Page images
PDF
EPUB

native land, after his chivalrous and yet modest sojourn here, the bearer of a proclamation of amnesty from the sovereign of his native country thus obtained. And I should rejoice to see the greeting of him by his countrymen,

•Shouting and clapping all their hands on hight,
That all the ayre it fils and flyes to Heavene bright."

[ocr errors]

FREEDOM IN EUROPE.

MARCH 9, 186 2.

The question was on the following resolutions, submitted by Mr. SEWARD, as a substitute for resolutions introduced by the Hon. Mr. CLARKE, of Rhode Island:

Resolved, That while the United States, in consideration of the exigencies of society, habitually recognize governments de facto in other states, yet that they are nevertheless by no means indifferent when such a government is established against the consent of any people by usurpation or by armed intervention of foreign states or nations.

Resolveu, That, considering that the people of Hungary, in the exercise of the right secured to them by the laws of nations, in a solemn and legitimate manner asserted their national independence, and established a government by their own voluntary act, and successfully maintained it against all opposition by parties lawfully interested in the question ; and that the Emperor of Russia, without just or lawful right, invaded Hungary, and, by fraud and armed force, subverted the national independence and political constitution thus established, and thereby reduced that country to the condition of a province ruled by a foreign power; the United States, in derevce of their own interests, and of the common interests of mankind, do solemnly protest against the conduct of Russia on that occasion, as a wanton and tyrannical infraction of the laws of nations ; and the United States do further declare that they will not hereafter be indifferent to similar acts of national injustice, oppression, and usurpation, whenever or wherever they may occur.

MR. PRESIDENT,—Writers on law teach us that states are free, independent, equal, moral persons, existing for the objects of happiness and usefulness, and possessing rights and subject to duties defined by the law of nature, which is a system of politics and morals founded in right reason; that the only difference between politics and morals is, that one regulates the operations of government, while the other directs the conduct of individuals, and that the maxims of both are the same; that two sovereign states may be subject to one prince, and yet be mutually independent; that a nation becomes free by the act of its ruler when he exceeds the fundamental laws; that when any power, whether domestic or foreign, attempts to deprive a state of independence or of liberty, it may lawfully take counsel of its courage, and prefer before the certainty of servitude the chances of destruction; *hat each nation is bound to do to every other in time of peace the most good, and in time of war, the least harm possible, consistently with its own real interests; that while this is an imperfect obligation, of which no state can exact a performance, any one has nevertheless a right to use peaceful means, and even force, if necessary, to repress a power that openly violates the law of nations, and directly attacks their common welfare; and that, although the interests of universal society require mutual intercourse between states, yet that intercourse can be conducted by those only who in their respective nations possess and exercise in fact adequate political powers.

Austria, being situated in Central Europe, with only an inconsiderable sea-port, we have known little of her, except that she was one of the oldest and most energetic and inexorable members of that combination of states which, under the changing names of “The Allied Powers,” “The Holy League,” and “The Holy Alliance," and with the unchanging pretence of devotion to order and religion, have more than half a century opposed and resisted everywhere the reforming and benign principles of the American Revolution.

Hungary, after having been in ages past the heroic defender of Christian Europe against the armies of Islam, and later the chivalrous guardian of Austria from the usurpations of Prussia and France, seemed near a century ago to disappear, and only four years since came again on the stage, and challenged her part in the drama of nations. She occupied a region within the Austrian Empire with fifteen millions of people, of whom the Magyars, a race that had inherited freedom, arts, and arms, were one-third, while the remainder were Germans, Serbs, and Wallachians, and the two latter classes were debased and virtually enslaved by feudal customs and laws. Under the constitution, given to her by an ancient king, St. Stephen, Hungary was a limited monarchy and an absolutely independent state. Beginning, however, in 1530, she elected for her kings the successive reigning dukes of the house of Hapsburg Loraine for a period of one hundred and fifty years, and then gave them succession to her throne by a law of inheritance. Nevertheless, fundamental laws enacted by Hungary, and accepted by the Austrian dynasty, defined the union of the two states, declaring that the king should have no power before coronation, that he could be crowned only on signing a com

pact and swearing an oath to sustain the constitution, usages, and laws of Hungary, by virtue of which she was a free and independent state, and that she could be bound by no royal edicts or decrees, but only by laws passed by her own diet or legislature, and sanctioned by her king.

