Mr. Delaplaine to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna, June 28, 1877. (Received July 16.)
Sir: In the sitting of the Hungarian Diet on the 26th, the debate on the Oriental policy of the government was continued.
Count Albert Appony declared, amid the plaudits of the chamber, that he and his colleagues of the conservative party were in favor of a conservative policy in the Oriental question, and for the maintenance of Turkey, and that the best means for assuring protection to the interests of the country consisted in manifesting respect for treaties. Upon this [Page 37]point, said the orator, the feelings of the nation are so unanimous that it would seem as if the government could scarcely lend itself to any policy opposed to the national sentiment.
Mr. Benjamin Kallay, a former consul-general of Austria-Hungary at Belgrade, endeavored to demonstrate that Panslavism, so far as it aimed at a union of all the Sclave populations of Europe, did not actually have existence. The Sclave population who were not Russians did not in the least admit that Russia had for its mission the regeneration of Europe. The struggle by Russia for the possession of Constantinople had lasted during many past generations, and although it may still meet interruptions, he believed that the result would yet be accomplished. He deprecated, however, the formation of new states at the frontiers, which might become a danger to the monarchy; yet he hoped that the struggle now engaged in might prove a final one. He insisted that reforms were indispensable in Turkey, but all attempts had been wrecked; while he regarded the nation as doomed to decay under the theocratical form of Islamism, which absorbed all lawful rights.
The orator, in terminating, expressed his approval of the policy hitherto followed by the government, and his conviction that no fear need be entertained, whatever turn events might assume.
The minister-president, Tisza, rose to speak, while silence and profound attention prevailed in the chamber. He declared that it was an erroneous assertion frequently advanced that the policy followed was in opposition to public opinion, which he explained, however, by the fact that the antagonists of that policy, by their constant association with each other, readily and bonâ fide held to and believed as the public opinion of the country that which was simply the sentiment of their political friends.
Further, if the government had listened to and followed the suggestions of certain members, at least six hundred thousand children of the country would have been withdrawn from their occupations and their families, and some hundreds of millions in fresh imports and charges would have laid upon the shoulders of the nation. And what would have been the object of such a course? To protect our interests? They have been already protected, without such sacrifices. He believed when the public opinion shall be enlightened and become aware of this, its verdict will be that the government has acted wisely.
It has been incessantly repeated that while the nation possesses a powerful and valiant army, it is unnecessary to follow a timid and reserved policy. To that he would reply that if the army is well equipped the merit of that does not belong to those who have constantly opposed the appropriations for that purpose. Besides, a powerful army does not present a reason for engaging in premature action, but, on the contrary, it affords us the ability to await tranquilly the march of events. That he would still add one observation to those who uttered praises of the army, and that was, that in this respect they were quite correct, but, on the other hand, that various expressions of distrust and suspicion against certain officers of the army were inappropriate, and should at least have been refrained from. He would not pretend that members of the army had not, like others, their sympathies and their antipathies; but what he would sustain was, that in the army reigned the sentiment of duty, and that it would accomplish this duty with enthusiasm and under all circumstances.
The Hungarian minister-president then referred to his preceding declarations. The policy of the monarchy has reserved for itself a full and entire freedom of action, and no power accuses it of entertaining [Page 38]subversive tendencies. In relation to the presumed occupation and to the mobilization, nothing had been decided at the last ministerial council, where in fact the question had not been brought forward. He did not pretend that the counsellors of the crown did not occasionally, although not in that conference, discuss generally similar eventualities, inasmuch as the contrary would indicate on their part indifference or remissness.
However, he was able to assure the chamber that within circles having the prerogative of decision no person would venture to prescribe to the ministry for foreign affairs any change in the present relations of possession and force at the frontiers. He continued to remark that, after what had just been said, he believed that it was incumbent upon him to repeat once more, that neither as regarded mobilization nor with reference to the eventuality that, according as matters might develop themselves, the army might be called to cross the frontiers at some point, could he give any binding promise for the future, because such promise was indeed impracticable, inasmuch as by such promise the monarchy would be deprived, in certain eventualities, of availing itself of the most efficient means of defending its interests. That he would further repeat the assurance that the government was bound by no engagement on any side, and he added, that for more than a year past it had often been reproached because the only idea guiding its foreign policy was the protection of the interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to the exclusion of all sympathies and all antipathies. He declared that the blood and treasure of the Austro-Hungarian people should be spared as far as practicable, and that no burdens should be laid upon them which could be avoided. Still he indulged the well-founded hope that when eventualities might demand, the collective populations of the monarchy would with enthusiasm and devotion respond to the call of their sovereign.
Under that conviction, he believed that they should calmly regard even the most threatening appearances, and he besought the members of the house to reflect that the constantly recurring mention of danger which did not exist indicated no manly courage. Besides, it was calculated to agitate the nerves of the people, which result might cause depression when the moment of action should arrive, and they would disbelieve the existence of danger when danger was staring them in the face.
The delivery of the speech was followed by loud plaudits of the chamber. Both the Austrian and Hungarian journals report that it has exercised a most assuring and encouraging influence. Even a telegraphic dispatch from the Emperor has been addressed to the minister-president in evidence of his satisfaction, in the following words:
My Dear Tisza: I cannot omit, and my love for my country urges me, to congratulate and to thank you for your patriotic speech.
A telegram from Count Andrássy followed in these words:
I congratulate you on your speech, which was so admirable that I am disposed to feel envious of you.
I have, &c.,