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 V.
STEIN'S PROSCRIPTION.

STEIN was now in circumstances similar to those in which Hardenberg had found himself in the middle of 1807. He was about to lay down a dictatorship and to transmit the government of the State into other hands. But in another respect his circumstances were unlike, for he had considerable doubt of the ability of his successors to carry on his work, whereas Hardenberg knew that a strong man, a man in matters of internal government stronger than himself, was to succeed him. In spite of this difference, however, he felt no less than Hardenberg had felt a desire to leave behind him some written document which might convey his opinion about the requirements of the State. We remember Hardenberg's Political Testament, how he composed a sort of pamphlet, in which he examined each department of State and suggested, much at his ease, the sweeping changes that another was to introduce. Stein was induced by somewhat different considerations to leave a Political Testament. He was no friend of unnecessary writing; scarcely ever in his life, indeed, did he write any thing without an immediate practical object. But his work was broken in the middle, and he wanted his successors to know what plans he had been prevented from bringing forward. It was also urgently necessary, even at the risk of appearing to boast or to preach, that he should leave some testimony to the high principles and objects he had kept before his mind, which were now only too likely to be forgotten. It seems that he had been turning this plan over in his thoughts for some time. A general account of the changes recently made in Prussia had been admitted, though naturally without any mention of Stein's name, into the Moniteur of October 15th. We have seen him also recommending the King to publish a similar recital in a proclamation to his people, and how the King declined to do this, apparently for the very reason for which Stein

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