Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress
Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 164, of date January 29th.
I transmit herewith the translation, alluded to in my last, of the most important passages in the project of address by the Hungarian Diet to the Crown.
I think that you will find it useful for reference, as it is the deliberate expression of the opinions entertained by the majority of that assembly upon the great questions by which the empire has been agitated for seventeen years.[Page 637]
It is, I suppose, certain that it will be adopted. It now forms the subject of debate in the Diet, which will apparently be very protracted. Forty members have already inscribed their names to speak. The first speech, made by Mr. Bartal, vice-president of the royal Hungarian stadholderate, occupied three hours in the delivery, and is reported in eighteen columns of the largest-sized newspapers. As it was printed (translated in full out of Hungarian-German) in the semi-official journals of Vienna on the morning after its delivery at Pesth, it is to be regarded rather as a prepared document than a speech—a kind of manifesto of the party in the Hungarian Diet sustaining the present imperial administration. His propositions for compromise are, in brief: a “congress” for deliberation upon the affairs common to the triune-kingdom of St. Stephen, and to the cis-Leithan portion of the Austrian monarchy; this congress to be elected every year by and from the members of the Hungarian Diet on the one part, and the legal representatives of the other provinces of the empire on the other part, in equal proportion; to have public sessions; to be bound by no instructions; to decide conclusively according to the majority of votes. The subjects over which this congress is to dispose are war, foreign intercourse, and such portions of the indirect taxation as is necessary to determine the quota of each “imperial half” for the common expenses. Any changes in or extension of this system are to be dependent on a vote of the Hungarian Diet.
I enter into no discussion of this programme, but merely add that it has very small probabilities of success. It is important, however, on account of the official source from which it comes.
I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Project of the address of the Hungarian Chamber of Deputies to his Imperial Royal Apostolic Majesty.
Your Majesty has decidedly discarded the theory of legal forfeiture, so pernicious, so destructive of all mutual confidence, and in opposition to it has chosen for point of departure the pragmatic sanction as the mutually recognized legal basis. Your Majesty has graciously assured us that your Majesty will maintain inviolably the full integrity of the Hungarian crown. * * *Deeply do we feel the extraordinary difficulties of our important task. We know that there are times of crisis in the life of nations which exercise decisive influence, not only upon the fate of individual citizens, but on the whole future, and sometimes on the existence of the nation. It may be that we are on the threshold of such an epoch. * * * A peaceful development of the regeneration was disturbed, and seventeen years were torn out of the constitutional life of the nation. Time strode forward, circumstances became confused, and we were condemned to inactivity, exactly at the moment when constitutional activity was most needed. That which during those seventeen years might have been easy step by step to complete, and to improve, now, all at once, and especially after all that has happened in the mean time, will be much, very much more difficult to accomplish. * * * * * * *
Your Majesty in taking as point of departure the pragmatic sanction, also recognized that the said fundamental law had guaranteed the independence of Hungary and the parts (Theile) therewith connected, as well in regard to public law as to internal administration. And the legal national limitation of this independence is found by your Majesty only therein “that the said pragmatic sanction has permanently founded the indivisible and inseparable connection (zusammengehöngheit) of the countries (Lünder) standing under the government of the sovereign house of your Majesty, and thereby the position as a great power of the totality of the same.”
At the conclusion of the pragmatic sanction it was the chief object of the monarch that he in case of extinction of the male line might secure the succession to the throne to his descendants in the female line. On the side of the nation, however, the object was that they might choose in the occurrence of the above-mentioned event at once a new royal house in the said female line, and thus avoid the often dangerous consequences of a free election.[Page 638]
The aim as well of the monarch as of the nation was, however, that kingdoms and countries standing according to the ordained succession to the throne under one common ruler, the possession of which was to be indivisible and inseparable, might with united strength the more easily and securely oppose all external and internal enemies. This common security was thus the second principal aim of the pragmatic sanction, and time fully justified this foresight, because, had the pragmatic sanction not been established, and had Hungary in 1723 not accepted it, the kingdoms and countries which since that time have, mutually protective of each other under one ruler, been able to maintain themselves amid the greatest dangers, would at the extinction of the male line of the Hapsburgs, seventeen years later, have probably been scathed under the sovereignty of many different princes. * * *
Your Majesty has indicated as the first task of our Diet “to take measures for consultation upon and treatment of affairs existing in common with the other countries of the monarchy,” and has observed “that the existence of those common affairs finds its recognition in the pragmatic sanction, but that the form for their treatment requires essential alteration in consequence of essentially altered circumstances,” especially for the reason that your Majesty “has invested the other countries with constitutional rights, and that therefore the constitutional influence of the same is inevitable in the treatment of the common affairs.”
