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Title: Bohemia under Hapsburg Misrule - A Study of the Ideals and Aspirations of the Bohemian and Slovak Peoples, as They Relate to and Are Affected by the Great European War
Author: Various
Language: English
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A Study of the Ideals and Aspirations of the Bohemian and
Slovak Peoples, as they relate to and are affected
by the great European War

Edited by


Author of “Slovaks of Hungary,” etc.


New York      Chicago      Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1915, by
Fleming H. Revell Company

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 125 N. Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street


  _To the Cause of
  Bohemian-Slovak Freedom_

          “_I trust in God that the
  Government of Thine affairs will again
  revert to Thee, O Bohemian People!_”


  (In exile.)


The object of this volume is to make Bohemia and her people better
known to the English-speaking world. The average Englishman’s and
American’s knowledge of Bohemia is very vague. It is only within
recent years that Anglo-American writers have begun to take a deeper
interest in her people. Among the more prominent students of Bohemian
contemporary life should be mentioned: Will S. Monroe, Emily G.
Balch, and Herbert Adolphus Miller, in the United States; and A. R.
Colquhoun, Richard J. Kelly, F. P. Marchant, James Baker, Wickham H.
Steed, Charles Edmund Maurice, W. R. Morfill, and R. W. Seton-Watson
in England. Count Lützow has written in English a number of works on
Bohemian matters.

While it is yet too early to foresee the precise results of the Great
War, one may judge of coming events by the shadows they cast before
them. A close observer of the Austrian shadows is justified in thinking
that the Bohemian people, so long suppressed, stand on the threshold
of a new destiny. This destiny points to the restoration of their
ancient freedom. If the Allies win--and every loyal son of the Land
of Hus fervently wishes that their arms might prevail, notwithstanding
the fact that Bohemian soldiers are constrained to fight for the cause
of the two Kaisers--Bohemia is certain to re-enter the family of
self-governing European nations. The proclamation which the Russian
Generalissimo addressed to the Poles may be said to apply with equal
force to the Bohemians: “The hour has sounded when the sacred dream of
your fathers may be realized.... Bohemia will be born again, free in
her religion, her language, and autonomous.... The dawn of a new life
begins for you.... In this glorious dawn is seen the sign of the cross,
the symbol of suffering and the resurrection of a people.”

At the close of the Franco-Prussian War, Frenchmen erected in the
Place de la Concorde in Paris the Statue of Strassburg, which they
have kept draped, as a sign of mourning for the loss of their beloved
Alsace-Lorraine. The Bohemians have grieved for their motherland much
longer than the French for the “Lost Provinces.” Bohemia put on her
mourning garb in 1620, the year her rebel army was defeated by the
imperialist troops of Ferdinand II., at the Battle of White Mountain
near Prague, the capital of the kingdom. May it not be hoped that
the joyous moment is near when her sons can substitute for the black
and yellow of Austria the red and white of Bohemia--the colors that
Charles Havlíček loved so well. “My colors are red and white,” declared
this fearless patriot to his Austrian tormentors. “You can promise me,
you can threaten me, but a traitor I shall never be.”

Never during the three hundred years of Austrian misrule were
conditions so propitious for throwing off the shackles of oppression
as now. In the darkest hours of national humiliation, the children of
Hus and of Komenský (Comenius) did not despair. “We existed before
Austria,” Palacký used to tell them, “and we shall survive her.”
May not the words of the “Father of his Country,” as Palacký was
affectionately called by his countrymen, come true, in view of what is
taking place in the Hapsburg Monarchy to-day?

With what form of government would Bohemia make her re-entry into the
European family of nations--as a free state, as a dependency of Russia,
as a ward of the Allies, or incorporated in a federation of the states
remaining to the Hapsburg Empire?

It was a favorite theory of Palacký that the Austrian nations would,
for their own protection, have to create an Austria, if she were ever
destroyed. But what Palacký has said may no longer be true, because
the events of 1914 have created issues and opened up possibilities
undreamt of in his times. Palacký, let it be understood, had in mind a
Confederated Austria that should form a bulwark for small races against
German expansion from the north and the west.

It has been intimated that the Allies might agree to create Bohemia and
Hungary as independent buffer states to curb German aggression, just
as Belgium and Holland are buffer states between Germany and France.
If this war has shown anything, it has demonstrated the usefulness of
a small state like that of the Belgians. Albania, it will be recalled,
had been brought into being by Austria and Italy, not for humanitarian
reasons, we may be sure, but to menace and weaken Serbia, of whose
growth they were jealous.

Another probability is that Russia might demand, as one of the prizes
of war, the cession of the northern part of Austria-Hungary, which
is wholly Slavic. She might contend that she could not carry out her
traditional policy of guardianship of the Slavs, unless her kinsfolk
came under her influence, if not actually under her rule.

Francis Josef waged two wars in the past, both of which ended
disastrously for the empire. Yet from both of these wars good has come
to his subjects. The campaign in Italy, which resulted in the defeat of
the Austrians at Magenta and Solferino in 1859, dealt a severe blow
to the bureaucracy, liberating, incidentally, the Italians who were
trampled under foot by Radecky. As a result of the war with Prussia
in 1866, the Magyars came to their own. Hungarian autonomy dates from
1867. Now it is the turn of the Bohemians to profit from Austria’s

Self-government is not only an ideal but a necessity to Bohemians. Why
should Bohemia, in addition to paying for her own needs, make good the
deficits of lands which are passive, and in whose domestic affairs she
has no greater interest than the State of New York has, for instance,
in the local constabulary of Nevada? Year after year Bohemians justly
complain that Vienna wrings millions in taxes from them that it spends
on lands that are passive. It is partly this feature of the case, the
high revenue flowing from the Bohemian Kingdom, which has made Vienna
hostile to the home rule agitation. Is it reasonable to suppose,
however, that if Austria could not wholly suppress the national
aspiration of Bohemians in times of peace, under normal conditions,
she is more likely to accomplish it if she returns home from the war
exhausted, humiliated, perchance vanquished?

It may seem hazardous to forecast Austria’s future in the event of the
Allies winning. But this much is already apparent, that the Austria of
1914, the government of which rested on the mediæval idea that one
white race was superior to another white race, is doomed to perish.
Austria needed a crushing blow from without, such as a lost war, to
send toppling the ramshackle structure that has menaced for so long
a time the security of the Slavic inhabitants. For, though rent by
internal discord, the monarchy obviously lacked forces powerful enough
to effect its own redemption. If the Teutonic forces are beaten, the
logical sequel will be the breakdown of the Germanic hegemony and a
corresponding rise of Slavism. With Poland resuscitated and Serbia
strengthened, Vienna, it is certain, will be powerless to hold the
Bohemians down.

But no matter what may happen, whether Austria-Hungary will remain
Hapsburg, whether the Allies will impose their will on her destiny, or
whether the Russians will become the masters of the North Slavs, let
us hope that the future map-makers will not be military conquerors, as
was the case at the Congress of Vienna in 1814, or statesmen of the
Bismarck type, who, at the Berlin Congress in 1878, were determined
to separate the people of one race, instead of uniting them. Let the
map-makers be ethnologists who will, wherever practicable, deliminate
boundaries according to racial, not political lines, giving German
territory to the Germans, Magyar territory to the people of that race,
Slavic lands to the Slavs.

Bohemia would not assume the serious task of self-government as an
inexperienced novice. Bohemia is one of the oldest states in Central
Europe. As a kingdom she antedates the German kingdoms, not excepting
Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria. Some of these were yet minor states when she
already played a conspicuous rôle in the affairs of Europe. In point
of population the United States of Bohemia--including Bohemia herself,
Moravia, Silesia, and Slovakland--would have within her borders a
population numbering about 12,000,000. The combined area of the three
first-named states is almost twice the size of Switzerland. Prague, the
capital, had in 1910 581,163 inhabitants. As a wealth-providing and
revenue-yielding country Bohemia stands unrivalled among the Hapsburg

  T. Č.



  Thomas Čapek.

  II. THE SLOVAKS OF HUNGARY                      113
  Thomas Čapek.

  Professor Bohumil Šimek.

  IV. THE BOHEMIAN CHARACTER                      130
  Professor H. A. Miller.

  Professor Will S. Monroe.

  Professor Leo Wiener.

  Addenda. THE BOHEMIANS AS IMMIGRANTS            176
  Professor Emily G. Balch.



Bohemia (German Böhmen, Bohemian Čechy[1]) has an area of 20,223 square
miles, and is bounded on the north by Saxony and Prussian Silesia; on
the east by Prussia and Moravia; on the south by Lower Austria; on the
west by Bavaria. According to the census of 1910, 4,241,918 inhabitants
declared for Bohemian and 2,467,724 for the German language.

Historians recognize two epochal events in the life of the nation.
The first begins with the outbreak of the Hussite wars, following the
death of King Václav IV. in 1419; the second, with the battle of White
Mountain in 1620. The period intervening between the first two events
is referred to as the Middle Age. That which preceded the Hussite wars
is called the Old Age, and, that which followed the defeat at White
Mountain, the New Age.


The Margravate of Moravia, a sister state of Bohemia, and one of her
crown-lands, contains an area of 8,583 square miles. The population of
Moravia is 1,868,971 Bohemians and 719,435 Germans.

The third crown-land of Bohemia is the Duchy of Silesia, with an area
of 1,987 square miles. The population is divided as follows: 180,348
Bohemians, 325,523 Germans, 235,224 Poles.[2]

Although statisticians found in Austria, in 1910, only 6,435,983
Bohemians, it is generally known that the actual figure is higher by
several hundred thousands. Singularly enough, the test in Austria
of one’s nationality is not the mother tongue of the citizen,
as elsewhere, but the lingual medium which one employs in daily
association with others. This medium the statisticians designate the
“Verkehrsprache”--the “Language of Association.” The first decennial
census, under this novel system, was taken in 1880, and the results
thereby obtained pleased Vienna so well that the method has remained
in use ever since. When the matter was debated in parliament in 1880
the Bohemians and other Slavs indignantly protested against it as
unscientific and as a device dictated by political motives. A census
so taken, they contended, was calculated to raise by artful means the
numerical strength of the Germans and to deduce from it the superior
importance to the state of the Germanic element to the disadvantage
of the non-Germans.[3] It was argued that the mother tongue of the
citizens should serve as the test of one’s nationality, not the
language in which the Slavic workman may be compelled to address his
German employer or a Slavic subaltern his German military superior.
But, as usual, Slavic opposition was over-ridden. Even fair-minded
Austrians condemned the system as unscientific. Innama-Sternegg, for
instance, deplored the fact that the empire should have recourse to the
“Verkehrsprache” test for political purposes. On this ground Austrian
official figures should be scrutinized with extreme caution. It has
repeatedly been proven by private census-takers that the official
census is unreliable, and that it grossly underestimates the numerical
strength of the Bohemians.

From an agricultural state, that it was until recently, Bohemia is
rapidly changing into an industrial state. Two of the most valuable
products, which make for the wealth of industrial countries, namely,
coal and iron, the hills of Bohemia contain in abundance. Among her
specialties, which have acquired world-wide renown, are decorated
and engraved glassware, beer (Pilsener), high-class cotton textiles
and linen goods, grass seeds, embroidery, hops, fezzes worn by the
Mohammedan people of the Orient, toys, etc.

From times immemorial, Bohemia has been the battle-ground between the
Slav and the Teuton. A glance at the map of Central Europe will tell
the story. Most westerly of all the Slavic peoples, the Bohemians are
surrounded on the north, west, and south by Germans. Only on the south
and east frontiers are there strips of territory that connect them with
kindred races. More than once the Germanic sea has threatened to engulf
them in the same way that it swept away the Slavic tribes that lived
north of them in Lusatia and of whose existence nothing now remains
but the Slavic names of rivers and cities. The struggle for supremacy
in Bohemia may be said to have begun the year the fabled leader Čech,
in the gray dawn of history (about 450 A.D.), migrated to the country,
having dispossessed the non-Slavic tribes of Boii, from whom Bohemia
acquired her name. The Hussite wars in the fifteenth century are
popularly believed to have been waged to free men’s intellects from the
spiritual trammels of Rome; yet in the last analysis it will be found
that the Hussites, in making war on the invaders who poured into the
country from Germany, rejoiced in vanquishing alike the foes of their
race and the oppressors of their conscience. Such, at least, is the
conviction that one acquires in perusing those chapters of the history
of the country that treat of the Hussite wars.

Jointly with Moravia, Bohemia formed the nucleus of the Bohemian State;
this state had never ceased to be Bohemian-Slavic in character, though
at times ruled by alien kings. The whole of Silesia and both Lusatias
(Upper and Lower) also constituted part and parcel of this state, yet
the latter were never so closely affiliated with Bohemia as Moravia
had been, because the inhabitants of the Lusatias were not by origin
or preponderatingly Bohemian, but of Polish and Serb (Wend) ancestry,
having been largely Germanized at the time they passed under the rule
of the Bohemian Kings in the fourteenth century.

Generally speaking, the Bohemians inhabited the flat lands of the
interior, while the Germans overflowed the border line on the south,
west, and north, forming an almost uninterrupted chain of settlements.
As a matter of fact, however, there is no compact, unmixed German
territory in Bohemia, which is exclusively German and into which the
Bohemian workman, going in search of employment to the mines, mills,
and shops in the northwest, has not penetrated, and in which he has
not domiciled himself. The invasion of Bohemian workmen has virtually
rendered bilingual every such Germanized district where industrialism

So intermixed are the two races on the border line that a person
cannot say confidently that his ancestry is either pure German or pure
Bohemian. Observe, for example, the names of Bohemian leaders: Rieger,
Brauner, Grégr, Zeithammer. They have an unmistakable Teutonic ring.
Again, note the names of Schmeykal, Tascheck, Chlumecky, and Giskra,
who lead the German cohorts. These clearly betray Slavic origin.
It has been remarked sarcastically that the Bohemians were really
German-speaking Slavs. Certain it is that their association of more
than a thousand years’ duration with Teutonic neighbors resulted in
their accepting many of the latter’s customs and western culture. Then,
too, foreigners have noticed in Bohemians a degree of aggressiveness
that they claim is singularly lacking in the make-up of the other
Slavs. This trait, aggressiveness, may have been inherited as a result
of an almost ceaseless struggle for national existence. It is not
improbable, however, that the racial mixture above mentioned may have
been one of the contributing causes.

Fear of the Teutonic peril has always harried the soul of the nation.
Every historian, every poet, every patriot has admonished the people
to be on their guard. One of the oldest chorals extant contains the
pathetic invocation to the patron saint of the country. “St. Václav,
Duke of the Bohemian Land, do not let us perish nor our descendants.”

In course of time many Germans and denationalized Bohemians were
Bohemianized, so that it is hazardous to guess whether in Bohemia and
Moravia more Germans adopted the Bohemian language than Bohemians the
German. The final sum of this process of assimilation seems to be that
the Bohemians constitute more than two-thirds and the Germans less than
one-third of the entire population of the kingdom.

As regards the ownership of land, Bohemians hold about three-fifths of
the soil, in Moravia three-fourths. If it is true that the people with
a future is the one that owns the land, then the future of Bohemians is
clearly assured. Looking backward, it was very fortunate for the nation
that in the days of its deepest abasement the peasant was not allowed
to dispose of his holdings at will, otherwise the inrush of the Teutons
would have still more reduced the national area.

If we accept literacy as one of the tests of the culture of a people,
it will be found that the Bohemians rank highest among the Slavic
races, surpassing even Austrian-Germans and Hungarian Magyars.
According to the official reports of the Commissioner of Immigration
in Washington, the number of illiterates among Bohemians is less than
3 per cent., Slovaks 25 per cent., Serbo-Croatians, 38 per cent.,
Poles 40 per cent., Little Russians (Ruthenes), 63 per cent. Among the
non-Slavic immigrants from Austria-Hungary to America the percentages
of illiteracy are as follows: Germans 4 per cent., Magyars 12 per
cent., Italians 23 per cent., Jews 23 per cent., Rumuns 29 per cent.

It may not be uninteresting to note, as indicative of the position held
by Bohemians among the Slavs, the number of newspapers circulated in
Slavdom.[4] The Lusatian Serbs, a remnant of a once populous Slavic
branch in Germany, support 11 publications; Slovaks, 53 (4 of which
are dailies); Slovenes, 110 (5 dailies); Bulgars, 300 (19 dailies);
Serbo-Croatians, 350 (37 dailies); Poles, 600 (78 dailies); Bohemians,
1,400 (34 dailies), and Russians, 1,800 (315 dailies). From this
statistical fragment it will be seen that a little country like Bohemia
takes very favorable rank when compared with the great Russian Empire.

At home the Bohemian is looked upon as a progressive agriculturist, and
American tourists who have traveled in the country have been favorably
impressed with the orderliness of the farms and the high state of
cultivation of the land. In the great agricultural belt formed by
the States of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and the
Dakotas there are large settlements of Bohemians (about one-half of the
Bohemian population in the United States devoting itself to farming),
and their farms are known to bear favorable comparison with the
homesteads owned by land-tillers of Scandinavian and Teuton ancestry.

The fact that a particular faith was denied him and he was required
to accept a different creed, has made the Bohemian one of the most
liberal-minded of men,--in many instances a sceptic and a scoffer.
Possibly there is no other foreign nationality in the United States
that can boast translations in the vernacular of Thomas Paine and of
other advanced thinkers as early as the Bohemians.

Economically the Germans are stronger than any other one race in the
empire. Much of their unquestioned primacy in the realm of commerce
and industry is due to the fact that everywhere they enjoy special
favors from the government. Then, too, the Slav, who is by preference
a land-tiller (as is also the Magyar), is still a novice in business.
The vast economic interests of the Jews are found wholly on the side
of the Germans. Ernest Denis believes that German primacy in commerce
may yet continue for some time to come, because the districts inhabited
by them in Bohemia offer greater inducements to the investor and the
capitalist, owing to the wealth of mineral riches found along the
northwest frontier. It is, however, Denis’ opinion that the existing
inequality in the distribution of industrial wealth will diminish as
years go by; democracy, marching as it does everywhere at the expense
of the upper classes, will level it down and give the Bohemian
majority its share in commerce and industry.


The Bohemians preserved their independence till 1620. That year they
rebelled against the king for political and religious reasons and were
defeated at the battle of White Hill (Bílá Hora) near Prague. From the
effects of this disastrous event the nation has never recovered, for
even now, after the lapse of 295 years, the scars received at Bílá Hora
are not wholly healed.

Ferdinand II. punished the rebels with traditional Austrian fury.
On June 21, 1621, he caused the execution at Prague of twenty-seven
leaders of the revolution--all men belonging to the most noted families
in the country. A number of them were condemned to humiliating physical
punishment and the estates of all were confiscated. The first to lay
his head on the block of the executioner was Count Joachim Andrew Šlik
(Schlick). During the interregnum Šlik had been a Director; besides,
he had served as Chief Justice and Governor of Upper Lusatia. The
next victim was Václav Budovec of Budova, “a man of splendid talents
and illustrious learning, distinguished as a writer, widely known as
a traveler, and an ornament to his country.” Pelcl said of Budova
that he belonged “to that old cast of serious, thoughtful, inflexible
Bohemians, by which the nation was characterized in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries.” The third to suffer was Christopher Harant of
Polžic, “a learned man, distinguished writer, and noted traveler.” The
next on the death list was Caspar Kaplíř of Sulevic, a venerable man
of eighty-six. The fifth was Prokop Dvořecký of Olbramovic, a scion
of an old family. The sixth was Baron Frederick Bílý, “an upright and
learned man, one of the Directors at the time of the interregnum.”
The seventh, Henry Otto of Los, who, under Frederick, was connected
with the exchequer. Then followed successively Dionys Černín, William
Konechlumský, aged seventy years, Bohuslav of Michalovic, “a man of
splendid talents who deserved well of his country,” Valentine Kochan
of Prachov, a learned master of arts; Tobias Štefek of Koloděj, a
citizen of Prague and a Director of the Revolution; John Jesenský of
Jesen (Jessenius), a scholar, scientist, and orator, “whose writings
shed lustre on the university;” Christopher Kober, a noted citizen
of Prague; Burgomasters John Šultys of Kutná Hora and Maximilian
Hošťálek of Žatec (Saaz), (the two latter having been Directors during
the interregnum), John Kutnaur, a Councilor of Prague, Kutnaur’s
father-in-law Simon Sušický, Nathaniel Vodňanský of Uračov, Václav
Jizbický. The last to undergo death were Henry Kozel, Andrew Kocour
of Otín, George Řečický, Michael Wittman, Simon Vokáč of Chyš and
Špicberk, Leander Rüppel, and George Hauenschild. On the tower of the
ancient Charles Bridge, which connects the Old Town with the Small
Town in Prague, twelve heads of the rebels were set up in small wire
cages, six on each side of the tower, to awe the populace. There these
gruesome evidences of Hapsburg hatred remained for years. On the same
tower were exposed to public view the hands of Šlik and Michalovic and
the tongue of Jesenský. Rüppel’s head and hand were nailed on the wall
of the Town House.

So ended the “Bloody Day at Prague”--a day that Bohemians may have
forgiven, but which none have forgotten. What now followed is
probably without parallel in the history of European nations. Edmund
de Schweinitz, in commenting on the consequences of the Bohemian
Revolution, says that “in the history of Christendom there were few
events more mournful. From the pinnacle of prosperity Bohemia and
Moravia were plunged into the depths of adversity.”

The month the executions took place, the emperor, or rather the
so-called Liechtenstein’s Commission on Confiscations which had been
appointed by the emperor, pronounced forfeiture on the estates of 658
landowners of the nobility out of a total of 728, whose names were on
the list of accused. Thomas Bílek, a writer of unimpeachable authority,
has published a voluminous book on these confiscations from which it
would appear that the Liechtenstein Commission had confiscated fully
two-thirds of all the lands in Bohemia. Some of the choicest estates
taken away from the rebels the emperor retained for the Hapsburg
family. A goodly portion of the forfeited lands was given to the
church, of which the emperor was a devout member. “Take, fathers,
take,” he used to say to the ecclesiastics when endowing this or that
foundation with gifts of confiscated estates. “It is not always that
you will have a Ferdinand.” Still other lands reverted to the state.
What was left the emperor magnanimously distributed among those of his
favorites whose military prowess in the rebellion entitled them to some
special recognition or compensation. Albrecht, Count of Wallenstein
or Waldstein, at one time a Generalissimo of Ferdinand’s army against
Gustavus Adolphus, was able to “purchase” sixty confiscated estates of
an enormous value.

Struve has remarked that of all the nobles in the world those in the
Hapsburg Monarchy had probably the least reason to boast of their
ancestry. This is especially true of the nobility whose advent into
Bohemia antedates the first half of the seventeenth century. From
the events here related began the rise in Bohemia of such families
as Buquoy, Clary de Riva, Aldringen, Trautmansdorff, Metternich,
Marradas, Verduga, Colloredo, Piccolomini, Wallis, Gallas, Millesimo,
Liechtenstein, Goltz, Villani, Defours, Huerta, Vasques--names
indicating Spanish, Italian, German, and Walloon birth. These aliens,
enriched by property taken away from Bohemian nobility, surrounded
themselves with foreign officials, who treated the natives with the
scorn and insolence of victors. Their châteaux formed in many cases the
nucleus of German settlements which later threatened to overwhelm the
nation. Some of these “islands,” or settlements, which were situated
farther inland, were in time absorbed by the native population. But not
so with the colonies on the border. These latter not only preserved
the lingual and national characteristics of the owners, but they even
contrived to Germanize the home element that came into contact with
them. It was during this calamitous period that the Germans made the
greatest inroads upon Bohemian national territory.

Prior to the Thirty Years’ War Bohemia was overwhelmingly
Protestant,[5] but Ferdinand determined that in his empire there should
be “unity of faith and tongue.” A unity of faith he and his successors
have achieved, but it has been denied to the Hapsburgs--much as they
have tried to achieve it--the unity of language.

