Sunday, February 27, 2011

03May1880, Gladstone's Austria Attack

LONDON, May 3rd-9th, 1880.
Sir W. Harcourt (Home Secretary) defeated at Oxford on his taking office! It looks bad, but is, I believe, purely a personal matter; his overbearing ways are not popular there, the Church party owe him a well-deserved grudge for his doings anent the effete "Public Worship Bill" when he came the glorious Protestant over everybody.

The new Government has certainly had an awkward throw-off. There has been a general kick-up over a letter Uncle W. has just published to Count Karolyi, the Austrian Ambassador. In one of his Midlothian speeches he attacked Austria for having never done any good in the world, and for intriguing after part of the Christian provinces in the Balkan peninsula. At the time I thought, "Why this onslaught on a country we are at peace with?" and it was made capital of by the Tories. Perhaps he had better not have thus gone out of his way. But he had strong authority for his belief about Austria's hankering after the country down towards Salonica; and as his strongest conviction on the E.Q. is that the Provinces should be independent, and no Anti-Porte steps taken by any power except in concert with the rest of Europe, he perhaps "did well to be angry." Also he took occasion afterwards to say that, if proof could be afforded him that no such intrigue was afoot, he would withdraw his words. Since taking office, Count Karolyi has satisfied him that Austria won't make the snatch in question; and he has accordingly lost no time in publicly accepting the disavowal and withdrawing his previous imputations. The world swears this is an abject apology, whereas it is really an acceptance of Austria's explanation, due from one gentleman to another; and Uncle W. doesn't trouble his head much about John Bull's offended pride, inasmuch as he knows well enough (behind the scenes) that what he has said has led to Austria's abandoning the ambitious designs, which were really entertained; and which Ld. Salisbury implied were to be expected.

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