We recognize that there are circumstances which interest in common Hungary with the other countries standing under the rule of your Majesty, and our efforts will be thereto directed, that in regard to the fixation and mode of treatment of these relations such measures are taken as, without endangering our constitutional self-government and our legal independence, will accomplish that object. Exactly on this account we are proceeding without delay to the elaboration of a project relating to this end. The purest joy and entire tranquillity are secured to us by your Majesty’s decision to govern all your kingdoms and countries in a constitutional way. Civil freedom is a treasure which does not melt, and is not weakened because others gain civil freedom. * * * We regard the constitutional freedom of all the countries of your Majesty as a support of our own freedom, for we cannot believe that the peoples of those countries desire a constitution which would make the maintenance of our constitutional self-dependence and legal independence, existing for centuries, and guaranteed by the pragmatic sanction, impossible.
We take respectful notice, therefore, that your Majesty has invested your countries not belonging to the Hungarian crown with constitutional rights, and as we said in our address in 1861, “we will hold intercourse with them as with constitutional peoples and a self-dependent free nation with another self-dependent free nation, under guarantee of our independence and their independence.” How the constitutional forms of these countries should be arranged—on what basis their mutual relations be ordered—thereupon we can express no opinion; for this affair concerns exclusively those countries and your Majesty, and we have no right to meddle with it. We can only express the wish that free constitutionalism may as soon as possible come into actual existence in our fatherland and in theirs. In this case we are ready, as we said in our humble address of 1861, “to do what we may do, and what, without violation of our self-dependence and our constitutional rights, we can do, even above the measure of strict duty commanded by law on the basis of equity, and for political reasons, in order that their weal, and therewith our own, may not be crushed under the heavy burdens which the absolute system has heaped up in its progress, and in order that the pernicious consequences of the past hard times may be removed from them and from us.”
Your Majesty was pleased to send to us the diploma of the 20th of October, 1860, and the patent of the 26th of February, 1861, and graciously to summon us to deal in the pacific spirit of moderation with these decisions of your Majesty, and in case the anxieties springing therefrom are not to be set aside, to make some proposal of modification which might be brought into harmony with the vital conditions of the empire of your Majesty.
Your Majesty has further expressed your firm conviction that the treatment of the common affairs included in the October diploma in the sense of a common constitution, had become an inevitable requirement of the united existence of the empire and of its position as a great power, before which all other considerations should move to the background.
Yes, august sovereign, we have pondered these two acts of your Majesty in the pacific spirit of moderation. We do not deny the large signification of the October diploma, in so far as your Majesty thereby gave to your peoples the solemn assurance of your will to rule them constitutionally in the future. This diploma is the foundation-stone of the universal constitutionalism for all those countries of your Majesty which do not belong to the Hungarian crown.
Our constitution, however, did not derive its origin from the October diploma; it is as old as the existence of our country, and has developed itself out of the life of the nation. In Hungary the ever-honored rights of the royal power rest upon the constitution. Under guarantee of the maintenance of this constitution, the Hungarian nation formally elected its kings; under such a guarantee it established of free-will the succession law to the throne of the august house of Austria, as well for the male as female line, and this guarantee has been renewed at every coronation in the royal inaugural diplomas.
As your Majesty in the year 1860 graciously determined in future to renounce the absolute system of government, we hoped with confidence that our legally existing but actually suspended constitution would be re-established, and that your Majesty would, on the basis of [Page 639] the same, in the way of regular legislation, effect any necessary modification of one or another portion of our laws. Our hope was not fulfilled. The solemnly guaranteed rights of Hungary were set aside, and the October diploma granted to the whole empire a common constitution, which was also extended over us.
