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Rev. Mr. Gleig's account of his visit to Hungary in 1837, an impartial and unpretending work, contains several graphic sketches of Hungarian manners, so life-like, that one regrets that pen so competent for the task had not entered more fully into the subject. Mr. Gleig's tour was limited to an excursion in the Carpathian district of the northwestern corner; to a brief sojourn in the ancient and modern capitals; to a voyage down the Danube to Semlin; and to a rapid ride thence along the military frontier, through Sclavonia and Croatia to Hungary's sole seaport, Fiume. But as he journeyed as a pedestrian in the north, with keen and intelligent observation, he had many opportunities of obtaining information; and his pictures are acknowledged to be faithful. One or two extracts from his work will convey some notion of the politico-social position of the people down to the radical changes in the Hungarian constitution made by the Diet in 1847-48.
"The people, properly so called," says Mr. Gleig, writing in 1838, "the peasants who cultivate the soil, the mechanics who construct the dwellings, the artisans who fabricate the household utensils, the wearing apparel, the carriages, the ships, the machinery, these are precisely in the condition of Gurth and Wamba, in Sir Walter Scott's romance of Ivanhoe. In the rural districts, every man whom you meet, provided he be neither a noble nor a soldier, belongs to somebody.* He has no rights of his own. He is a portion of another man's chattels; he is bought and sold with the land, as if he were a horse or an ox. On him, too, all the common burdens of the State are thrown. If the parliament vote an increase of the taxes, it is from the peasants that these taxes are wrung; for the lord takes care, though he himself pay immediately, that he shall be indemnified by the deduction which he makes from his serf's allowances.† It is the same spirit which provides that the peasantry who make the roads, and, by the labor of their hands, keep them in repair, shall be the only class of persons of whom toll is anywhere exacted. An eidelman in his chariot passes free through every barrier; a poor peasant's wagon is stopped at each, till the full amount of mout, as it is called, has been settled. But this is not all. Till the year 1835, each landed proprietor possessed over his peasantry an almost unlimited power of punish
*In the astricted sense mentioned in the text.
There was one exemption to the general exception of the nobility from taxation, and it marked, ín an odd way, the connection of the Church with the State in Hungary. The church militant, or rather the prelates, as the possessors of the sees, were taxed to support the principal fortresses of the kingdom. Imagine Harry of Exeter being compelled to pay annually a tenth of his episcopal revenue for the repair of the Tower!
ment, into his manner of exercising which no human being ever took the trouble to inquire. Accordingly, you still find, as an appendage to each mansion, a prison with its bolts and chains and other implements of torture; while the rod was as freely applied to the backs of delinquents, real or imaginary, as ever the whip made acquaintance with the persons of our own negroes in a West Indian sugar-field."
In his descriptions of the domestic arrangements of a Hungarian country gentleman, which Mr. Gleig aptly compares to those of the Highland laird of half a century ago, there are some traits worthy of note. The eidelman, or "squire," was surrounded by an endless number of retainers, who each, according to his ability, contributed country produce, not as good-will offerings, but as the feudal perquisites which the chief claimed:
"The precise amount, either of labor or of tribute, which the land-owner might exact from his serfs or peasants, was never fixed by any pretext, either of law or custom, till 1764. It was then that Maria Theresa published her Urbarium, a mere royal proclamation, to which the Diet never gave its sanction, but which, being adopted as a standard of justice, has ever since obtained universal observance. Accordingly, a full farm is now estimated to contain twenty-five acres of arable land, and of grass as much as a man shall be able to mow in twelve days. For this the tenant pays annually a ninth of his whole produce, as well as of all lambs, kids, and bees, which he may rear upon his farm, two chickens, two capons, twelve eggs, and half a pound of butter. Moreover, he is bound to furnish to his landlord during the year an hundred and eleven days' labor with a pair of hands, as well as one day's service in every week with a wagon and four horses. Then again, when the proprietor marries, or a child is born to him, or his son takes a wife, or a new incumbent is inducted, a donation of poultry, or corn, or some other species of produce becomes due; while, to sum up all, the peasant's whole property, should he die without natural heirs, is immediately seized upon by his landlord. On the other hand, a peasant once put in possession of a farm, becomes almost as much a fixture there as if the land were his own freehold. If he leave sons behind him, they succeed to the occupancy, of course sharing it among them till it is split into mere shreds, and uniting their means to make good the tribute that is due, and without a faithful discharge of which they are liable to punishment. All the serfs on a land-owner's property are not, however, farmers. There are multitudes who inhabit cottages only, and who find a subsistence, as well as they can, from their gardens and their labor. Each of these pays to the land-owner one florin, or two shillings yearly, as the rent of his cottage, and eighteen days' labor in the fields. During the remaining three hundred and forty-seven days he is paid for his exertions. But though every
land-owner in Hungary is likewise a farmer on a large scale, it rarely happens that, in the dull season of the year, very many of these poor creatures do not find it a hard matter to earn the scantiest subsistence; for all the rights of hunting, shooting, and fishing belong strictly to the lords of the soil; nay, the woods themselves being theirs, except where townships may have obtained them, the very acorns are reserved exclusively for feeding the swine of the great proprietors."
