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Clemens Prince von Metternich to Friedrich Gentz in Perugia (June 17, 1819); Metternich's Reply to Gentz's Letter of June 3, 1819

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The greatest, and therefore the most urgent, malady today is the press. I am all the more pleased to tell you about the corresponding disciplinary measures that I am thinking of proposing to the Carlsbad Congress, as I wish to have your unreserved opinion about my fundamental ideas, and for you to put yourself in a position to lend me an active hand in Carlsbad, where the business must begin without delay in order to be carried out immediately.

My proposals, briefly, are the following:

All German [princely] courts shall agree on disciplinary measures that strike them as necessary in order to maintain public peace and, in the purest sense, the mutual support that is the foundation of the German Confederation.

They proceed from the basic concept of the confederal system, namely that Germany consists of sovereign states that have reached an understanding about mutual protection and assistance and, although among themselves they are separate with respect to administration, appear abroad as an aggregate power.

The domestic peace of the Confederation can be endangered and even broken by material interventions of one German state into the sovereign rights of another. But this can also happen by way of the moral impact of one government on others, or by the machinations of some party. If this party is supported by a German state – or even if it only finds refuge from one of the same –it may find the means, under cover of this refuge, to apply rebellious pressure against [other] neighboring states from within that one neighboring state, and thus the domestic peace of the Confederation is disturbed, and the prince who allows this mischief in his country makes himself guilty of a felony against the Confederation.

All German governments have come to the conclusion that the press today serves a party that undermines all existing governments. The spirit of nationalism that has spread all across Germany means that it does not rest within the power of individual states to protect their borders from the malady; if this truth holds for individual governments, it holds no less for all German governments, inasmuch as a Single German state – even the smallest among them – might want to exclude itself from taking joint disciplinary measures for the maintenance of general peace.

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