Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/544

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528
PRUSSIA—PRUSSIC ACID

Frederick III., only lived till the 1 5th of June, the sole important act of his reign being the dismissal of Puttkammer. Under his successor William II. the development of Prussian Frvderlck . . . .

mn,888 affairs continued on the lines laid down under William I., the main difference being that, after the fall of Bismarck (March 20, 1890), the old antagonism between the unrepresented masses and the government tended to William Il., change into one between these masses and the 1385 Crown. For while in the unreformed parliament the squirearchy was still disproportionately represented) Socialism-denounced by the king-emperor as treason Franchise against himself and the country-spread rapidly R°f°"“'° among the unrepresented population. Discontent grew apace, and the trouble culminated in 1908 and 1909. In 1906 a bill raising the number of members of the Diet from 433 g, -owg, of to 443 and effecting an unimportant redistribution Social of seats had been passed, but a Radical amendment D°'“°"'“7'in favour of direct and universal suffrage and the secret ballot had been rejected by a large majority. In 1907 the elections for the Reichstag resulted in pa remarkable defeat of the Socialist forces, and this had its effect in Prussia also. In 1908 a resolution in favour of universal suffrage was again brought forward. It was opposed by Prince Btilow, the German chancellor, and was rejected by a large majority. Riots followed in Berlin and demonstrations in favour of reform throughout the country, and at the new elections in June seven Socialist members were returned-a portentous phenomenon under the actual franchise. In the session of 1909 the reform resolution was again brought forward, and again thrown out by the Conservative majority.

Demonstrations and collisions with the police followed in most of the large Prussian towns, and in October four of the Socialist members returned in 1908 who had been unseated on technical grounds were re-elected. It became clear to the government that some sop must be thrown to popular opinion, and accordingly in the speech from the throne delivered on the 11th of January 1910 the king-emperor announced a measure of franchise reform. The agitation, however, continued, and the terms of the bill when it was introduced by Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg on the 10th of February were not such as to conciliate opposition. The chancellor and minister-president adhered to the principles enunciated by his predecessor, ” the bill retained the triple class division of voters, public Reform Bill o, ,9,0 voting and plural votes; the voting, however, was to be direct and certain changes were suggested giving less to the moneyed interest and more to the professional classes. A furious agitation at once arose all over the country, culminating in a series of Socialist demonstrations on the 14th in Berlin and elsewhere; owing to the elaborate police precautions there was, however, no serious disturbance; but on the evening of the 18th there was street fighting between rioters and police in Frankfort. Meanwhile, on the 13th, the bill had been referred to a committee of the Diet. No party was satisfied with it; the Berlin municipality petitioned for its entire rejection; but its fate was ultimately determined by an agreement between the representatives of the Conservative and Catholic Centre parties on the committee, 'the latter agreeing to support the retention of indirect voting on condition of the former declaring in favour of the secret ballot (Feb. 22). In this sense the committee ultimately reported, in spite of the government's efforts to retain public voting and to concede direct election, and on the 14th of March the bill in this shape passed its second reading. On the 16th. the third reading was carried, all the parties except the Conservatives and the Centre voting against it; Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg accepted the bill on behalf of the government, merely reserving the right to amend it in matters of Prince Schonaich-Carolath pointed' out in 1908 that 314,000 Socialist voters were entirely unrepresented, while 324,000 Conservative voters returned 143 members, and that the propertied and agrarian section of the community returned over 300 members, the remainder only some 130 (Annual Register, 1908, p. 280).