In 1620 Jesuit fathers were invited to come to Bohemia and to take
charge of the once renowned University of Prague and of the provincial
schools. “The Jesuits buried the spirit of the Bohemian nation for
centuries.” This is the severe judgment of no less a person than V. V.
Tomek, the noted historian. Accompanied by Liechtenstein’s dragoons
these ecclesiastics went from town to town, searched libraries, carried
off books written in Bohemian and burned them whether they were
“tainted” or not. Sometimes the books were privately thrown in the
flames in the houses where they had been seized; at other times they
were brought to the market-place or to the public gallows and there
publicly burned. The Jesuits were indefatigable in their search for
heretical literature, ransacking houses from cellar to garret, opening
every closet and chest, prying into the very dog kennels and pig-sties.
People hid their most precious books from the ferreting eyes of the
inquisitioners in baking ovens, cellars, and caves. There are cases on
record of rare Bohemian volumes having been saved from destruction by
being hidden under manure piles.

One zealot, Koniáš by name, boasted that he had burned or otherwise
mutilated 60,000 Bohemian volumes. According to him “all Bohemian
books printed between the years 1414 and 1620, treating of religious
subjects, were generally dangerous and suspicious.” From their seat in
the Clementinum (Prague University) they presided over the intellectual
life of the country; that is to say, they wholly suppressed it.
In order to more systematically supervise the work, a censor was
appointed by them for each of the three lands,--Bohemia, Moravia,
and Silesia,--and it was the duty of this censor to see to it that
no books were published or reprinted that did not meet the approval
of the general of the order. Easy was the labor of the censor, for
in Moravia, for instance, only one printer was fortunate enough to
secure a license. In Bohemia they set up the so-called University
Printing Office. Besides this only five or six other establishments
were licensed to print books. In a few decades these zealots destroyed
Bohemian literature altogether. The almanacs, tracts, hymnals, and
prayer books that issued from their printing presses could not be
dignified by the term literature. Count Lützow, in his “History of
Bohemian Literature,” frankly admits that, with few exceptions, all
the men who, during the last years of Bohemian independence, were most
prominent in literature and politics belonged to the Bohemian Church.
Living in exile in foreign countries, there was no one left at home to
resume their tasks.

Ferdinand began his anti-reformation crusade in earnest in 1621. In
December of that year he issued a patent by virtue of which about one
thousand teachers and ministers of the gospel of the Bohemian Church
were forced to leave the country. The Lutherans did not come under
this ban, inasmuch as the emperor was anxious to please his ally,
the Elector of Saxony, who pleaded clemency for his co-religionists.
In 1624 seven patents were promulgated. Some of these were directed
against the laity, which, till then, had escaped the wrath of the
conqueror. It ordered the expulsion from trade guilds of all those who
could not agree with the emperor in matters of faith. Discriminatory
measures against nonconformist merchants and traders went into effect,
which quickly resulted in their ruin. Another patent, bearing date July
31, 1627, was more severe than those preceding it. By it dissenters of
both sexes and irrespective of rank were ordered to renounce their
faith within six months, or failing to do so, leave the country. The
operation of this patent extended to Moravia, but not to Silesia and
Lusatia. The two latter-named provinces had been spared because of a
promise given by the emperor to the Elector of Saxony.

So severely did the country suffer by forced expatriation, as a result
of these edicts, that Ferdinand saw himself compelled to issue other
patents to check it. In the hope of conciliating he remitted fines in
certain cases, discontinued suits for treason, and made restitution of
confiscated property. In some cases he extended the time within which
heretics could become reconciled with the church, but the clemency was
extended too late, for while some individuals yielded to the formidable
pressure, the great mass of nonconformists, comprising the very flower
of the nation, were determined rather to lose their property and leave
the fatherland than to renounce that which they held most sacred.

Count Slavata, who himself took no inconsiderable part in this terrible
drama of anti-reformation, and who, owing to his religious convictions,
cannot be accused of partiality, is authority for the statement that
about 36,000 families, including 185 houses of nobility (some of these
houses numbered as many as 50 persons each), statesmen, distinguished
authors, professors, preachers,--spurning to accept the emperor’s
terms, went into exile.

In 1627 Ferdinand promulgated what he designated the “Amended
Statute.” The “amendment” really consisted in the abolishment of those
ancient rights and liberties of the land which were incompatible with
autocratic powers.

Under the “Amended Statute” the kingdom, heretofore free to elect its
sovereign, was declared to be an hereditary possession, both in the
male and female line, of the Hapsburg family. The three estates--lords,
knights, and the cities--which till then constituted the legislative
branch of the government, were augmented by a fourth unit, the clergy.
The fourth estate was destined to exercise, as subsequent events
have shown, the greatest influence on the affairs of the government.
The Diet at Prague was divested practically of all its power and
initiative; from now on its sole function was to levy and collect
taxes. And because the king had invited to the country so many alien
nobles (or commoners later ennobled) who were ignorant of the language
of the land, the amended statute provided that henceforth the German
language should enjoy equal rights with the Bohemian. A disastrous blow
to the unity of the Bohemian Crown was further dealt by the annulment
of the right of the estates in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia to meet at
a General Assembly for the purpose of deliberating on matters common to
the crown. By this clever stroke the emperor tore asunder the ancient
ties of the kingdom. He rightly reasoned that by isolating each of the
integral parts of the kingdom he could easier hope to hold in leash the
whole of it.

In time the administration of the Bohemian Crown was entrusted to an
executive who received the title of Chancellor, and when the kings no
longer resided in Prague, having taken up a permanent abode in Vienna,
the Chancellory was removed thither, ostensibly on the ground that
the Chancellor was required to be near the person of the sovereign.
In reality, however, the transfer was a part of a preconceived plan
to make Vienna the centre of the empire, from which the Hapsburg
“provinces” were to be ruled. Under one pretext or another the
Chancellory was being gradually shorn of its powers, until Maria
Theresa (1740-1780) abolished it altogether. Henceforth even purely
local matters were administered from Vienna direct, and the officials
began to style the once proud kingdom a “province of Austria.”

During the Thirty Years’ War thousands of villages were destroyed by
fire and many of them have never been rebuilt. The population, which
before the war was estimated at 3,000,000, was reduced by fire, sword,
and pestilence to about 800,000. Fields lay fallow for years for lack
of workers to cultivate them. Of the 151,000 farms before the war
hardly 50,000 remained. Native nobility was reduced to beggary by the
confiscation of their estates, and the peasantry that survived was
reduced by alien lords to a degrading condition of serfdom. Between
1621 and 1630 400 Prague citizens went into exile. The Nové Město (one
of the Prague quarters) alone had at one time 500 vacant houses. The
town of Žatec, which in 1618 had 460 citizens, counted ten years later
205 of them. In Kutná Hora, of a total of 600 houses, 200 remained
without owners or tenants. The population of the city of Olomouc in
Moravia, by 1640, was reduced from 30,000 to 1,670. Wherever the armies
marched nothing was seen but waste and ruins. According to notes taken
by Swedish soldiers, 138 cities and 2,171 villages were totally ravaged
by fire. The textile industry, which had been the source of the wealth
of the country, was almost wholly destroyed by the war.

The defeat at White Mountain could not have been productive of such
disastrous consequences had it not been for the fact that the nobles
were the standard-bearers of Bohemian nationalism and the sole
representatives of the nation’s culture and traditions. The peasantry
in those days and for a long time afterward was yet helplessly
dependent on the aristocracy.

Bohemian Huguenots were scattered over every land in Central Europe,
most of them seeking refuge in nearby Saxony, Silesia, Hungary, and
Poland. Many emigrated to more distant lands, such as Sweden, serving
in the army of Gustavus Adolphus, Russia, Holland, England. A few
of the more adventurous spirits wandered off with the English and
the Dutch to America. One of them, Augustine Herman, a noted figure
among the early Dutch in New Amsterdam, made an attempt to establish
a colony of compatriots on a grant of land that he had received from
Lord Baltimore and which he named in honor of his native land, Bohemia
Manor, a place famous in early Maryland history. Numerous exiles
settled in the first half of the seventeenth century in Virginia. In
the beginning the exiles hoped to be permitted to return home, but the
terms of the Peace of Westphalia (1648) made such a return definitely
impossible. They repeatedly called for help. Oliver Cromwell, it
is said, had a project under consideration whereby Bohemian exiles
were to be settled in Ireland. John Amos Comenius, the bishop of the
Bohemian Church, a distinguished educator, himself an exile living in
Holland, presented the history of his church to King Charles II. of
England in 1660, with a stirring account of its suffering.

Suspecting that the dissenters were yet unsuppressed, the government
caused other patents to be issued, one of which, published in 1650,
imposed severe penalties such as the billeting of troops, banishment
from the country, confiscation of property and, in extreme cases,
death. A patent dated April 9th of that year required that within six
weeks all parishes should instal conformist clergy or close. Under
Josef I. (1705-1711), and again under Charles VI. (1711-1740), the
work of anti-reformation was renewed with increased severity. Loyal
subjects were enjoined under pain of death from harboring or aiding
heretic teachers or ministers, the reading and smuggling into the
country or otherwise circulating Bohemian books on the prohibited list.
Other patents followed in 1721, 1722, 1723, 1724, 1725, 1726, with the
result that non-Catholics who still secretly clung to the forbidden
faith emigrated to Saxony and Prussia, where they sought the protection
of the rulers of those countries. The suffering of the unfortunates
was somewhat, though not wholly, relieved when the German princes,
assembled in the Diet at Regensburg in 1735, sent a strong appeal to
the Austrian Emperor to treat his subjects with more toleration. When
the Edict of Toleration was issued in 1781, permitting free worship,
there still remained in Bohemia about 100,000 Protestants.[6] Of the
refugees who fled to Germany in the first quarter of the eighteenth
century many found their way with the Herrnhuters, or Moravians,
as they are called in the United States, to Georgia, and others to
Pennsylvania, where they established, in 1741, the flourishing town
of Bethlehem, now the recognized centre of the Moravian Church in the
United States.[7]


Germanization, as a matter of fact, was pursued in Bohemia by every
Hapsburg, though the rulers of that house have not planned it as
systematically as Maria Theresa or her son, Josef II. Centralism, to
be successful and powerful, required the levelling of the differences
of speech and of race. Every Hapsburg ruler had been educated to the
belief that he was rendering a supreme service to his subjects by
forcing them “to unlearn the barbaric language of their sires, which
isolated them from the rest of the world.” “He who knows only Bohemian
and Latin,” declared Councilor Gebler, in 1765, “is bound to make a
poor scholar, and it were better for him to stick to the plow and to
the trade; there are too many Latin scholars as it is.” More and more
the conviction gained ground that a language like the Bohemian, spoken
but by a few millions of people, was valueless, and that it would be a
folly for the government to aid in its restoration.

Austrian statesmen were determined to impose German at one time even on
the unsuspecting Galicians, though in Galicia there were no Germans at
all, only Poles and Russians. Discoursing upon the worth or the lack of
value of languages of small nations, Denis says: “These arguments may
be true, but unfortunately they could be applied to every language in
the world.”

In 1774 a detailed plan for the Germanization of schools in the empire
was submitted to Maria Theresa. This plan provided for German schools
and none others. By “mother” language was meant the German. Bohemian
was permitted in the primary or lowest grades of the school. No pupil
could enter a gymnasium (secondary school) who had not had a previous
training in German. Fortunately for the non-Germans of that period,
progress was less rapid than had been generally expected. Schoolmasters
were scarce and pupils, not understanding the language of the teachers,
advanced but slowly. As a result of all this, the queen, though
unwilling, was compelled to make concessions here and there and to
proceed less aggressively.

A noted writer has truthfully said that in the eighteenth century
Bohemians were outcasts in their own country. A lad who wanted to learn
a trade had to attend a German school for apprentices, and only pupils
knowing German were entitled to receive stipends. In the secondary
schools in Bohemia the vernacular was treated as a “foreign” language.
A professor was required to qualify in Latin and Greek, yet no one
questioned whether or not he knew the tongue of the natives. Pupils
were educated in German to be able to perform the work of janissaries
on the people of their own race. Slowly but steadily Bohemian was
likewise forced out of the courts. Laws were promulgated in the German
language. The Bohemian began to lose ground in the highest courts of
justice; gradually it was forced out from the inferior courts. After
1749 law documents in Bohemian became rarer. When, in 1788, Count
Cavriani moved that only certain notices be published in that language,
the motion was passed without opposition. From that time on German took
its place as the official language in the kingdom.

Can we wonder then that, pressed as it was on four sides--by the
church, the state, the school, and the dominant classes of the
population--the tongue of Hus and Comenius lost ground almost
altogether? And who saved it from utter extinction? It was the lowly
peasant who continued giving it shelter under his thatched roof, long
after it had been expelled from the proud châteaux of the nobility and
disowned by the middle classes. The peasant preserved the language
for the literary men who rescued from oblivion this precious gift for
future generations. “It is admitted by all,” said Palacký, “that the
resuscitation of the nation was accomplished wholly by our writers.
These men saved the language; they carried the banner which they
wished the nation to follow. Literature was the fountain spring of our
national life, and the literati placed themselves at the forefront of
the revivalist movement.”

The diet of the kingdom recommended, in 1790, that Bohemian should
be introduced at least in certain secondary schools, preferably in
Prague, but the Austrian world of officialdom was opposed even to
this concession. “No one threatens the life of the Bohemian tongue,”
protested these officials. “The government cannot antagonize the
feeling of the most influential and wealthiest classes who use German,
if not exclusively, at least overwhelmingly. Moreover, to encourage
Bohemian would be to lose sight of the idea of the unification of the
empire. The state must not deprive the Bohemians of the blessing and
of the opportunity that emanate from the knowledge of German. Useful
though Bohemian may be, its study must not be at the expense of German.”

Two important events, both of which occurred toward the end of the
eighteenth century, helped to awaken the soul of the prostrate nation.
One was the determination of Emperor Josef II. to make the empire a
German state, as has already been pointed out. But a greater incentive
than Josef’s coercive measures were the inspiring ideals of the first
French Revolution which found their way even to far-off Bohemia. The
motto of the French revolutionists, “Liberty, equality, fraternity,”
could not fail to give hope to the handful of Bohemian intellectuals.[8]

However, as late as 1848, the year of revolutionary changes in Austria,
the Bohemian language was still a Cinderella in its own land. In the
streets of Prague it was rarely spoken by the people of any social
distinction. To engage in Bohemian conversation with strangers was
a risky undertaking, unless one was prepared to be rebuked in the
sternest manner. German predominated, except in stores that were
patronized by apprentices and peddlers. Posters solely in Bohemian
were not allowed by the police. The text had to be translated, and
the German part of it printed above the Bohemian. Nowhere but in the
households of the commonest classes was the despised tongue sheltered.
Families belonging to the world of officialdom and to the wealthier
bourgeoisie, though often imperfectly familiar with it, clung to
German. Strict etiquette barred Bohemian from the salons. The only
entrance that was open to it led through the halls of the servants.
So completely were the people denationalized that foreigners visiting
the resorts at Carlsbad and Marienbad expressed their astonishment
on hearing the peasants talk in an unknown tongue. They had learned
to look upon Bohemia as a part of Germany and on the inhabitants as
Germans. Particularly the Russians and the Poles were surprised to meet
kinsmen in Bohemia whose language sounded familiar to their ears.

“A few of us,” writes Jacob Malý, one of the staunch patriots of
that time, “met each Thursday at the Black Horse (a first-class
hotel in Prague) and gave orders to the waiters in Bohemian, who, of
course, understood us well. This we did with the intention of giving
encouragement to others; but seeing the futility of our efforts in this
direction, we gave up the propaganda in disgust.”

In 1852, the then chief of police of Prague confidently predicted
that in fifty years there would be no Bohemians in Prague. That even
Austrian Chiefs of Police could make a mistake, appears from the fact
that Greater Prague to-day numbers nearly 600,000 inhabitants, of whom
only about 17,000 are Germans. When, in 1844, Archduke Stephen came to
Prague and the citizens arranged a torch procession in his honor, the
police were scandalized to hear, mingling with the customary “Vivat,”
shouts in Bohemian, “Sláva!”

Authors and newspaper writers were objects of unbounded curiosity.
Malý, already quoted, relates the following: “Walking in the streets
of Prague, I often noticed people pointing at me and saying: ‘Das ist
auch einer von den Vlastenzen’ (Here goes another of those patriots),
or ‘Das ist ein gewaltiger Czeche’ (There is a thorough Čech for
you). During my stay in southern Bohemia in 1838, the innkeeper of a
tavern which I frequented evenings had surely no reason to regret my
patronage, for people would come primarily to have a peep at me.”

In the biography of Palacký[9] we read an account of a memorable
meeting of patriots held in 1825 in the Sternberg Palace in Prague.
Palacký being invited to dinner on that particular day, as he often had
been, remained in the company of the Counts Sternberg until midnight.
A violent dispute that arose between the guests and the hosts would
not allow of their separation. Among other questions discussed was the
prospective publication of a scientific magazine in both languages,
Bohemian and German. Abbé Dobrovský, the “father of Slavic philology,”
and Count Kaspar were of the opinion that it was too late to think
seriously of the resuscitation of the Bohemian nation, and that all
attempts in that direction must end in failure. Palacký, then a
youthful enthusiast, disagreed in this with his elder companions and
bitterly reproached Dobrovský, that he, a literary light among his
people, had not written a single book in the mother tongue. “Were we
all to do the same, then indeed our nation would perish for lack of
intellectual nourishment. As for me,” fervently argued Palacký, “were I
but a gypsy by birth, and the last of that race, I would still deem it
my duty to try to perpetuate an honorable mention of it in the annals
of mankind.” Count Sternberg, though he knew the language well, never
used it in conversation with people of education. He availed himself
of it only when talking with his servants.

In 1811 Dobrovský wrote to the noted Slovene scholar, Kopitar, that
“the cause of the nation is desperate, unless God helps.” In his
discourse, “Geschichte der Deutschen und ihrer Sprache in Böhmen,”
dated 1790, Pelcl expressed himself as follows: “The time is
approaching when the Bohemian language will be in the same situation
at home as the Slavonic language is to-day in Miess, Brandenburg, and
Silesia, where German is everywhere prevalent and where nothing remains
of the Slavic but the names of cities, villages, and rivers.”

It stands to reason that the language, returning to its own after a
disuse of almost two hundred years and dug from the grave of oblivion,
needed much burnishing, purifying, and modernizing. Terminology of
arts and sciences, that flourished while the language lay dormant,
had to be created. Dictionaries, grammars, and histories had to be
compiled. Above all, the dross of alien forms had to be removed and,
while the old Bohemian of Hus, Comenius, and Blahoslav constituted
an inexhaustible store of material, it was necessary to borrow from
kindred Slavic tongues and to coin many modern terms.

That the older writers composed some of their works in German seems
paradoxical (German in these instances was used to defeat German),
yet it was natural, considering the low state of Bohemian culture and
the corresponding literary excellence in neighboring Germany. Thus,
John Kollár, the apostle of literary Pan-Slavism, wrote his main work
in German. Josef Dobrovský, already mentioned, composed all his works
in German. Josef Šafařík’s monumental volume on “Slavic Antiquities”
was also written in German; even the “Father of his country,” Francis
Palacký, wrote his “History of the Bohemian Nation”[10] in the tongue
of Schiller and Goethe. When, in 1831, a number of writers gathered in
a well-known coffee-house in Prague, Čelakovský, one of them, remarked,
half jokingly and half seriously, that Bohemian letters would perish
should the ceiling of the room where they were chatting fall and kill
those present.

The literary men and the “vlastenci” (patriots) were looked upon by
many people with good-natured tolerance. Enemies of the cause regarded
them with ill-concealed suspicion, not infrequently with contempt,
while the government, distrusting everything that was new, suspected
them of dangerous intrigues against the safety of the state. It must
be borne in mind that there was no political freedom in Austria then;
matters of public concern were not allowed to be discussed, much less
criticised, except among intimates.

The work of resuscitating a dying race was a gigantic task, and but
for the perseverance of the first apostles, the most promising branch
of the Slavic linden tree would have withered. It was necessary to
build theatres, to found learned societies, to establish museums and
libraries, to collect and edit rare books and manuscripts scattered in
foreign countries, whither they had been carried by soldiers during
the Thirty Years’ War. The Austrian Government, instead of assisting
in this work which had for its object the uplifting of a down-trodden
people from ignorance, superstition, and bigotry, hindered it at every
step. As an example of self-sacrificing patriotism, the case of a law
student by the name of Řehoř should be mentioned. This man took a vow
that he would distribute as many Bohemian books as were said to have
been burnt by the Jesuit Koniáš during the anti-reformation, that
is, 60,000 volumes. Řehoř died some time in the late fifties of the
nineteenth century, and he is said to have accomplished the greater
part of his self-imposed task. When Jungmann, one of the greatest of
the revivalists, died in 1847, the patriots had an opportunity to
review their growing ranks and they were astonished how the national
movement had spread. “When we were returning home from the funeral,”
noted J. V. Frič in his memoirs, “I walked arm in arm with my father;
we both felt proud like victors who were marching to further decisive
battles. When father in the evening sat down for a chat with the
family, he exclaimed, breathing freely as if a stone had rolled off his
chest, ‘Children, I think we shall win; there are too many of us; they
can no longer trample us down.’”


Up to 1848 Austrian subjects enjoyed certain liberties: they could
smoke, drink, and play cards without interference from the police. One
enjoyment, however, was denied to them--they were not permitted to
think. Prince Metternich, the personification of absolutist Austria
of those days, observed with alarm how the structure that he had been
propping for years was beginning to settle in its foundations, and how
ominous cracks appeared in it here and there.

Revolution was in the air. Switzerland, Germany, and Italy were being
engulfed by it. “The world is ill,” Metternich complained in a letter
to Count Apponyi. “Each day we can observe how the moral infection
is spreading, and if you find me unyielding, it is because I am of a
nature that will not give in before opposition.”

The news of the fall of Louis Philippe in France reached Prague
February 29, 1848. Next day, notwithstanding the strictest censorship,
the city was aflame with revolutionary talk. The liberals in
neighboring Germany had summoned delegates to meet at Frankfort, March
5th. Italy seethed with political excitement. Kossuth, in Hungary,
demanded that a constitution be granted to the people in Austria.
Overnight Metternich’s elaborate system of government, maintained
by the police and the military, was tumbling down like a house of
cards. In Prague, as in other large centres, everybody clamored for a
constitution, though the masses, educated as they were to regard the
government as something above and apart from them, hardly comprehended
what the word “constitution” meant.

In the midst of the turmoil the sickly Emperor Ferdinand V. (1835-1848)
abdicated in favor of his nephew, Francis Josef, then a youth of
eighteen. The latter had been on the throne but a few weeks, when his
advisers, Schwarzenberg, Windischgrätz, Stadion, and others, decided to
do away with the constitution of the revolutionists and to substitute
it with an octroy constitution, the reason assigned being “the
incapacity of parliament.” The choice fell on this particular young man
because Prince Schwarzenberg recommended as ruler “one whom he would
not have to be ashamed to show to the troops.” Though not relevant, it
is interesting to recall how the present emperor acquired his cognomen.
“What shall it be, gentlemen,” asked Schwarzenberg in the ministerial
council--“Francis Josef, or simply Francis?” A sub-secretary of state
thought that plain Francis would sound very well indeed, but the fear
having been expressed that the name Francis might remind the Austrian
nations too much of the ghost of Metternich, Francis Josef, instead of
plain Francis, was chosen for the youthful monarch.

To Windischgrätz constitutions, ministries accountable to the people,
and parliaments were abominations. He made no secret of the fact that
he was opposed to the rule of lawyers; those alone who carried bayonets
and muskets were entitled to be called patriots and saviors of the

Under the Premiership of Alexander Bach (1853-1859) the monarchy
relapsed to the methods of police rule that obtained prior to 1848. The
reactionaries who surrounded the throne encouraged the youthful monarch
to rule like an autocrat.

