Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/48

This page needs to be proofread.




hostile German jury. Czechish manifestoes were con- on nationality. They used their majority to carry a fiscated, and meetings stopped at the slightest appearance number of important laws regulating ecclesiastical affairs. of disorder; and the riots were punished by quartering Yet within four years the Government was obliged to turn soldiers upon the inhabitants. The decision between the for support to the Federalists and Clericals, and the rule two races turned on the vote of the feudal proprietors, of the German Liberals was overthrown. Their influence and in order to win this a society was formed among the was indirectly affected by the great commercial German capitalists of Vienna (to which the name of crisis of 1873. For some years there had been Financial Chabrus was popularly given) to acquire by real or active speculation on the Stock Exchange; a l8r3 fictitious purchase portions of those estates to which a great number of companies, chiefly banks and vote was attached. These measures were successful; a building societies, had been founded on a very insecure large German majority was secured; Jews from Vienna basis. The inevitable crisis began in 1872; it was sat in the place of the Thuns and the Schwarzenbergs; postponed for a short time, and there was some hope and as for many years the Czechs refused to sit in the that the Exhibition, fixed for 1873, would bring fresh Landtag, the Government could be carried on without prosperity; the hope was not, however, fulfilled, and the difficulty. A still greater blow to the Federalists was the final crash, which occurred in May, brought with it the passing of a new electoral law in 1873. The measure collapse of hundreds of undertakings. The loss fell transferred the right of electing members of the Reichsrath almost entirely on those who had attempted to increase from the Landtags to the direct vote of the people, the result their wealth by speculative investment. Sound industrial had being to deprive the Federalists of their chief weapon; it concerns were little touched by it, but speculation r was no longer possible to take a formal vote of the legal become so general that every class of society w as affected, representatives in any territory refusing to appoint deputies, and in the investigation which followed it became apparent and if a Czechish or Slovenian member did not take his that some of the most distinguished members of the governseat the only result was that a single constituency was ing Liberal party, including at least two members of the unrepresented, and the opposition weakened. The measure Government, were among those who had profited by the was strongly opposed. A petition with 250,000 names unsound finance. It appeared also that many of the was presented from Bohemia.; and the Poles withdrew leading newspapers of Vienna, by which the Liberal party from the Reichstag when the law was introduced. But was supported, had received money from financiers. For enough members remained to give the legal quorum, and the next two years political interest was transferred from it was carried by 120 to 2 votes. At the same time the Parliament to the law courts, in which financial scandals of some of the leading number of members was increased to 353, but the pro- were exposed, and the reputations 1 portion of representatives from the different territories politicians were destroyed. This was to bring about a reaction against the economic was maintained and the system of election was not altered. The proportion of members assigned to the doctrines which had held the field for nearly twenty years ; tOAvns was increased, the special representatives of the but the full effect of the change was not seen be Chambers of Commerce and of the landed proprietors were for some time. What ruined the Government liberal retained, and the suffrage was not extended. The artificial was the want of unity m the party, and their ministry, system which gave to the Germans a parliamentary neglect to support a ministry which had been taken from their own ranks. In a country like Austria, majority continued. At this time the Czechs were much weakened by quarrels in which a mistaken foreign policy or a serious quarrel among themselves. A new party had arisen, calling them- with Hungary might bring about the disruption of the selves the Freisinige or Radicals, but generally monarchy, parliamentary government was impossible unless Czech dts- pnown as the Young Czechs. They disliked the the party which the Government helped in internal matters alliance with the aristocracy and the clergy; they were prepared to support it in foreign affairs and in the wished for universal suffrage, and recalled the Hussite tra- commercial policy bound up with the settlement with ditions. They desired to take their seats in the Landtag, and Hungary. This the Constitutional parties did not do. to join with the Germans in political reform. They violently During discussions on the Ausgleich in 1877 a large attacked Rieger, the leader of the Old Czechs, who main- number voted against the duties on coffee and petroleum, tained the alliance with the Feudalists and the policy of which were an essential part of the agreement; they passive opposition. Twenty-seven members of the Landtag, demanded, moreover, that the treaty of Berlin should be led by Gregr and Stadkowsky, being outvoted in the laid before the House, and 112 members, led by Herbst, gave Czechish Club, resigned their seats. They were completely a vote hostile to some of its provisions, and in the Delegadefeated in the elections which followed, but for the next tion refused the supplies necessary for the occupation of four years the two parties among the Czechs were as much Bosnia. They doubtless were acting in accordance with occupied in opposing one another as in opposing the their principles, but the situation was such that it would Germans. These events might have secured the predomin- have been impossible to carry out their wishes; the only ance of the Liberals for many years. The election after the result was that the Austrian ministers and Andrassy had Reform Bill gave them an increased majority in the Reichs- to turn for help to the Poles, who began to acquire the rath. Forty-two Czechs who had won seats did not attend ; position of a Government party, which they have kept forty-three Poles stood aloof from all party combination, since then. At the beginning of 1879 Auersperg’s resiggiving their votes on each occasion as the interest of their nation, which had long been offered, was accepted. The country seemed to require ; the real opposition was limited Constitutionalists remained in power; but in the reconto forty Clericals and representatives of the other Slavonic structed Cabinet, though Stromeyer was president, Count races, who were collected on the Right under the leader- Taaffe, as minister of the interior, was the most important ship of Hohenwart. Against them were 227 Constitu- member. Parliament was dissolved in the summer, and Taaffe, by tionalists, and it seemed to matter little that they were divided into three groups; there were 105 in the Liberal private negotiations, first of all persuaded the Bohemian Club under the leadership of Herbst, 57 Constitutionalists, feudal proprietors to give the Feudalists, who had long 1 elected by the landed proprietors, and a third body of See Wirth, Geschichte der Handdskrisen, Frankfurt, 1885 ; and Radicals, some of whom were more democratic than the an interesting article by Schaffle in the Zeitschrift f. Staatswissenold Constitutional party, while others laid more stress schaft, Stuttgart, 1874.