Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, April 26, 1877. (Received May 14.)
Sir: The lower house of the Reichsrath has resumed the parliamentary labors which have been interrupted for the past month. On the official order of the day were inscribed subjects of grave importance to the empire, namely, the revision of the compromise with Hungary, the renewal of the customs and commercial union, and especially the bank question, encumbered with the long debated and contested proposals and concessions in the ministerial conferences, charged with the solution of the differences between the two cabinets. The same subjects are now submitted also to the Hungarian Diet for deliberation.
Owing to the varied divergences in opinion, and the especial difficulty of the question, the appointed season for the introduction of the compromise plans has been repeatedly adjourned. Now the period has, however, arrived when the legislative representative bodies of both halves of the empire are imperatively called to decide upon a complexity of important laws, and that, too, at a moment when the sanguinary conflict on its eastern frontiers is imminent, if not already begun.
As yet the empire has not assumed any hostile attitude, or at least is not known to have engaged itself to any pronounced policy; still events may occur that shall demand decisive action, and may involve it in the contest in behalf of its commercial interests.
These cannot fail to be prejudicially affected by the war, inasmuch as the Orient forms the chief outlet for the export of its manufactures. It s felt that at such a time no delay should take place in placing the [Page 28] political and economical relations between Cis-and Transleithania on a firm, durable, and satisfactory basis, and especially as, through the compromise, an improvement of the financial situation of Hungary is fully anticipated.
In the Austrian lower chamber, the following draughts of laws in reference to the Austro-Hungarian compromise were submitted by the minister of finance:
- Plan in regard to the debt of eighty millions of florins contracted by the state with the National Bank of Austria.
- Plan relative to the creation of an Austro-Hungarian banking institution, with the following annexed stipulations: 1. Proposed statutes; 2. Regulations relative to the division of hypothecated credit; 3. Plan of arrangement between the Austrian and Hungarian ministers of finance on the one side, and the National Bank of Austria on the other.
- Draught of law relative to the taxation on spirits.
- Draught of law relative to the imposts to be laid on the manufacture of beet-sugar.
The minister of commerce offered two draughts of law asking that the ministry be authorized to come to an agreement with the Hungarian cabinet touching the conclusion of a customs and commercial union, and to effect, moreover, an understanding relative to putting into execution the dispositions of Article XX of the customs and commercial union now existing.
Dr. Giskra, in his own name and in that of forty one of his colleagues, addressed to the government the following interpellation relative to the Oriental question: “Since the 29th October, 1876, being the date of the response made by the government to an interpellation in respect to the Oriental crisis, matters have taken such a turn as no longer to permit a doubt of the outbreak of a Turco Russian war. The opening of hostilities, in regard to the treaty signed at Paris in 1856, and to the numerous and vital interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the matter, has the highest importance. The course of the hostilities and the issue of the war may originate a vital question. The attitude which the government will assume possesses an incalculable importance. The representatives of the chamber are therefore justified in demanding, in this respect, the most precise explanations possible. The following inquiries are therefore addressed: ‘Is the government prepared to furnish information as to the line of conduct which the monarchy will follow after the outbreak of the war and during the course of hostilities? If affirmatively, then what are the intentions of the common ministry, and what measures does it propose to put in action in order to effect the accomplishment of the same?’”
In the Hungarian Diet, the minister, Tisza, in presenting the draughts of law relative to the compromise, in a brief speech declared that all the propositions would constitute an incontestable and evident improvement over the anterior situation. He terminated by declaring that the rights of the country and its integrity were paramount to every other consideration.
Subsequently, in the chamber, the oriental policy of Austria-Hungary came upon the tapis, and was the subject of an interpellation of Mr. Ernst Simonyi, a member of the opposition. He remarked that up to the present time, the maintenance of peace had been declared to be the aim of the foreign policy of the country, but that the object pursued had not been attained; for which reason he had prepared the three following inquiries: 1. “Is the government disposed to inform the chamber, so far as that can be done without detriment to the public interests, of the [Page 29] policy which the common ministry for foreign affairs proposes to pursue so far as concerns the Oriental question?” 2. “Does the Hungarian Government share in this, respect fully the views of the common ministry?” 3. “What is the aim pursued by the common ministry for foreign affairs in the Oriental question, and what are the measures which it intends to employ in order to attain this aim?”
Neither to this interpellation, nor to the coincident one in the Austrian Reichsrath, before referred to, has any response been yet given by the respective ministries, but the same is impatiently awaited.
The comments of the Hungarian press upon the draughts of laws relative to the compromise have the character rather of summary reviews than of criticisms.
The organs of the government party exhort the members to a careful and attentive examination of the proposed terms, and represent the compromise as an unavoidable necessity, to which Hungary, in view of the present threatening situation, must submit, while they indulge the hope, if not the conviction, as to the favorable result. The opposition journals, on the other hand, simply reiterate the objections and recriminations previously advanced by them and successfully rebutted.
I have, &c.,