« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
The societies for the sale of articles of food and clothing have had no grievances to be redressed. As was said at the beginning of this article, the great majority of them are doing a good trade. We may mention, as an example, the “Fédération,” a society which is established at Vienne, in the South of France. It has existed only twelve years, and yet a few weeks ago the society had a banquet to celebrate the acquisition, at the price of 100,000 fr., of the houses where the business is carried on. The society has turned over 4,500,000 fr. in twelve years, and realized a total profit of 261,000 fr. Out of this bonus the members have created a pension fund, which serves for ninety-two annual pensions of 150 fr. to 160 fr. a year.
One division of the Bill is, however, devoted to this class of co-operative societies. It allows them to have, in addition to the members who take part in the management of the business, others who pay for the right of admission but take no part in the deliberations of the general meetings. It imposes on them the obligation of deducting at least a tenth of the annual dividend to form an insurance fund. It decides, lastly, a much discussed question by declaring that such a society can be validly represented in the Law Courts by its administrators.
But the new law will apply especially to the co-operative manufacturing societies. It has removed most of the grievances caused by the troublesome formalities of the law of 1867. The intervention of a lawyer is no longer required. For the legal constitution of the society it is now only necessary to deposit at the office of the Tribunal of Commerce, or at that of a justice of the peace, a copy of the deed of membership of the society. It will be no longer necessary that deeds which constitute or dissolve the society should be drawn up on stamped paper, or be registered. These new regulations will remove the weight of those expenses which crushed young societies. Moreover, new facilities are granted to associations which require credit. The banker who advances the
necessary funds can become the assignee of the money owing to the society by the State, or by the town by which it is employed, on the receipt of a registered letter. The registration duties, which weighed so heavily on acts of transfer, are diminished ; the income-tax will not apply to these societies as long as their nominal capital is under 2,000 fr. Other clauses are not less important. No increase of capital can be made until at least half the amount of the original shares has been paid up. At least a twentieth of the profits must be annually devoted to the formation of an insurance fund. The responsibility of associates toward the general public is limited to the amount of their shares or promised capital, an indispensable clause in these societies, composed of working men, whose gains are small, and who would otherwise be deterred from such associations by the fear of incurring unknown and heavy liabilities. Finally, co-operative manufacturing societies may adopt the form either of societies with fixed, or of societies with variable capital. In the latter case the diminution of capital which may occur on the retirement, exclusion, or death of one or more associates must not exceed ninetenths of the original joint capital. Such are the essential points of the Bill as voted by the Chamber. It constitutes a real advance on the law of 1867. Framed especially in the interests of co-operative societies, it facilitates their creation by removing most of the obstacles raised by the law it replaces At the same time that the Decree of June 6th, 1888, allows cooperative societies to accept contracts for the great public works, and thus offers them an additional reason for existing, the new law renders their constitution simpler. The Republican Government has thus acquired a new title to the confidence of the working classes, and to the gratitude of all those who regard the development of the spirit of association as one of the elements in the solution of the social questions of our day.—New Review.
THE COURT OF WIEN N A IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
BY GERALD MORIARTY.
