VIENNA—MINISTERS AND FEDERALISM.
THE country the railway passes through on approaching Vienna is really enchanting. It is a series of valleys with clear streams flowing through, and surrounded by hills clothed with fir-trees and oaks. One might imagine one's self in Styria or Upper Bavaria. However, summer residences, often built like châlets, and buried beneath climbing roses, gloire de Dijon, and clematis, are soon visible. They gradually get nearer together, form groups, and, around the suburban stations, hamlets of villas. No capital except Stockholm has more charming environs. Sub-alpine nature advances almost to the suburbs: nothing is more delightful than Baden, Mödling, Brühl, Vöslau, and all those country residences to the south of Vienna, on the Sömering road.
I arrived at ten o'clock, and went to Hôtel Münsch, an old and good house, which, in my opinion, is greatly preferable to the large and luxurious caravanserai of the Ring, where one is only a number. I found a letter from Baron de Neumann, my colleague at the University of Vienna and in the Institute of International Law. It was to tell me that the Minister Taaffe would receive me at eleven, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Kálnoky, at three. It is always wise to see the ministers of the countries that one visits; it opens the doors that we desire to Page 2enter, and the records that we ought to consult, and, in case of need, it will free us from prison, if any mistake has thrown us there.
The Prime Minister of Cisleithania lives in a sombre palace, in the Judenplatz, one of the dark and narrow streets of old Vienna. Large rooms, correct and bare, furniture solemn and simple, but pure eighteenth century: it is the dwelling of a family who must live by rule, to keep within its income. How different from the Ministries of Paris, where luxury is displayed in ultra-gilt wainscots, in painted ceilings, in large and splendid staircases, as, for instance, at the Finances and Foreign Affairs! I prefer the simplicity of the official buildings of Vienna and Berlin. The State ought not to set the example and fashion of prodigality.
Count Taaffe was going to an interview with the Emperor; nevertheless, he gave the best possible reception to the letter of introduction which I brought from one of his cousins, supported by that of my friend Neumann, who has been Professor of Public Law to his Excellency. I recall what follows of his conversation, and I find in it the explanation of his present policy.
"What is the best method of inducing several people to remain together in the same house? Is it not to leave them free to manage their household affairs as they will? Compel them to live, talk, and amuse themselves in the same way, and they will quarrel and only seek to be separated. How is it that the Italians of the Tessin never think of the union of their canton with Italy? Because they find themselves very happy in the Swiss Confederation. Do you remember the Austrian motto, Viribus unitis. True union will spring from general satisfaction. The way to satisfy all, is to sacrifice the rights of none."
I answered: "You are quite right; to make unity the growth of liberty and autonomy is to render it indestructible."
Count Taaffe has long inclined to Federalist ideas. When in the Taaffe-Potoçki Ministry in 1869, he sketched a complete Page 3plan of reforms which was intended to increase the powers of provincial autonomies,I have given a sketch of it in my book, "La Prusse et l'Autriche depuis Sadowa," vol. ii. p. 265. and in the articles that I published in 1868-69 I tried to show that this is the best solution of the problem. Count Taaffe is still young; he was born February 24, 1833. He is descended from an Irish family, and is a peer of Ireland, with the title of Viscount Taaffe of Couvren, Baron of Ballymote. But his ancestors were banished and lost their Irish property because of their attachment to the Stuarts. They then entered the service of the Dukes of Lorraine, and one of them distinguished himself at the siege of Vienna, in 1683.
The present minister, Count Edward, was born at Prague. His father was President of the Supreme Court of Justice. For himself, he began his career in the administration in Hungary, under Baron Bach. The latter, seeing his abilities and industry, procured him rapid advancement; Taaffe became successively Vice-Governor of Bohemia, Governor of Saltzburg, and finally Governor of Upper Austria. Called in 1867 to the Ministry of the Interior, he signed the famous Act of the 21st of December, which constituted the existing dualism.
