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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 Confederation has the right to call on each individual part to fulfill joint obligations. In case [each part] should not find itself prepared to [do] this, the Confederation has the right to force it to do so.

It follows, moreover, from the confederal system that everything that is possible in individual sovereign and European states cannot always be possible in the sovereign German confederal states.

Thus, e.g., France and England can certainly permit freedom of the press and even establish the principle that this freedom constitutes an indispensable condition for a purely representative system.

In France and in England, laws can be made that restrict the abuse of the press in relationship to the constitution of both states.

Yet I doubt that the one or the other of these states would view it as a basic tenet of freedom of the press to tolerate all works that might be systematically forged and distributed up to the point of generating a rebellion in the one or the other [state] by a party opposed to the constitution. In this case, the English government would surely lodge a complaint with the French (and vice versa) for tolerating foreign agitators against a friendly state; should the government that is the object of the complaint not provide assistance, then the one lodging the complaint would have the unconditional right to declare war against it and, accordingly, obtain assistance and justice for itself, or at least suspend contact between the two states.

These means of assistance, which are grounded in international law, are not applicable in Germany. Accordingly, those issues that can be addressed by the European powers by way of force and that can remain subject to them must be regulated by preventative laws in the German Confederation.

[ . . . ]

Source: Clemens Wentzel Lothar von Metternich, Aus Metternich's nachgelassenen Papieren [From Metternich’s Private Papers], ed. Richard von Metternich-Winneburg. Vienna: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1880-84, vol. 3, pp. 250-53.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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