Under the Ausgleich or Agreement between Deak on the part of the Hungarian Parliament and Beust on the part of the Austrians, ratified by the Emperor as King of Hungary, the relation of Hungary to Austria is definitively laid down. By it the King pledges himself to uphold in all respects the Constitution, privileges, and territorial independence of Hungary, to convoke within the year another Parliament, if one Hungarian Parliament be dissolved, to recognise the right of Hungary alone to decide on what her contribution to the military forces of the common army shall be. Under the Ausgleich Hungary does not recognise any authority in the Parliament of Vienna, and is free to conclude treaties and arrangements with other nations, on the footing of a free independent nation without consultation with Austria except in certain specified circumstances. Hungary also retains her national army – the Honveds, which she herself raises and pays, her national flag and national ensigns, supreme power over all her territory, her own mint and her own language, none other being legal in public offices, courts of law and in the State Documents.

In Pesth a ministry comprising a Premier, a Minister of Education and Public Worship, a Minister of Finance, a Minister of Justice, a Minister of Agriculture, a Minister of National Defence, and a Minister of the Court sits and is responsible only to the Hungarian Parliament. A similar ministry, save that the Minister of the Court is the Emperor himself, sits at Vienna, responsible to the Austrian Parliament. The Parliament of Vienna consists of 353 members, that in Pesth of 444 – we speak of the elective houses – the Houses of Magnates are hereditary or nominative, somewhat like the English House of Lords – but the power rests finally in the hands of the Lower House, which can compel the House of Magnates to assent to any measure it affirms three times. The rights and powers of both the Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments are equal, and although Austria pays 68 per cent, of the common expenditure, whilst Hungary pays only 32, Hungary has. an absolutely equal vote in the expenditure of the money. The Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments annually elect a delegation of sixty members each, who assemble alternately in Vienna and Pesth, and deliberate separately communicating with each other by written messages, the Hungarian delegates writing in Hungarian, the Austrians in German. The deliberations are on the common affairs of the Empire, and these delegates elect what is styled the “Common Ministry” – a Minister of Foreign Affairs, a Minister of War, and a Minister of Common Finance. These three Ministers are charged with the conduct of the affairs of the Empire in its relations with the outer world only, and they are- responsible not to the Parliament of Hungary nor the Parliament of Austria, but to the delegate selected from each of these. Either Hungarian or Austrian delegates possess the right of initiation. Under no circumstances can any debt be contracted in the name of the Empire or for any Imperial purpose without the consent of Hungary. The name Austro-Hungary is substituted for Austria in all’ official documents. In a word it may be said that the Ausgleich is a compact between two independent nations, agreeing for their better security and territorial integrity to have a common sovereign and to act in concert in regard to foreign affairs[1]. Not all in Hungary considered the Ausgleich satisfactory. The Republicans adhered to the belief that any connection with Austria was a source of weakness, not strength to Hungary. And when Francis Josef came to Pesth for his crowning, the Republican Deputies, who numbered thirteen, held aloof from participation in the ceremonies. But they freely and frankly admitted that Deak had done magnificently for Hungary, and they discountenanced any display of hostility to Francis Josef on the occasion. Francis Josef, who was a tactful man, appreciated this attitude of the Extreme Left, and marked his appreciation by the issue of a proclamation which caused him to be personally esteemed by those who were his political antagonists. It was a proclamation removing every disability and every penalty inflicted for opposition to Austrian rule and an invitation to all Hungarian exiles to return and share in the new freedom of their country. In this proclamation Francis Josef used no word that might hurt the feelings of any of his antagonists – he did not call it “an amnesty” nor a “pardon.” He wrote: “I, Francis Josef, hereby annul all decrees and penalties inflicted upon my Hungarian subjects for any political causes up to this date and restore all lands forfeited, fines exacted,” etc. It was a kingly proclamation, and the exiles said so, while some of them refused to take advantage of it[2]. Francis Josef followed this up by allocating a presentation made him in Pesth of 100,000 ducats to the widows and orphans of the Hungarians who had been slain in the War of Independence – a presentation which greatly added to his popularity.

