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PREFATORY ESSAY

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various nationalities of the Empire of other than Teutonic race. The Czechs, the Croats, and the Italian population of the Adriatic littoral have all set up claims to legislative independence. The Germans of Austria proper, who form the backbone of the empire, have resented these claims as an infraction of their supremacy. If Hungary had been represented in a common Parliament at Vienna, the Hungarians and Germans could have formed a majority strong enough to overrule the representatives of the Slav and Latin nationalities. As it is, no Austrian Ministry since 1880 has succeeded in commanding the support of the Parliament except by concessions to one race or another, which tided over a temporary difficulty, but left the problem of Austrian reorganization more complicated than it was before. The system of wanton obstruction adopted alike by Czechs and Germans, the coalitions between the Anti-Semite Liberals and the Clerical Conservatives, the virulence of the personal attacks made indiscriminately by every party in the Eeichsrath, the constant fluctuations in ministerial policy, and the rapid succession of one Ministry after another—have all combined to discredit the system of parliamentary institutions in Austria, until the very existence of constitutional government in the Austrian half of the dual Monarchy is at stake. The personal esteem and affection entertained towards the Emperor Erancis Joseph by all his subjects have given him an authority which no successor is likely to inherit, but no observer is able to contemplate without apprehension what may happen when his guiding hand is taken away. In Italy, though from different causes, parliamentary government can hardly be said to have proved a success. The generation of statesmen of eminence possessed by Italy during the period of her unification has passed away and left but few successors. Owing to the influence of the Vatican, the wealthy classes have, as a body, abstained from public life ; and political power has fallen, in consequence, to the lower class of professional men, who look to a seat in the Chambers as a means of livelihood. The amalgamation, however, of the various provinces of the peninsula into one united kingdom has proved a less difficult task than was anticipated at the outset. The composition of the Italian Chambers has without doubt contributed largely to the mal-administration of public affairs, which within the last few years brought Italy to the verge of bankruptcy. But it may be doubted whether a differently constituted Parliament could have enabled Italy to bring her expenditure within her income. The Triple Alliance was joined by Italy in order to procure protection against intervention in Italian affairs on the part of the French Republic, an intervention which in 1887 was regarded as imminent, and which is still looked upon by Italians as likely to occur whenever France has a free hand. Adhesion to the Kaiser-Bund necessarily involved the keeping on foot of a standing army large enough to render the military assistance of Italy useful to Germany and Austria in case of need ; and the maintenance of such an army could only be met either by extravagant borrowing or by exorbitant taxation. The tendency to reckless expenditure was increased by the demand for railways and other public works, deemed necessary for the development of the great resources of the kingdom, and also by the natural desire of the Italians to assert their position as a great Power, a desire which gave rise to the disastrous war with Abyssinia. When the borrowing powers of the country were exhausted, the deficit caused by the service of the public debt and the extravagant cost of the administration had to be provided for by an increase of taxation, which told heavily on a population already overburdened in comparison with its resources. The result has been to strengthen the Republican party in the Peninsula, a party which, being closely connected with the French Socialists, entertains the belief that under a Republic Italy would have no cause to fear any interference with her independence on the part of France. The Church in Italy has done all in her power to throw discredit upon the system of representative government, which in her opinion presents an insuperable obstacle to any restoration of the temporal power of the Papacy. The net outcome of this state of things is that though the Italians are as determined as ever to uphold their national unity, they are not as convinced as their forefathers were that this unity can only be secured by parliamentary rule. With a young and inexperienced sovereign upon the throne the general outlook for Italy was not, at the opening of the new century, as encouraging as her friends could desire. In Russia the autocratic system of government remains unaltered. The agitation on behalf of parliamentary institutions has made little apparent progress. The parliamentary idea has never as yet taken hold on the Moujiks, who, in so far as they give any attention to politics, seem to prefer the