After the fall of the Ministry, he was made Governor of the Tyrol, which he administered for seven years to the general satisfaction. Returned to power, he again took the portfolio of the Interior, to which is added the Presidency of the Council, and he is recommencing his Federalist policy with more success than in 1869. At Vienna people are astonished and alarmed at the concessions with which he loads the Czechs. They say this is intended to gain their vote in favour of the revision of the law of primary education in the reactionary and clerical sense; they forget that he has been pledged to Federalist ideas for more than sixteen years. What is really more astonishing is the contradiction between the home and foreign policies of the Austrian Government. At home, the Slav movement is evidently favoured. Thus in Galicia and Bohemia everything is granted them,Page 4except the re-establishment of the kingdom of St. Wenceslas, for which, however, the way is being prepared. On the contrary, outside, and especially beyond the Danube, they resist the Slav movement, and attempt to repress it, at the risk of increasing to an alarming extent the popularity and influence of Russia. This contradiction is thus explained. The common Ministry of the empire is quite independent of the Ministry of Cisleithania. The general Ministry, presided over by the Chancellor, is composed of only three Ministers—Foreign Affairs, Finance, and War; it alone has the right to interfere in foreign affairs, and the Hungarians predominate there.
The residence and chief estate of Count Taaffe is at Ellishan, in Bohemia. An officer of the order of Malta, he has also the Golden Fleece, a very rare distinction. He is thus in every way a great personage. In 1860 he married the Countess Irma de Csaky de Keresztszegh, by whom he has one son and five daughters. He has thus one foot in Bohemia and the other in Hungary. No one denies his powers as an indefatigable worker and a skilful administrator; but at Vienna he is reproached with loving the aristocracy and the clergy too much; at Prague they would probably raise him a statue as high as the cathedral in the Hradshin, if he brought the Emperor there to be crowned.
At three o'clock I called on Count Kálnoky, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the Ballplatz. This, at least, is well situated, open to the sunshine, near the Imperial residence, and in sight of the Ring. Large, solemn, cold drawing-rooms; gilt chairs, white-and-gold wainscot, hangings and curtains of red silk; parquet floors shining like a mirror, and without carpet; on the wall large portraits of the Imperial Family.
Whilst waiting to be announced I think of Metternich, who resided here for so long. It was Austria who decided the fall of Napoleon; it is still she who holds in her hands the destinies of Europe. As she leans to the north, east, or west, so the balance inclines; and the director of Austria's Page 5foreign policy is the Minister I am about to see. I expected to find myself in the presence of a majestic person with white hair; I was pleasantly surprised to be received in the most affable manner by a man who seems not over forty, in morning dress of brown tweed, with a small pale blue neck-tie; he has an open expression, cordial face, and an eye sparkling with intelligence. All the Kálnokys, they say, are witty. He has the quiet, refined, simple look of an English lord, and he speaks French like a Parisian, as the Austrians of the higher classes often do. This arises, I imagine, from the fact that in speaking six or seven languages equally well, the special accents neutralize one another. English and Germans, even when they know French thoroughly, usually retain a foreign accent.
Count Kálnoky asked what were my plans for travelling. When he learned that I intended to follow the line of the railway which will connect Belgrade, through Sofia, with Constantinople, he said—
"This is just now our great anxiety. In the West we are believed to mean conquest, which is absurd. It would be impossible to satisfy the two great parties of the empire, and we have, besides, the greatest interest in the maintenance of peace. Nevertheless, we do dream of conquests, but of such as in your character of political economist you will approve. It is those to be made by our manufactures, our commerce, our civilization. But to realize them we must have railways in Servia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Macedonia, and, above all, a junction with the Ottoman system, which will definitely connect the East andWest. Engineers and diplomatists are both at work. We shall get to the end soon, I hope. When a Pullman car will take you comfortably from Paris to Constantinople in three days, I venture to believe that you will not be dissatisfied with our activity. It is for you Westerns that we are working."
