On the 21st of July the Emperor Francis Josef replied to the Address of the Hungarian Diet. “Faithful subjects,” said he, “you are acting in an extremely silly manner. You want the right to decide on taxation and other matters for Hungary – why, I offer you the privilege of coming into our Imperial Parliament here in Vienna and deciding, in conjunction with my other faithful subjects, the taxation for the whole Empire. Your Little Hungary ideas are neither patriotic nor wise. Develop an Imperial soul, and get out of your parochial rut. Reflect how much finer it is to be a citizen of the Empire than the beadle of a parish. Besides, your law, history, and facts are altogether wrong. Hungary is subordinate to Austria. God and Nature intended her to be so. Set to at once and elect your representative to the Imperial Parliament, and remain assured of our Imperial Royal grace and favour.” These words were not the Emperor’s exact words, but they give the true spirit of the reply. It was read to the Parliament at Pesth amid cries of anger. But Deak, cool and farseeing, held the fiercer spirits in check, and on the 12th of August the Deputies, on his motion, adopted the celebrated “Second Address of the Parliament of Hungary to Francis Josef.” Deak was its author, of course, as he was the author of the preceding one. Calmly he examined each claim put forward on behalf of Austrian control of Hungary, and calmly he disproved each claim. He exhibited Francis Josef and his Ministers to the world as Violaters of the Law, Rebels to the Constitution. “We asked not for concessions,” says the Second Address, “we proposed no new laws for the further security of our rights. We demanded only that the Law be observed – we asked that legality and constitutional procedure should entirely, not partially, take the place of absolute force. The Rescript which your Majesty sent us positively refused to satisfy our rightful wishes. From its contents and spirit we have come to the painful conviction that your Majesty does not wish to reign over Hungary in the spirit of the Constitution!”

“Your Majesty,” the Address continues, “has, in violation of the Pragmatic Sanction, suspended our Constitution and our laws by the force of absolute power, and even now will not cause this arbitrary suspension to cease. You promise to restore us fragments of our Constitution, whilst withdrawing from us its most essential rights. By arbitrary authority you suppress our fundamental laws, and set in their stead an Imperial Diploma and Patent which you wish us to regard as fundamental laws. You require that we should send representatives to an Imperial Parliament, which has been created by arbitrary decree without our concurrence, and that with regard to our most important interests we should transfer to that Parliament the right of legislation which our nation has always exercised in its own Parliament, and that we should surrender the rights of our country by virtue of which it has always determined its own taxation and the levies of troops, and that we should submit ourselves in these matters to the Imperial Parliament. You set aside the fundamental principle of every constitutional government that sanctioned laws can only be repealed by the collective legislative factors. Your steps throughout are so unconstitutional as to menace the very existence of the Pragmatic Sanction – to set aside all that is contained in it as a fundamental contract in the shape of conditions for the security of the nation… The Constitutional Independence of the country is seriously infringed by the very fact that, without the previous consent of the Hungarian Parliament, you ordain laws and command us to send representatives to the Imperial Parliament. Thus, you act as if the Hungarian Parliament were a body bound to accept the commands emanating from the sole will of the sovereign as law – nay, as if it were bound to inscribe them in the statute-book, even though they were in opposition to the Constitution and the sanctioned statutes of the realm. In what, then, would the constitutional independence of Hungary consist, and where would be the guarantee of this independence if at a future period a successor of your Majesty, appealing to this precedent, should act in the same manner with our other laws and rights, and should, by a command of his own power and authority, suppress or modify them without the previous consent of the nation, and then instruct the Diet to complete these mandates in the field of legislation?”

The Address then deals with the consequences of sending members to the Imperial Parliament – it means, it says, that “the disposition over the property and blood of the nation would pass into the hands of a body, the considerable majority of whom would be foreigners – the greater part of them Austrians – and it might easily happen that they would impose burdens upon us in support of interests and in compliance with obligations which are not our interests nor our obligations.”

The Address, in dealing with the Financial Relations of Hungary and Austria, repudiates any liability on the part of Hungary for State Debts contracted without Hungary’s consent. While repudiating them, however, it declares that in order to ensure that the “heavy burdens which the reckless conduct of the Absolute System has heaped upon us may not involve us all in a common ruin “it is willing to go further than its legal duties, require. But it adds, “We will only deal with the matter as a free, independent, separate country, and if our independence is menaced we shall be justified before God and the world in refusing to undertake burdens and obligations which neither law nor equity can claim from us.”

“We could not send deputies to the Imperial Parliament,” says the 66th paragraph of the Address, “without sacrificing our most essential rights and our constitutional independence. That Parliament Hungary could not enter without the anxious fear that, despite all verbal assurances, she would be considered an Austrian province – that under the mask of constitutionalism the attempt at incorporation which the Absolute Power has so often and unsuccessfully attempted was to be renewed.” “A forced unity,” the Address continues, “can never make an Empire strong. The outraged feeling of the individual States and the bitterness arising from the pressure of force awaken the desire for separation, therefore the Empire would be the weakest just at the moment when it would be in want of its united strength and the full enthusiasm of its peoples. The position of an Empire as a Great Power whose unity can only be maintained by force of arms is precarious and least safe in the moment of danger. The mutilation of the political rights of a country is an in- justice, and will always give rise to feelings of bitterness and discontent. A State which by its well-ordered relations can offer its citizens material prosperity can for a time venture upon such a step with comparative impunity, for with many the satisfaction of material interests diminishes the feeling of the loss, although it can never be a politic measure even in such a State to deprive a nation of its rights. But if a State, whether through errors or through, misfortune, can do very little for the increase of material prosperity – nay, is compelled for self-support to impose fresh burdens on its nearly exhausted citizens, to call again and again for new sacrifices – such a State is acting in opposition in abridging the political rights of a nation, and thus outraging its feelings. The heavy burdens press more heavily as the conviction gains ground that the political rights are menaced; the just feeling of bitterness undermines every willingness to sacrifice, and extinguishes all confidence in a Power which cannot aid the material interests of its citizens and will not spare their political rights.”

