Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have not the honor to acknowledge the receipt of any despatches since your No. 163.
The most important event in this empire since my last despatch is the presentation on the 8th of this month of the project of an address to his Majesty by the Hungarian Diet in answer to the speech from the throne.
A translation of that speech was sent in my despatch No. 137. I have now translated the most important passages of the proposed address and send them herewith. This document, the importance of which, as a manifesto of the great majority of the Hungarian Diet and public, can hardly be overrated, is mainly the work of Francis Deák.
This statesman, undoubtedly by far the most influential and popular personage in the kingdom, who, although himself an advocate, belongs to the middle classes, wields immense power over the highest aristocracy in the most aristocratic country in Europe, seems to possess at this moment the confidence both of the Austrian government and of the Hungarians. Gifted with much eloquence and administrative tact, he has been looked upon as almost the only individual capable of dealing with the great Hungarian question. Whether the sphinx which has been oppressing the imperial house for the last seventeen years will accept the present solution of her riddle and cast herself forever into the abyss, the immediate future will show. It does not seem probable, however, that she will be got rid of so easily.
I have said so much concerning the Hungarian subject in previous despatches that I refrain from wearing your patience with many comments on the present address.
Placing yourself in the position of a Hungarian you would probably admit that the document breathes noble sentiments and expresses reasonable views concerning self-government and the true relations between king and people. But taking the position of a citizen of the Austrian empire you would find it difficult to see much improvement in the present address over that of 1861.
The Emperor as king of Hungary asks the Diet to favor him with views and suggestions as to the October diploma and the February patent. In reply those famous creations are very respectfully but most decidedly despatched by the address to the limbo of all departed or abortive constitutions.
Calmly ringing the death-knell over the constitutional unity of the empire, the address then summons the sovereign in the name of the pragmatic sanction to restore the time-honored “constitutional self-dependence and legal independence” of Hungary. That phrase occurs sixteen times in the document. A mild [Page 636] satisfaction is expressed at the intention of the monarch to invest the other countries under his sceptre with constitutional rights, but no suggestions or criticisms are offered as to the means of carrying out such intention on the ground that Hungary has no right to interfere with the internal affairs of foreign nations.
For herself, Hungary implores that the absolute government which for seventeen years has superseded her ancient, still legal continuing, but practically suspended constitution, shall now he terminated. She demands a parliamentary government at Pesth for all the countries belonging to and annexed to the crown of St. Stephen, a Hungarian cabinet of ministers responsible to that parliament, and the restoration of local self-government in the countries, districts and cities of the kingdom. When that is accorded, she will proceed to the revision of the laws of 1848. She admits that there are affairs common to the Hungarian crown and to the other countries under the monarch’s sceptre, and she is willing to arrange some method of treating those topics as one free and independent nation deals with another free and independent nation. The address states, as you will perceive, that a scheme for this purpose is now in process of elaboration and will soon be laid before his Majesty.
Until that project is made public it is not possible to judge of the whole scope of the present Hungarian policy. But unless the address has made very large and lofty pretensions in the expectation of being obliged to moderate them in the usul course of compromise, the prospect of an arrangement would not seem very hopeful. The official organ of the government of Vienna has already declared the demands of the address for an independent ministry, and the restoration of the municipalities to be inadmissible—on the ground that the unity of the empire in its undivided and indivisible integrity has been proclaimed by his Majesty as the supreme Austrian principle of state, and that to comply with the demands of the address would be equal to a division of the realm.
The problem then to reconcile the “legal self-dependence and constitutional independence” of the kingdom of Hungary with the indivisible unity of the Austrian empire would still seem to be as far from a solution as the quadrature of the circle.
The next step after the address has been accepted by the Diet at Pesth will be the publication of a rescript from the throne in answer to the address—and then the great war of words will begin.
The court is still at Pesth, where the festivities are described as very brilliant. The moment, however, has now arrived for serious business.
I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
P. S.—The copy of the translation of the address being not quite ready, will be sent by the next steamer.