Minister Bach, by the way a highly gifted man, who had in his early
days trifled with radicalism, believed that an alliance between the
church and the state would strengthen both and that against the unity
of the altar and the throne the radicals would be powerless. “The
Austrian Monarchy,” he confided to a noted clerical, “considering its
peculiar structure, has only two firm bases on which it can rest in
safety and unity,--the dynasty and the church.” Accordingly he brought
about, in 1855, the adoption of the famous concordat, a convention
between the pope and the monarchy, a pact that increased immensely the
legal power of the papacy in Austria. The concordat was abolished in
1868 because of the bitter opposition of the liberals. Bohemia, the
land of Hus and Havlíček, fought the concordat openly and fearlessly,
suspecting in it a hidden menace to its freedom of conscience and to
national aspirations.

The uncompromising opposition of the Bohemians to Bach and to his
policies visited upon them the wrath of Vienna. Under Bach they were
probably subjected to oppression more ruthless and cruel than any they
had experienced since the time of Ferdinand II.

Patriots, some of them mere youths, were thrown in prison on the
flimsiest accusation of police spies. It was not safe to converse in
Bohemian in the streets of Prague. Spies were at the heels of every
Bohemian prominent in public life. Police agents tried to connect
Francis L. Rieger with a treasonable plot to disrupt the monarchy and
he had to flee the state to save himself from prison. Spies followed
Palacký even to the sick-bed of his wife. The military authorities
at Prague suspended the publication of Havlíček’s famous newspaper,
“Národní Noviny,” on the ground that its editor indulged in “immoderate
language.” Finding Prague closed to his paper, Havlíček made an attempt
to publish it in Vienna. “I am determined not to issue licenses to
any newspaper in Vienna; we have enough newspapers as it is,” replied
General Welden to Havlíček’s application for the license. “But there
is no such newspaper in Vienna as I should like to publish,” pleaded
Havlíček. “My paper is intended to be an organ for Slavic matters and
it is to be printed in Bohemian.” Welden retorted angrily: “Wir sind
hier Deutsche” (Here in Vienna we are Germans), and the General’s
decision was irrevocable.

Undaunted, Havlíček made other attempts to procure a newspaper license,
and at last he obtained a promise that he might be allowed to publish
a paper in Kutná Hora, a provincial town not far from Prague. In time
even this paper was suppressed by the police and its editor arrested
and interned in the province of Tyrol by Bach’s order. It should,
perhaps, be said that Havlíček was the one journalist whom neither
threats nor offers of bribery could influence. There, separated from
his wife and child, Havlíček gave way to brooding which brought on a
fatal brain disease. From Tyrol he was permitted to return home, broken
in health and spirit. To the last Havlíček remained steadfast to the
cause he had championed--the liberation from bondage of his nation.
Havlíček’s colors were red and white (Bohemian national colors), and
neither threats nor favors could swerve him from his chosen path:[11]
“They banished you from the fatherland,” wrote Pinkas to Havlíček, “but
they transformed the fatherland itself into a fortress and a jail. We
live here the most unhappy lives conceivable. Not a ray of light enters
our intellectual prison to brighten it.”

The mere acquaintanceship with Palacký was enough to expose one to the
chicanery of the police. Strobach, at one time Mayor of Prague and a
former speaker of the short-lived parliament, was deposed as judge
because, when presiding at a trial, he failed to hold a drunkard on a
charge of lèse majesté. Count Thun would not allow Rieger to lecture at
the university for the reason, as he stated, “that students would see
in him a political agitator, not a professor.”

A demand was made on Palacký by the censor to strike out of his
“History of the Bohemian Nation” the chapters relating to Hus and the
Hussite Wars. Even Prince Metternich, whose bureaucratic leanings
were above suspicion, considered the demand, which was equivalent to
an order, unreasonable. After a great deal of haggling as to what was
permissible and what should be deleted, a compromise was effected
between the historian and the censor. However, Palacký’s biographers
all agreed that the terms of the compromise were not satisfactory
to him. He is said to have expressed a hope that future historians,
living in freer times than he, should tell the whole truth about the
importance and meaning of the Hussite movement, which he was not
allowed to do. The chapters relating to the Hussite times he wrote both
in Bohemian and German. But because German critics had impugned his
impartiality, he determined, as a protest, to continue with Bohemian
as the original and German as a translation. When he announced his
decision to the Land Committee, a protest was raised and he was warned
not to publish the Bohemian text before the German; nor to do anything
from which it might appear that the German text was not the original.

The famous physician, Hamerník, a pupil of the noted Škoda and
Rokytanský, was removed from the university because the government
suspected his political and religious views.

The publication of every Bohemian newspaper in the land was suspended,
except for two or three scientific and literary magazines, and the
police would have liked to destroy even those, if decent pretext could
have been found for their doing so.

At one time the authorities were planning to dissolve the society of
the Bohemian Museum and the Royal Society of Sciences. The discussions
of these learned bodies did not seem patriotic enough from the Austrian
point of view. The Matice Česká--a society for the publication of
standard literature--was threatened in its existence, and only the
influence of some of its prominent members saved it from the fury of
the almighty police.

Pogodin, the Russian scholar, had recommended the Matice to publish
the works of Hus. “God prevent,” answered Šafařík to Pogodin’s letter
(1857). “Who would think of publishing books on Hus in Austria?--yes,
if they were against Hus--that would be simple.”

Before Krejčí’s work on geology could be published, every page,
nay every line, was carefully scanned, and when that was done the
manuscript was ordered to be submitted for approval to a learned
priest, to make sure that it contained nothing contrary to the teaching
of the church. Palacký, who was always dreaming of his pet scheme of
the publication of a Bohemian encyclopedia, was told that “under the
existing press laws it would be unwise to urge the matter.”

In honor of the emperor’s marriage (1854) the government showed
clemency to certain political persons; yet, in general, conditions
remained unchanged. Patriots who had been expelled from Prague could
return, but city or country, their movements were watched by the
police. Sladkovský, a famous journalist whose publications had been
ruined by censorship, applied for a license to start a coal yard with
which to support his family. The application was promptly disallowed.
Young Frič, a literary rebel, planned to issue a volume of poetry with
the collaboration of the younger set of writers. This warning was
received from Vienna: “Let Frič beware; if he does not desist in his
dangerous course, he may again find himself interned in a fortress.”
The police directors and press censors suspected the loyalty of
everyone who ventured to write in Bohemian. “I fail to comprehend,”
remonstrated Police Director Weber with Frič, “why you persist in this
ridiculous nonsense; in about six years there will be nothing left of
your Bohemian literature, anyway.”

On another occasion Weber gave Frič to understand that Bohemia was a
German territory, and that if he wished to live in it he must obey
German laws. Yet Frič was incorrigible. For his intractability and
because he would not share Weber’s view that his nation was doomed to
extinction, he was banished to the hills of Transylvania.

On the battlefields at Magenta and Solferino in Italy in 1859, the
absolutist rule of Bach, which derived its chief support from the
bureaucracy, the military, and the clerical party, came to an abrupt
end. The progressive element clamored for reforms. Bach was dismissed
from office and his successor (Goluchowski) announced that in the
future the state budget would be subject to the scrutiny of the people
and that provincial diets would be invited to legislate on their needs.
The last part of the program the federalists interpreted to mean that
the principle of local self-government had at last been recognized.

In the Bohemian Diet a prominent member, encouraged by the program of
the new premier, moved, amid genuine enthusiasm of the federalists,
that a deputation of the diet be appointed to go to Vienna and urge the
emperor to have himself crowned king in Prague. When, subsequently, a
deputation of the diet secured an audience from the ruler, he declared
(1861): “I will be crowned in Prague as King of Bohemia, and I am
convinced that this ceremony will cement anew the indissoluble tie of
confidence and loyalty between My throne and My Bohemian Kingdom.”

Bohemians were elated. At last their ideal of autonomous Bohemia seemed
at the point of realization.

Here a few words should be said concerning the constitution under which
Austrians were to begin a new parliamentary life. The much-heralded
and impatiently awaited document was drafted by Minister Schmerling, a
staunch centralist, and because it was promulgated in February (1861)
it was called the “Constitution of February.” As soon as its text had
been made public, the Slavs instantly recognized that the statesmen
in Vienna had not profited in the slightest from the lessons of 1848.
Minister Schmerling, was, like all Germans, obsessed with the notion
that German hegemony was indispensable to the safety and greatness of
the state. Accordingly he subordinated every other idea and interest
to that one obsession. A most ingenious electoral system was evolved
whereby Germans, though in minority, were able to control, not only
the central parliament, but the provincial diets as well. The scheme
was to favor the cities, wealthy individual taxpayers, and chambers
of commerce (which groups then were German in sentiment) to the
disadvantage of the agricultural districts inhabited by the Slavs. How
the electoral law worked in Bohemia one can perceive from the fact
that in 1873 2,500,000 Bohemians were able to elect only 34 deputies,
while 1,500,000 Germans contrived to return 56 deputies. The powers of
the provincial diets were reduced to a minimum, the controlling idea,
of course, being to keep centred in Vienna the entire power of the
state. By reason of this juggling the Bohemian element found itself in
minority in its own Land Diet.

Although distrustful because of the partisanship evinced in the
constitution, the Bohemians nevertheless entered parliament, but they
did so upon the express understanding that their participation therein
should not be in any manner prejudicial to the historical rights of
their kingdom.

Generally speaking, the Austrian nations, from the very first day their
representatives were permitted to enter the legislative halls, divided
themselves into two political parties, federalists and centralists.
The federalists favored granting self-government to the various races;
the centralists, who were backed by the German masses, opposed this.
Austria, according to the latter, was lost to the German cause the
moment the agitation “Away from Vienna” had gained the upper hand.
For reasons of self-protection the Slavs, led by the Bohemians,
inclined toward federalism, as more likely to satisfy their national
aspirations. Instead of a Teutonic Austria, the Slavs desired a United
States of Austria that should be just and impartial to all.

For months the Bohemians waited, but to their surprise and dismay the
government took no steps to make effective the emperor’s promise. On
the contrary, the increasing persecution of their press, the brutal
partiality of the speaker of parliament, the hostile attitude of the
executive organs of the government were signs, the significance of
which could not be doubted. The discouraging truth dawned on them at
last that the emperor had no intention of keeping his word and of
giving home rule to his Bohemian subjects.

Deceived by their sovereign and realizing that neither reason nor
justice would influence Vienna, they decided, in 1863, as a means of
protest and to show their deep resentment, to leave the parliament in
a body. On June 17th of that year they issued a statement in which the
grievances of the nation were set forth at length. For sixteen years
after that no Bohemian legislator appeared in the Austrian Parliament.
And while this may not have been a sagacious course--indeed,
subsequent events have shown that the “policy of abstinence,” as the
parliamentary boycott came to be known, almost irreparably prejudiced
their position--yet, as a protest of an outraged nation, it was


Up to 1867 the Hapsburg Monarchy was, outwardly at least, a Teutonic
state. But in 1866, having been decisively beaten by Prussia at Sadova,
it found itself facing a new destiny. Expelled from the Germanic
Bund of which it had been a leading member, the championship wrested
from it by victorious Hohenzollerns, rent by internal discord, its
statesmen concurred in the opinion that reconstruction of some kind
was inevitable. But what course of action should be pursued? Should
the government again have recourse to the shop-worn policy of rigid
centralization and Germanization which had been tried by Austrian
Premiers time and time again and invariably found wanting?

That Hungary should be given back her autonomy was conceded beforehand.
Weakened by war, its military prestige shattered, its finances at a
low ebb, the government was in no condition to resist the Magyars, who
had assumed a threatening attitude. But what about the Bohemians, who
also clamored for recognition? Bohemia, Hungary, and Austria, it will
be remembered, had formed a union in 1526-1527 on terms of equality.
And then how should the larger Slavic questions be settled? Numerically
the Slavs were the strongest element in the monarchy. If allowed to
elect representatives to one central parliament, these discontented
Bohemians, Poles, Slovaks, and Croatians might one day, uniting
politically, control the country. Tacitly Vienna and Budapest agreed
that, whatever the terms of the settlement with Hungary, the disaster
of Slavic majority must be averted.

“The Slavs must be pressed to the wall” (Man wird die Slaven an die
Wand drücken), declared a statesman who participated actively in the
plan of reconstruction. “You,” addressing the Magyars, “will take care
of your hosts [meaning the Slavs] and we shall take care of ours.”

In the parliament the cause of the Slavic federalists was lost
beforehand; a German-made constitution and German-made electoral law
rendered futile every opposition. Besides, the government would brook
no interference with its plan of reconstruction as outlined by Count
Beust.[12] This plan contemplated a dual government, one in Vienna,
the other in Budapest, and three parliaments, one to sit in Vienna
for the Austrian half, one to meet in Budapest for the Hungarian
half, and a third one to be called the “Delegations” and to convene
alternately at both capitals to deliberate on matters common to the
empire as a whole, such as foreign relations, the army, navy, finances,
and so forth. In other words, Beust’s plan provided for two seats of
centralization instead of one. From a German state that it had been
before 1867 Austria became a German-Magyar state--an organization
without precedent or analogy.

The several kingdoms, crown-lands, etc., were divided under Beust’s
plan; and, upon the consummation of the deal, were allotted to the
contracting parties to the dualism as follows: Austria received
Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Bukovina, Dalmatia, Galicia, Carinthia,
Carniola, Trieste and vicinity, Goritz and Gradiska, Istria, Lower
Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Voralberg. Hungary
secured as her part of the bargain Hungary Proper, Transylvania, Fiume,
Croatia, Slavonia, and the Military Frontier.

Figures, better than anything else, will explain why the Slavs were
opposed to dualism and presently became its irreconcilable enemies.
Under the Austrian roof Beust put these Slavic groups (quoting from the
census of 1910):

  Bohemians           6,435,983
  Poles               4,967,984
  Slovenes            1,252,940
  Serbo-Croatians       783,334
  Little Russians     3,608,844
        Total        17,049,085

Under the Magyar domination fell the following Slavs:

  Slovaks           1,967,970
  Croatians         1,833,167
  Serbs             1,106,471
  Little Russians     472,587

Beust’s scheme was audaciously clever. By dividing the monarchy in
two he divided the Slavs; and, separated and isolated, they were made
easier victims of Magyarization in Hungary and of Germanization in
Austria. A crying injustice of this shameful bargain was that the “high
contracting parties” tore apart peoples of the same race, setting
up a political barrier where nature intended that none should exist.
Austria, for instance, had been awarded Dalmatia, the population of
which is almost wholly Croatian; yet Slavonia and Croatia, which
is also Croatian to the core (or Serbo-Croatian), went to Hungary.
Bohemians of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia were lodged under the
Austrian roof; the Slovaks, on the other side, who are almost one
with the Bohemian race, were put under the guardianship of Hungary.
Nations and races were moved on the Austrian chess-board like so many
pawns--exactly the same way as at the Vienna Congress in 1814 and at
the Berlin Conference in 1878.

“No people in the monarchy were more unjustly prejudiced by dualism
than the Bohemians,” is the opinion of Denis. “Every article of the
Settlement affected their interests most adversely. Their kinsmen,
the Croatians and Serbs, and particularly the Slovaks--the latter
always confidently looked upon as a reserve force of the nation--were
handed out to merciless and unfeeling masters. The crown of St. Václav
(St. Václav is honored as patron saint of Bohemia) was reduced by
Vienna to a position of semi-vassalage and given equal rank with a
medley of outlying and insignificant provinces. Dualism condemned
the Slavs to be the unwilling tools of a policy to which they had
been opposed. Bohemia, the richest and most productive land in the
empire, was made to bear the heaviest quota of the burden with which
statesmen had saddled the Austrian half of the monarchy.” Condemning
dualism, Dr. Edward Grégr, in a famous speech delivered in parliament,
declared “that it would be wisest to tear down to its foundations the
ramshackle building that made every tenant dissatisfied, that lacked
light and air, that neither expense nor labor could make habitable,
and to build upon the ruins an edifice answering the manifold needs
of its inhabitants. In the judgment of Dr. Menger” (a German deputy),
thundered Grégr, “this would be a treason and I confess that it would
be a treason. Yet, is not dualism a treason on the rights and liberties
of the peoples of this state and particularly on the rights and
liberties of our Bohemian nation?”

And because the settlement between Austria and Hungary had been
effected without the co-operation, much less the consent of the
Bohemians, whose claims were utterly disregarded--it will be remembered
that at that time, 1867, they were boycotting the parliament--a series
of political duels were fought between Vienna and Prague, which in the
end resulted in the defeat of the weaker antagonist, that is, Prague.

In the spring of 1867 the Prague Diet was summoned to elect deputies
to the parliament which was to vote on the settlement with Hungary.
The Bohemians refused to elect such deputies and entered instead a
vigorous protest against being incorporated in Austria-Hungary, then in
process of formation. The only state they recognized was the Bohemian
Kingdom and this had as much right to autonomy as Hungary. Promptly
the government dissolved the diet and ordered new elections. At these
elections, thanks to the ingenious electoral law, the Bohemians were
defeated and the German minority, now master in the diet, proceeded to
elect delegates to the Vienna Parliament. The Bohemians declared this
election unconstitutional and fraudulent. Deputies so elected, they
maintained, were not true representatives of the people and could not,
therefore, legally or morally bind the nation in parliament. Having
issued this protest, the Bohemians left the diet, and the next year,
instead of returning, issued their memorable Declaration of Rights,
bearing date August 22, 1868. They continued to boycott the Land Diet
until 1870.

The government was by no means tardy in making the rebels feel that
they needed to be disciplined for their refusal to participate in the
labors of the parliament. The Director of Police in Prague received
orders to see to it “that Bohemian newspapers moderate their tone.”
That, of course, meant the inevitable lawsuits, police chicanery,
confiscation, fines, jail.

To break the rebellious spirit of the Bohemians the government sent
Baron Koller to Prague, as Military Governor,--a soldier of the Radecký
type of Austrian generals--brutal, violent. One of his first acts was
to place the capital under martial law (1868). Koller suspended the
publication of nearly every Bohemian newspaper. Arrests for political
crimes became so numerous that the jail of the New Town (one of the
Boroughs of Prague) held at one time 400 prisoners, though there was
room only for 250 persons. During 1868 in Prague alone Koller sent
to jail 144 persons who were convicted of political misdemeanors and
crimes. The total penalties aggregated 81 years. How many prisoners
there were in the provincial towns in Bohemia and Moravia is only
conjectured, but it was asserted afterwards that there had been five
times as many as in Prague, so that the total number of political
prisoners in Bohemia in 1868 was about 700.

When the Premier tried to placate the Bohemian opposition by suspending
martial law (April, 1869) in Prague, the centralists became furious.
Bohemian autonomy, declared their organ, the Vienna “Neue Freie
Presse,” is an issue that only force can solve; the unification of the
Bohemian Crown may be of vital moment to the Bohemians, but the Germans
will never give their consent.


At last wiser counsel prevailed in Vienna, and while certain members
favored repression, even force, to bring the Bohemians to submission,
there were others, Count Taaffe among them, who urged moderation. The
Potocki ministry (1870) tried to breach the differences between Prague
and Vienna. More successful than Potocki was Count Hohenwart, whom
the emperor encouraged to make terms with the Bohemians. Hohenwart’s
first step was to name two distinguished Bohemians, Jireček and
Habětínek, members of his cabinet. The “Neue Freie Presse” commented
on Hohenwart’s appointment as “the Sedan of German ideals in Austria.”
Hohenwart’s next step was to select an Austrian commission, in
co-operation with a similar commission of Bohemians, headed by Count
Clam-Martinic and Dr. Rieger, to draft terms of settlement, which
came to be known as the “Fundamental Articles.” These “Fundamentals”
defined precisely the future relations of Bohemia and Austria. In
the “Fundamentals” one could clearly discern Palacký’s ideas of
federalistic Austria.

Thereupon an imperial rescript was issued, bearing date September 12,
1871, in which the emperor made this memorable promise: “Recognizing
the state rights of the Bohemian Crown, calling to mind the renown
and power which the crown has conferred upon Us and Our predecessors,
and mindful further of the unwavering loyalty with which the people
of Bohemia have at all times supported Our throne, We are glad to
recognize the rights of this kingdom and are ready to renew this
recognition by Our coronation oath.”[13]

Obviously it was not the mere mediæval ceremony of coronation that
Bohemians were anxious to have take place. By having himself crowned
as king, the sovereign would affirm by implication that the Kingdom
of Bohemia, the Margravate of Moravia, and the Duchy of Silesia were
one and indivisible; that Bohemia was a part of the monarchy only as
long as the Hapsburgs survived in the male or female line; that in the
event of the Hapsburg-Lothringen line becoming extinct, Bohemia was
free to elect its own ruler; that the power of legislation was vested
jointly in the king and in the diets and that the king, upon taking the
coronation oath, bound himself to defend the indissolubility of the
Bohemian Crown.

In answer to the emperor’s declaration the diet passed in its sessions
of October 8 and 10, 1871, the “Fundamental Articles.” Meantime the
centralists worked indefatigably to defeat the settlement with Bohemia.
Their journals employed every means to prejudice public opinion
against it. “Austria is about to capitulate to the Slavs,” wrote these
journals, “and Prague will eventually supersede Vienna as the capital
of the empire.”

It is known that Bismarck, fearing that Bohemian home rule might
have a stimulating effect on his Poles, and Andrassy, solicitous
about the “welfare” of his Slovaks, jointly intrigued to defeat the
autonomy which Premier Hohenwart was ready to concede. “Hungary will
have nothing in common with Slavic Austria,” declared the “Pester
Lloyd,” speaking for the Hungarian Government. “We Hungarians shall
do everything in our power to frustrate the reconstruction. Call it
selfishness, if you will, but that shall be our policy.”

The victory of the Prussians over the French in 1871 naturally made
the Austro-German centralists more stubborn than ever, and Hohenwart,
despairing of the passage in the parliament of the “Fundamental
Articles,” resigned October 30th. For the second time since 1848 the
rehabilitation of the Bohemian State had been frustrated. That the
emperor, always vacillating and ever fearful of the Pan-Germans, was
not himself without blame, is obvious. In fact, it is charged that the
coterie of archdukes around the throne welcomed opposition to Bohemian
home rule, if it did not secretly foment it.

A new rescript commanded the diet to elect delegates to the parliament.
Refusing to do this, the diet was dissolved. The Auersperg-Lasser
Ministry which followed Hohenwart was outspokenly German-centralistic
and Bohemian autonomists made ready for another onslaught from Vienna.


For the second time the “opposition tamer,” Baron Koller, was appointed
Governor of Bohemia. To Moravia was sent the notorious Bohemiophobe,
Baron Weber. As usual, the press was the first to feel the heel of
these little despots. Public prosecutors throughout Bohemia and Moravia
received instructions to proceed “fearlessly” against opposition
journals. Those prosecutors who replied that they would do their
duty strictly “in accordance with the law” were either removed or
transferred to other posts and replaced by functionaries who were
more mindful of the needs of the government. “It is not necessary
in every instance to set forth the reason for the confiscation of a
newspaper article,” the prosecutors were instructed. “The prosecutors
have a full power to act and they are answerable to no one.” During
the first year of the Auersperg-Lasser Ministry the daily newspaper
“Politik” in Prague was confiscated 83 times by the conscientious
prosecutor. A number of societies were dissolved, though non-political
in character. An agricultural organization that had been founded during
the reign of Maria Theresa and had survived the bitter days of Bach’s
administration, was deprived of its charter because its president,
Prince Charles Schwarzenberg, a Bohemian noble, declined to participate
in the Vienna Exposition unless a separate space was allotted there
to Bohemia, as to Hungary. Every presiding officer of the so-called
District Committees in the provinces, who was suspected of being a
Bohemian sympathizer, was summarily removed. Two of the most noted
journalists, Julius Grégr and J. St. Skrejšovský, who had the courage
to fight the Auersperg-Lasser Ministry openly, were put in jail for an
alleged attempt to defraud the government of a trifling tax with which
newspaper advertisements were assessable. Both languished in jail for
months. As an instance of official meanness, the case of the publisher
of the “Correspondence Slave” should be mentioned. This man received
a long term in prison for failure to pay a newspaper tax amounting to
less than half a florin (20 cents).

