Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, May 19, 1877. (Received June 7.)
Sir: That a widely extended sympathy with the cause of Turkey in the existing conflict prevails in the kingdom of Hungary, not only among certain classes of the population and in a part of the press, but with peculiar intensity in a minority of the members of the Diet, seems evidenced by the constant interpellations relative to the Oriental question, as well as in the forcible expressions employed, and in the sensitive and passionate demonstrations of feeling. This sympathy may arise partly from a remembrance of the Russian effective agency in the suppression of the Hungarian insurrection of 1849, and in a jealousy of the possible preponderance of the Slav element, not only within the realm, but on its immediate borders; yet more especially from a conviction of [Page 35] the present detriment to the commerce of the country through the interruption of the navigation of the Danube, and an apprehension of its possible continuance.
This unfriendly spirit, however, could not be permitted to proceed to acts of hostility without producing incalculable evils to the empire; and I am of the opinion that the sagacious and prudent course hitherto pursued by the present leader of the foreign policy, will repress any ill-advised or premature rupture with either of the contending powers. The prevailing belief entertained here is that the war between Russia and Turkey will not only be obstinate, but also of long duration. There exist certainly weighty reasons for holding such an opinion. Still, on the other hand, there are facts which must be considered in favor of a contrary view.
The present contest is very different from the last between Germany and France. At present both the contending powers possess very reduced financial resources, as well as very impaired credit. The theater of operations, both in Europe and Asia, moreover, is a territory sparsely populated, deficient in roads and means of communication, and incapable of affording support to large armies, especially for an extended period of time, whereby the supplies must be exclusively drawn from home, and that source on both sides at a great distance removed from the scene of conflict. Whichever army may prove victorious, it cannot be maintained in the enemy’s territory at the expense of the enemy, and every advance increases the cost and difficulty of its maintenance.
Accordingly it would seem unlikely that the present war, notwithstanding the alleged bravery, fanaticism, and endurance of the soldiers on both sides, may long continue; only the entry of a third power into the conflict could change the present situation and probable results. As the policy of free action declared by Austria-Hungary would allow a variance in the strict neutrality hitherto announced, accordingly as events might influence a change of attitude, it becomes necessary to attentively follow all official communications bearing upon the subject. The most recent interpellations in the Hungarian Diet; as before alluded to, emanating from the extreme left, were addresed to the minister-president. The member Iranyi inquired if the Hungarian Government had adhered to the memorandum of Berlin, to the resolutions of the conference at Constantinople, and to the protocol of London; and, if in the affirmative, how it would act in order to conciliate its attitude with the terms of the treaty of Paris and with the interests of Hungary. The member Helfy interpellated the government in the following terms:
Inasmuch as the minister-president has declared that the monarchy had employed all its efforts for the maintenance of peace, and that now it used all its influence for effecting a localization of the war, the efforts for attaining this double aim having been rendered futile by the action of Russia, considering that through the events in Roumania the war has assumed a further extension and has approached the frontier of Hungary, I desire to address the minister-president this question: Does he not believe that under such circumstances the moment has arrived for taking a firm and defined position, and does he in particular not intend to use all his influence with the minister for foreign affairs, in order to enforce, in concert with the other powers, the maintenance and observance of the treaty of Paris?
Mr. Tisza immediately replied:
The point in the treaty of Paris cited by the honorable member in reference to the Oriental question and to Roumania was not inserted for the interest of Austria-Hungary, and the member will not find in the treaty that any one power has engaged to interfere in case any other should interfere. The powers have the right certainly, but only in case of aggression, and this case is not presented now; for it is not as aggressors, as we well know, but in pursuance of a previous agreement that the Russians have entered this country. Roumania is not neutralized by the treaty of Paris, Austria-Hungary [Page 36] has no reason to regret it, and we should hesitate even to accept in future a condition of this kind. I have already said that Austria-Hungary would not suffer the creation of a new state of things at the frontiers which might become a source of danger to her, and the government would adopt, in order to prevent such an eventuality, all such measures as the situation might demand.
This is all that I can to-day say upon this subject. There exists between members of the Diet and the government a material difference with regard to responsibility. A member may express his wishes, and exhibit at will the most flattering ideas, while the government, on the other hand, is held accountable for every word uttered. It is obliged sometimes to keep silence, even when it sees the measures pursued by it with the most honest intentions, qualified, now on one side, then on the other, with epithets of treason to the country. Now, a similar expression should not be employed, excepting under full consciousness and conviction; precisely because such an epithet should not be used in reference even to an error inadvertently but honestly committed, therefore it should not be hastily and prematurely used. [Approbation.] We follow with attention the current of public opinion and the development of events, and we shall have recourse to such measures as circumstances may require; but when a government, which has assumed all the responsibility, is so careful of the blood and treasure of the nation, that government does not deserve a reprimand, and it is not precisely such a government which deserves that, when the occasion arrives, the nation, on its part, also should not waste its blood and treasure. [Enthusiastic applause.]
The member has said that if the government asks not for instructions but a dictatorship, it would do better simply to send home the members of the Diet. Mark what takes place in England Do not the results of the last debate signify that the hands of the government are left free? [Cries of “very true.”] The foreign policy cannot be directed by means of parliamentary instructions, and there is but one course to be pursued. If the representative body has not confidence in the government, the vote in its favor should be left in the minority, and that confidence should be accorded to another government. [Commotion.] Such is constitutional usage. I know that it would be a meager consolation to Hungary if history should one day say, “It was the Tisza ministry which caused Hungary’s ruin!” Although I have the firm hope that we shall succeed, through our patriotic efforts, in preserving the country from every danger, still I wish, in order that the government may act freely during the recess, to induce the chamber to pronounce before separation upon the question of knowing if it has sufficient confidence in the government, in order to leave with it the direction of affairs.”
The chamber accepted this answer by a large majority.
Both parliaments, Austrian and Hungarian, have voted a lengthened adjournment, to take place on the occasion of the Whitsuntide holidays.
The former have decided to occupy the interval before reassembling, in pursuance of an invitation of the city of Trieste, in a visit and examination of the new maritime constructions of that city, and afterwards also of the naval arsenal at Pola, returning by the new railway through the province of Istria, for the purpose of inspecting that work.
I have, &c.,