Page images



note; but Boniface stared in astonishment at such an idea, as coin had not been seen at Szeverin for many months. The whole sum represented by this bank note was ten kreutzers, amounting to somewhere about fourpence of our money, and the female pauper's importunity was satisfied on its being torn into four pieces, of which one was given to her. This circumstance will demonstrate to the reader the state and condition of Croatia. If specie had totally disappeared in this country, or in any colony under the dependency of the British Crown, one could scarcely imagine that society would long hold together. When the late Mr. Huskisson stated, after the event in 1826, that, in the preceding year of 1825, we were within twenty-four hours of barter, commercial men, on hearing him, shuddered, feeling the danger of the crisis through which we had gone. But though Croatia is not England-still less London-yet every reflecting man must see, that the moment there is the least disagreement between the five principal European powers-the moment the first gun is fired in anger in Europe-society in Croatia is in such a condition that it is sure to be rent asunder by some violent convulsion. Blind and abject followers of the ambitious and intriguing Jellachich four years ago, and then ready, at his bidding, to fall on Hungarians and Austrians, the Croatians now feel that they have been used by the Kaiser and his cabinet only to be neglected; and if any attempt be made by the Magyars to recover their independence-and that such an attempt will be made, who can doubt?-the Croatians, in that certain event, will eagerly join the Hungarians. It is the deliberate opinion of the author whose book is now before us, that another insurrection is projected at such time as the principles entertained by the leaders are spread over all the Sclavonian provinces of the Austrian empire. Already the Croatians feel the error they fell into by opposing the Magyars, and are henceforth prepared to make common cause with them. In 1848 and 1849 they were induced to follow their Ban in his campaign against Hungary by promises of political enfranchisement, and of diminutions in their fiscal burdens, but these promises have been belied by Jellachich, who is now as unpopular as he was formerly revered. The general and growing discontent of the populations that do not belong to the German race is ripe in Croatia, and there can be little doubt that, in the future,-fast approaching and at all events inevitable vicissitudes to which the Austrian empire is destined-this people of Croatia will appear in a new and a dif ferent light. Although they object now to a Magyar supremacy just as strenuously as they did four years ago, yet they also entertain the conviction that no such supremacy is intended, and

their natural sympathies and best wishes are at present in favour of the Hungarians. The Croatians feel that they form part of the Sclavonian nation, but that their origin is all that now remains to identify them with the greatness of their ancestors. The struggles of Italy of which they have heard the struggles of Germany and Hungary in which they took an unhappy, if not an ungenerous part-now impel them to deduce or realize from a historical fact a political idea. Taught to believe they are the descendants of a great nation, they have a consciousness of their moral and intellectual superiority to the Austrians—and, at the very first commotion or outbreak that occurs in any part of Europe, they will take part in the general movement, and no longer submit to the forced subjection in which they have been placed. Hatred and contempt are now universally felt by the Sclavonic population through the Danubian provinces for the German race of the Duchy of Austria, and unerring indications are thus afforded, that, on the first European disturbance, the Austrians must succumb.

The author of the volume first numbered on the title-page of this article is of opinion that the Sclavonic race is really a remnant of the ancient Assyrian nation. He contends that all the Assyrian names which have reached us are translatable by words of the modern Sclavonic languages, and that the inscriptions found in Asia, which have baffled the attempts to explain them. by the assistance of Greek, Hebrew, Persian, and Chaldean, are easily read by means of their analogy with Sclavonian expression. He remarks, that the name of Nebuchadnezzar is formed of the Sclavonian words, Ne buhod no tsar,' which signify, 'No God but the King.' He urges that the name Sclavonian is the root from which the word slave is derived in almost every European language; and that from that of one of their tribes, the Serbians, or Serbs, originated the term serf. There seems, however, good reason to doubt this etymology. The Russians contend that the word slava means, not slave, but glory; though in this a great Bohemian authority is against them. Die Etymologie der Slawen von Clawd (Ruhm) ist sehr leicht aber nicht passend,' says Pelzels. And again, in another passage, speaking of the origin of the Sclaves,Die Slawen dieser grosse machtige durch Europa weit ausgebreitche Volkenstramme wissen ihre abkunft nicht."*

The Sclavonic race, numbering as it does, according to some, eighty-five, and, according to others, no less than one hundred millions, is unquestionably the most numerous people in Europe,

* Franz Martin Pelzels, Geschichte ueber den ursprung des namen Tschech. Prag, 1817.

[blocks in formation]

and, with the exception of the Chinese, the most numerous people in the world.

In this age of rapid and startling changes, the conditions and feelings of this people are forced on the attention of every one who seriously considers the probable destinies of Europe. The Bulgarians, Servians, Bosnians, and Croats of Turkey, with the Montenegrins, amount to upwards of seven millions. In Russia, there are thirty-five millions of Muscovite Sclavonians, and ten millions of Ruthenians, belonging to the same race; while the Poles, also Sclavonians, form a population of twenty millions, divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. The Illyrians, Austrian Croats, Dalmatians, Silesians of Austria, Bohemians, Moravians, and Hungarians, exclusive of the Magyar tribe, constitute eighteen millions of the inhabitants of the Austrian empire. These Sclavonians, thus more than a third of Europe, are nowhere ruled by a native dynasty. There exists but one family of Sclavonic origin-the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg. The Muscovite branch of the Sclavonian people is the lowest in the scale of social and intellectual condition.


