Count Alexander Hübner
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An Austrian statesman, born 26 Nov., 1811; died 30 July, 1892. He was educated at Vienna, and began his diplomatic service in the Chancery of State, under Prince Metternich. The whole life and work of this great statesman made an indelible impression on his mind and became the ideal of his life. His great talents soon attracted the notice of the keen-eyed Chancellor of State, who sent him on an extraordinary mission to Paris, and rapidly promoted him to the position of attaché of legation in that city (1837), then named him secretary of legation at Lisbon (1841) and finally consul general for Saxony at Leipzig. We may learn from the following lines addressed to him by the prince after the death of Princess Melanie (1854), in what favour he stood in Metternich's household: "You, my dear Hübner, have personally lost in the deceased princess, who was endowed with the noblest gifts of mind and heart, a friend — I might almost say a second mother." When subsequently Metternich's son published his father's life from document (in 8 volumes), it was Hübner who contributed the account of his last days and death.
In the year 1848, a critical period for Austria, we find Hübner always occupying the most dangerous posts. In February he was sent by Metternich to Milan, where he was arrested at the outbreak of the revolution and remained a prisoner for three months. In October, by order of Prince Felix Schwarzenberg, he followed the imperial family to Olmütz, where he was secretary to the prime minister. He prepared the manifestos on occasion of the accession of Emperor Francis Joseph to the Crown. His journal "Ein Jahr meines Lebens" (18 Feb., 1848 to 19 March, 1849) is the best authority on the most momentous happenings of that period. In March, 1849, Hübner was sent to Paris to negotiate with Prince Louis Napoleon, President of the Republic, about Italian affairs. In 1851 he became ambassador at Paris, and remained so until 3 May, 1859. In the two volumes of his journal dealing with this period we find accounts of Napoleon's coup d'état , the rise of the Second French Empire, the Crimean War, the predominance of France in Europe, which in consequence of the Anglo-French Alliance was felt even in China and Japan, and finally the unification of Italy. In 1854 he became baron and in 1857 ambassador to the court of Napoleon. His mission from 1848 to 1859 ended in the famous New Year's greeting of Napoleon III in 1859, so fateful to Hübner and to Austria : "I deplore that our relations with Austria are not as good as I should desire. I beg you, nevertheless, to convey the message to Vienna that my personal regard for the emperor remains always the same". It is true that Rogge (Oesterreich von Vilagos bis zur Gegenwart, I, 539) asserts that Hübner had led so retired a life that he took this greeting for a cordial outpouring of the heart. But as early as 1854 Hübner had written: "How can one sleep with a sense of security when one has to deal with a man who desires to change the map of Europe from day to day, and who, when in a bad humour threatens one with revolution?" For Hübner was well aware that the emperor in his youth had made common cause with the revolutionists in Italy, and that he was under obligations to the sects. Hübner's aim was to render the fulfilment of these obligations difficult; and even impossible, for the emperor.
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For a short time only (21 August to 22 October, 1859) Hübner was minister of police. From 1865 to 1867 he served as ambassador at Rome. His "Sixtus V" was the fruits of his Roman studies. He sought his material exclusively in official sources, preferably in embassy records. The pope who from the humblest condition in life had risen to the highest of dignities, who had completed the organization of the papal Curia, and finished the dome of St. Peter's, and who had proven himself a great diplomat, specially interested Hübner. In 1871 Hübner made a voyage round the world for the purpose of studying "the struggle between nature and civilization on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, the attempt of remarkable men in the Land of the Rising Sun suddenly to propel their nation along the paths of progress, and the secret but obstinate resistance in the Middle Kingdom [ China ] to the entrance of European culture". As Hübner, owing to his social standing, had every opportunity to see what he desired, while his penetration enabled him to perceive the significance of what he saw, the diary of his travels makes most interesting reading. In 1879, on his return home, he became a member of the Upper House, in which he often spoke on the conservative side. He was seventy-two years of age when be set out for India, not, however, by way of usual route through the Suez canal, but around the Cape of Good Hope. His return journey was made by way of Canada. On his return he was raised to the dignity of count (1888). The last years of his life he gave to recollections of the past and to the arrangement of his papers. At last, on 30 July, 1892, he followed into eternity the wife whom he had so greatly mourned, Maria, née von Pilat. His principal works are: "Ein Jahr meines Lebens, 1848-1849" (Leipzig, 1891; tr. Fr., Paris, 1891; tr. It. Milan, 1898); "Neun Jahre der Erinnerungen eines österreichischen Botschafters in Paris unter dem zweiten Kaiserreich, 1851-1859" (2 vols., Berlin, 1904); "Life and Times of Sixtus V" (2 vols., Leipzig, 1871; tr. Fr., 3 vols., Paris, 1870; 2nd ed., 1883; tr. London, 1872; tr. It., Rome, 1887); "Spaziergang um die Welt" (2 vols., Leipzig, 1874; 7th ed., 1891; Fr. tr., 2 vols., Paris, 1873, 5th ed., 1877; Italian, Turin, 1873; Milan, 1877); "Through the British Empire" (2 vols., Leipzig, 1886; 2nd ed., 1891; tr. 2 vols., London, 1886; tr., Fr., 2 vols., Paris, 1886; 2nd ed., 1890).
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