Page images

annexed to her empire; but she threw it away. Her flag was rarely seen in waters on which once floated the commercial navies of Europe. She acquiesced in the closing of the Scheldt So far was she then from desiring maritime importance, that she shut up one of the great highways of nations, and turned a river which had presented for centuries one of the most animated and imposing spectacles the world ever beheld into a commercial wilderness and an almost undisturbed haunt of sea birds.*

The province of Dalmatia is one of the most attractive of those belonging to Austria. There are to be seen the remains of Roman greatness on a scale of almost unrivalled magnificence; upon its picturesque cities Venice impressed the marks of her peculiar civilisation, and from its ports she drew many of those hardy sailors who gave her the dominion of the sea. One-fifth of the people of Dalmatia dwell on the islands which stud the coast, and the population of the province, owing to the extreme narrowness of its territory, is to a great extent maritime.t The myrtle perpetually perfumes the air; the vine, the fig, and the date vie in productiveness with the olive; and the rich and varied flora of the islands has suggested their resemblance to extensive gardens adorned with the most beautiful exotics. The agriculture of the province is however in the most barbarous state, and the implements of husbandry are as rude as those of Turkey. Silk and hemp might be produced in abundance, but nothing struck Sir Gardner Wilkinson more during his tour through this beautiful province than the almost total neglect of its great and various capabilities. In his most interesting work on Dalmatia he states that although numberless streams might be rendered available as water-power, there was scarcely a mill in the country, and that wheat was sent to be ground in Herzegovina.^ Iron is still imported from Turkey, although it abounds in the country.

The great centre of the Austrian maritime trade is Trieste. It is the port for a very large portion of Southern Germany, the Banat, and portions of the Slavonian provinces; in fact, for the whole of that portion of the Austrian empire which lies between the Tyrol and Transylvania. Among its chief exports are ores from the mines of Tstria and Hungary, and linen, woollen, and tobacco from various parts of the Austrian dominions. The imports include almost every production of the globe. The

* See 'Quarterly Peview,' No. 224, p. 384.

t There arc 37 dockyards, private and public, of various degrees of importance, on the Austrian coast of the Adriatic. | 'Dalmatia and Montenegro,' by Sir Gardner Wilkinson. Vol. I, p. 221.

quays quays are often redolent of Eastern spices, and the merchandise of all countries is piled on its extensive wharfs. Merchants from every quarter of the world congregate on its exchange, and almost every known tongue may he heard within its walls. At the commencement of the eighteenth century Trieste contained only 6000 inhabitants, but, having heen made a free port by the Emperor Charles VI., its growth has since been rapid, and its population now falls little short of 100,000. Few modern continental cities can vie in beauty and solidity of architecture with Trieste. The mercantile community exhibits all the indications of high prosperity. Massive columns of polished granite, rising tier over tier even to the fifth story, adorn the staircases of many private residences, and the green slopes of the neighbouring country are covered with tasteful villas. The whole aspect of this prosperous city, seated on the margin of the blue Adriatic, with its fine roadstead and grand and imposing quays, is calculated to convey a high idea of the commercial importance of a country of which it is the principal port. It has doubtless a great future; and, looking to its position, it would be difficult to imagine a limit to its prosperity.*

The Austrian imperial naval force in the Adriatic is respectable. Pola, its principal station, notwithstanding its ancient grandeur, is a modern creation: from a poor and long-neglected seaport it has become a fortress of great importance, strongly defended with works bristling with heavy cannon, and protecting one of the best harbours in the Adriatic. The position of Pola at the extremity of the Istrian peninsula is a commanding one, and the power possessing it must exercise a predominant influence in the Gulf of Venice.f

It is obviously for the interest of Europe that Austria should he strong, and therefore that Hungary should accept the new institutions of the empire, which have been framed to embrace all its races, ranks, and interests, and to bring them into harmonious combination in one grand system of national representation. A permanent political separation between Hungary and Austria would be ruinous to both. If, once said an illustrious

* The Austrian mercantile marine consisted in 1860 of 9803 vessels of all descriptions, including fishing-smacks; 2700 were coasting vessels, 571 ships for long voyages, and 59 were steamboats. The number of men employed was 34,717.

t The Austrian navy consists of 1 ninety-gun ship, 4 sailing-frigates mounting 1*8 guns, 3 screw-frigates mounting 95 guns, 3 sailing-corvettes, 2 screw-corvettes, 4 brigs, 12 paddle-steamers, 16 steam gun-boats, 3 screw-schooners, 1 floatingbattery, 3 galleys, 48 ordinary gun-boats: the whole mounting 725 guns, and with crews numbering 6,398 men. There are besides in the Venetian waters 2 paddlesteamers, 3 steam gun-boats, 6 ordinary gun-boats, and a few smaller armed vessels. The whole imperial navy consisting of 135 vessels of all sizes and denominations, mounting 839 guns, with a total of 7,846 men.

