Mr. Jay to
Vienna , March 25, 1874. (Received April 20.)
Sir: Some eighteen months since I advised you, by my No. 499, of December 9, 1872, of the ministerial crisis in Hungary, which was ended by the retirement of Count Lonyay and the appointment in his stead of Mr. de Szlavy. I alluded to the doubts then expressed in regard to the ability of the latter to meet the difficulties of his position, and during the last year those difficulties were immensely increased. Could the declining health of the venerable Francis Deak, who has been the head and soul of the national party, have been compensated for by presence of the Count Andrássy, whose character and tact had given him a singular influence with the Hungarians, it is thought that the demoralization of the Deak party might probably have been arrested. But with Andrássy in Vienna there seems to have beta no one to replace him at [Page 18] Pesth, and political dissensions, an increasing dissatisfaction with the government, grave charges of a blundering policy, and finally the financial crash creating wide-spread distress, aggravated by the cholera and a bad harvest, followed by confusion and a parliamentary dead-lock, culminated in a crisis unusually prolonged and apparently hopeless. “No government, no party, no idea; where is it to end?” was the despairing cry but a few days since of the “Lloyd of Pesth.”
After an effort of some weeks, in which the Emperor, or to speak more correctly, the King of Hungary, and the Count Andrássy assisted, the crisis has been at least temporarily solved by the resignation of Mr. de Szlavy being at last accepted, and a new ministry, spoken of as a coalition ministry, has been appointed under the presidency of Mr. Bitto. Mr. Bitto formerly held the portfolio of justice in the cabinets of Count Andrássy and Count Lonyay.
His associates are, in finance, Mr. Ghyczy, formerly the leader of the moderate left; in commerce, Mr. Bartal, a prominent member of the Deak party; in the interior, Count Szapary; public instruction, Mr. Trefort; justice, Mr. Pauler; national defense, Mr. Szende, with Count Joseph Zichy and Baron Wenckheim; and Mr. Pejacsevich as minister of Croatia.
Much of the antagonism existing among the leading statesmen of Hungary is referable to the compromise of 1867 between the two halves of the empire. One faction, if not a party, at that time, wag totally opposed to the arrangement. Prominent men, like Ghyczy and Kolhoman T-isza, not fundamentally opposed to the compromise, desired for Hungary better terms than they obtained, and would, if in power, endeavor to procure an extension of the rights, of Hungary in that direction. As the existing compromise, made in 1867, was limited to ten years? these questions touching the interests of both Austria and Hungary are sufficiently near to arouse an interest equal to that attaching exclusively to those of Hungary’s internal policy.
There are many who are inclined to believe that parliamentary government in Hungary is a failure; but, plausible as may seem the reasons for such an opinion, there are others that forbid the hasty adoption of a view derogatory to the Hungarian character, and little in accord with American sentiments.
I have, &c.,
Postscriptum.—A telegram from Pesth says that—
Yesterday, 24th March, in the chamber of deputies, the new president of the cabinet, Mr. Bitto, explained the programme of the government, and declared that its principal task would be to remedy financial and economic difficulties by the simplification of the administrative machinery and the establishment of a balance between the receipts and expenditure. He announced that the cabinet will set aside all inopportune questions and avoid all subjects of dissension; and terminated by asking for the support of all parties.