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Louis Kossuth and his Country.

tears from the most impenetrable, and his thrilling appeals excite the most impassive to the utmost of patriotic enthusiasm. When inveighing against tyranny and despotic innovations, his soft eyes changed their character, assumed a preternatural brightness, and shot forth indignant flashes; his usually kind manner changed to a stern determination; and his defiant position was that of a gladiator in the arena. Oratory such as this, combining mental and physical eloquence in excess, could not fail of its object; and beneath the storm it produced, the whole country rocked and heaved like a tempestuous sea.

been sufficient; but the patriotic party at
once united, and soon disarmed that objec-
tion by conveying to him an estate. Thus
the Court was foiled in that endeavor.

Kossuth still continued his political labors.
Having been made such a prominent point
of attack and persecution by the Court, his
adherents increased their numbers im-
mensely, and his influence augmented in
proportion. He entered into all the pro-
gressive associations; and if a society were
formed for the development of any branch
of industry, or the achievement of any par-
ticular or general public good, his name was
to be seen among its earliest subscribers.
His character at this period was as pure as
it always continued to be; and of that it is
enough to say, that with the control of the
whole treasury in his hands, he took from
the country when he fled but five hundred
ducats; and his family, when in an Austrian
dungeon, were absolutely exposed to want.
During a number of years he continued an
incessant agitation; and when the Diet of
1847 was convoked, he was elected a mem-
ber of the lower house. From that time
forth his biography is so intimately con-
nected with the history of his country, that
to resume our summary will readily satisfy
the reader.

This extraordinary effect, and the consequent popularity of Kossuth, were by no means to the taste of the Court; but there was no mode to act, under the letter of law, against the zealous reformer. All his proceedings were confined within the strict limits of the constitution and laws, and would not have been dangerous were they not performed in an extraordinary manner, by an extraordinary man. The Court feared to take any grossly illegal step lest it might precipitate matters to a crisis; but it neglected no means to stay the proceedings or weaken the influence of its great opponent. The first act of the Court was to silence In spite of all the machinations of the his editorial voice-to remove him from the editorial control of his paper. The owner Austrian Court, the opposition grew stronger The house of Hapsburg saw, of this journal was a book-seller and pub- day by day. lisher in Pest. Him the Court commenced with chagrin and mortification, that every to persecute, and after having exposed him step it had taken only served to alienate the to numerous assaults and vexations, threat- confidence of its own partisans, and beheld ened to suppress his publications, unless he its power becoming weaker every day through dismissed Kossuth from the editorial chair. its own ill-judged perfidy. The common The owner, to save his property and perhaps sense of the nation readily penetrated the his liberty, acceded, and another person was ultimate aim of the dominant house, which obtained to attend to the editorial duties. was the extinction of Hungarian nationality. Kossuth, thus removed from his vantage- The bold advocacy of reform and emanciground, demanded, as a free citizen, the au-pation by Kossuth and the liberalists arthority to become proprietor and publisher rayed on their side the young, the generous, of a new journal; but this he could not ob- and the patriotic; while the ruin that must ensue if Hungary were made a mere appatain. All his political agitation was now concentrated in the county meetings, where nage to Austria, aroused the faltering and he continued daily to display greater tact alarmed the conservative. A gradual and and talent than ever. The Court resolved firm union, for the sake of their fatherland, to remove him from this stage, and urged ensued among all classes; and this token of its partisans to object to his admission to the a popular storm struck dismay into the meetings of the local legislature on the hearts of the Camarilla. In 1845-6 the Court made its last constitutional efforts, by ground that he had no property in the bounds of the county, and consequently had displacing all the county Mayors who were no right of membership in the municipality. suspected of the least inclination to liberalThis objection, pitiful as it was, would have I ism, and supplying their places with crea

portion of a people is discontented with another.

