THE PROBLEM OF SMALL NATIONS
der who proclaimed the nations, in opposition to the artificial State, as the natural organs of humanity.
The French Revolution put an end to "enlightened" despotism, and in every country an unenlightened reaction set it. In Austria Francis I. was led by Metternich, whose system is, for Western Europe, the very embodiment of reaction—the continuation of the Habsburg and Jesuit Counter-Reformation with all its spiritual horrors. "Spirit murderer" it has been called by the greatest German poet of Austria.
The Emperor Francis, absolutist and legitimist to the core, was convinced that the time was ripe for transforming Austria. Bohemia and Hungary into a united and centralized State. In 1804 the Austrian Empire was proclaimed; in 1806 the new Austrian Emperor resigned the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet this resignation was only formal, and when, at the Vienna Congress, the German Confederation was created, the Emperor of Austria was proclaimed its head. Indeed, the Pope and England urged him to resume the abandoned dignity.
5. The Meternich régime was not able to suppress that literary, revival of the Bohemian nation which was the forerunner of the political revival of 1848. Dobrovsky, the founder of Slavistic studies—the science and philosophy of the Slavs—threw a bridge from the Golden Age of the Reformation across the dark epoch of the Habsburg Counter-Reformation to the Age of Reason and Humanity; he was the first among the Czech "awakeners" who guided his nation towards Russia, and rekindled those Slav sentiments which have characterized Bohemia ever since. Patriot and Slav—that was the general national programme.
After Dobrovsky, Kollar, the true disciple of Herder, conceived a fascinating philosophy of history; the Teutonic and Latin nations, he argued, having accomplished their historical task, will be followed by the Slavs. To strengthen