Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The debate on the address in the Hungarian Chamber of Deputies has just been closed.
The project of address was voted by a large majority on the 24th, and with scarcely any modifications. It is to be presented to the Emperor to-day. The translation of its most important passages, forwarded with my despatches of last week, will therefore give you entire possession of the basis on which the attempt is now to be made to reconstruct the constitutionalism of the Austrian empire.
If you have time, therefore, for observing the course of the important events now about to occur, I venture to recommend that document once more to your attention.
Francis Deák, by far the most influential personage now living in Hungary, and the author of that address, delivered a remarkable speech at Pesth on the 22d of February. The effect of that speech was to cause the withdrawal of the amendments proposed by Bartal and others to the project of address and to bring the debate to a close, although a great many members had inscribed their names to speak and had doubtless long orations already fully prepared. Perhaps this fact will strike you as no inconsiderable manifestation of Deák’s power.
Were our own affairs less absorbing I should like to send you a translation of Deák’s speech. I am sure you would admire it as a splendid specimen of rhetoric, full of warm and genial illustration, inspired by a wise and lofty Hungarian patriotism, and rich with legal and historical lore. The orator is looked up to as an oracle on everything relating to Hungary, past or present, and his style is energetic, vivid, almost poetical.
The effect of this harangue on his hearers is described as prodigious, the whole assembly breaking forth in ecstasies of applause, and refusing afterwards to listen to other speakers. But I forbear to send the oration, because, after all, the same topics are discussed by Deák from the same point of view in the project of address.
He pleads for a complete restoration of the constitution of Hungary, entire independence of the other countries under the sceptre of the King, and a responsible Hungarian ministry, before any further proceedings are attempted in the way of compromise. All this is on the ground that the King, who ought to take the initiative in such a transaction, can only deal with the Diet through ministers, and cannot become the lawful crowned King of Hungary until he has in an inaugural diploma, according to law, solemnly sanctioned and sworn to maintain the ancient historical constitution of the country.
The re-establishment of the laws and constitution is urged as regarding Hungary only and her King. When there is a king with responsible ministers, it will be possible to revise such Hungarian laws (those of 1848 especially) as need revising. It will also be possible to deliberate upon such schemes as the King may propose for determining what affairs are common to Hungary and to other countries under his sceptre, and for establishing some boards of control for the regulation of those affairs.
You perceive that dualism, pure and simple, is the most that can be obtained from Hungary, and there seems to be a disposition on this side of the Leitha to acquiesce in the result, such is the growing fear of the federalism of the Slavonic party.
A simile in Deák’s speech of Thursday, likening the Austrian empire to a majestic arch resting on two stately columns which could not be brought nearer to each other without endangering the existence of the arch, meets approbation on both sides the Leitha.[Page 642]
Unfortunately, However, while the Hungarian column is ready—so soon as the architect has restored it from its present prostration—it is not so easy to see where the other monolith is to he found. It is easy for Hungarians to speak of two halves to the empire, but where is half number two? Moreover their half contains not much more than one-third of the whole population of the realm.
It would be premature to speak to-day of the bloodless revolution at Bucharest, news of which has but just reached us and will go to you by this steamer.
That Russia is supposed to figure as the Deus ex machina in any scenes enacted or to be produced in the Danubian principalities, is a matter of course. If there is a secret history to the fall of Cusa, it has not yet transpired, although sufficient causes for it are patent enough, and are doubtless known to you.
The acceptance by the Count of Flanders of the offer made by the provisional government at Bucharest would seem scarcely possible. A member of a royal Christian family can hardly accept the position of a vassal to the Sultan of Turkey, while if there be an attempt to constitute the principalities into an independent sovereignty, Russia will be difficult to deal with unless the new sovereign is of her imperial stock.
This miniature revolution may perhaps bring up the whole heritage of the “sick man” for general discussion once more.
Now that the Oriental question has been so suddenly sprung upon Europe, it is probable that the Emperor of the French will become more desirous than ever of being disembarrassed of Mexico.
I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.
P. S —The Turkish government, on learning the news of the late events in Bucharest, immediately telegraphed to its ambassador at Vienna to protest against any infraction of the rights of the Porte as guaranteed by the treaty of Paris of 1856. The same protest has doubtless been made to all the other powers which signed that treaty.
So long as the sovereignty of Turkey in the principalities is maintained, it is of course impossible for the Count of Flanders or any other royal personage to accept the government of those provinces.