« AnteriorContinuar »
They do not see that, while the government of England or France exists, as its main object, to secure the common rights of human beings to the inhabitants of England or France, the so-called government of 'Turkey' exists for the exactly opposite object, that of hindering the mass of the inhabitants of Turkey' from enjoying the common rights of human beings. Confusions of the same kind, equally likely to lead to practical error, are sure to arise, if men allow themselves to use such phrases as Austrian nationality' and the like. In such phrases there is exactly the same transfer of words from cases to which they really apply to cases to which they do not apply. There are six great powers of Europe: England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria. There is, beyond all doubt, an English, a French, a German, an Italian, and a Russian nation. It is very tempting to infer that there must be an Austrian nation also. We may, with the strictest fitness, apply phrases like 'nationality,' 'national feeling,' 'national independence,' to England, France, Germany, Italy, or Russia. It is tempting to infer that phrases which are so thoroughly in their place when they are applied to five out of the six great powers, must be equally in their place when they are applied to the sixth also.
Now there doubtless are cases in which this way of talking is the result of sheer ignorance. We have lately heard the story of the Englishman who landed at a Dalmatian-that is, in one sense, an Austrian-port, and expected that the people of that port would speak the Austrian language. His argument was as good as any of the other arguments. As there is an English, a French, a German, an Italian, and a Russian language, as people in those several countries speak those languages, so there must be an Austrian language, and people in Austria must speak it. Most people, one would think, know better than this. Most people of any kind of education surely have knowledge enough to keep them from thinking that there is an "Austrian language spoken throughout the whole of Austria.' And, if they have knowledge enough for this, they really have knowledge enough to keep them right on the whole matter. But this is one of the endless cases in which people do not use their knowledge. They do, in a certain sense, know a thing; that is, if they were strictly examined, they would give the right answer. But, unless so specially pressed, they think, speak, and act, exactly as if they did not know it. Crowds of people who, if they were examined, would show that they really know that all Turkey' is not Turkish, that all Austria' is not Austrian, must yet be set down as practically thinking that they are so, because they habitually speak as if they thought so. And not only is speaking, whoever may be the speaker, really acting-for every man's speech helps to make up the mass of public opinion, and so leads towards public action-but those whose more direct business it is to act are of all men the most liable to be influenced by these
See Mr. A. J. Evans, in the Fortnightly Review, April 1880.
inaccuracies of thought and expression. The diplomatist, of whatever rank-he who ought to know, and who in a certain sense does know, more of foreign affairs than any private man can know-is of all men the most exposed to influences which are likely to make him, in another sense, know less of foreign affairs than a well-informed and thoughtful private man. I remember some years ago reading an article, written by one who, I believe, was not strictly a diplomatist, but who had certainly passed his life in the thick of national business. He dealt with the political position of several of the European states, and among others of the Austrian power. He was in no danger at all of believing that there was a single Austrian language spoken throughout all Austria.' His facts could not be gainsaid; but his way of putting them was remarkable. He explained to his readers that there was a considerable Slavonic element in Austria,' 'even in those provinces, like Bohemia, which border on Germany.' Nothing can be more undoubtedly true; but the way of putting it showed the state of mind of a man who had never stopped to think of the real present relations among the lands of which he was speaking, still less of the past events which have caused those present relations. He would seem never to have looked at any map earlier than 1815, perhaps at none earlier than 1866. His whole notion was that there was a power called Austria, quite distinct from Germany, that one province of Austria was called Bohemia, that both in that province and in others there was a considerable Slavonic element. The amusing and instructive thing is that the writer was clearly a little amazed that there should be a Slavonic element in Austria' at all, and he was specially puzzled that there should be such an element in a province so near to Germany as Bohemia. In short he was surprised at finding that Beamish boys were Beamish boys. He was in the same state as those who are surprised to find Welsh spoken in Wales, and French spoken in the Channel Islands.
