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A recent article on the minister Von Stein has made the readers of this Journal acquainted with the contrast which the household virtues and patriotism of Frederick William III. offered to the character of his father, who was our Charles II. without his brilliant conversation and attractive courtesy. It may, however, be added that Count Brandenburgh, who rendered inestimable services to the Prussian monarchy, after the convulsion of 1848, and died in the service of the Crown he had saved, was one of the natural children of this weak and worthless Prince.
The States of Bavaria and Wirtemberg at the period of the Confederation of the Rhine attract our curiosity, not because they were the scenes of the chief acts of the great drama played out in 1813, but because their personages are not used up' by the historians and memoir writers, as we must certainly pronounce those of Northern Germany to be. These States grew great with the increment of French power, but they did not fall with the collapse of the French empire, and many princely coronets that were fused into the new crowns of Bavaria and Wirtemberg never recovered their independent lustre.
The contrast between Bavaria and Wirtemberg in the treatment of the mediatised nobles is curious and amusing. Those unfortunate personages, with the nominal rank of sovereign princes, and actual possessions often not equivalent in value to those of a substantial English squire, could not resign themselves to what they regarded as an intolerable degradation. The good-natured easy King of Bavaria gilded the pill of mediatisation; but the new-made King of Wirtemberg would tolerate no Fronde within his estates, and took a peculiar pleasure in making the old German noblesse comprehend that they now had an immediate and actual master, and that they were no longer under the distant, benignant, and shadowy sway of an Emperor of the Romans.
On the 22nd of April, 1808, King Frederick of Wirtemberg published a decree declaring the possessions of the mediatised nobles to be disentailed and divisible among the offspring, thus striking at the very root of a feudal aristocracy; and not the least curious specimen of this newly erected arbitrary power was a circular containing a 'most gracious command,'
'That Count should henceforth spend at least three months of the year in the royal residence of Stuttgard, and with regard to the other nine months His Majesty would not be indisposed to give his most gracious permission for their being spent upon the Count's estates on proper application being made. His Majesty further causes his gracious hope to be made known that this, his sovereign
VOL. CIV. NO. CCXII.
command, should be punctually attended to, otherwise one-fourth of the Count's income will fall to the public fisc!'
Frederick of Wirtemberg was a man of great natural sagacity, but of the most haughty and arbitrary disposition. He secretly hated the Emperor Napoleon, but the temporary advantages of French Alliance and protection were too solid to allow the absence of internal sympathy to stand in the way of his diplomatic relations with the court of the Tuileries. There was no lack of princely German suitors for aggrandisement of their territory by the French Imperial authority of that day, and Frederick played his cards so well for himself, that the Electorate of Wirtemberg with six hundred thousand souls grew to be a kingdom of a million and a half of inhabitants. In person he was enormously corpulent, so that when the Emperor Napoleon visited him he declared to those about him that the body of the King of Wirtemberg showed the greatest extension ever retained by the human skin. 'Who comes here?' was a question asked by one of the aides-de-camp of the Emperor in waiting. Le Roi 'de Wirtemberg ventre à terre,' was the answer.
Of a much more easy and conciliatory temper was Maximilian Joseph, who then reigned over Bavaria. The House of Witelsbach, of which he was a scion, is one of the most ancient and illustrious of Europe, Bavaria being the only one of the six original duchies of Germany that has preserved the old line. Their rule dates from the grey dawn of German history down to A. D. 1070, and, after a break of 110 years, has been uninterrupted since 1180. To this house belonged the unfortunate Protestant King of Bohemia (son-in-law of our own James) and other Electors Palatine. To it also belonged the Princes of the Witelsbach-Vasa line, which gave birth to Charles XII. of Sweden.
Maximilian Joseph, of the Birkenfeld branch of the House of Witelsbach, succeeded his kinsman Charles Theodore in 1799. In his youth he was a bon vivant, with an unprincely talent for mimicry; but his extreme good-nature rendered him popular with all, for he would converse familiarly with the peasantry, and especially with their wives and their daughters. He permitted his ministers to introduce toleration into the strictly Catholic Bavaria, but from his easy disposition he was, in financial affairs, never out of the hands of the Jew money-lenders. In short, he had not the courage to say 'No' when a money request was preferred; and the debts of singers and dancers were cleared off when he could ill afford it. A characteristic anecdote illustrates his fatal facility of disposition. A private secretary was observed by him to heave sundry deep sighs, and being asked
the cause, answered, that debts were pressing upon him. Pooh! 'debts!' said the King, how much may they be?' 'Sixteen 'thousand florins, your Majesty.' Oh! for so beggarly a 'sum. Go straight to my cabinet cashier and get yourself paid.' Ritter von Lang's account of the Court of Bavaria at this period gives a most ridiculous idea of the disorder of the Government, even with all allowances for his well-known propensity to caricature. The new established Customs Department required the Post diligence to submit to an examination, and as this was not admitted, the military force was called in. The Post-office asked for a military force to defend its right, and the Police got a third military force to keep order in the town; so that the one King Maximilian Joseph was, through three departments, obliged to say how much he was dissatisfied with the other Maximilian Joseph.
The principal personage who figures in the politics of Bavaria during this period was Count Mongelas, a statesman of Savoyard extraction; he had been private secretary to the Princes of Deux Ponts, and on their accession to the Bavarian Electorate, he became, naturally, the minister of the larger State. He was a superior man, thoroughly acquainted with German and Bavarian history; and although he was a bad German patriot, and, in fact, totally indifferent to German independence of French Imperial dictation, Bavaria owed him many domestic improvements, as well as the management of that policy which added. so largely to her territory and population.
