Preparations for War
In embarking on negotiations with Italy, the King quietened his conscience with the assurance that they committed him to nothing, so long as he remained open to a compromise and did not present an ultimatum to Austria. Bismarck did not contradict his master; for he too would have preferred a voluntary surrender by Austria of supremacy in Northern Germany. But he was certain that Habsburg pride would prefer defeat to a voluntary surrender （内牛满面TvT）, and, more clear-sighted than the King, saw that the Italian alliance was a first step which would inevitably lead to war. Peace could only be maintained if the King moderated his claims, or gave way, as his brother Frederick William IV had done in 1850. But in 1850 William I too had preferred Olmutz to a war; and in consequence Bismarck's opponents at court fully expected the King to draw back at the last moment.
The result of the Prussian Council of Feburary 28 remained for the moment secret; had Austria known that William was negotiating with Italy and France to secure the overlordship of North Germany, she would at once have prepared to meet the threat. But a good deal was learnt of the Prussian plans through the personal relationships which connected the Prussian and the Austrian Courts （不是我说什么……personal relationships什么的，一家人就是分家也分不干净是吧）and from Bismarck himself, who made no secret of his intentions or of the King's opposition; but Austria had isolated herself during the Crimean War, and she seemed to have lost the art of winning allies. （每次看到众叛亲离没人要的贵族，俺都充满抖M的萌感……） Buol had left a grievous inheritance; and after his fall Austrian policy had changed almost every six months under the influence of first one minister and then another. Since the Meeting of the Princes at Frankfort Austrian policy had passed throught every gradation from a proud assertion of supremacy to a close alliance with Prussia, and was now back again on the verge of a quarrel. None of the leading men had been given time to carry a policy through to a finish. Schmerling's plans had been upset by Rechberg; and the influence of Schemerling and of Biegeleben had brought Rechberg down when he had almost succeeded in restoring the alliance with Prussia. Now Esterhazy was supreme; but he, unlike Schmerling and Rechberg, had no definite plan and could never pursue any one policy for long. The Cabinet of Vienna thus continued to be swayed to and fro by contradictory hopes and fears. （这还真是抖M啊……）
[Mensdorff, the Foreign Minister] "I did not invent the stupid Schleswig-Holstein question and am suffering for the sins of past years. Whether we shall get out of this most tedious of tedious questions without a conflict I cannot yet say..."
Esterhazy saw the possibilities of the situations clearly--too clearly, indeed; for Austria needed a man of decision, and not one who was torn by doubts. ... He regared the period of the Holy Alliance as the happiest in European history and therefore disliked the thought of a war between two of the conservative powers. He would rather have come to some agreement with Prussia regarding the supremacy in Germany; and he toyed with the idea of selling her the Austrian rights over Schleswig-Holstein for 60-70 million guelders. It never occurred to him to envisage a reform of the German Confederation in accordance with national idears; for he despised nationalism as one of the modern enthusiasms which, especially in Germany, had little real depth. He did not, therefore, expect a war to make much difference to the existing order in Germany. An extention of territory in the old style--perhaps a bit of Silesia--was the most he hoped for; and if the war went badly, he was ready to agree to a division of Germany, in which Prussia would receive the North, and the game would go on between two states, as it had gone on since the time of Frederick the Great. The system created by the Congress of Vienna seemed to him, in the nature of things, the best: it was to the interest of all monarchs, including the King of Prussia, to preserve it. Thus, while Bismarck was drafting a new German Constitution which allowed for the active co-operation of the German people, Esterhazy made no appeal to enlightened opinion in Germany. He himself had no ideas on Germany's future, for his ideal lay in the past; and Austria therefore embarked on the War of 1866 without a German programme. In fact, Esterhazy was afraid of too decisive an Austrian victory, because he could not visualize any European system except that of the Congress of Vienna. He said himself: "The stakes are too high for me; for whether we win or whether we lose, the result of the war will be a different Austria from the one we know."
Actually there were only five regiments [in Bohemia], two of them Italian, and therefore unreliable.
At one Mensdorff protested. Premature measures would give Purssia the chance of accusing Austria of arming for an offensive war without really increasing Austria's military security, for a well-prepared attack would make short work of the handful of fresh troops in Bohemia. But Mensdorff's opposition was brushed aside. ... There was no agrressive intention behind the precautions taken by the generals. They were driven by anxiety to provocative measures; and in the Imperial counsels the obligations of honor and the traditions of the Monarchy outweighed all other arguments.
... Francis Joseph could honestly say that he was only seeking to defend his empire. It seemed best to present to Prussia the direct question which the Emperor might expect from King William. Karolyi was therefore instructed to ask Bismarck: “Whether the Court of Berlin really intended to tear up the Treaty of Gastein and to break the peace, sanctified by law, between the German federal states?" （还真是见过傻的没见过这么傻的，你问了人家就会回答你实话么！人家答了你就真的相信么！真是见过傻的没见过下略……）At the same time Austria tried to get into touch with the lesser German states and re-establish the friendships broken by her direct negotiations with Prussia over the fate of Schleswig-Holstein. A Circular Note was despatched to the German Courts to the effect that Austria would place the Schleswig-Holstein question in the hand of the German Diet, if the Prussian reply to Karolyi's question was unsatisfactory.
Bismarck at once made the most of his enemy's mistake. He was finding it difficult to porvoke the King to any decisive step, for Prussia was as anxious as Austria to avoid appearing as the aggressor in the eyes of Europe; now Austria had saved him any further trouble. Beust, when he saw the Austrian Circular, at once declared it to be useless; Prussia could easily deny aggressive intentions without altering her plans. （是啊人家萨叔家人都看出来这一点了……难怪博叔后来跑去贵族家当宰相了，这么看来在萨叔家时候就对贵族家恨铁不成钢了←喂！） When on March 16 Karolyi asked his question, with the polite assurance that it was not meant as a challenge, Bismarck answered short and sharp, "No!" [According to private information Bismarck added: he would give the same answer, if he were already drafting a declaration of war.] （宰相大人您……我……TOT都觉得贵族家那边傻透了对吧ToT）In a certain sense this was true, for the question and answer were not concerned with Bismarck's plans, but with the will of the King; and William certainly did not intend to attack Austria.
I'm not broken