Austrian Austrian statesman, we should lose Moravia or Galicia, or even Bohemia, we should lose a limb, but it would not affect our vitality; but the severance of Hungary from the empire would be a sawing asunder at the waist. Hungary, surrounded by jealous and possibly hostile neighbours, would be impeded in its progress to future opulence, instead of participating in the advancing prosperity of an empire of which it forms so conspicuous a part The Magyars, although predominant in Hungary, are not so numerous as the other races combined, and they have no right to dictate the terms on which those races shall enter the great constitutional temple the doors of which are now open to receive them. Nor are they, with all their noble qualities, the people to develop the material resources of the magnificent country in which it was their good fortune to establish themselves. There cannot be a greater delusion, says an intelligent traveller,* than to associate the Magyar element in Hungary with civilisation. The noble palatial residences which adorn Pesth and other principal towns in Hungary are the work of German architects, for a Magyar village very much resembles a collection of yourts in Central Asia. Hungary may still have a few reasonable complaints against Austria, but the increased taxation to which it has been subjected, although difficult to be borne by a people which had previously scarcely felt the weight of public burthens, has been in a great degree caused by its own unfortunate revolt. If Hungary should ever succeed in obtaining legislative independence, it is more than doubtful whether this would contribute to its prosperity, importance, or dignity. Ireland never reaped anything but contempt from the corruption and discord of her separate Parliament. It is admitted that Scotland has gained much in every way by its union with England. No race was ever prouder of its nationality than the Welsh, but that nationality survives only in history and romance. The spirit which inspired the Hungarian people in their struggle with Austria was doubtless in some degree a patriotic one; but it is well known that the country was not unanimous, and that no inconsiderable minority sided with and even took up arms for the Austrian Government; and whatever false glory may have been shed over the heroes of the revolutionary struggle of 1848, it is now well understood that it was rather a contest of republicanism and democracy against monarchy, than the general uprising of a people to cast off an intolerable yoke. Material interests will in the end prevail. Railways and telegraphs are the bands of iron that will unite all the provinces of the empire together. The pride of the

* Patou's 'Danube and the Adriatic'


Magyar must yield to the spirit of modern progress, and even the traditions of the past will be swept away by the great stream of prosperity which is already beginning to flow over the country, and which, on a slight change in the commercial policy of the empire, will gladden every household in the land.

Austria is die only great power which has adopted free institutions not in consequence of an irresistible pressure from without, but with the hope of restoring through them prosperity and dignity to a State reduced to a humiliating condition of financial penury and distress. Nor is freedom any stranger to the soil of Austria. Many of its provinces were kingdoms, and possessed charters when the great monarchies of Europe were pure and unmitigated despotisms; and it is especially remarkable that two countries so widely separated, and possessing such different national characteristics as England and Hungary, should have obtained their liberties almost exactly at the same time.* Hungary, Transylvania, and Bohemia possessed constitutions while other provinces were governed absolutely, although there existed even in these kingdoms corporate bodies endowed with extensive municipal privileges. The Diets were not representative assemblies, but privileged corporations to which many useful powers had been conceded at different times; but these powers neither gave them a direct share in the administration, nor made their consent necessary for the imposition of taxes. The reforming Emperor, Joseph II., discontinued the sittings of the provincial Diets, and administered the affairs of the provinces without their aid: a measure which, it is said, did not diminish his popularity. His successor Francis partially restored them, but allowed them the smallest possible influence in the government. More importance has since been given to these bodies by making them elective, and it is probable they will possess a higher degree of consideration in the future government of the empire than their history might lead us to expect.

The present constitution of the Austrian empire is adapted to satisfy the provinces by giving to them a very large amount of municipal independence. The popular branch of the legislature, or, as it may be termed, the Austrian House of Commons, is invested with almost all the powers that a representative assembly ought to possess in order to exercise a proper influence in a constitutional State, namely, the right of voting supplies; of curtailing, if necessary, the public estimates, together with a general superintendence over the finances of the empire. The power of the purse, the most important element of the British

• The one in 1215, the other in 1222.

constitution, constitution, and which practically places the executive in subordination to a representative assembly, has been apparently fully conceded in Austria. It is a power without which free institutions are a mockery, and a constitution only a name. The loyalty of the Emperor of Austria to the institutions which he has granted to his people presents a strong contrast to the reactionary policy into which the Prussian monarch has been recently unhappily misled. While everything in Austria inspires confidence in the future, and the people vie with each other in devotion to the throne (for even in Hungary all classes profess personal devotion to their King), in Prussia the open violation of the constitution has placed the Sovereign in a state of most dangerous antagonism to his subjects, and a crisis appears to be impending which must terminate either in the total subversion of freedom or in the profound humiliation of the Crown.

The House of Lords in the constitution of the Austrian Reichsrath will largely contribute to the strength and splendour of the State. Austria fortunately possessed the elements of this great institution in a perfection unknown in any other continental kingdom. Princes of the Imperial house, worthy from their character and attainments of taking a conspicuous part in the public deliberations; archbishops and bishops whose titles and order are honourably associated with the history of their country; the heads of noble families, many of them of great antiquity; and commoners, chosen for their eminent virtues and abilities, who have been made peers or councillors for life: these constitute together an assembly which, for independence, dignity, and intellect, will probably bear a comparison with any senate in Europe. The sixteen local Diets hold their annual sessions in the provinces; and, considering the multiplicity and complication of interests in a State constituted like Austria, this combination of a species of federalism with a constitutional imperialism pressing with its weight equally upon all, keeping all in their due relative positions and preventing the unjust predominance of one, cannot but eventually produce the happiest results.

The debates in the Reichsrath have hitherto been eminently practical. The members have shown no tendency to push the privileges conceded to it to an extreme, while temperately asserting and exercising the rights of freemen, and evincing a determination to make the Constitution a reality rather than a name. Nor is there any reason to doubt the determination of the Emperor to give full effect to the principles of government which he has espoused. To his character, as displayed in his latest acts and declarations, Austria may confidently look for


« PreviousContinue »