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The same vacillating policy was pursued by Prussia toward England and Belgium. With the latter country a treaty of commerce and navigation was at one time in serious contemplation, while the example of the Duchy of Luxembourg seemed to justify the hope, that Holland itself would join the League. While, however, the negotiations were pending, and while Prussia was coquetting with England and Russia, the treaty between France and Belgium was concluded, which, very fortunately for the manufacturers of Germany, put at rest all further notions of extending the League in that quarter.
Prussia has since been oscillating again between England and Russia, but seeing no prospect of an advantageous arrangement with Russia, inclines now in favor of England. The first step in that direction was the above-mentioned letter, written by Baron Roenne, minister resident from Prussia, in Washington, to Mr. Jenifer. In that letter, Baron Roenne labored hard to prove, that the reciprocity treaty between the United States and the Hanse Towns operates equally both ways, and that what the Americans lose in the freight they gain in the advanced prices on their staples. The Baron also maintains, that the decrease in the American trade with those towns is a natural consequence of the peace, and threatens the United States, in case they should refuse to renew the treaty, with differential duties to be levied by the League on American produce. It is this letter, as we remarked above, which the writer in the German Quarterly exposes, as an attempt on the part of Prussia rather to check than to extend the League, contrary to the interests of the Southern States and the Rhenish provinces. The Hanse Towns are dépôts of English manufactures, and, so long as they remain as they are, British goods will be sure of finding a market in Germany. In the same manner, as long as the American treaty with the Hanse Towns lasts, there is no possibility of the States of the League having any direct intercourse with the United States; so that neither the merchants nor the manufacturers of the League desire the continuance of that treaty.
In like manner, the manufacturers of the League, as we before remarked, have insisted on an additional duty on English twists and iron; but the opposition of Prussia to this salutary measure has, until lately, frustrated their design.
The additional duty on British goods, the manufacturers argue, would not only protect German industry, but would enable Germany to obtain the raw material directly from America. These views are strongly pressed by the Southern writers, but are equally strenuously opposed by Prussia, until, at last, the views of that power have become an object of suspicion with the Southern States. Austria has taken advantage of the schism, and, if we mistake not, with some success.
The threat of a differential duty, made use of in Baron Roenne's letter, is preposterous. Goods and produce are imported into Germany, not only through the Hanse Towns, but also through Holland, France, and Austria by the way of Trieste. How could the American staples be recognized, when coming from either of those countries? What would the States of the League gain by levying an additional duty on American cotton, which they must have, and which they cannot afford purchasing at a higher rate without standing in the light of their own manufactures ?
Again; the Hanse Towns cannot, as mere brokers and carriers, levy an additional duty on American staples, which would only tax their own commerce for no purpose in the world. The rate of duty on all foreign goods and produce without distinction is, by the municipal law of Bremen, fixed at one third of one per cent. ad valorem, and this rate has not been altered in reference to goods or produce imported from Spain or her colonies, although the Spaniards have levied a differential duty of nine per cent. ad valorem on the goods imported in the vessels of the Hanse Towns. It is the consumer who pays the duty; and, as the Hanse merchants are mere buyers and sellers, they cannot levy additional duties, without destroying, in the same ratio, their commercial prosperity. If Bremen levy an additional duty on American tobacco, that article will be imported into Amsterdam or Rotterdam for the German market, and it will be Bremen, and not the United States, which will suffer from the measure. But to return to Austria.
The influence which Prussia had gained over the States of Germany, and especially those of the South, had justly excited the jealousy of Austria, which, until then, had been considered as the protector of those provinces, partly from position, and partly from historical associations. Austria had expressed a wish to join the League, but was refused, under
the pretext that she had not yet a uniform tariff within her own provinces, and that it would be useless for the League to treat with her German provinces only, independently of Hungary, Gallicia, and Italy. This latter declaration was any thing but gratifying to the Southern States of the League, who had hoped, by the annexation of Austria, to have the Levant trade and the Mediterranean opened to them, and who, in the mutual jealousy of Austria and Prussia, would have found an additional safeguard for their own independence. The advocates of the union of Germany, from political motives, were also much disappointed in seeing the most powerful State excluded; while Austria herself, far from being discouraged by this first refusal, has since used every laudable effort, not only to put her commercial and manufacturing policy in that state which will render it the interest of the League to propose terms of accommodation, but also to make an amelioration in the condition of her provinces, and introduce into them that degree of harmony, which will enable her to make a treaty for all. In the mean while, no part of Germany is provided with better means of communication; the system of Austrian rail-roads, which will connect Leipsic and Berlin with Vienna, the Danube, and the Adriatic Gulf, being probably the most comprehensive of any on the continent of Europe. When the Polish, Italian, German, Bohemian, and Hungarian rail-roads shall be completed, Austria will present such inducements to the German States to unite with her in the League, that the counter efforts of Prussia, if such should still be made, would necessarily be unavailing.
