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the rate of interest on Government securities varying from 6 to 7 per cent., money could only be borrowed on terms which considerably diminished the probability of eventual profit; and so little were monetary principles understood in parts of the empire, that the province of Transylvania in 1840 did not possess a single bank. A retail tradesman at that time undertook the transmission of money to Vienna, and he would not even receive deposits unless he was paid a percentage for keeping them.*
The want of capital has hitherto prevented the growth of an intermediate order between the landowner and the labourer, and the non-existence of an independent, prosperous middleclass has had an important influence in retarding the material progress of Austria. Commerce has been confined within narrow limits, and restricted to a small number of competitors; and society has been divided into two great denominations—the rich and the poor. Banking accommodation has been rarely afforded except to large landed proprietors; and the great stream of public wealth has not been augmented by those innumerable petty rills, the aggregate contributions of which in other countries so vastly augment its volume, and accelerate its course. The rural economy of Austria has scarcely yet reached that stage of development in which rent is produced. There are few persons corresponding to the British farmer who invest their capital in the cultivation of ļand not their own, and derive from it a comfortable subsistence, Almost every proprietor within the Austrian dominions cultivates his own estate. No social phenomenon can more clearly mark the economical difference between England and Austria. Throughout almost the whole of its varied provinces a prince or noble, although the owner of a domain compared with which the largest of English estates would be thought only a petty farm, rarely lets any portion of it to a tenant; but having erected a sufficient number of farm-houses, he places in each a person of his own selection, and pays him for cultivating the land. The capabilities of the soil are, of course, but lightly tested by this system of farming; and it affords little indication of what the future yield of land might become when science and capital are combined in its cultivation.
The impediments which were long opposed to cultivation of waste-lands must have materially interfered with the course of agricultural improvement. The conversion, for example, of the smallest portion of forest into arable land required the special permission of the Sovereign, because the forest laws had enacted that, in order to prevent a scarcity of wood, the extent of forestland should not be diminished; and a lord who desired to purchase even a few square yards of land from his tenant for building purposes was obliged to obtain the assent of the Emperor to the arrangement, because, by a well-meant enactment, the tenant-laws had forbidden the increase of domains from tenantlands.
* Paget's Hungary and Transylvania,' p. 239.
To these disadvantages under which the commerce and agriculture of Austria have long laboured must be added the system of State lotteries, which has created a spirit of gambling which is diffused throughout all ranks of society, and has diverted the savings of multitudes from reproductive industry to exciting and often ruinous speculation. More than 20,000,000 florins, or nearly two millions sterling, are annually devoted by the public to this demoralising pleasure. The passion for gambling is indulged by persons of the slenderest means, and even wealthy and respectable firms have sometimes brought themselves to the verge of bankruptcy by such speculations. Lottery agents are appointed even in the remotest and least populous districts of the empire; and the spirit of gambling has become so widely extended that the amount invested in tickets increased from 1850 to 1857 by not less than 150 per cent. The Government obtains a considerable sum annually from this objectionable source; but it is to be hoped that the blot of such a financial expedient will soon be effaced from the Austrian budget.*
Not the least influential of the causes which have kept the Austrian empire in a state of financial penury and material backwardness has been its frequent political disquiet. It has been constantly contending with the passion of provincial independence, and striving to subdue and extinguish that spirit of clanship in some one or other of its numerous provinces which was always aiming at the disintegration of the State. Innumerable conflicting local interests have from time immemorial thwarted the best-conceived plans for the common good. The union even of the German provinces has been often precarious, but the empire has long struggled, and struggled in vain, to reconcile to its dominion a people who are almost unique in Europe. An Asiatic horde burst into the province of Pannonia in the year 883, and it has kept possession, through inany vicissitudes, of the territory then acquired. Notwithstanding their long settlement in the very centre of Europe, the
* It is stated by a writer on Austria that the number of drawings in a year throughout the empire is not less than 450, and that the lowest amount that may be staked is two pence. We have, perhaps, scarcely a right to comment on this inancial expedient of the Austrian Government. England was long an offender in the same category; but the lottery system was never carried to the same extent as it is in Austria, and we have long since abandoned our evil course.
and carelessness. No ploughs were used in Hungary until lately but those of the rudest description; harrows were formed from the branches of trees; and the grain is trodden out by horses or oxen in the open field, and then stored in holes dug in the earth. Much of Hungary presents at the present day almost a virgin field for agriculture, and a moderate application of capital would speedily convert it into one of the finest corn-producing districts in the world.
The Austrian empire comprises, since the loss of Lombardy, an area of 11,252 Austrian square miles; and, Switzerland excepted, it is the most mountainous state in Europe. The mountain regions constitute indeed full three-quarters of its area. Austria thus maintains the third rank in geographical importance among the nations of Europe, Russia containing 75,150, and the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway 13,760, geographical square miles. The Alps, the Carpathians, and the Transylvanian mountains enclose the great Hungarian plain, screening it from the chilling winds of the north, and giving to it some geological features which differ from those of Poland. The Adriatic washes 250 miles of the coast. The geological characteristics of so vast a country are, of course, extremely diversified, and include almost every kind of rock, and every quality of soil. The greater part of the empire lies within the temperate zone. The last Census of 1857, which did not include the army, shows a population of 34,439,067 souls; but it is computed that in the beginning of the year 1862 the empire contained 35,795,000 inhabitants, of which Hungary possessed rather more than 10,000,000, nearly one half of whom are Magyars. This large population is thus divided in respect of race and language :Germans
8,200,000 Bohemians, Moravians, and Slovacks 6,300,000 Poles
5,050,000 Italians (inclusive Ladins and Friauls) 3,050,000 Eastern Romans
2,700,000 Members of other races
1,430,000 A large proportion of the population (24,874,000) profess the Roman Catholic faith; about 6,600,000 are members of the Greek Church and its branches; while the remainder are chiefly Protestants and Jews.