Page:Federalist, Dawson edition, 1863.djvu/266

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The Fœderalist.

From such a parade of constitutional powers, in the representatives and head of this Confederacy, the natural supposition would be, that it must form an exception to the general character which belongs to its kindred systems. Nothing would be further from the reality. The fundamental principle on which it rests, that the empire is a community of sovereigns; that the Diet is a representation of sovereigns; and that the laws are addressed to sovereigns; renders the empire a nerveless body, incapable of regulating its own members, insecure against external dangers, and agitated with unceasing fermentations in its own bowels.

The history of Germany is a history of wars between the Emperor and the Princes and States; of wars among the Princes and States themselves; of the licentiousness of the strong, and the oppression of the weak; of foreign intrusions, and foreign intrigues; of requisitions of men and money disregarded, or partially complied with; of attempts to enforce them, altogether abortive, or attended with slaughter and desolation, involving the innocent with the guilty; of general imbecility, confusion, and misery.

In the sixteenth century, the Emperor, with one part of the empire on his side, was seen engaged against the other Princes and States. In one of the conflicts, the Emperor himself was put to flight, and very near being made prisoner by the Elector of Saxony. The late King of Prussia was more than once pitted against his Imperial Sovereign; and commonly proved an overmatch for him. Controversies and wars among the members themselves have been so common, that the German annals are crowded with the bloody pages which describe them. Previous to the peace of Westphalia, Germany was desolated by a war of thirty years, in which the Emperor, with one half of the empire, was on one side, and Sweden, with the other half, on the