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The Public Mood in Bavaria and Other Federal States through British Eyes (December 3, 1866)

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Should Austria hereafter seek to recover Her lost position by an Alliance with France – a contingency by no means improbable – the position of Bavaria will be a very difficult one, and the interest of Prussia will certainly be, as [Bavarian Minister President] Baron von der Pfordten represented to Count Bismarck at Berlin, to conciliate Her as much as possible and not to drive Her, as well as the other South German States, into a Franco-Austrian Alliance.

Of Austria it is no longer permitted to talk as a German power, but it is to be remembered that She has several millions of German Subjects, who, to judge by the language lately held in the Diets of the German Provinces, are unwilling to accept their exclusion from Germany as a definitive arrangement.

Thus a German question, arises in Austria and adds another embarrassment to the other almost overwhelming difficulties which beset Her path: – whether Austria did not, in part at least, bring on Her own misfortunes by numerous political mistakes, and by none greater than that which She committed in endeavouring, without sufficient means, to uphold Her position both in Italy and in Germany, is a question which it would now be superfluous to discuss. Suffice it to say, that Her present enfeeblement cannot but be a subject of regret, and that Her existence as a great power is unquestionably a European interest.

Without entering into the question whether the late territorial changes in Germany be ultimately for good or evil, it is unquestionable that the immediate state of things which they have produced is far from satisfactory.

Instead of a general disarmament following the peace, the pecuniary and personal burdens of the people are being increased by large additions to the War Estimates and to the numerical strength of the Armies of the several Countries, and Science seems to be chiefly valued as the means of inventing new instruments of human destruction. – Even Prussia, whose successes have been so brilliant, and whose military organization has proved itself so efficient, is augmenting Her Army Budget and adding largely to Her own Cavalry Force, whilst She is straining the resources of Her newly acquired territories for military purposes and requiring Her new Ally, or rather Vassal, the King of Saxony to double his Army. – In those States of Germany, where the general obligation to serve in the army did not previously exist, it is being introduced, and the whole of Germany, like Prussia, will soon be converted into one vast camp. This state of things has indubitably been brought about by the ambition of one power – Prussia, who has turned the great superiority of intelligence which She possesses to the cultivating of the art of war rather than of those of peace.

It remains to be remarked that the feeling of uneasiness in Germany is augmented by the impression that, when the Paris Exhibition of next year shall have passed over, and when France shall have completed Her military preparations, She will seek a war with Germany so as to obtain those compensations for the aggrandisement of Prussia, which She has sketched out, but which She has already learnt will only be yielded to superior force.

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