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AUSTRIA-HUNGARY AND THE AUSGLEICH

I

The parliamentary troubles in Austria proper, and the difficulty of settling the Ausgleich between Austria and Hungary, have given widespread credence to the sinister predictions of numerous publicists and journalists as to the imminent downfall of the Austrian Empire. We must, as in former articles, start with taking exceptions, not only to the downfall' or its imminency, but first of all to the name of · Austrian Empire. There is no Austrian Empire.' In objecting to such a nomenclature, no idle quibbling is meant. What is meant, is the pointing out of a vital error which, like all errors of principle, misguides the research and discolours the complexion of facts. There is an Austro-Hungarian Empire ; and unless this, the bottom basis of all questions concerning the monarchy governed by Francis Joseph the First be clearly and definitely seized and retained, there can be no discussion of such questions at all. The · Austrian Empire' has long disappeared ; and nobody need waste his time with proving elaborately its near 'breaking up.' The Austro-Hungarian Empire, on the other hand, will break up within no period of time discernible by the sages of our day. It is an Empire solidly rooted in the most imperative needs both of the peoples and races' who go to form it, and of the rest of Europe which, without that Empire, would soon lose its present configuration. The troubles and difficulties of that Empire must, on the contrary, be welcomed as the unmistakable symptoms of a real public life awakening amongst peoples who have hitherto been ignorant of and callous to the most important of all national activities : to political strife. In doing their citizens' duty as these people do, for the first time, they, no doubt, do many an awkward or ugly thing. So have done the English under Charles the Second and William the Third ; and so do the French still. They will, however, soon grow out of that infantine gawkiness and naughtiness. They will necessarily feel, grope, or batter their way through the darkness and lumber of inherited prejudices and false notions, and unfailingly come to a mutual understanding. For, the strongest cements of History are knitting them together. A tenfold secular past has riveted them into one imposing fabric of polity. It is here our intention, not only to prove this hopeful view of the present Austrian crisis, but chiefly to indicate as far as possible the requisite points by a calm consideration of which a right insight into the nature and drift of Austro-Hungarian affairs may be obtained. Such points cannot consist in a summary of the latest news from Vienna, Prague, or Budapest. The crisis in Austria-Hungary-and undoubtedly there is a crisis—as it has not been brought about by chance and superficial incidents, but by the eruption of basal currents of lava, so it cannot be understood unless we care to risk a descent into the volcano full of débris, ashes, and smoke obstructing the view of the student and deterring the general run of news-readers. In this country, and, for the matter of that, in no other country either, not excluding Austria-Hungary itself—the peculiar nature of the polity called Austria-Hungary has never been made the subject of a serious work, such as Mr. Bryce's American Commonwealth, or Mr. Bodley's recent work on France. Yet even with all the Austrian newspapers

and pamphlets at one's disposal, one cannot possibly find the way through the maze of that crisis, before penetrating into the true character of the Austro-Hungarian polity. This then will be one of our main objects; and having defined the true character of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we shall essay to view and appreciate the events of the year ending this month in the light of our clearer conception of the factors, needs, and prospects of that Empire.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire is a polity sui generis. The formula covering its peculiarity cannot be found either in Aristotle's Politics or in the text-books of modern teachers of state lore. To the superficial observer, it is true, Austria-Hungary appears of a kind with Sweden and Norway ; or again like the German Empire. For, there is confederation in Austria-Hungary, as there is home rule. There is centralisation and local self-government. There is a national state, and there is a territorial state. Hungary, or more than one half of the Empire, is a national state; the other half is a cluster of • lands' and · kingdoms, connected and disconnected, at once centripetal and centrifugal. Three or more careful jurists studying the fundamental laws of Austria proper, or the so-called • DecemberConstitution' (given in December 1867), will arrive at three or more different formulations of the political nature of the polity formed by the 'lands' and 'kingdoms' of Austria proper. The fact is, that a merely legal construction of the constitution of the cis-leithan or Austrian polity, based on an analysis of the texts of the fundamental laws of 1867 and the following years, will never enable anyone to know the true political constitution of that ensemble of countries. Hence the failure of all Austrian publicists in their attempts to settle the ever-increasing difficulties of political life in Austria. They try hard to smooth or remove such difficulties by sticking fast to the letter or sense of those fundamental laws, which were passed at å time when neither their framers nor those for whom they were framed had, or could have, a clear conception of the new Austrian polity. In 1867 the current doctrine of the publicists of Germany or Austria—a doctrine which exercised great influence on the legislators—was still moving within the circles of the various types of state, called by the Germans Verfassungsstaat,' 'Rechtsstaat, Polizeistaat,' &c. respectively; and for which no equally short equivalents can be given in English. That the new Austrian polity must be housed under one of these academic headings, or not be framed at all, nobody doubted. However, as reality generally does, the new Austrian polity developed on lines obstinately diverging from those laid down by the theorists.