The forstban is another privilege enjoyed by all nobles and government functionaries, that is, of impressing the horses of the peasantry in travelling. They are paid, it is true; but the system is most vexatious during the operations of harvest. The villages and habitations of the peasantry, especially amongst the Sclavonian population of the highlands, are squalid and unhealthy. The habits of the peasant are gregarious. In the fertile plains one vast tract of golden corn is bounded only by the horizon, and the weary traveller may journey far in fields of bounteous plenty, ere he is cheered by sight of human habitation. At remote intervals there are peasant towns-cities of hovels with serf citizens, varying from three to thirty thousand souls. There they herd together during the winter, till seed-time calls them forth to the labor of husbandry, when they squat in rude huts till harvest-home. This gregarious practice had its origin in the fierce times when the great plains were ravaged by invading Turks. What was begun as necessity, has continued from the choice of a class too degraded, perhaps, to seek out even physical means of elevating their social state, or too poor and powerless to effect a change. But in the bounty of Providence, and in the march of liberal ideas, there is much hope, even for the peasant-serf of Hungary's broad plains. It would seem that the feudal rule
in Croatia is even more severe than in the palatinate; for some years ago, what threatened to be a fierce servile war was only put down by an overpowering military force. However, all attempts to draw distinctions in vassalage must be shadowy, for Mr. Gleig tells us that, in the household of the Princebishop of Kreutz, he saw men and women with logs and chains upon their ankles. It seems astonishing, under such an unequal distribution of power, and with slavery as a domestic institution, how the nobility succeeded so long in maintaining the integrity of their political constitution. It can only, we think, be attributed to the incessant engagement in foreign and domestic wars, and in a strong feeling of nationality in antago
nism to Austria, and to the incessant attempts of that house to subdue the nation; for Magyar and Sclave forgot their antipathies of race in the necessity for union against the common enemy of both.
Of the social and territorial position of the Hungarian aristocracy, it may be interesting to say a word or two. We have no data on which to determine the proprietary division of the soil; but it was, up to 1847, very much smaller than the electoral constituency. Some of the nobility possess enormous territory, and plain country gentlemen are the owners of whole komitats. In as far as an
abundant produce of corn, and wine, and flocks, the land-owners are rich exceedingly; but from the want of markets and good communications for export, they cannot be termed wealthy in the commercial sense. The nobles are exceedingly fond of grand equipages, equipments, and other forms of aristocratic display; and to procure the ready money necessary for the indulgence of that taste, they make great sacrifices at the shrine of the Hebrew Mammon.* The Sidonias, great and small, are indeed almost the only capitalists in Hungary. Mr. Gleig gives some curious instances of the money power they possess over the needy nobility, and incidentally notices some striking peculiarities in the system of land tenure. The influence of the Caucasian does not tend to mitigate the vassalage of the astricted races. Hungarian land-owner enjoyed the undisputed right of sovereignty within his own domain. No one could open an inn or public-house except by permission of the great man. Nor could any man introduce alcoholic liquors without the lord's permission. Temperance is not a peasant virtue among the Sclaves, and here was a valuable and meet monopoly for the money-loving sons of Israel.
