The light from the window of Francis Deak’s room in the Pesth hotel irritated and alarmed the ministers of darkness. An Austrian garrison, politely called a police force, even as is the Royal Irish Constabulary, occupied Hungary. Its duties were very similar – to keep the movements of Hungarian Nationalists under surveillance by day, to pay them domiciliary visits by night, to report or disperse any assembly of Hungarians whereat the National feeling was fearlessly voiced, to superintend with their bayonets the confiscation of the soil, and to seize and destroy Hungarian newspapers or prints which had courage enough to beard and denounce the Tyranny. An Austrian Lord Lieutenant sat in Pesth and erased the historic territorial divisions of Hungary, the Hungarian Parliament was declared dead as Caesar, and a swarm of hungry Austrian bureaucrats ruled the land. Trial by jury was abolished, and Austrian removables, at 4,000 roubles per annum, manned the Bench; the Hungarian language was officially prohibited in the transaction of public business, and fired neck-and-crop out of the schools; and even as animosity and distrust are sought to be kindled and kept alive between Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant by the English Government, so the Austrian Government sought to kindle and keep alive race-hatred in Hungary.

And yet Francis Deak, sitting on the Bridge of Buda-Pesth on a sunny afternoon, encouraging little boys to throw hand-springs and telling little girls stories of gnomes and ogres and beautiful princesses rescued by gallant cavaliers who always bore good Hungarian names – Francis Deak sauntering along to Parade chatting to the disengaged, and Francis Deak by night in his hotel discussing the history, literature, and general position of Hungary, with men of different callings, violently disturbed the equanimity of the bureaucrats in Pesth – yet why they could not say. The wave of disturbance rolled on to Vienna, and the statesmen there hit upon a subtle plan for the extinction of Hungarian Nationality beyond the power of all the Kossuths and the Deaks in the world to revive. This was to incorporate Hungary in the Germanic Confederation, so that if at any time Hungary again attempted to raise her head, not only Austria, but Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and all the other countries of Germany would be bound to swoop down on her. But France intervened. Austria bluffed, but France remained firm. “We shall treat the attempt to obliterate Hungary as a casus belli,” said the French Government, whereupon Austria caved in, and furthermore the State of Siege was abolished.

The abolition of the State of Siege was little change in one way the bureaucracy still ruled the land, and the Constitution was still in abeyance – but it permitted Deak to carry out one side of his policy with greater freedom. The Kostelek or Agricultural Union which he had founded set itself to compete with Austrian farm produce and wipe it out of the home and foreign market; the Yedegylet or National Protective Union which Kossuth had founded was freer now to wage war on the Austrian manufacturer, and the National Academy was freer to preach love of Hungary’s literature and Hungary’s language, than hitherto. The Hungarian exiles co-operated with the people at home – they sought support in the countries where they dwelt for Hungarian products and aroused sympathy and appreciation for Hungarian literature. It was in 1854 the State of Siege was abolished – in 1857 the progress of Hungary was a “cause of serious apprehension to the Court of Vienna.”

And all this time Francis Deak, the guiding and directing mind, never appeared on a public platform, never made a single speech, never moved a resolution solemnly protesting against Austrian despotism.

Bach in Vienna was alarmed and disconcerted. He felt it necessary that Beak’s influence should be destroyed, but how to destroy it puzzled him. At last he hit on an idea as brilliant and original as a modern Englishman himself could conceive – the idea of “a Royal Visit.” “You must visit Pesth, sire,” said he to Francis Josef. And Francis Josef prepared to visit Pesth. The Pesth newspapers were instructed to announce that a new era was about to dawn. Francis Josef was coming to Pesth – he was coming to restore the confiscated estates of the political offenders, and shower blessings on the people, and, therefore, he should be accorded a loyal and enthusiastic reception. Francis Deak would, of course, welcome him with open arms, for Deak was a loyal man. “I am,” said Deak, “to the King of Hungary.” “And, of course, the Emperor of Austria is King of Hungary,” suggested the reptile Press. “He is entitled to be,” said Deak, “when he complies with the law, swears to uphold the Constitution of Hungary, and is crowned with the crown of St. Stephen in Buda. I am a Hungarian – I owe allegiance to the King of Hungary – I owe none to the Emperor of Austria.”

The Emperor of Austria arrived in Pesth on Ihe 4th of May, 1857, and was received with prolonged and enthusiastic cheers by the Viennese imported into Pesth for the occasion, by the plainclothes policemen, the Austrian officials and the members of their families, and by the lion-and-unicorn shopkeepers. The people looked on at the magnificent procession, which entered the city un- der a triumphal arch erected by public subscription of the Austrian bureaucrats and their hangers-on in Pesth bearing the inscription “God has sent You.” But it was really Bach. The procession paraded the city in the following order: –

A Band of Austrian Lancers.

A Detachment of Lancers.

A Detachment of the Rifle Brigade.

 A Band of Court Trumpeters.

 Police Officials.

Carriages of Loyal Nobles.

Prince Paul Esterhazy in his State Carriage, with twenty-five Running Footmen.

