AUSTRIAN POSSIBILITIES. - O NE of the gravest mental errors made
by this country during the war has been its preoccupation with Germany. No doubt Germany is the villain of the piece. No doubt Germany dominates, or up till now has dominated, her partners and led them just whither she would. Nevertheless it is a mistake 'to talk, as we are very prone to do, as if there were nothing but Germany to be considered. As the world will very soon discover, Germany, though she is just now dominant, not to say domineering, has got junior partners, and when trouble comes such persons are apt to be hard and unfor- giving. As long as everything went well those partners, like Brer Rabbit in the story, sat still and " weren't saying nuffin'." They might have been a little breathless at the pace at which they were dragged at the coat-tails of Germany, and a little sore at the buffets which somehow or other always seemed to fall hardest on them. Still, victory was victory. Now, however, that things are looking so serious for the Central Powers, the partners are beginning to wake up, and to remind Germany not only of their existence but of their rights. This of course especially applies to Austria, where not only is the internal situation, political and economic, amazingly bad, but also where the monarch is no longer supine with fatalism and old age, as was the late Emperor, but is youngt active, and intensely anxious to save something out-of the ruins of the once proud heritage of the Hapsburgs. He does not want to turn into what Carlyle called an Emperor in furnished lodgings," or to sit down as a dependent and poor relation at the gate of the Kaiser—the typical " decayed gentleman of Europe." Here is a situation which, if the statesmen and diplomats of the Allies are-not strangely blind, gives them a great oppor- tunity. Especially useful will that opportunity be for putting into practice what we have termed the policy of the 'Sibylline books, a policy which, 'though it seems neglected at the moment, is almost certain to come by its own, though probably under an alias. As we have pointed out before, one of the best ways of using it is not only to make the Germans understand that if they harden their hearts and refuse to accept the terms which we offer them now, they will get very much worse terms later, but to point out that as far as the Hohenzollern are concerned they may later either get no terms at all or be forced to accept terms which would madden the people and make them regard their present rulers as the accursed betrayers of the North Germanic kin. To cut a long matter short, the time has come when we may very well remind the Germans of the existence of Austria. Hitherto the Germans have taken the line that if they only hold on ,grimly and refuse to cut their loss, they will in the end turn loss into a gain. They recognize that the process must be very unpleasant, but they gamble upon the Allies in the end thinking it not worth while to go on till Germany has half ruined them as well as ruined herself totally. But there is a fallacy in this argument, and that fallacy is due to forgetfulness of Austria, and of certain assets -which she could produce if she were driven to the wall. The Germane must be reminded that if they become abso- lutely unreasonable it will always be open to the Allies to turn to Austria and offer her terms so infinitely more favourable than those she could expect from any other solution of the problem that not only the Austrian people but the Hapsburg dynasty must jump at them as an unex- pected road to salvation. At present nothing could be more gloomy than the outlook for Austria and her ruler. If by a miracle the Central Powers win, they know well that all the .glory, all the gold, or let us say all the gilded paper, and all the best chances of recovery will belong to the Hohenzollern section of the Central Alliance, and that they (the Austrians) will have to be content with the scraps. On the other hand, if the Allies win, they will be sacrificed to save Germany. Germany will agree that the principle of nation- ality, which Mr. Wilson has already discovered in her policy, can and shall be applied to Austria, that two Slavonia King- doms must be cut out of her and Hungary, and that a large slice of her former territory be incorporated with the new Polish sub-kingdom. Further, it appears exceedingly likely • that the Magyars have been privately told by Germany that when the end comes they may be cut free from the Hapsburg corpse, and that Germany might be induced to lend a gallant Prince- ling of the Hohenzollern breed a little child shall lead them." That would- leave the Hapsburgs shorn indeed; but -that, the Hohenzollern probably say,' must be their fate in any cane. But suppose the Allies say frankly to the Heparin:rip t " We have finally done with the Hohenzollenta. They have been . offered terms, but they are bent upon prolonging Europe's agony. We have placed them therefore under our ban just as Napoleon was placed in 1815. We shall not treat with them any more. But Prussia's loss is yt ur opportune Though it is impossible for us to reverse our policy as rs nationality, for that is what we have been fiditing for, and though you must make up your minds to the establishment of independent Bohemian and South Slav Kingdoms, to seeing Transylvania given to the Rumanians and Galicia to Poland, we can, if you treat promptly and frankly, recognize the Hapsburgs and the Teutonic part of the hereditary dominions of your House as the nucleus of a new South German Federal State, a State over the destinies of which a family with such traditions as yours might be proud to rule. What we propose to do is to re-Teutonize the House of Hapsburg. We feel that our quarrel is not with the Teutonic race, but rather -with Prussia and the semi-Teutonized Wends and aboriginals of the North-East, who have too long dominated a law part of the German stock. Austria-Hungary must dis- appear, but out of the melting-pot we will create a new Teutonic Federation. We will establish a Federal State which shall include Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Carniola, Carinthia, SVria, Salzburg, Tirol, the Vorarlberg, Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, 'Wurttemberg, Silesia, and the Rhine Provinces, and such other portions of the present German Confederation as may prefer a Constitution founded on justice and equal rights to that patchwork piece of Machiavellian constitution-mongering into which Bismarck entrapped the independent kingdoms of Germany when ho unrolled his plans in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles." We shall be told perhaps that the Kings and peoples of Bavaria, Baden, and the South German States generally would not look at such an agreement. They are too loyal to their Prussian Emperor and too determined to sacrifice everything for his sake. We shall see. No doubt as long as the Emperor and the Empire succeeded the voice of complaint, or even of criticism, was silent, but there is a whole world of difference between failure and success. We can quite understand the rulers and peoples of these proud and ancient kingdoms coming to see that it would be much better for them to establish a Federal State in which they would be given equal rights under a family whose claims to precedence they admit, than to be dragged to utter ruin at the heel of Prussia. Their duty is to save the Teutonic, race, and if they can save it by creating what will be not only homogeneous German-speaking State, but one which will be homogeneous in the matter, of religion, who darn assert that they have failed in their duty ? A South German Federal State such as we have described would indeed prove a citadel for Roman Catholicism, and could hardly fail to receive the blessings of the Vatican.
Though we hold that what we have said above may some day prove of real value, we are perfectly willing to admit that at the moment it appears premature. Therefore it is probably better not to go into further details till things ripen. All we want to do just now is to point out to the Prussians that they must not count upon our being unable to apply the principle of the Sibylline books. There are half-a-dozen ways of doing so, provided always that we keep like steel to the determination to practise that policy. If once we succeed in driving into the minds of the Prussians the Austrians, the Turks, and the Bulgarians that we do leally mean business, that the longer they fight the worse will become the terms offered to them, and that the Allies will stick to their word in this matter even though it may appear to be to their own hurt, the Central Alliance will ultimately be self-disaolved. It cannot stand before such a determination, or survive the knowledge that every month by which the war is protracted is taking something away from the terms to be granted to those who will finally be vanquished. The -Sibylline policy is the winning policy, but it must be adopted and put into practice with the mind that wills. It must be no empty threat, but the offspring of a volition which is in its nature adamantine.