The sad event which has so lately brought the Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria to an untimely grave has attracted universal attention to the inner life of the court of Vienna. Those who care to work back from the present to the past will find an enormous mass of varied and interesting detail on the subject. In the last century especially—that Augustan age of memoir writers—the court of Vienna, though far less brilliant than that of Versailles, was a rich source of anecdote and scandal. Charles VI., the well-known Hapsburg claimant to the throne of Spain, succeeded to the government of the vast Austrian dominions in 1711. He was the last male scion of the old line of Hapsburg, and with him the antiquated Spanish ceremonial of the court of Vienna was retained in its most rigid form. The imperial household at this time comprised no less than two thousand officials on active service. These were divided into six great classes, according as they came under the lord steward, the lord treasurer, the lord chamberlain, the master of the horse, the lord high ranger, and the lord high falconer. The regulations as to court etiquette were very strict. To every member of the imperial family was due the oldfashioned Spanish reverence, a bow performed while dropping on one knee; to all other persons, the ordinary French reverence, a slight inclination of the body. The court dress for men was unaltered since the time of Charles V. It consisted of the Spanish costume of the sixteenth century, viz., a black doublet and breeches with large rosettes at the knees, and a short black cloak ; a large hat turned up on one side and surmounted by a red or black plume, red stockings and red shoes. No one ever ventured to appear at court in a more modern dress. Charles VI. adhered to it rigidly, and, if he ever saw a person arrayed otherwise, always exclaimed, “There is one of those cursed Frenchmen.” He also maintained the obsolete custom of keeping a jester with cap and bells. The latter, who was known as “Little Hans,” was a well-known character at court. He was a dwarf, “ugly as a devil,” says Lady Mary Wortley Mon
tagu, and always accompanied the emperor on state occasions. To Charles VI. etiquette was as the breath of life. As early as 1706, when Philip of Anjou, his rival for the crown of Spain, had left Madrid, Charles, to the rage of his English allies, refused to enter the city because he had as yet no state carriage, and it would be contrary to all etiquette to do so without. In 1732 he had engaged to hold an important political conference with Frederick William, King of Prussia. Yet the chief subject of debate at the Austrian state council held before the interview was on the question, whether his imperial majesty should shake hands with the Prussian monarch or not. After long deliberation they came to the conclusion that he ought not to do so, as such a proceeding would inflict a lasting wound on the imperial dignity. Another instance of the stress laid on etiquette is still more amusing. The ceremonial of the court hunting parties forbade any one to touch the imperial quarry save the emperor himself. On one occasion a wild boar, slightly wounded by the emperor's gun, rushed straight at his Majesty, who at the moment happened to be unarmed. One of the court pages, at great personal risk, rushed forward and shot the boar dead. Yet the only reward his gallantry received was a severe reprimand and a fortnight's imprisonment, for having committed so serious a breach of the hunt etiquette. The emperor's day was carefully portioned out. He rose early, heard mass, and held conferences with his ministers till dinner, which was served at one. This meal was a very solemn affair. It took place in the emperor’s private apartments, “on the emperor's side,” as the official language called it. The emperor and empress always sat down to it alone. No one, not even an electoral prince of the German Empire, was considered great enough to dine “on the emperor's side.” The latter was attended by halberdiers and archers in sixteenth century costume. There were numerous regulations about serving the table, and a dish in its progress from the kitchen to the imperial plate had to pass through the hands of twenty-four officials. The emperor always wore his hat during the meal, except when grace was being said. In the afternoon their majesties took a solemn drive in the Prater. On their return, audiences were given to those persons who had applied through the lord chamberlain. His Majesty never hurried, so that petitioners had to wait at least a month before their turn came. This did not apply to the nobility, who were admitted en masse to kiss hands on royal birthdays or “gala days.” The empress in the meantime had retired to her private apartments, where she played cards with her ladies till about six. At this hour the emperor entered, attended by the lord chamberlain, and supper was served. This meal was held “on the empress's side,” i.e. in the empress's private apartments. It was a much less awful ceremony than dinner. Any important visitors present in Vienna could be invited as guests, and the little archdukes and archduchesses were frequently present. Music, of which Charles was extremely fond, was played during the meal, and lively conversation prevailed. The table was entirely served and all the dishes set out by the empress's twelve maids of honor. Soon after supper was concluded the court retired. It must not be supposed that this dull routine prevailed throughout the year. Life at the country palaces of Schönbrunn and Laxenburg was much less strict than at Vienna, where the emperor only resided from October to April. The court routine was, moreover, incessantly varied by festivals and amusements. Great court balls and ridottos were frequently given, when dancing continued till daybreak. A very popular entertainment at court was “The Tavern.” For this, one of the palace saloons was arranged to resemble the parlor of an inn. The imperial couple acted as host and hostess, and presided at the buffet. The guests were all masked and in fancy dress, and, as the emperor and empress were supposed to be incognito, the restraints imposed by the court etiquette were at an end and much fun ensued. A very popular amusement was the sledge racing, which took place at Vienna during the winter. The sledges were gilt and carved with great taste to represent the figures of dragons, serpents, peacocks, or monsters. Each sledge was driven by a member of the nobility accompanied by a lady, both being magnificently attired.
