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Austria page 3

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It is very likely that the Emperor regarded this sort of advice as very impertinent, and that he was secretly glad that the Ban of Croatia was about to teach them a rough lesson. It was the unfortunate antipathy of races, excited by the Germanic and Pan-Sclavonic movements, that enabled the Emperor to divide and conquer. In the meantime the Constitutional Assembly of Austria had been opened in Vienna on the 22nd of July, by the Archduke John, who delivered a highly conciliatory speech, in which he said, "All the nationalities of the Austrian monarchy are equally near the heart of His Majesty, and all interests find a solid basis in their free fraternisation, in the equality of the rights of all, and in the close union of Germany. The heart of His Majesty was deeply afflicted that the plenitude of advantages which liberal institutions, wisely administered, generally ensure, could not be at once granted. In Hungary and the neighbouring provinces he expected a pacific settlement of the question that remained to be solved. The war in Italy was not directed against the liberty of the people of the country," he said, "but only to maintain the honour of the Austrian army in the presence of the Italian powers, recognising their nationality, and to support the most important interest of the State."

On the 8th of August the Emperor returned to Vienna, which had keenly felt, both in fashionable and business circles, the prolonged absence of the Court. He was, therefore, received with acclamation. When he left the vessel which conveyed him from Stein down the Danube, bands of girls, gaily dressed, strewed flowers along the path as he walked from the pier to his carriage. The members of the Diet awaited his arrival in the great saloon of the palace, and presented to him a flattering address. The President said - " Sire, in the name of the Diet, in the name of the free people of Austria, whom the Diet represents, I welcome your Majesty back to the hall of your ancestral palace, as the wished-for Sovereign of the constitutional organisation of our country. The acclamations of your faithful people at the happy arrival of their beloved Emperor, announce the contemporaneous return of confidence and courage, and of order and quiet, the firm foundation of the new-born prosperity. The Diet representing, as it does, a free people in a constitutional monarchy, consider it their duty to preserve, not only their own dignity, but also the sanctity and inviolability of the constitutional throne. Your Majesty's return to this city, where your people's representatives are now in Parliament assembled, is a guarantee that the constitution which emanated from the heart of the noblest Austrian Emperor will be strengthened by the concurrence of the constitutional throne. May our Emperor's benevolence, so eager for the people's welfare, descend as a sacred heirloom to all future members of the imperial family."

The Diet of Transylvania had lately voted the union of that province with the kingdom of Hungary, and thus a million and a half of men were added to the strength of the Magyars. This accession of strength served to inflame still more the animosity of race between them and the Croats. The reader will recollect the statement of the Archduke Stephen in opening the Hungarian Diet, when he indignantly repelled the insinuation that either the King or any of the royal family could give the slightest encouragement to the Ban of Croatia in his hostile proceedings against Hungary. Yet, on the 30th of September following, letters which had been intercepted by the Hungarians were published at Vienna, completely compromising the Emperor, and revealing a disgraceful conspiracy which he appears to have entered into with Jellachich, when they met at Innsbruck. Not only were the barbarous Croatians, in their devastating aggression on Hungary, encouraged by the Emperor, while professing to deplore and condemn them, but the Imperial Government were secretly supplying the Ban with money for carrying on the war. Early in August the Croatian troops laid siege to several of the most important cities in Hungary, and laid waste some of the richest districts in that country. In order to meet the expenses of this defensive war, the Hungarian Diet decreed the issue of paper money, which was disallowed by the Imperial Government. Kossuth was then very ill, but ho had himself carried into the hall of the Diet, which he addressed on the critical state of affairs, earnestly urging that an influential deputation should be sent to the Emperor, in order to induce him to come to the aid of Hungary in this emergency. In their address they reminded him of the fidelity that kingdom had shown to his ancestors for centuries. They reminded him of his coronation oath, when he swore to maintain the privileges and independence of their free nation. They reminded him of the blood of Hungary that was flowing in Italy in defence of his imperial rights; and they asked him how it was that the rights of their nation were menaced by an insurrection, the leaders of which declared openly that they were in arms on His Majesty's behalf? How was it that one portion of the children of their Fatherland was perfidiously excited against the other? Finally, they demanded that their King, discarding the reactionary counsels of those about him, would give his immediate sanction to all the measures voted by the Diet; that he would come and reside at Pesth among his people, where his presence was necessary to save the country. He answered that the state of his health would forbid his going to Pesth; that he would re-consider the question of paper money; and that he would try to bring about an amicable settlement with the Ban. This cold reply was received in silence. It seemed to have extinguished the last sparks of loyalty that remained in their bosoms. When they entered the steamer that was to convey them to Pesth, they hoisted a red flag as their ensign, they tore from their caps the united colours of Austria and Hungary, and mounted red feathers instead. Great indignation prevailed at Pesth, both in the Diet and out of doors, among the people. The Kossuth Administration had resigned, and Count Batthyani placed himself at the head of a ministry more moderate and likelier to get a hearing at Vienna. Under these circumstances, the Diet voted that a deputation of twenty-five members should proceed at once to Vienna, and make an appeal to the National Assembly for aid against the Croats, who were now rapidly overrunning the country under Jellachich, who proclaimed that he was about to rid Hungary "from the yoke of an incapable, odious, and rebel Government." The deputation went to Vienna, and the Assembly, by a majority of 186 to 108, resolved to refuse it a hearing. Deeply mortified at this insult, the Hungarians resolved to break completely with Austria. They invested Kossuth with full powers as Dictator, whereupon the Archduke resigned his viceroyalty on the 25th of September, and retired to Moravia. Both parties were now prepared for a desperate struggle. The Ban of Croatia was fighting as the champion of the Sclavonic race against the domination of the Magyars, whom they bitterly hated. When disavowed by the Emperor in his manifesto, they answered proudly - "Emperor, If you reject our supplications, we shall know how to conquer our liberties without your aid; and we would rather die heroically, as becomes a Sclavonian family, than bear any longer the oppression of an Asiatic horde from whom we have nothing either to receive or to learn, but who have imposed on us a yoke which it is impossible any longer to bear. If it comes to the worst, we would prefer the knout of the Russians to the insolence of the Magyars. Emperor, do not abandon us, for we will not in any event fall again under the dominion of the Magyars. Becollect that if Croatia forms only a thirty- fifth part of your monarchy, her soldiers compose a third of your entire infantry." Animated by this spirit of intense resentment and national animosity, the Croatian hordes invaded Hungary, committing in their course all sorts of atrocities. In a military point of view the Hungarians were ill-prepared for the contest; but the Magyars are a brave, energetic race, and they put forth tremendous efforts to meet the emergency. The people were perfectly unanimous, and wild with warlike enthusiasm. The divisions between aristocratic and democratic parties were merged in the rising tide of patriotic feeling. Kossuth was everywhere, animating, directing, organising, and firing the souls of the population with his electrical eloquence. At his magic call the Magyar race flew to arms. He hurried to Pesth, declaring that he would not return till he had organised a levée of 70,000 fresh men. He kept his word. In a few days 300,000 volunteers came forward demanding arms, and of these 100,000 were enrolled. Kossuth had tremendous difficulties to contend with. The Magyars were but one-third of the population; the other two-thirds differed in race and religion, and were either passive or hostile.