Sclavonic population, ruled by the Sultan, is in course of regeneration, by the system of equality lately introduced among the different races of his subjects; and the Austrian portion, though still oppressed, is struggling to rise from the state of passive degradation in which it has for centuries been immersed. It is satisfactory to know that the Sclavonic race is now, both in Austria and in Turkey, displaying a high degree of energy. In many of the states incorporated in the German dominions, and more especially in Austria, they write vigorously and successfully on their own condition and destinies.

First roused by the ambition of Russia, who hoped thereby to gain an advantage over the Turkish, Austrian, and Prussian portions of the Sclavonic race, the spirit of Sclavonic nationality soon spread, especially in Turkey, because anti-Russian in its tendency. Ultimately, too, Russian Panslavism was as much at a discount in Vienna and at Berlin as at Constantinople.

The talisman by which the Sultan, in preference to the Czar, gained the good will of the Sclavonians, was the Tanzimat. This was their title to religious tolerance, and to equality before the law.

The British resident of twenty years in the East gives us an account of that long belt of country which extends from Dalmatia to Moldavia, and which is called the military frontier. It includes the southernmost parts of Croatia, Sclavonia, Hungary, and Transylvania, measures nine hundred miles in length, and

covers an area of between three and four thousand square miles. In this territory every peasant is a soldier, and the administration of civil affairs is conducted by the officers of the frontier corps. The Empress Maria Theresa was the founder of this system. chiefly with the view to protect her provinces by the establishment of a military cordon from the hostile attacks of her Turkish neighbours, and from the plague, which, in her day, occasionally appeared at Bosnia and Servia. The principle adopted by the Empress Queen is still maintained in full vigour, though the troops thus enrolled are employed elsewhere when needed. Two hundred thousand men are, by this means, added to the standing force of Austria. They cost the imperial treasury merely the outlay for arming them, as they receive neither pay nor rations, except when removed from their regular quarters for the purposes of war, when they are fed. But they are not paid or clothed at the public expense, being allowed to seek compensation as much from their fellow-subjects as from the enemy. The wretched condition of these troops may be easily conceived: their ordinary routine of service is to mount guard in the watch-towers of the cordon, where they remain a week; they then go to the head-quarters of their company to be drilled for another week; after this, they are again on duty at their posts for a week; when they are allowed to return to their homes, to pass the last week in agricultural labour. Their families are supported on the produce of one quarter of their work. The neglected state of husbandry observable in the military frontiers is a necessary consequence of the life they are obliged to lead. As to the men themselves, they look more like beggars than soldiers. Clothed,' says our author, in rags, with 'rude sandals on their stockingless feet, they wear their cross-belts, bayonets, and pouches without ever thinking of cleaning them.' Some of them are mere boys of thirteen or fourteen years of age, dragged from their families and their work to idle away their time in a guard-house, and to learn the hardships and vices of their older comrades. Can it be expected that a population so gathered together should have any moral worth, or should be attached to a government which thus treats them? If Austria, we repeat, be again in internal difficulties, the inhabitants of the military frontiers are likely to take advantage of the first favourable opportunity to turn the arms they have been taught to use against the power which condemns them to such intolerable evils. When in 1848 and 1849, the greatest part of the Austrian empire was at war with the emperor, the inhabitants of the military frontier were kept in such profound ignorance, that they knew nothing of the rising of the Italians, Viennese, and



Hungarians; but now that they know of what then took place, and that they are aware of the existence of a spirit of independence, and have seen the possibility of resistance demonstrated in the battle-field of Hungary, they dwell on their own wrongs and sufferings, and are no longer governed by a spirit of abject submission and blind obedience. The country they inhabit is eminently adapted to resistance and defence, offering inaccessible retreats. Nor would an asylum be wanting in case of danger or reverses; for Bosnia is only a few miles distant; and Turkish hospitality is always extended to the stranger or the unfortunate.

At Brod, a Sclavonian town, our author had an opportunity of remarking on the difference between the Sclavonians and the Croats. The Sclavonians,' says he, are a people of a totally 'different aspect from the Croatians, and their character is reputed in every respect superior; for the Croats are lazy, intemperate, 'and lawless, while the Sclavonians are industrious, sober, and orderly.'

On the banks of the Saave, our British resident came into contact with an officer of the frontier regiment, whose conversation, we have no doubt, was but an echo of the opinion of his fellows:

'The Sclavonians,' he exclaimed, are oppressed by Austria as much as the Magyars are, and in this respect we are all in the same condition. Bosnia and Servia are comparatively happy under the Sultan, and they have every prospect of advancing rapidly in the career of improvement and of prosperity, both political and material; but the yoke has again been placed on our necks through the overwhelming assistance of the false Sclavonians of Russia, without which the Germans could never have reduced us to this state. They will not keep us long under the lash, however, and we shall still be free. England will help us in the end.'

When feelings of this kind are general, and are confided to an Englishman on board a steam-boat, it may be fancied how frail is the tenure by which Austria keeps its Sclavonian population in bondage.

The British resident describes the kingdom of Hungary, with Transylvania and Croatia, as about the size of Great Britain and Ireland. It has a population of nearly 15,000,000. Of these, the Magyars are 5,000,000, the Sclavonians (called Russians) and Slovacs amount to 6,000,000; there are upwards of 1,600,000 Germans (Jews and gipsies), and in the Eastern part, there are of the Wallachs, about 3,000,000 (descendants of Trajan's colonists), about an equal number of them being subjects of the Sultan. The Magyars claim descent from the Huns of Attila, contending

« PreviousContinue »