tures of its own. As soon as this work of purification, as they called it, was complete, the salaries of the Mayors were considerably The true patriot beheld with pain these augmented, partly to render the office de- triumphs of tyranny, whether of the Court or sirable to avaricious nobles, and partly to the conservative nobles, and observed with fortify their extraordinary purity with a mingled anger and alarm the state of affairs golden armor, utterly impervious to the at- in Transylvania. The hopes of the truly tacks of honor or patriotism. At the same liberal party were now concentrated on the time it made it obligatory upon these May-action of Hungary, whose Diet was to open ors to reside constantly within the bounds in 1847. The county elections began, and of their jurisdictions, and forced them to the result was awaited by both parties with assist and lead in all measures of legislation anxiety. Every measure was taken by the and administration in their several counties; Court to arrest the progress of political freethus giving them a power to which they dom; and all these plans were frustrated by were not entitled either by law or custom. the zealous and energetic efforts of Kossuth Nor did it stop here. Determined to or- and his compatriots. The elections over, it ganize if possible a strong conservative, or was found that the progressive party had rather retrograde party, the Government achieved a decided triumph. Louis Kossuth convoked the Transylvanian Diet in 1846 himself and his friends were elected; and for the purpose of regulating the existing great reforms were under the circumstances feudal system. The Camarilla judged with to be expected. correctness that this subject would excite the alarm of the timid nobles, and unite at once all the strong conservative elements. It was a shrewd view of things; and the motion was proved, by its results, to have been an able one. The regalists were appointed with care, and in such great numbers that the liberalists gave way; the elections went by default, and the retrograde Diet was chosen. Elated at this success, the Court endeavored to succeed on a larger field, and proceeded, in 1847, to convoke the Diet of Hungary.

The Court saw its hopes and designs thwarted by the sound common sense of Hungary, and as a last resort concentrated their force upon the office of Palatine, in order to obtain it for a member of the reigning house. No individual could have been chosen for such a purpose with more judgment than he whom they offered as a candidate-the Archduke Stephen. He was the son of the Archduke Joseph, who for more than half a century had exercised the office of Palatine; he was born at Buda, in Hungary; had been educated at a Hungarian The proceedings of the Transylvanian university, and spoke with ease and fluency Diet were so far satisfactory to the Court, the Magyar language. The election of Palaand the hope of ultimately reducing the tine being fixed for the next Diet, the Archcountry to a provincial position became so duke opened the electioneering campaign strong, that it suffered the Diet to vote a new some months before the session was to begin. feudal law. This, however, was one which In the conduct of this he showed himself an could not be popular. It did not give a able tactician, and displayed a degree of single material advantage to the laboring finesse which would have done no discredit class the broad substructure upon which to the shrewdest stump candidate that ever every nation must rest, and without whose kissed all the ugly babies in his district, or content and comfort no nation can prosper. inquired particularly and affectionately after It contained a number of fine flourishes the welfare of the wife and family of some words of encouragement and praise-but till then unnoticed voter. He travelled did not lift a straw's weight of burthen from around the country, visiting every place of the backs of the trodden serfs. Such a law popular resort, assuming the most condecould not satisfy the people. It was begot-scending and gracious air possible, and deten by egotism and stupidity, and sanctioned by ignorance and inexperience-unless, indeed, the royal confirmation to the act was given through a cunning policy on the part of the Court, who had observed how much easier it is to invade nationality when one

claiming loudly and earnestly on the progress in prosperity and material reform which the country would soon be able to make. The bait took, and the people swallowed it, hook and all. Every one was delighted with the affability and patriotism of the Arch

duke; even the most mistrustful thought manded the suppression of mixed marriages him to be "a marvellously proper man;" in the Catholic Church. The clergy of the Diet met, and he was elected to the Hungary received the same order, and havoffice of Palatine. ing been assured by the Court of its protection, boldly proceeded to the execution of their duty as priests and prelates. Their steps made the most lively impression upon the public mind; the sessions of the county legislatures became scenes of a quite tumultuous discussion of the subject, and the warmest remonstrances were addressed to the Court; but the latter remaining impassable, the clergy proceeded to stop, by all means in their power, the mixed marriages.

By these proceedings the Catholic Church of Hungary lost thousands of members, who passed over to various sects of the Protestant religion. The clergy at once assailed the Court with energetic demands for a prohibition of this wholesale apostasy; but the Court feared to make the experiment. It rightly judged that in such a case its weakened influence would be utterly destroyed;

The Diet of 1847-8, from the opening of its session, displayed a determination to effect by all peaceable and constitutional means the most decided and practical reforms. The lower house was composed of the most illustrious patriots and statesmen in the land. Among these Kossuth Lajòs, known in England as Louis Kossuth, stood at first conspicuous, and ultimately preeminent. Not long after the opening of the debates, by the fascination of his incomparable eloquence and that magical power which men of mark exercise over a deliberative body, he became recognized as the leader of the House of Representatives. In the upper house, through the expansion of public opinion, liberalism obtained a strong hold. The magnates began to discover that the true interest of the rich and noble was to better the condition of the poor and low-consequently, the change of religion on the born, since no society could thrive without it. The new generation of nobles were to a man reformers; and the Court beheld with profound astonishment the whole tendency and character of the upper house, their once strong ally, entirely changed. The very nobles who had been supposed to be most firmly in the interest of the Camarilla now followed the lead of Count Louis Bathyani, and strove manfully for the honor, independence and prosperity of the country, and the emancipation and political regeneration of the people.

part of all those who wished to marry in an opposite faith continued and increased daily.

