The Pesth County Council protested against the illegal dissolution of the Hungarian Parliament. The Emperor replied by ordering the Pesth County Council to be itself dissolved. The County Council disregarded the Emperor’s order and continued to hold its meetings, until the Austrian soldiery entered the Council Chamber and turned them out by force. As the Councillors emerged into the streets they shouted with one voice: “Eljen a Magyar Huza!” “God save Hungary!” The shout was re-echoed by the people who had congregated outside, and who, raising the Councillors on their shoulders, carried them through the streets, singing the Hungarian National Anthem. From the windows of his house the Chairman of the County Council addressed his fellow-citizens: “We have been dispersed by tyrannic force – but force shall never overawe us,” he said. “Austrians violate Justice and the Law, and then tell us we are disloyal subjects. When they restore what they have taken from us, then let them talk of loyalty. Until then, countrymen, let us make ourselves as disagreeable to them as we can. To-day the soldiers of the Emperor of Austria have driven the representatives of the people of the capital of Hungary from their assembly-house, and the representatives of the people answer Francis Josef that never shall he pervert Hungary into Austria – never subdue the Hungarian spirit – never live to see our noble nation an Austrian province. Hungary for ever! Hungary for the Hungarians!”

Every County Council throughout the land followed the example of the County Council of Pesth and shared its fate. The officials of the County Councils patriotically refused to transfer their services to the Austrians, and for a little time something like anarchy prevailed in the land. Francis Josef appointed a Hungarian renegade named Palffy military governor, and proclaimed a coercion regime. A Press censorship was established, all local governing bodies were superseded by Austrian officials, and trial by Removables instituted. “The disloyalty of the Hungarian local bodies pains my paternal heart,” said Francis Josef. “I come here,” said Palffy, “as a good chief and a kind friend.” “Behold the good chief and kind friend,” said a Pesth newspaper, “Palffy – the renegado. Judas, we salute thee.” Palffy suppressed the newspaper and resumed: “The welfare of Hungary has always been and always will be proportioned to the loyalty of its people to the Emperor. See? Those who preach otherwise are seditious, blasphemous, or harebrained persons. Be loyal and you will be happy.” Whereupon a Hungarian humorist wrote a rude rhyme which he entitled “The Austrian Thieves.” “The Austrian Thieves” became a popular song in Hungary, and the tune to which it was sung was heard one day by Palffy played by a military band. Thereupon he summoned all the military bandmasters before him. “In future,” said he, “observe that no revolutionary tunes are played by your bands, and above all, take care not to play that seditious new song, ‘The Austrian Thieves.'”  “Your Excellency,” said one bandmaster, gravely, “it is not a new song – it is a very old tune.”

Deak admonished the people not to be betrayed into acts of violence nor to abandon the ground of legality. “This is the safe ground,” he said, “on which, unarmed ourselves, we can hold our own against armed force. If suffering be necessary, suffer with dignity.” Meantime Deak walked about Pesth smoking his pipe, and gathered his friends around him each night in the Queen of England Hotel, discussing affairs. He had given the order to the country – Passive Resistance – and the order was obeyed. When the Austrian tax-collector came to gather the taxes, the people did not beat him or hoot him they declined to pay him, assuring him he was a wholly illegal person. The tax-collector thereupon called in the police and the police seized the man’s goods. Then the Hungarian auctioneer declined to auction them, and an Austrian of his profession had to be brought down. When he arrived he discovered he would have to bring bidders from Austria, also. The Austrian Government found in time that it was costing more to fail to collect the taxes than the taxes, if they were collected, would realise. In the hope of breaking the spirit of the Hungarians, the Austrians decreed that soldiers should be billeted upon them. The Hungarians did not resist the decree – but the Austrian soldier, after a little experience of the misery of living in the house of a man who despises you, very strongly resisted it. And the Hungarians asserted that from their enforced close acquaintance with the Austrian army they found it to be an institution they could not permit their sons, for their souls’ sake, to enter, wherefore they proposed that enlistment in the Austrian army was treason to Hungary, and it was carried unanimously.

The eyes of Europe became centered on the struggle, and when the “Imperial Parliament” met in Vienna without the Hungarian representatives turning up to its deliberations, the Prussian and French Press poked such fun at it that it became a topic for laughter throughout Europe. So within nine months of the illegal dissolution of the Hungarian Parliament of 1861, Hungary, without striking a blow, had forced Austria into the humiliating position of a butt for Europe’s jests. “Austria can wait and win,” said Schmerling. “She can’t wait half so long as we can,” replied Deak.

It is always a pleasure to turn to the liberty-loving Press of England for its contemporary criticism on European affairs. The “Times” of 1861 was very sad. It hoped Austria would have been freed to fight Prussia for England’s good, and the Hungarians spoiled the game of the English diplomats. “We would have been pleased,” said the “Times,” “if the Hungarians had united with the Austrians.” “But,” it added, shrewdly, foreseeing the triumph of Hungary, “the Emperor has gone the wrong way to do the right thing[1].” “The right thing,” in English opinion, in 1861, was to deprive Hungary of her Constitution – “Unite” her – but it should have been done in the English New Eraian fashion.

“Why does not,” said the “Times,” on the 24th of August, 1861, “Austria follow our example?” It was because the Austrians, while as tyrannical, were not so hypocritical. They were honest enough to admit that it was not the salvation of Hungarian souls but the nourishing of Austrian bodies that was their prime’ consideration. The “Times” warned the Emperor of the danger that Beak’s policy foreshadowed for him. “Passive Resistance,” it wrote, “can be so organised as to become more troublesome than armed rebellion.” Fortunately for England, Ireland has seldom resorted to passive resistance to her rule in this country, the Irish having been led by their eloquent leaders to believe that Parliamentarianism and Public Meeting are the interpretation of the phrase Moral Force.

[1] “The London “Times,’ censuring the Austrian Government for mismanagement, explained the art of deluding nations and seducing their leaders as practised by England. In the present day the Irish people have seen the process successfully worked on the leaders of the Irish Parliamentary Party. On August 29, 1861, the “Times” wrote in its leading article: “An English Premier, under the circumstances, would have sent for M. Deak; in old times the Sovereign would have ‘closeted’ him. The leader of the Hungarian Diet would have been reasoned with if he was sensible, flattered if he was vain, cajoled if he was weak… That may seem a shabby and undignified way of proceeding, but it is the way in which such things are done. The history of our own Unions is full of crudities which detract rather largely from the grandeur of the transactions We hardly know any cases in which it is so unsafe to look behind the scenes. But the Acts were accomplished without illegality or violence, and perhaps by the best means available at the time. At any rate, the end was ensured, and we are now reaping the benefit of the measures. But how different has been the course of the Austrian Minister!”