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Hubner, Joseph Alexander, Count

HUBNER, JOSEPH ALEXANDER, COUNT (1811-1892), Austrian diplomatist, was born in Vienna on the 26th of November 1811. His real name was Hafenbredl, which he afterwards changed to Hiibner. He began his public career in 1833 under Metternich, whose confidence he soon gained, and who sent him in 1837 as attache to Paris. In 1841 he became secretary of embassy at Lisbon, and in 1844 Austrian consul-general at Leipzig. In 1848 he was sent to Milan to conduct the diplomatic correspondence of Archduke Rainer, viceroy of Lombardy. On the outbreak of the revolution he was seized as a hostage, and remained a prisoner for some months. Returning to Austria, he was entrusted with the compilation of the documents and proclamations relating to the abdication of the Emperor Ferdinand and the accession of Francis Joseph. His journal, an invaluable clue to the complicated intrigues of this period, was published in 1891 in French and German, under the title of Une Annee de ma vie, 1848-1849. In March 1849 he was sent on a special mission to Paris, and later in the same year was appointed ambassador ' to France. To his influence was in large measure due the friendly attitude of Austria to the Allies in the Crimean War, at the close of which he represented Austria at the congress of Paris in 1856. He allowed himself, however, to be taken by surprise by Napoleon's intervention on behalf of Italian unity, of which the first public intimation was given by the French emperor's cold reception of Hiibner on New Year's Day, 1859, with the famous words: " I regret that our relations with your Government are not so good as they have hitherto been." He did not return to Paris after the war, and after holding the ministry of police in the Goluchowski cabinet from August to October 1859, Jived in retirement till 1865, when he became ambassador at Rome. Quitting this post in 1867, he undertook extensive travels, his descriptions of which appeared as Promenade autour du monde, 1871 (1873; English translation by Lady Herbert, 1874) and Through the British Empire (1886). Written in a bright and entertaining style, and characterized by shrewd observation, they achieved considerable popularity in their time. A more serious effort was his Sixte-Quint (1870, translated into English by H. E. H. Jerningham under the title of The Life and Times ofSixtus the Fifth, 1872), an original contribution to the history of the period, based on unpublished documents at the Vatican, Simancas and Venice. In 1879 he was made a life-member of the Austrian Upper House, where he sat as a Clerical and Conservative. He had received the rank of Baron (Freiherr) in 1854, and in 1888 was raised to the higher rank of Count (Graf). He died at Vienna on the 30th of July 1892. Though himself of middle-class origin, he was a profound admirer of the old aristocratic regime, and found his political ideals in his former chiefs, Metternich and Schwarzenberg. As the last survivor of the Metternich school, he became towards the close of his life more and more out of touch with the trend of modern politics, but remained a conspicuous figure in the Upper House and at the annual delegations. That he possessed the breadth of mind to appreciate the working of a system at total variance with his own school of thought was shown by his grasp of British colonial questions. It is interesting, in view of subsequent events, to note his emphatic belief in the loyalty of the British colonies a belief not shared at that time by many statesmen with far greater experience of democratic institutions.

See Sir Ernest Satow, An Austrian Diplomatist in the Fifties (1908).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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