The emperor and empress watched the sledges from a balcony. In the country, great court assemblies were held on the occasion of ladies' shooting matches, which were very popular. The young archduchesses were excellent shots, and frequently obtained the prize. Charles VI., like all the Austrian sovereigns, was, as we have said, passionately fond of music. The choir of the imperial chapel cost 200,000 florins a year. Splendid operas were frequently given at the expense of the court. One of these, witnessed by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “The Enchantments of Alcina,” cost no less than 300,000 florins to put on the stage. It took place al fresco in the gardens of the palace. Unfortunately in the middle of it a storm of rain came on. There was a canopy over the imperial family, but all the other visitors were drenched to the skin. Besides these various distractions great stress was laid on the religious festivals. Charles, like all the Hapsburgs, was an intense devotee. Lent was a terrible season of sackcloth and ashes, and foreign ambassadors groaned over the countless services they had to attend. Charles VI., the centre of this curious world of ceremonial and splendor, was of middle stature and slight frame. He had large brown eyes, a long, straight nose, flabby cheeks, and a hanging underlip. The expression of his features was stern and melancholy. This latter characteristic deepened with advancing years, and to the day of his death Charles religiously observed the tradition that an Austrian emperor never laughs.” His wife was the beautiful Elizabeth of Brunswick. Charles was strongly attached to his white Lizzy, as he used to call her, owing to the wonderful purity of her complexion. In imitation, however, of Louis XIV., he held that no king was complete without a mistress. The lady he fixed on for this honor was a beautiful Italian, Marianna, the wife of his Master of the Horse, Count Althann. She was one of the most fascinat: ing women of her time and was as talented as she was beautiful. The Italian poet, Metastasio, worshipped her as Petrarch did Laura. He fixed his home at Vienna in order to be near her, and is said to have been secretly married to her after her husband's death. The reign of Charles VI. concluded with a disastrous war with the Turks. They captured the great Austrian fortress of Belgrade, the key of Hungary. Charles was terribly affected by this blow. “I shall never survive this disgrace,” said he ; “Belgrade is my death.” His end, however, was really due to over-indulgence in the pleasures of the table. On October 10th, 1740, the emperor, in spite of the warnings of his physicians, went out hunting in a pouring rain. On his return, though suffering from colic, he persisted in eating a large dish of fried mushrooms. He was taken very ill that night, and, though everything was done to save him, expired on October 16th. He left no male heirs, and was therefore succeeded by his eldest daughter, Maria Theresa. The young archduchess who, after a sewere struggle, succeeded in making good her title to the Austrian dominions, was in personal appearance well fitted for her high position. Her figure was tall, stately, and exquisitely proportioned ; her face, a perfect oval, was lighted up by two large gray eyes that sparkled with vivacity; her hair was long and of the brightest gold ; her mouth was beautifully shaped, while a slightly aquiline nose heightened the commanding aspect of her physiognomy. Her manner, though imperious, was lively and gracious, her temper quick but generous and forgiving. With her accession the rigid etiquette, which had characterized the imperial court in the time of Charles VI., was much relaxed. Yet the imperial household was still maintained on a scale of extraordinary splendor. The personal expenses of the empress-queen, as she was usually called, amounted to six million florins a year. Much of this was spent on the great court festivities, which, during the early part of her reign, followed one another with great frequency. Balls given at the palace were often attended by over six thousand guests, suppers and illuminations being provided on the most sumptuous scale. Besides these entertainments Maria Theresa spent 700,000 florins a year on alms and gratuities, and nearly a million
* The term “Austrian Emperor'' is used for the sake of brevity. Charles VI, was “Emperor of Germany” and “Sovereign of the Austrian States.” The latter included a long list of principalities, of which the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary were the most important.
