article by high authorities, and goes back to the individual histories of the several states of which the kingdom of Hanover is composed, in order to show from their uniform course, that neither in the principalities constituting the oldest possessions of the electoral house, nor in East Friesland, but, least of all, in the bishopricks of Hildesheim, Bremen, or Osnabrück, could any precedent be found of a prince refusing to sanction the legislative enactments of his predecessor. He examines in a perspicacious manner the right of the “ Landstände” in 1819, to a participation in the legislative functions, and proves, in the most satisfactory manner, their proceedings to have been legal both as to form and principle. Proceeding then to the constitution of 1833, he shows that, with all its faults, it was essentially German and Hanoverian; that it was in accordance with all past and existing stipulations; and that it satisfied, if not the wishes of the people, at least all just claims of the electoral house, as well as those of the diet at Frankfort; that it was, in short, a natural developement of the old institutions of the country, in which only too much that was antiquated in its administration had been spared by the improving spirit of the age. He then investigates the constitution on its own merits, as viewed from the royalist side of the question, and shows that the pecuniary interests of the reigning house were more liberally provided for, and more surely established, than had ever been the case before; the king's civil list having been estimated at a sum exceeding the extravagant demands of George IV., and amounting to nearly three times the revenue drawn by George III. from his German dominions. And this increase of the royal income was granted when the deficiency in the revenue of the country was scarcely met by the augmentation of the indirect taxes, decreed in 1825.
to 961,460 dollars ; in 1800 they were 1,444,457 dollars, and the personal expenses of the sovereign amounted to 228,282 dollars. In 1829-30 the civil list of George IV. was 525,000 dollars. The constitution of 1833 fixes the civil list at 618,000 dollars, to be secured on landed property; being more than one-twelfth of the whole revenue of 7,000,000 dollars.
This work contains undeniably the best exposition of the true state of the question between king Ernest and his subjects that has as yet appeared; but it does not give the reason of that prince's over-hasty and inconsiderate violence. The constitution of 1833, although containing many improvements, and laying a foundation for others, was, as is well known, far from satisfying the Hanoverians in the mangled state in which William IV. consented to sanction it. However, as the age of that monarch made it not improbable that a protracted dispute on so important a point might be entailed upon his successor, and as none knew that successor's character better than the Hanoverians, among whom he had often resided, it was considered wiser to leave no door open for dispute, and to accept of the curtailed rights as offered by William IV. rather than trust to the tender mercies of Ernest. As this argument was avowed by many to be the sole inducement to accept the offered constitution, it was, perhaps, natural that the duke of Cumberland should at the time mentally resolve that it should afford the nation no protection. That king Ernest should endeavour to enforce this resolution, is matter of no great wonder.
But that the Hanoverians, who, by an unanimous expression of public feeling in 1831, which bordered on an armed resistance, compelled the late king to give ear to their complaints, should now truckle down in peaceful submission to a very different species of oppression, must appear strange to all who are not versed in the labyrinths of German politics. The clue to this apparently inconsistent conduct is given us in the decisions of the German diet on the complaints preferred to it last year by the town of Osnabrück, but which may with more propriety be termed evasions of the question than decisions. A third vote was passed in August last to the same effect.
affair, and here only express our hope is may be allowed to derive every advanmms
trawn from the turn it has taken. is the anxious display of sympathy which
has deemed proper to hold out for the enthe violent proceedings of the Hanoverian have the recorded and unanimous opinion of
eumany in every state in which they had an assing their wishes. Since July 1837, the le
in nearly all the smaller states have been ashot one has omitted to express abhorrence of the withe Hanoverian government, and the warmest wash the people of that country. At Dresden,
anlshruhe, Stuttgardt and Brunswick, addresses Bol by large majorities of the second chamber, ex-' the confident hope of those houses, that their respect
ments would use every exertion in support of the van constitution. In Cassel, a motion to the same weils dropped, after the president had assured the chamme the government would do its duty, because matters Alicate negotiation were pending between the chambers
ne court, and it was thought better to mix no extraneous or up with them. The outrageous violation of every com
upon which harmony between a king and his people can rounded, by the king of Hanover's decree, seemed to rouse we lethargic spirit of freedom in every constitutional state.
And yet was the Prussian cabinet fearless enough to disregard these intelligible symptoms of awakening energy in an enlightened mass of the people—a mass not inferior in number, and far superior in resources, as we shall presently see, to the entire population of Prussia, even supposing that she could calculate upon the cordial co-operation of all classes of her inhabitants. Le can readily conceive how the constant glitter and pa
military armament, may, after a time, produce a tonin the minds of its beholders, that an array of the best ed troops, such as Prussia has at her disposal, must acible. But, as a portentous series of events, of much ent occurrence to be forgotten, placed the importance