Mr. Judd to Mr. Hunter
Sir: Prussian politics, internal and external, remain as unsettled as ever. Negotiations still continue between Prussia and Austria, in relation to the final disposition to be made of the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein. The peculiar views and desires of Prussia I have mentioned in previous despatches, and thus far masterly inactivity is having its influence in her favor. So sure was she of accomplishing her objects, that a short time since her fleet was ordered to the harbor of Kiel, and the initiatory steps entered upon, to establish a permanent navy yard and a depot of naval stores and supplies at that port, to be accompanied by fortifications permanently armed and manned by Prussian troops. This was done without saying even “by your leave,” to the duchies or to Austria. The interference of the Austrian commissioner in the duchies has so far checked that action. Propositions are now pending between Prussia and Austria for the assembling of the estates of the duchies, and this seems to be assented to by both the governments, but they are still separated by the questions as to what are the constituent parts of said estates under existing laws; by what law the composition is to be regulated, and when assembled, who is to have the initiative in the measures to be acted upon, and other points of a like nature. Certain it is, that neither of the governments intends to permit the estates to settle the succession, and regulate such other matters as may to them seem necessary. The people of the duchies are treated as of no importance, and are to be finally disposed of according to the interests and wishes of the conquerors of Denmark, to whom the duchies were ceded as the spoils of victory.
The differences between the government and the Chamber of Deputies continue as decided and irreconcilable as ever. The military budget has been overwhelm [Page 58] ingly rejected. The annual budget has shared the same fate. In fact every measure of the government, having for its object a grant of money beyond the points of the most restricted ordinary expenditure, is peremptorily rejected. The debates are bolder and freer than ever before in the history of this kingdom. The charges of corruption and despotism against the minister of justice, in the composition of the courts for the trial of political offences, are boldly uttered, and, that too, by members who themselves are judges. Unfortunately, the charges of using the judicial power to punish political opinions are too true to be denied, and the minister of justice has no other defence than that of saying “I protest,” without meeting one of the specifications with even a plausible explanation. The truth is, that Prussia is to-day as thorough a despotism as exists in Europe; the excesses of the despotism being, however, restrained by the really good heart of his Majesty.
The debates in the chamber have created a profound sensation among the people. They are permitted to appear in full in the newspapers, but a pamphlet edition thereof, intended for general circulation, has been confiscated by the government. Repression, according to the system now in vogue in France, is being carried out in this kingdom.
The influence of the United States at the present time upon the masses in Europe, and especially in Germany, cannot be estimated by a person not living among them. The brilliant military success, the putting down of the rebellion, the quiet transfer of the government from one man to the other, as the result of the horrible tragedy in Washington, the stern and steady onward march of public affairs under the new President, have convinced the masses of the steadiness of power in a self-governed people, and European rulers look to-day with more Interest at what shall emanate from your department than all the other diplomatic bureaus in Europe. The system of the repression of liberal ideas that now prevails in all the governments of Europe, with the exception of Russia and Italy, must break down, and no influence does or will operate so strongly to produce this result as the universal discussion in every circle of the affairs of the United States, and the successful progress of events there, grander and more powerful for humanity than any that have yet occurred in the political or military history of this continent.
The rebel cause has now no longer any friends in Europe. The murder of President Lincoln, and the attempt upon the lives of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State, so filled the public mind with horror and indignation that all its advocates and sympathies here are thoroughly silenced. And now the capture of the redoubtable rebel chief, Davis, in his wife’s petticoats, has covered him and his ruined cause with withering ridicule. What a fall there was ! A shout of homeric laughter went forth all over Germany at the ridiculous plight in which that worthy was taken prisoner. His capture, it is plainly felt, removes the last obstacle to a permanent and lasting peace. Kirby Smith and his bushwhackers will not long stand in the way thereof. The fourth of July next will see the nation restored, slavery abolished, and our land not only in song, but in fact, “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
United States bonds here and elsewhere in Germany are quite buoyant. They are now quoted at 73. Permanent investments therein continue to be made quite largely, although the speculating mania which had seized upon them, and was crowding out all other funds, has perceptibly abated. The attempt which was lately made by the enemies of our cause to stop the sale of our bonds, by starting rumors of the circulation of large numbers of counterfeit bonds, has utterly failed. A letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, which was received here in Berlin, and published in the daily journals, has fully removed all apprehensions regarding the existence of any counterfeits of our bonds whatever. The article on our finances, and ability to pay our national debt, prepared by Dr. William Elder, under the auspices of Jay Cooke, has likewise done much [Page 59] good. I deemed it of sufficient importance to seek its insertion in substance in the “Berische Zeitung,” the journal of the largest circulation here.
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Yesterday, the first of June, pursuant to the President’s proclamation, was duly observed at this legation in memory of our late beloved President.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William Hunter, Acting Secretary of State, Washington.