Address at the jubilee celebration of the Emancipation of the Hungarian press, March 26, 1899
The Ministry and members of Parliament were present. The subject was the "Ausgleich" – i. e., the arrangement for the apportionment of the taxes between Hungary and Austria. Paragraph 14 of the ausgleich fixes the proportion each country must pay to the support of the army. It is the paragraph which caused the trouble and prevented its renewal.
Now that we are all here together, I think it will be a good idea to arrange the ausgleich. If you will act for Hungary I shall be quite willing to act for Austria, and this is the very time for it. There couldn't be a better, for we are all feeling friendly, fair-minded, and hospitable now, and, full of admiration for each other, full of confidence in each other, full of the spirit of welcome, full of the grace of forgiveness, and the disposition to let bygones be bygones.
Let us not waste this golden, this beneficent, this providential opportunity. I am willing to make any concession you want, just so we get it settled. I am not only willing to let grain come in free, I am willing to pay the freight on it, and you may send delegates to the Reichsrath if you like. All I require is that they shall be quiet, peaceable people like your own deputies, and not disturb our proceedings.
If you want the Gegenseitigengeldbeitragendenverhältnismäßigkeiten rearranged and readjusted I am ready for that. I will let you off at twenty-eight per cent. – twenty-seven – even twenty-five if you insist, for there is nothing illiberal about me when I am out on a diplomatic debauch.
Now, in return for these concessions, I am willing to take anything in reason, and I think we may consider the business settled and the ausgleich ausgegloschen at last for ten solid years, and we will sign the papers in blank, and do it here and now.
Well, I am unspeakably glad to have that ausgleich off my hands. It has kept me awake nights for anderthalbjahr.
But I never could settle it before, because always when I called at the Foreign Office in Vienna to talk about it, there wasn't anybody at home, and that is not a place where you can go in and see for yourself whether it is a mistake or not, because the person who takes care of the front door there is of a size that discourages liberty of action and the free spirit of investigation. To think the ausgleich is abgemacht at last! It is a grand and beautiful consummation, and I am glad I came.
The way I feel now I do honestly believe I would rather be just my own humble self at this moment than paragraph 14.