For the first time since the Thirty Years War, Protestant preaching was allowed in Munich. In 1803 all the convents in Bavaria were abolished, and in 1807 exemption of the nobles from taxation also came to a termination. In the process of unfeudalisation, Bavaria marched somewhat in advance of Prussia. French assimilation accomplished a pacific revolution in the South, which, in the North of Germany, was more painfully brought about after the disasters of Jena, and at the period of the intensest hatred of France.
Friederich von Müller, the Chancellor of Weimar, saw Mongelas at the Congress of Erfurt, and gives his impression of him. I had often,' says he, the honour to meet Mongelas at 'the royal table; one of the most intelligent and shrewd states'men of his time. His conversation was as substantial as its 'form was piquant. It was most interesting for me to hear 'him relate how he had abolished the convents, and got over many difficulties. But although his countenance was expres'sive, he had the peculiar custom, in speaking, of fixing both ' eyes on the point nose.' Jean Paul describes him as a
born minister and man of superior intellect, with nothing vin'dictive in his character.'
Mongelas was full of finesse in his dealings with the King. When he wished to make sure of the nomination of anybody to a post, he would begin by proposing some one distasteful to the King, who would forthwith state his objections. Another person still more disagreeable would then be mentioned, which proposition would again receive the royal negative. The person intended by Mongelas would then be named in a lukewarm manner, and grasped at by the King, who subsequently would relate at dinner how Mongelas had sought to palm two pretty fellows on him, and how he had been compelled to name an honest man in opposition to the wishes of his minister.
The enthusiastic resurrection of Germany, in 1813, brought about the irretrievable unpopularity of Mongelas, who had identified himself with French illuminism and the Confederation of the Rhine. Arndt, it may well be believed, fell foul of him in those pamphlets which, in Germany, were no unworthy pendant to the Bonaparte and the Bourbons' of Châteaubriand. In his Beherzigungen vor dem Wiener Congress,' Arndt expresses himself as follows:
Whoever with restless ambition and burning lust of dominion seeks to climb upwards, asks no question about rights and 'wrongs, but stuffs his conscience into his pocket, and sets his sail to the wind of circumstances. Bavaria has done this 'through her minister Mongelas,' who, with a curious felicity of polemical wrath, is styled as scarcely a half German, who has
acted towards Germany as a whole foreigner, and will always 'so act.' We are then informed how he came to Bavaria poor and in debt, and afterwards owned millions. He is pronounced dangerous, because he and his followers seek to surmount all obstacles in order to gain their object. His government,' says Arndt, is cursed by all good Bavarians for its dishonesty and 'illuminism.'
King Louis, the successor of Maximilian Joseph, lived on bad terms with Mongelas; for notwithstanding all his foibles, he was, in character and sympathy, a thorough German. The Prussian general Nostitz saw him at the Congress of Vienna, and describes him as a prince who wishes to act rightly, and yet who will never do it if it demands money and energy. His favourite theme is German patriotic sympathy: although, adds the General, somewhat sardonically, the Germany of the 'Bavarians does not include Bavaria.'
The favourite companions of Louis were poets, painters, and architects. On his accession to power, Catholic and Ger
manic reaction began against the illuminism and Gallo-mania of his father's reign. Many convents were restored, but the monks, chapels, and churches of modern Munich are rather to be regarded as the paraphernalia of art than as the product of religious bigotry. His Medicean improvements produced, in the first instance, a violent opposition among a people in whom the feeling for art was not yet awakened; but subsequently they have grown proud of Munich as the new Florence of Germany. It is to be regretted that whilst Dr. Vehse has really collected an ample store of curious anecdotes which may pass as the small change of history, he should not have had the good taste to expunge from his pages a vast deal of ribaldry and rubbish. We can fully comprehend that these volumes are read with an avidity altogether without a parallel in the annals of German literary curiosity. Their legitimate merits are manifold; but we wish that their tone was less exceptionable; and if we are not mistaken, the learned compiler has been in some personal danger from the indiscreet audacity of his scandalous stories of the House of Mecklenburgh. There is, however, a more serious side to these publications. They are admirably calculated to bring into contempt the reigning Houses of Germany and that pedantic nobility which has made itself, for the last century and a half, the servant of their feeble governments and their dissolute Courts. It will at some future time be regarded as the greatest of wonders that by these beings the great German nation is governed; and already the progress of the age has effaced many of the more glaring abuses which Dr. Vehse has thought it worth while to chronicle and to record.
ART. V.-1. The Tour of Mont Blanc and of Monte Rosa: being a Personal Narrative, abridged from the Author's Travels in the Alps of Savoy,' &c. By JAMES D. FORBES, D.C.L., F.R.S., &c. Edinburgh: 1855.
2. Sketches of Nature in the Alps. From the German of FRIEDRICH Von TSCHUDI. London: 1856.
3. Where there's a Will there's a Way: An Ascent of Mont Blanc, by a New Route, and without Guides. By the Rev. CHARLES HUDSON, and EDWARD SHIRLEY KENNEDY, B.A. London: 1856.
4. Wanderings among the High Alps. By ALFRED WILLS, of the Middle Temple, Barrister at Law. London: 1856. WHAT is the origin of that passionate love for mountain scenery, and that constant striving to bring it into con