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any mention of the other changes and acquisitions which that eventful year had brought about. In the hereditary provinces, on the other hand, parliamentary government was to be entirely abolished, although, to save appearances, the provincial constitutions, as they were previous to 1848, were to be maintained. These constitutions, however, being based on a purely rank and class system of representation, were without influence in the State. Count Esterhazy thought to attain both of the above objects at one blow by suspending the Constitution of February. Credit for a certain amount of acuteness is due to him, for he endeavoured, by alluding to the necessity of constitutionalism, to cover what was really the purest absolutism with a thin varnish of imaginary liberty; and, strange to say, some few believed in this plausible subterfuge. In their one aim, the creation of an absolute head in the State, both Belcredi and Esterhazy fully concurred, with this difference, however, that the former wished to create a supreme absolute government by means of a Federal partition of the realm, while the latter hoped to attain his object by reviving the Dualism which had existed before
1848. The natural consequence of these concomitant aims was, that Belcredi and Esterhazy both resolutely opposed themselves to the creation of any sort of parliamentary representative power, either on this or the other side of the Leitha. Hence Esterhazy's refusal to accord to the Hungarians a separate Hungarian parliamentary ministry ; hence the persistent silence of Belcredi touching the “ legal representatives” to whose consideration and votes the compromise with
Hungary was, according to the September maniCount Bel- festo,* to be submitted.
In the elastic phrase which he employed concerning the “ legal representatives,” Belcredi imagined that he had found a counterpoise to the claims of Hungary, whose strength had already at that period greatly increased. If, in his estimation, the concessions which Esterhazy proposed to make to the Hungarians should be too sweeping, then these mythical “ legal representatives” would be transformed into a predominant Sclavonic Reichsrath, which might then be used for the purpose of giving a casting vote for the rejection of the proposed concessions. But if the concessions to Hungary should be made in the manner which Counts Belcredi and Esterhazy equally approved, then the seventeen Diets in Western Austria would give a tangible form to the “ legal representatives ;” and their votes would in that case simply be regarded as consultative, and recorded accordingly. The “inhibitory” policy, in a word, consisted of, first, the re-establishment in Hungary of the Constitution which existed before 1848; second, the suspension in Austria of the system of central representation, and an endeavour to patch up
See Note III.
the differences of the rival nationalities in the seventeen diets; and, third, the exclusion of
anything like parliamentary government, and the ultimate concentration of power in an absolute head. A greater political blunder can hardly be imagined than a policy of undermining the public confidence in legal rights by an arbitrary suspension of the Constitution, and then forcing the powerful German element into the ranks of the Opposition by an entire disregard of its importance. It was only natural that such a policy on the part of the Government should kindle amongst the various parties a spirit of the most determined resistance.
In Western Austria Count Belcredi's manoeuvres met with nothing but condemnation on the part of the whole liberal German population, as also from the national opposition, who soon perceived that
nothing was being done in Vienna for the fulfilThe Hunga- ment of their political dreams. In Hungary affairs
bore a still worse aspect, notwithstanding that the ministry were disposed to make all sorts of trifling concessions. Every attempt at negotiation with the leaders of the Hungarian party was fruitless, inasmuch as Deak, though willing to accept an arrangement of the minor claims of the Hungarians, yet never ceased to insist
upon blishment of a responsible Hungarian ministry. At that time the principles of the compromise afterwards made with Hungary by the recognition of the laws of 1848, were fully established. In this, again, the then Austrian ministry committed a great blunder, for by admitting, even in principle, the restitution of the laws of 1848, and the consequent autonomical existence of Hungary, the projected financial arrangement between Austria and Hungary was greatly prejudiced, as it was evident that the moment Hungary was independent
of Austria, she would demand as a right that which she would previously have accepted as a concession. Déak immediately foresaw this result, and said “that Hungary would meet the question of finance in an equitable spirit, and with due political consideration, but that she did not in the least regard it as a matter of obligation.” From this it will be seen how unjust it is to blame Count Beust exclusively for the financial arrangement which he long afterwards carried out with Hungary, and which was attended with such heavy sacrifices on the part of the western half of the empire. He expected only to be called upon to direct the affairs of the country abroad, whereas he also had to rectify the grave errors committed by his predecessors in office at home.
The hopes of the liberal German party in Western Austria were now concentrated in the new Minister. In political circles it was predicted that he would restore the Constitution on both sides of the Leitha, and make the German liberal element the political centre of Western Austria. This opinion was strengthened by the dismissal of Counts Esterhazy and Mensdorff. Men of experience felt that