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QUESTION OF THE NATIONALITIES.-THE ANGLO
AUSTRIAN COMMERCIAL TREATY.
The great work which the Imperial Chancellor had marked out as his special task, and to which he had devoted such untiring energy and zeal, was now accomplished. The compromise with Hungary had restored internal peace to the empire, forming the groundwork for its reconstruction, and the introduction of a responsible ministry was an additional guarantee for its
permanent development. There can be no doubt, also, that the corner-stone of the constitutional edifice was mainly cemented by that perfect intellectual freedom of which the German element was the chief representative and champion. On the other hand, it is equally true that Austria had with giant strides resumed her position among nations, and had thus rapidly again become a trustworthy and powerful ally to her friends and a dangerous foe to her enemies. Her present dualistic organization is not only perfectly new, but is also entirely foreign to her traditions of a thousand years back; nor has it a parallel in the history of other nations. This fact must never be lost sight of in criticising the political events which have since occurred in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Dualism was brought about under the guidance indeed of Count* Beust, but mainly by the force of circumstances which called into action powers essentially uncontrollable. It cannot be wondered at that the dualistic organization, which is without precedent or analogy, frequently gives rise to certain arbitrary assumptions of right, on this or the other side of the Leitha, such as are not to be met with in other countries, but for which great allowances must be made. Count Beust was the originator of the above system, which, though it apparently weakened the empire by its division, in reality strengthened it (a result which he foresaw); and with this achievement he conceived his task to be at an end for the present. He could not however, ignore, whilst exercising his great diplomatic skill as Minister of Foreign Affairs, that the responsible post of Chancellor of the Empire imposed upon him the duty of continuing to watch over the internal interests of the country. This was the more necessary because of Austria's extensive frontier, and the consequent complications, which are frequently inevitable, between the various nationalities composing the empire and the adjacent foreign States. Thus, the autonomy of Galicia, for instance—the government of the South Sclavonic races, and the political position of
* See Note IX.
, Hungary in regard to the Danubian Principalitiesare all determining elements which influence the relations between Austria and Russia. It must be admitted that the political traditions and sympathies of the German Provinces, and the civilising character of their intellectual life, must necessarily operate upon the position of the collective empire in its relations to the Northern and Western powers. In fact, so intimate is the connection between the internal and external policy of the empire, that its enemies have often turned its internal squabbles and disaffections to their own advantage. But for this, who shall
say that the campaigns of 1859 and 1866 might not have been attended with far different results, if indeed they would have ever taken place ?
The new Constitution specially enacted that the
Delegations” should watch carefully over the common weal of the State, meaning, of course, by this its external as well as its internal policy. Count Beust's position in the Government enforced upon him the necessity of acting up to this principle; and all parties agree that no one was more eminently qualified to carry it out. For the accomplishment of this task he possessed two great qualifications: the prestige of having re-established constitutionalism in both halves of the empire, and the merit of being absolutely devoid of prejudice, and of being perfectly free from the trammels of partisanship or political cliques. These qualities enabled him to look down from a statesmanlike eminence on passing events, and to form his opinions impartially and dispassionately. If, in the pursuance of his truly enlightened policy, he failed to conciliate all parties, this was because,
belonging to no party, he identified himself with
Hungarians. in Hungary from that in Cis-Leithania. In Hungary, constitutionalism, though in another form, had existed for centuries; and both its statesmen and politicians were therefore far more experienced in the conduct of public affairs than those of Western Austria. In the latter country, moreover, the working of the new constitutional régime was impeded by the almost unavoidably secessionist tendeucies of the nationalities in the Reichsrath, which constantly gave the policy of the State a tinge of provincialism. On the first occasion when the responsible ministers took their seats as such in the Reichsrath, their leader characterised the intimate relations between the Cabinet and the Chancellor in the following words, which were greeted with general applause :