Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/21

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The Bohemian Review

occupied chief offices of the Bohemian state in the old days, but after the unsuccessful rebellion of 1618 were rewarded for their faithfulness to the dynasty by grants of confiscated estates and mixed their pure Bohemian blood with the upstart nobility of military adventurers settled in Bohemia by Ferdinand II. They remained Bohemian noblemen in that their large landed estates were located in Bohemia and they could trace their descent to Czech ancestors, but for generations they thought and acted as Germans. The Martinic family is even better known in the records of the Bohemian Kingdom. One of the forbears of this ancient family had a leading role in the so-called defenestration of Prague; Jaroslav Borita of Martinic and William Slavata, two of the emperor’s lieutenants for Bohemia, with a clerk were thrown out of the high window of the castle of Prague by the in furiated members of the estates of Bohemia, and the act is held to be the starting point of the thirty years’ war, as well as the opening of the Bohemian rebellion, which was suppressed two years later at the battle of White Mountain. There is another Martinic of recent days who played a much more patriotic role from the Bohemian point of view, Count Henry Martinic, an associate of F. L. Rieger, the great Czech leader of the sixties and seventies; he backed the commoner with all the prestige and influence of a powerful noble family, leading a number of other Bohemian aristocrats in the fight for the recognition of the historical rights of the Bohemian Kingdom and the achievement of such self-government for Bohemia as was granted to Hungary.

The new minister, whose first name is also Henry, has nothing in common with his uncle, the Bohemian patriot, except the name and the enjoyment of the entailed Martinic family possessions. Count Martinic put himself in line for the premiership by his attempt to get a condemnation of Czech national ambitions from the so-called conservative nobility of Bohemia. At a meeting of the political committee of this body, held in fall of 1916, he proposed a resolution in which it was said: “With deep sorrow we had to take notice of the fact that in this war in which our common fatherland (namely Austria) has to fight for its very existence, the long continued, underground work aimed against the state and carried on by damnable elements had its effect in cooling the holy sentiments of civic duty and military honor in the hearts of the Czech race. Every one knows of it, all speak of it, and enemies of the Czech people strongly emphasize the fact that army formations recruited in Czech districts, contrary to the glorious traditions of the old, glory bedecked Bohemian regiments, failed in the field. And in foreign countries also criminal agitation bore fruit, for certain Bohemian publications, especially in the first months of the war, did not come up to the standard which a patriot has the right to expect from those who interpret the public opinion at home.” The resolution went on to say that a certain improvement had taken place since. But the conservative Bohemian nobility declared the resolution unnecessary and rejected it.

In addition to the two “Bohemian” ministers one ought to mention a third figure with great influence upon the young emperor, Count Berchtold. He is the man who was foreign minister in 1914 and signed the declaration of war upon Serbia. He has just been named master of ceremonies of the Imperial Court and as such is the emperoror’s closest confidant. Berchtold also might be called a Bohemian nobleman, for his landed estates are located in Moravia in the midst of Czech population.

The three counts, Czernin, Clam-Martinic and Berchtold, will try to carry out the political plans of the assassinated Francis Ferdinand. They had been his personal friends, and that alone defines their designs. These will be apparently aimed against the domination of the Magyars in the Hapsburg realm, but in reality will be addressed principally against the Slavs. It has been announced by cablegrams from Vienna that Clam-Martinic will now take up the question of redistricting Bohemia. What that really means is the fulfillment of an old demand of the Germans that districts in Bohemia in which the census found the majority of the people using the German language—and the Austrian census is very partial to Germans—should be cut off from the rest of Bohemia and treated as a purely German province. The result would be the abandonment of the Czech minorities in the north and northwest of Bohemia to forcible germanization. The second part of the program of the new Austrian premier, as briefly announced in America, is the introduction of German as the language of the state.