Accordingly, the Jew, when applied to for a loan, invariably stipulates with the needy eidelman for the exclusive privilege of tenanting the inns upon his estate, and of retailing wine and spirits to his people. Once established, however, in the enjoyment of these rights, and he holds both lord and vassal at his mercy. The former dare not move, lest the loan, with difficulty obtained, should be demanded back again; while the latter, a slave to his appetite, may be either won to anything, or deterred from it, by the promise of a dram, or the refusal even to sell it. So far the power of the Jew is felt, and so far his privileges extend, but A Jew cannot, for example, they go no farther.
* Prince Esterhazy's diamond-gemmed jacket was a nine days' wonder in the kingdom of Cockaigne, some years ago.
become the avowed owner of a rood of land. He may encumber the noble's estate so entirely, that the produce shall, in fact, become his own; or, should the produce be inadequate to cover the interest of the loans, he may even force the debtor to sell his lands, and himself take possession of the purchase-money. But he may not, in his own person, enter upon the occupation of these lands and retain them. Let him, indeed, renounce his religion, and this disability passes away. His reception of the sacrament of baptism puts him at once on a political level with other eidelmen; for it is curious enough that the descendants of Abraham, though utterly despised, are in Hungary
treated as freemen."
The peculiarities of land tenure, and of the practice of the Hungarian law as effecting it, are these:
These details may seem irrevalent to a statement of the merits of the great Hungarian question now at issue; but it will presently be seen that they are of great importance in estimating the magnitude of the changes, social as well as political, which the popular party in Hungary have instituted within the last two years.
Since the time of Joseph II. a movement in favor of large social reform has grown and gathered strength. The first important point gained was under the administration of Count Szechenzi in 1835, who carried a measure in the Diet for the protection of the serfs from the capricious violence of the nobles. Under that statute magistrates were appointed for each komitat, before whom delinquents must be brought, and without whose sanction the "It is a remarkable fact that, in Hungary, estates cannot, in strict propriety of speech, be punishment of the lash could not legally be sold at all. A man may burden his land with inflicted. The Hungarian Tories grumbled mortgages to any amount; and if he fail in paying much at the change; and direful were the the interest, or satisfying others of the creditor's predictions, by the protectionists of the counclaims, the creditor may enter upon possession. try party, of ruin to Hungary from the aboBut neither in this case, nor in the event of a lition of the monopoly of corporal punishspecial bargain, is the original owner supposed to ment. Mr. Gleig tells us, that in 1837 this forfeit, either for himself or his heirs, the right of was the constant burden of the comments of recovery. A stranger purchases, in fact, but a the eidelmen on Count Szechenzi's measure: thirty years' occupancy, and no more; at the expiration of which, it is competent for the former -"Do you think this is possible? Do you proprietor, if he be alive-or, in the event of his suppose that the nobles can or will obey an death, for his nearest of kin-to commence pro- edict in itself so preposterous? We do not ceedings of retriever. But it is much easier to obey it. We do punish in the face of the begin a suit in Hungary, than to obtain a judg-law, and some of our people know, while ment. The courts, which consist of the magis- they submit, that we are acting illegally; tracy of each county, afford the utmost imaginable Can this continue? Surely not. Depend facilities to delay. They hear every statement on both sides; they pause long and often, to weigh upon it, that Hungary is on the eve of great their relative plausibility; they send back the changes, and what the consequences may be suitors again and again to amend their pleas; and time only can determine." The changes when, at length, a decision is obtained, the party came almost within the decade; and happily, defeated may apply for a new trial, which is in no instance refused him. Finally, when all the of the nobles. too, a change came o'er the spirit of the best quirks of the first tribunal are exhausted, an appeal lies elsewhere; till the case comes at last before the supreme court in Pesth, where years may elapse before it be called on. The consequence is, that he who has once disposed of his property, because he was unable otherwise to sustain his credit, may, unless some extraordinary change in his circumstances befall, relinquish all hope of ever recovering it. His right may be admitted everywhere—ay, even in the courts before which it is necessary to establish it; but the sort of proof required is so strange, and the process of deducing it so tedious and so expensive, that more than the value of the property at issue is sure to be expended in the prosecution of the claim. I was told of several suits which had been pending for five-and-twenty years, and nobody appeared to anticipate that decisions would be obtained for fiveand-twenty years longer."
