The County Councils were re-established. Their first action was to dismiss the Austrian officials who had been planted on the counties during the Ten Tears’ Tyranny, their second to strike out the rate for supporting the Austrian Army, their third to order the tax-collectors to collect no taxes unless levied by authority of the Hungarian Parliament. “What is the object sought after by the Hungarian County Councils?” asked a Vienna journal indignantly. Its answer to its own question did not convey the truth half so well as the prompt reply of the County Council of Pesth: “To sweep away every trace of Austrian rule, and hold Hungary for the Hungarians.” Francis Josef was disconcerted. He invited Deak to come and discuss matters with him, and Deak went. Francis Josef promised Deak that he would satisfactorily settle the Hungarian question, and assured Deak he might banish all suspicion from his mind as to Francis Josef’s bona-fides. Deak was not bamboozled, but he decided to remove all pretext for breaking faith from Francis Josef’s grasp. Therefore Deak advised the County Councils to a less strenuous policy until the Parliament met and they saw what kind of a Parliament it was to be, and the County Councils bowed to Deak’s statesmanship, and tamed their hearts of fire. Suddenly the news came to Pesth that Golouchowski had resigned and that You Schmerling had succeeded him, and then came the news that Schmerling had a policy which was infallibly to settle the Hungarian question and the Bohemian question and the Croatian question and the other questions that disturbed the Austrian Empire. Forty years later certain English statesmen rediscovered Schmerling’s profound policy and labelled it “Home Rule All Round.” Schmerling proposed to establish, or re-establish, local Parliaments in the different countries of the Empire, these Parliaments having control over internal affairs, but no control over Imperial taxation, military matters, foreign affairs, and so forth. An Imperial Parliament in Vienna was to control all such things. This Imperial Parliament was to consist of 343 members, of whom Hungary was to have 85, Bohemia 56, Transylvania 20, Moravia 22, Upper and Lower Austria 28, Croatia and Slavonia 9, Styria 13, the Tyrol 12, and the smaller States smaller numbers. Hungary received the Schmerling policy with a cry of derision. “Do you think Hungarians are going to discuss the affairs of their country with foreigners in a foreign city?” they asked. “You are mad, or else you seek to insult us.” Excitement grew in Pesth, and Deak had to use all his influence to restrain the people from proceeding to acts of violence against the Home-Rule-cum-Empire Party, which was almost wholly composed of Austrians or the sons of Austrians. “Be calm.” said he to the people; “await the meeting of the Diet. A single false step and all may be ruined.” The Emperor’s warrant for the convening of the Diet was received, and Deak was immediately elected for Pesth. Three hundred representatives in all were elected that March of 1861, two hundred and seventy of them being avowedly anti-Austrian, and the handful hurlers on the ditch. When they had been elected they refused to meet in the Castle of Buda, whither they had been summoned. “The Constitution of 1848 fixed our meeting place in Pesth,” they said, “and in Pesth we meet or not at all.” The Austrians fought, cajoled, and gave way. The result was hailed as a great national victory, since in her despite Austria had been forced to recognise the Laws of ’48. On the 6th of April. 1861, the Hungarian Parliament was opened by the Royal Commissioner, Count George Apponyi. The deputies went dressed in the national costume of Hungary, and when gathered in the hall they, with a simultaneous impulse, shouted the dying words of Count Louis Batthyany, the Premier of Hungary, as he fell in 1849, beneath the bullets of his Austrian executioners, “Eljen a haza!” “My country for ever!” Then Francis Josef’s message was read by Francis Josef’s Commissioner. His Majesty felt deeply, he said, that mistrust and misunderstanding had arisen between Austrians and Hungarians, and he wished to restore peace and harmony. To that end he invited the Hungarian Legislature to meet, look after Hungary’s gas-and-water, and send representatives to the Imperial Parliament in Vienna. The hall resounded with the scornful laughter of the deputies of the Hungarian people. Francis Deak calmed the tumult. It was sought, he said, to have them transfer to a foreign assembly sitting in the capital of a foreign country, and calling itself an Imperial Parliament, the right of making laws for themselves and their children. Who would acquiesce?” “None!” shouted the representatives of Hungary with one voice. “None, indeed,” said Deak, “and let us in terms consonant with the dignity of our nation tell him so who has proposed it.” Whereupon Deak drew up and the Hungarian Parliament adopted the famous “First Address of the Hungarian Diet of 1861 to His Imperial Majesty Francis Josef, Emperor of Austria, in reply to his Speech to the Parliament of the Free Kingdom of Hungary.” In this great document, every line breathing manliness, patriotism, and resolution, Deak stated the case of Hungary, not for Francis Josef only, but for all the world. The Loyal Addresser, as we know him in Ireland, had ceased to exist in the Hungary of 1861:

“The twelve years which have just elapsed,” said the Address, “have been to us a period of severe suffering. Our ancient Constitution has been suspended. We have been grievously oppressed by a system of power hitherto unknown to us. The burden of this crushing system has been exercised by Imperial agents, who have carried it out with vindictive feelings, with narrow powers of apprehension, and often with evil intent. In their eyes the feeling of liberty was a crime; fond attachment to our nationality and the purest patriotism were not less so. These men have exhausted the strength of our land, have converted the property of the nation “to illegal purposes, and have made our nationality an object of persecution. Each day brought new sufferings; each suffering tore from our bosom another fibre of faith and confidence.” “We suffered,” continued the Address, but in manly triumph added, “we were not untrue to ourselves” – hence Austria is forced to abandon Absolutism, and “We, the representatives of Hungary, assemble to recommence our constitutional activity.” The first step we are called on to take, say the addressers bluntly, is a painful one – because it is to send you, Francis Josef, an address, while still illegalities and tyranny exist; but our first duty we know – it is “to devote our united strength and all our capabilities that Hungary may remain Hungary. If the independence of our country be menaced, it is our duty as men to raise our common voice against the attack.” And it is threatened, continue the addressers – threatened by the very first step which you, Francis Josef, have taken in a Constitutional direction. It has been violated in that the Hungarian Constitution has been only re-established conditionally, deprived of its most essential attributes. It has been violated by the Diploma of October.