As to Hanover, she has lately positively declined to join the League, the King having, at the same time, pledged his oath of allegiance to the British crown, as a peer of the realm. The claims of the blind crown prince, however, who, by the letter of the constitution, is incapable of inheriting the crown, are of so slender a nature, that it can hardly be doubted, that he will try to strengthen them by seeking an alliance with the League. In this case, the Hanse Towns, as we have shown above, must necessarily follow; so that the time may not be distant, when all Germany will be united, at least commercially, into one nation.
We are fully aware, that such a union is still looked upon as chimerical by those whose interest it is to prevent it; but
the gravitation of Germany is that way; the manufacturing and commercial policy of the country demand it; public opinion, with a few interested exceptions, has pronounced itself strongly in its favor; and the political condition of the country is such, that, without union, it is idle to suppose, that Germany will ever have a national existence, or be able to maintain even the status quo. With powerful empires to the east and west of her, nothing but union can maintain the integrity of her provinces, or afford protection to her industry, her commerce, and her independence. The truth of these remarks has at no time been felt more strongly in Germany than at this moment, when it is reiterated in a hundred journals, until it has become familiar to the most ordinary capacity; and what a whole nation wills is seldom, for any length of time, refused by her rulers. There may be objections to the union now, but time will overcome them; especially when some publicists, of more imagination than experience, who would give that union a particular political complexion, shall have perceived the errors of their way, and the impracticability of those institutions which they press with so much enthusiasm and so little discretion on a people who are, by habit, education, and temper, entirely unfitted for them. These fanatics have been in the habit of despairing of their country, whenever the sober realities of life dissipated their beau idéal of government; and yet, in the long catalogue of improvements which have taken place in Germany since the last war, not one can be traced to their agency. The political and social development of Germany is necessarily a slow one, and it is fortunate for her that it is so. A nation, whose history extends back for two thousand years, cannot easily lend herself to a new experiment, or change at once her domestic policy. That a most important change has taken place, no one can doubt; and the United States will do well to watch it, so as to be ready for action whenever the extension of the Tariff-League shall have rendered a direct intercourse between Germany and America possible. The former country, in that case, will be more ready to treat with the United States than with any other nation; and the struggle for commercial and manufacturing independence of Great Britain, which has lately manifested itself at the Congress of the League, at Stuttgart, properly nursed by "The Journal of the League," will be no unimportant
auxiliary in the negotiations commenced for that purpose. A treaty with the United States would be popular throughout Germany; that with England was assailed by the whole German press, and was consequently abandoned.
ART. IV. 1. Geschichte der Poetischen National-Literatur der Deutschen, von G. G. GERVINUS. Zweite umgearbeitete Ausgabe. Drei Bände. Leipzig: Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann. 1840-2. (A History of the (Early) Poetical Literature of the Germans. By G. G. GERVINUS. Second revised Edition. Three Volumes. 8vo. pp. 1606.)
2. Neuere Geschichte der Poetischen National-Literatur der Deutschen, von G. G. GERVINUS. Zwei Bände. Leipzig Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann. 1840 – 2. (A History of the Modern Poetical Literature of the Germans. By G. G. GERVINUS. Two Volumes.
8vo. pp. 1379.)
In these five large octavos is contained the history of the poetical literature of Germany, from the time of the ancient bards mentioned by Tacitus, down to the death of Goethe. The subject is a great one. It comprises whatever the Muse has sung, during a period of more than a thousand years, in that broad land which lies between the Rhine and the Vistula, the Danube and the Baltic, the songs of the bards of heathen antiquity, the Christian poesy of knight, monk, and burgher in the middle ages, and the immortal productions of the great masters of modern verse.
To the accomplishment of his task the author has brought no ordinary qualifications. He exhibits the extensive and profound erudition, the historical faculty of bringing past and remote states of society near, and projecting the present into the distance, and the philosophical insight into the distinguishing features of individuals, communities, and epochs, which so favorably characterize the recent historiography of the Germans. He has evidently studied not only the poetry of Germany, but that of the other contemporary European, not to add Asiatic, nations; and has made himself acquainted