Free trade in land was a point for the Hungarian reformer as well as at home.
The Count Szechenzi's reform policy was principally directed to the development of the physical resources of the country, by the construction of public works, roads, bridges, and other aids to intercommunication. But an earnest, and in time a powerful popular party, sprang up, desirous of effecting radical improvements in the condition of the people. Their political position may seem anomalous. They were the conservative radicals of Hungary, defending the ancient rights and privileges of the constitution against the encroachments of Austria on the one hand, and advocating broad popular reforms on the other. The policy of the court party being imperial centralization, was revolutionary as opposed to the first point, and stationary to the other.
Conspicuous in the ranks of the patriot
party, and ever foremost in earnestness of purpose and liberality of opinion and policy, was Ludwig or Louis Kossuth, of Kossuthfalva, in Zemplin. He comes of a noble but decayed Magyar family, who gave much service to the Hungarian State; for during the wars of national conservatism, from 1527 to 1715, seventeen members of the family were declared by Austria guilty of high
treason. Kossuth was born at Monok in 1801, and according to the custom of Hungarian gentlemen, was sent to study law; he adopted the bar as his profession, and became a learned and popular advocate. But his vocation was statesmanship; and about twenty years ago, he earnestly directed his attention to political studies. In 1832 he went to the Diet in the capacity of reporter, and edited its transactions in a manuscript journal; for at that time the Hungarian legislature adopted the favorite policy of an Irish member in our own, and excluded the press.* After the close of the Diet, Kossuth continued his journal, and published the transactions of the county meetings, which were very interesting in 1836, as the reactionary ministry of Count Palfy was then threatening a serious inroad on the constitution. The country was in a ferment, and many arrests were made on charges of high treason. On the 6th of May, 1837, Kossuth was arrested for refusing to obey a ministerial order forbidding the appearance of his manuscript journal, and for having declared that order illegal. His trial excited great public interest; and his personal defense was eloquent and masterly, but he was found guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. This increased the ferment of the country; and after an earnest protestation by the Diet, Kossuth was released under the general amnesty of 1840, granted by Count Mailath, the successor of Palfy. In the following year he commenced the editorship of the Pesti Hirlap, the first liberal newspaper published in Hungary;
and he became the centre for the liberal party, all the leaders of which rallied round him, with the exception of Szechenzi, whose policy, as we have seen, was to promote material reforms. Owing to some misunderstandings amongst the members of his party, Kossuth relinquished his connection with the journal in 1844, and for two years devoted himself to educational and other reforms-establishing, during that period, a
*The debates were, however, afterwards officially published in the Hungarian "Hansard." VOL XVIIL NO. L
gratuitous school for apprentices; an industrial union; lectures on natural philosophy, chemistry, and mathematics; and competition for the promotion of the industrial arts. In 1847, he was elected deputy for the komitat of Pesth, by a splendid majority; and in the Diet, his large powers of mind, fervid eloquence, skillful debating talent, and thorough knowledge of public affairs, at once raised him to the leadership of his party, which had now become the majority. It was then that the Diet devoted itself to the great work-to use the emphatic words of Count Tekeli-" TO GIVE CITIZENS ΤΟ HUNGARY."
To accomplish that end, the Diet proclaimed civil and political equality, without distinction of language or religion, equal and proportionate participation in the public imposts by all Hungarians, and the complete abolition of all privileges.
consider that they accomplished all their duties "The nobility," says Count Tekeli, "did not by merely doing away the privileges they enjoyed; they consented to deprive themselves of a portion of their property, to concede gratuitously to the peasants the land they had received from them as peasants. Thus, certainly, there were many families ruined and fortunes shattered; but it was necessary to give citizens to Hungary —it was necessary to take advantage of the first day of liberty which shone upon their native land, and to assure to it a morrow. Thus they did not stop short after proclaiming liberty; they finally established its foundation, in granting property to those who heretofore were not qualified to possess land; they did not merely proclaim equality, they firmly established it, in promoting prosperity universally amongst all classes; and in giving to the cultivator of the soil the land of which, until then, he had only been the occupier, and to the possession of which he owes his present political rights.”