On the 8th of June, 1867 – eighteen years after the armed effort of Hungary to maintain her Constitution had been crushed in the blood of her people – Francis Josef was in Pesth to formally restore the Constitution of 1848, and pledge himself as King of Hungary to defend it with his life. At seven o’clock in the morning of the happy day, his Majesty, accompanied by his nobles, rode from the palace to the parish church of Buda, above which floated the tricolour of the Hungarian Patriots of 1848, and reaching its door knelt down, until the Primate of Hungary sprinkled him with holy water and touched him with the crucifix, whereupon trumpets and drums sounded, and Francis Josef arose and entered the church, on the high altar of which the crown jewels of Hungary were placed. Approaching the altar, he turned and, facing the congregation, took the oath of allegiance to Hungary in a loud firm voice. “I, Francis Josef,” he cried, “by God’s grace Apostolic King of Hungary, swear by the Living God, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, and by all the saints that I will uphold the liberty of Hungary and the rights, privileges, customs, and liberties of the Hungarian people of every creed and every station, and inviolably maintain the Constitution, privileges, and territorial integrity of Hungary, and do all that may be righteously done to spread the renown and increase the prosperity of this my kingdom. So help me God.” After which the king descended from the altar and bowed down before it, while the Primate and Bishops made the sign of the cross above his head, and the Litany was chanted. Then the monarch was anointed, the royal mantle of St. Stephen placed upon his shoulders, the iron crown placed upon his head, the sword of St. Stephen placed in his hands, which drawing from its sheath, and standing in front of the altar, he flashed before him, then to left and then to right, while outside the cannon thundered the news that the King of Hungary had sworn the oath of allegiance to the Nation.

The sceptre and globe were next handed to the King by the Primate, and he was conducted to the throne by the nobles and the bishops, bearing the insignia of all the nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Primate, standing before the altar, lifted up his hands and prayed for the strength of God to maintain the King while he maintained his oath, and at the end of the prayer bishops, nobles, and congregation joined in three cheers for the King of Hungary. Again the cannon thundered out, and simultaneously all the bells in Buda-Pesth were tolled joyfully.

The procession moved from the church the fifty-two counties of Hungary, each represented by its nobles, its professional men, merchants, artisans, and farmers, all clad in national costume, and all carrying arms, led the way, with the tricolour flag of Hungary waving in the front, after which came the Church dignitaries, then Count Beust, and behind him in the faded green mantle of St. Stephen, with the iron crown on his head, the King of Hungary – after him a long line of notables and regiments of Hungarian Hussars, with their bands playing Hungarian music. Arrived in front of the parish church of Pesth, the King rode his horse up the mound there, and facing the north, drew the sword of St. Stephen from its sheath and cut with it northward, then turning his horse to the south, to the east, to the west in rapid succession, he cut with the sword in each direction – this ceremony signifying that the King called God to witness that come the enemies of Hungary from any quarter of the world, he would defend his kingdom with his life. At the conclusion of this ceremony the people, whose enthusiasm had been wrought up to the highest pitch, burst through the guards like a torrent, and crowded round Francis Josef with a mighty shout of “Long live the King!”

In the evening a. great banquet was held in the palace, and Buda-Pesth was illuminated, so that, to use the description of a perhaps excited chronicler, it looked brighter than in the glare of the midday sun. Bands played throughout the city, and rockets burst all through the night over it. In the meadows along the river bank the people were entertained at a great feast, at which the oxen were roasted whole and the wine supplied in hogsheads. They spent the night in dancing, singing, and generally acting with so much unrestrained enthusiasm that a scandalised English journalist of the time wrote that their conduct was quite Irish! Beust, in his memoirs, tells how, as he was going to the banquet, a white-haired old man, at least eighty years of age, fell on his knees before him as he stepped from the carriage, and clasping his hand, kissed it again and again, passionately exclaiming: “My father, my father!” Count Beust speaks of this incident as a humorous occurrence. Beust’s inability to understand the Magyar mind afterwards led to trouble and his fall from power[3].

For three days Pesth and all Hungary abandoned itself to feasting and merriment, and then resumed its business with seriousness and energy. But Deak did not participate in the feasting and merrymaking. He was a quiet man and disliked fuss. The Parliament of Hungary – Royalists and Republicans – voted that he should act as Palatine of Hungary that is Protector – and crown Francis Josef. He declined to do so. Francis Josef anxiously asked Andrassy how he could honour Deak. “Sire,” said Andrassy, “you have wealth, titles, offices, and decorations at your disposal; you can honour other men with one or all of them – but with them you cannot honour Deak.” The King then sent Deak a photograph of himself and the Queen in a diamond-mounted frame. Deak declined to accept it, but when the King pressed him anxiously to know some -way in which he could express the esteem and gratitude he felt for one who so long had been his resolute antagonist, “Sire,” Deak replied, “when I am dead, you can say ‘Francis Deak was an honest man.'”

