« ZurückWeiter »
THE REVOLT OF EUROPE IN 1848
THE fate of Hungary involved that of Europe. The revolution of 1848 was decided on the plains of HunA crime was there committed which surpasses gary. the annihilation of Poland in iniquity. A blow was there struck by Russia for universal empire in a single campaign more decisive than half a century of victory and robbery. One of those blunders was committed by England in her indifference which is worse than a crime for the crime passes away with the perpetrator and the victim-while the blunder entails slavery and blood on untold generations. The principles of the Holy Alliance triumphed by promptness, energy, and logical consistency. The friends of liberty fell because of the lukewarmness, the selfishness, the indifference of the free nations of the world. The cause of Hungary deserves to be stated for our instruction and for our warning. It is rich in the
prophecy of history. Happy the nation that shall read it aright!
The Hungarian war was at no time a revolution. It fell by accident in the era of revolutions—and was confounded with them. It was not a struggle for new rights, but a defensive war for old rights. It aimed at no change in the form of governmentbut sought to maintain the existing form against illegal alterations. It was not even to punish with deposition a king who traitorously assailed the constitution he had sworn to support. Without the consent of the National Diet, the King renounced his crown, abandoned the duties of government, and arbitrarily transferred them to Francis Joseph who was not even the legal heir apparent of the crown. He refused to accept it with its constitutional limitations, abrogated the constitution, arrogated to himself arbitrary power, and made war on the people of Hungary to enforce his daring usurpation. It was only then-in the absolute vacancy of the throne, and on the absolute refusal of the only crown known to the Kingdom of Hungary—that the National Diet drew the sword, not to expel a lawful incumbent of the throne, but to repel an insolent invader of the national independence. It was not till their arms had achieved victories which converted their right into a fact, that they announced that fact to the nations of the world-and by their declaration proclaimed the fall of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine. If that house now wield the sceptre of Hungary, it is no sceptre known to the history of Europe. It is one made after the fashion of that of the Czar
and by him placed in the hand that holds it. The national crown of Hungary ceased to exist from the 14th of April 1849. The title of her master is that of conquest. It is nothing more or better.
Hungary for a thousand years has been the seat of a constitutional and independent monarchy, coeval with the infancy of the nation, reared upon the feudal plan, and guarded with the feudal jealousy of arbitrary power. Her constitution out dates by centuries the royal house whose perjured hands have been lifted against it. It was venerable and mighty when Rudolph of Hapsburg was a petty prince with his crown to win. It was no bundle of musty charters wrung from the niggardly hands of absolute princes-but the birthright of the nation, the law whence their princes drew their rights, the limit which confined their powers. It was entwined around the very heart-strings of the nation, and could be ruined only by their destruction.
The Diet of Hungary was the assembly of the nation, vested with their supreme legislative powers. It was divided into two houses-the upper, wherein sat the magnates and prelates—the lower, corresponding to the English Commons, and composed of the representatives of the lesser nobility and the towns. This venerable body was the sole source of law known to the Hungarian constitution: and its convocation was imperatively required by the law every three years.
The delegates to the lower house were elected at the "congregations," or meetings of the nobility of the "comitat." The "comitat" is the county, the