And because Bohemian juries almost uniformly acquitted journalists
brought before them for political offenses, prosecuting attorneys
resorted to the expedient of a change of venue to cities inhabited
by Germans. To eminent jurists protesting that a procedure of this
kind was unconstitutional, the Minister of Justice replied that state
necessities justified this course. On one occasion a deputation of
representative citizens of Prague called on Baron Koller to complain
of the arbitrariness of the police. “Gentlemen, I hope you do not wish
me to be uncivil to you. I am exceedingly busy, and inasmuch as I
have nothing to say to you, I must ask you to leave the room in five
minutes.” And when the deputation, incensed over Koller’s brusqueness,
wished to explain, the redoubtable baron exclaimed: “Gentlemen, the
five minutes are up. Leave.” A door was opened, and in the ante-room
stood a sentry with fixed bayonet.

The year 1879 witnessed the end of the “policy of abstinence.” Due,
largely, to Premier Taaffe’s persuasion and promises, Bohemians
re-entered the parliament. From Taaffe and his successors in office
they obtained some political concessions (crumbs fallen from the
opulent table of the master, to repeat a current expression of the
opposition), yet the supreme ideal of the nation, autonomy, is to-day
no nearer fulfillment than it ever was. If they thought that they might
be able to convince Vienna of the injustice of dualism and might by
parliamentary pressure force it to grant to them home rule of which
they had been twice cheated, they had reckoned wrongly. Not only did
they fail to bring Vienna to terms, but they were made to feel that
another foe, powerful and implacable, blocked their way to national
freedom. That foe was Berlin. For it must not be forgotten that, since
the formation of the Triple Alliance, Berlin influence at Vienna,
always great, had become predominant. If the two Teutonic partners were
agreed on any one thing, it was on the proposition that Slavic trees in
Austria should not grow too tall.

To conduct the reader through the maze of purely local happenings that
occurred since Taaffe’s administration would be a long, though not
wholly uninteresting story. Suffice it to say that during most of the
time Bohemians were forced to fight on two fronts--Vienna on one front
and their fellow-countrymen with Pan-German leanings on the other. The
main quarrel between Vienna and Prague during all these years has been
over Home Rule. Shall Bohemians living in the countries comprising the
Bohemian Crown (Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia) be the arbiters of their own
destiny, and shall they govern themselves from Prague by laws made and
enacted by their home parliament? Home Rule is and has been the main
issue; all else is subordinate to it.


In 1908 the German minority in the Bohemian Diet proposed a plan
aiming at a division of Bohemia into two administrative parts, German
and Bohemian. This plan the Bohemians vehemently combated, as they
had consistently opposed like schemes in the past. They claimed that
to rend the kingdom into two halves, Bohemian and German, was both
impracticable and dangerous. Impracticable, because it would condemn to
inevitable Germanization the very strong Bohemian minorities living
in German districts on the border. Dangerous, because there were good
reasons for believing that German Bohemia would gravitate toward
Berlin, rather than toward Prague or Vienna. Their scheme having been
blocked, the Germans availed themselves of obstructive tactics in the
diet, with the result that a deadlock ensued. As usual, the Vienna
Government hurried to the assistance of the Germans. Bohemian leaders
were made to understand that they must yield in the Prague Diet, or
suffer punishment in the parliament. However, neither threats nor
promises moved the Bohemians; they made it plain that they would not
submit to further political extortions. Unable to break the deadlock
in Bohemia and unwilling to abandon the Germans in their hopeless
struggle for the maintenance of Teutonic hegemony in Austria, the
Vienna Government, as a last desperate means of saving its compatriots
from political defeat, suspended what there was still left of Bohemian
autonomy on July 26, 1913, one year before the outbreak of the war,
having previously advised the Berlin Government of its intention. The
diet was dissolved, although new elections had not been ordered, as
the law provided, and in place of the autonomous Land Executive, the
government appointed an Imperial Commission to govern Bohemia. This
was the beginning of an absolutist era in the kingdom.

The echo of the deadlock in Bohemia was at once heard in parliament.
Promptly the Bohemians carried the fight to the imperial assembly, thus
crippling its functions. And so it happened that, on the eve of the
Great War, the highest legislative tribunal of the empire did not meet
and the nations were not consulted as to whether or not they wished
war. The ruler alone decided this momentous question by taking recourse
to the famous paragraph fourteen of the constitution which, in certain
cases, allows him to act alone without the co-operation or advice of
the parliament.[14] This situation really suited the wishes of the
government clique, which knew beforehand that the Slavs would have
resolutely opposed the war if given an opportunity. Certain it is that
the Bohemians would have raised their voice against the mad adventure
against Serbia and would have declared in no unequivocal language that
a ruler who had twice broken his solemn promise to them had little
claim on their loyalty.

In a hundred different ways the nation is being wronged and held
back, and no lasting relief is possible so long as the deadening
centralistic, anti-Slavic policy obtains, so long as the state
recognizes master races and servant races and accords different
treatment to each.

To every one of its political and cultural demands Vienna is ready
to plead reasons of state, policies of state, principles of state,
necessities of state. If the grumbling is too loud the malcontents are
given to understand: “If you are not satisfied in Austria, you may have
a chance to become Prussians.”

“Our nation is in a grave danger,” said Palacký, “and surrounded on all
sides by enemies. Yet I believe that it will conquer in the end, if it
is only determined.” And the Bohemian nation is determined, determined
to the last man, to fight for its life, its liberty, and its happiness.


If there is one thing deeply rooted in the minds of the Bohemian
people it is the belief, or rather the conviction, that the Hapsburgs,
beginning with Ferdinand II. and ending with Francis Josef, the present
sovereign, one and all planned the Germanization of the nation. Vienna
newspapers make much of the fact that Bohemia has advanced under
the rule of Francis Josef as under no other Hapsburg--and they seek
to convey the impression that this remarkable renascence should be
credited to his reign. If Francis Josef had had his way, Bohemians
argue, they would to-day be like the Slavs along the Elbe who have
succumbed to Germanization, and Prague would be as German as Leipzig
or Vienna. Their own determination to live saved them from extinction.
All that the nation is and all that it has attained it has accomplished
through its own effort, without help from Vienna, often in the face
of the bitterest opposition from that quarter. Deny it as much as you
will, the truth remains that Bohemians, remembering their experience
with Ferdinand II., have always distrusted the Hapsburgs; and Francis
Josef has done nothing, despite the splendid opportunities of his
remarkably long reign, to dispel that feeling of distrust. For, who was
it but a Hapsburg who, in the first half of the seventeenth century,
turned their fatherland into a waste, driving into exile the flower
of the nation? Who but a Hapsburg put a tombstone on the sepulchre of
the nation, and who but a Hapsburg tried to smother its spirit under
that tombstone? Who but a Hapsburg caused the persecution and jailing
of the revivalists who undertook the task of awakening the nation? And
who but a Hapsburg twice violated, twice broke his solemn promise to
the nation, first in 1861, and again in 1871? Who but a Hapsburg, by
approving of the dualistic system of government in 1867, intrigued to
barter them away, with the rest of the Slavs, into political bondage?


Reading the utterances of Austrian officials in the United States one
is almost persuaded to believe that the reports of mutinies in the
early stages of the war and of disaffection of Slavic troops were
pure inventions of a hostile press, that the nations in the Hapsburg
Monarchy were enthusiastic and united[15] on the question of war and
that stories of oppression of non-Germanic peoples were baseless,
lacking the foundation of truth. A member of one of the consular staffs
made a pretty speech before the New York Twilight Club in which he
tried to convince his hearers that it was an old-time policy of the
Austrian Government to treat justly and impartially all its subjects,
irrespective of race, for does not the Hofburg in Vienna, the residence
of the emperor, bear the proud legend, “Justice to all nations is the
fundament of Austria”?

Is it really true that the Austrian troops are and were loyal, that
none shot their officers and none surrendered to the Russians or to
the Serbians when an opportunity presented? Do not these very denials
of mutiny and disaffection sound suspicious? Mutiny of troops is
admittedly unknown in the German Army, and none have been, so far as we
know, reported from the French or English Armies. Neither the Germans,
nor the English, nor the French officials in this country have felt the
need to make public affirmation or denial where silence should have
been most eloquent. If the Austro-Hungarian officials are so sure of
their case, why do they make an exception and try to refute what in
the case of the other warring countries is understood as a matter of

Before we could give unreserved credence to these official assurances,
we should like to hear the other side of the story. But, it so
happens that the other side cannot now be presented. Every newspaper
in Austria, without an exception (particularly opposition journals
printed in any of the Slavic languages), is edited by the government.
The government censor is editor of all journals published in the
empire, and the newspapers are given the choice either to print what
the Imperial Royal Press Bureau sends them or have the articles
promptly confiscated. As a result of this complete muzzling of the
press, there is now but one kind of public opinion in Austria--the
censor’s opinion. According to the Prague journals, which reach the
United States, Austrians are winning everywhere--on land, at sea,
and in the air. Police agents plan fraternal and loyal meetings of
Germans and Slavs, and the police agents’ faithful ally, the censor,
writes them up in the newspapers and the Imperial Royal Press Bureau
in Vienna sends broadcast glowing accounts of them. Again, many of the
leading men of the Bohemian nation are in jail or under strict police
surveillance and cannot speak. Are we to believe that all the Austrian
races fight enthusiastically? Precisely the opposite of this is true.
With the exception of a fraction of the Galician Poles, the Slavs were
entirely opposed to the war with Serbia.[16] Unfortunately they have
no voice in the foreign policy of the monarchy; if their warnings and
pleadings, as reflexed in their press, had been heeded, war against
Serbia would never have been undertaken. Slavs are battling under
the Austro-Hungarian standards because they cannot help themselves.
Yet their hearts are not in the fight. Even the dullest and least
informed mind will guess, notwithstanding the honeyed assurances of
consular officials, the way their sympathies incline. It should be
borne in mind that this is a war of Slavs against Slavs, of Slavic
Russia and Slavic Serbia against two-fifths Slavic Austria. Let us
place ourselves in the position of the Bohemians. For decades they have
worked for solidarity among the Slavs, so much so that their endeavors
in this direction have earned for them the title of the Apostles of
Pan-Slavism. Is it reasonable to suppose that they would suddenly
turn traitors to one of the most cherished traditions of their race
and shout enthusiastically for a war which, if successful for the two
Kaisers, would mean their certain obliteration? If Germany should win,
the eventual absorption by her of Austria would be probable, if not
inevitable. The Pan-German sentiment in the two neighboring empires
would become so overwhelmingly strong that nothing would stay its furor
and the millions of Austrian Slavs would find themselves face to face
with their doom. Plainly, Slavs have nothing to gain from the defeat
of the Allies, but everything to lose from the victory of the Hapsburgs
and the Hohenzollerns. They feel that nothing short of a decisive
defeat of Austria will liberate them from the thraldom of German-Magyar
domination. If Austria collapses in this war the Bohemians will be
among the first to profit thereby.[17]

Is it really true that the Slavs are loyal? Is it not rather a loyalty
wrung from them at the point of the bayonet? Besides, how can they
protest against a war which was neither of their choosing nor of their
making, when the military rule has made protests impossible? One must
respect and even admire the French and the Germans when they declare
that they are fighting for the existence of the fatherland. What are
the Austrian Slavs fighting for? To them, or rather to the majority
of them, Austrian fatherland conveys but an abstraction, for correctly
speaking, Austria is a government and not a fatherland in the sense
that a German or a Frenchman regards the country of his birth. Austria
may possibly be a fatherland to the inhabitants of the Archduchies
of Lower and Upper Austria, but not to a Bohemian, a Magyar, or a
Pole--certainly no more than England is the fatherland of an Irishman.
By allegiance a Bohemian is an Austrian subject, ethnically he belongs
to the country of his birth--Bohemia. While the national anthem “Kde
domov můj” (Where is my Home?) stirs deeply the emotions of a Bohemian,
the singing of the Austrian hymn “Gott erhalte” leaves him cold and


Vienna loves to pose as the beacon-light of the empire somewhat as
Paris, the recognized centre of everything French, or Berlin, the
pivotal city of Germany. Yet Vienna forgets that it lacks all of the
historical, geographical, economic essentials of Paris and, for that
matter, of Berlin. What is Vienna? The residence of the sovereign and
the seat of the government and the capital--not of the empire, mind
you, but of the Archduchy of Lower Austria. The capital of Hungary is
Budapest; the centre of attraction of the Poles is Cracow; the heart
of the Bohemians is Prague. What has been the attitude of Vienna toward
the non-German peoples and their national needs? The good-natured
Viennese has for decades seen the Slavs caricatured on the stage, or
in the humorous journals, as hopeless simpletons, while the Bohemian
Wenzel was chosen by common consent as the quintessence of stupidity.

Several years ago a Bohemian Bank purchased palatial quarters on a
leading thoroughfare, but it had to cover with cloth a Bohemian sign
on the building until the municipality gave its consent thereto. A few
years ago a company of actors, attached to the National Theatre at
Prague, arranged to give in Vienna representative plays. Anti-Bohemian
demonstrations, ending in riots, were the result.

Vienna, the capital of an empire that is inhabited by a dozen different
races, and which counts among its inhabitants upward of 300,000
Bohemians, objected to a business sign in Bohemian, because it might
mar the beauty of its looks as a German city! A few years ago the
municipality ordered the closing of the Komenský Bohemian elementary
school, ostensibly because it failed to comply with building and health
ordinances. The real reason, however, was known to be political and
racial antipathy. Is it any wonder, then, that the sentiment “Away
from Vienna” is strong and that it grows stronger every year among
non-Germans? “Vienna has always been to us,” remarked a noted Bohemian
writer, “a cruel, unforgiving step-mother.”


On the surface the Austrian problem appears to be quite complicated,
yet with the assistance of a few facts and figures much that is
puzzling to casual observers becomes intelligible, if not perfectly

Like most industrial countries, Austria is plagued with issues which
follow in the wake of modernism--whatever that term may imply.
Modernism there pounds with ever-increasing violence at the doors of
the palaces of the opulent captains of industry. The small farmer
is land-hungry. Industrialism has everywhere created new sources of
wealth, yet with every factory erected or a mine opened the socialists
have added so much to their disaffected ranks. A bitter war is being
waged in certain sections of the monarchy between the clericals and
the modernists, for it must not be forgotten that Austria is still a
faithful daughter of Rome. If there are those who favor the “Los von
Rom”--“Away from Rome”--movement, there are others who firmly believe
that a steadfast loyalty to a faith different from that professed by
the Prussian neighbor, really constitutes one of the most effective
barriers against the ever-threatening absorption of Austria by Prussia.

Most important of all the problems, however, which confront Austria is
that of nationalism. Nationalism was unknown to Austria in the days of
Napoleon. Prior to 1848 Hapsburgs knew and recognized Austrian-Germans
only. After that revolutionary year they were compelled to take notice,
unwillingly enough, we may be sure, of other races. Bohemians, Magyars,
Croatians, and others forced themselves to the front; and, resenting
the broad and ethnically meaningless term “Austrian,” demanded to be
called by their proper racial names.

The voice that extolled racial patriotism had first been heard
across the Austrian frontier from Frankfort, Germany, in 1848, when
a parliament that had been summoned to that city called on Germans
to unite. Promptly the Slavs took up the idea of unity and as a
retaliatory measure summoned a Pan-Slavic Congress to meet in Prague.
It was on the occasion of the Prague Congress that Francis Palacký
addressed his famous letter to the Frankfortists, explaining why the
Bohemians and other Slavs were opposed to the incorporation of Austria
in the future Germany. “The aim which you propose to yourselves,” wrote
Palacký, among other things, to Frankfort, “is the substitution of a
federation of peoples for the old federation of princes, to unite the
German nation in a real union, to strengthen the sentiment of German
nationality, to secure the greatness of Germans without and within. I
honor your resolve and the motives by which you are impelled, but at
the same time I cannot share in your work. I am not a German, or at
least I do not feel as if I were one. Assuredly you cannot wish that
I should join you merely as a supernumerary with neither opinion nor
will of my own. I am a Bohemian of Slavic origin, and all I possess and
command I place wholly and forever at the service of my own country.
It is true that my nation is small, but from the very beginning it has
possessed its own historical individuality. Its princes on occasions
have acted in common with German princes, but the people have never
regarded themselves as Germans, nor have others, during all these
centuries, included them amongst them.”

It, therefore, sounds very much like irony to hear Germans from the
Fatherland censuring the Austrian Government for allowing the national
movement among its Slavs to spread as it did. What the Austrian
nations really did was to follow the advice of their Germanic tutors
and awaken racially.

The population of Austria in 1910 was 28,571,934. Of this number the
Slavs constituted 60.65 percentage, the Germans 35.58. It is in these
figures that we must seek--and will find--the real problem of the
country. “Austria,” once declared a noted statesman in the Austrian
Parliament, “should be a German state in language and education.
German should be spoken by all persons and serve as a political bond
to all races and nationalities. All the citizens, whatever may be
their mother tongue, Bohemians, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenes, Slovenes,
Rumuns, and Italians, should submit to the baptism of the German
school, if they desire to participate in the public affairs of the
state.” Someone answering von Kaiserfeld, for that was the name of the
distinguished statesman, “You desire to Germanize the empire; you are
not Austrians, you are Germans,” von Kaiserfeld replied angrily, “There
are no Austrians in Austria, only Germans.” Von Kaiserfeld was not the
only statesman who believed that Austria should be a German state.
That is the obsession practically of every German in the country,
from the emperor down to the meanest postman. Yet Austria is to-day
further from the realization of this dream than it ever was. The
feeling of nationalism has grown too strong among the non-Germans to be
suppressed. And this nationalism demands that people shall be allowed
to live their individual lives, to cultivate their language and racial
ideals, and to pursue both without the interference of any other people.

Much of the difficulty in the past has been directly due to the fact
that the 35 per cent. not only thought and acted for themselves,
but they also insisted on doing the thinking for the 60 per cent.,
regardless of the latter’s feelings. The result was jealousy, discord,
opposition. Even the Great War which has caused Austria to rock like a
rudderless ship, was engineered and premeditated by the 35 per cent.,
in face of the bitter, though of course futile, opposition of the 60
per cent. As a result, there is only 30 per cent. of enthusiasm and
efficiency; and in juxtaposition, 60 per cent. in disaster, defeats,
and discouragements.

The Hapsburgs have never learned, it seems, how to rule their many
nationalities successfully. There are two races in Canada, the English
and the French. If the Canadian Government had treated its citizens of
French origin in the same rough-shod manner as Vienna has treated the
Bohemians, or Budapest the Slovaks, Serbs, or Rumuns, she would have
made rebels of every one of them, instead of loyal citizens. The Swiss
Republic is the home of three races, French, German, and Italian, and
yet we hear of no racial friction among them. And when and where did
the national, state, or city government in the United States interfere
when this or that people of foreign origin desired to build a school or
establish a clubhouse?

Years ago T. G. Masaryk, a prominent Bohemian deputy, delivered a
scathing denunciation in parliament, in which he took the government
to task for its anti-Slavic policy. “Extirpate, Germanize, that is
and has been the favorite policy of the government for decades,”
said Masaryk. “Extirpate whom? The Slavs, of course, and first among
them the Bohemians. A nation as vigorous and virile as our Bohemian
nation is bound, if persecuted, to seek and find new outlets for its
surplus energy. And if, while this process is going on, we succeed
in reclaiming some of the ground that had been wrested from our
forefathers, it is but a law of compensation and the Germans should
not claim that we are encroaching on their domain, which they claim
belongs to them. We shall never rest content if we are only tolerated
in Austria; we demand the right to be treated as equals with the rest
of the citizens of the state and we insist on being permitted to work
out our destiny as Bohemians without restrictions or limitations. We
entertain no hatred toward the Germans. We are distrustful, not so
much of Germany, as of Prussia. Recently a speaker in this parliament
has declared that the Germans were not antagonistic to the Slavs, and
that, therefore, they could not be hostile to the Bohemians. This,
I regret to say, is untrue. It is a matter of common knowledge that
not only they, but the government as well, are in opposition to us.
I shall not repeat what Mr. Dumreicher has lately said about the
Germanization of the Slovenes and of the Bohemians; permit me to allude
to a pamphlet which came out some time ago and which is causing a great
deal of comment, ‘On the right and the duty of the Germanization of
the Bohemians and the Slovenes,’ by Mathias Ratkovsky. Yes, gentlemen,
it will be a sin if the Bohemians and Slovenes are not Germanized, is
the opinion of Mr. Ratkovsky of the Vienna Theresianum. The government
should use force to attain this object, if necessary. Equality of
languages, what nonsense, argues Mr. Ratkovsky! The government owes it
to the people to make Bohemia German. Extirpate! Remember, gentlemen,
Ratkovsky is not an isolated case; this agitation is being conducted
systematically both in Austria and in Germany. F. Löher, a Bavarian
historian, who studied conditions in Austria-Hungary in the seventies,
declared that there was only one conclusion possible: to make Germans
of Bohemians and Magyars. This same idea was advanced by Professor
Walcker of the University of Leipzig. Yet, gentlemen, I should not
attribute so great a weight to the opinions here cited were it not for
the circumstance that bigger men in Germany were behind this scheme.
One can often hear mentioned the name of Lagarde in this connection and
you, gentlemen of the German national party, know Lagarde’s name full
well. What has this great thinker taught the German youth for decades?
‘Austria must be regarded in the light of a colony of Germany. Apart
from this Austria has no claim to a separate existence. Austria is
confronted with one task only and that task is to Germanize all its
Slavs.’ To the South Slavs Lagarde gave pardon. All the other people of
the Danube Monarchy, including the Magyars, were obstacles in Germany’s
way and the sooner they were extirpated the better for Germany, the
better for themselves. Slavs, according to Lagarde, resembled a
commercial enterprise which was working with an insufficient capital.
And just as there could be no Reuss-Schleiz-Greiz-Lobenstein policy, so
there could not exist a state called Wenzelland (an opprobrious term
given to Bohemia by Germans and meaning much the same as Patrickland
as applied to Ireland). Istria, contended Lagarde, should be German
to form an outlet for German commerce to the Adriatic Sea and to the
African coast, Jablunkov (a town in Austrian Silesia situated on a
direct route to Hungary) should hear nothing but German, and from there
let the wave roll southwardly, submerging the wretched little states
and people that now bar the way thither. ‘No empire, save Germany,
is capable of upholding peace in Central Europe, a Germany, which
should reach out from the Ems to the delta of the Danube, from Memel
to Trieste, from Metz to the river Bug. Only such a Germany could be
self-sustaining, only such a Germany, with its huge standing army,
would be powerful enough to defeat both France and Russia. Bohemians
and all the other small races must not be coddled by us. On the
contrary, they are our enemies, and we should deal with them as such.
Austria cannot be preserved except as a Germanic Empire.’ Gentlemen,
note what is going on in Germany at the present time and you cannot but
see that this plan to unite Austria with Germany, to Germanize Austria,
has become a recognized policy in both of these monarchies. I am not
quoting from newspaper clippings. I could refer you to the books of
several prominent writers in support of this contention. Can you blame
us then that we are on guard and that we watch with jealous look what
is going on both in Germany and among our Austrian Germans? Do not tell
us that we should not take seriously theories of professors lecturing
at Göttingen, Münich, and so forth. No, these theories so-called are
assuming practical forms. Behold, for instance, the teaching of a
philosopher like Edward Hartmann. A few years ago this noted scholar
defined the program of Germany very clearly: Ausrotten! (extirpate).
Ausrotten whom? The Poles, of course, and with them all those who are
not of German blood. You cannot convince us that this is a theory
advanced by professorial dreamers only; no, it is a theory which the
chancellor of iron and blood (Bismarck) put to practice with the
backing and money of the Prussian Government in the case of the Poles
in Posen. I allude to this not as an isolated case, but as part of a
well-recognized system that is at work throughout our monarchy and that
not alone threatens to undermine its very existence as a state, but
which aims a death-blow at our nation, just as it menaces the life of
the Poles, of the Slovenes, and of all the Slavs.”