It is said that diplomatists use words to' conceal their thoughts. I think, notwithstanding, that when the Austrian statesmen deny any idea of conquest or annexation in the East, they express the real intention of the Imperial Page 6Government. I had heard the same expressions from the former Chancellor, Baron Haymerlé, when I saw him in Rome, in 1879, and he wrote to me in a similar strain shortly before his death. Now, Haymerlé knew the East and the Balkan Peninsula better than any one, and he spoke all its languages perfectly. He had long lived there, first as Interpreter to the Austrian Embassy, then as Envoy. Still it is impossible not to foresee certain eventualities which would force Austria to take a step forward; such, for example, as a triumphant insurrection in Servia, or serious troubles in Macedonia, threatening the safety of the railway from Mitrovitza to Salonica. Austria, occupying Bosnia as far as Novi-Bazar, would not permit the Peninsula to be given over to anarchy or civil war. States which are mixed up with Eastern affairs must go further than they wish: look at England in Egypt! This is the grave side of the predominant position which Austria has secured in the Balkan Peninsula.
I will give some details about the present Chancellor. Count Gustave Kálnoky, of Körospatak, is of Hungarian origin, as his name indicates; but he was born at Lettowitz, in Moravia, on the 29th of December, 1832, and most of his property is in this province, amongst which are the estates of Prodlitz, Ottaslawitz, and Szabatta. He has several brothers and a very beautiful sister, who married first, Count Johan Waldstein, widower of a Zichy, and already sixty-two years of age, and then, a widow in her turn, the Duke of Sabran.
Chancellor Kálnoky has had a very extraordinary career. In 1879 he left the army with the rank of Colonel-Major, and entered diplomacy; he was appointed to Copenhagen, where he seemed to take a somewhat obscure part; but a short time afterwards he was appointed to St. Petersburg, the most important of all the diplomatic posts, and, on Haymerlé's death, he was made Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thus, in three years, from a distinguished and accomplished cavalry officer, without political influence, he became the first personage in the empire, the arbiter of its destiny, Page 7and consequently of that of Europe. Whence came this unheard-of advancement, which reminds one of the Grand Viziers in the "Thousand and one Nights"? It is generally ascribed to the friendship of Andrassy. But here is the real truth, though it is little known. Count Kálnoky uses the pen even more ably than the tongue; his despatches were finished models. The Emperor, an indefatigable and conscientious worker, personally studies his foreign policy, and reads the despatches of his ambassadors; he was much struck with those of Kálnoky, and marked him as deserving the highest office. At St. Petersburg Kálnoky charmed every one by his intelligence and amiability. Notwithstanding that Austrians are not trusted there, he even became a persona grata at Court. When the Emperor of Austria appointed him Chancellor, he made him also Major-General. It was thought at first that his connection with Russia would lead him to act in concert with her, perhaps also with France, and so to break the German alliance, but Kálnoky can never forget that he is a Hungarian, the friend of Andrassy, and that since 1866, Hungarian policy turns on the pivot of a cordial understanding with Berlin. The German papers began to doubt the fidelity of Austria. Public opinion was roused in Vienna, and especially at Pesth; but Kálnoky soon ended these reports by his journey to Gastein, where the Emperor William loaded him with marks of affection, and where, in the interview with Bismarck, all misunderstandings were dissipated. This young minister now holds a very strong position. He enjoys the absolute confidence of the Emperor, and also, it appears, that of the nation; for, in the last session of the delegates of Cis- and Trans-leithania, all parties cheered him, even the Czechs, who are now dominant in the Reichsrath. Count Kálnoky has remained unmarried, which, they say, disappoints the mothers and disturbs the husbands.
