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and conducted by Austrian officers, in virtue of the same principle?
It may be easy to create artificial animosities, but it is impossible to perpetuate them. Thus, to revert to the position of Austria at the present moment, all the sources of hostility are exhausted, all the various nationalities have been in turn deceived ; and the question naturally arises, where can the Austrian Government look for support in the first emergency of danger to which the present events in Europe may give rise ? There remain to be further deceived only those who had the remarkable naïveté to put faith in the convocation of a central parliament, which, like another Tower of Babel, should be called to exercise a constitutional influence upon the government of the monarchy.
Hungary, alone constituting nearly one-half of the Empire, governed by a blind spirit of vengeance, exasperated by the abolition of all that is dear to a people, reduced to a state in which she has nothing left to lose, Italy, kept in subjection by force of arms,—the Serbs, the Croats, the Bohemians, &c., forced by centralization into a unity contrary to the desires and interests of these peoples,—all the capitals of the Empire in a state of siege,—the finances in hopeless disorder, which it is vainly endeavoured to remedy by the most odious measures, such as forced loans, sequestrations, &c.—on every side the reign of force, nowhere any reconcilement of interests --what hope can be entertained of the stability of such a state? How shall it encounter all the newly arisen dangers, or what power can restrain such elements of discontent? It may perhaps be replied, by the army. Let those who would base their hope upon this support, bear in mind that this same army, at a time when the discontent was not so general, and the Government had auxiliaries in some of its peoples, was insufficient to resist the power of a single country :would it now be able, when, after having deceived every people, it cannot reckon upon the assistance of any one amongst them? If it is attempted to repose the status quo, or, as it is ironically called, 'order,' in Europe upon such a basis, how can it be expected to resist the slightest shock ?
We pretend not to foretel the result of a new conflagrationthe necessary consequence of the blind conduct of a Government which chooses, as the basis of its reconstruction, a system of policy that led the former government to the brink of destruction, and into the arms of Russia; we content ourselves with suggesting the possibility that the consequences of a fresh outbreak might extend beyond the frontiers of Austria ; for no optimist even can deny that the present state of Europe is anything but stable. Who will venture to affirm, that the measures at present enacting in Austria have a mere local interest, with which other nations have no right to interfere ? From the moment when the principle of non-intervention was violated, this principle gave way to the only one which could replace it—that of universal intervention and mediation. Since the principle has been abandoned which prevented one Power from interfering in the internal affairs of another, Russia and Austria have taken upon themselves the duty of regulating the affairs of all countries which they believe inferior in power. Since the armed intervention in Hungary, all the countries of Europe, with the exception of England and France, have had to submit to the counsels, more or less imperiously dictated, of Russia. The affairs of the Duchy of Schleswig, the German question, that of the Hungarian refugees, the affairs of Germany and Greece, have been alike subjected to this influence ; whilst in all these questions, Russia, or, by her order, Austria, has arrogated the right of announcing openly her will—her fiat rather-supported by menaces.
In the face of this permanent intervention, exercised by the absolute Powers, what is the duty of those Governments which have the happiness to watch over and protect the interests of powerful and free countries ? Is it to abandon the influence they possess, and passively to await the progress of the evil, or to exercise it in favour of the principle they represent, that spirit of order which alone promises permanence-order based upon liberty ? France, wavering between two extreme principles, is incapable for the moment of exercising an influence upon the affairs of Europe ; it therefore devolves upon England, who, by her power, and by the happy use which she makes of liberty, is its most worthy representative, to watch over the interests of that principle which has rendered her great and prosperous.
To direct the course of events, or to submit to their consequences—to dictate laws or to obey them—this is the question. If there is a people peculiarly capable of exercising an influence on foreign politics, it is the people of England ; and if, hitherto, they have almost wholly left these affairs to the Government, it was because these questions being almost exclusively dynastic and enveloped in the mystery of diplomacy, they had neither the desire nor means of judging of them. But in proportion as the question becomes simplified between absolutism, seeking to destroy liberty under every form and designation, and free government–between free trade, which enriches industrious peoples, and monopoly, which tends to amass wealth in the treasuries of the sovereigns—the people of England, the most industrious and free, cannot longer
remain indifferent; they must and will look on with increasing interest.
In England the sentiment of national honour is so keen, the estimate of interests so just, the means of action and internal security so great, that a Government which is resolved to avail itself of these advantages, runs no risk of failing in its designs, or of compromising the national honour: it is only when the Government does not seek to protect the interests and the honour of England that any such risk exists. It is only if the Government should separate itself from public opinion, and, by a culpable connivance, leave the management of affairs to men who have interests contrary to those of the English people, that occurrences could happen tending to tarnish the honour, and adverse to the interests, of Great Britain. If called upon to advise, we should say—Trust not to those who maintain that England should abstain from taking any active part in foreign politics; for it is these very men who desire to act the most, by encouraging others to act.