Into this granted common constitution those essential rights of Hungary were transplanted which the Hungarian nation, according to its inherited constitution, has itself exercised in regard to its own fatherland, and which were never in contradiction to the thorough security of the empire; yes, which have essentially and constitutionally contributed to its preservation.
In regard to the contents of the October diploma, we have ripely considered them and entirely convinced ourselves that the circumscription of the common affairs offered by this diploma in many respects transgresses the limits of the pragmatic sanction; that it takes much away from the legislation of our fatherland, which the complete insurance of the purposes stated in the pragmatic sanction does not at all require. * * *
We declare to your Majesty with sincere confidence that we should, by the acceptance of the provisions and principles of this diploma, bring about the annihilation of our constitution, of our constitutional self-dependence, and, our legal independence.
We propose to develop more in detail our views and our reasons in the proposal which we mean to lay before your Majesty in regard to the fixation of the common relations and the mode of their treatment.
Undoubtedly the patent of 26th of February took its rise in the foundation of the October diploma, but it went far beyond the bounds of that instrument. It did not even spare those rights and special interests of the separate countries which did not stand in contradiction to their common purposes and really common interests.
It appeared rather intended for a process of melting down than of uniting, and therefore the paternal wish of your Majesty that the constitutional freedom of the separate countries, permanently secured by the inmost fraternization of your peoples, might unfold itself on firm foundations, could not go into fulfilment. As little could be realized that which the pragmatic sanction indicated—the tranquillity and sincere unity of sentiments. An experience of four years is at last the proof that the constitution contained in that patent did not accomplish the pacification of the peoples, and practically could not be earned out.
Towards us, however, this patent was a still more decided and sharper expression of the legal forfeiture theory. As Hungary, by the acceptance of the pragmatic sanction, made it possible that the countries belonging to the august reigning house might in future remain altogether under the same monarch and defend and maintain the common security, she certainly did not intend that this union should lead to an incorporation, (verschmelzung.) Yes, it stipulated expressly for itself, even in the pragmatic sanction, the inviolability of the constitutional self-dependence of the country and of its legal independence.
Now, however, the acceptance of the February patent would make that danger more threatening than the October diploma, by its transgression of the limits of law and necessity in its circumscription of the common affairs, would have brought over us.
According to this patent numerous subjects fell into the sphere of a legislative corporation in which the representatives of Hungary, in consequence of their lesser number, would have been on every question dependent on the great majority of the representatives of other countries, and in this way those interests of ours which formerly, in regard to our own fatherland, were taken care of by our own legislature, would have become subordinate to the interests of other lands, * * * and differences and difficulties might often have arisen to give to the common legislature ground or pretext to draw into itself the greater portion of the whole legislative power.
In regard to administration, the February patent has placed the most important portions thereof, so far as concerns Hungary, in the hands of a body of officials entirely independent of our government, to which was also intrusted the direction of the other parts of the administration of the Hungarian government. Thus were created on the same ground, for the same citizens, two entirely different administrative powers. Can two such administrations in a constitutional state be inaugurated without endless clashings and perpetual discord? * * * To accept such annihilation of our constitution and self-dependent autonomy is forbidden to us by the most holy duty of the citizen. * * * * * *
In our address of 1861 we said that we would not hazard the existence of the monarchy. Such a purpose is as far from us now as ever. And as, according to our conviction, the October diploma and the February patent are not to be brought into harmony with the vital conditions of our fatherland, we shall strive to lay such a proposition before your Majesty as is suited to insure our constitutional self-dependence as well as the vital conditions of the monarchy. * * * * * * * * * *
In our second humble address to your Majesty in 1861 we declared “that there were single points among the provisions of the laws of 1848, which we, even under the inviolable maintenance of the rights of the people, wished to alter and more perfectly to develop.” We also declared that “if your Majesty demands a modification of the laws in whatever part, the restored Diet would at once take into consideration ail those propositions which in this regard the responsible Hungarian ministry of your Majesty would lay before us, and would communicate the decision to your Majesty.” We declare ourselves ready still, so far as in regular [Page 640] way of legislative modification of any law may be necessary, to lay before your Majesty our proposals concerning the fundamental principles of our constitution. * * * It is the inmost wish of the Hungarian nation to be able to place the crown of the holy Stephen on the head of our hereditary king, that at last may be fulfilled what ominous events have for seventeen years prevented. * * * * * * *