It was natural to suppose that the coming Diet would have a stormy session, and still more natural to expect that the course of the clergy would be vehemently attacked in that body. The clergy expected this, but having a promise of assistance and support from the Court, appeared boldly and proudly in the Diet. The attack, as expected, was made, with bitterness and freedom of invective. But, to the utter astonishment of the clerical members, not one of the Court This favorable condition of affairs was no party rose to defend the Church, but relittle increased by the position assumed by mained utterly unimpressed, and calm if not the clergy, which was utterly unexpected by amused observers of the scene. For what the liberals. This change in clerical action reason did the Court abandon their allies? was owing to a gross blunder committed by or had they a reason at all? Was it not an the Court-a political error injurious to act of neglect? Judging from other cirthemselves, and advantageous to the friends cumstances, or rather in connection with of freedom. The Catholic clergy, being im- other circumstances, it might be considered mensely rich in Hungary, always had that one of those blunders which the house of great influence in national affairs which Hapsburg is so liable to commit. Whatever wealth and clerical position combined are might have been the cause, the effect was sure to confer. Regarding this body as one one of importance to the liberal movement. of the firmest props of absolutism, the house For the clergy felt itself abandoned by the of Hapsburg treated it with every kindness Court, exposed to the continual assaults of and consideration; and, in return, the clergy its enemies, and abased in the public esteem. was careful to maintain the odious position A blow had been struck at its influence which of representative of arch-conservative doc- could not be forgotten; and it only awaited trines. Some years since a decree was issued an opportunity to repay the treatment of from the Vatican at Rome, which com- the Court, and regain its forfeited position.


year 1847 approached; the Diet was to be opened; the signs of the times indicated that the proceedings of this Diet would possess as much interest as any that were recorded in the annals of Hungary, judging from the members elect of the lower house, and the increased number of the opposition in the upper, under the leadership of Count Louis Bathyani; but no one hoped to see the clergy take the attitude they assumed. That was an agreeable surprise for the patriotic, and a terrible shock to the Court party.

The ancient constitution of Hungary is a very liberal one for the time during which it was made. Perhaps its greatest defect was that it gave a too extravagant liberty to its citizens. But the privileges it conferred, the rights it defended, were those of a certain class alone-the nobility; and even in that class it allowed distinctions. The common people-the life's blood of a state-were excluded from a participation in the act of government, and from the full protection of the fundamental laws. It was not to be expected that such a constitution could remain in the nineteenth century. Its existence was a libel upon the intelligence of the people-a bar to the prosperity of the country. It needed, to render it of value, the most essential reforms. This the privileged class saw plainly enough, and they determined to confer upon the mass of the people the right of citizenship and political power.

The first internal reforms, indispensable to the welfare of the country, were regarded as these: To lessen or utterly remove the distinction between the privileged and unprivileged classes; to improve the principles of taxation and of land tenure; to extend perfect religious toleration to all religious sects and creeds; to establish free trade with all nations-for the Austrian Government thought to confine Hungary to Austria for a market, while treating Hungarian produce as foreign; to maintain a free press, and especially the right to publish the debates and proceedings of the Diet; to develop the great resources of the country by means of railroads, bridges, and other plans of internal improvement; and finally, but as important as any, and more so than most, to provide for a system of general education. These were the reforms demanded by all classes, and predetermined upon by the liberal party in both houses.

One mode of resistance by Austria to liberal movements was to extinguish parliamentary bills by the veto of the crown; the fear of which had paralyzed the upper house, a body naturally disposed to lean to Austria. Against this the Hungarians had no adequate constitutional weapon to use, since the Austrian Cabinet was not responsible to the Hungarian Diet. The often-repeated declaration of their independence of Austria by their sovereign, and in particular the distinct compact of Leopold the Second in 1790-91, justified them in endeavoring by peaceable means to obtain an independent ministry, directly responsible to their own Diet. Such a ministry had been long talked of and claimed in the Diet. In fact, the conservative party and the opposition had differed little as to the objects at which they aimed, but chiefly in the degree of vehemence in which matters should be urged; the conservatives pleading to give time to the Austrian Court. But in 1848 the conservatives as a separate party were destroyed, the great body of them going over to the opposition. Thus it was that Louis Kossuth carried, by a unanimous vote, the resolve that the constitution of Hungary would never be free from the eternal machinations of the Austrian Cabinet until a constitutional government was established in the foreign possessions of the crown, so as to restore the nationalities as they were at the period when the Diet conferred the sovereignty on the house of Hapsburg. A series of reforms were now carried in quick succession after the termination of a discussion which had commenced with the advent of Szechényi into political life.