Hungary was always as independent of Russia as we are.

Such, Mr. President, was the condition of Hungary in March, 1848. Now she has neither constitution, nor king, nor diet, nor national functions, nor national organs, nor independence, nor liberty, nor law, but lies prostrate at the feet of the Austrian Emperor, and receives his absolute decrees from the point of the sword. Who has wrought this melancholy and fearful change in a country that had used its liberty so nobly, and had kept it so long? We shall soon see.

In February, 1848, the Hungarian Diet, while revising and meliorating their domestic laws, learned by the telegraphic wires that a republic had risen in Paris, and that a constitutional government was about to rise in Vienna. Availing themselves of these propitious circumstances, they decreed the establishment of an independent national treasury, a resident palatine or viceroy, and a responsible Hungarian ministry—institutions equally necessary, just, and constitutional. Hungary received the royal sanction of these measures with contentment and satisfaction at the

very moment when only her word was wanting to subvert the empire. Three days afterward, the Germans obtained a constitution at the hands of the emperor, who thus became a limited monarch in his Austrian dominions, as he had always been in Hungary. The Hungarian Diet at once reformed the social and political condition of the state, and, abolishing feudalism, but not with. out just compensation, they established equality of taxation, representation, suffrage, and all legal rights among all races and classes throughout the kingdom; and on the 11th of April, the emperor crowned this noble and beneficent work by an edict approving and confirming the new laws, “word for word.”

A party of reaction, not Hungarian, but Austrian, on groundless pretences, fomented insurrection in the Hungarian provinces of Servia and Wallachia ; and inasmuch as tyranny, when panic struck, cannot but be perfidious, the emperor, violating the constitution and laws, appointed the chief instigator, the Baron Jellachich, to the office of ban or governor of the seditious districts.

Hungary remonstrated, and the emperor disavowed the insurrection, denounced and deposed the ban, and called on the Diet to provide by law promptly and effectually for the safety of the kingdom. Nevertheless, the traitor, privately assured by the monarch, entered the territory of the Magyars with forty thousand men, and, receiving there six auxiliary Imperial regiments, proceeded toward the Hungarian capital, marking his way with inhumanity shocking to describe—burying living men, and slaying women without mercy, and even children without remorse. In the midst of these terrors, the emperor, the crowned and constitutional King of Hungary, rejected the defensive laws which at his own instance the diet had passed, restored to the invading chief his dignities, and, suspending the fundamental laws, proclaimed him now not merely ban of the insurgent provinces, but supreme dictator of all Hungary. Then rang throughout that land a well-known voice -a voice that a tyrant once had stifled for three years in an Austrian dungeon, and that in its turn had made that tyrant take refuge in the subterranean vaults of Schoenbrunn, and in the mountain fastnesses of the Tyrol-a voice that has since been heard by all nations. In tones sad yet bold, and in language solemn yet cheering and prophetic, it predicted that this treason of the king would work out the independence of the Magyar state, and closed with the appeal, “To arms! to arms ! every man to arms! And let the women dig a deep grave between Veszprem and Fehervar, in which to bury either the name, fame, and nationality of Hungary, or our enemy!” The sons of Atila rose as one man, the Diet took its firm resolve, the ministry executed it, and the nation organized almost in a day, and appointed and supplied as soon, by the genius which had summoned it to the field, met, defeated, and chased the invader to the very walls of Vienna, and there sat down and waited, unhappily in vain, th concerted rising of the German republicans for the overthrow of the empire. The constitutional assembly of Austria, although cheered by popular victories, vacillated, and then of course cowered, and at last, amid the decimation of the patriots, abandoned the easy revolution. Hungary was thus left alone. Her constitutional compact and oath embarrassed the emperor. He therefore resigned, and his son, a youth of seventeen, sprang into the throne, spurning the hateful ceremonies of a Hungarian coronation, and trampling the Constitution of St. Stephen into the

« PreviousContinue »