I spent the evening with the Salm-Lichtensteins. I had met the Altgräfin in Florence, and I was happy to make Page 8the acquaintance of her husband, who is a member of Parliament, and warmly interested in the Czecho-German question. He belongs to the Austrian Liberal party, and sharply blames the Taaffe policy and the alliance that the feudal party, and particularly almost all the members of his own and his wife's family (young Prince Lichtenstein, for example) have concluded with the ultra-Czech party.
"Their aim," he said, "is to obtain the same position for Bohemia as that enjoyed by Hungary. The Emperor should go to Prague to place on his head the crown of St. Wenceslas. Bohemia would again become autonomous. They would, like Hungary, be ruled by an autonomous Diet, and the empire, instead of a duality, would be a trinity. Except for general business, it would be three independent States, joined only in the person of the sovereign. It is the régime of the Middle Ages. It could stand when it was universal, but it can no longer last when around us are large unified States, like France, Russia, and Italy. I approve of Federation for a small neutral State like Switzerland, or for an isolated country comprising a whole continent like the United States; but I regard it as fatal for Austria, which, in the centre of Europe, is exposed to the quarrels and covetousness of all her neighbours.
"My good friends, the great noblemen, supported really by the clergy, hope that in an autonomous Bohemia, completely withdrawn from the action of the Liberals of the central Parliament, they would be the absolute masters, and they would be able to re-establish the old order of things. I think that they are quite mistaken. When the Nationalist Czechs have gained their end, they will turn against their present allies. At the bottom they are all democrats of differing shades, from pale rose to brightest scarlet, but all oppose the domination of the aristocracy and the clergy, and they will then join with the Germans of our towns, who are almost all Liberals. Even the Germans who live in the country will follow them. The aristocracy and the clergy will be inevitably defeated. In case of need, the ultra-Czechs Page 9will appeal to the remembrance of John Huss and Zisca.
"How strange is this! most of the great families who have put themselves at the head of the national movement are of German origin, and do not speak the language which they wish to have used officially. The Hapsburgs, our capital, our civilization, the initial and persistent force which has created Austria, all are Germanic, are they not? In Hungary, German, the language of our Emperor, is proscribed; it is proscribed also in Galicia; proscribed in Croatia, proscribed also ere long in Carinthia, in Carniola, in Bohemia. The present policy is dangerous in all ways. It deeply wounds the German element, which represents enlightenment, trade, money, all the modern powers. If it triumphs in Bohemia it will hand over the clergy and the aristocracy to the democratic Czechs and Hussites."
"All that you say," I answered, "is strictly logical; I can only raise this objection. It sometimes happens in human affairs that certain irresistible currents set in. They are recognized by the fact that nothing stops them, everything serves their turn. Such is the movement of nationalities. Think of their wonderful re-awakening. It might be called the resurrection of the dead. Buried in darkness, they are rising again in light and glory. What was the German language in the eighteenth century, when Frederick II. boasted of his ignorance of it, and prided himself on writing French as well as Voltaire? Certainly, it was Luther's language, but it was not that of the cultivated and refined classes. Let us go back in thought for forty years, what was Hungarian? The despised dialect of the pastors of the Puzta. German was the language of good society, and of the administration, and in the Diet, Latin was spoken. Magyar is to-day the language of Parliament, the press, the theatre, science, of the Academies, the University, of poetry and romance. Henceforth, as the official language, it is imposed, they say, even on peoples of another race, who do not wish for it, as in Croatia and Transylvania. Czech is in a fair way to take the Page 10same position in Bohemia that Magyar does in Hungary. It is the same in the Croatian provinces. The Croat tongue, not long since merely a popular patois, has now its University at Agram, its poets, philosophers, press, and theatres. Servian, which is only Croat written in Oriental letters, has also become, in Servia, the official, literary, parliamentary, and scientific language, just like its elder brothers, German and French. It is the same with Bulgarian in Bulgaria and Roumelia, with Finnish in Finland, with Roumain in Roumania, with Polish in Galicia, and probably soon also with Flemish in Flanders.