The constitution of 1867 proclaimed the equality of languages in
schools, courts, and in administration of public affairs. However,
the operation of this constitutional guarantee is unique and its
interpretation a legal puzzle. For example, in Carinthia there are
30,000 Germans and 500,000 Slovenes; the latter are autochthons, yet
the Germans there demand equality but they vehemently deny equality to
the Slovene minority in Styria. In the same breath, they insist that
German schools be maintained in Italian Tyrol, while they urge the
authorities to close Italian schools in northern Tyrol. In Prague the
courts try cases in either Bohemian or German, but should a Bohemian
come into contact with the courts in Vienna, the capital of the empire,
the law forgets equality and treats him there as a foreigner who
must plead his case in German only. In Prague there are numerous and
palatial German schools maintained by the state or the municipality,
as the case may be; but in Vienna Bohemians, though numbering not
less than 300,000 (in Prague Germans are 17,000 strong), have not one
public school and the school authorities at the capital have fought for
years in the courts every attempt of the Bohemians in that direction.
A very striking illustration of the chaos in this respect is found in
Bohemia. There, in the so-called German-Bohemia, Germans insist that
their language shall be paramount and exclusive in the judiciary,
schools, and administration. Having long enjoyed ascendency they will
not content themselves with equality; yet in the rest of the country,
in the mixed and in the pure Bohemian districts, they demand that
both tongues shall have equal rights. By stamping their tongues as
“minderwertig,” inferior, the government provokes to opposition the
non-German element.

Observe how the idea of equality works out in practice the matter of
the distribution of schools. For 9,950,266 Germans Austria maintains 5
universities (at Vienna, Prague, Graz, Innsbruck, Czernovitz), and for
6,435,983 Bohemians one university at Prague. And this one university
the Bohemians were able to get in 1882 only after a great deal of
political haggling and bargaining. Opponents of the Bohemian seat of
learning predicted that it would soon fail for lack of professors and
of students. Yet, contrary to their expectation, when the Prague school
was divided in 1882 into two parts, Bohemian and German, 1,055 students
matriculated the first year in the Bohemian section as against 1,695
Germans. Eventually the Bohemian university--by the way, one of the
oldest universities in Central Europe, having been founded by Emperor
Charles IV. in 1348--far outstripped its old partner in point of
attendance. At present the number of students in the Bohemian faculties
is 4,713; in the German 2,282. Of late years a demand has been made
for a second university to be located at Brno (Brünn), the capital
of Moravia. The University of Prague is scandalously overcrowded
and students from the sister state of Moravia are compelled, in
consequence, to go to Vienna in search of education, where, under
Teutonic influences, many are estranged from their nation. Numerous
petitions have been addressed to the government on the subject of
a second university, but to no purpose. In the matter of secondary
schools (gymnasia and real schools) the discrimination against
non-Germans is very striking. For 4,241,918 Bohemians in Bohemia the
government maintains 39 schools of this type for secondary education,
and they are unable to get more, while 2,467,724 Germans boast 34 of
these schools. In Moravia the disproportion is still greater and in
Silesia it is relatively worse than in Moravia. The condition of the
Bohemian elementary schools in the mixed districts near the border is
most deplorable. It was the blind and unreasoning hostility of the
authorities in the German-Bohemian districts against Bohemian schools
which led the patriots, in 1880, to found a school society called the
Ústřední Matice Školská. This vernacular school society had spent,
up to 1912, a total of more than $3,000,000 in the establishment and
support of such schools in districts inhabited by both races. Every
cent of this money has been donated by the Bohemian people in order to
give their children an education in the mother tongue.


“Austria as a great power,” said Rieger,[18] in a speech delivered in
parliament in 1861, “dates back only to the days when the Bohemian
Crown and the Hungarian Crown united with Austria. We Bohemians raised
it to the dignity of a state of the first magnitude when, by a free
election, our diet summoned, on October 23, 1526,[19] Ferdinand I.
to the sovereign throne of our kingdom. Our action was followed on
November 26th of that year by the Hungarians, who placed the crown of
their country on the head of this Hapsburg. From that time on Austria,
composed of three states in one, started on its career of a world
power. The three units were the basis, the origin, the rise of the
Austrian Empire. All else is really the result of accident. Eastern
Galicia has belonged to Austria only since 1772, Bukovina since 1777,
Western Galicia since 1795, Venice and Dalmatia since 1797, Southern
Tyrol (Trient and Brixen) since 1801, Salzburg and other smaller lands
since 1814, while Cracow is part of Austria only since 1846. All these
possessions have not made Austria a great power, for even without them
it would still be one; however, an Austrian Empire is unthinkable and
Austria as a great power is inconceivable without one of the three
crowns--that of Austria, Bohemia, or Hungary.”


What is Austria? A land that has a German head and a Slavonic body, in
which minorities rule and majorities are made to obey, the homeland of
a dozen races, every one of which is dissatisfied or jealous of some
other race.

There was a time when Austria had a mission to perform. That mission
was to serve as the advance guard of Germandom and as a Catholic
power. The first came to an end at Sedan when the Prussians assumed
leadership among Germans; the second terminated when Prussia gave
up its Kulturkampf against Rome. Now Austria is a country without a
mission, unless it be a mission to thwart the legitimate aspirations of
the Slavic races to national freedom.

For Austria to pursue further its policy of Teutonism is madness. If
the monarchy wishes to live it must be neither German, for there is
no room in Europe for two Germanic Empires side by side, nor wholly
Slavonic, like Russia. Her manifest destiny is, or rather has been,
to form a bridge between Germany and Russia, between the Slavs and
Teutons, between the west and the east. For Germany to go to war to
fight the Slavic peril is conceivable, even justifiable; but for
Austria, more than 60 per cent. Slavonic, to draw her sword to combat
Slavism sounds very much like the familiar story attributed by Plutarch
to Menenius Agrippa, according to which various members of one’s body
determined to down the stomach as the source of all their troubles. To
fight the Slavs Austria must fight herself.

Plainly the destinies of Austria and Germany are as unlike as are
divergent their ambitions. Germany aspired to be a world power, a
Weltmacht, and in pursuance of this dream she began to build up a
colonial empire. Austria possesses no colonies. The plan of her
statesmen (Aehrenthal) has been to establish a predominating Austrian
influence in the Balkans, where Germany’s interests, to quote the
well-known words of Bismarck, were not worth the bones of one
Pomeranian grenadier. Germany is a homogeneous country or nearly so;
Austria, on the contrary, is the most heterogeneous empire in Central

Quite naturally the question suggests itself: what would arise on the
splendid ruins on the Danube should the proverbial ill-luck overtake
the Hapsburgs in the present war? With Galicia and Bukovina lost to
Russia, with Transylvania annexed to Rumania, with Trentino and Trieste
restored to Italy, and Bosnia and Herzegovina incorporated in Greater
Serbia--provided the partition went no further--what would be left of
the Hapsburg inheritance? Instead of a Greater Austria, that should
have included conquered Serbia, it is not improbable that the Hapsburgs
will return home from the Great War with a Small Austria--an Austria as
it began in 1527, when the Austrians, Bohemians, and Hungarians formed
a confederacy and elected a Hapsburg as their ruler.

Rieger, a Bohemian statesman, once declared in the Vienna Parliament,
that Austria will only live as long as the Slavs wish her to live and
no longer. Rieger’s famous utterance has acquired a new meaning in view
of the passing events in the Hapsburg Empire.


 References: The writer of this article is largely indebted for much
 of the material to Professor Ernest Denis’ most excellent work, _La
 Bohême depuis La Montagne-Blanche_ (lately translated from the French
 into Bohemian). Among others he has consulted the following Bohemian
 works: _Our Re-birth, Review of Bohemian National Life Within the
 Last Half Century_, by Jakub Malý; _Slavdom, Pictures of Its Past and
 Present_. (This is a standard work containing isolated articles by
 a number of representative authors.) _History of Our Times_, by Dr.
 Jan Krištůfek; _Political History of the Bohemian Nation from the
 Year 1861 to the Ascension of the Badeni Ministry in 1891_, by Adolf
 Srb; _Political Ideas of Francis Palacký_; _Political Utterances and
 Principles of Francis L. Rieger_; _A Great Bohemian: The Life, Work
 and Meaning of Francis Palacký, the Father of the Nation_, by Vácslav
 Řezníček; _Karel Havlíček: Aims and Hopes of Political Awakening_, by
 T. G. Masaryk.


[1] The word Czech, which is being freely used in the Anglo-American
press, is a corrupt form of Čech. The German form is Czech, Tscheche,
the French Tchèque. But, inasmuch as Čech is sounded more nearly like
Checkh and not Czech, the form Czech fails utterly of its purpose and
its use should be discontinued. The people themselves prefer to be
called Bohemians, not Czechs, which latter appellation is not generally
known or understood. Some years ago a noted scholar was severely
censured because he named his magazine, edited in the German language,
but Bohemiophile in tendency, “Čechische Revue,” instead of “Böhmische
Revue.” The truth of the matter is that the appellation Czech is an
invention of Vienna journalists, who, by persistent use of the term,
wish to give a warning to the world that Bohemia is not all Čech, but
part German and part Čech.

[2] Silesia was much larger, but Frederick II. of Prussia despoiled
Maria Theresa in 1742 of a major portion of it. Thus was created
Prussian Silesia and Austrian Silesia. In Macaulay’s “Life of Frederick
the Great,” we read why the Prussian King made war on his neighbor. In
manifestoes he might, for form’s sake, insert some idle stories about
his antiquated claim on Silesia; but in his conversations and Memoirs
he took a very different tone. His own words were: “Ambition, interest,
the desire of making people talk about me, carried the day; and I
decided for war.” If there is a rectification of Prussian boundary
after the war, a portion of Prussian Silesia, that is still Bohemian,
should be returned to Austrian Silesia.

[3] Representation in parliament being determinable by the result of
the enumeration, one can at once see of what vital concern it is to
non-Germans to obtain a census free from political bias. As matters
are, the Germans constitute 35 per cent. of the population, yet have 52
per cent. representation in the Reichsrath (parliament), while 24 per
cent. Bohemians are represented in parliament only by 17 per cent.

[4] “The Slavdom: Picture of Its Past and Present,” Prague, 1912.

[5] Now of every 1,000 inhabitants in Bohemia 956.61 profess the
Catholic faith. Due to various reasons--spiritual, political, and
historical--more than one-half of the American Bohemians have seceded
from the Catholic Church. Some have joined various Protestant sects,
but the majority of the secessionists are Free-thinkers.

[6] However, the Patent of Tolerance extended only to Protestants of
the Helvetian and Augsburg Confessions, not to the Bohemian Church,
which latter had been denied recognition.

[7] On February 9, 1748, a bill was introduced in the English
Parliament “to relieve the United Brethren (so-called in Comenius’
time), or Moravians, from military duties and taking oaths.” Among the
speakers was General Oglethorpe, who spoke in support of the bill. “In
the year 1683 a most pathetic account of these brethren was published
by order of Archbishop Sancroft and Bishop Compton,” said Oglethorpe.
“They also addressed the Church of England in the year 1715, being
reduced to a very low ebb in Poland, and his late Majesty, George
I., by the recommendation of the late Archbishop Wake, gave orders
in council for the relief of these Reformed Episcopal Churches, and
letters patent for their support were issued soon after. But since 1724
circumstances have altered for the better, and they have wonderfully
revived, increased and spread in several countries. They have even made
some settlements in America. In the province of Pennsylvania they have
about 800 people to whom the proprietor and Governor gave very good

[8] When Napoleon sought to weaken Austria’s position at home, he
addressed a patriotic appeal to the Bohemians. “Your union with
Austria,” read Napoleon’s appeal, “has been your misfortune. Your blood
has been shed for her in distant lands, and your dearest interests
have been sacrificed continually to those of the hereditary provinces.
You form the finest portion of her empire, and you are treated as a
mere province to be used as an instrument of passions to which you are
strangers. You have national customs and a national language; you pride
yourself on your ancient and illustrious origin. Assume once more your
position as a nation. Choose a king for yourselves, who shall reign
for you alone, who shall dwell in your midst and be surrounded by your
citizens and your soldiers.”--Napoleon’s proclamation found no echo
among the people for whom it was intended. The sentiment of nationality
was yet too weak to respond.

[9] Francis Palacký (1798-1876), historian, revivalist, and statesman,
is, by common consent, regarded as the greatest Bohemian of our time.
His monumental work, “History of the Bohemian Nation,” on which he
labored some thirty years, will endure as long as the Bohemian language
continues to be spoken. There was a time when not only the outside
world, but Bohemians themselves, believed that the old-time Bohemians
of the stormy days of John Hus or those who revolted against Ferdinand
II. were a band of heretics and rebels. Such has been the official
Austrian version of these events in Bohemia. However, the truth could
not be suppressed for all time. Palacký and others were being born, and
in time the alluvium of Austrian bigotry and of falsehood was removed
from the nation’s past, and to the astonished gaze of Resurrected
Bohemia was revealed a glorious history of which descendants could
be justly proud. Great men, national heroes, hitherto unknown or
misunderstood, emerged from almost every chapter of Palacký’s work.

[10] See page 59.

[11] Karel Havlíček (1821-1856) is in many respects the most noteworthy
Bohemian of the nineteenth century. As a journalist, he had no equal
among his contemporaries. His political articles were models of sound
and mature reasoning and of lucid thinking. When arguments failed
with the black reactionaries, lay and ecclesiastic, Havlíček employed
another weapon with telling effect--ridicule. Bohemians venerate him as
a martyr of their cause. The cultured immigrants to the United States
from Bohemia in the early days were imbued with Havlíček’s spirit
and ideas, and the present-day spread of free-thought among them is
directly traceable to this Thomas Paine of Bohemia.

[12] Friedrich Ferdinand Beust, a Saxon statesman, entered the services
of Austria soon after the disaster at Sadova. It was he who brought to
a successful termination the Settlement between Vienna and Hungary. The
centralists were at first opposed to the division of Austria in two,
but were eventually placated by Beust, he having convinced them that
dualism meant the permanent subjugation of the Slavs. The above remark,
“Die Slaven werden an die Wand gedrückt,” is attributed to him.

[13] “Eingedenkt der Staatsrechtlichen Stellung der Krone Böhmens und
des Glanzes und der Macht bewusst, welche dieselbe Uns und Unseren
Vorfahren verliehen hat, eingedenkt ferner der unerschüttlichen Treue,
mit welchen die Bevölkerung Böhmens jederzeit Unseren Thron stützte,
erkennen wir gerne die Rechte dieses Königreiches an und sind bereit
diese Anerkennung mit Unserem Krönungseide zu erneuern.”

Among the many titles of Francis Josef are those of “Emperor of
Austria,” “King of Hungary,” “King of Bohemia,” etc. Strictly speaking,
Francis Josef has no legal claim to the title “King of Bohemia.” He has
never taken the coronation oath; and, without such an oath, he is no
more King than Woodrow Wilson would be President of the United States
without first taking the oath of office. Logically, therefore, Francis
Josef is an unlawful ruler of the Bohemian Kingdom.

[14] The elusive paragraph fourteen of the constitution (bearing date
December 21, 1867) has been the cause of some of the bitterest fights
in parliament. It virtually nullifies constitutionalism in Austria,
permitting as it does the emperor and his ministers to rule the land
“in case of urgent necessities” without parliament. Past experience has
shown that these “necessities” arise quite often. Paragraph fourteen is
a bulwark of strength to the German party against which the Bohemians
have battled in vain. Under paragraph fourteen the ruler cannot change
the fundamental laws of the realm, contract permanent loans, and
alienate public property. Aside from this there is nothing to curb his
absolutism. Parliament may impeach the ministers for exceeding their
powers, but this safeguard is really no safeguard at all. The German
text of paragraph fourteen is as follows:

“Wenn sich die dringende Nothwendigkeit solchen Anordnungen, zu welchem
verfassungsmässig die Zustimmung des Reichsrathes erforderlich ist,
zu einer Zeit herausstellt, wo dieser nicht versammelt ist, so können
dieselben unter Verantwortung des Gesammtministeriums durch Kaiserliche
Verordnung erlassen werden, in soferne solche keine Abänderung
des Staatsgrundgesetzes bezwecken, keine dauernde Belastung des
Staatschatzes, und keine Veräuserung von Staatsgut betreffen. Solche
Verordnungen haben provisorische Gesetzkraft, wenn sie von sämmtlichen
Ministern unterzeichnet sind, und mit ausdrücklicher Beziehung auf
diese Bestimmung des Staatsgrundgesetzes kundgemacht werden.”

[15] The register of prisoners at Kiev shows 114,000 were taken in the
Carpathian fighting during the two months before the fall of Przemysl,
and some difficulty has been found in preventing racial troubles among
the enormous colony from captives. German Uhlan soldiers, hearing
of the fall of Przemysl, declared that it must have been due to the
treachery of “that Czech Kusmanek,” whereupon a Czech officer struck
him. The fight spread and the participants had to be separated.--_Cable
item from Russia._

[16] The Slavs in Austria-Hungary are divided into the following racial

1. _The Bohemians._ Inhabit Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Strong
settlements are found in Austria (the city of Vienna alone being the
home of not less than 300,000, according to some estimates 500,000) and
in Prussian Silesia.

2. _The Slovaks._ Settled in the northwestern part of Hungary and in

Professor Lubor Niederle, who is recognized as an authority on Slavic
matters, computed in 1900 the strength of the Bohemians, together with
the Slovaks, at 9,800,000.

3. _The Poles._ Scattered over the whole of Galicia, intermixing there
with the Ruthenes, but predominating mainly in the westerly part
of it. They also live in Silesia, with settlements in Bukovina and
Moravia. Austrian Poles number almost 5,000,000. All told, the Polish
race in Austria, Germany, and Russia is computed by Niederle (1900) at
17,500,000; Polish statisticians make the total 20,000,000. When the
constitutional era first dawned in Austria, the Poles were put in full
charge of Galicia, in appreciation of which concession they have always
loyally supported the Austrian Government. In Galicia, the Poles are
the aristocracy and the Ruthenes the peasant element. The affection of
Vienna for the Poles, however, is not above suspicion; it is claimed
that hatred of Russia, common to both the Poles and the Austrians, was
more directly responsible for the alliance than any other single cause,
though of course it is undeniable that under Austrian rule the Poles
fared better than either under the Russian or Prussian régimes.

4. _The Slovenes._ Occupy the whole of Carniola, the southern part of
Styria, the major section of Goritz and Gradiska, except a section
in the southwestern part thereof, the outlying villages of Trieste,
the northern end of Istria, which projects on the west into Italian
territory and eastward into Hungary. Niederle’s estimate of the
Slovenes in 1900 was 1,500,000.

5. No Slavic race is more torn up territorially than the
_Serbo-Croatians_. Although really one people by language and origin,
they have divided themselves, or rather were subdivided by their
political masters, into two national units. Their homelands include
a large section of Istria and Dalmatia, together with the adjacent
islands in the Adriatic, the whole of Croatia and Slavonia, a piece
of southern Hungary, and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides this,
there is, of course, the Serbian Kingdom and Montenegro.

Niederle estimated the Serbo-Croatians in 1900 at 8,550,000.

6. _The Ruthenes_ (Little Russians). Overflow the Russian boundaries
to Galicia, being predominant in east Galicia, strong in western and
northern Bukovina, numerous in several counties in Hungary.

Niederle computed the strength of the Ruthenes in Galicia, Hungary, and
Bukovina in 1900 at 3,500,000.

By religious affiliations the Slavs are divided as follows: To the
Catholic group belong almost wholly the Bohemians, Poles, Slovenes,
Croatians, and Slovaks (of the last named about seven-tenths).
Protestantism finds favor among the Slovaks (24 per cent.), Bohemians
(2.44 per cent.), and Poles living in Silesia (1.81 per cent.). The
Orthodox faith is professed by the Ruthenes in Galicia, Hungary, and
Bukovina, and the Serbians. A fraction of the Russians in Galicia
and Hungary adheres to the Uniate Church, and there are believers in
Mohammedanism in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The old-fashioned Austrian diplomacy knew well the value of the
principle “divide and rule” and tried it on its Slavs with success.
There was a time when Bohemians in Moravia were taught by Austrian
officials to believe that they were Moravians, not Bohemians. The
difference between Bohemian and Moravian is as great as the difference
between Bronx English and Brooklyn English, yet this fact did not
discourage the grammarians in Vienna from setting up boundaries where
none existed. Croatia, as pointed out elsewhere, is peopled by a
nation calling itself alternately Croatians and Serbs. Possessing a
common past, the same racial traditions, and speaking one language,
the Serbo-Croatians are clearly one nation, divided only by different
faiths. The Croatians use the Latin letters and adhere, almost to
a man, to the Catholic faith, while the Serbs employ the Cyrillic
alphabet and belong to the Orthodox Church. The busy grammarians in
Vienna and in Budapest did their utmost to keep the Serbo-Croatians
apart, and even incited one against the other, by instilling the
belief in them that two different religions really meant two different
races. Galicia is inhabited by two distinct peoples, the Russians
and the Poles. The name “Russian” sounded badly in Austria. It
constantly reminded the Galician Russians that on the other side of
the yellow-black boundary posts lived a great nation that spoke the
same language and professed the same faith as they. Again the learned
grammarians in Vienna went to work and by dint of hard study discovered
that Austrian Russians were really not what they seemed to be and
promptly they baptized them “Ruthenes.” The ruse, of course, was to
veil the nearness of the relationship of the “Ruthenes” to the Russians
in Russia proper. In the same manner and with the same object in view
the Slovaks of Hungary are encouraged to believe that they are a
separate race and not near relatives of the Bohemians.

[17] For a student of Austrian conditions it is instructive to note how
the war of the Balkan Allies against the Turk divided the sympathies
of the people along racial lines. Save a fraction of the Poles in
Galicia, the Slavs sided heartily and enthusiastically with the Allies.
The Germans and the Magyars wished for the success of the Turks. When
the Bulgars routed the Ottoman army at Kirk Killisé, the Vienna press
ill-concealed its chagrin, while Slavic journals rejoiced as if it had
been their own victory. Imagine the dismay of such a staunch champion
of Austrian public opinion as the Vienna “Neue Freie Presse,” when the
Serbs crushed the Turk at Kumanovo! For many reasons Serbia was for
years looked upon as a kind of barometer of the hopes of the Austrian
Slavs. A clever Bohemian journalist made the interesting prediction
some time before the Balkan War that relief from Austrian thraldom
may be looked for, not from Russia, as many dreamers believed, but
from the small Slavic states in the Balkans. If these were victorious,
prophesied this newspaper writer, the Slavs in the Hapsburg Monarchy
were sure to gain morally from the victory. Official public opinion
frowned on the war relief work among Austrian Slavs in aid of the
Balkan Allies.

[18] Francis L. Rieger (1818-1903), a lawyer, writer, economist, and
statesman, was, despite his German name, an uncompromising patriot who
had spent his whole life in the service of his nation. Modern Bohemia
without Rieger is unthinkable. His name is written large on every
page of his country’s history. As a leader of the Old Bohemian party
he naturally played a prominent rôle in the fight for the historical
rehabilitation of the Bohemian Kingdom. Having married the daughter of
Francis Palacký, the “Father of the Nation,” he was nicknamed by his
political adversaries, “Son-in-law of the Nation.”

[19] Ferdinand, however, took his oath of office January 30, 1527.



The Slovaks, a branch of the Slavic family, numbering between 2,000,000
and 3,000,000 people, and kinsmen of the Bohemians, inhabit the
northwestern provinces of Hungary. There is not uniform agreement
among Slovak scholars with reference to the ethnic affinity of this
people with the Bohemians. Are the Slovaks a direct offshoot of the
Bohemians or a separate branch of the Slavic family? Ethnologists find
convincing arguments for and against both theories. Bohemians, as may
be surmised, take the ground that they and the Slovaks are one--one in
language and one in racial traditions--and that nothing divides them
except political boundaries,--the Slovaks being subject to the rule of
Hungary, Bohemians owing allegiance to Austria. Samo Czambel, a learned
Slovak, published a book recently on the grammatical peculiarities of
his mother tongue in which, contrary to the almost universal opinion
of philologists that Slovak is but an older form of Bohemian, he
contends that the old grouping of Slovak jointly with Bohemian is
wrong; and that the language should be treated as an independent Slavic
idiom, precisely in the same way as Polish, Russian, etc. But, though
grammarians may disagree about this or that Slovak or Bohemian root
or termination of a verb; though they may fancy they see a difference
where probably none exists, the people themselves have no quarrels
to pick, no disputes to adjust. On the contrary, they have always
been good neighbors[20] and loyal friends. As for real differences of
speech, these are so slight that a Slovak will understand a Bohemian
as readily as an Englishman from Yorkshire will his cousin, the
Yankee. One is reminded of the closeness of the two languages when
one recalls that Slovaks of the Protestant faith read at their church
services from the Bohemian Bible. Recently a meeting of representative
Bohemians and Slovaks[21] in New York passed a resolution, in which
occurs this significant passage: “Nothing now separates us, except that
we owe political allegiance to two different states, one to Austria,
the other to Hungary. Remove that barrier, and it will be seen that
the Bohemians and Slovaks are one in language, one in blood, one in
national faith, indissoluble and indivisible.”