“That Diploma would rob Hungary for ever of the ancient provisions of her Constitution, which subject all questions concerning public taxation and the levying of troops throughout Hungary solely to Hungary’s Parliament; it would deprive the’ nation of the right of passing, in concurrence with the King, its own laws on subjects affecting the most important material interests of the land. All’ matters relating to money, credit, the military establishments, customs, and commerce of Hungary – these essential questions of a political national existence – are placed under the control of an Imperial Parliament, the majority of whose members will be foreigners. There these subjects will be dis- cussed from other than Hungarian points of view, with regard to other than Hungarian interests. Nor is that all in the field of administration this Diploma makes the Hungarian Government dependent on the Austrian – on a Government which is not even responsible, and in the event of its becoming so would render an account not to Hungary, but to the Imperial Parliament, who would give us no guarantee for our interests where they should come into collision with those of Austria. Were this idea to be realised Hungary would remain Hungary only in name, whilst in reality she would become an Austrian province. This forcible attempt directed, in defiance of right against us and our constitutional independence is not only in opposition to our laws, but is an attack on the Pragmatic Sanction – on that fundamental State compact concluded in the year 1723 between Hungary and the reigning House.”

The Address then recites the history and provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction, and asks what surety could Hungary have that in an Imperial Parliament overwhelmingly foreign in race and divergent in interest, Hungarian rights and interests would be respected. Such a Parliament would necessarily place Hungarian affairs under the control of an Austrian majority – “It would make our interests dependent on an entirely foreign policy.” Further on the Address continues: “We cannot consent to the withdrawal from the province of the Hungarian Diet of the right to decide all and every matter concerning public taxation and the raising of military forces. As we entertain no wish to exercise the right of legislation over any other country, so we can divide with none but the King of Hungary the right of legislation over Hungary; we can make the Government and administration of Hungary depend on none other than its king, and cannot unite the same with the Government of any other country – therefore, we declare that we will take part neither in the Imperial Parliament nor in any other assembly whatsoever of the representatives of the Empire; and, further, that we cannot recognise the right of the said Imperial Parliament to legislate on the affairs of Hungary, and are only prepared to enter on special occasions into deliberation with the constitutional peoples of the hereditary States as one independent nation with another.”

“Do you want to be crowned King of Hungary?” continued the Address in effect. “Very well; first comply with the law – cease to illegally suspend our Constitution, and then we shall arrange about your coronation.” And the Address concluded: “Neither might nor power is the end of government; might is only the means – the end is the happiness of the people… The King of Hungary becomes only by virtue of the act of coronation legal King of Hungary; but the coronation is coupled with certain conditions prescribed by law, the previous fulfilment of which is indispensably necessary. The maintenance of our constitutional independence and of the territorial and political integrity of the country inviolate, the completion of the Diet, the complete restoration of our fundamental laws, the reinstitution of our Parliamentary Government and our responsible Ministry, and the setting aside of all the still surviving consequences of the Absolute System are the preliminary conditions which must be carried into effect before deliberation and conciliation are possible.”

On the 5th of July a messenger sped from Pesth to Vienna with the Address of the Hungarian Parliament to Francis Josef. A day or two later and all the world heard of it. The Press of Vienna exploded with indignation. “Here,” said they, “we have offered the right hand of friendship to the Hungarians, and the lazy, good-for-nothing, ungrateful scoundrels spit upon it, because, for- sooth, we don’t offer and give them full permission to disrupt the Empire.” The English Parliament was highly indignant. England was aiming to get Austria and Prussia into war at that time in the hope that Prussia’s growing commerce might be destroyed. “This fellow, Deak,” said the liberty-loving legislators of London, “is really no better than a Red Republican. He rejects the generous offer of the estimable Emperor Francis Josef, and cunningly blinds the fatuous mob to the great superiority of the Imperial-Parliament-plus-Home-Rule-All-Round policy to his own, which is nothing more nor less than to make Hungary absolutely independent of Austria, acknowledging only the Emperor as King. It is patent to any ordinary intelligence that it would be wholly impossible for Austria and Hungary to subsist under such an arrangement for a year[1].” “For a year,” wrote an English follower of Lord Macaulay – “nay, not for six months. If Deak’s scheme were put into operation, Hungary would be crushed in six months’ time.” However, the Hungarians declined to be instructed either by Vienna or by London, and awaited calmly the reply of Francis Josef to their Loyal Address.

[1] The Right Hon. Mr. Peacocke and Lord John Russell declared in the English Parliament that if Austria yielded to Hungary’s claims, Austria “might as well dismember the Empire.” “If we made such a concession” [to Ireland], said Peacocke, “We should not only Repeal the Union we should restore the Heptarchy.” Lord Bloomfield, the English Ambassador in Vienna, urged the Emperor to refuse to accept the Hungarian Address.