Abbildungen der Seite

Dr. Becher's work gives the population of the empire down to the commencement of 1840, and shows it to amount to 36,950,401 souls. From what we have stated respecting Hungary, it will not appear improbable that the estimate for that portion of the empire is considerably over-rated, perhaps by a million and a half. The population may however, with tolerable certainty, be assumed at 35,500,000, or about the population of France. This number is more than double the population of Prussia, which in 1840 was found to be 14,900,000, and considerably exceeds the population of the whole German Confederation, without the Austrian contingent, which was estimated in 1837 at 27,500,000.

This number of inhabitants is most unequally distributed over the surface of 12,150 square German miles, but gives an average of 133 inhabitants per English square mile. The average of Prussia does not exceed 107 per English mile, that of the Confederation, without Austria, is 185, and that of France was, in 1831, 170.

An enumeration of the population in thirteen provinces takes place with sufficient accuracy every three years, and the rate of increase in the twenty years between 1818 and 1837, notwithstanding the ravages of the cholera, was found to amount to 163,922 per annum, on a population of from 18,000,000 to 21,000,000, or about jo per cent. per annum. The annual increase between 1818 and 1830 was found to be 110 per cent. per annum. In a healthy year, such as 1837, it now exceeds 1% per cent.

But a loose calculation of the distribution of the population, according to the superficies of the empire at large, or even of every province, gives a vague and often an erroneous idea of the physical and moral powers of these countries, and this estimate is all which M. Becher's work affords the means of making. We rejoice that we are able, from our own resources, to supply the deficiency, and shall proceed to describe each province separately.

It must previously be observed, that the provinces may be classed in four distinct groups, according to the nationality which predominates in each. The Slavonian provinces are, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Galicia, Illyria, Dalmatia, and the


military frontier. The greatest, but not the finest, part of Hungary is likewise inhabited by Slavonians, as are likewise the two finest circles of Styria. The total number of Slavonic inhabitants in the empire may be estimated at sixteen millions. They form two compact masses, one to the north and another to the south of the Danube ; the northern reckoning perhaps twelve millions, the southern four millions, of souls. They are divided from each other by the intervention of the Germanic provinces, Upper and Lower Austria, and by the two plains of Hungary, which are the chief seats of the Magyars, or Hungarians proper.

The northern Slavonic group contains three nationalities (for the term nation cannot be applied, and tribe more properly describes their subdivisions). The Czechy, in Bohemia, Moravia, the north-western counties of Hungary and part of Silesia, may be classed under three tribes—the Czechs, or Bohemians, the Moravians and the Slovacks. In the earlier ages of Europe, these tribes, whether united or divided, formed an imposing force. The dukes and kings of Bohemia and the princes of Moravia, while they stood alone, did homage to the German emperor, but were the most powerful of his vassals, with the internal concerns of whose states he never pretended to interfere. When, in the thirteenth century, Ottocar Przemysl, the leading character of his time, united Moravia with Bohemia, the extension of his rule from the Oder to the Alps was a matter of easy accomplishment, and the Germans were in doubt whether to place themselves under his protection by electing him to their vacant throne, or to make a last effort for their nationality. The last view prevailed, and, with the aid of the Hungarians, who likewise feared the great Slavonian, proved successful. The victory of Rudolph of Hapsburg over Ottocar in the Marchfield, in 1278, rescued for the Germans the most valuable jewel of a nation,—the right to keep the path which habit has made easy in the march of civilization, to use their own language, and to consult their own inclinations and prejudices. Thus the Germans were freed from the imminent danger of becoming ultimately the victims to the Slavonians, which the Slavonians have since proved of their German task-masters.

The rich possessions of the kings of Bohemia did not,


however, fall into the hands of the archdukes of Austria immediately on the extinction of the direct line of the native sovereigns in 1305. The Emperor Henry VII., of the house of Luxemburg, conferred the vacant fief on his son John, and laid, by this donation, the foundation of the future greatness of his family. Under Charles IV. Prague became the capital of Germany and of civilization. He had an easy task in reconciling the Bohemians with the polish of the West, because at that period the substantial benefits of civilization followed the outward display that it induced, and commerce, the arts and learning kept equal pace with the growth of regal and aristocratic pomp.

The sovereignty of Austria followed by treaty on the extinction of the house of Luxemburg, by the death of Louis in the Marshes of Mohacs, in 1526; but the right thus obtained was converted into the direful supremacy of conquest by the sad results of the war of thirty years, and of the sway which the Jesuits, by means of those deplorable events, obtained in the councils of the empire. At the peace of Westphalia, in 1648, the population of Bohemia is said not to have much exceeded 200,000, and of the splendour and wealth of Prague little remained but the deserted buildings, which still testify to its early importance. The name of Bohemian became synonymous with that of Protestant, Hussite, and rebel, and the rule not only of a foreign potentate, but of foreign language, manners and cultivation, was enforced by the iron hand of despotism.