"As always, the literary awakening precedes political claims. In a Constitutional Government, the Nationalist party must finally triumph, because the other parties vie with one another in granting them the greatest number of concessions and advantages, in order to obtain the support of their votes; this is the case with Ireland.
"But," answered the Altgraf, " in Bohemia, we Germans are the minority, and the Czechs will pitilessly crush us."
On the following day I went to see M. de N., an influential member of parliament, belonging to the Conservative party. He seemed to me still more distressed than Altgraf Salm.
"I," he said, "am an Austrian of the old block, a pure black and yellow, what in your strange Liberal tongue you call a reactionary. My attachment to the Imperial family is absolute, because it is the common Page 11centre of all parts of the empire. I am attached to Count Taaffe, because he represents the Conservative party, but I deplore his Federalist policy, which is leading to the disintegration of Austria. Yes, I am so audacious as to believe that Metternich was not a downright blockhead. Our good friends the Italians reproach him with having said that Italy was only a geographical expression, but our empire, which he made so powerful and so happy, will no longer remain so if it is constantly broken up into fragments, smaller and smaller every day. It will no more be a State, but a kaleidoscope, a collection of dissolving views. You remember this verse of Dante—
"Certainly," I said; "at a certain level of culture the important point is agreement of sentiment, not conformity of language. But language is the medium of intellectual culture. The motto of one of our Flemish societies expresses that strongly—De taal is gansch het volk ('The language makes the nation'). In my opinion, justice and virtue are the essential things; but without a language, without literature, the progress of civilization is impossible."
I note a curious fact which shows how far this race Page 12animosity is carried. The Czechs of Vienna, who are said to number 30,000, asked for a subsidy to found a school in which the teaching language should be Czech. The Rector of the University of Vienna supported the request in the Provincial Council. The students of the Czech University of Prague sent him an address of gratitude, but in what language? In Czech? No—the rector does not understand it. In German? Never—it is the language of the oppressor! In French, because it is a foreign tongue and therefore neutral. The very justifiable attitude of the rector roused so much indignation amongst his colleagues that he was compelled to resign.
I was very glad to meet Baron Kállay, because he is one of the most distinguished statesmen of the empire. He is of pure Magyar blood, descended from one of the companions of Arpad, who entered Hungary at the close of the ninth century. They are a family of good administrators, for they have known how to keep their fortune—valuable antecedent for a Minister of Finance! Still young, Kállay shows himself eager to learn everything. He works like a privat-docent and knows the Slav and Oriental languages. He has translated John Stuart Mill's "Liberty" into Magyar, and is a very distinguished member of the Hungarian Academy.
Having failed to be elected Deputy in 1866, he was made Consul at Belgrade, where he stayed eight years. The time he spent there was not lost to learning, for he collected materials for a history of Servia. In 1874 he was appointed Deputy to the Hungarian Diet, and took his seat with the Conservative party, which has become the present moderate Left. He started a journal, the Kelet Népi ("The People of the East "), where he traced the part that Hungary ought to play in Eastern Europe. Then came the Turco-Russian war (1876), followed by the occupation of Bosnia. The Magyars showed the warmest sympathy with the Turks, and the Opposition attacked the occupation with the greatest violence. The Hungarians were passionately opposed to it, because they saw in it an increase in Page 13the number of the Slavs. The Government party itself dared not openly support Andrassy's policy, so strongly did they feel its unpopularity. Then Kállay rose in the Chamber to speak in its defence. He showed how, in his opinion, it was madness to pronounce in favour of the Turks. He proved clearly that the occupation of Bosnia was necessary on account of geographical conditions, and even from a Hungarian point of view, for it separated, like a wedge, Servia from Montenegro, and thus prevented the formation of a great Jougo-Slav State, which would exert an irresistible attraction upon Croats of the same race and language. At the same time, he explained his favourite idea, and spoke of the commercial and civilizing mission of Hungary in the East. This position, taken by a man who thoroughly understood the Balkan Peninsula and all the questions growing out of it, keenly irritated his party, which remained Turkophile for some time longer, but it made a deep impression in Hungary, and modified the current of opinion.
Count Andrassy designated him as Austrian representative in the Bulgarian Commission. Returning to Vienna, Kállay was made Chief of the Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and brought out his "History of Servia" in Hungarian; it was translated into German and Servian, and acknowledged, even at Belgrade, as the best in existence. He also published an important pamphlet in German and Hungarian upon the aspirations of Russia in the East, during the last three centuries; he became Secretary of State under Chancellor Haymerlé, and his power increased rapidly.
So long as Count Szlávy, knowing little of the Trans-Danubian countries, was Minister of the Finances of the empire, and, as such, supreme administrator of Bosnia, the occupation gave unsatisfactory results. Great expenses, taxes badly collected, the money, it was said, sticking to the fingers of the officials, as in the time of the Turks. In consequence of the deficit and of the discontent of the two Trans- and Cis-leithanian parliaments, Count Szlávy gave Page 14in his resignation. The Emperor held closely to Bosnia, in which he was not wrong. It was his own idea, his special possession. During his reign, Lombard-Venetia was lost and his empire diminished. Bosnia made compensation, and with this great advantage that it might be assimilated to Croatia, and thus consolidated into the State, which, for the Italian provinces, would have been forever impossible. The Emperor then sought the man who was needed to put the affairs of Bosnia on the right track. Baron Kállay was pointed out, and he replaced Szlávy. He went immediately to the occupied provinces, whose languages he could speak fluently. He conversed personally with all—Catholics, Orthodox, and Mohammedans. He re-assured the Turkish proprietors, inspired the peasants with patience, reformed abuses, drove the robbers from the temple, reduced the expenses, and, consequently, the deficit. Enormous work! to clean the Augean stables of an Ottoman province.
He has acted with infinite tact and diplomacy, but with pitiless firmness. To make a watch go well there is nothing like a perfect knowledge of the works. Recently, he was warned of a cloud on the side of Montenegro. A new insurrection was feared. He set off there at once; but not to rouse suspicion he took his wife. She is as intelligent as she is beautiful, and as brave as intelligent, the quality of her race—a Countess Bethlen; she is descended from the hero of Transylvania, Bethlen Gabor. Their journey through Bosnia was an idyll and a triumph; but whilst going from ovation to ovation, they trampled out the flame that was going to set the powder on fire. Since then, it is said, that everything there goes on better and better. At any rate, the deficit has disappeared, the Emperor is delighted, and every one says that, if he can retain Bosnia, he owes it to Kállay, and that a distinguished part is reserved for him in the future guidance of the empire.
He has dreamed of a great destiny for Hungary, but he is no Jingo. He is prudent, reflective, and acquainted with the pitfalls on the way. He has not been over the Page 15great roads of the East for nothing. I went to call on him at his offices, situated on the second floor in a small street behind Hôtel Münsch. The entrance is by a narrow, dark, wooden staircase. Whilst going up I thought of the magnificence of the palace of the railway company, and I liked this the best.
I was astonished to find Baron Kállay so young; he is only forty-five. The empire was formerly governed by old men; it is now in the hands of young ones; it is this which gives it the mark of energy and decision. Hungarians hold the reins, and there still flows in their veins the ardour of primitive races and the decision of the knight. I seemed to breathe throughout Austria the air of renewal. It is like the buds of spring crowning a venerable trunk.