  • His speech is reported in The Times of the 11th of February

1910.

detail. Demonstrations and riots in various centres showed how far this result was from satisfying the popular demands. Thus Prussia retained, in contradistinction to the South German states, its traditional character, as a land ruled from above, the monarchy and the bureaucracy basing their authority not on the will of the people, but partly on divine right and partly on the middle-class terror of the social revolution, while as its ultimate sanction there remained the tremendous power of the king of Prussia as supreme “war lord” of Germany. It remained to be seen how long these conditions could last in a country which, during the tremendous material expansion of the period following the war, had developed an immense industrial population which saw, -or thought it saw, its interests sacrificed to the agricultural classes, with their traditional feudalism and inherited loyalty to the Prussian system.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-For sources see K. Kletke, Quellenkunde der Gesch. des preuss. Staates (Berlin, 1858-1861)i Bd. i. Schriflsteller. Bd. ii. Urkunden-Repertorium; and F. Zurbonsen, Quellenbuch zur Brandenburg-preuss. Gesch. (Berlin, 1889). Zeitschr. fur pre-ussische Gesch. (ibid. 1864-1883), Forsclzungen:mf . . preuss. Gesch. (Leipzig, 1888 sqq.). Records of the Prussian government in the 18th century are being published under the title of Acta. borussica (Berlin, 1892 sqq.). Among important general works may be mentioned Ranke, Zwolf Bijécher preussischer Gesch., 5 vols. to 1745 (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1878); Droysen, Gesch. der preussischen Politik, 5 parts in 15 vols. to 1756 (Berlin and Leipzig, 1855-1885); H. G. Prutz, Preussische Geschichte, 4 vols. to 1888 (Stuttgart, 1900-1902); and for constitutional history, C. Bornhak, Preussische Staats- und Rechlsgeschichte (Berlin, 1903). Of the many works devoted to special periods Treitschke's Deutsche Geschichte im 19. Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1879-1894), in spite of its strong Prussian bias, is especially valuable for the period up to 1848, when it breaks off. 'See also the lists of books attached to the biographies of the various Prussian kings and statesmen.


PRUSSIA, in the original and narrower sense of the word, a territory of Germany, in the kingdom of Prussia, stretching along the Baltic coast for about 220 m., and occupying an area of 24,083 sq. m. The eastern part of this territory formed the duchy of Prussia, which was conquered and colonized by the Teutonic Order and was acquired by the elector of Brandenburg in 1618, furnishing his successor with his regal title in 1701. The western part, which had been severed from the eastern half and assigned to Poland in 1466, was not annexed to Prussia until the partition of Poland in 1772, while the towns of Danzig and Thorn remained Polish down to 1793. The two districts were united in 1824 to form a single province. But, as might have been expected, the union did not work well, and it was dissolved in 1878, its place being ta.ken by the modern provinces of East and West Prussia. (See EAST PRUSSIA and W1-:ST PRUSSIA.)


PRUSSIC ACID, or HYDROCYANIC ACID, HCN, an organic acid first prepared in 1782-1783 by C. Scheele and subsequently examined by J. Gay-Lussac. It is present in varying amounts in certain plants, being a product of the hydrolysis of the cyanogenetic glucosides, e.g. amygdalin (q. v.). It may be prepared by heating a mixture of cyanogen and hydrogen to 500°-5 50° C. (M. Berthelot, Ann. chim. phys., 1879 (5), 18, p. 380); by passing induction sparks through a mixture of acetylene and nitrogen; by the dry distillation of ammonium formate; by the decomposition of the simple cyanides with mineral acids; and by distilling potassium ferrocyanide with dilute sulphuric acid (F. Wohler, Ann., 1850, 73, p. 219), the anhydrous acid being obtained by fractional distillation of the aqueous distillate, special precautions being necessary owing to the excessively poisonous nature of the free acid:

K4F€(NC>5 = 2K2SO4+F€SO4

The free acid is a colourless liquid with a smell resembling bitter almonds; it boils at 26-1° C., and may be solidified, in which condition it melts at -14° C. It burns with a blue flame, and is readily soluble in water, but the solution is unstable and decomposes on standing, giving amorphous insoluble substances, and ammonium formate, oxalic acid, &c. An aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide converts it into oxamide, (CONH2)2, and reduction by zinc and hydrochloric acid gives methyl amine. The anhydrous acid combines with hydrochloric, hydro bro mic and hydriodic acids to form crystalline addition products, which