Now, in looking at the events of the Hungarian struggle, the people of this country have been frequently led into gross errors, but to none more manifestly mischievous than the impression as to the nature of the commencement of the struggle. For not only was the contest no insurrection against established authority, but the reforms of 1848 were neither won by fraud nor violence. An assertion that the changes were made by force has been put forth by Austria as a sort of palliation for the commission of cruelties which have made her the detestation of the civilized world. On the contrary, every change was wrought in a constitutional manner, through legal forms, and by peaceful means. And this was the more striking


since there was every provocation to a revo- | the reforms immediately necessary had passlutionary movement. When a royal house ed the Diet and been confirmed by the sovcontinues to usurp the powers lodged else- ereign. The constitution was extended to where by the compact to which it owes its all classes, and civil equality announced. right of rule; when it invades that funda- The ancient Diet, constituted of or elected mental law upon which alone its own au- by the nobility, was changed into a true thority is based; when it endeavors to de- House of Representatives, whose constitubase an independent people to a provincial ents were a class hitherto excluded from the position, and to put their guaranteed rights at privilege of suffrage. The feudal system mercy of absolute will; then, indeed, we was abolished, and millions of inhabitants, may hold, with Robespierre, that insurrec- formerly serfs, became at once citizens and tion becomes the most sacred of rights, and freeholders, receiving, on a promise to inthe most indispensable of duties. The Hun- demnify its former proprietors for feudal sergarians took no advantage of these crimes vices, the land they cultivated in fee-simple. on the part of the Court. Determined to Every such freeholder had a vote in the emancipate the great mass of the people election of those who were to levy taxes upon from fetters imposed by the ignorance and his property; every thirty thousand inhabibigotry of past ages, and to place their coun- tants were entitled to a representative in the try on the utmost pinnacle of civilization, national Assembly; every free town to one they were content that the executive power or more representatives, according to its size should remain vested in the house of Haps- and population. Thus the lower house of burg. They had neither design nor desire the Diet became representatives of the peoto overthrow the reigning dynasty. There ple, and not of the nobility; and to a seat was no intention to depose Ferdinand. The in this house every citizen was made eligible. purpose of the reformers was an honest one. The new Diet was to be presided over by They wished to emancipate the people; to an elective chairman, and all the other offirecreate the nation; not to aggrandize them-cers of the Diet were chosen by itself.* selves, nor to form a new dynasty. And The re-organization of the upper house, that could be done without any infraction of the compact between prince and people. The nobles desired to curtail themselves of privileges which were in direct antagonism to the spirit of the century; they proposed to raise the hitherto down-trodden serf to a political equality with themselves. But they felt it was consistent with the dignity of their purpose to do this remodelling of a constitution within the pale of the constitution. Every measure brought forward, every reform urged, was as strictly pressed and ultimately achieved under the forms of jurisprudence, as the most conservative champion of law and order could desire. All was done with the apparent concurrence of the viceroy, the Archduke Stephen, who seemed to identify the cause of the country with his own. The Emperor-King, Ferdinand, displayed the greatest desire to comply with and complete the wishes of the people; and the latter showed no inclination to abridge a reign which promised in its close to be so brilliant and glorious.

During that memorable Diet of 1848-9, the hopes of the patriot rose to their utmost point of culmination. The independence of the realm appeared to be assured; all

or House of Magnates, was postponed to a future time. It was thus far decided, however, that there should henceforth continue to be two houses in the Diet. As it was not proper in a representative government that one part of the legislature should consist of members qualified by birth, it was determined to re-organize the upper house; but as it was a matter of grave importance, the assembly determined to make the change at a later time and after a careful deliberation. Thus the upper house was, for the time, preserved in its ancient form.

Before the end of the month of March, 1848, a deputation of members from both houses of the Diet appeared in Vienna, carrying with them the unanimous wish of the

*Let it be here understood, however, that the

Hungarian peasant was never bound to the soil as in Russia. He could settle where he chose; but he could not hold real estate. There were, to be sure, certainly some cases where the peasants held estates; but for this they were obliged to pay certain duties to the lord of the land. These duties, and the tenths, were abolished by the laws of March, 1848, giving to the peasant the real property of the soil, which hitherto he had culti vated on the payment of feudal duties.

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