Our political life is at present uncertain and wavering, and only your Majesty can put an end to these uncertainties by actually restoring our constitution, and sealing this restitution by the coronation. * * * * * * *
We express our sincere thanks to your Majesty for summoning the Croatian-Slavonian Diet, that it might provide betimes for its due representation in the present Diet of our realm, (Reichstag.) We regard this as proof of the sovereign intention to maintain the integrity of the Hungarian crown and to effect the reintegration of our Diet of the realm. * * * But we do not conceal our anxiety * * * that Dalmatia is not mentioned in the speech from the throne. This country belongs in common with Croatia, and Slavonia to the Hungarian crown. * * * It is certainly not the wish of your Majesty that the so often, most solemn guaranteed integrity of that crown should in this respect be violated. * * * We thank your Majesty for the princely care with which your Majesty is providing for the relations springing out of the union of Hungary and Transylvania. The grounds of those relations was laid by those laws which in 1848 were enacted, in regard to the union of Hungary and Transylvania by common consent of both countries, and sanctioned solemnly by the royal approbation. But in this respect much remains to be done. * * * * * * * * * *
Your Majesty will allow us to beg and to hope that your Majesty will provide that the integral part of our country, Finme, which article V of the Laws of 1848 reckons to the Hungarian Diet, be represented at our said Diet. * * * *
Our country is still under absolute government. Our constitution, on the basis of which we must exercise the right of legislation, is suspended. * * * We possess no parliamentary government, no responsible ministers; the municipalities, counties, districts, cities, have not yet recovered their constitutional position, and in all branches of the administration rules are absolute system. * * * We beg of your Majesty, therefore, for legal continuity in the sense of our laws, especially for our parliamentary government, a responsible ministry, and the constitutional re-establishment of the municipalities. * * * We are convinced that the appointment of responsible Hungarian ministers and the restoration of the municipalities are not inconsistent with the important common interests. * * * The responsible ministry would possess the confidence of your Majesty and of the country. * * * As by virtue of its official position it would come often into contact with the statesmen of the other countries of your Majesty, it would also help in this direction the solution of many difficult questions. * * * Should, on the contrary, your Majesty not fulfil our legal and equitable desire, and still maintaining the absolute system of government, refuse the re-establishment of parliamentary government and responsible ministry, then oppressive anxiety will again weigh upon our souls, and the wavering of our hope make it difficult for us to obtain that tranquillity of mind requisite for the solution of the different problems laid before us. Our present Diet was called upon the basis of a constitution guaranteed by the pragmatic sanction. Its task is to modify certain essential points of our laws, to crown the King of Hungary, and to found a more happy future for our fatherland. May your Majesty be graciously pleased to consider what a situation it would be if the country, at the very time when through its representatives it is exercising these constitutional rights, was in everything else outside the constitution.
Besides parliamentary government and a responsible ministry, the legal self-administration of countries, districts, and cities is a further essential requirement of our constitution. * * *
All the institutions of Hungary are inspired by the idea of self-government. This unites the best forces for support of public administration; this is often through publicity the surest control against abuses; this prevents the illegal encroachment of officials. In the course of our constitutional life it has saved our fatherland from the system which is in direct contradiction to the institutions of our country, and to its public life and customs. * * * The foundation-stone of our constitution is the law, its keystone to the royal power; to do homage to both is the highest duty of a citizen. This duty would only then be oppressive when on one side the law and on the other side the will of the king should come into permanent and irreconcilable opposition; * * * but the hope is assured to us that, although differences of opinion must sometimes arise, we shall never fall into such an incomparably painful situation.
Your Majesty will never demand from us any sacrifice not inexorably required by the common purpose indicated by the pragmatic sanction, and we shall faithfully do all that our duty and the common weal of the fatherland demand for securing this purpose.