(Page 412) . . . I do not say 'Away from Vienna,' but I am of opinion that the organization and plan of work in this state are wrong, and that their centre must be not in Vienna but in Dalmatia itself. I do not ask that the State should give us money and that we Dalmatians should manage it as we please. No, gentlemen, unfortunately we are not ripe for that. Let Dalmatia still be administered by men from Vienna. Give us one of your best, a capable, modern, energetic man, and he need not be a Dalmatian, we shall not mind if he is a German Austrian. Give us what the great Napoleon gave us, a Dandolo, who in five years did more for the country than Austria in 105 years. I repeat. . . . without regard for nationality: that is a matter of indifference. . . . In our towns during the Middle Ages, the head of the town might never be a native, but always had to be a stranger. Gentlemen, the Government which seeks to further the interests of the State, should take an example from the English. England does not send to its important colonies its most incapable men, does not ask whether the man belongs to an old aristocratic family. . . . Have you an Austrian Cecil Rhodes, a Cromer, a Curzon? If you have, or even men of lesser calibre, then send them to Dalmatia. But give the man to whom you entrust the fate of the province and the task of its regeneration, also the power to effect something: do not make him a mere marionette of the central authorities, who has not even 4 [pounds] at his disposal if a village is burnt down. I am not speaking against Vienna. But do you know, gentlemen, the methods of procedure in Vienna? In 1835 a small road was planned from Almissa eastwards, and after sixty-five years this road was at last built. If one wants to build a church or a harbour in some tiny village, it takes twenty, thirty, forty years, till the plans come back from Vienna, and one is at last free to build. . . . I repeat, the only way to help Dalmatia, is to give a wider sphere of action to the Statthalter--call him Governor or what you will--and to surround him with practical men who know the life of the people. Let the Central Government appoint half these men, and the Diet the other half. Some of them need not be natives; we shall be glad if you send us some of your capable men. . . . It is not a matter of federalism, but of a healthy decentralization, which not only Dalmatia but I believe all the Crown lands want. . . . Just make the experiment with us, and if it succeeds, all the others will be grateful. If you do not care to learn from the English, let us look into the past . . . give us Proconsuls, propraetors, like those of the ancient Romans, men with initiative who were petty rulers. To-day no one can be jealous of the ancient Romans.
It is absolutely necessary to fulfil what has been promised, to give out of State money the sums for Dalmatia's barest needs. It may be objected that it might help itself, that something could be done with provincial funds. Gentlemen, we are not able for this. Give
us land, schools, means of communication, bring us out of the Middle Ages, and then we shall do the rest. It is the State's duty to do this much. To-day--I am ashamed to admit it, but it is the sad truth--Dalmatia has become a land of beggars, through no fault of its own. For centuries it has been systematically plundered and ruined, both by Turks and Venetians, merely to prevent the Turks from reaching the Adriatic coast, which would have been equivalent to the conquest of Italy and other countries too. In our coast towns the Venetian Republic allowed no industry, lest it should compete with Venice; our Hinterland was turned to a desert, lest the Turks should settle there. Our national nobility . . . was rooted out by foreign governments. But the country was not always in so lamentable a condition. I need only remind you of the greatness of Roman Illyria when Salona was one of the greatest industrial towns of the Roman Empire, when the country was intersected by trade roads, when Illyria was a centre of culture for the whole Balkan Peninsula. I need only remind you of the little republic of Ragusa, and of the fact that this country, to-day poor and abandoned, gave to the Roman Empire its wisest organizer, the Emperor Diocletian, to the Church its greatest father, St. Jerome, to the Southern Slav literature its first poet, Gunduhc, to Italian literature the best master of the language, Tomaseo. . . . Our past, our contributions to general culture, are the titles on the basis of which we demand of a Kulturstaat, that it should do its duty towards us. We ask it too, because Austrian Governments have dealt us the last blow. Our fields have decayed in recent years, our cattle industry has gone back compared to the French period, public health is far worse than then. Our little towns, which had no industry but at least a lively trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina, are to-day ruined, because these countries are only connected by railway with distant Hungary, and thus the main arteries of our towns are severed. Remember too the wine duty on the commercial treaty with Italy, by which we were sacrificed to the interests of the other Crown lands and lost millions.
What we ask of the state to-day, is not alms, not a present, but compensation for the damage which this state has done us. Above all, we demand the necessary railway connexion: without which we cannot live or develop economically. They say, Hungary does not allow that. But if Austria only chooses, she has means to compel Hungary to agree to Dalmatia's railway connexion. Hungary is surrounded by Austria, has no other way to West and North Europe; and there lies Austria's strength and Hungary's weakness, which we can use for our purposes, which are not provincial, but state aims. But we see that the state has not the serious win to help us in this way. Formerly our good people thought the Magyars were responsible for everything; the poor Austrian Government would build the railways, but Hungary will not allow it. To-day
no one is so naive as to believe that. For we see that Austria can carry through more difficult and important things when she chooses, even against the will of an overwhelming majority in the Magyar Parliament. If that is not done in Dalmatia's favour, we must draw the logical conclusion, that there is no serious intention, but merely sweet words and fine promises.