The suffrage law requires that the elector should have for qualification what is barely sufficient to live upon. Every one who is possessed of real or personal property to the amount of £30, exercises electoral rights. In the towns, these rights are extended to those who are in receipt of an annual sum of £10, to those who possess a college diploma, and to workmen having apprentices. The laws were first proposed in the second Table, or Chamber of Deputies, and voted unanimously; and at the request of the Archduke Stephen, the Palatine, cousin to the Emperor King, they were passed unanimously also by the Table of Magnates. On the 11th of April, 1848, the king came personally to the Diet, and
solemnly confirmed the statutes in these words:
"Having graciously listened to and graciously granted the prayers of our beloved and faithful dignitaries of the Church and of the State, magnates and nobles of Hungary and her dependenbe registered in these presents, word for word; and, as we consider these laws, and their entire contents, both collectively and separately, fitting and suitable, we give them our consent and approbation. In exercise of our royal will, we have accepted, adopted, approved, and sanctioned them, in assuring at the same time our faithful States, that we will respect the said laws, and will cause them to be respected by our faithful subjects.
cies, we ordain, that the before-mentioned laws
“Article III. of 1848," remarks Count Tekeli, modified considerably the situation of Hungary in relation to Austria; so that the old imperial policy, tending to incorporate Hungary with the empire, received a decisive check, and that the tendency towards a central government, residing at Vienna, and making Hungary a dependency, became a dream not to be realized without the overthrow of two States and two constitutions, for the benefit of absolute power-a pretension which cannot be clothed with the slightest pretext of legality."
Accordingly, amongst the laws to which the solemn assent of the king was given, as already stated, it was provided that Hungary should have a national and independent government.*
*Here is the text of the most important sections of Article III. of 1847-48, on the formation of the responsible Hungarian ministry:
Section 1. The person of the king is sacred and inviolable.
2. In the absence of the king, the executive power, limited by the laws and by the constitution, is administered in the kingdom and its dependencies by the palatine-viceroy, with full powers, save the unity of the crown, and the main
These proceedings were joyfully accepted by the Hungarian nation, and even in Croatia, which was more under Austrian influence than any other portion of the kingdom, Agram, the largest and most important komitat, declared its satisfaction and desire to continue united to Hungary. As a great "point" has been urged by oligarchical writers in reference to what they call Croat resistance to Magyar domination, it is important to look at the facts of the case. Croatia has long had a national or general assembly for the regulation of her peculiar affairs. In the general Diet of Hungary she was, however, federally represented by three deputies. The executive government was advocated by a governor, under the
to the present time, under the jurisdiction of the 6. Whatever has been, or ought to have been, up Hungarian Chancery, the Council of Lieutenancy, the Aulic Chamber, (including the mines,) and all affairs civil, military, and ecclesiastic, as well as everything that concerns the finances and defense of the country, shall for the future be regulated and directed by the Hungarian ministry; and his majesty shall exercise the executive power exclusively through his ministry.
absence of his majesty, by the palatine-viceroy; 11. The prime-minister shall be named, in the reserving to his majesty the power to ratify or annul the appointment.
12. The other ministers shall be presented for the approval of the king, by the prime-minister.
13. One of the ministers shall always reside near the person of the king; and charged to take part in those affairs which concern at the same time his own country and the hereditary States, he shall be the responsible representative of the kingdom. king's person, according to section 13-to watch over the interests hereinbefore mentioned, the ministry shall be composed of the following departments:
14. In addition to the minister residing near the
A. The Home department.
Public works, roads, canals, and navi-
Agriculture, industry, and commerce.
Defense of the country (war).
18. Each minister is responsible for the ordinance that he has countersigned.
19. To protect the public interests of the king