Kállay spoke first of the zadrugas, which I was going to see again, and to which he has given great attention. "Since you published your book on primitive property, which," he said, "was quite correct when it appeared, many changes have occurred. The patriarchal family, fixed upon the collective and inalienable domain, is rapidly disappearing. I regret it, like you. But what can be done?" He advised me to visit Bosnia. "We are reproached," he said, "with not having settled the agrarian question. But events in Ireland prove how difficult it is to settle problems of this kind. In Bosnia we have the further complication of a conflict between Mussulman law and our Western legislation. It is only by going to the places and studying the situation close to, that it is possible to understand the difficulties which stop you at every step. Thus, in virtue of the Turkish law, the State owns all the forests, and I guard this right vigilantly, and hope I may be able to preserve them. But, on the other hand, the villagers claim, according to Slav custom, the right of using the forests of the Crown. If they only took the wood they need, it would do no harm, but they cut down the trees without any discrimination; then come the goats which eat the young shoots, and thus hinder any renewal. These mischievous animals are the scourge of the country. Page 16Wherever they come we find only brushwood. We are making a law for the preservation of the immense forests which are necessary in so mountainous a country, but how can we enforce it? It would require an army of guards and struggles constantly everywhere.
"The lack in this beautiful country so favoured by nature is a 'gentry' capable, like that of Hungary, of setting an example of agricultural progress. I will give you an instance. In my youth on our lands only a heavy wooden plough was employed, dating from Triptolemus. After 1848 the corvée was abolished, hand labour became dearer, and we had ourselves to till the ground. Then we sent for the best American iron ploughs, and they are now in use everywhere, even amongst the peasantry. Austria is called to a great mission in Bosnia, from which the whole of Europe will benefit, perhaps even more than ourselves. She must justify the occupation by civilizing the country."
"As for myself," I answered, " I have always defended, in opposition to my friends, the English Liberals, the necessity of annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina to Dalmatia, and I demonstrated it at a time when it was but little spoken of."La Prusse et l'Autriche depuis Sadowa," vol. ii. c. 6. 1869. But the essential thing is to make railways and roads to connect the interior with the ports of the coast. The Serajevo-Mostar-Fort Opus line is of paramount importance."
"Certainly," answered Baron Kállay, "ma i danari, we cannot do everything in a day. We have just finished the Brod-Serajevo line; this enables you to go from Vienna to the centre of Bosnia by rail. I imagine you will not complain of that. It is one of the first benefits of the occupation, and its results will be enormous."
I spoke to Baron Kállay of a speech which he had just delivered to the Academy at Pesth. He there developed his favourite idea that Hungary has a great mission to perform. Eastern by the origin of the Magyars, Western by ideas and institutions, she should serve as the intermediary and link between East and West. This provokedPage 17a flood of attacks in the Slav and German papers against Magyar pride. "They imagine, these Hungarians, that their country is the centre of the whole world (Ungarischer Globus). Let them return to their steppes, these Asiatics, these Tartars, these cousins of the Turks!"
Amongst all these extravagances I noticed a few words in a book by Count Zay; he paints well this ardent patriotism of the Hungarians which is their honour and strength, but which, developing in them a spirit of domination, makes them detested by other races. Here is the quotation: "The Magyar loves his country and his nationality more than humanity, more than liberty, more than himself, more than God, more than his eternal salvation."
Kállay restrains these exaggerations of Chauvinism. "They did not understand me," he said, "and they did not wish to understand me. I never intended to talk of politics in a literary and scientific society. I simply stated an indisputable fact. Placed at the meeting-point of a crowd of different races, and precisely because we speak a dialect, not Indo-Germanic, Asiatic if you like, we are obliged to know all the languages of Western Europe, and at the same time, by the mysterious influences of descent, the East is more easily accessible and comprehensible to us. I have noticed it often. I understand an Oriental writing better when I put it into Hungarian than when I read it in an English or German translation."
Although I did not come to study the present economic condition of affairs in Austria, I have received a very favourable impression about it. Without allowing myself to be dazzled by the splendour of Vienna, which I rather regret as a symptom of social centralization and concentration of wealth, I am convinced that agriculture and trade have made great progress. The external situation seems excellent. Austria is the pivot of European politics. Certainly Prince Bismarck leads the game with a high hand, but the Austrian alliance is his trump card.