According to the census of 1910, a census, by the way, notoriously
unreliable, Slovaks number 1,967,970. If an enumeration were taken free
of intrigue and coercion, the actual number of Slovaks, it is asserted,
would be nearer 2,500,000; and, were we to include as Slovaks the
opportunists who everywhere go with the ruling element, and further,
were we to add those who are compelled, for various reasons, to conceal
their nationality, the actual number would not be far from 3,000,000.
Outside of Slovakland Slovaks are scattered throughout Hungary except
in Transylvania. There are few districts in Hungary in which they do
not live. The various settlements in the interior of the country are
in part ramifications of Slovakland proper, which formerly extended
further south into Hungary than at present and in part colonies, the
origin of which dates back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

When did the Slovaks come to Hungary? Probably the question could
best be answered by saying that they had always lived there. Certain
pseudo-historians wish to make it appear that the Slovaks are
descendants of immigrants from Bohemia who fled to Hungary to escape
religious and political persecution. The truth is, however, that their
ancestors occupied the Carpathian highlands from the dawn of history.
The Slovaks of Hungary are not immigrants, and no authoritative
historian has successfully disputed their claim to priority as one of
the earliest inhabitants of the Kingdom of St. Stephen.

Down to the middle of the last century no one of the languages spoken
by the different racial elements in Hungary acquired predominance.
For the purposes of every-day life each race was free to use its
mother tongue. During the mediæval period Latin was the medium
of communication among the cultured classes. Latin was gradually
superseded by the German language and the Slovaks, though grieved at
the wanton suppression of their vernacular, did not feel that their
national existence had been threatened by the innovation. But when, in
1867, Austria concluded with Hungary the Act of Settlement, whereby
the dual system of government was introduced, and the Magyars secured
for themselves ascendency over all the other races in the kingdom,
the danger became acute, and has been growing steadily since, until
now the Slovaks are menaced by denationalization. True, the Law of
Nationalities was promulgated soon after the Act of Settlement,
ostensibly for the protection of non-Magyars; but this law, in the
words of Plutarch, “is like a spider web and would catch the weak
and the poor; but may easily be broken by the mighty rich.” Bitter
experience has shown that under the Law of Nationalities, the very
acts which the law was designed to prevent or regulate, have been
perpetrated with impunity, either by omission or commission.

Students of Slovak nationality have been expelled by school authorities
from seminaries and secondary schools for Pan-Slavic propaganda.
Pan-Slavism in the case of these unfortunate youths consists in the
reading, recitation, or circulation of literature in one of the Slavic

Journalists are prosecuted or jailed for alleged seditious articles
against the Hungarian State; newspapers are mulcted in ruinous fines,
in many cases tantamount to their suppression. In countries enjoying
the blessing of freedom of speech and press, _de facto_ and not only
_de jure_, the articles which Hungarian prosecuting attorneys construe
as seditious, would be regarded as an honest and fearless criticism of
the acts of government. There are few Slovak journalists who have not
served terms in jail or whose newspapers have not been fined.

To plead one’s case in the courts in the Slovak language,
notwithstanding the express provisions of the Law of Nationalities
permitting this procedure, would be prejudicial to the litigant’s case
in the lower courts and impossible in the higher courts.

A patriotic Slovak may not hold a government position of any trust or
importance. One aspiring to an office in any way connected with the
government, directly or indirectly, must of necessity renounce his
nationality--or, in the alternative, conceal his true inward feelings,
both before his superiors and before his friends.

Apparently with the object of making the world believe that Slovakland
has always been Magyar, the Hungarian Government is abolishing the
ancient Slavic nomenclature of villages and towns, replacing it with
Magyar names, and this crusade is undertaken in districts where from
times immemorial no other speech had been heard but Slovak.[22]

A visiting Hungarian statesman boasted before an American audience
in New York City that the laws of Hungary were as broad and liberal
as those in the United States. If such were the case, why are not
Slovaks permitted to establish schools and organize themselves into
societies as freely as in the United States? In the early seventies
of the last century the government closed all the Slovak secondary
schools (gymnasia) on the pretext that they fostered among the pupils
and professors Pan-Slavic propaganda. Since that time, and despite the
plain language of the Law of Nationalities, assuring to every race
education in its native tongue, Slovaks have been unable to obtain
from the authorities consent to the reopening of even one higher
school. Think of a nation of two millions and a half, living in the
heart of Europe, not having one higher school for the education of its
youth! In 1875 the government confiscated the funds of an educational
institution, and with the money undertook to publish at Budapest “a
patriotic Hungarian journal.” At the University of Budapest, the Slovak
idiom is studiously ignored by the instructors, though the Slovaks
are heavy taxpayers, and even a biased census concedes 10 per cent.
Slovak population in the country. Slovak elementary schools are fast
disappearing; those that still remain in Slovakland are either mixed,
that is Slovak-Magyar, or pure Magyar. Under the provision of the
Apponyi Law, Magyar is the only recognized language of instruction in
elementary schools in Hungary which are attended by twenty or more
Magyar children. Since the normal schools are all Magyar, it is
obvious that the future teachers of Slovak children will have no means,
except by private study, to learn the language of their little charges.

Neither Vienna nor Budapest will listen to their appeal for justice.
The Lord is too high and the Emperor-King too far away to hear and
see the Slovaks. The Rumuns in Transylvania may hope for succor from
their motherland, Rumania; Italians in the unredeemed provinces may
look forward to the time when Italy will liberate them from Austrian
misrule; even the Serbs in Southern Hungary find new courage in
resisting oppression by reason of their nearness to their brothers in
the Serbian Kingdom. Whence shall Slovaks look for sympathy and help?
Their nearest kinsmen, the Bohemians, who, of all the nations, best
understand them, are themselves held down by an alien oppressor and
unable to give them other than moral aid.

“In comparison with the Government of Magyarland the Government of
Austria is a model of tolerance.”[23]

This is the opinion of an Englishman who knows conditions in Hungary
well. Exterminate the race, suppress its language, obliterate every
evidence of its existence: that is now and has been for decades the
policy of the Hungarian Government toward the Slovaks.

Some time ago the American Slovaks formulated a demand for autonomy
in a memorandum which they sent to influential friends and to those
whom they hope to win as friends. The memorandum “voices the sentiment
and national aspirations, not only of Slovaks living in the United
States, but also interprets the mind and the will of their brothers,
inhabiting, since times immemorial, the ancestral homelands of the
race.” That the American Slovaks took the initiative in issuing the
memorandum is not hard to understand. “The Slovaks at home are not
permitted to approach their king with grievances, the last deputation
to him having been denied admittance. Slovaks, therefore, are made to
feel that they have no king, only a government--a government, however,
that knows no mercy, that feels no remorse, that offers no hope, that
fears no punishment. If Slovaks are resolved to speak at all, if they
wish the world at large to know the measure of their wrongs, under
existing conditions, they can only appeal through the medium of their
compatriots in the United States.”

Of the Magyars as a nation the Slovaks do not complain. It is the
Hungarian Government which they accuse of oppression.

When the time approaches to re-draw the map of Austria-Hungary, the
Slovaks will ask to be freed from the Hungarian yoke. And if they
cannot have a government of their own, their second choice is to
co-operate with the Bohemians toward the establishment of a confederacy
that shall include the autonomous states of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia,
and Slovakland. Thus to the present ethnical unity of Slovaks and
Bohemians another bond would be added, that of political unity.


 References: _The Slovaks of Hungary_, The Knickerbocker Press,
 New York, 1906, by Thomas Čapek; _Racial Problems in Hungary_,
 Archibald Constable & Co., Ltd., London, 1908, by Scotus Viator. _Die
 Unterdrückung der Slovaken durch die Magyaren_, Prague, 1903.


[20] “The Slovaks and Their Language” (Slováci a ich Reč), by Dr. Samo
Czambel, Budapest, 1903.

[21] Among the Slovak spokesmen at this meeting was Editor Milan
Getting, of New York. At a subsequent conference was present Albert
Mamatey, President of the National Slovak Society.

[22] The very words “Slovak,” “Slovakland,” “Slovak nation” are tabooed
in Hungary, and school books containing them prohibited. Hungarian
officialdom refers to Slovakland as the Hungarian Highlands.

[23] London _Times_, January 20, 1915.




In the present European crisis several nations are hoping for a
betterment of their political fortunes. Among these not the least
hopeful are the Bohemians in the historic Kingdom of Bohemia, now
annexed to the Austrian Empire.

Many who are unfamiliar with the situation will probably ask: Why
should the Bohemians seek independence? Are they not more secure as a
part of a large empire? It is in anticipation of, and in response to
such questions that the following facts are presented.

Bohemia has not received just treatment at the hands of the Austrian
Government. Her national spirit has been offended or ignored, her
people have been oppressed, her schools are not adequately maintained,
and the scant support which they now receive has been wrung from the
government only by tremendous effort, and in times of great political
stress. Even now the people are compelled to maintain schools in
some parts of the kingdom by voluntary contributions. The government
has done nothing for Bohemia either politically, intellectually, or
industrially, excepting under compulsion. Therefore there is no reason
for a grateful desire to perpetuate the present relation. Bohemia has
heretofore been loyal to Austria only because she faced a greater
danger from German absorption.

The grounds on which the Bohemians ask the right to shape their own
destinies as a nation are chiefly the following:

1. The historic right.--The House of Hapsburg was called to the throne
of Bohemia by voluntary election. The first Hapsburg to attempt to rule
Bohemia was Rudolph (1306-1307), who was forced upon the country for
a short time by the German Emperor, and who attempted to secure the
color of a right to rule by marrying the widow of the last Bohemian
King of the Přemysl line. His right to rule was contested, and upon
his death the Bohemians selected several kings from other ruling
houses, and it was not until 1437 that another Hapsburg, Albrecht, was
again voluntarily elected King of Bohemia. But after a brief rule of
two years, during which he violated his oath and his pledges to the
Bohemian people, he was again succeeded by a line of kings elected from
various ruling houses, and the greatest of them, George of Poděbrad,
the Protestant king who ruled from 1458 to 1471, from among their own

It was not until 1526 that another Hapsburg, Ferdinand I., was elected
king by the Bohemian Diet, but he soon destroyed the old charter in
accordance with which he was recognized as a king by election, and
usurped the power which the House of Hapsburg continued to exercise for
some time. But in 1619 the Bohemians reasserted their right to elect
their kings and chose Frederick of the Palatinate, thus precipitating
the Thirty Years’ War. But notwithstanding the reverses which the
Bohemians suffered, Ferdinand II. of Hapsburg, who ascended the throne,
was obliged to take oath “to maintain the privileges and liberties
of the kingdom” and to “govern the kingdom according to the laws and
usages of the kings, his predecessors, and especially Charles IV.”

During the long dark night which followed the deep tragedy of the
Thirty Years’ War, the Hapsburgs ruled over Bohemia, but the nation
never conceded them the right to incorporate their country in any
other, and in 1868 formally declared that “the Kingdom of Bohemia is
attached to the empire by a purely personal tie,”--that is, through
the person of the king who was also Emperor of Austria. Francis Josef
himself soon after recognized this right and promised to be crowned
King of Bohemia, but this promise was broken.

For the reasons here given the Bohemians claim that their kingdom is
still a distinct political entity.

2. Their political capacity.--Time and again the Bohemians have
demonstrated their loyalty to high political ideals and their capacity
for self-government. They never recognized the “divine right” of
kings to rule,--unlike their German neighbors, most of whom recognize
the “right” to-day. They elected their own kings, who were bound by
what was practically equivalent to our modern constitution, and they
sometimes chose these kings from their own midst; before the outbreak
of the Thirty Years’ War they were seriously contemplating a form
of government not unlike that of our own country; and to-day they
are hoping for a republic, or at least for a monarchy as liberal and
innocuous as that of England. Indeed, for several centuries their
political ideals have approached nearer to those of England than of any
other of the greater European nations.

3. Their intellectual power.--A nation claiming the right of
self-government is usually expected to show competent intellectual
capacity. This the Bohemians have demonstrated beyond a doubt. When
we consider the great odds against which they contended when they
struggled to re-establish their schools and their intellectual life,
the progress which they have made in the past century is astonishing.
The city of Prague is to-day one of the greatest publishing centres in
Europe. The growth of Bohemian literature in all its branches has been
stupendous, and to-day Bohemia leads the Empire of Austria with the
smallest percentage of illiterates and is one of the leaders of Europe
in this respect!

Nor are these educational and intellectual ideals a gift of the
Germans, as has been asserted in certain prejudiced quarters. Bohemia
had a great university, that of Prague, before a single institution
of the kind had been established within the limits either of the
present German Empire or any other part of the present Empire of
Austria. This has been claimed repeatedly as a German university,
but it was established in 1348 by Charles IV., whose mother was a
Bohemian, and whose sentiments were wholly Bohemian. He was educated
in the University of Paris, and that institution furnished the model
for his new university. Following the Paris plan he gave two votes to
the German nations in the management of the university (a courtesy
which they have never been inclined to imitate), but like all other
institutions of that period the university was Latin, and not in any
sense German. Fifty years later it passed wholly under the control of
the Bohemians and developed into one of the greatest universities of
Europe, sharing this honor with Paris and Oxford, and for more than
two centuries it continued to be one of the world’s great centres
of intellectual activity and inspiration. The Thirty Years’ War
overwhelmed it, and transformed it into a German institution for a long
time, but a third of a century ago it was re-established as a Bohemian
institution, and has now far outstripped its German rival in the same
city which was forced upon the nation in the effort to Germanize it.

It is also a matter of historic interest that as early as 1294 a King
of Bohemia, Václav II., attempted to establish a university at Prague,
but the plan failed because of dissensions between the ecclesiastics
and the nobility.

The Bohemian people have abundant intellectual traditions of their
own, and their devotion to their educational interests has been tested
repeatedly and found not wanting.

4. The moral and ethical right.--Why should any other nation rule
Bohemia? The Bohemian people are intellectual, with high political
ideals and splendid traditions, and they are industrially progressive.
They are competent to direct their own affairs, and it is only the
insolent usurper who can assume to lay claim to the right to rule over
them. Bohemia is a fertile country blessed with boundless riches which
should be employed to sustain a happy, busy, progressive nation, and
not a usurping military power, and that nation has a right to be free!

This briefly is the Bill of Rights of the Bohemian nation. Whatsoever
may be the form of the government which will come to liberated Bohemia,
all lovers of freedom will join in the hope of the realization of the
spirit of the prophecy of Doctor John Jesenský of Jesen, one of the
martyr leaders of the Bohemians who were executed at Prague in 1621,
who proclaimed from the scaffold: “It is vain that Ferdinand gluts his
rage for blood; a king elected by us shall again ascend the throne of


[24] The writer is a representative type of the sturdy settler of
Bohemian ancestry who helped to build up the Northwest. He sojourned in
the birthland of his parents when the war broke out.




The mental and moral characteristics of any social group are the
product of a wide variety of complex influences of a pre-eminently
psychological nature. The suggestions that come through tradition
and history result in mental reactions that become so typical of the
group that it is popular to call them inborn and racial. The easy
assumption of this explanation hinders the more fundamental discovery
of why certain characteristics prevail. The Bohemians illustrate this
principle of the creative influence of definite ideas.

A Bohemian is a Slav. The influence of this relationship is the
broadest and most general. It has become self-conscious only
in comparatively recent times, i.e., two or three generations.
Previously there was much changing from Slav to Teuton and vice versa.
Unquestionably a very large proportion of Prussians have a considerable
infusion of Slavic blood, and many Bohemians have German ancestors. In
centres like Pilsen or Prague, where the two races have lived together
for a long time, it is absolutely impossible to tell them apart until
they begin to speak, and then the identity may be concealed by using
the other language. Within the last seventy-five years there has been a
clear recognition of the Slavic relationship which has taken the form
of conscious efforts to preserve certain Slavic characteristics, and to
join with the others in withstanding the influence and authority of the
Germans. There have been certain other Slavic characteristics that have
persisted in all the Slavic groups which will be mentioned later when
we consider their contribution to democracy.

For something over five hundred years the Bohemians have been clearly
conscious of their Bohemian nationality and much that is distinctive
of them has been developed and is still being developed in them by
this national history, and nothing of it can be understood except
in the light of this historical influence. The two most influential
forces have been John Hus, who made Bohemia Protestant a century before
Luther, and who was burned at the stake in 1415; and Comenius the
world educator, who was exiled for his connection with the Protestant
Church of Bohemian Brethren. These two national heroes planted the
seeds which differentiated the Bohemians from the rest of the Slavs in
religious freedom and respect for education. Hus also was the symbol
for the development of nationalism and the consequent revival of the
language which have occupied such a large place in the attention
of the Bohemian people. The two most characteristic expressions of
these influences are now found in Nationalism and Free-thought, and
no appreciation of the condition and purposes of the people can be
complete without reckoning with these facts.

From about 1400 for more than two hundred years Bohemia was a leader
in European culture, but the Thirty Years’ War crushed her so that
some claim that she has had no history since 1620. Count Lützow says
that “Bohemia presents the nearly unique case of a country which was
formerly almost entirely Protestant and has become almost entirely
Catholic. The popular optimistic fallacy which maintains that in
no country has the religious belief been entirely suppressed by
persecution and brute force is disproved by the fate of Bohemia.” As
a matter of fact, instead of being suppressed, it was smouldering
during the centuries and now constitutes an amazing unanimity of mind
and feeling among the nation in regard to religion. Immediately after
the Act of Tolerance in 1781 there sprang up here and there churches
which took up the old faith exactly where it had been left more than a
hundred and fifty years before. Free-thinking is in part a philosophy,
but it is more particularly a sign of national character.

In the past it has been the custom of nations to try to absorb all
within their political boundaries into the character of the governing
group, however much they may have differed in traditions and customs.
Austria not only tried to make Bohemians Catholics but Germans, and
the history of the effort ought to make clear for ever that political
science must adjust itself to the laws of human nature, and that the
way to develop the individualism of a people is to try to blot it out.
Whatever may be said about the superiority of one culture over another
it cannot be imposed by force, and the Germans have been stupidly
slow in discovering this fundamental fact. Bohemia is but a single
example of this new consciousness which is called Nationalism. The
Poles, Lithuanians, Finns, Magyars, Irish, and all the Slavic groups
are showing that there is a psychological force to be reckoned with
which military force cannot overcome. The contribution of the variety
of cultures is what will enrich the life of civilization and not the
pre-eminence of one, whatever that one may be. Some evidence of the
way in which the revival of nation spirit is taking place among the
Bohemians will show what a tremendous force this spirit is.

Count Lützow, in an address given in Prague in 1911, brings out the
present situation: “One of the most interesting facts that in Bohemia
and especially in Prague mark the period of peace at the beginning
of the nineteenth century is the revival of the national feeling and
language.... The greatest part of Bohemia, formerly almost Germanized,
has now again become thoroughly Slavic. The national language, for
a time used only by the peasantry in outlying districts, is now
freely and generally used by the educated classes in most parts of
the country. Prague itself, that had for a time acquired almost the
appearance of a German town, has now a thoroughly Slavic character. The
national literature also, which had almost ceased to exist, is in a
very flourishing state, particularly since the foundation of a national
university. At no period have so many and so valuable books been
written in the Bohemian language.”

About sixty years ago several Bohemian writers were bold enough to
write in their own language instead of German and from that time
the Bohemian spirit has grown until opposition to the overbearing
Germanism became almost a passion. Wherever the Germans were in a
majority only German public schools were provided, but wherever the
municipality had fewer Germans than Slavs German as well as Bohemian
schools were provided. To meet this discrimination Bohemians, both at
home and in America, have contributed to a remarkable degree for the
“Mother of Schools” (association) which supports Bohemian schools of
first caliber in the minority communities. There are no other Slavs
who compare with the Bohemians in the high regard for schools. As one
goes through the country he is struck by the palatial school building
even in poor peasant villages. It seems to bear a relation similar to
the prison and church in a Russian town. The inevitable result of this
universal spirit is the gradual elimination of the German language.
German had nearly vanished from the streets of Prague. One fared ill
in a restaurant if his German were good enough to sound genuine though
the waiter understood perfectly. Business men were beginning to take
pride in the fact that they could succeed without knowing any German,
and fathers who were reared with German as a mother tongue taught their
children Bohemian instead. The unifying force of this national feeling
has been going on with great rapidity in the face of the disrupting
force of eleven political parties, besides the sharp spiritual division
into Catholics and anti-Catholics.

It could not fail to be a distinct disadvantage for a people of seven
or eight million to cut itself off from the opportunities of the
environing German culture, science, and commerce, but those who saw
this most clearly deliberately assumed the cost in their struggle for
the freedom of the spirit. When we remember that prestige was on the
side of the German one sees a sacrifice approaching nobility. At the
time the Olympic games were being held in Europe and attracting the
attention of the world a far more important athletic meet was being
held in Prague. This was Slavic in its membership, though Bohemian
in its origin. More than twenty thousand persons took part, and at
one time eleven thousand men, speaking several different languages,
were doing calisthenic exercises together. With the exception of the
Poles, who would not come because the Russians were invited, there were
representatives of all the Slavic nationalities, and the keynote of
every speech was “Slavie! Slavie!” and when it was uttered the crowds
would go wild. There were a quarter of a million visitors in the city,
and illustrated reports of the exhibition went to the ends of the
Slavic world. A few weeks afterwards I saw some of them pasted on the
wall of a primitive factory in the back districts of Moscow. But the
German papers completely ignored the whole thing and no self-respecting
German could attend, though it was undoubtedly the greatest thing of
the sort ever held.

Two years ago when war was threatening between Austria and Serbia,
Bohemians who were being entrained from their garrison for mobilization
on the Serbian border, in more than one case sang the Pan-Slavic
hymn, “Hej Slované!” familiar to all Slavic nations, but forbidden
to Austrian soldiers in service. They used a popular parody in this
enthusiastic and powerful hymn, full of encouragement to the Slavs,
telling them that their language shall never perish nor shall they
“even though the number of Germans equal the number of souls in hell.”
It is said that at this time at least seventy thousand Slavs in Austria
eligible to military service quit the country.

The Germans have succeeded in making the Bohemian culture almost
identical with theirs, and it is difficult to find in the German any
traits that can be called specifically Bohemian. Only a long future
can tell whether there are actually inherent psychological differences
which can account for aggressiveness in the one and passivity in the
other. We may assume, however, that we have not had time to test
the subtle forces which work on social groups and give them a cast
of thought that seems biologically inherent. No Slavic people has
exhibited the individualistic character of the Teuton, but we have no
assurance that this Teuton habit of mind is the result of anything
except the history and the philosophy which have been appropriated
in comparatively modern times. There are two ways of explaining the
relative passivity of the Slavic mind. One is the fact that having
been for so long a subject people they have no traditions of success.
Even the Russians are ruled by a bureaucracy with which they have no
sympathy. The other is that the Bohemians and the others have retained
the democratic characteristics which are common to the Slavs. There has
been some influence from both.

