Everyone who has studied the German problem-which assumed an acute form in 1866, when I was Minister in Saxony-must feel that, setting aside the question of rivalry with France, which sooner or later will be decided at the point of the sword, it resolves itself simply into the question of political supremacy. The German element, then as now, took the initiative; but the feeble constitutional measures which were the outcome of popular strife and much bloodshed dwindled down year by year until but a semblance of constitutionalism remained. soon forgot what had happened, and occupied himself more with his creature comforts and his dramatic performances than with the development of his constitutional liberties.
Of Austria's large Slav population, the Poles have a natural craving for independence after having enjoyed and heroically fought for it for centuries; while the other nationalities are likely at a moment of dangerous crisis to develop pro-Russian tendencies. The revolutionary wave of 1848 swept over his territories as it did over those of other potentates; laws and decrees which the ignorance and apathy of his people had tolerated, if not approved, in the days of Maria Theresa and the monarchs who succeeded her, raised for the first time among the masses of the population objections and antipathies which generated the firm resolve in their minds to sweep the whole system away.This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook.