+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


THE British constitution unites firmly the
principle of hereditary monarchy with a
respect for the liberty of the people: mainly
because the people of England, not the
monarch, has the key of the exchequer. The
constitutions granted to their subjects by
hereditary monarchs on the continent of
Europe are gifts easily revoked, because those
monarchs have in their power the revenues
of the state, by help of which they may
become masters of the people. The key of
the money-box is a great talisman. The
king or queen of England represents the
country. When we sing God save the Queen,
we mean willing devotion to a sovereign
who merits our most loyal affection, but we
mean not less, God save Us All. The Queen
is ours not less than we are hers. In a
German state, the people belongs to the
prince; but the prince does not belong to the
people. It is their duty to look upon him as
their owner.

The British army exists to protect Britain
from foreign enemies. Our constables and
police officers exist to protect the lives and
liberties of all at home from the aggressions
of the lawless. German armies and police
exist chiefly for the protection of the prince
against the people. Their more onerous
task is to suppress the people as a
power in the state. Every Prussian, for
instance, is stamped and registered by the
police at birth; goes about with a label, like a
sheep with a mark of ruddle on his back, all
his life long; and if found without such label,
may be almost worried to death. To make
monarchy a despotism is one main duty of
the police in Prussia. It sets about its
duty in a way that brings the police force
into secret and deep contempt among the

There are good men in it. Be quiet in
Prussia, mind only your own private
businessif it be business not dangerous to the
state, as authorship or anything implying
exercise of independent thoughtilluminate
loyally on royal birthdays, read the government
newspaper, go to the government
church, and you may enjoy in many things
more freedom in Germany than can be had
in England. "I have often thought," says
an English writer who knows Germany well,
"I have often thought and felt that, while in
England we have political liberty, we have
nothing like the personal and individual freedom,
the social liberty of the Germans, even
under their worst governments." Go to
Prussia without political opinions and with
a passport well covered with authentications
of the harmless object of your visit,
and you will find the police considerate and
faithful in performance of their duties. A
subordinate policeman will here and there
as a gift, not as a bribequite harmlessly
accept a coin as drink-money for service done;
but, usually, even that would be refused.
The Prussian police, seen from this point
of view, is the best on the continent. It
is superior, perhaps, to the police of England.

BUT, the work which is the whole work of
the police in England is not half the work of
the police in Prussia. Go to Prussia as an
Englishman without a passport; go with a
good passport and express freely and boldly
your own constitutional ideas; let it be seen,
whether Englishman or German, that you
care more about a people than about a
people's king; then you are a rat, and the
police are terriers by whom you will
assuredly be worried. A Prussian subject takes
in the wrong newspaper, goes to the wrong
church, stays away from church for too many
successive Sundays, or talks liberal politics
within the hearing of a servant. No legal
offence may have been committed; but he will
be liable to an arrest, on suspicion of having
tried to make people discontented with the
government. He will be fortunate if, in such
case, he escape with only a few weeks'
imprisonment during his "arrest for investigation."
There are persons so arrested who have
been several years in prison without having
been brought up for an examination. Against
the proceedings of the police, in all matters
affecting the government's care of itself, no
appeal is of any use. A man's house may be
ransacked from garret to cellar; any or all
of his papers may be seized, upon the simple
assertion of the police that they are
suspicious. If seized, they are not often returned;
and should he lay any complaint at the tribunals
of justice, he will be told only that
these are "affairs of the police," in which the