The Second Address reiterated the fearless and manly declaration of the first one. “With the most profound respect, and at the same time with the sincerity we owe to your Majesty, our country and ourselves, we declare that we hold fast to the Pragmatic Sanction, and to all the conditions contained in it without exception, and that we cannot regard or recognise as constitutional anything which is in contradiction of it… We protest against the exercise, on the part of the Imperial Parliament, of any legislative or other power over Hungary in any relation whatsoever. We declare that we will not send any Representatives to the Imperial Parliament, and further, that any election by other instrumentality will be an attack on our Constitution, and we declare that any person elected by such means cannot in any respect represent Hungary[1]. Whereas, no one has a right to regulate the affairs of Hungary, except by authority of the lawful king, and of the constitutionally-expressed will of the nation, we hereby declare that we must regard as unconstitutional and non-binding all Acts or ordinances of the Imperial Parliament referring to Hungary or its annexed parts. We further declare that we cannot regard as constitutional with reference to Hungary, and therefore as binding, any State burden or obligation founded by the Imperial Parliament, any loan contracted by its authority, or the sale of any Crown property sanctioned by it, and that we shall regard such as having taken place unlawfully and without the consent of the land. We declare that we will maintain unimpaired the right of the nation to vote its supplies and regulate its taxes and military levies in its own Parliament, and will never agree to the transfer of these rights to the Imperial Parliament… We declare finally, that we are compelled to regard the present administration of the country, especially the despotic conduct of unconstitutional officials, as illegal and subject to punishment according to the laws of the country; and the direct and indirect taxes imposed in violation of the law and levied by military force as unconstitutional… Your Majesty by your Royal Rescript has rendered common understanding impossible, and has broken off the thread of negotiations. The Royal Rescript does not stand on the footing of the Hungarian Constitution, but it establishes as fundamental laws the Imperial Diploma and Patent which emanated from absolute power and are in opposition to our Constitution. We are bound by our duty to our country, by our position as representatives, and by our convictions, to the Hungarian Constitution, and on this footing alone our deliberations must take place. These two directions deviating from, nay, opposed to one another, cannot lead to the wished-for union. Our most holy duty has pointed out the direction we must take. We must therefore declare with the greatest sorrow that in consequence of the Royal Rescript we are also compelled to regard the thread of negotiations through the Diet as broken up.”

“It is possible,” the Address concludes, “that over our country will again pass hard times; we cannot avert them at the sacrifice of our duties as citizens. The Constitutional freedom of the land is not our possession in such a sense that we can; freely deal with it; the nation has with faith entrusted it to our keeping, and we are answerable to our country and to our conscience. If it be necessary to suffer, the Nation: will submit to suffering in order to preserve and hand down to future generations that Constitutional Liberty it has inherited from its forefathers. It will suffer without losing courage, as its ancestors have endured and suffered, to be able to defend the rights of the country; for what might and power take away time and favourable circumstances may restore, but the recovery of what a nation renounces of its own accord through fear of suffering is a matter of difficulty and uncertainty. Hungary will suffer, hoping for a great future and trusting in the justice of its cause.” On the 12th of August the Second Address of the fearless Hungarian Parliament was despatched to Francis Josef at Vienna. On the 21st Francis Josef replied by dissolving the Parliament[2]. The Deputies declined to acknowledge his act as leg-al, and in solemn procession marched to the House, which was occupied by Austrian soldiers, who at the bayonet’s point kept them out. Deak, turning from the House, lit a cigar and walked back to his hotel, where he joined in a game of bowls. “What is the news?” asked his landlord. “Austria,” said Deak, as he knocked down the ninepins, “has declared “war.”

[1] “The Hungarians perceive very plainly that this one point involves all, and though they would yield a little on other matters they are unanimous in resisting the summons.” London “Times,” August 13, 1861.

[2] “The Hungarian Diet has been invited to do at this time,” wrote the London “Times” in August, 1861, precisely what the Irish Parliament did at the end of the last century, and by a fictitious extension of the parallel we can understand exactly what is now occurring at Pesth. The Irish Parliament assented, as everybody is aware, after some vehement debating, to the proposed Union, and the incorporation of the two States was lawfully and peaceably consummated. Let us suppose, however, for illustration sake, that the Irish Parliament had refused its assent and had claimed to stand on its own rights and privileges in preference to amalgamating with the Parliament of the Empire. Now if under such circumstances we can conceive that George III had dissolved the refractory Assembly with “threats of military force, had declared that Ireland possessed no valid privileges, having forfeited them all in the recent rebellion, had left the Irish to return members to Westminster as soon as they thought better of their duties, and in the meantime had sent troops to live at free quarters on the Irish people – if we can imagine an English monarch adopting a policy such as this, we shall get an exact idea of the course pursued by the Austrian Government at the present day.”