The special danger of the diplomatist, that which causes his special knowledge to be balanced by a special kind of ignorance, is that his line of life leads him to deal with princes, ministers, courts, hardly ever with nations. He is tempted to forget that there are such things as nations, or at all events to assume that every nation is necessarily represented by its so-called 'government.' He is tempted to assume that the formal arrangements which are entered into between governments must necessarily take effect, as by a kind of physical law, and to forget that the arrangements of governments need, after all, the practical consent of the nations which are concerned in them. The climax of this kind of feeling was reached when an English statesman
* I do not know whether the author of Alice in Wonderland, when he spoke of a 'Beamish boy,' knew that he was naming an ancient and honourable nation. Yet Beme was the name by which our forefathers knew the kingdom of Bohemia or Böhmen, and Beamish, which exists as a surname, like French and others of the kind, is its regularly formed gentile.
counselled the Christian subjects of the Turk not to listen to 'foreign intriguers,' but to lay their grievances before their own Government.' He forgot that those whom he counselled looked on the so-called 'foreign intriguers' as their own countrymen, engaged in a common cause. He forgot that what he called 'their own Government' was in their eyes nothing but a system of foreign brigandage, which hindered them from having any government of their own. He forgot that the existence of the government' before which he counselled them to lay their grievances, was itself the greatest grievance of all, the root of all other grievances. Yet, if that English statesman had been minutely examined, it would most likely have been found that he really knew the plain facts of the case. Only those facts were so utterly contrary to diplomatic formula and diplomatic conventional assumptions that he forgot the facts in the formulæ and the assumptions. He knew the facts; yet he thought, spoke, and acted, exactly as if he had not known them. Thus the very men who ought to go to the root of the matter are led by the habits of their craft to accept names for things, and thereby to act in a manner which is unreal, unpractical, sometimes even sentimental. The Austrian Government,' even the Turkish Government,' must, as long as they exist and artificial diplomacy exists, be addressed according to the conventional phrases of artificial diplomacy. But it will be a very unreal and unpractical kind of action if any English statesman is led by the habitual use of conventional forms to forget that those governments' are not governments in the same sense as those of England, France, and Italy, as those of Germany and Russia, to forget that they are not, in the same way as those five, entitled to speak on behalf of a nation.
In thus saying, I hope I may not be thought by any one to be guilty of the injustice of placing the Austrian Government' on the same level as the Turkish Government,' with regard to its general practical working. I hope also that I may not be thought to have overlooked the great differences which may be found in the several positions of the five governments with which I have contrasted them. This last distinction I shall presently have to draw. But from the point of view of the moment, the Austrian Government' and the Turkish Government' may be looked on as forming one class, and the other five governments-along with the governments of those other European states which do not rank as great powers-as forming another class. Indeed, of the two, the Turkish Government' comes nearer to the position of a national government than the 'Austrian Government.' To speak of the Turkish,' or more accurately Ottoman,' nation' is often misleading; but the phrase may be justified in some lands and from some points of view. But there is no point of view from which we can look to any land in which an 'Austrian nation' in any sense can be discovered.
There is really no better test than that which is implied in the story of the man who expected to find the people of Ragusa speaking
'Austrian.' As there is an English, a French, a German, an Italian, and a Russian language, so there is also a Turkish language. But there is no Austrian language. That is to say, in the most marked outward sign of nationality the Turks themselves make a nearer approach to nationality than the so-called 'Austrians.' Looking at Europe only, we should say that the Turks-it is better in such discussions to say the Ottomans-have no right to be called a nation. In Asia they undoubtedly have such a right. In Europe, in large parts of Asia, they are simply foreign intruders in the lands of other nations; but in other large parts of Asia they are really the people of the land. I have said before now that, while we cannot put up with a Sultan at Constantinople, we should have no quarrel with a Sultan at Iconium. The actual rule of the ring at Constantinople is quite as oppressive, though not quite in the same way, to the settled national Turk as it is to the Christian; still to the one it is the oppression of a native sovereign; to the other it is the oppression of a foreign invader. We may fairly say that there is an Ottoman nation. What we complain of is that a certain part of the Ottoman nation intrudes itself as a ruling order, caste, or gang, into the lands of other nations. Our traveller would, in any part of Turkey,' have found some people who spoke the Turkish language; in some parts of Turkey' he would have found the Turkish language the only language spoken. But there is no part of Austria' in which he would find any Austrian language spoken at all. And if, armed with greater accuracy of speech, instead of going to Austria' to seek for the Austrian language, he had gone into 'Austro-Hungary,' to seek for the Austro-Hungarian language, one can only guess that his fate might be the same as if he had gone forth in any age of English history to seek for a live Semi-Saxon.