Accordingly, it is not through a study of the fundamental laws' of 1867 that we can obtain a true conception of the real nature of the cis-leithan polity. Nor need we wonder at the inability of the modern Austrian jurists and legislators to discover fitting legal formulæ for the peculiar political life of Austria. No part of the study of law had been, up to within a few years, so completely neglected in Austria proper, as had constitutional law. At the universities it was no subject of instruction at all before 1890; and scarcely any treatises or monographs were published on it. To one work, great or small, written in Austria on the constitution of that country, there were at least twenty-five written in Hungary on the Hungarian constitution. During the last six or seven years, a number of authors has appeared, attempting to spread some historic and juristic light on the cis-leithan polity. Their works, however, are hastily made-up text-books for the newly created needs of university students. They excel neither in constructive power nor in force of initiative or suggestion. Tame and colourless, as they are, they fight shy of the real problems; and, in the best case, read like dull consular reports on the strange events of Austria. If, then, so little light may be gained on Austrian politics from Austrian jurists and publicists, how shall we expect the public opinion of the rest of Europe to have a just and correct appreciation either of the present troubles or of the near development in Austria ?

When in a state the conflicts of the parties have reached a stage of animosity as intense as that of the Slavs and Germans' in Austria, we can gain nothing by adverting to what that state ought to be according to the law of the country. We must advert to what that state really is. King James the First, there can be no doubt about it, had in point of law a position far more defendable than was that of his parliaments. In point of reality, that is, in point of the actual nature of the country and its people in his time, his position was untenable. In point of law, there is a central Diet, the Reichsrath in Austria, which embraces the legislation over an immense range of interests and rights affecting all the vital elements in the life of the peoples of cis-leithania; see paragraph eleven in the law of the 21st of December, 1867. In point of fact, however, that Reichsrath does not and cannot embrace all these interests and rights; and if it tries to do so, all opposition notwithstanding, it does so at the risk of its very existence. Just as in King James's time, the Crown having, as it had, lost the omnipotence it wielded in the times of the Tudors, risked its existence by insisting on a law that had ceased to be realisable. The Reichsrath in Austria was framed by men who had been taught to consider the modern English Parliament as the model and type of all constitutional government. The English Parliament is practically omnipotent; so was the Reichsrath to be. In England there is a Cabinet proper; so there was to be one in Austria. It occurred to no one that the English Cabinet was the final and latest organ in the long evolution of parliamentary government; and that no cabinet can be seriously thought of unless compact and consistent political parties had been formed previously. To establish a cabinet in Parliament, without having established solid and great political parties amongst the citizens of the country, is to put the cart before the horses. Since 1867 all descriptions of cabinets have been tried in Austria, and all of them failed. For in Austria, no less than in France, the chief condition of steadiness and efficiency in cabinetgovernment—that is, large parties—have not been forthcoming. This alone would suffice to prove that a close imitation of the English model is impossible in Austria. Large and consistent political parties cannot be formed in Austria. The Slavs, comprising the Bohemians (Czechs), Poles, Moravians, Ruthenians, Slovenians, &c., are far from being at one even with regard to a few of the vital issues of cis-leithan home policy. The Germans,' or rather Germanspeaking citizens, again are split up in endless fractions and groups. It is, therefore, impossible to establish large political parties on national lines. On lines of class-interest, such as landed gentry, urban population, and rural population, such party formations are, at present, still less feasible, in that the members of these classes are now hopelessly lost in the struggle for national aspirations thwarting all other modes of grouping them. An English Parliament in Austria is, moreover, impossible, for the simple reason that large portions of the business of government, which in England are performed by the two Houses, are in Austria still left in the hands of that vast organisation for which there is no English term, the Verwaltungin French, administration. We said that Austria had, up to 1890, a very poor literature on her constitutional law. On her administrative law, on the other hand, it always had a literature rich in elaborate works covering every phase of that immense administration which forms the very essence of the Austrian polity. When, in 1875, one central court of administration (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) was established, where any citizen might have his quo warranto' suit against

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