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The Edinburgh Review


No. 459


HE death of Francis Joseph enables us to regard Austria

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prejudice. Not even the sentimentalists who felt, or affected, special tenderness for the poor old Emperor' can now extend their favour to his great-nephew. The Emperor Charles, in his thirtieth year, is too old to make any appeal to sentiment on account of his youth, and too young to command reverence by reason of his age. We are therefore able to face the AustroHungarian problem on its merits.

It would be idle to pretend that in all the Allied countries opinion is unanimous in demanding the dismemberment of the Hapsburg Dominions. Old sayings like Palacky's, * If Austria had not existed it would have been necessary

to invent her,' and even epithets like 'Austria, the lumber'room of Europe,' have left an impression of the 'necessity' or the usefulness' of Austria that cannot easily be effaced. Besides, certain very definite interests and political conceptions are bound up with her maintenance. Some, though by no means all, Roman Catholic circles in Allied countries hold that the disappearance of a great Catholic Monarchy would be a serious loss to the Roman Church, and that the Hapsburg Emperor ought to be preserved with as much as possible of his power and prestige lest Roman Catholicism be no longer represented by any sovereign of the first rank.

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VOL, 225.

NO. 459.


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To these.arguments, which are breathed and whispered rather than publicly proclaimed, there is added the specious but, in the eyes of the unreasoning, plausible plea that the destruction of Austria-Hungary would strengthen Germany by leaving a block of nine or ten million Austrian Germans to be included in the German Empire, whereas the preservation of the Hapsburgs and their realms would operate as a check upon the power of the Hohenzollerns.

Side by side with notions and propaganda of this kindwhich should preferably be called Clerical' rather than 'Catholic,' inasmuch as they take into account the supposedly political interests of the Roman Church-runs an apparently different order of ideas that tends towards the same conclusion—the saving of Austria. These ideas are even less frankly expressed than those of the ‘ Clericals.' They suggest, indeed, that Austria should be saved’ lest Germany be strengthened, but the source of their inspiration must be sought chiefly in cosmopolitan financial quarters in Austria-Hungary and in their counterparts among the Allies. Their authors realise that the destruction of the Hapsburg Monarchy would strike the power of Prussia-Germany a deadly blow : (1) by removing from German control some 42,000,000 of the 51,000,000 Hapsburg subjects of whom Germany now disposes; and (2) by cutting in twain the vast German-Jewish financial organisation that controls the economic affairs of Central Europe and extends through Austria to the Balkans and to the East. In this organisation nearly all the German-Jewish financiers and financial houses of Europe, if not of the world, are, directly or indirectly, interested. The influence of which they dispose is being used on both sides of the Atlantic to save Germany. It was really, though not avowedly, on their behalf that the German-Jewish financier of New York, Jacob Schiff, strove, and is still striving, to promote a movement for immediate peace. There are signs that they, too, inspired the American 'peace' motion simultaneously brought forward by the official' Socialists in the Italian Chamber. If the war could be stopped, there might be some chance of preventing the relaxation of the German economic and financial grip upon the world and of retaining the lands of the Hapsburg Crown as a German fief. Hence the curious parallelism recently noticeable between the efforts of the Clerical and those of non-Clerical peacemongers—a parallelism that may seem at first sight fortuitous, a consequence of similarity of method, despite fundamental diversity of ultimate aim. But it is not fortuitous. Careful observation confirms the accuracy of information recently received from a competent neutral quarter to the effect that there is so close an understanding between the various pro-Austrian and therefore pro-German influences now at work in Allied and neutral countries as to constitute a real alliance.

If every supporter, or professed supporter, of the Allied Cause could be asked the question, ‘Do you desire the dis'memberment of Austria as a means to the thorough defeat ' of Germany?' the issue might be clarified. Those who should qualify their eagerness to see ‘Prussian Militarism' defeated by making reservations in favour of 'saving the Hapsburg dominions, would reveal either their half-heartedness or their ignorance of the true terms of the problem which the Allies have set themselves to solve. This problem is nothing less than the political reorganisation of Europe. There can be no 'adequate security for the future without it. Mr. Asquith, Viscount Grey, Mr. Lloyd George and others have called it the destruction of the power of Prussian Militarism.' That, doubtless, broadly stated, is the end. Who wills the end should will the means, for there are no other means of destroying the power of Prussian Militarism than to deprive it of the instruments and weapons that have made it strong. A glance at the political history of Prussian Militarism in its relation to the Hapsburgs during the last half century, that is, since it again became formidable in Europe, reveals the force of this contention. The late Emperor Francis Joseph, and through him Austria, was at once its victim and its instrument.

The first definite stage in the discomfiture of Francis Joseph and his conversion into an instrument of Prussianism was marked by the Frankfurt Congress of Princes in 1863. Bismarck has recorded the struggle that ended in the abstention of the Prussian Sovereign from the Congress and in the consequent defeat of Francis Joseph's plans. The Austro-Prussian War against Denmark in the following year, leading up to the war of 1866 between Prussia and Austria, were the next and, as the event proved, the decisive stages in the process. Before being defeated in the field at Sadowa, Francis Joseph had been decisively worsted in the diplomatic contest.

Two elements entered into the military downfall of Austria. The first was Francis Joseph's inability to perceive that Italian unity could not be prevented and that the timely cession of Venetia might have secured for him the neutrality, if not the alliance, of Italy in the inevitable trial of strength with Prussia. By hardening his heart against the Italians and allowing the Bismarckian intrigues with the Italian Radicals, or “ Party of Action,' to ripen into a Prusso-Italian Alliance, he exposed himself to a war on two fronts and was compelled to employ, in gaining a barren victory over Italy, the forces which would have given him a decisive triumph over Prussia. A Prussian defeat at Sadowa would have meant the overthrow of Bismarck and Moltke, the triumph of the Prussian Liberals in the Diet, and the frustration of the schemes which were to lead to the discomfiture of France and the establishment of a German Empire under Prussian control in 1870–71. The other element was Russian resentment of Austrian ingratitude during the Crimean War. Francis Joseph has been called ' mean.' The reproach is well deserved, if it be applied to his statecraft. A generous soul would have welcomed in 1853-54 the opportunity to render a service to Russia in return for the service she had rendered the Hapsburg Dynasty in 1849. But Francis Joseph was in this respect typically Austrian. Moral values had no place in his reckonings.


Therefore, when, in 1869, the Archduke Albert-who had culled at Custozza the victory prepared by Benedek and had displayed his 'gratitude' by a betrayal of Benedek more heinous than any recorded in recent history—negotiated with the French and the Italians a league against Prussia, Francis Joseph saw the league collapse under a Russian veto. Doubtless he hoped, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, that French resistance might enable him to intervene profitably in the contest, or, at least, so to shift the yoke which Bismarck had contrived to place upon his neck at home as to acquire a certain freedom of movement. In Prussian eyes the essence of the Dual Settlement, or Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, that followed Sadowa, was that it made the German minority, supreme in Austria and the Magyar minority supreme in Hungary, and rendered each of these minorities jointly and severally dependent upon Prussian support. Whether Francis Joseph understood in 1867 how deftly he had been caught in the Prussian toils is a matter

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