One peculiarity of Bohemians both in America and Bohemia is the habit
of criticising any of their own people who acquire any eminence or
leadership in any field. One never feels free to speak with enthusiasm
about a successful Bohemian lest he invite a dash of cold water. There
seems to be universal suspicion of the motives or methods underlying
the success. If a leader were to appear he would not get followers.
Such a habit of mind can never bring anything that corresponds to
imperialistic success. Count Lützow says “that the evil seed of hatred
and distrust sown by the oppressors in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries bears evil fruit up to the present day. Bohemian peasants
even now instinctively distrust the nobles of their own race who are in
full sympathy with the national cause. This antagonism has frequently
contributed to the failure of the attempts of the Bohemians to recover
their autonomy.”

There is a great difference in an individual or a people that has been
accustomed to accomplishment. The attitude in Bohemia has been that of
pessimistic resignation. Their devotion to certain ideals and causes
is magnificent, but the inability to organize unanimously is indicated
by the eleven political parties, most of which are nationalistic and
none of which has the active co-operation of the masses. They follow
an ideal rather than a person, and the symbol of the ideal is always
a person who is dead. The look is thus backward rather than hopefully
forward. Hus is the great hero, but also Comenius, Palacký, Havlíček,
and many others of more or less remoteness are the real leaders, and
the reinstatement of national self-direction and the Bohemian language
are the ideal objects.

In Bohemia these result in an impracticalness which magnifies the
æsthetic even to sentimentality. They will talk as though art were
the end of life. For many the æsthetic life consists of sitting in
restaurants night after night listening to the band and talking over
their beer. In spite of this industry has made great progress in
Bohemia, and when they come to this country they forget their objection
to the practical. There are probably no other immigrants in America
who make such direct efforts to own their own homes as the Bohemians.
At a gathering of instructors of the University of Prague to organize
a sociological institute, I was asked to tell some of the things we
do here. I tried to show how we combine theory with practice and
emphasized my own interest which is theoretical, but they unanimously
said that our methods were too practical to be used by them.

A comparison of Poles and Bohemians who belong to the same race shows
the influence of culture on the Bohemian. In 1900 the percentage of
illiterates among the Bohemians entering the United States was 3. and
of Poles 31.6. The Poles are as strongly the Catholic as the Bohemians
are Free-thinkers.

In Austria there are fourteen times as many cases of litigation in the
courts among the Poles as among the Bohemians. A Bohemian in Chicago
who does a large mail order business among all Slavs says: “We will not
do business with the Poles at all because they will not pay. To the
Serbians we send everything C.O.D., but the Croatians, Ruthenians, and
the rest we trust.”

The family life is an important sign of the morality of a people, and
we find among the Bohemians many interesting qualities. The following
statement in “Hull House Papers” derived from a study of Bohemians
says: “The family life is affectionate, and it is the prevailing custom
among the working class to give all the wages to the mother.” I have
often noticed that in families the income is naturally estimated as the
total earnings of husband and children and that the mother gives even
to the larger children who are earning good wages what money they need,
and always with cheerfulness and perfect understanding. The attachment
for the home is very strong, and they take pride in large families
which stick together. It is probable that ownership of the home works
both ways in this matter, having the home integrates the family and
having the family unity makes it desirable to own a home.

In sex morality we must remember that the Bohemians are European and
not American, but on the streets of Prague there is less public display
of immorality than in Chicago. Modesty is observed as an important
virtue. The Bohemians, like all other people, have prejudices that make
it difficult for them to see clearly values not measured by their own
standard, but there can be no question but that their standard measures
up well with any people in Europe. The important thing to civilization
is whether they have any peculiar traits of mind or character that
will be a contribution to progress. I think that the Bohemians have
this in common with the other Slavs to a very marked degree and in a
direction which has hitherto been entirely unrecognized, and this is
the contribution to democracy.

However else the Germans may justify the present war, they sincerely
believe that on their success hangs the salvation of civilization from
the barbarism of the half-civilized Slav. Professors Eucken and Haeckel
have voiced a widespread indignation that England could so far forget
her ideals as to join with Russia against the forces of enlightenment.
Americans, even those whose sympathies are hostile to Germans, dread
success of the Russians. The socialists who are opposed to all war feel
convinced that Russia is a menace to all their plans. In fact they
have tacitly admitted more than once that it might be necessary to
resist encroachments of Russia by force. It is my contention that the
Slavic people, of whom the Russians are the largest group, have more
to contribute to what the world needs next than any other people, and
that all that is best in socialism will find its fruition among them as
nowhere else.

A learned Bohemian friend, in reply to my letter to Bohemia, in which I
spoke of the political progress America was making, said that it could
but fill the heart of a Bohemian “with a feeling of sad resignation”;
but he adds, “I am not pessimistic enough to give up all hope that
Providence may have yet some good things in store for the Slav. What
keeps me up is a certain hazy impression that human development may
sometime be in want of a new formula, and then our time may come. I
conceive ourselves under the sway of the German watchword which spells
Force; and as watchwords, like everything else human, come and go,
perhaps the Slavs may sometime be called on to introduce another, which
I should like to see spelled Charity.”

There is no literature in the world which has contributed so much
toward such a sentiment as that of the Slavs. Tolstoy is the great
example, and his very greatness enabled him to propose a program even
beyond present imagination, but many other writers, some of whom have
been translated and some not, have expressed the same ideal of needed
radical reform. We must not make the mistake of thinking these writers
the originators of their doctrines. A popular prophet expresses the
heart of the people, and is a product of their ideals. The great vogue
of these writers is among their own people. The government of Russia is
hostile to Tolstoy, but it could not resist the demands of the students
that an heroic statue of this radical be placed in the great government
technical school.

The ultimate goal of society is democracy and, strange as it may sound,
the Slav has more to contribute to this end than anyone else. Russia,
whose name is the synonym of despotism, is already in reality the most
democratic country in the world. Democracy means the opportunity for
the individual to express himself to the utmost, to have his expression
count according to its value, and if he does not predominate to yield
gracefully to the expression that does prevail. This habit of mind
cannot be obtained without practice, and up to the present time in the
world’s history would not have been as efficient as the leadership of
individuals who, right or wrong, obtained results. Now by means of
rapid communication and a clearer understanding of social purposes the
method of democracy can be applied with increasing efficiency. Nurture
in democratic practice is the contribution the Slavs will make, and we
cannot realize how rich this will be.

The despotism of Russia is no more an expression of the real Russian
people than Tammany Hall is an expression of American democracy, and
the influence of both institutions on national character has been
practically nothing. Despotisms come and go, but the traditions and
customs of the people persist. It was formerly thought that ideals were
imposed from above, but now we are becoming pretty thoroughly convinced
that this is not the case. Imitation is horizontal between people of
the same class and not vertical between classes. Polish nobles had
glass windows for years, but it did not occur to the peasants to have
them until the idea was brought back from America by people of their
own sort. And so influences and habits may go on for centuries upon
centuries without being affected by a different culture. This fortunate
fact has enabled us to preserve what would have been eliminated by the
contemporary values and customs that were not valuable for the time.

Any observant traveler entering Russia, after he gets over the first
fear which everyone seems to feel, will gradually be impressed with
the contrast to the Germans and Austrians whom he has just left. There
he was never addressed without his full title of Herr Professor, Herr
Journalist, or whatever he might claim for his distinction. Here his
self-esteem suffers a shock, for, in the language of the country, he
becomes simply “Mister.” This universal custom, unimportant in itself,
is significant of a national habit of mind. Men in high places, as
heads of universities, are addressed by their colleagues by their first
names. In the familiar Russian and Polish novel we find nobles and
military leaders regularly with the simple title Pan (Mr.), which is
a term of respect but not of distinction. In fact the attitude of the
noble and the peasant toward each other is not that of superiority and
servility, but as elder and younger brother. The name Little Father
which is applied to the Czar expresses the attitude of familiarity
rather than of awe. Compare this with the worship of uniform in
Germany, where a policeman will not answer your question unless you
salute him and an omitted title is an insult. In Petrograd during
student riots it is not an uncommon thing for the students to kick
the shins of the police and no one thinks of it as lèse majesté. The
Russian officer and soldier are more nearly comrades than in any other
army in the world.

These habits have not been assumed deliberately, but are the product
of underlying institutions out of which they have grown naturally.
At least fifty million people in Greater Russia and Siberia live in
Mirs or Communes. In these from time immemorial they have practiced
a degree of co-operation and local self-government which has never
been equalled by deliberate action in the most enlightened nations,
and which the most despotic government, not being able to overthrow,
has recently incorporated into its governmental method. In the Mir
the land which is owned in common is regularly reallotted among the
householders according to their working capacities and needs. The Mir
elects its own executive and may undertake all kinds of work of public
utility. Occasionally a woman is elected as executive, and when the
man representing the household is away or dead the woman votes and
takes part in the assembly. The Mirs are united into larger bodies
with similar jurisdiction. The interesting thing about it is that it
prevails so widely and among people between whom there has not been the
slightest possibility of intercommunication. The promise of the Mir is
not communism, but a habit of mind that can be applied in more general
and complex affairs.

Complaint has more or less justly been made that the Slav is deficient
in political leadership except in the smallest units. This can have
been true in the past while holding for a future under quite different
conditions. Ease of communication has enlarged social units so that
common ideas may result in common action over wide areas as easily as
in a common room. At any rate the Slavs have succeeded in carrying
over their custom in a very remarkable manner. The _artel_, which is a
co-operative productive organization, embraces most diverse enterprises
throughout Russia, and is efficient in a manner only dreamed of
elsewhere. Tiffany’s finest silver enamel is mostly made by peasant
_artels_ in Moscow. In one small factory where most of the men were
away getting in their harvests, the rest were making beautiful inlaid
Easter eggs, and a special order of ice cream dishes worth a hundred
dollars apiece, yet these work-owners were so untouched by modern
customs and the civilization for which they were producing that they
ate their dinner from a common dish with wooden spoons. The porters
at the railroad stations are _artels_ governed by their own rules and
sharing the proceeds. Many banks and large enterprises are carried
on in the same way. One of the largest restaurants in Petrograd is
owned by the men who do the work. Fishing is also co-operative in
its methods. Undertakings of this sort could not possibly be carried
through so generally and so successfully if it were not for the great
background of experience in which co-operation and acquiescence to the
will of the people is accepted as a matter of course.

We recognize that one of the greatest problems of our time is that
of class consciousness between labor and capital, and economists
have suggested co-operation as the only cure for the deadlock that
threatens, but it has not succeeded where tried. The Russians have
succeeded without being conscious that they were doing any but the
most natural thing. For people who have been forbidden so much that is
thought to be essential to freedom, it is nothing short of remarkable,
that in the recent years of industrial progress and increasing
complexity, they should have been able to adapt their democracy to
fit the needs. Nowhere are labor unions formed more easily, and while
meager in their activities, as compared to American or English, they
have coherence.

The church has developed in line with the characteristics of the
people. Although the Orthodox Church is magnificent in its equipment,
and its priests most richly caparisoned, yet it offers a marked
contrast to the aristocratic system of the Roman Catholic Church. The
Russian most devoutly takes off his hat in passing a church or holy
image, but he keeps it on when passing the priest, and he kisses the
priest on the cheek rather than the hand.

Among other Slavs there is the same widespread prevalence of democratic
customs. In Serbia the Mir is found in much the same form as in Russia,
and in Poland in numerous instances the Zadruga is a community of from
ten to sixty or more living in one house and settling important matters
by vote. The head of the Zadruga is generally the oldest man, but this
is not necessary, and not infrequently a woman is head. In the days of
its independence the Polish king was always elected. The suffrage was
restricted to the nobles, and much turbulence prevailed at the time of
election, but the people were very jealous of the privilege.

Of all the Slavs the Bohemians have come most under German influence
and it has often been said that the assimilation is all in the
direction of the German. In many characteristics this is true, but
some of the traditional habits of mind have clearly been preserved.
They have not lost these by being transferred to America and are able
to carry on certain forms of association with phenomenal success. In
Chicago they have 104 Building and Loan Associations incorporated
under the laws of Illinois. All are prosperous, only one has ever
failed. Each has only one paid officer, a secretary who receives from
five to ten dollars a week. One association has assets of $600,000,
and all of them aggregate about $14,000,000 and 20,000 members. They
also have numerous benevolent lodges with an aggregate membership of
over 100,000 in the United States, which manage insurance systems on
a most democratic and safe basis. This management in almost all cases
includes women in exact equality. The same thing is true of the Sokol
or gymnastic society which is organized in all Slavic countries. In the
numerous deliberative meetings of Bohemians that I have attended the
women have shown themselves quite the equal of the men in debate.

The ultimate democracy must include universal suffrage, which we see
has its roots in the Slavic institutions. The Bohemians have the
arguments of the Germans about the place of women, but their practice
is more subtly democratic than they are aware of. Until it was confused
with the prohibition question Bohemians have consistently advocated
equal suffrage, before it became generally popular. The Germans have as
consistently opposed it.

Whatever the outcome of the war the Slavs will inevitably become an
increasing influence in the world’s progress because of their higher
birth rate and because they possess the richest natural resources in
the world. It is perhaps an occasion for gratitude that in the midst of
the apparently insoluble problems about the exploitation of natural
resources and labor conflicts, a people that has been nurturing in what
we have called barbarism the traits most desirable for dealing with
such problems, is now about to come upon the stage.

To be sure, most of the Slavic world is permeated by ignorance and
dominated by bureaucracy, but education is only a generation deep, and
political reorganization is the most rapid and remarkable fact of our
era. The Bohemians have shown us that under modern conditions these
traits are not lost. Civilization may have a temporary setback, but it
cannot be as great as that now arising from militarism, but in the end
the Slav will contribute to the social fabric that for which it is now
peculiarly ready. In the words of an ancient writer we may say that the
stone which the builder rejected is become the head of the corner.


[25] Professor Miller has traveled in Bohemia and is gathering material
on the history of that country.




It remains to call attention to the place of Bohemia in letters, art,
music, education, social and religious reform. In this connection it
may be pointed out that the civilization of the Bohemians is distinctly
older than that of the German-Austrians, and that it developed wholly
independent of the Teutonic art movements in Germany and Austria.

In the matter of literature, Bohemia occupies a place of distinction
and priority. The development of the vulgar tongue took place at a
comparatively early period. Some of the most ancient of the poetic
documents date back to very early times. Indeed, the prose literature
of Bohemia, after the Greek and Latin, is one of the oldest in Europe.
The three centuries from the time of Charles IV. to the outbreak of the
Thirty Years’ War covers the early brilliant period in literature. Two
centuries of intellectual barrenness followed the fatal battle of the
White Mountain and the usurpation of the Bohemian Crown by the House of
Hapsburg. The ancient constitution of the kingdom was suppressed and it
was replaced by a slightly veiled system of Teutonic absolutism. The
lands of the Bohemian nobles, who had been patrons of letters, were
confiscated and given to generals in the Austrian army and to Austrian
noblemen. The inhabitants of the flourishing cities, that had been
strongholds of the national language and literature, were driven into
exile and their places were taken by immigrants of non-Bohemian birth.
The country people were reduced to a state of serfdom and attached to
the soil. The pillory, the gallows, and the whipping-post were the
sinister arguments that were employed to obliterate all traces of
national culture.

Not only was there a complete arrest in the remarkable literary
movement that intervened between the Middle Ages and the beginning
of the Thirty Years’ War, but most of the literary treasures of
the previous centuries were destroyed by the royal edicts of the
reactionary Hapsburg rulers. This was done with the notion that
the brilliant period of Bohemian existence might be blotted out and
forgotten. The book-destroyers that were turned loose in the land
burned not only all historical and theological works, but every form of
literary composition that might suggest to the Bohemian people their
glorious past. One book-destroyer, an Austrian priest, boasted with
pride that he had burned 60,000 Bohemian books. Many works were carried
by the Bohemian exiles to Saxony, Slovakland, and other countries,
and preserved; and these, together with others that escaped the fury
of pillaging soldiers during the Thirty Years’ War, constitute the
fragments out of which the literary history before the seventeenth
century must be constructed. But these fragments are little more
than the planks of a ship that was wrecked on the ocean of national

The modern Bohemian literary movement dates back only one hundred
years. Joseph Dobrovský (1753-1829), the patriarch of Slavic philology,
initiated the literary movement at the beginning of the nineteenth
century. The few other Bohemian scholars of the day--Jungmann, Palacký,
Kollár, Šafařík, and the incomparable publicist Charles Havlíček--lent
their services to the rehabilitation of a national language that was
long supposed to be dead. The letters of Jungmann give us our most
intimate accounts of the struggles of himself and his co-patriots
during the early day of the modern Bohemian literary renascence.[27]

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Austrian Government
had penalized the publication of books in the Bohemian language and
the teaching of the vernacular in the schools of the kingdom. But in
spite of prohibitions of the Hapsburg rulers, the vernacular continued
to be spoken in the country districts. This fact facilitated the
extraordinary progress made in the fields of poetry, drama, fiction,
criticism, and historical works during the last fourscore years. The
satirical writings of Jan Neruda, the historical dramas of Alois
Jirásek, the rich lyrical poetry of Jaroslav Vrchlický (Frida), the
bold imaginative compositions of Julius Zeyer, the modernist poetry
of J. S. Machar, the great national epics of Svatopluk Čech, the
historical works of Francis Palacký, and the political and sociological
writings of Thomas G. Masaryk have made notable contributions to the
literary history of modern Bohemia. When one recalls the dearth of
literature from Teutonic writers in Austria during the same period, the
contrast is marked indeed.

In matters of art also Bohemia was early in the field. The Prague
school of painting that came into prominence during the reign of
Charles IV. (1316-1378) took favorable rank with similar early art
movements in Italy. Painters, sculptors, and architects trained in
Bohemia are represented to-day at most of the great cities in Europe
where art treasures are preserved. The zealous and promising artistic
movement inaugurated in the country by the followers of the Prague
school, like most of the other culture movements in the kingdom, was
well-nigh extinguished by the attempted Teutonization of the country by
the Hapsburg rulers after the fatal Bílá Hora.

The political and literary activity in Bohemia during the opening years
of the last century reacted favorably on the art life of the nation.
A society of the fine arts, that was distinctly Bohemian and national
in character, was organized at Prague in 1848; and this was followed
by annual expositions of the chief productions of Bohemian and foreign
artists. As an immediate result of these activities, Bohemia produced
an astonishingly large number of painters who took high rank in their
art, artists of the rare talent of Hellich, Manes, Čermák, Schwaiger,
Aleš, Brožík, Mucha, Úprka. In sculpture, too, modern Bohemia has
taken a place of distinction in the works of Myslbek, Šimek, Seidan,
Sucharda, and Šaloun.

Bohemia’s music is probably better known throughout the civilized world
than any other branch of her creative art. This is largely due to the
universal character of the language of music and to the eminence of her
great tone poets, Smetana and Dvořák. Not that the history of music
in the country begins with these two modern composers, but because
they spoke in such musical forms and with such musical force that they
arrested the attention of the world.

We read in the chronicles of the mediæval historians of the rôle
played by music in the life of the Bohemian people; and we know that
during the Hussite period the Bohemian hymnology attained a degree of
excellence that has not been surpassed by later ages. The Bohemian
school of music of to-day takes foremost rank among the music schools
of modern Europe.

Bohemia’s position in the matter of education is likewise distinctive.
Education of an elementary and secondary character was general in
Bohemia several centuries in advance of Austria and Germany. The
University of Prague antedated similar institutions in Germany by
more than half a century. John Amos Komenský (known in America and
England by the Latinized form of his name, Comenius) was a Bohemian,
and in the judgment of competent historians of education he was the
real evangelist of modern pedagogy. Most of the school systems of
progressive and cultivated European peoples are based directly upon
ideas that he formulated.

In the domain of religion and ethics, Bohemia has given the greatest
moral reformer of the past five hundred years in Jan Hus, the
forerunner of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and William E. Channing. And
in Jerome of Prague, the contemporary of Hus, she produced another
spiritual leader of great power.


[26] Professor Monroe has made numerous pilgrimages to Bohemia and his
knowledge of Bohemians is intimate and thorough. He is a “Bohemian by

[27] The story is too long to be told in this connection; and the
interested reader is referred to “History of Bohemian Literature,” by
Count Lützow (London and New York, 1899), and “Bohemia and the Čechs,”
by Will S. Monroe (Boston and London, 1910).




Bohemia is the westernmost Slavic country and its fortunate
geographical position between the West and the East of Europe and
half-way between the Slavs of the Balkans and those of the North has
in past ages determined its cultural mission, which has been that of
mediating between the Latin civilization and the Poles on the one
hand and the Byzantine culture and the Russians on the other. Bohemia
is the keystone in the Slavic arch. Without it the proto-history
of the Eastern nations in Europe has no meaning and no coherency.
Unfortunately even the most profound scholars have as yet overlooked
the important rôle which Bohemia has played in forwarding that
Carolingian civilization which the Visigoths, expelled by the Arabs
from Spain and settled by Charlemagne in southern and central France,
caused to radiate to the whole Germanic world and, through Bavaria,
grafted on the neighboring Čechs.

It is well known that the first Christian activity in Bohemia proceeded
from German missionaries, but it is only a recent discovery on the
origin of the so-called Gothic Bible which has revealed to me the
extraordinary extent of the Visigothic literary and cultural influences
upon the Bavarians and the Čechs. In the light of this discovery, which
I am now subjecting to a close scrutiny, it appears that a tremendous
proportion of the Slavic vocabularies, from Russia to Dalmatia, from
Poland to Bulgaria, has been borrowed from the religious works of the
Bohemians, of the early period, now entirely lost to science. Bohemia
was the intellectual mistress of what may be called the proto-Slavic
world. Without Bohemia, the greater part of the Slavic vocabularies
remains irreducible as regards origins and distribution, while with the
proper appreciation of this country’s geographical factor it appears
at once that far from standing aloof from the Roman civilization of
the early Middle Ages, the Slavs have been equal participants with the
Teutons in the benefits of the Visigothic culture, which shows hardly
any traces of Teutonism, but a curious mixture of Western Roman,
Southern French, and Arabic elements. The linguistically strongest of
these is the Arabic, for my discovery goes to show that the so-called
Gothic Bible was written only about the year 800 and in Southern France.

It was only in 813 that Charlemagne introduced the Germanic languages
to the knowledge of the educated, by ordering that homilies should be
written in the native dialects. There does not exist the slightest
evidence that, with the possible exception of some Gothic tracts, which
Bishop Ulphilas is said to have written in the fourth century, the
Germans used their native dialects for any literary purposes. There is
nothing which we possess in the way of literary documents that dates
back of the ninth century, and there is precious little that can with
certainty be ascribed to a period previous to the tenth century. Hence
it appears that the literary Teutonic activity is very little, if at
all, ahead of the distinctively Slavic literary activity, which, so
far as we know, begins, at the end of the ninth century, with the
translation of the Bible by the proto-apostles of the Slavs, Cyril and
Methodius, for the Čechs of Bohemia.

In the present stage of philological science it is impossible to
ascertain the precise dialect in which these Bulgarian monks wrote,
though the reasonable assumption is that it was that of their native
Thessalonica. But the existence of a distinct Slavic alphabet, the
Glagolica, of which Cyril’s alphabet is but a simplification, and
the existence of the Freisingen fragments which, although not older
than from the eleventh century, are written in a variant dialect
and obviously are based on documents preceding the activity of the
proto-apostles, make it certain that Cyril and Methodius drew on an
older literary stock or composed in a language which was already
permeated by the Christian conceptions which were the common possession
of the Čechs in Carolingian times. This is proved by the precious
Kiev fragments, of the eleventh century, which contain the most
primitive form of the Old-Slavic language and, at the same time,
use distinctively Čech words of the Roman Catholic liturgy. It is,
therefore, plausible that whatever dialect was later chosen by Cyril
and Methodius in their religious activity in Moravia and Bohemia, it
was based on the vocabulary which was already familiar to the Čechs
from their previous relations with the German missionaries.

