[See larger version] Prussia, it might be supposed, would escape the invasion of Revolutionary principles in 1848. Great hopes had been excited on the accession of Frederick William IV. to his father's throne. Yet it was evident to close observers of the signs of the times that a spirit of sullen discontent was brooding over the population. There was a feeling that their amiable and accomplished Sovereign had disappointed them. He proved to be excessively sensitive to the slightest infringement of his prerogative, and he abhorred the idea of representative bodies, who might oppose constitutional barriers to his own absolute will. Hence, there grew up sensibly a mutual feeling of distrust between him and the people, and the natural effect on his part was a change from the leniency and liberality of his earlier years to a more austere temper, while a tedious, inactive, and undecided course of policy wore out the patience of those who expected a more constitutional system. Consequently, although the administration of the country was free from any taint of corruption, and was, on the whole, moderate and just, the revolutionary earthquake of 1848 shook the kingdom of Prussia to its very foundations.

TEMPLE BAR IN 1800.

The Frankfort Parliament had spent a year doing nothing but talking. They came, however, to the important resolution of offering the Imperial Crown of Germany to the King of Prussia. As soon as the Prussian Assembly heard this, they adopted an address to the king, earnestly recommending him to accept the proffered dignity. They were deeply interested by seeing the house of Hohenzollern called to the direction of the Fatherland and they hoped he would take into his strong hands the guidance of the destinies of the German nation. On the 3rd of April, 1849, the king received the Frankfort deputation commissioned[578] to present to him the Imperial Crown. He declined the honour unless the several Governments of the German States should approve of the new Imperial Constitution, and concur in the choice of the Assembly. As soon as this reply was made known, the second Prussian Chamber adopted a motion of "urgency," and prepared an address to the king, entreating him to accept the glorious mission of taking into firm hands the guidance of the destiny of regenerated Germany, in order to rescue it from the incalculable dangers that might arise from the conflicting agitations of the time. The address was carried only by a small majority. The king had good reason for refusing the imperial diadem; first, because Austria, Würtemberg, Bavaria, and Hanover decidedly objected; and secondly because the king required changes in the Frankfort Constitution which the Parliament refused to make. These facts enabled his Majesty to discover that the imperial supremacy was "an unreal dignity, and the Constitution only a means gradually, and under legal pretences, to set aside authority, and to introduce the republic." In July the state of siege was terminated in Berlin, and the new elections went in favour of the Government.