Life and Times of Stein: Or, Germany and Prussia in the Napoleonic Age - Vol. 1

By Sir J. R. Seeley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
STEIN AND THE TUGENBUND.

THE reader will have observed in the last chapters that a change has come over the character of our hero. His original bias had been towards the industrial and financial departments of politics, and as late as 1807 we saw declining the foreign portfolio on the ground of inexperience in that department. Even in the first months of his Ministry we remarked nothing warlike in him. He has no thought of spirited foreign policy, and we do not find him in those first months indulging in any dream more ambitious than that of seeing the country freed from foreign troops, its industry restored, and its Ministers no longer dictated to by a Camarilla. It is true that all his reforms have been so far military that their ultimate object has been to prevent such another catastrophe as that of Jena, and probably also at some future and quite undetermined time to assert some kind of independence against Napoleon and take advantage of any turn in the tide of his fortune. His thoughts and views are now entirely changed. He is bent upon war, speedy war, and of the most desperate kind. 'Auctor ego audendi,' has become his advice to Frederick William; and in his position such advice meant something more an different than adhesion to war policy meant in Canning or even in the Austrian Stadion. Prussia was reduced to low that war on her part would of itself have the character of an insurrection, not to mention that it was proposed to carry it on by the methods of insurrection. Varnhagen v. Ense tells us that he could not listen to Fichte delivering his Addresses to the German Nation without thinking uncomfortably of Palm, the Nürnberg bookseller, and of his fate. Much more may this be said of Stein and his advice. In a Corsican age such advice could not be given without risk. By Napoleon's order a troop of cavalry might move on Königsberg as formerly on Ettenheim, and afterwards a Military Commission

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