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Count Friedrich von Beust in Praise of the German Confederation (1887)

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Very different was the state of affairs in the various States of the German Confederation. Was there one of them that Gladstone could have held up to public abhorrence as he did the kingdom of Naples? I was on a short visit to Saxony after 1870, at the time when Prince Bismarck was first attempting to make the railways of the various States an Imperial monopoly. This measure excited bitter opposition, which a National Liberal paper deplored with the words: ‘This narrow, local spirit reminds us of the worst times of Beust.’ ‘Nay, it explains the worst times of Beust,’ said I to a friend. In those times the Saxon had not yet the gratification of having conquered Alsace, but the Alsatian manufactories were not competing with the Saxon; nor had the Saxon the gratification of possessing a navy ready equipped for war; but the products of his industry were being sent across the sea far more frequently than now. He had not the satisfaction of being a member of the greatest military power in Europe; but he enjoyed the harmless pleasure of hearing Saxony raise her voice in the Confederation, and seeing her Minister become a member of a European Conference. he paid for this less dearly than now, when he is obliged to contribute sixty thousand men to the Imperial army – three times the number that was then considered sufficient to preserve the peace and security of the country. And finally, he did not possess the satisfaction of knowing that if he were ill-treated at Buenos-Ayres, a man-of-war would be sent to punish his tormentors. Such a disaster, however, rarely happened, while he was often in a position to want help and support in Paris, London, and St Petersburg, in which case he used to receive from the Saxon Ministers at those places every possible assistance, as they had both time and means to devote to him. Now, on the other hand, the German embassy throws him into the common pot, where little remains for each individual, considering the multitude of applicants.

Source of English translation: Memoirs of Friedrich Ferdinand, Count von Beust, 2 vols., 2nd ed. London: Remington & Co., 1887, vol. 1, ch. 29, pp. 283-85; ch. 34, pp. 343-45.

Source of German original: Friedrich Ferdinand Graf von Beust, Aus drei Viertel-Jahrhunderten. Erinnerungen und Aufzeichnungen, 2 vols. Stuttgart: Verlag der J.G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1887, vol. 1, 1809-1866, ch. 30, pp. 421-23; vol. 2, 1866-1885, ch. 3, pp. 31-33.

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