They say: 'After all, we need Hungary.' But we Dalmatians ask the state, 'Does Austria not need Dalmatia, or the ten million Serbo-Croats?' I think this state needs Dalmatia, that without a province whose coast is 500 kilometres long and dominates the Adriatic with its hundred harbours, it cannot maintain its present position. Without Dalmatia, we say, you have no sea and no sailors; for of the Austrian sailors, but for the Croats of Istria and Croatia, two-thirds are Dalmatians, who serve two years longer than other men, and even in future will have to serve longer than the others, because in Austria there are not many such smart recruits. If then thousands of our young people must serve two years extra, in order to defend the coast and this state's highest interests, it is only just that the state should give something as compensation. . . .
Gentlemen, it is not enough to be able to exercise material brutal force over a country. A state must endeavour to win over all peoples and provinces in its territory; is it possible then, that the Dalmatian population should be grateful and devoted to this Government, and even (I say it quite openly) to this state, when we are left 100 years in this sad condition? There is no Irredentism in Dalmatia, neither on Serbo-Croat nor on Italian side, and this last you will surely believe from me as a Slav. But it is not the Servian nor the Italian Governments which work against the interests of this state but . . . the Austrian Government, which by neglecting the country directly produces discontent against it. Our peasants emigrate to America, to Australia, to New Zealand, to Canada, and some return, after seeing in the great world how one lives in modern states. It is these people who create, and inevitably create, a permanent discontent with present conditions. What can be the feelings of these thousands who, in order not to starve, have had to leave homes and families, and seek their living abroad. . . .
This discontent cannot be cured by 'Flogging Patents,'(503) nor by review articles,(504) least of all by High Treason trials (applause), but the state must at last do its duty in matters of culture and in its own interests remove discontent. Millions will now be expended on Dreadnoughts, but it might perhaps be better for the defence of the state to expend these millions, I will not say on Dalmatia,
503. A phrase invented to describe the Imperial Patent which inaugurated the absolutist Bach regime (1850-1859).
504. Probably a reference to the Oesterreichische Rundschau's fierce attacks upon Dalmatia.
but on the future sailors of these Dreadnoughts. It is certainly more useful to the state, to satisfy the country and to give it means of existence, than, as still happens, to disburse money from various secret sources for military spies, who watch for years for the alleged smuggle of weapons from Italy, merely to elicit the fact that no weapons are imported, but that there is a lively export trade in human flesh, Dalmatia's sole article of export to-day. . . . Dalmatia is getting depopulated. Quite close to its chief town Spalato lies the island of Brazza, Austria's largest island. On it the fields are already lying fallow, a large section of the population is already missing. . . . In the interests of the state it is regrettable that this population, so smart, so honest, so hard-working and saving, cannot live at home, but has to emigrate and help other states, as, for instance, in the case of Punta Arena, the southernmost town in the world, where the inhabitants of Brazza form a relative majority of the population and are the smartest workmen, as has been repeatedly admitted by the Chilian Government. It is a pity that the state does nothing to check this misery. We cannot be satisfied at the state regulating two or three torrents a year, if hundreds of other torrents do a hundred times greater damage. . . . One cannot wait one or two centuries until the 300 or 400 villages which have no schools get one new school a year. . . . We hear recently of sympathy felt in various quarters for Dalmatia. We are thankful for the sympathy extended to us by Government organs and by members of this House; but we cannot live on sympathy alone. Besides, these are dangerous sympathies. Dalmatia is regarded as something exotic, it is only regarded from the standpoint of archaeology and tourist traffic. We have no wish to play the part of an archaeological cemetery or an "Indian reservation" with the authentic Dalmatian Red Indians in their gay costume. No, gentlemen, we want to be able to live and work, to earn our living honestly by agriculture, trade and industry and thus serve the interests of the state as a whole. The necessary conditions are there; for if the torrents are regulated and the swamps drained, we could not only have enough corn and bread for our own use, but could even export it. We have a splendid situation on the sea, with so many hundred harbours, only five or six hours by steamer from Italy; a rich Hinterland--Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia; admirable trade conditions; the biggest and strongest water power in Europe, so that industry might be promoted as nowhere else. Just consider all these branches of economic life, the rich supplies of minerals, the sea with its fisheries, and you might say, that could be the richest land in Europe. And this might be attained at a relatively small expense, by investments which would bear a hundredfold to the state. Gentlemen, in fulfilment of my duty, I have endeavoured to show the Government the means of helping Dalmatia. Not only capital and investments are needed, but also organization and a
sensible plan . . . not made in Vienna, but transplanted to the country itself. And so long as the Government and every future Government fails to fulfil this duty towards my native country, I shall vote against the Budget proposals . . . just as I shall gladly acknowledge the Government, if it helps us with deeds, instead of words and promises. . . . In my opinion we (Dalmatian deputies) shall best serve our country, if we follow the lines I have indicated, with all possible energy and without regard to the Government or any one at all. I believe that we shall thus also best serve the national cause of the Serbo-Croats, to whom Dalmatia belongs as one of their noblest provinces, and who, will certainly be stronger if Dalmatia is freed from its present wretched conditions." (Loud applause.)