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The speech from the throne, which was delivered on February 4 by the Emperor, was an impressive appeal to the members to render possible the continued maintenance of the Constitution (which he reminded them he had granted to the country of his own free will), by abandoning the fruitless struggle of each nationality for predominance over the others, and entering upon a course of economic and industrial reforms of which he sketched out the main features; and he added that his Government would at the same time do its utmost to effect a reconciliation between the nationalities. So soon as this was done, Article 14 of the Constitution, which allows legislation in exceptional cases without the concurrence of the Reichsrath, and the Parliamentary Standing Orders would have to be revised. The Emperor further referred to the satisfactory state of Austrian finance and of education among the people, and, while admitting that the language question required settlement, declared that the unity of language in certain departments of the Administration, where it was an old and well-tested institution, must be retained intact.
This speech was too moderate and impartial to please either the Germans or the Czechs, but on the whole it produced a good impression on the country, and tended to help the triumph of common sense over party passion. In the House, however, the attempts of the Government, the President, and the party leaders to induce the German and Czech Radicals to moderate their conduct seem to have only inflamed their mutual antagonism. For several weeks the violent scenes of previous sessions (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1899, p. 295, etc.) were repeated on such futile questions as to whether interpellations were to be read in the German or the Czech language, and especially on an interpellation of the Pan-Germanic party as to the confiscation of a pamphlet purporting to contain extracts from the "Theologia Moralis" of St. Alfonso de Liguori, in which there are passages relating to the questions to be asked at confession, that could only be discussed with closed doors. The object of this interpellation was to cast discredit on the Roman Catholic Church and to strengthen the agitation in favour of Protestantism, but after a stormy debate it was decided by the votes of all the members of the House, except the Pan-Germans, to erase the interpellation from the minutes.
While time was thus wasted in unseemly squabbles by the Radical Germans and Czechs, the Prime Minister began a series of negotiations with the leaders of the various parties, which ultimately brought about an understanding to the effect that the nationality strife should be suspended so as to allow the important measures proposed by the Government for the development of the prosperity of the country generally to be dealt with. The first fruit of this arrangement was that the Emperor went to Bohemia, where he had not been since 1891, and was received with exuberant loyalty both at Prague, which
1901.) Austria-Hungary.—Germans and Czechs. [289 is predominantly Czechish, and at Leitmeritz, which is predominantly German. In the Reichsrath, though there was still a good deal of violent and ineffective talk by members of the extreme parties, much solid work was done, the House sitting both by day and by night to get through the arrears of legislation. The most important measures carried during the session were a bill for extending and amalgamating the railways, and one for constructing canals in the territories watered by the Moldau, the Elbe, and the Danube. These canals were to be begun in 1904, and completed in twenty years, and the funds were to be raised by a loan bearing interest at 4 per cent. and redeemable in ninety years.
In April some sensation was caused by the news that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, the heir presumptive to the Imperial Crown, had become patron of the Association for Promoting Catholic Denominational Education, and had, in a speech to a deputation from the association, condemned the movement for emancipation from Rome (“Los von Rom " see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1898, p. 265), which, he said, at the same time aimed at emancipation from Austria.
This was regarded by the members of the Pan-German party, under whose auspices the movement was carried on, as an unwarrantable interference by a member of the Imperial family in party politics, and an interpellation was accordingly addressed to the Prime Minister in the Reichsrath on the subject. Dr. Korber replied that the Government had no knowledge of the Archduke's intention to state his views in the matter, and that his speech must therefore be regarded as an expression of his personal opinion, for which the Government could not be held constitutionally responsible.
When the Reichsrath met again in October the feud between the Germans and the Czechs, which had been suspended in the spring in order to enable the Railways and Canals Bills to be passed, broke out with as much bitterness as ever, and the Prime Minister found it necessary to warn the House that if it persisted in wrangling instead of doing the business of the country it might be necessary to suspend the Constitution. This warning was so far effectual that the Reichsrath passed a provisional Budget for a period of three months before separating for the Christmas holidays, but both the Germans and the Czechs were so obstinate in their refusal to accept a compromise on the language question that there was very little prospect of the House coming to any practical conclusion with regard to the important question of the arrangement with Hungary (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1897, p. 29), which was to come forward for settlement early in the following year.
In Hungary a conflict occurred in April between the Ultramontane Bishop of Klausenburg, Count Mailath, and the Piarist fathers on account of an order given by the former that Jesuit priests should be admitted to the Piarist College at Klausenburg,
for the purpose of holding spiritual exercises with the pupils. Since the expulsion of the Jesuits from Hungary by the Emperor Joseph II., the various religious orders which are also teaching orders, such as the Piarists, the Benedictines, the Premonstratensians and the Cistercians, have always been distin-, guished not only for their learning, but for their patriotism and tolerance of other creeds, and in places where there are no Protestant colleges Protestant parents have not hesitated to send their children to the colleges of the religious orders. All these orders, however, have opposed the introduction of Jesuits into their teaching establishments, and the director of the Piarist College at Klausenburg accordingly informed the bishop that he would not allow the Jesuits, who had played such a mischievous part in the history of the country, to enter the college. His letter was signed by all the professors as evidence of their concurrence with his views, and the bishop was obliged to withdraw his order.