on pensions. She required enormous sum for the large gifts she loved to make to favorite courtiers, and for allowance money for her numerous children. Of these the Archduchess Christina, who married the poverty-stricken Prince Albert of Saxony, obtained immense sums. The Archduke Joseph, who was much annoyed at his mother's prodigality, always spoke of Prince Albert as his dear brother-in-law. The Austrian people really had to pay for all this munificence, Maria Theresa ignoring the fact that in order to pay Paul it was necessary for her to rob Peter. Maria Theresa conducted all the affairs of state with great energy, and spent many hours every day holding conferences and drawing up instructions for her ministers. Her written orders were sometimes very hard to understand, as the empress-queen's handwriting and spelling were of the most primitive character, a common failing of her time. In purely family affairs she was as homely as any hausfrau in a German provincial town. She was an affectionate though very exacting mother to her children, of whom she had sixteen— five sons and eleven daughters. At Wienna she used to see them all three or four times a day. At the country palaces of Laxenburg and Schönbrunn there was not room for the whole family. The youngest children therefore remained in Vienna, and the empress only saw, them once a week. The tutors and teachers had to report on the conduct of their pupils, and there were rewards and punishments just as in any private family. She had a will of iron, and would brook no disobedience. In this respect she frequently erred on the side of harshness, and her children, seeing the hopelessness of resistance, were often driven to deceive and dissemble. She, moreover, maintained her system of authority much too long. The Archduchess Elizabeth, for instance, complained to Sir Robert Keith, the English ambassador, of the restraint in which Maria Theresa kept her unmarried daughters long after they had attained to years of discretion. Unlike the old Austrian sovereigns, Maria Theresa frequently paid visits to favorite courtiers and their wives, with whom she would converse about their family affairs in the most warm-hearted manner. The humblest of her subjects could always obtain access to her at stated times. All this good-natured familiarity, however, did not prevent her keeping a very stern face for persons suspected of political disaffection, a peculiarity in which she resembled the Emperor Francis II. Maria Theresa was a most rigid censor morum, and courtiers suspected of gallantry met with a very cold reception at court. Her rigor in this particular was really due to the bitterness inspired by the conduct of her husband, the Emperor Francis II. The latter had been elected Emperor of Germany in 1745. He had been born Duke of Lorraine. This province, however, had been ceded to France in 1735, Francis receiving in compensation the Italian duchy of Tuscany, the dominion of the extinct Medicis. In person, Francis was tall and handsome. Like many gallant gentlemen of this time, he had been so badly educated that he was unable to read his play-bill at the theatre. In spite of this defect, however, he was a man of considerable culture and attainments. He had travelled all over Europe, and had thus acquired much practical knowledge of the world. He was a patron of art and a collector of pictures and antiquities. In accordance with the fashion of that time, he was an ardent gambler, and occasionally lost heavily at faro. He was also a most assiduous votary of the curious art of alchemy, and spent much time in his laboratory searching for the tincture which would turn all metals into gold, or trying, by the aid of crucibles and burning-glasses, to fuse a number of small diamonds into one large stone. Francis had at first been much attached to his wife. But her homely German habits soon began to pall upon him, and he sought in more fascinating society some relief from the dulness of the Hofburg. According to Count Podewills, the Prussian ambassador, he was a regular Don Juan. But his only declared mistress was the beautiful Princess Auersperg. This lady was a lovely brunette, with brown fluffy hair, bright eyes, and a vivacious manner; she was a most desperate gambler, and often lost heavily at cards; and Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, in his Memoirs, hints that the readiness with which she listened to the emperor's solicitations was largely due to the liberality with which he was ever ready to supply her wants. Maria Theresa, though she gave her husband the title of co-regent of the Austrian states, always refused to"allow him any
real share in the government. He was thus reduced to the unenviable position of a prince consort, for his duchy of Tuscany was managed for him by resident ministers. Francis felt his position keenly. He frequently complained to friends about it. “By the court,” said he bitterly on one occasion, “I mean the empress and her children—I am here only a private person.” It was probably his enforced idleness which made him a trifler and a debauchee. Maria Theresa herself even seems to have noticed this. “Never,” said she once to her lady reader, Madame Greiner, “marry a man who has nothing to do.” Though Francis was prevented from taking any direct share in the government of the Austrian states, his indirect influence on the court and society of Vienna was very great. Francis was a Lorrainer and always spoke French. French thus to a certain extent became the language of the court and of society. With the French language, French ideas, usages, and customs came in also, and tended much to modify the rigor of the old court etiquette and temper the cumbrousness of Austrian social life. In his efforts in this direction Francis was much aided by the celebrated Austrian prime minister of this reign, Prince Kaunitz. This great man, the maker of the famous Austro-French alliance against Prussia, which met with such an ignominious fate in the Seven Years' War, was a very prominent figure in the social life of his time. In personal appearance Kaunitz was tall and spare. His features were well cut and commanding, his eyes bright blue, and his complexion, of which he took as much care as a society belle in her fourth season, as clear as cream. He always wore an enormous periwig, which, in his later years, was fixed just over his eyebrows in order to hide the wrinkles on his forehead. To the powdering of this important article of dress he paid great attention. Every morning he used to walk between two rows of servants each armed with a vase full of differently colored powder. This they used to pour successively over his wig as he passed by them, so that at the end it exhibited a subtle harmony of varied tints which never failed to excite the admiration of beholders. Kaunitz was so sure of his position that he placed himself above the court eti