Austria needs the help of Germany, but Germany has still greater need of Austria, because the newly constituted Page 18Empire of the Hohenzollern has a certain enemy in the West, and a possible one in the East. Backed by Austria, it is strong enough to look both ways at once; it will not then be attacked. But this is on condition that Austria remains faithful.
Internally, Austria is manifestly drifting towards a federal form of government, but far from regarding this, like the German-Austrians, as an evil and a danger, I am persuaded that it is an advantage both for the empire itself and for Europe.
The nationalities in Hungary, Bohemia, and Croatia have gained so much strength and life that it is no longer possible to destroy or to blend them. It is even impossible to compress them, at least without suppressing all liberty, all autonomy, and crushing them with an iron yoke. When the nationalities were like the " Sleeping Beauty," wrapped in lethargic trance, under Maria Theresa and Metternich, a kind and paternal government might have prepared the way insensibly for a more united rule. Now anything of that kind is no longer possible. Any attempt at centralization would meet with furious, desperate resistance, and it would have to be overcome by a despotism so pitiless, that the hatred it would excite would imperil even the existence of the empire. Thus liberty leads necessarily to Federalism.
It is also, theoretically, the best form of government. We meet with it at the outset amongst the free peoples of Greece and Germany, for example, and, at the present time, amongst the freest and most democratic nations, the United States and Switzerland. This form of government allows of the formation of an immense, and even indefinitely extensible State, by the union of forces—viribus unitis, as the Austrian motto expresses it—without sacrificing the special originality, the individual life, the local spontaneity of the provinces which compose the nation. Already the most enlightened minds in Spain particularly, in Italy, even in France, and recently in England, are asking that a large share of the prerogatives of the central power shall be restored to the provinces.
Page 19What great and noble examples have the United Provinces of the Low Country given to the world! What commercial development! How happy the condition of the citizens! What a part have they played in history, out of all proportion to the number of their inhabitants or the extent of their territory! What a terrible contrast between federalized Spain before Charles V. and the centralized Spain of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries!
For defence federalized Austria would lose nothing of her power so long as the whole army shall be under the control of the head of the State. But the Government would be less ready to rush into a policy of aggression, because it would have to consider the tendencies of the different nationalities who would have various and sometimes opposing views on external questions. The progress of Federalism in Austria would thus result in increasing the guarantees of peace.
The monetary system in Austria is very little improved. The circulating medium is notes depreciated 20 per cent., with absurdly small ones even for change. I wished to discuss this important subject with M. Sueiss, the learned Professor of Geology in the Vienna University, who has written a very remarkable book upon the future of gold, "Die Zukunft des Goldes." To my great regret I learned that he was absent.
I explained to an Austrian financier that it depends on his country to put an end to the monetary contraction which is leading everywhere to a fall in prices, and thus rendering the economic crisis more severe, also affecting the monetary standard in Austria, which is silver. What would be necessary to restore to this metal its former value 60⅞d. the English ounce, or 200 francs the kilog.—at 9-l0ths fine? It would be enough if the mints of the United States, France, and Germany would grant free coinage to the two precious metals at the legal ratio of 1 to 15½. America, France, Spain, Italy, and Holland are ready to sign a monetary convention on this basis if Germany will consent to follow it. Everything, then, Page 20depends on the resolution of the German Chancellor. If Austria, by means of some concessions of customs and by herself entering the bi-metallist union, can lead Prince Bismarck into this path, she will reap incalculable benefit from it. In providing herself with silver she could easily substitute a metallic currency for her fiduciary and depreciated one. She would no longer have to pay the considerable and increasing premium upon gold which she must find for the interest of the stipulated loan in gold. With silver restored to its former value, she could procure gold without any loss. She would thus accomplish, without paying a farthing, the reconstitution of her circulation, which Italy has only obtained at a great cost.