Great abuses having arisen from the circumstance that many of the most prominent of the members of the Hungarian Parliament were engaged in commercial and industrial pursuits and held large contracts from the Government, the Ministry introduced a measure known as the Incompatibility Bill, with the object of declaring what occupations or other circumstances are incompatible with a seat in the Lower House. An act for this purpose was passed in 1875 in consequence of abuses disclosed during the financial crisis of 1873, but recent experience had shown that this act did not go far enough. The new bill was chiefly aimed at persons connected with business establishments which had dealings with the State ; and after some opposition from a section of the Liberal party, including the ex-Premier, M. Koloman Tisza, it was adopted by a large majority. The eminent jurist and ex-Minister of Justice, M. Szilagyi, one of the foremost champions of Hungarian constitutionalism and religious freedom and a great friend of England, made his last speech on this occasion in defence of the proposed law. He died on July 31 and received a public funeral, his remains being buried close to those of his old leader and friend, Francis Deak. Shortly after there was a general election in Hungary, the chief features of which were an addition to the numbers of the party of Independence and the defeat of the veteran Liberal leader, Koloman Tisza. The latter had incurred the bitter hostility of the Clericals by his uncompromising opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, an attitude in which the younger and most numerous members of the Liberal party, as represented by the Prime Minister, M. Szell, refused to follow him.
In foreign affairs Austria-Hungary, thanks to the skill of the Foreign Minister, Count Goluchowski, maintained her position as a first-class Power notwithstanding her internal dissensions, though her influence in the Balkan Peninsula was to a great
[291 extent superseded, especially in the Slavonic States, by that of Russia. An important statement on this and other subjects of Austrian foreign policy was made by the Minister in his speech to the delegations in May. He said that, “in spite of repeated symptoms of a dubious character,” the peaceful course of events in Europe had been maintained, and that the occurrences in Eastern Asia had perhaps contributed to this result, as they made the great Powers more anxious to avoid complications elsewhere. As regards the future, the Minister said that the explosive elements which were permanently accumulated in the Near East must necessarily occasion constant anxiety which could not always be dispelled even by the understanding which existed between Austria-Hungary and Russia (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1897, pp. 296, 297, 299, 314), as that understanding, however valuable, could not be a complete guarantee for the preservation of peace in that region. The unsatisfactory symptoms which had become more and more frequent for some time past showed the necessity of increased vigilance in order that Austria-Hungary should not be taken by surprise and find herself in presence of a situation which she could not accept. She had no idea of extending her own territory, but she could not "permit any attack on the existing political order or any changes prejudicial to her vital interests or involving danger for her position in the future.” The unimpaired maintenance of that position remained "the leading principle of her Eastern policy," and every attempt calculated to impair it would be resisted “with the utmost determination.” The Macedonian agitation in Bulgaria required especial vigilance “not only on account of the danger to the relations between that State and the suzerain Power, but also because of the fatal influence it might exercise on relations of more consequence to Austria-Hungary.”
The condition of affairs in Macedonia still left much to be desired "and constituted a permanent danger." After expressing a hope that Servia “would avoid everything calculated to occasion a coolness in the goodwill of the Monarchy” for that country, the Minister referred to the attacks which had been made on the Triple Alliance, especially with reference to the proposed new German tariff. While, he said, it was no longer possible to maintain the thesis that a war of tariffs was quite compatible with good political relations, political alliances which had far higher objects than economic ones could not be made dependent on an entirely satisfactory settlement of commercial differences, and he was confident that a modus vivendi would be sought and found in the negotiations which would take place on the subject with Germany and Italy. The Minister's statements as to the Triple Alliance and the determination of Austria to maintain the status quo in the Balkans were generally regarded as conveying a hint to Italy, which was disposed to make the renewal of the Triple Alliance dependent on her being granted more advantageous terms in her com
mercial treaties, and had been endeavouring to gain influence in Albania with the help of the Prince of Montenegro, the King of Italy's father-in-law.
Considerable agitation was caused in October by the seizure by some Italian Dalmatians of the College of San Girolamo at Rome, a seminary founded by the Austrian Government for the education of Roman Catholic candidates for the priesthood. This establishment, under a convention concluded with the Italian Government after the annexation of the Papal States, was under the protectorate of Austria-Hungary, who claimed the right of deciding who was to manage the college. The Italian Government expelled the Dalmatians who had taken possession of it, but placed the college under one of its own officials. After much negotiation Italy finally handed over the college to Austria, and the conflict between the two Powers was thus settled. It had, however, a far wider significance than that of the question of treaty rights between Italy and Austria. The Italians in Dalmatia, who had always been the opponents of the Austrian Government, had joined in a movement started by the Servians under the patronage of the Prince of Montenegro, whose final object was to detach Croatia and Dalmatia from Austria-Hungary and unite them to Servia. The Croats in Dalmatia, who are Roman Catholics like the Italians, had to some extent been gained over to this movement, and the object of the coup de main on the College of San Girolamo was to make it an instrument of the Servian propaganda against Austria. It was hoped that as the college was on Italian soil, and the attack upon it was made by Italians, the Government at Rome would not oppose the occupation of the college, but the scheme was frustrated by the loyalty of the Italian Ministry and the skill of Count Goluchowski.
The relations of Austria-Hungary with Russia were this year somewhat cooled by the propaganda carried on by Russian agents in Bulgaria and Roumania, and by the re-awakening of the Pan-Slavist movement. In July, on the occasion of the Sokol or gymnastic festival at Prague, an enthusiastic welcome was given to the French and Russian visitors, and one of the latter, General Rittich, Professor of Tactics at the Military Academy of St. Petersburg, addressed a letter to the Narodni Listy, the leading Czech organ, in which he assured the Czechs that they could reckon on the power of Russia, that she felt for the weak and was ever ready to help them, and that they should "believe in the God of Russia and place their trust in Him.'
The persecution of Polish children in Prussia (see p. 278) was naturally much resented by the Poles in Austria. AntiPrussian demonstrations took place at Cracow and Lemberg, and a movement was started for boycotting German goods. In the Galician Diet Prince George Czartoryski expressed the feelings of his countrymen on the subject in noble and dignified terms.