Still, amidst all these disadvantages, with others arising from the constant wars within the empire, the wounds gradually healed which had been so deeply struck, the population increased, and Bohemia now counts four millions and a half of industrious and enlightened citizens. The cultivation of the vernacular language commenced under the liberal auspices of Joseph II., and the literature, which has begun to assume a place beside that of Poland, is received in Moravia, Silesia and the north of Hungary with feelings of filial attachment.

Into the mournful history of Poland we need not here enter. It is well known that on more than one occasion the Austrian court was not unwilling to restore the share of that



unhappy kingdom, which has, under every shade of suffering and under every discouraging circumstance, so tenaciously clung to the idea of nationality. By such a cession Austria would have withdrawn within its natural boundaries of the Riesen Mountains and the Carpathians, and would only have lost a province which is now exposed to every incursion its northern neighbour, in times of irritation, may project; while it would be impossible to check the impulse of its inhabitants to unite with their brethren on the Vistula, when Providence shall bring about their day of retribution. Austria has not a single fortress on the northern side of the Carpathians.

The inhabitants of Galicia subdivide into two nationalities, the Mazurs, or Poles proper, one of the finest races of men in the world, and the Ruthenes, or Little Russians, who extend through Podolia, Wolhynia and the Ukraine into Russia, of which empire their territory forms perhaps the most valuable portion. The river San, in Galicia, marks the boundary between these tribes. The Mazurs live on the western, the Ruthenes on the eastern side of that river, whence the latter extend into the north-eastern counties of Hungary, into Moldavia and the adjoining provinces of Poland now subject to Russia.

To the southward of the Danube we meet the first Slavonians, the descendants of the ancient Illyrians, in the eastern circles of Styria, whence we can follow them through Carinthia and Carniola into Friaul on the one side, and into Croatia and Dalmatia on the other. In the military frontier these meet with the Servians, who have wandered from the Turkish side of the Save and the Danube, where, under the names of Bosnians, Servians and Bulgarians, both the Christian and Mahomedan inhabitants are of the same race. If Napoleon had consolidated his ephemeral kingdom of Illyria by means of free institutions suited to the demands of the age, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to overturn it. Four tribes form the southern Austrian Slavonic group, the Illyrians, Croatians, Servians and Dalmatians.

The decided superiority in numbers of the Slavonic population has made us name this portion first; but Austria still claims supremacy as a German power. The Germans

inhabit exclusively only the provinces of Upper and Lower Austria, Tyrol and one-half of Styria, amounting together to three millions of souls. The number scattered through the other provinces is said to amount to three millions and a half.

The Italians in the kingdom of Lombardy and Venice, in south Tyrol and in the southern parts of Illyria, amount to 4,600,000. The writer we have before quoted counts the Wallachians, in Hungary and Transylvania, whose numbers are estimated at 1,560,000, with the Italians, as they descend from the ancient Roman settlers on the Lower Danube, and call themselves Romuni; but the connexion has long been broken off by the influence of time and distance.

The interesting and enterprising nation of the Magyars occupies the finest seats in the empire, and perhaps in Europe. In number not exceeding 5,500,000, they have for centuries asserted their supremacy over a mixed population of Slavonians and Wallachians, double their number, while they have defended the palladium of free institutions against the open attacks of avowed enemies, and the more insidious attempts of pretended friends and reformers.

The task of keeping so many and such various provinces in peaceful submission to one head is not of easy execution, nor could it probably have been accomplished without an union of circumstances of a rare kind. Undisturbed peace for a quarter of a century, the occurrence of none of those striking events which materially affect the relative positions of kingdoms or of provinces, the care of a firm and experienced statesman, together with a domestic policy which contains many things remarkably well suited to the exigencies of the times, were all requisite to secure the very existence of a body politic of so heterogeneous a nature.

The successful rivalry of Rudolph of Hapsburg with the King of Bohemia enabled him to endow his family with the marches of Austria and the mountain districts of Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol. The ambition of his successors was crowned, as we have seen, after the lapse of three centuries, with the succession to Bohemia and Hungary, which, with the sway over the wealthy kingdoms of Spain and the Netherlands, ensured the inheritance of the imperial dignity in that family. Yet, until the close of the thirty years' war, in which

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »