State-Building, Imperial Science, and Bourgeois Careers in the Habsburg Monarchy in the 1848 Generation: The Cases of Karl Czoernig (1804–1889) and Carl Alexander von Hügel (1795/96–1870)
University of Graz
The article situates itself in the broader context of the transition between the Ancien Régime and the revolutionary year 1848 by exploring the new social spaces opening up for a middle-class in the making from the 1820s onward. It focuses on two representatives of this new class, Karl von Czoernig and Carl Alexander von Hügel, both of whom managed to climb the social ladder between c. 1820 and 1870. Men like Czoernig and Hügel were involved with the events of 1848 in manifold ways. Czoernig, for instance, was a member of the Frankfurt Parliament, while Hügel helped Metternich escape the country and flee to England. Yet in the wider perspective, it was not a few turbulent days in 1848 that made a difference in the lives of the members of the larger emerging middle-class to which these two men belonged. The revolution(s) had another effect on both men’s lives: Hügel made a reappearance as an imperial diplomat and started a second career with a distinctly conservative flavor. The top-ranking civil servant Czoernig, in contrast, ruined his professional career in the long run, although the consequences of his participation in the events of 1848 were not felt until the early 1860s, when dusk fell on neo-absolutist liberalism. This article examines a panorama of new options and opportunities for members of the well-educated bourgeois in an era of transition, and it suggests some conclusions concerning the strategies put to use by the emerging middle-class.
Keywords: Habsburg Monarchy, civil service, middle-class, bourgeoisie, social history, nineteenth century
Who were the men of 1848 in Central Europe?* Was there even such a thing as a generation of 1848? If one seeks answers to these questions, one must dig deeper into the institutional and personal continuities that link the first and second halves of the nineteenth century in the Habsburg Empire. An understanding of these continuities sheds light on processes of state-building and the rise of a bourgeois middle class, the worldviews of which were claiming ground in imperial notions of the modern state.1
The following article proceeds on the assumption that there actually was a generation of 1848, made up roughly of men born between c. 1795 and 1810 who shared a certain horizon of education, experiences, and relationships both with one another and with the state and its institutions. This generation included not only those directly involved with the manifold events in the revolutionary year, but also men whose lives were in many ways affected. Members of the generation of 1848 were not necessarily in favor of more political participation or liberalism. Some, indeed, were strictly opposed, and some were more or less indifferent. Yet (and this is the decisive point) their lives and life choices were affected by the changes that led to and were ushered in by the revolutions, and they all had to deal with 1848 in one way or another. This article relates this generation of 1848 to three aspects that have increasingly received scholarly attention in recent years: (a) the question of networks in an asserted “world of empires” and the (b) production of scientific knowledge, in large part by members of an emerging middle class, specifically in the (c) context of state-building processes.2
This text summarizes the current state of research in an ongoing project which seeks to reconstruct and analyze a collective biography of Central European civil servants between c. 1820 and c. 1870. The endeavor aims to produce a thorough investigation of the personal, professional, and educational backgrounds of these individuals, the process of social change in which they participated, and the manifold networks of which they were a part.3 Here, I will present two men who were active in what was then known as the “Austrian Empire.” Their cases shed light on larger imperial practices and the mid-century construction of imperial spaces.4 At first glance, Czoernig and von Hügel had little in common, apart from the fact that both served the Habsburg Empire at one point or another; however, I argue that together these two men’s careers offer illustrative examples of the field of professional choices, options, and chances to rise in the social hierarchy for members of the middle class in the empire. To a certain extent, their lives complement each other and cover a broader range of the array of bourgeois, or, to a growing extent, middle class backgrounds in the first half of the nineteenth century.5
Christopher Clark characterizes the decade after 1848 as a “European Revolution in Government.”6 I argue that the emerging middle classes in Central Europe and beyond acted as catalyzers in the setup and flow of this process.7 They provided synchronization and know-how transfer across European states and empires, they built and maintained crucial formations of administrative and scientific knowledge, and they laid the foundation stones for what was to become the “modern state” of the 1850s.
Science and the Modern State
The past few years have seen a certain reassessment of the first half of the nineteenth century in Central Europe, although the pre-March decades have received relatively little scholarly attention compared to works on the second half of the eighteenth or the nineteenth centuries.8 A number of studies, however, highlight subtle lines of continuity, showing the elements of the late eighteenth century on which the generation of 1848 could build.9 The rank smell of reactionary rule and philistine Biedermeier is slowly coming off the period between 1815 and 1848 and giving way to a more differentiated and balanced assessment.10
I argue that emerging middle classes in Central Europe and beyond were laying the groundwork for the rebuilding of the political, economic, social, and cultural arena after 1848 during most of the first half of the nineteenth century, gradually replacing older elites in what has been coined the “imperial intermediaries” by Burbank and Cooper.11 Preeminent members of this bourgeoisie were smoothly blending the ambition of the well-educated social riser with the eloquence, manners, and social instinct of older aristocratic elites, whose etiquette and networking habits and skills they were simulating masterfully. The services of these men, whose skills and competences concerning the systematic production and management of knowledge contributed crucially to the shaping of modernity, soon would become indispensable, not only in imperial administrations.
Several aspects of this process deserve attention. First, I direct the scope of my study toward the term “transimperialism,” and I avoid the use of the term “transnational” outside a nationalized context. By using this term, I embrace what has recently been argued by Bernhard Schär, who contends that imperial rule in the nineteenth century created social spaces between European empires, spaces which existed inside and outside Europe, extending across national and imperial borders.12 Transimperial networks allowed for the mobility of members of certain social classes, yet, essentially, they also provided for the circulation of (scientific) knowledge. I relate the study of such networks to the processes of state building by showing how they contributed to the shaping of a new political and administrative arena in Central Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century, an arena which continued to exist well after 1848.13
Second, I scrutinize how new manners of the production and distribution of knowledge and novel concepts of how (scientific) knowledge could be used allowed for the social and political participation and rise of a large group of (relative) newcomers.14 The bourgeois experts that made up a considerable part of European state bureaucracies by the middle of the nineteenth century in many cases represent this type of the homo novus; yet at the same time, they formed the nucleus of a social middle class in the making, which created a new social space for people coming from below as well as for déclassés from the former gentry and lower aristocracy. The major resource of people joining this milieu was their education, professional training, and development of practical and theoretical knowledge, which was frequently important to state administration.15 Yet the “bourgeois world” shared a common set of ideas, values, and ambitious goals across many (though certainly not all) social delimitations and imperial and state borders.16 I argue that not only the bourgeoisie but the entire middle class in the making transcended key processes of state-building in Europe and successfully affected the renegotiation of political participation among established and new stakeholders in the middle of the nineteenth century.
And third, I analyze how connections across empires and a new class of imperial bureaucrats worked to build the modern state and how they made the modern state work for them. How was the unprecedented shift in political representation and participation which took place in the second half of the nineteenth century, when rulers had to accept parliaments and constitutional rights, related to this?17 Clearly, this shift has to be interpreted in the wider context of a long-term historical process, which started in the late eighteenth century and transformed the entire knowledge base, upon which states operated. During this process, civil servants, members of the lower aristocracy, military land surveyors, bourgeois intellectuals, and skilled workers all over Europe exchanged theoretical and practical knowledge in many different fields, including cartography, statistics, and economy, and acquired a deeper understanding of the fundamental and general problems modern statehood had to tackle.18
This article reconstructs the lives, achievements, failures, and encounters of two representatives of this loose group of essentially middle-class bureaucrats: Karl Freiherr Czoernig-Czernhausen (1804–89) and Carl Alexander Freiherr von Hügel (1795–1870). Both men originated from middle-class backgrounds and spent at least parts of their respective professional careers in the civil (and in the case of Hügel also in the military) service. Both men contributed considerably to creating the scientific discourse of their time in more than one field. And both, Czoernig and Hügel, were known as “literates” as well: they wrote and published books addressing a wider audience. Finally, both men were politically active and well established in the leading class of the Habsburg Empire.
Czoernig was 44 years old in 1848, Hügel was in his early fifties, either 52 or 53 years old, his precise date of birth cannot be determined. In 1848 Czoernig served in the Frankfurt Parliament, while Hügel was helping Metternich to escape from Vienna and to flee to England.19 Neither man has yet received an extensive biography.20 Yet there is a considerable literature on both of them: Czoernig’s life as a top-ranking civil servant in the pre-March era and during neo-absolutism has particularly attracted the attention of historians interested in Central European statistics in the 1840s and 1850s. Hügel’s life has gained the interest of historians of science as a traveler and collector. Other aspects in the lives of these two men have attracted less interest: Hügel’s career as an officer in the service of the Austrian army as well as his activities in the diplomatic service go unnoticed by most historical research. The same applies to Czoernig, whose work as a politician and author has been overshadowed by the role he played in statistics. Only his work as a linguist earned some attention.21
I argue that it requires a broader and more balanced approach towards the lives and activities of persons such as Czoernig and Hügel to better assess and analyze their work and impact in the context of the first half of the nineteenth century. By reading these two figures primarily as scientists and somehow secondarily as civil servant and officer respectively traveler, the more global dimension of their activities is inevitably missed. It can be observed quite frequently that early nineteenth-century characters with a similarly rich portfolio of professional and non-professional activities are categorized and, therefore, analyzed and interpreted exclusively in the context of one category. Yet, it appears quite striking that many public characters of this generation engaged in a surprisingly broad range of activities, which makes it extremely difficult to place them in a single ‘professional’ denomination.22 There were authors working in the civil service, military officers publishing maps in their spare time, and traveling scientists, who later ended up in the diplomatic field.23 Such ‘careers’ were the norm rather than an exception, which prompts the question why this was so. Clearly, the normative categories and logics of the later nineteenth century, when (professional) fields such as politics, civil service, literature and science were more clearly delimited do not fit well for the analysis and description of the first half of the nineteenth century.
Taking this into consideration, I suggest opening up the analytical framework used to describe and analyze bourgeois agency in Central Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. Taking the lives of Karl Czoernig and Carl Alexander von Hügel as illustrative examples, I identify the connections between the different fields of activity in which they engaged in order to come to a broader assessment of the significance of these connections. I start with the observation that the boundaries between different fields in the production and use of knowledge (science, literature, politics, military) were relatively permeable and these fields were overlapping in the period before 1848, which made it possible for agents such as Czoernig and Hügel to move between different arenas and build connections and networks in a Latourian sense. This appears to be a key characteristic of this epoch, yet its consequences have not been given adequate attention in recent scholarship.24
When Czoernig was nominated to serve as head of administrative statistics in the Department of Administrative Statistics (Direktion der administrativen Statistik) in 1841, for example, the procedure was not overtly formalized, and Czoernig’s formal qualifications were not discussed.25 Czoernig was already a well-known and respected authority in terms of the production, administration and distribution of state and public knowledge, yet he was not an academic statistician in the pure sense of the word. On the other hand, at the time, the sphere of work of the position to which he was appointed was not very clearly defined if judged by later standards. 43 years later, on the other hand, when Theodor Inama-Sternegg took charge of more or less the same office, it was of utmost importance that he primarily fulfill the formal scientific qualifications for the job.26 In his case, Inama-Sternegg was a trained statistician, at least to the extent to which one could study statistics in the 1870s and 1880s, but, more importantly, his work was recognized and appreciated by an international yet at the same time still transimperial scientific community of statisticians. Inama-Sternegg’s predecessor, however, had been an experienced and trustworthy high-ranking civil servant, who had served in this position for little more than two years. Before him, Adolf Ficker, a student and protégé of Czoernig’s who had even fewer formal qualifications than Czoernig himself, had been in charge of the office.
The point is that both Czoernig and Ficker could oversee a critical office in charge of state statistics for extended periods of time. Both were experienced men and had enjoyed generalist’s educations: They had undergone a complete course of universalist secondary school education and had also been trained in legal studies. As late as the 1870s, jurists and historians socialized in state administration could well lead statistical offices, even those of the Habsburg Empire, which at the time were among such leading institutions worldwide. Both Czoernig and Ficker played important roles in the most important international board of scientific statistics at the time, the International Statistical Congress. Not only were they renowned and respected experts, they exercised considerable agency and power in the definition and execution of statistical standards. Yet, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that both Czoernig and Ficker followed broad agendas, which went far beyond statistics. Czoernig found the time to write the two most important books on the condition and development of the Habsburg state in the 1850s and Ficker devoted substantial efforts and energy to the development of census statistics that would exclude any reference to language or ethnic belonging.
In the 1870s, this began to change as professional and academic training in statistics became an increasingly compulsory prerequisite for work in the field. Whereas Czoernig and later to a lesser extent Ficker enjoyed the liberty of occupying themselves with a large number of different fields of interest, this became less and less possible in the 1870s. Scientific gatekeepers were put in place to assure that states’ statistical knowledge met certain requirements of objectivity.27 States which failed to comply with this standard risked losing recognition as “modern” states.28
Thus, the nomination of Theodor Inama-Sternegg marked the end of an era in the production of state knowledge. He took office as a statistical scientist, his only secondary occupation being his activity as a university teacher at the department of statistics at the University of Vienna. Inama-Sternegg kept his distance from the state, despite being a high ranking civil servant. He put science first, and his understanding of his role and profession might well be considered symptomatic for a process of crystallization (or in the terminology of Max Weber, professionalization) which had begun in the 1840s and came to an end in the 1880s, when clear borders between different fields of knowledge-related activities (politics, science, literature, civil service) were established. Men like Czoernig and von Hügel not only could and did switch among fields which were far from being clearly delimitated in the era between 1830 and 1860, they were also able to make strategic use of their mobility and agility to act competently in different yet in most cases adjacent or associated fields. Unlike Inama-Sternegg, they did not need to keep ostentatious distance from the state, which gave them authority. Only decades later, in the 1880s, did proximity to the state pose a potential threat to a scientist’s reputation as independent and objective.
Czoernig and von Hügel not only moved between different fields of knowledge and knowledge production. They also circulated among different regional and imperial affiliations. Both men seized opportunities to engage on different levels of the state (in the case of von Hügel, also in different imperial spheres) and oscillate around the states’ inner domains at changing distances. As will be shown, Czoernig proved a highly capable administrator on the provincial level in Lombardy and Trieste as well as on the Central State level in Vienna. Hügel meanwhile proved an officer of great value between Scandinavia and Sicily, and he later continued his career with the Habsburg Empire as an ambassador in Florence and Brussels, after having traveled to South Asia and Oceania, under the protection and to the profit of the British Empire.
Karl Freiherr Czoernig-Czernhausen
Czoernig was born into a bourgeois family in Tschernhausen (today Černousy in the Czech Republic) in northwestern Bohemia in 1804, the son of an administrator of an estate of the family Clam-Gallas.29 His mother was the daughter of a textile manufacturer. After completing grammar school, Czoernig studied law (to be more precise law, governance, and public policy, or Rechts- und Staatswissenschaften) at the universities of Prague and Vienna. Central European scholarship and examination regulations in the early nineteenth century considered law a very broad matter and therefore obliged students to study a comprehensive curriculum, which included many aspects of contemporary political economy and political science.30 Czoernig was an excellent student, with a keen interest in all sorts of statistics, statistical reasoning, and representation of data. Supposedly, while he was still a student at law school, his academic teacher Joseph Ritter von Kudler considered him a “future Dupin of Austria.”31
Having completed his studies, Czoernig joined the civil service in Trieste in 1828. While pursuing his professional career, he started publishing what was then categorized as literature in the widest sense of the word. His Topographisch-historisch-statistische Beschreibung von Reichenberg. Nebst einem Anhange: Die Beschreibung von Gablonz enthaltend successfully combined different forms of knowledge. Czoernig delved into topography, moved on to history, added an extensive chapter on trade and the professions, and finished with “the circumstances and the movement of the population” of the Bohemian town of Reichenberg/Liberec, which was near where he was born and raised. The study was comprehensive, comprising more than 200 pages, yet it was just the first in a long line of similar publications to come. It appeared in 1829. Two years later, in 1831, Czoernig moved from Trieste to Milan, where he integrated well into the intellectual life of the Lombardian capital and soon became the secretary of Governor Count Hartig.32
Czoernig spent almost ten years in Milan, not only as a relatively high-ranking member of the administration, but also as a very productive author, scholar, topographer, and statistician. In sheer numbers, his output was impressive; it included further works on the topography and trade of parts of northern Italy, including again statistical inquiries, but also travelogues and analyses of political events. Czoernig’s work was based to a high degree on original data which he himself had gathered, and it reflects in parts an enormous degree of independent research.33 His social fabric included politicians, scholars, and members of the Lombardian bourgeoisie. Czoernig mastered Italian to a remarkable degree, and the extent to which he was able to integrate into the contemporary intellectual life of Milan has lately been assessed as extremely high.34
In 1841, Czoernig moved to Vienna, where he became head of the Department of Administrative Statistics, then a part of the Court of Auditors (k.k. General Rechnungs-Directorium). At age 36, he had collected a number of distinctions and memberships. He had become a 2nd class Knight of the Ducal Order of St. Louis of Lucca, an Honorary Member of the Milan Brera Academy and the Athenians of Bergamo and Brescia, but also of the Austrian Lloyd, which at the time was a relatively young shipping company (founded only in 1833), but which would soon become a global player. He was a corresponding member of the Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences, the Patriotic Economic Society of Bohemia, and the Imperial and Royal Moravian-Silesian Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Nature, and Regional Studies. He was also a full member of the Patriotic Association for the Encouragement of Industriousness in Bohemia and the Lower Austrian Trade Association.35 This list might be considered proof of Czoernig’s sociality, yet at the same time it demonstrates the extent of his range of different activities and interests and the social, political, economic, scientific, and artistic network, stretched from northern Italy across the Lower Austrian heartlands of the Habsburg Empire to Bohemia, Silesia, and Moravia.
As an administrative statistician, Czoernig started from the beginning. His academic training did not particularly qualify him for the job, yet he had an advantage over better-qualified academics, who might have represented competition for him.36 Czoernig had practical experience and had shown a considerable degree of creativity when it comes to using numbers and numerical descriptions of the social world. He developed a close relationship with his superior Karl Friedrich Kübeck Freiherr von Kübau, which turned out to be useful in the years to come, as Kübeck was able to increase Czoernig’s scope of action. Over the course of the 1840s, Czoernig was busy with the re-dimensioning and reorganization of the Department of Administrative Statistics, which grew considerably in the years leading up to 1848. After 1843, for a time he wrote less, but Czoernig explored new fields of activity and further expanded his network. He became involved with the Capitalien- und Rentenversicherungsanstalt (capital and pension insurance institution), the Vienna-Gloggnitz-Railway, and in particular the administration of the Donau-Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft (Danube Steamship Company), which had begun to flourish at the time.37 He also started to climb the ranks of state administration, and by 1846 he had been promoted Hofrath.
In 1848, his Bohemian electoral district nominated him to serve as its representative in the Frankfurt Parliament, although he had not applied for the position. In Frankfurt, he took a moderate conservative stance when he joined the Café Milani fraction. His fellow parliamentarians mandated him to voice their position in a memorandum, which he did before withdrawing from the Parliament and returning to Vienna, where new tasks awaited him. In the course of the reorganization of the state administration in the wake of 1848, his entire department became part of the newly founded Ministerium für Handel, Gewerbe und öffentliche Bauten (Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Public Buildings). Moving the Department of Administrative Statistics from the Court of Auditors into a Ministry brought Czoernig much closer to the central domains of the modern state. He was promoted to Sections-Chef (head of a department) and thus became a high-ranking civil servant, and he soon had to assume further duties in the ministry. In 1850, he was sent to Trieste, where he worked until 1852 on the construction of a new institution, the Central-Seebehörde (Central Sea Authority). He was also in charge of the Zolldepartment (Customs Department) and the Bauarchiv (building archive). The latter function included responsibility for the further development of the railway and canal network, but also for historical monuments.
Little is known at the moment about how Czoernig managed to deal with the sheer number of duties he had to fulfill, although his overall performance seems to have been more than satisfactory. Waltraud Heindl’s work Gehorsame Rebellen offers some information that is helpful here. She shows convincingly that civil servants in the Habsburg Empire toward the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth were hardly overworked. It is remarkable that the situation in the protestant lands of Central Germany seems to have been quite the contrary at the time.38 Even if one assumes that the situation of civil servants working for the Zentralstellen had not deteriorated significantly by the late 1840s and the early 1850s, Czoernig clearly must have had outstanding organizational skills and must have been quite effective in managing the tasks that he had assumed. In addition to the broad range of activities and duties that he had to deal with in the early 1850s, he was still in charge of the Department of Administrative Statistics. Its composition and the way in which it functioned provide some insight into how Czoernig actually worked. He had been successful in establishing and enlarging the department, which had been founded in 1829 with only a handful of clerks borrowed from the Court of Auditors.39
By the early 1850s, Czoernig had at least two well-qualified and trustworthy men in his department who could take charge of larger tasks and act on their own initiative: Adolph Ficker and Gustav Adolph Schimmer. In 1855, Czoernig published his Ethnographie der österreichischen Monarchie (Ethnography of the Austrian Monarchy) in three volumes, a project he had been working on for fourteen years. The most interesting part of the publication consisted of a comprehensive map featuring the results of what at the time was the most detailed and thorough investigation into the languages spoken in the monarchy. Czoernig had not only collaborated closely with the Militärgeographisches Institut (Department of Military Cartography), which by that time was performing the enormous land survey which had been begun by Emperor Francis II/I almost half a century earlier in 1806,40 he had also made vast use of other resources of the military and the administration by querying civil servants and sending officers out on field research missions. It is thus difficult to draw a dividing line between the realms of the private and the professional in the activities in which Czoernig indulged or involved himself, so difficult, indeed, that these two categories perhaps cannot be applied meaningfully in his case. There are a few similar examples, which highlight the degree to which private resources and state resources were put to use in pursuit of a single goal, for instance the Scheda-Karte (Scheda-map).41 Modern statehood in the making provided an enormous testing ground, and the relationship between this new notion of a state under construction and its bourgeois (civil as well as military) servants had to be defined in an uncountable series of steps and encounters.
The character of Czoernig’s Ethnographie reflected the conditions under which it had been produced. Officially a grand piece of private scholarship, it could not have been written without the support provided by the state, as the gathering of the data it presented reflected an enormous effort on the part of the administration’s and the military’s personnel, achieved most likely not only during the service hours of those involved. The result of this effort was a three-volume magisterial work featuring something between private scholarship, science in the widest sense of the word, and official information and data on Imperial Austria.42 A little later, Czoernig published another piece, Oesterreichs Neugestaltung 1848–1858, in which he used statistics that he had not included in his Ethnographie and defined the Habsburg Empire once more as a state, which was inevitably multinational due to its position at a point where three large peoples met, its topography (which matched the different peoples’ respective characters each in particularly favorable ways), and the degree of profit these three tribes (Volksstämme) gained from each other.43 Not only did Czoernig employ a narrative that interwove the long-term historical development of each of the three tribes he had identified as primordial, he also constructed a massive and integrative narration of 1850s Imperial Austria that legitimized Habsburg rule and central administration on two levels. It was cast as natural insofar as topography was involved, and from the perspective of the social moment, Habsburg rule was characterized as harmonious, since the state in its condition at the time represented the fruit of a long, shared history.
Czoernig’s literary work of the 1850s, which combined rulers’ interests with private scholarship and could, at least in parts, stake claim to scientific objectivity by contemporary standards, offers an outstanding example of how the Bürgertum (bourgeoisie) got involved with the state-building project in the 1850s. Men of Czoernig’s class invested substantial efforts and resources into the modern state in the making, though this could mean significant risk. (I will come back to the strategies that were employed to avert risk a little bit later.)
In the mid-1850s, Czoernig reached the peak of his career. At the head of the statistical department of the states’ central administration, he successfully participated in launching a series of International Statistical Congresses, which allowed for the exchange of statistical data and standards among different countries.44 The first congress took place in Brussels in 1853, the second in Paris in 1855, and in 1857, Vienna became the stage of the international gathering of the most important statisticians of the time.45 The Habsburg Empire’s administrative statistics appear to have been at the top in the 1850s. Yet it is quite likely that statistics were not the focus of Czoernig’s attention at the time.46 His position and responsibilities in the Ministry had a far larger scope, though Czoernig seems to have considered the Department of Administrative Statistics a “center of calculation,” which he used as a resource in order to collect and administrate data and build structured knowledge on the different domains with which he was dealing (infrastructure and buildings, but also financial matters).47 In the first half of the 1850s, Czoernig’s role in the making of the modern state was quite impressive. He was in charge of the setup of a railway system and the drafting of a legal framework for the latter, and as noted before, between 1850 and 1852, he worked in Trieste, where he oversaw the development of the Central-Seebehörde. He was also responsible for practically everything that had to do with the material cultural heritage of the Monarchy and its public building infrastructure.48 His duties went beyond the borders of the Kaiserstaat (Imperial Austria), as he had to take over diplomatic missions as well, for instance financial matters which took him to Amsterdam, Paris, and London in 1854.49
As mentioned earlier, Czoernig blended into the Lombardian bourgeoisie of the 1830s smoothly. He seems to have been no less at ease in the milieus of diplomacy and an emerging international scientific scene. A classically educated polyglot, Czoernig shared a broad background of knowledge and common references with other members of a transimperial bourgeois class, which had grown considerably in the first half of the nineteenth century. Men like the Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet and the Prussian historian and statistician Friedrich Wilhelm Schubert had much more in common with people outside their respective state’s borders than they did with any other large group in their own societies. Between 1830 and 1850, members of this class had become more important for modernizing states, and rulers had become increasingly dependent on these creators and administrators of the knowledge central to the conduct of the state. By the early 1850s, men like Czoernig brokered their respective rulers’ interests among themselves, which appears to have opened new room for maneuver for bourgeois civil servants.50
By the late 1850s, Czoernig’s light began to fade, though most probably not because of any mistakes he had made. In 1859, the Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Public Buildings was disbanded, and as a consequence Czoernig lost most of his responsibilities, except for the Department of Administrative Statistics, which was again attached to the Court of Auditors, which meant this time that statistics was put at a greater distance from the state’s central authorities. To a certain extent, it was cut off from a lot of the information it had processed in the 1850s. Czoernig managed to set up a new board, the k.k. statistische Central-Commission (Imperial and Royal Central Statistical Committee) in 1863, yet his retirement in 1865 raised suspicions that his withdrawal had to do less with his weakened health (this was his claim) and more to do with disappointment concerning his new and reduced role in the civil service.51 He had been one of the faces of “neoabsolutist” rule,52 and in the years leading up to the Compromise of 1867, the bureaucracy developed a tendency to purge itself of high-profiled protagonists of the rigid era of the 1850s, which grew more and more unpopular.53
Czoernig retired to Gorizia, where he spent the remaining 24 years of his life. He intensified his research into the history, linguistics, and archeology of the region, and he began to pursue his literary ambitions again. When Czoernig died in 1889, he left behind an impressively diverse and rich oeuvre, covering roughly half a dozen of what had by the late 1880s become clearly defined scientific disciplines, a number of works which at the time would have been classified belles lettres or literature, and the fruits of a long and successful career in the civil service of the Habsburg Empire. To a certain extent, Czoernig had been made to pay for his strong exposure during the neoabsolutist 1850s, yet when he died at the age of 85, his contemporaries had difficulty fitting the complexity, richness, and diversity of his career into a single narrative. Czoernig was among the last of his kind. Even Ficker, little more than ten years his junior, enjoyed significantly fewer liberties in his career. The bourgeois class of the 1880s was more structured. Its members had clear professional careers, and they recognized the clear boundaries between one’s occupation and one’s private life.
Carl Alexander Anselm Freiherr von Hügel
Whereas Czoernig’s life has been analyzed from different perspectives, things are very different with von Hügel. There is much less literature on the latter. Born either in 1795 or 1796 in Regensburg, he was the son of a diplomat who had entered the service of the Habsburg emperor in January 1794.54 There, Johann Aloys Joseph von Hügel rose quickly and soon became a plenipotentiary. His son, Carl, enjoyed private tutoring and a Catholic education, before he went to law school in Heidelberg in 1810 or 1811. Two years later, he joined the Hussars of the Austrian Army as an officer and fought in the Napoleonic Wars for two years.55 By the invasion of Paris, Carl von Hügel had reached the rank of a captain. He then took part in the Northern Mission and was sent to Sweden. Hügel seized the opportunity and traveled through Scandinavia and Russia between 1817 and 1818. Supposedly in 1819, he joined the 5th Hussar Regiment, which was then in southern Italy, yet he was stationed in Provence and served as Commandant de place in Arles and Tarascon. In 1821, he participated in the expedition to Naples, which secured King Ferdinand his throne, and he then stayed on in Naples as a Military Attaché of the Habsburg Empire from 1821 to 1824, when he returned to Vienna and quit his position with the army.
Not yet 30 years old, Hügel had spent almost fifteen years abroad, traveling in Europe and Russia. The existing information on him is often ambiguous and unclear. His precise year of birth cannot be determined from the information available in the secondary literature, and further data is either incomplete or inconsistent. His father, Johann Aloys Joseph von Hügel, died in 1825. As the younger son, Carl Alexander, seems to have had some financial resources. After finishing his career with the army, he bought a house in Hietzing, a suburb of Vienna at the time in the vicinity of Schönbrunn Castle. He had gardens planted and a park built around his house, which soon became well known. Over the course of the following years, Hügel began to prepare his most famous journey to southeast Asia and Oceania.56 A horticulturalist of a certain reputation, he was able to expand his knowledge in his field of interest over the years between 1825 and 1830. Yet there seems to have been another aspect to his journey which had to do with his private life. He was engaged to Countess Mélanie Zichy Ferraris, who finally chose Prince Clemens Wenzel von Metternich over him, whom she married in 1831.57
Hügel had left the country in 1830, when he departed for England and then continued on to France. He left Toulon in May 1831 aboard the French naval ship D’Assas. Via Greece and Crete, he traveled to Alexandria, where he arrived in June. Hügel visited Cyprus and then Syria, from where he went to Antioch, Homs, and Palmyra. Finally, he moved on to Baalbek and then to Mount Lebanon, where he contracted cholera. His servant died of the disease, but Hügel recovered and traveled to Bombay via Suez and Aden. He arrived there in 1832. He then went south, after having fallen falling ill again, to Deccan, where he saw Goa and Mysore. Via the Malabar Coast he moved on to Ceylon, where he spent another four months. He then went up the southwest coast of India to Pondicherry and Madras. In autumn 1833, he boarded the English ship Alligator, and traveled to the Indian Archipelago and then to Australia. He then returned to India via New Zealand, Manila, Macao, and Canton, arriving in Calcutta. This was the starting point for what is probably the best-known part of his journey. He took off for the Himalaya Mountains, went on to Cashmere, and headed towards Delhi in 1835 via the land of the Sikhs before he arrived in Bombay again. There he spent another year, and then he went back to England via the Cape of Good Hope and Saint Helena. In the course of the six years of his journey, Hügel had accumulated an immense collection of objects, plants, butterflies, further objects of interest to natural history, and diverse artifacts of ethnographic value, a total of over 30,000 pieces, which he then brought back to Vienna.
Many details of this journey merit discussion in greater detail. With regards to the sources on his trip and on his experiences, one can use his four-volume description of the last part of his journey from Calcutta via the Himalayas, Cashmere, and the Punjab to Delhi and Bombay. A second, smaller book project has dealt with his experiences in the Pacific. In India, Hügel was accompanied for most of his trip by a British delegation, but the “government” did not allow anyone to cross the Sutlej river. Thus, the East India Company granted foreign travelers, to whom these regulations did not apply, considerable support.58 In addition to Hügel, this applied to a number of European travelers, among them the French Victor Jacquemont. Hügel traveled in comfort. His expedition consisted of more than 100 people, among them 60 bearers, but also 37 servants, as well as hunters, gardeners, and people responsible for catching and preserving butterflies.59 He ordered supplies of food to be taken for him in tinned cans, and most of his provisions were sent from Europe. Hügel himself went on horseback, lest the terrain not allow twelve bearers to carry him. He had close contacts in and excellent ties to the colonial administration, and he could make good use of them. Hügel not only collected objects, he also gathered and processed information. He drew maps, and he helped the British acquire certain bits of knowledge they could not get themselves. Thus, he participated in the British colonial project, a good example of transimperial bonding, as described by Bernhard Schär in his study Tropenliebe. He also had support from the British with logistics. Without the infrastructure of the colonial administration and the military and naval presence of the British Empire, it would have been much more difficult for Hügel to make his journey.
Hügel returned to Vienna in 1836, and his collection followed a little later. In 1837, Hügel contacted Kaspar von Sternberg, a former minister under Francis and a renowned connoisseur of the Habsburg Empire’s museal scene in the first half of the nineteenth century. Hügel expressed his wish to sell his collection to the Austrian state. His rich collection contained a large number of duplicates, and therefore appears to have been of considerable value to any large contemporary museum. Duplicates offered a good chance to trade objects with other museums. According to Claudia Schweizer, who studied the exchange between Hügel and Sternberg, Hügel was in urgent need of money once he returned from his journey, as he had spent almost all of his resources. According to the letters, his journey cost him roughly 130,000 fl.60 (I will return to the question of financing bourgeois lifestyles again in the conclusion to this essay.) Hügel finally succeeded in selling his collection to the state, and he spent the eleven years between 1836 and 1847 almost entirely in Vienna, where he continued his pursuit of botany and horticulture. He also started work on his four-volume publication on the Cashmere part of his journey, the first volume of which was published in 1840.
Carl von Hügel’s network and connections are more difficult to trace than those of Czoernig, at least before the 1850s, when he took official positions in the Habsburg Empire and his merits and memberships were published in the Schematismus. In the late 1820s, he was only mentioned there as a Knight of the Order of Leopold, a title which he probably inherited from his father. Yet Hügel’s close links to Metternich and the episode with Sternberg surely give reason to assume that his contacts in the so-called First Society were intact.61 Hügel was an important figure in the establishment of the Horticultural Society in Vienna, which not only collected and cultivated plants, but also created a social space in which a large number of prominent figures met and exchanged ideas and specimens.62 He became the president of the k.k. Gartenbau-Gesellschaft, and the proceedings of this society illuminate the social sphere in which he moved. The Horticultural Society included a large number of leading figures from the political and cultural elite of the late 1830s and early 1840s. In 1847, Hügel was appointed ordinary member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna, and he was then soon engaged in Verona to Elizabeth Farquharson, the significantly younger daughter of British General Francis Farquharson.63 Her father had served in the army of the East India Company, and Hügel had known the daughter as a girl. They met again when she accompanied her father on a visit to Hügel’s villa in Vienna.64
Upon the outbreak of the revolution in March, Hügel helped Chancellor Metternich escape from Vienna to Felsberg and, from there, to The Hague and England, where he spent the following winter.65 Back in the Habsburg Empire, he joined the army and was sent to Radetzky’s headquarters in Lombardy. Over the course of the following months, Hügel was first sent to Tuscany, where he participated in the siege of Leghorn, and then to Naples on a diplomatic mission. Later in 1849, Hügel was charged with further diplomatic duties in Florence, where he was consequently appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Grand Ducal Court of Tuscany and where he was to remain for the next few years. In June 1851, he married his fiancée in Florence, and over the course of the next decade they had three children. In 1859, the family returned to Vienna. Hügel was sent to Brussels roughly a year later, in September 1860, where he was to take up the same position he had held in Tuscany in the Belgian Court. He resumed his studies and his scientific work both in Tuscany and in Belgium, and he published several works in these two places. In 1867, he retired to England, where he lived in Torquay until May 1870, when he left England in order to return to the Habsburg Empire. However, he did not make it back. He died in Brussels on the 2nd of June 1870.
The two men discussed in this article, Karl Freiherr von Czoernig and Carl Alexander Freiherr von Hügel, had extraordinary careers in the first half of the nineteenth century, yet neither of these two careers was particularly unusual against the backdrop of the era. As men of bourgeois backgrounds, they were able not only to consolidate their respective social position, but also to advance in the ranks of a society that was undergoing a significant phase of reconstruction. Their lives reflect the processes of empire-building and state-building which were taking place in the first half of the nineteenth century. Albeit Czoernig and Hügel were (and still are) perceived as “Austrian” civil servants, scientists, and travelers, their respective biographies make evident that things were more complicated than this label implies. Not only does one have to bear in mind the question of what “Austrian-ness” meant in the first half of the nineteenth century, when the Kaiserthum Oesterreich (Austrian Empire) had just replaced the Habsburg part of the Holy Roman Empire, but several other questions arise. The similarities between the two men’s lives provide an illustrative outline of what the Habsburg Empire’s bourgeois classes66 looked like in the latter part of the first half of the nineteenth century, at least in what was later to become Cisleithania: Catholics, socialized in the language and German “culture,” with a standardized grammar school and in some cases university education. The distinction between lower aristocracy and bourgeoisie appears to have been less important than the distinction between lower nobility and aristocracy. At least for Czoernig and Hügel, employment in the imperial service does not seem to have been vital. Both seem to have had other financial resources. The situation was quite different for many other social climbers, mainly of lower middle-class backgrounds, who relied mostly on their education as a resource. Given their milieu, which was not petit bourgeois, Czoernig and Hügel were not exceptional. Franz Adlgasser raises the question of the material situation of men of these classes in his opening essay to the edition of the diaries of Franz Freiherr von Andrian-Werburg.67 Andrian-Werburg’s repeated complaints concerning his financial situation notwithstanding, as Adlgasser points out, he enjoyed a large degree of liberty and never actually had had to work. Andrian-Werburg’s precarious independence appears to be something that applied to many members of this class. Although there is yet not enough evidence to form a final opinion on the material circumstances of Czoernig and Hügel, many hints suggest that both men enjoyed a considerable degree of personal liberty. They seem to have been well-funded, and Hügel at least was not dependent on his professional career for money. He had remarkable financial resources of his own, and this allowed him to travel the world for almost six years.68 Moreover, the 1830s and 1840s presented themselves to men like Andrian-Werburg, Czoernig, and Hügel as an age of opportunity. The long list of possible occupations, accessible in theory to Andrian-Werburg (as noted by Adlgasser), gives an idea of the expansion of bourgeois professional horizons in these two decades, given that a certain social capital was on hand.69
Sources on the activities of associations and societies, which were beginning their activities from the 1830s onwards, illustrate how old and new elites mingled in the rule and administration of the Habsburg Empire. Journals depicting the accomplishments of organizations such as the k.k. Gartenbau-Gesellschaft, the kaiserlich-königliche Geographische Gesellschaft, and the Alpenverein shed light on the formation and spread of a new social rhizome, which became the backbone of modern state-formation after 1848. A closer look at these societies and associations not only reveals a new social fabric in the making, it also focuses attention on the role science played in the process, and it gives a sense of the versatility of the protagonists involved. Over the course of the 1830s, it is difficult to link Czoernig to a single professional career. Was he a civil servant, a man of letters, a scientist, or a statistician? Perhaps even a politician? Czoernig was all of this, yet it is likely that he himself never asked the question in the 1830s, as the different occupations could well exist alongside one another. There was no particular need to narrow things down. The situation is a tad less clear with Hügel, yet essentially the circumstances were similar. As a traveler, he did not focus on a single field of knowledge or interest. He collected objects of interest to botanists, ethnologists, historians, orientalists, and geographers. According to Joseph Vogl, literature and science, which were seen as integral parts of a comprehensive understanding of knowledge, only began to part ways after 1800, and this sheds some light on the development one observes in the two courses of life under scrutiny here.70
Science, in addition to being a profession, was the central element of the European bourgeois project of the nineteenth century. At least in the case of Central Europe, some decisive aspects can be identified here. Its promise of truth and its relevance to the vital projects of modernization (land survey, administration, infrastructure, and welfare) fostered hopes in Czoernig, who believed in the public good, and Hügel, who appears to have been more interested in a universal order of things.
And yet another aspect that deserves attention is the notion of “loyalty.” Hügel is a particularly interesting case here. The long-serving officer in the imperial service of Francis II/I gathered highly valued military intelligence for the East India Company, and he returned into the imperial service of Francis Joseph a mere fifteen years later. It appears to be quite evident that Hügel’s sense of obligation towards the emperor had little to do with more recent ideas of the obligation of a citizen of a nation-state to his “nation.” Like the Sarasin cousins in Bernhard C. Schär’s Tropenliebe, Hügel contributed actively yet indirectly to the further expansion of the British Empire by producing and delivering fundamental knowledge on the geographical and political conditions in the Sikh’s territories in the 1830s.71 Neither Czoernig’s nor Hügel’s life can be sufficiently understood against the backdrop of a modern-state-based or nation-state-based narrative. Their bourgeois lives were closely entangled with the emergence of modern statehood in the Habsburg Empire, yet they also tried to keep a certain distance from the state. Moreover, they do appear to have been prepared for alternative scenarios, which would have suited them less. Hügel, for instance, who spent a total of far more than two decades abroad, could easily have arranged for a life outside the Habsburg Empire. Czoernig left the imperial civil service at 61 and retreated to Görz/Gorizia, on the imperial periphery, where he spent another 20 years. Czoernig and Hügel must both be considered politically active men, with certain agendas on their respective minds, representing certain class interests, particularly the strengthening of political representation. Hügel was pushing his agenda less vigorously than Czoernig, who appears to have become a very prominent figure in early neo-absolutism. Wolfram Siemann provided a brilliant analysis of the long-term strategic thinking of early Modern aristocratic families which contained a number of elements that resemble the scripts put to use by Czoernig and Hügel, including strategic networking, distributing risks, and avoiding dependencies.72
The 1830s and 1840s provided ample opportunities to bourgeois social climbers, and Czoernig and Hügel were able to seize them. Both attained a high degree of geographic mobility, soon became members of a transimperial bourgeois class, and quickly climbed the career ladders in the imperial military and civil service. Yet both men had interests beyond their professional obligations, and they pursued them with an intensity that might appear unusually high, only by contemporary standards, but even by the standards of the later nineteenth century. They contributed to the emergence of the modern state in Central Europe on several levels, for instance as people who performed imperial services (of not only one empire), but also as writers, scientists (in the contemporary sense of the word), and diplomats. Acting cautiously, both men proved capable of taking action on the political stage as well, if necessary. They appear thus as two archetypal members of a very specific and quickly growing social strata in nineteenth-century European history, the heterogenic middling classes. Yet the examples of Czoernig and Hügel show that it is time to broaden our analytical framework when it comes to analyses of the activities and the range of options these people had and put to use in what has frequently been called the birth of the modern state.
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1 On the historiography see Fillafer and Wallnig, Josephinismus, 31ff; Varga, “Writing Imperial History,” 81ff.
2 Burbank and Cooper, Empires, 17ff.
3 On the perspectives opened up by a rich older tradition of a “Geschichte des Bürgertums” (history of the bourgeoisie) in a particularly German speaking sphere see Osterhammel, Verwandlung, 1079ff.
4 Kaps, Ungleiche Entwicklung, 17ff.
5 On such an approach see Buchen and Rolf, Eliten, though they concentrate on the second half of the nineteenth century. The same applies to Lindström, Empire.
6 Clark, After 1848.
7 López and Weinstein, Middle Class.
8 Brandt, Neoabsolutismus, 24ff.; Judson, Habsburg Empire. See the articles by Brigitte Mazohl in Winkelbauer, Geschichte.
9 Judson, Habsburg Empire, 103ff.
10 Heindl, Rebellen, 134ff.
11 Burbank and Cooper, Empires, 13f.
12 Schär, Tropenliebe, 20f.
13 For an example see Adlgasser, Andrian-Werburg, 3:205ff.
14 On science and empire, see Drayton, Nature’s Government, 170ff.
15 In addition to the works of Waltraud Heindl, see Megner, Beamte; and the series Bürgertum in der Habsburgermonarchie, particularly Stekl et al., Arbeit; Hoffmann, Bürger. Further Kocka and Frevert, Bürgertum; Gall, Bürgertum.
16 Cooper and Stoler, Tensions, 2f.
17 Maier, Leviathan, 29ff; Nellen and Stockinger, Staat.
18 Göderle, Modernisierung durch Vermessung, 166ff.
19 Hugel, Metternich.
20 Rumpler, Czoernig, 833f; Schweizer, Sammlungen, 395f.
21 Goebl, Czoernig, 20.
22 Klemun and Hühnel, Naturforscher, 14f.
23 Göderle, Modernisierung durch Vermessung, 174.
24 Vogl, Poetologie, 14f.
25 See for this example Göderle, Zensus, 170ff.
26 Meanwhile the k. u. k. Statistische Zentralkommission, the Imperial and Royal Central Commission of Statistics, was the key authority in terms of statistics, the Department of Administrative Statistics being part of it.
27 Particularly the transition between truth-to-nature and mechanical objectivity appears to be interesting here: Daston and Galison, Objectivity.
28 Schneider, Wissensproduktion, 223ff.
29 Rumpler, Czoernig, 834.
30 Heindl, Rebellen, 103ff.
31 Wurzbach, Czoernig, 117. This refers to Charles Dupin (1784–1873), a French mathematician, who had earned a reputation for his work in the field of statistical mapping.
32 Goebl, Czoernig, 32.
33 See for instance Czoernig, Reichenberg, XI ff.
34 Goebl, Czoernig, 32.
35 See N.N., Schematismus, 315f.
36 Rumpler, Czoernig, 839.
37 Wurzbach, Czoernig, 118.
38 See Mulsow, Wissen.
39 Ficker, Skizze, 18ff.
40 Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire, Francis I of the Austrian Empire.
41 Meyer, Denkschrift, 38.
42 See Coen, Climate, Chapter 2.
43 Oesterreichs Neugestaltung was published as part of the three-volume Ethnographie and also separately.
44 Randeraad, International Statistical Congress, 50f.
45 See Randeraad, States, 60ff.
46 Ficker, Skizze, 18ff. According to Ficker’s account, the bulk of the office’s work in 1854/55 was dealt with by the regular staff, Czoernig’s role being a strategic one.
47 Latour, Science, 215ff.
48 Wurzbach, Czoernig, 119f.
50 Göderle, “Administration,” 66ff.
51 Rumpler, Czoernig, 844–45.
52 Adlgasser, Andrian-Werburg 3:206.
53 Deak, State-building, 131ff.
54 Dorda, Hügel, 730.
55 Schicklgruber, Hügel, 189.
56 Wiesner, Hügel.
57 Reumont, Hügel; Hügel, Hügel, xvi.
58 Bhatti, Indus, 101.
59 Hügel, Kashmir, 1:28ff.
60 Schweizer, Hügel.
61 Wullschleger, Gesinnung, 92f.
62 N.N., Verhandlungen, 3–15.
63 Mückler, Adeliger in Fiji, 182f.
64 Wiesner, Hügel, 10.
65 Hugel, Metternich.
66 I would not speak of a single bourgeois class in the first half of the nineteenth century when there was not much of an imperial public that actually involved members of the middle classes across the entire empire. The bourgeois class of Vienna had little in common with that of Innsbruck and little more with that of Prague by that time, so that I would speak of bourgeois classes or different bourgeois spheres, which coexisted.
67 Adlgasser, Andrian-Werburg 1: 28f.
68 There are very few direct sources on the wealth and income of Hügel and Czoernig. Yet Hügel could afford a villa in imperial Hietzing in the 1820s, and he could also afford to take a six-year journey around the world in the 1830s, which cost him 130,000fl. He led a comfortable life as an independent scholar in the 1830s. Entering first the military and subsequently the diplomatic service in the 1850s certainly did not improve his financial situation. These were activities only members of a well-off (upper) middle class or the aristocracy could afford. Nobody actually knows where his initial wealth came from. Most probably he inherited some or much of it from his father.
As for Czoernig, the situation was similar. He spent most of his professional career in the notoriously ill-paid civil service of the Habsburg Empire, yet when he retired early in the 1860s, he moved to his Görz manor. The risks he took in the 1850s, when he was a gehorsamer Rebell in the best sense of Waltraud Heindl‘s book, suggest that he was prepared to leave imperial service sooner rather than later and that he could have provided for himself and his family. In other words, he had resources, although we do not know precisely where they came from.
70 Vogl, Poetologien, 14.
71 Schär, Tropenliebe, 20f.
72 Siemann, Metternich, 31ff.
* I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers, whose detailed and learned feedback helped in many ways to reshape and improve this article. Furthermore, Pieter Judson, who read and revised later versions of the text, was a great help, and his input made a significant contribution to the sharpening of the central argument. And finally, Debbie Coen allowed me to read parts of the manuscript of her next book and to cite from it.