Now it may here be objected that, if Austria or Austro-Hungary is not a national power, so neither are some at least of the other five powers. If the test of language be taken, it may be said that, out of all the five, Italy alone can stand the test. Those parts of the kingdom of Italy which do not speak Italian are certainly so small that, in a general view of Europe, or even of Italy, it needs a strong magnifier to see them. It may be said that everybody in England speaks English; but if, for the somewhat inaccurate, or at least inadequate, name of England, we substitute the United Kingdom, or even Great Britain, or even England and Wales, there are within any of these limits some people who do not speak English at all; there is a perfectly visible proportion to whom English is not their natural tongue. So in France there are perfectly visible corners which speak other tongues than French. In the German Empire there are not
'I am here assuming, in a slighter and more general way, the results of the inquiry which I have made in the article headed Race and Language,' in my Third Series of Historical Essays. I have there spoken of some Austrian and Turkish' questions in a more minute and scientific fashion than I can do here, and I have drawn some distinctions which I must here take for granted.
No. 607 (No. cxxvII. N. s.)
only visible corners which speak other tongues than German, but visible corners which would be glad to be separated from the German Empire. And if all people in France do not speak French, if all people in Germany do not speak German, still less do all people in Russia speak Russian. It is quite certain that none of the powers, not even Italy, exactly answers to a nation as defined by language. But three, perhaps four, answer to nations as defined in other ways. The strongest Home Ruler in Ireland does not ask that Ireland shall be so separated from Great Britain as that Great Britain and Ireland shall cease to form one whole in the face of other powers. Up to the changes of 1860 and 1871, one might have said that no one in France wished to be separated from France, and that no one out of France wished to be joined to France. This can no longer be said with the same exclusive truth; but it is still perfectly true that those corners of France which speak some other tongue than French have not the faintest wish to be separated from France. The German Empire is far from containing all Germans, and it contains some who are not Germans; still it contains so great a majority of the German-speaking people everywhere, it contains so overwhelming a majority of Germanspeaking people within its own borders, that not only is it essentially a German state, but it is the representative state of the German people everywhere. In the Russian Empire, even in European Russia, the non-Russian elements are far greater and more important, and one element, perhaps more, would gladly part asunder from the others. Still the moving power of the Russian Empire is Russian, and though there is, as we shall presently see, a Russian population outside the Russian Empire, that population is not to be compared for a moment to the German population outside the German Empire. Thus, in all these cases, even in that where the political power is furthest from coinciding with a nation as defined by language, there is one race, one language, which is manifestly dominant, and which gives its national character to the power of which it is the head and centre. In Austria' there is none such. In Hungary taken alone there is; but in Austria' or Austro-Hungary' there is none. There is no
one dominant race, no one dominant language. Two races, two languages, are dominant in the sense of bearing rule over the others; a third race, a third language, is dominant in the sense of forming the great majority of the whole. In the kingdom of Hungary the Magyars form a ruling race among a majority of non-Magyar races, Slavonic, Rouman, and German. In the whole Austro-Hungarian dominions, Magyars and Germans side by side form two dominant races among other races more numerous than either.
Now it is well to learn from an enemy, and there is one enemy who gives us his teaching day by day. This is the Vienna correspondent of the Times,' in whose letters we daily see what the official Austrian spirit has become under Jewish and Magyar ascendency. Nowhere do we see a more bitter and remorseless hatred towards the struggling nations of South-Eastern Europe,