Prince Nicholas Esterhazy in a Carriage-and-Six, with twenty-two Running Footmen.

The Cardinal Archbishop in a Carriage-and-Six.

A Brass Band.

Twelve Bishops in Carriages-and-Four.

A Bishop on Horseback with a Silver Cross.

The Emperor on Horseback.

The Empress in a Carriage, wearing a Hungarian Hat.

Six Gingerbread Coaches with the Ladies of the Court.

A Brass Band.

The Emperor was received at the triumphal arch by the Mayor of the town – one Yon Connrad – who assured him of his own loyalty and that of the people of Pesth – after which Von Connrad had to be protected by the police from his loyal fellow-citizens.

A Te Deum was sung in the Castle, and a great display of fireworks was given that night at a cost of 5,000 roubles, subscribed “on behalf of the people of Pesth “by the Austrian officials.” It was money well spent,” said the Austrian newspapers. “The people remained out till after midnight viewing the illuminations, on both sides of the bridge, which were simply superb. The spirit of loyalty was everywhere enthusiastically manifested and none who witnessed the glorious scene could feel other than convinced that the visit of His Majesty the Emperor has completely annihilated the schemes of those wicked men who would seek to lead a naturally loyal people like the Hungarians away from their duty and their own best interests – which are inseparably connected with the maintenance of the Empire.”

It was a great time for the officials and seoinini of Pesth. There were levees and balls and banquets and loyal speeches go leor, and the Emperor bubbled over with love for his Hungarian subjects. “I have come to examine into the wishes and necessities of my beloved Hungary,” he said in reply to the address of the Catholic Hierarchy. “It affords me a deep pleasure to be again among my Hungarian people and to show this beautiful land to my dear wife, the Empress. It shall be my continual effort to promote the well-being of my faithful Hungarian people.”

Her Majesty the Empress visited the convent schools with her Hungarian hat on, and insisted on only Hungarian dances being danced before her[1]. His Majesty the Emperor went to the Academy and expressed his admiration for the Hungarian language. “It is surely a New Era,” said the Hungarian jellyfish; “let us present him with an address, Deak.” “No,” said Deak. “Not a grovelling address,” urged the jellyfish; “an address pointing out the grievances under which we labour, and demanding their removal.” Said Deak: “While Francis Josef violates the law and arbitrarily abrogates the Constitution Hungary cannot recognise him.” But the loyal-addressers determined to present an address, and they did. Desewffy drew it up and in it he said: –

“We do not doubt that your Majesty will in the course of your inquiries arrive at the conviction that it will be possible to bring into harmony those historic institutions which are bound up with the life of the nation, and to which the- people are devoutly attached, with the requirements of the age, the necessity for the unity of the monarchy, and the conditions of a strong government. We will readily co-operate with the other subjects of your Majesty in everything that may be needful to maintain the security of the monarchy, to heighten its prestige, and to in- crease its power. In the greatness of your Majesty and the strength of the Empire lie our own security, and in the general welfare of the monarchy our own prosperity. The unity of the monarchy is the result of centuries; it comes from the co-operation of all the national forces of the Empire. A people which has had a past is never able to forget its history. This country has learned the lessons which history teaches, and the interest of your Majesty demands that it should not forget them. Our Fatherland feels and acknowledges the obligations it is under to your Majesty and to the common monarchy; it is ready to discharge these obligations – to do everything but this – to be untrue to itself, to renounce its individual existence, and abjure the creed which is itself founded upon its dynastic feelings and its devotion to the dynasty.”

Cardinal Szilowsky went to the Emperor to present this loyal address, and the Emperor bowed him out. After which the Emperor returned direct to Vienna instead of visiting Keckesmet, where his faithful people had set fire to the triumphal arch under which he was to enter. But the Vienna newspapers proclaimed that the Emperor’s visit had been a marvellous success- and that all Hungary was now loyal. Some Hungarians even desponded and remarked to Deak that the Austrian regime in Hungary seemed certain to endure. “One day,” replied Deak, “I consulted my gardener, who also knew something about architecture, as to the solidity of a vinedresser’s hut which had been erected on my estate. Said the gardener: ‘The building may stand for a long time if the wind does not blow hard.’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘but suppose it does blow hard – and often?”

A few months after the Deak-destroying visit of the Emperor Francis Josef, Bach realised that his grand scheme had been a fiasco Hungary was as strong and as anti-Austrian as ever. “I must fix up Deak,” said Bach, and he again invited him to come to Vienna to discuss the Constitution. “I know nothing of any Constitution, except the Hungarian Constitution; I can only treat on the basis of the Hungarian Constitution,” replied Deak. “Come and let us discuss matters,” urged Bach. “There can be no discussion, no argument, no compromise on the Hungarian Constitution. It still remains and I remain in Pesth,” said Deak. And so the year of Our Lord 1859 dawned for Hungary.


[1] The Empress Elizabeth later became truly friendly to the Hungarian nation, and her influence was exerted in support of Deak. After the Ausgleich and her Coronation as Queen of Hungary she resided much of her time in Hungary, where she is remembered with affection and esteem.