Deak had declined to be Prime Minister, declined to be a member of the Cabinet. He wished to retire to his little home at Kehida – his whole fortune amounted to just £300 a year – and finish his life in the calm happiness of rural retirement, but his countrymen appealed to him to remain in Parliament, and he did so, with a sigh. For nine years he remained a simple member of the House, but stronger than any minister in it, and when he died – in 1876 – his death was the occasion of an unprecedented outburst of grief. Hungary bowed herself in mourning. As his funeral passed through the streets the people knelt and wept on the pavements. By his own request his grave was made a plain one. A truly great man, he was like all the truly great ones of the world, simple and unostentatious to the end. The Queen of Hungary wept tears of genuine sorrow above his coffin. The King of Hungary, whom for years he had fought foot to foot, whom he neither flattered nor failed to sternly condemn when occasion demanded, mourned with the Hungarian people when Deak died. “In him,” said Francis Josef, “we have lost our noblest and our greatest man.”

[1] “Though the Emperor of Austria and the King of Hungary happens to be the same physical person, he is juridically two persons, his prerogative in the one case being entirely different from his prerogative in the other. For instance, while in Austria the people have only such rights as the Emperor has allowed them, in Hungary the position is reversed, and the King has only such rights as the people have allowed him in the Constitution. In Austria the Emperor may issue ordinances which have the force of law, even to collect taxes and levy recruits; in Hungary the King may do nothing of the kind. If he should attempt to “do so any officials that dared to assist him would be guilty of high treason, and dealt with for that capital crime. As in the laws of all civilised nations, it is an act of treason for a subject to appeal to a foreign sovereign, so it is treason for a subject of the King of Hungary to appeal to the Emperor of Austria. All Hungarian institutions are based on the firm bedrock fact of an independent Hungarian Kingdom. There is an Austrian Parliament and a Hungarian Parliament, but there is no such thing as an Austro-Hungarian Parliament; consequently there are no Austro-Hungarian M.P.’s; neither are there any Austro-Hungarian subjects. They may belong to either the one State or the other, but not to both. The actual true significance of the term Austro-Hungary…. is that two independent nations, called respectively Austria and Hungary, have become united for certain definite purposes to their material advantage. Simply that and nothing more nor less than that. – “De Lisle’s “Hungary of the Hungarians” (1914).

[2] Kossuth, who was averse from the Ausgleich, declined to take advantage of the Emperor’s proclamation, holding that Austria was not to be trusted; but seventeen years later in 1884 he declared his reacceptance of the House of Hapsburg, convinced the Ausgleich was honestly upheld. His son, Francis Kossuth, is one of Hungary’s present political leaders.

[3] The London “Times” special correspondent, in a series of supercilious but well-written articles, wrote on the occasion: “Such a sight as Festh now presents will probably never be shown again. It is quite impossible to give an idea of the splendour of some of the dresses in which, however, the servants vie with their masters in all except buckles, buttons and clasps of precious stones… Under all their loyalty to the King of Hungary there is a feeling that they have won a victory over the Emperor of Austria. He is vanquished, and in his triumph as a King he acknowledges his submission as the Kaiser of the adjacent Empire with which they are allied… To-night there will be another people’s feast, and more oxen will be roasted or put on the spit entire, and more wine drunk, and more boors get drunk, and dance and sing and fight each other á la Irlandaise. Within a four days’ journey of our shores there is now in progress a scene such as might have been witnessed in the old barbaric world, when Kings were crowned with strange magnificence… The proceedings were in Hungarian, and among the many phenomena connected with the present position of the Kingdom none is more remarkable than the fact that the Magyar language has been raised almost from the dead within the memory of man. It owes its present use to Count Szechenyi, for up to his time it was scarcely known, or, if known, was never used in society by the Magyar nobles, and was restricted to the peasantry. When he began to speak it he was scarcely understood by his class; he was almost laughed at for his persistence in adopting it in every-day life. Now it is indeed as much national as is our own speech, although Hungarians have not lost their polyglot powers, and all Magyar gentlemen speak German and French, and many of them English.”