Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Fish.
Vienna , May 25, 1874. (Received June 12.)
Sir: The sessions of the delegations at Buda-Pest closed on the 23d instant.
At its commencement the Hungarian members, in view of the weak and disordered financial condition of that eastern half of the empire, had expressed their determination to insist upon a rigid economy in the grants and upon a great retrenchment in the estimates of the budget, a determination strengthened by a recent calamity, no less than a very general destruction of the vines, with most serious injury to the cereals throughout the country. This was caused by an unseasonable and protracted period of frost following immediately upon several weeks of continued mild weather, which had produced an unusual development.
In consequence a very strong opposition was at first made to the estimates of the minister of war. His demands were, however, for the most part, finally allowed, with the exception of reductions in the extraordinary estimates. To this result contributed in no small degree the remarks of Count Andrássy, which were to this effect: He did not wish to treat the question in a military point of view, inasmuch as the minister of war had already sufficiently developed it. He noticed with [Page 28] satisfaction that no serious objection had been raised against the demands on their merits or their expediency, but solely upon considerations of the necessary exercise of a wise economy. He reiterated his opinion that there existed great probability of the maintenance and preservation of peace, yet no person could say more than that. The government had reduced the budget as low as it was possible for them to do, but if it was deemed necessary to insist upon further reductions, then these should be made in the extraordinary budget, especially in the construction and armament of fortresses rather than in the ordinary I budget, inasmuch as the reductions in the extraordinary budget would appear less dangerous at the present time of peace; but, on the contrary, the interior organization of the army should not be weakened. That Austria-Hungary had now no enemies, still she would have more friends when they would have more confidence in the strength of her army. Power and force obtain friends, and alliances with both are sought and cherished. For this reason it would be unwise to interfere with the existing active service of three years, inasmuch as it is the generally adopted opinion in Europe, that without a service of three consecutive years no army is fitted to enter upon a campaign. It would not be advisable to undertake to prove the contrary.
This reasoning of his excellency, as already said, contributed greatly to influence this satisfactory result for the desired grants for war purposes, in the face of the conviction justly entertained by his countrymen that a system of strict economy and a well-regulated and honest administration alone could preserve the country from financial ruin. The last report of the state of the Hungarian treasury, made by the new minister of finance, Ghyczi, exhibiting a deficit of forty-two millions of florins, had opened the eyes of the most incredulous, and through the powerful eloquence of figures had forced that conviction, especially at a season of financial crisis, with a probability of a deficient harvest, the latter being to Hungary, essentially an agricultural country, the gravest calamity which could befall it.
A résumé of this total budget of the expenses of the united government of Austria-Hungary, in pursuance of the decisions adopted by the two delegations, may be desirable. Such total budget for 1875, after deduction of certain receipts, attains the sum of florins 107,418,299, being florins 3,131,078 less than that voted for 1874. To cover this budget are destined the net revenues of the customs, estimated at florins 15,000,000, being florins 2,500,000 less than in 1874, thus leaving a remainder of florins 92,418,299. From this sum is to be deducted two per centum, or florins 1,848,365.98, which falls upon the Hungarian treasury since the incorporation of the military frontier. From this remainder the quota payable by the kingdoms and provinces represented in the Reichsrath amounts to florins 63,399,954. The quota of Hungary amounts to florins 27,170,979.90, to which the increase of the two per centum before mentioned being added will give florins 29,018,345.88.
The president, Gorove, being prevented by illness on the last day of the session, his place was filled by Szorgyenyi, who made a closing speech. He alluded to the sacrifices which the expenses of the united government exacted from the country, but said that the great ends in the ambition of modern nations could only be attained by strong efforts. The security of the empire and of the native country was in debate, and therefore these sacrifices were not shunned, in the hope that posterity might reap the fruits of those sacrifices. The maintenance of universal peace, the desire of giving to the army a perfect organization, which would render it strong and imposing, ready for every eventuality, such had been the guiding and prevailing considerations. As to peace, [Page 29] that seemed certain for the present at least, not only on the base of those assurances exchanged on the occasions of the visits of the sovereigns, but, above all, in the present direction of foreign affairs, so marked by tact and intelligence, so firm and so sure, which, as all must view with satisfaction, is now intrusted to the hands of a statesman whose name is indissolubly united with the constitutional regeneration of the monarchy, and who, in the difficult department of international affairs, has been able to acquire, in so short a time, universal admiration and approbation.
The new organization of the army is nearly terminated, and it will be possible afterward to establish a normal and fixed budget. In voting the expenses the financial situation has been kept in view, and only upon a conviction of urgent necessity a surplus of expenses has been accorded. If the common expenses have not been reduced, that has occurred from a belief that in so doing those duties would be fulfilled which were imposed by the well-understood interests of the monarchy.
Finally, thanks were offered to the functionaries of the delegations and honorable mention was made of the absent president.
I have, &c.,