With such advantages at her disposal, it is easy to judge what is the policy most suited to the dignity and the interests of England—whether to wrap herself in an ill-calculated egotism, abandoning all influence to those who, well aware that Europe will never tranquilly submit to despotism so long as there is one country great in the enjoyment of liberty, consider their task unaccomplished until they shall have ruined England—or whether the policy of this country engages her to occupy the position which is her due, of protecting her own interests by protecting the cause of rational liberty. To occupy such a position, England requires no propaganda—still less any armed propaganda ; nothing more is necessary than, either to impose the principle of non-intervention upon all, or not to remain the only Power devoid of influence on the destinies of Europe.
Suppose, for an instant, that England were to side with absolutism, as it is represented by some of the continental sovereigns, without speaking of the material consequences, what would be the moral effect of such a policy? The ranks of the Socialists and Republicans would be immensely increased; for seeing all the monarchies conspiring against public liberty, men would feel that every hope was gone so long as monarchy existed; they would attribute all the evil, not to the abuse of the monarchical principle, but to the principle itself. Those who would reconstruct the political fabric of Europe, after the changes which it must undergo, on the basis of monarchical principles,—and these still form the great majority of the nations of the continent, would no longer have any monarchy to hold up as a model,
which not sharing the faults of the rest, might be exempt from the hostility which the greater part have merited.
There could not be a more inconceivable policy, than that which should seek to identify what possesses the internal elements of strength with that which is weak by its own fault,-a policy that would confound the fate of a monarchy which by its good faith has taken deep root in the affection of its people, with that of dynasties which, by their bad faith and bad policy, have lost the respect and support of their subjects. Who would maintain that now, when the perilous results are becoming daily more imminent, the English monarchy should seek to expiate the consequences of the crimes and errors which commenced with the dismemberment of Poland, and of which England has never shared either the advantages or the responsibility ? No, it is impossible—it would be to betray the interests of the people, the monarchy, and the dynasty of England. The further the English monarchy stands apart, the less it will suffer from the fall or the dangers of the rest. It is a strange delusion, therefore, to believe that it is for the interest of England to make common cause with those sovereigns who have done more to endanger the monarchical principle than all the republican propagandists could have effected. Let those who counsel the English Government to isolate itself in an impossible neutrality, or who desire that it should follow the mad policy of some of the continental sovereigns, reflect that such a course would be nothing else than to abandon the present to the Russians and the future to revolution.
If, then, according to these views, it appears incontestable that England, in common with all the liberal portion of Europe, cannot remain an indifferent spectator of acts which impede or endanger the peace, prosperity, and the balance of power in Europe, we think it equally evident, that amongst all the dangers which darken the political horizon, the position of Austria is one of the gravest, and merits, nay demands, before all others the attention of every liberal Government. Austria, based upon centralization—that is to say, the abolition of historic rights, the forced incorporation of three-fourths of the monarchy into a union contrary to the interests of all—will not only fail to recover her political independence, but be compelled to abandon herself more and more to the influence which has made her a tool in the hands of Russia. On the other hand, by desisting from this system, by consulting the true wishes and real interests of her peoples, Austria might gradually emancipate herself from the influence, or rather the dictation, of Russia. It is centralization, the cradle of absolutism, which, rendering impossible any conciliation with her own
subjects, and especially with the Hungarians, the most oppressed of all, imposes upon Austria the necessity of relying upon Russian support, and makes her a forced ally of all the projects of the Czar. It is this centralization which rendered it impossible for Austria to continue even the feeble and ineffectual opposition of Prince Metternich to the projects of Russia in the East. In a word, we venture to assert, and Europe at large will speedily be convinced of the fact (may it not be too late !) that centralization in Austria is tantamount to the suzerainty of Russia.
But this is not the limit of the danger to which the policy of the present Government of Austria is exposing the tranquillity of Europe ; for the same system which has given rise to the internal dangers of Austria, which renders impossible on her part any opposition to the projects of Russia, prevents any pacific or permanent solution of the German question. It is the pretension of Austria to enter with all her non-German provinces into the union to be formed—that is to say, the centralization established by the Constitution of March-which has hitherto prevented any such settlement, and which accepted, from the only character, absolutism, which a union of such heterogeneous elements could have, and the enormous extent of her territory, would cause a new and serious danger to the balance of power in Europe.
Austria being scarcely able to suppress the discontent of her own subjects, and having to restrain the natural development of Prussia, and the desire of the German peoples to have an established government independent of foreign influence, her supremacy in Germany would be solely founded on the condition of her obedience at St. Petersburg.
The future is in the hands of Providence: it is impossible to foresee the distant fate of a monarchy based upon so many political errors, but it is at least certain that there is only one means of averting the dangers of the present, and perhaps of the future; this means is, to desist from the absurd idea of centralization, at once the cause and effect of so many evils, and to replace it by a federative system, capable of interesting the various parts of Austria in the maintenance of the Empire ; above all, to restore to Hungary her independence and national rights, which is demanded, not alone by the interests of that kingdom, still less at the cost of the other parts of the Empire, but by the interests of Austria herself, and of all her provinces. For it is evident that so long as the Austrian Government withholds from the greatest kingdom of the monarchy its rights, it will never grant any real liberty to the secondary provinces; so long as it refuses to respect the historical rights of Hungary, it will still less respect the octroyé rights of the other