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legislative assembly of the other provinces. No one surely will reproach Hungary--the only settled constitutional state in Austria, forming nearly one-half of that monarchy—for not desiring to be the only state destitute of influence upon the government; there remained, therefore, we repeat (beside the alternative of an entire separation), either to submit to a voluntary incorporation of Hungary, or to obtain guarantees which might render the union equally desirable and easy. To abandon her independence, her time-honoured institutions, for ephemeral promises, obtained behind street barricades, in a mob demonstration called a revolution — was this the course for Hungary to adopt? Was she called upon to destroy, by her own act and deed, a constitutional existence, maintained for eight centuries, ingrafted into the manners and habits of life of her people, endeared by historical reminiscences and the struggles it had cost her, endeared recently still more to the aristocracy by those very sacrifices which they made for its preservation in abolishing the feudal privileges, and to the people at large by the material benefit and political rights obtained by the last Legislature, which made them at the same time its common possessors and guardians ?
It was at the very moment when the constitution of the country was re-purchased, so to say, a second time by the aristocracy, at the cost of immense sacrifices, and rendered the property of the whole nation, that they were required to sacrifice this ancient constitution—and to what? to a constitution demanded heedlessly in the streets, and conceded by fear! Ask Englishmen, whether they would exchange their historical constitution for any other, even theoretically more perfect. Many will be found ready to consent to changes in the ancient constitution, but none would desire to see it superseded by a perfectly new one; because an historical constitution alone, gradually adapted to the requirements of a nation, is established on a solid foundation. The constitution of a people is like a tree; the past even is not lost, but forms the root, which, although underground, gives vitality to the whole tree. No people who have enjoyed an historical constitution would be willing to exchange it for a totally new one, even if it offered the same advantages and the same liberty. But this was not the only point in question for Hungary; it was not merely a question of exchanging a constitution based on history, and adapted to the present condition and wants of the country, for one of those constitutions granted in one street and retracted in another; but whether Hungary was prepared to renounce a national existence, a political independence, frequently menaced, but never lost, during a period of nine centuries - to bear the
burden of an enormous debt, of which she had never shared either the liability or the benefit - to sacrifice her material interests for those of a country already in possession of a great industrial advantage — to yield up her national legislature, her precious rights of self-government-to ruin the capital of the country, by converting it into a provincial town--and to incur all this sacrifice, merely for the phantom of a constitution, adverse to all the interests of the country, secured by no guarantees, and which would, in all probability, terminate with the danger and the fear that gave it birth!
Nevertheless, the desire to incorporate Hungary on the one side, and the anxiety to secure her historical independence on the other, explain the whole history of the Hungarian war, which was, in reality, never anything more than a resistance to the centralizing tendencies of the Austrian Government, increasing in energy only in proportion as the violence of the attack augmented.
When, after having given the laws of March, the Emperor appointed Jellachich, the champion of the reactionary Court party, Ban of Croatia, the Hungarians merely demanded of the Court that he should be obliged to observe the laws which had been sworn to by the king. When, at a later period, on the one side, Jellachich declared openly that he was not disposed to respect the laws, and, on the other, the Minister of War, Latour, sent, contrary to his solemn declarations, officers and cannon to the Serbs, then in revolt in the Banat, the Hungarians contented themselves with organizing a force of ten thousand men to reinforce the Austrian troops which kept the Serbs in check, and demanding of the Court the dismissal of the Ban Jellachich. It was not until the moment when the latter had crossed the frontier, at the head of an army of sixty thousand men, announcing his intention to march upon Pesth, that the Hungarians commenced organizing some battalions of volunteers to oppose him; and it was only at three leagues' distance from the capital that a force of thirty thousand men could be assembled, still under the command of an Austrian Archduke. It was not until after Jellachich, a fugitive, was appointed by the Court governor of the country which he sought to invade, and commander of the army before which he actually fled, that it was decided to pursue him up to the walls of Vienna, where Prince Windischgrätz had meantime organized an army. It was not until after the accession of the new
Emperor, without taking the customary oaths--without addressing a word to the Hungarians, except to call upon them to submit, not to the laws, not to any conditions which he might then have dictated, but to the will of Prince Windischgrätz-that the Hungarians refused to recognise Francis Joseph as their legitimate King. It was not until after the most distinguished and moderate members of the two chambers, despatched to Prince Windischgrätz with proposals to accept any conditions not absolutely contrary to the honour of the country, were sent back and soon after imprisoned by Windischgrätz, that the resolution to defend their liberties on the plains of Hungary was adopted by the mass of the people, who, tired of the contest, were ready to accept any sacrifices except dishonour. It was not until after the March Constitution solemnly pronounced that sentence which the previous conduct of the Austrian Government had led to anticipate—the abolition of the independence of Hungary—that the deposition of the House of Hapsburg was decreed.
