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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

These were not accepted by the Bundesrat


One

result of this was that it became increasingly difficult in political discussions to avoid criticizing the words and actions of the emperor. Prosecutions for _lese-majeste_ became commoner than they were in former reigns, and the difficulty was much felt in the conduct of parliamentary debate. The rule adopted was that discussion was permitted on those speeches of the emperor which were officially published in the _Reichsanzeiger_. It was, indeed, not easy to combine that respect and reverence which the emperor required should be paid to him, with that open criticism of his words which seemed necessary (even for self-defence) when the monarch condescended to become the censor of the opinions and actions of large parties and classes among his subjects. The attempts to combine personal government with representative institutions was one of much interest; it was more successful than might have been anticipated, owing to the disorganization of political parties and the absence of great political leaders; in Germany, as elsewhere, the parliaments had not succeeded in maintaining public interest, and it is worth noting that even the attendance of members was very irregular. There was below the surface much discontent and subdued criticism of the exaggeration of the monarchical power, which the Germans called _Byzantinismus_; but after all the nation seemed to welcome the government of the emperor, as it did that of Bismarck. The uneasiness which was caused at first by the unwonted vigour
of his utterances subsided, as it became apparent how strong was his influence for peace, and with how many-sided an activity he supported and encouraged every side of national life. Another result of the personal government by the emperor was that it was impossible, in dealing with recent history, to determine how far the ministers of state were really responsible for the measures which they defended, and how far they were the instruments and mouthpieces of the policy of the emperor.

Factory laws.

The first efforts of the "New course," as the new administration was termed, showed some attempt to reconcile to the government those parties and persons whom Bismarck had kept in opposition. The continuation of social reform was to win over the allegiance of the working men to the person of the emperor; an attempt was made to reconcile the Guelphs, and even the Poles were taken into favour; Windthorst was treated with marked distinction. The Radicals alone, owing to their ill-timed criticism on the private relations of the imperial family, and their continued opposition to the army, were excluded. The attempt, however, to unite and please all parties failed, as did the similar attempt in foreign policy. Naturally enough, it was social reform on which at first activity was concentrated, and the long-delayed factory legislation was now carried out. In 1887 and 1888 the Clerical and Conservative majority had carried through the Reichstag laws restricting the employment of women and children and prohibiting labour on Sundays. These were not accepted by the Bundesrat, but after the International Congress of 1890 an important amendment and addition to the _Gewerbeordnung_ was carried to this effect. It was of even greater importance that a full system of factory inspection was created. A further provision empowered the Bundesrat to fix the hours of labour in unhealthy trades; this was applied to the bakeries by an edict of 1895, but the great outcry which this caused prevented any further extension.


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