AUSTRIA-HUNGARY is called "the dual kingdom," but really it represents three distinct races:Germans (Austrians), Czechs (Slavs, Bohemians) and Hungarians (Magyars). The Germans occupy the northern Austrian provinces nearest to Germany. The Slavs are most numerous but have long been subservient to the Magyars or real Hungarians, who are in the minority as compared with both the others. All are Roman Catholics, tho the Slavs have quite a sympathy for the Greek Catholics or Church of Russia, to which most of their race residing in Russia give adherence.
The progress of education during the last twenty-five years has had a great influence upon the subject racethe Bohemians, giving them new ideas of their "rights," "liberties," etc. This has caused no end of trouble to the government, precipitating bitter race-contentions in their Parliament, the Germans and Hungarians being unwilling to concede the demands of the Czechs who are in the majority. Seemingly only the loyalty of all to the Emperor has prevented a civil war; and serious results are feared in the event of the death of the now aged ruler. He is nearly seventy.
Once the Papacy had so firm a hold that to be a Protestant meant deaththis being the land of John Huss, the martyr; but a change of sentiment came gradually with greater enlightenment. The Czechs were first to discuss the wisdom of leaving the Church of Rome and affiliating themselves with the Greek Catholic Church. This led to Roman concessions to the Czechs to placate them. This however has gradually led to a coolness toward the Church of Rome on the part of the Germans, and it is this that specially interests us now.
The German Catholic element looks with admiration toward the German Empire to the North and West, where German influence is supremely dominant, and annexation to these their brethren is earnestly cravedleaving the balance of Austria to the Hungarians and Bohemians. But Germany has already so many Roman Catholics that they trouble her in her Reichstag or Parliament as an opposition party, and more are not wanted: it was for this reason that Bismarck ignored and declined these pro-Catholic provinces of Austria when forming the Empire.
The new move of the Germans of northern Austria is to renounce adhesion to the Church of Rome and become Protestants, with a view to making themselves acceptable to so-styled "Protestant Germany." The movement has been in progress only a short time, but is spreading rapidly and means some awakening at least amongst these people long bounden under priestcraft and superstition; later it may mean the disintegration of Austria, and points to growing race prejudices the world over.
What influence this may have upon the impending "time of trouble" and distress of nations is hard to say; but surely it marks decline of despotic Papacyas in France, Italy, Mexico and Spain's colonies. The extent of this Austrian movement may be judged from the following extracts from foreign newspapers:
"The 'Los von Rom' movement is increasing, especially in German Bohemia, where it occasions no little worry to the authorities. The Government has nowadays no means at hand to prevent this wholesale desertion, as the Protestant churches, or rather the Evangelical church, has legally the same status with the Church of Rome. In Eger 1100 Catholics have joined Protestantism, in Carlsbad 100, and another 1000 will become Protestants together. Within a short time half of German Bohemia will be Protestant."
"The Germans on the whole will not renounce their right to make use of their intellectual powers. This the church will not and can not permit. The Slavs, as the case of Russia shows, are patterns of submissiveness, hence the church prefers that Slavs should have all power. For a long time the Slav clergy has preached the doctrine that German is synonymous with Lutheran. 'Very well,' say now the Germans, 'we will become Lutheran to emphasize our nationality. Los von Rom!' How much the church is responsible for this, the case of Bohemia shows. In the mixed districts only 23 priests are German, 262 are Czech. In the purely German districts 618 are German and 562 Czech."
"The Pan-Germanic movement is one of the disintegrating forces at work upon Austro-Hungary. The events of 1871, says one of its leaders, were but a step in the right direction, and the movement will not be complete, the Altdeutsche Verband will not have achieved its aims, until all the members of the Teutonic race on the continent of Europe have been welded into one state. Not until this is accomplished can Germany assert herself with success as a world power."
Herr Wolff, a leader among German Austrians, with his entire family, was recently baptized a Protestant; and in consequence he is now denounced as "a servant of Satan," by the Catholic press, which is extremely bitter on the entire subject.
Come, dear saints, and let us visit at the court of heavenly grace,
For Jehovah deigns a welcome to prepare.
He has bid us leave our earth-cares for the pleasures of his face,
And recruit in Heav'n's salubrious atmosphere.
He has spread a "feast of fat things" that will tempt our appetites.
O the daintiness and richness of his fare!
He will cheer our drooping spirits with the vintage that delights
Every honored guest his benefits to share.
Let us lay aside our burdens, and our sorrows leave behind,
While we hasten to that glory-lighted scene;
Let us purge our hearts of evil, and put on the willing mind,
Lest our eyes be holden by a veil between.
Clad in spotless robes of righteousness, by faith received and kept,
We may safely pass stern Justice' sentry-post;
While our Guide-book, studied carefully, will make us all adept
In the customs and requirements of our Host.
By his grace brought nigh, and joying in his countenance of light,
We may greet the loving Father face to face;
We may learn the hidden mysteries of wisdom, love and might,
Proving the "exceeding riches" of his grace.
With his signet in our foreheads we may wander leisurely
Through the palace gardens, by the river Peace;
We may scale the heights of Happiness, and overlook the sea
Of Content, whose grateful murmurs never cease.
We may saunter through the orchards where the Spirit's fruits are ripe,
Plucking hope and love and kindness as we go;
And their fine, delicious flavors from our memories shall wipe
Every trace of bitterness and earthly woe.
We may change our weariness to vigor and perennial youth,
At the living fountains near the palace-door;
And with newborn energy and zeal explore the mines of truth,
Adding gem on gem of knowledge to our store.
And the feast of his providing!
Who can tell, without a taste,
What shall charm our palates at that episode?
Come, dear saints, and visit long and often! Come with seemly haste!
For the King says "Welcome" to his high abode. R. B. H.