But, alas ! such is at times the unnatural position of society, that moderation in the exercise of power, the most rare and admirable virtue in a victorious people, becomes the cause of their ruin, and consequently a political crime. This was the case in Hungary; it was this which caused the fatal hesitation to pursue Jellachich at the time of his flight to Vienna; it is to this character of passiveness, attached to a movement defensive in its origin, that must be attributed the fatal resolution of General Görgey to direct his attacks on Buda, after having completely defeated the Austrian army, instead of marching upon Vienna, which might have been taken without resistance. Nevertheless
, this very reluctance to pass the limits of self-defence, which deprived the victory of its advantages, is at the same time the most incontestable proof that the object of the war was not to propagate revolutionary ideas, but a simple defence against the aggressive projects of the Austrian Government; and that the Hungarians, at the sacrifice of all these advantages, on every occasion arrested their march on the frontier of the country whose liberties and independence they sought to guard.
It is beyond our purpose to give a detailed narrative of the events which have debased Austria; this is a task which history will one day fulfil; we have merely referred to the events of the past to prove that the Hungarian movement was not a revolution to obtain new liberties, but a struggle to guard those already possessed—not a contest in favour of democratic theories, which would have found no champions in a country which boasted especially of having obtained her liberties without bloodshed, but a resistance to projects and a system of centralization, by which it is now attempted to establish Austria on a basis of strength. But, it will be said, whatever was the cause of these events, the resistance of Hungary having been subdued, the danger has ceased, and there is no longer any
obstacle to centralization. The very reverse is the truth : the hatred and obstacles which oppose this system have actually increased since the termination of the war; for it is the use which has been made of victory in Hungary that has taught the other peoples of Austria to comprehend the true signification of this system. Never has the organization of an Austria, one and centralized, had more obstacles to encounter than now.
Every sensible man, possessing any knowledge of the movement which has changed the ancient condition of Austria, must have felt beforehand that the unity of that State—even supposing the Court to have acted with good faith—could only be obtained by the suppression of all existing nationalities, and that liberty was impossible in a state which had to be erected on the ruins of a great portion of the empire.
But although some of the political chiefs among the Austrians and Croats saw the impossibility of establishing Austria on a joint basis of centralization and freedom, the mass of the people, always ready to be seduced by specious promises, were especially so in Austria, which possessed no political institutions calculated to elicit or develop public opinion. The people, who a few weeks before had not dared to hold any political opinion whatever, astonished and proud at the notion of enjoying political rights, were admirably disposed to imagine themselves the authors of all that was done in their name. Thus it was, that for some time the idea of an Austria, united and free, and of a united empire founded upon a democratic basis, as the minister Bach cautiously termed it, had a certain popularity, although nothing was more contrary to the expressed wishes and opinion of the people than what was enacted in its name.
It is this popular political ignorance which enabled the Austrian Government to employ the jealousy of the Croats, the Bohemians, and the hope of material advantages at Vienna, to overthrow the independent existence of Hungary, promising to one a great national future, to the other unity and a free government, and the material advantages which would result from the incorporation of Hungary. But successively, and in proportion as the hatred excited by Austria was effaced, and the true tendencies of the government were by degrees developed, the co-operation of the Sclaves became weaker ; for no one fought to obtain the results which have followed the victory in Hungary, and had it not been for the arrival of the Russians the auxiliaries of Austria would have actually turned against her.
The Sclaves, who aided Austria to overthrow the independence of Hungary, hoped, in their culpable ignorance, to obtain the privilege of which that country was despoiled—a national independence; as if a Government which had violated the rights of one country would, or even could, respect those of another! But the Sclaves little imagined they were fighting the battle of German unity and centralization, to which they should be required to sacrifice, not only the independence they hoped to obtain in taking up arms against Hungary, but even the national existence which they already enjoyed.
The best and most incontestable evidence of the general hostility to the present system of centralization, is the fact that Vienna, the only spot in the monarchy which might be naturally expected to profit, and especially in a material point of view, by centralization, is still kept permanently in a state of siege, on account of the discontent manifested there. Far therefore from Austria, in her present position, being strong and united, it must be admitted that she has never been weaker or less united than now.
Previous to the victory in Hungary, and the centralization proclaimed in consequence, each of the nationalities composing the empire of Austria, entertained the hope of receiving a national existence, of the establishment of a new constitutional Austria : every one of these peoples sought to preserve the integrity of Austria with a view to the interest of their own nationality-at the present time each one desires the fall of Austria, from the same motive. We may be asked for the proofs of this assertion: those who will read attentively the events of 1848, will there find the proofs, and will at the same time learn to understand how Austria has survived her defeats, and how it is to be feared that she will have more difficulty in surviving her victory.
Such is the position of Austria after her victory, and by her own fault; for after having, on purpose to embarrass Hungary, inflamed all the nationalities, down to their smallest fractions, by insensate promises, she is now under the necessity of deceiving them all, having held out promises to one at the expense of another. To what a pitch of absurdity the national pretensions of the smallest fractions were excited, is sufficiently proved by the fact recently announced in several Viennese journals, that the Gypsies inhabiting the different parts of Hungary, and in number estimated at about one hundred thousand, dispersed by four and five in a village, have sent a deputation to the Emperor, to obtain the acknowledgment and equality of their nationality, conformably to the promises of the Austrian Government! But if these Macchiavellian expedients in some cases produced effects equally absurd and ridiculous, who could account for the unheard-of atrocities of the war of extirpation in the Banat and in Transylvania, fomented