The Slavic liturgy did not survive long in Bohemia. After the death
of Methodius in 885 the Slavic priests were banished and Moravia and
Bohemia became Roman Catholic once more. Only the Abbey of Sázava
continued to use the Slavic liturgy until the year 1096, after which
nothing more is heard of the Slavic Church. Cyril and Methodius, who
had come to Moravia at the request of Prince Rostislav, had in 867
been accused by the German missionaries of heresy, which accusation,
however, Pope Hadrian found to be groundless. But the Slavic activity
could not be maintained against German arrogance, and, as it was Bishop
Wiching who soon after the death of Methodius banished the Slavic
liturgy from Bohemia, so it was in the eleventh century again German
priests who destroyed the last vestige of the incipient Slavic culture.
The Slavic liturgy left the country to become permanently associated
with the Greek Catholic Church in Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. What
might have formed a bond between the various Slavic nations had been
senselessly destroyed in Bohemia by the machinations of the German

Again it was Bohemia which was the first country, not only among
the Slavs, but in the whole of Europe, to carry high the banner of
religious freedom. The Germans boast of the contribution to freedom
of thought by their Luther, and they constantly forget that a century
before him Hus had prepared the ground for that religious dissent
which was voiced by Luther and his contemporaries. In the fourteenth
century Bohemians were fond of attending foreign universities,
especially those of Paris and Oxford. In the latter place they became
acquainted with Wiclif and, returning home, they translated his works
and laid the foundation for that remarkable activity which is known as
Husitism. Matěj of Janov, who had studied at Paris, had even before
Hus put himself in opposition to Popery, but it was Hus’s particular
desert to have roused the Čech national feeling. Hus was opposed not
only to the corruptions that had crept into the Church, but also to
the anti-nationalistic activities of the Germans, and so headed the
movement which had for its purpose a Čech regeneration. Čech became
the language of intercourse, and a large number of translations of the
Bible into Čech was made between 1400 and 1430, the most remarkable
being that written by a Taborite miller’s wife.

Hus became the first rector of the Čech Prague University, after
the German students had withdrawn to the newly formed University of
Leipsic. Bohemia was rent by disorder, not only from without, but
also within the Husitic movement itself. Husitism stood not only for
religious freedom, but also for democracy, and for a time the Husites
got along without a king. The most advanced of these democratic
protagonists of that time was Chelčický, who dreamed of a millennium,
not unlike the one represented in literature at the present time by
Tolstoy. His chief desert lies in having, by his writings, promoted
the formation of the Church of Bohemian Brethren. The idea of Slavic
nationality was not confined to Bohemia alone. The growth of a similar
national feeling in Poland may be discerned as the result of this Čech
renascence, and the Southern Slavs, too, were directly and indirectly
influenced by the nationalism in the North. Indeed, the golden age of
Polish and Serbian literature is but a century older than the rebirth
of the Slavic idea in Bohemia.

Again it was a Bohemian who, at the end of the eighteenth and in the
beginning of the nineteenth century, became the founder of Slavic
philology and the new Slavic literary movements throughout Europe.
Jagić begins his stupendous “Encyclopedia of Slavic Philology” with a
definition of Slavic philology, after which he says: “Only at the end
of the eighteenth century did the whole volume of Slavic philology, as
an independent science, assume shape. The chief desert in this matter
belongs to Joseph Dobrovský. He laid the foundation for a scientific
grammar of the Slavic languages, centering it on its most ancient
type, the Church-Slavic. He was the first to attempt a determination
of the degree of relationship between the separate Slavic dialects by
means of a scientific classification. It was he who introduced into
the circle of scientific interests the questions from the literary
and cultural history of the Slavs, for example, the question of the
educational activity of Cyril and Methodius, and finally also from
social history, such as archeological and ethnographical questions....
The critical spirit of Dobrovský with his broad views has created
Slavic philology. He is the father of this science.”

In the second half of the eighteenth century it looked as though the
Slavic languages were doomed to perdition. Poland lost its independence
and was parceled out among three nations; Bohemia had become a mere
dependency of the Hapsburg Empire; Serbia and Bulgaria were under the
Turkish yoke and did not even dream of a separate political existence.
Nor did matters stand better in the national literatures. The Polish
and Bohemian literatures led a vegetative existence; the Serbians and
Croatians had forgotten of their literary past; the Bulgarians had
not yet discovered the fact that they spoke an intelligible language
worthy of literary refinement. Russia was still struggling with the
establishment of a linguistic norm out of the ecclesiastic Slavic and
the spoken idiom, while its literature was but a feeble reflex of
French pseudo-classicism. Nowhere was there the slightest conviction
that the homely native dialects had a right to exist by the side of the
more fortunate German, while of the past of the Slavic languages but
the faintest surmises had been uttered by men untutored in historical
and philological lore. But if it was the preponderant influence of
German culture that put the Slavic into the shade, it was also the
result of German philosophy which gave the Slavic national idea a new
lease of life.

German literature had itself been decadent for some time, and was
obliged to yield to the more universal French culture which ruled even
at the Prussian court. The revolt against French pseudo-classicism
and encyclopedism was, however, voiced by a few German writers who
began to look in the native elements of the intellectual life for a
basis for a native poetry and belles lettres in general. Thus arose
the German Romanticism, which believed that in the creations of the
popular mind could be found truer, more natural sentiments for literary
expression than in the artificial productions of a select upper class.
Possibly the chief activity in the direction of a simpler literature
was developed by the brothers Grimm, who, by their collections of fairy
tales and mythological lore, laid the foundation for a nationalistic
movement which was soon to sweep over Europe. Not only did German
literature successfully establish itself against the French fashion,
but all the smaller nations, who had almost forgotten of their
historical existence, began to discover themselves. If the popular
creation was truer and more important than the traditional literatures
of the Græco-Roman type, then Serbia and Bohemia and Russia, which
had preserved an enormous mass of oral literature in out-of-the-way
places, harked back to important pasts and should develop from within.
The nationalistic idea began to grow out of proportion to the folklore
which could conveniently be mustered in proof of native superiority,
and where there was such a disproportion it became necessary, so
unscrupulous nationalists thought, to manufacture such material.
Everybody knows the huge literary forgery of Macpherson, whose Ossianic
poetry none the less had a great influence upon susceptible minds,
even in the East. Another such forgery was that of the Bohemian Hanka,
whose Queen’s Court Manuscript still finds overzealous defenders among
a certain class of unwise nationalists. It is not the forgery of Hanka
which has had most widespread influences upon the dissemination of the
nationalistic idea among the Slavs, but the legitimate and scholarly
activity of the father of Slavic philology, Joseph Dobrovský.

Having studied Eastern languages at the University of Prague, he had
hoped to become a missionary in India, but he soon abandoned this
intention and devoted himself to the study of Slavic antiquity. In 1779
he made his appearance in criticism with a periodical which set itself
the task of telling “the truth, the naked, unvarnished truth” without
regard for persons. He at once attracted attention by his sharp,
critical acumen. His main interest lay in the purification of the Čech
language and the formation of a literary norm. In 1792 his desire to
reconstruct the Slavic past took him on a long journey to the libraries
of Sweden and Russia, and even to the Caucasus, where he had expected
to find some indications of a Čech origin. In the same year appeared
his “History of the Bohemian Language and Literature,” in which he
described the struggles of the Čech language against the German and
Latin from the time of Hus until his day, and showed what relation
it bore to the other Slavic languages. The effect of this work upon
the nationalistic feeling was very great. Especially his grammar of
the Čech language which he published in 1808 formed the basis for all
Slavic grammars written in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Dobrovský was a voluminous writer, and his scientific correspondence,
lately edited by Jagić, contains an immense amount of material which
throws a light upon the history of the Slavic renascence.

Dobrovský soon gained many disciples in the Slavic world. The Russians
Vostokov, Kalaydovich, Stroev, and many others, the Slovenes Kopitar
and Vodník were his followers, and the great Slavists Šafařík and
Miklosich carried on the work of philology after him. He enjoyed the
friendship of German scholars and poets, Goethe, Jacob Grimm, Pertz,
and others. Goethe wrote of him: “Abbé Joseph Dobrovský, the past
master of critical historical science in Bohemia, this rare man who
long before had followed the general study of the Slavic languages
and histories with genial industry and Herodotic travels, rejoiced in
reducing his gains to the study of the Bohemian people and country,
and thus united with the greatest glory in science the rare reputation
of a popular name. The master is visible in whatever he attempts. He
everywhere grasps his subject and deftly unites the fragments into one

It cannot be said that the strong nationalistic movement which
developed in Bohemia was entirely beneficial, for it not only led to
unhealthy, ecstatic moods in the Bohemian literature of the first
part of the nineteenth century, but even to a series of literary
falsifications which still form the subject of discussion among laymen.
But it must not be forgotten that the Bohemian nationalism was a
reflex of the nascent German nationalism and was fanned to exaggerated
manifestations by the obscurant absolutism of Emperor Francis I.
Indeed, the Čech nationalism was to a great extent encouraged by
the Austrian Government, as a protective measure against Napoleonic
sympathies. The work begun by Dobrovský was carried into the field of
literature by Jungmann, who was not satisfied with creating a native
literary language for the lower classes only, which seemed sufficient
to Dobrovský, but set about to create a literary norm for the whole of
the Bohemian people. Jungmann was especially successful in translating
from foreign languages, and the Slovaks Šafařík and Kollár, and the
Moravian Palacký, not only imitated the activity of their teacher
Jungmann, but became even more important in the dissemination of the
Slavic idea, both at home and abroad.

In the twenties of the nineteenth century the fame of these ardent
Slavists had spread to all the Slavic countries, and in Russia the
question of founding a chair of Slavic philology, to be occupied by
some Bohemian scholar, was seriously considered. In 1830 the Russian
Government offered a chair of Slavic philology to Šafařík, but nothing
came of it, chiefly through the machinations of the forger Hanka, who
sided with the Russian autocracy, while Šafařík publicly expressed
himself in favor of the Poles in the revolution which had just broken
out in Russia. But Šafařík continued to exert a great influence on
Slavic science in Russia through his friend Pogodin, who never gave up
the hope that Šafařík might be called to a chair in Petrograd. When
this hope could not be materialized, the young Slavists then studying
in Russia, Bodyanski, Sreznevski and others, made it their business to
study for a time in Austria, more especially, to meet Šafařík and learn
something from personal contact with him. Indeed, the main activity of
Bodyanski consisted in translating into Russian the works of Šafařík
and other Bohemian Slavists. Similarly Sreznevski, in his inaugural
lecture at the university, pointed out the fact that there had existed
no interest in Slavic studies in Russia until such had been created by
the Bohemian and Serbian scholars. As Bodyanski stood in relation to
the Russian Slavophiles, it is certain that the Slavophile movement
in Russia received some of its ideas directly or indirectly from the
Bohemian nationalists.

From the humble beginnings in the first part of the nineteenth century
Bohemian literature has developed in a remarkable manner, borrowing
what is best in all literatures, and to a considerable extent falling
under the influence of the great Russian writers. It is eminently
cosmopolitan in compass and subject-matter, but at the same time has
preserved many national characteristics, which would well repay the
interest of an English reading public, if it could be induced to
read translations of this almost unknown literature. Its poetry is
especially attractive and varied, and the poets have reveled in the
discussion of those social problems which elsewhere have been relegated
to the field of prose.

Whatever the interest of the outsider may be in Bohemian literature, it
deserves the highest attention on the part of the Slavs, who owe their
very regeneration to the labors of the Bohemian scholars a century
ago. If, in addition, we consider what Bohemia did for freedom of
religious thought a hundred years before the days of Luther, and still
more, the great obligation under which the Greek Catholic Church is
to Bohemia for its very ecclesiastic language and national alphabets,
the sympathies of the world should particularly be enlisted for this
country in the possible future reconstruction of the Austrian Empire.
Slavs and non-Slavs should unite on this point without discussion, and
even the Germans should look favorably on the restoration of Bohemia to
its former freedom and glory, if they are not blinded by selfishness
and useless conceit. Bohemia has in the Middle Ages been the mediator
between the West and the East, the South and the North, and it will
for a long time remain the mediator between the best German thought
and the growing Slavic civilization, if the Germans do not, as in the
past, rouse the Slavic antipathies. Of all the Slavs, the Bohemians
understood the German ideas best, and Dobrovský and other Bohemian
Slavists promoted the Slavic idea by means of the German language.
That, of course, can never happen again, for the nationalist life
is there permanently established. But there is no reason for racial
antagonism in a country where Germans and Slavs have lived together for


[28] Professor Wiener is a distinguished Slavic scholar whose latest
work, “An Interpretation of the Russian People,” has just been




In some cities, as for instance Cedar Rapids, and in some states, as
for instance Nebraska, Bohemians are a large enough element in the
population to be fairly well known; but they are not so numerous in
the United States as a whole, as to be clearly present to the minds
of most people. New Yorkers may have seen with interest the National
Hall of the Bohemians, Clevelanders may be familiar with the Schauffler
Missionary Training School, persons familiar with industrial conditions
in Chicago may be aware of the great Bohemian colony there, the largest
in the country; but in general if people know anything about Bohemians
they probably “know a great many things that aren’t so,” misled by the
fact that the French word for Gipsies is Bohemians, much as our word
for the American aborigines is Indian.

Yet from the colonial period individual Bohemians have come to this
country, and in 1906, the latest year for which I have estimates, the
Bohemian group was put at a round half-million.

Some of these early settlers are picturesque and not unimportant
figures like Heřman and Phillipse, but it was not till the disturbed
period of 1848 that Bohemians came to this country in appreciable
numbers. At this time there was a triple ferment in Bohemia: first, a
desire for political independence; second, a resurrection of national
self-consciousness symbolized by the revival of the Bohemian language,
the use of which among cultivated people had been abandoned for German;
and third, a spirit of religious questioning and vehement challenge of
current Christianity, largely due to reaction against the influence of
a corrupt Austrian clericalism.

Another possible influence was the discovery of gold in California in
1849, which is said to have brought Bohemian gold-seekers and to have
stimulated the activity of ship agents. The census of 1850 mentions
87 natives of Austria (out of 946 in the United States) as then in
California; these were probably Bohemians. Throughout the fifties and
early sixties there was a pretty steady outflow from Bohemia, most of
it directed to the United States. This early emigration was a movement
of settlers, whole families going together.

With 1867 came a fresh impulse to emigration. Besides the newly granted
right to emigrate freely, the disastrous war with Prussia in 1866 gave
added reasons for going, while in the United States the Civil War was
over and everything invited the settler.

The earliest colony of Bohemians was in St. Louis, where in 1854 they
had already established a Catholic church, and this city has always
remained an influential Bohemian centre.

More important, however, was the movement to the states further
West--the largest numbers settling in Wisconsin, later Iowa, later
Nebraska and the two Dakotas, though a considerable settlement
also grew up in Cleveland. In general, however, in Ohio, Indiana,
and Illinois land was already too dear for the newcomers, and they
continually settled further west as the years went on. In the early
days they either went overland from the Eastern ports or up the
Mississippi River. One of the reasons for so many Bohemians as well
as Germans, Scandinavians, Poles, and Belgians being attracted
to Wisconsin was undoubtedly the attitude of that state toward
immigration. A fact that is easily forgotten in the present state
of feeling in regard to immigration is the eager and official
solicitation of immigrants that was carried on for years by various
states. Wisconsin, like many other states, appointed a Commissioner
of Immigration to stimulate the inflow. In 1852 the first man to fill
this office reported to the Governor that he had been in New York
distributing pamphlets in English, German, Norwegian, and Dutch,
describing the resources of the state.

After four years this state canvass for immigrants was suspended for a
time, but in 1864 the Wisconsin Legislature memorialized Congress for
the passage of national laws to encourage foreign immigration on the
ground that labor was scarce, owing to the war, and that wages had more
than doubled. Whether or not as a consequence of this request, Congress
did in the same year pass an act to encourage immigration, which,
however, was repealed in March, 1868.

Again, in 1879, Wisconsin established a State Board of Immigration
to increase and stimulate immigration, with authority to disseminate
information. The official circulars mentioned as inducements the
following points: climate, rich lands at a nominal price, free schools
and a free university, equality before the law, religious liberty,
no imprisonment for debt, and liberal exemption from seizure by a
creditor, suffrage and the right to be elected to any office but that
of governor or lieutenant-governor on one year’s residence, whether a
citizen or not (intention to become one having been declared); and
full eligibility to office for all actual citizens. “There is never
an election in the state,” one circular continues, “that does not
put some, and often very many, foreign-born citizens into office.
Indeed, there is no such thing as a foreigner in Wisconsin, save in
the mere accident of birthplace; for men coming here and entering into
the active duties of life identify themselves with the state and her
interests, and are to all intents and purposes American.” We are told
“The language above used is, except in rhetoric, identical” with that
in an edition of 1884.

Besides this direct encouragement by the state “a similar canvass was
maintained by counties and land companies, and at a later stage by
railway companies, some of them sending agents to travel in Europe.” Of
such solicitation at the very beginning of Bohemian immigration I found
tradition still mindful in the old country. Thus immigrants have felt
themselves directly and officially invited and urged to come, and it
is not surprising that one often finds them aggrieved and hurt at the
tone of too many current references making foreigners synonymous with
everything that is unwelcome.

Many of the Bohemians were pioneers in the unbroken wilderness, and a
very large part were farmers. A large proportion, however, had trades,
and this is characteristic of Bohemian immigration in general. The
common estimate is that one-half of the Bohemians in the country are
living in country places, occupied either with farming or with some one
of the various employments incident to rural life, from shoemaking to
keeping store or acting as notary public. If the comparison be extended
to all groups of foreign parentage, Bohemia shows a larger proportion
engaged in agriculture than any foreign countries except Switzerland,
Denmark, and Norway, surpassing even Germany and Sweden. It is
interesting to note that Italy has a very low rank in this regard; even
Poland and Russia surpass her, lowered as their place is by the large
non-agricultural Jewish element, and only Hungary is below her.

As to the quality of Slavic farming, one naturally hears different
reports. I suspect that the American often thinks the Pole or Bohemian
a poor farmer because he works on a different plan, while the
foreigner, used to small, intensive farming, thinks Yankees slovenly
and wasteful. Especially when he takes up old, worn-out farm lands, he
has small respect for the methods of his predecessor, who, he says,
“robbed the soil.”

The American business agent of a Bohemian farming paper, already
quoted, could not say enough in praise of the Bohemian farmers.
They farmed better than the Americans. They invested freely in farm
machinery. Nothing was too good or too big for them. In the eastern
half of Butler County, Nebraska, there were seventeen big steam
threshing outfits among Bohemians--something to which you could find
nothing parallel in the same area anywhere in the United States. The
Bohemian paper of which he was agent had seven times more advertising
of farm implements than any other paper in the United States, he said.

While the above statements are those of an interested party, all the
available evidence points the same way. It would seem, moreover,
as though in certain lines, new to us and familiar in Europe, the
immigrant should be able to supply very valuable skill. This seems to
be especially the case in the sugar-beet industry, in which the labor
of Bohemians, who understand beet culture well, is much sought.

Of Bohemian women at work, nearly a quarter were in 1900 servants and
waitresses, and more than another quarter workers at tailoring or in
tobacco. This corresponds to the fact that many Bohemians in the cities
are engaged in the two latter branches; many too are mechanics or
trades-people, often carrying on a small business of their own.

The Bohemians, like other Slavic groups in this country, are much given
to organizing into societies. Many of their associations are small
local affairs of the most various sorts. In a New York Bohemian paper I
found a list of 95 local societies among this group of perhaps 45,000
people. Many were mere “pleasure clubs,” to use the current East Side
phrase, while many were lodges of various of their great “national”
societies. Of these large national societies the most remarkable is
the society founded by the Bohemians at St. Louis in 1854, under the
name of the Bohemian-Slavonic Benevolent Society, or as it is commonly
called, by the initials of this name in the vernacular, the Č. S. P. S.
In the religious controversies which soon divided American Bohemians
into two camps, this came to represent the free-thinking, anti-Catholic
side. It numbers about 25,000 members.

The Sokols, which correspond to the German “Turnerbunds” or gymnastic
societies, are as popular and widespread as they are desirable. They
give opportunity for exercise dignified by a sense of the relation
between good physical condition and readiness for service to one’s
country. Women and children, as well as the men, have their own
divisions, classes, and uniforms, and the Sokol exhibitions are
important and very pretty social events. In Prague, in the summer of
1906, the Bohemian Sokols had an anniversary international meet, at
which the American societies were also represented, and performed
evolutions, literally in their thousands, in the open air.

Theatricals, whether given in some local hall or in a regular theatre
hired for the occasion, are, as in Europe, a favorite employment
for Sunday afternoons or evenings. Classic pieces, both literary
and operatic, are much enjoyed; for instance, among the Bohemians,
Smetana’s opera, “The Bartered Bride,” is often given. On the other
hand, one will see a very simple spontaneous little exhibition given
with the greatest abandon and delight by a club of hard-worked,
elderly women, whose triumphs are hugely enjoyed by their families and
neighbors. It is an especial pleasure to them to reproduce the pretty
costumes of their old-world youth. Worthy of especial mention are
the club called Snaha (Endeavor), of Bohemian professional women in
Chicago, and the clubs organized for reading and study among Socialists
of different nationalities.

There are numerous Bohemian papers and periodicals, including the
Bohemian “Hospodář” (“Farmer”) of Omaha and the “Ženské Listy” of
Chicago, the latter being an organ of a woman’s society, printed
as well as edited by women. It is not devoted to “beauty lessons”
and “household hints,” but to efforts toward woman’s suffrage and
the “uplifting of the mental attitude of working-women.” Its 6,000
subscribers include distinguished Bohemians all over the country, men
as well as women.

In religion the Roman Catholics claim a large number of Bohemians, but
there is a substantial Protestant minority; outside the church fold is
the numerous and very interesting group of Free-Thinkers.

The Bohemians are among the most literate of our immigrants. Taking
the data for 1900, which I happen to have worked out, we find that of
immigrants of all nationalities of fourteen years and over, those not
able to both read and write were 24.2 per cent.; among the Germans
5.8 per cent.; among the Bohemians and Moravians only 3.0 per cent.;
among Scandinavians, under 0.8 per cent. Certainly to supply only about
one-half as many illiterates per hundred as the Germans is a notable

All of this is quite borne out by the impression one gets of Bohemians
both in the United States and in Bohemia. In development and
conditions they rank with the immigrant from northwestern Europe. The
struggle with the Germans is in a sense the master-thread in their
whole history, and this contact, even though inimical, has meant
interpenetration and rapprochement. No other Slavic nationality is more
self-conscious and patriotic, not to say chauvinistic, in its national
feeling, and at the same time none begins to be so permeated with
general European culture and so advanced economically.

As to character, if it is impossible to indict a whole people, so is it
impossible to draw a portrait of such a collective group. Nevertheless,
no one can doubt that one characteristic of the countrymen of Smetana
and Dvořák is their noble gift for music. Their sense of color, too, is
very marked, and they, beyond all people I know, love the dance. Yet
with all their “gemüthlich” and temperamental qualities I find them
reserved, delicate, shy, intensely family-loving, cherishing privacy.

The Bohemians are a people of high conscientiousness, and by nature
loyal. In the Civil War their anti-slavery feeling and their devotion
to their new country both were shown, and the first company that went
from Chicago to fight for the Union is said to have been a Lincoln
Rifle Company that some young men of that nationality had organized in
1860. The dominating feature in the great Bohemian National Cemetery
in Chicago is the soldiers’ monument, just such a monument as stands
on every village common in New England; and perhaps nothing so much
as this visible sign of blood shed in the same cause bridges the
difference of national feeling.

They are interested in ideas for their own sake, as are the Latin
peoples, and especially in questions of religion. The older people
love their past, their language, their old home, yet they cannot hand
on these interests in their pristine intensity to the younger people,
absorbed in the life about them, dropping their Bohemian speech and
ways and gradually, only gradually, completing the transition to the
New World and its ways.

 NOTE.--I have to thank the publishers of my book, _Our Slavic
 Fellow-Citizens_, for permission to borrow here and there from its


[29] Author of “Our Slavic Fellow-Citizens.” Miss Balch studied the
Slav in the United States and “at the source,” in Europe.



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Transcriber's note:

The following apparent printing errors have been corrected:

   p. 70 "Serbo-Croation" changed to "Serbo-Croatian"

   p. 106 "Bohemain" changed to "Bohemian"

The following are inconsistently used in the text:

   Radecký and Radecky

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