At first success attended their arms, and the Ban got the worst of it in several encounters. Had the Magyars been left to themselves, they would soon have crushed their enemies, and driven out the invaders; but Austria was resolved that they should not be left to themselves. In the midst of the excitement at Pesth, Count Lamberg was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the imperial army in Hungary; and a decree appeared at the same time ordering a suspension of hostilities between the contending armies. The Count immediately started for Pesth without a military escort. In the meantime, Kossuth had issued a counter-proclamation, in which the appointment of Lamberg was declared to be illegal and null, as it was not countersigned by the Hungarian Minister, according to the constitution, and all persons obeying him were declared to be guilty of high treason. On the 28th of September, the Count arrived at Pesth, attended only by a single aide-de-camp and a servant. He had gone in a desponding mood. " You will set out this evening," said the Austrian Minister. " This moment," was the answer. "Au revoir, General," responded the Minister.

"No," said he; "my days are numbered. We shall never meet again. I recommend my children to you." He arrived safely at the head-quarters of the Commandant of Buda. He was received coldly by that officer. Tumultuous noise was heard in the streets, increasing every moment. The Count inquired the cause. "It is the people," said the Commandant, " coming to pay you a visit." "Let them come, then," was the answer. "What are you going to do?" asked the Hungarian. " My duty," replied the old General. "I shall go to Pesth first, to the President of the Council, to obtain his counter-signature to the Royal rescripts; then to the Diet, to announce the object of my mission. Will you accompany me?" "I am at your service," replied the Commandant. They started accordingly; but it is stated that the Hungarian made some pretence to slip away, and left the Austrian Commander-in-Chief to proceed alone. The streets were crowded, and he soon heard on all sides the cry, "Death to Lamberg! " A young man, pale with excitement, mounted on a cart and shouted, "Citizens! do you know why Lamberg has come amongst us? He has come to extinguish our nationality. He has come to substitute his abhorred colours for our glorious colours. He has come to extinguish in the blood of the Hungarian people the sacred fire of the Magyars. He has come to rivet on our hands the chains of the most odious slavery. The time presses, citizens; the moment of action has arisen. Choose between independence and slavery." "Death to Lamberg! To arms!" was the response. "Why arms?" asked the youthful orator. "It is under the strokes of clubs that the dog- traitor Lamberg should perish! " Towards a crowd thus excited the Count approached on his way to the Diet. Some of the National Guard, perceiving his danger, hastened to his protection, and surrounded the carriage. "Your devotion, gentlemen," said he, "will not save me. But I die without fear; for my conscience has nothing to reproach me with. Yet it is sad for a soldier to die in a riot, and not by a cannon-ball in the field of battle." The National Guard did all in their power to protect him; but they were overwhelmed by a furious mob, who dragged out their brave and venerable victim, and instantly killed him with bludgeons and scythes. His body was said to have received forty-three wounds. His clothes were torn up and distributed as trophies among the assassins; a rope was tied round his neck, and the mutilated body was dragged through the streets amidst the exulting yells of the populace, in the presence of 15,000 persons, and under the eyes of several members of the Diet, who were powerless to arrest the torrent of popular vengeance.

This was the first blood shed in the quarrel with Austria. The Hungarian Parliament expressed its horror at this atrocious assassination, and in an address to the Emperor promised that justice should be done on the murderers. Another nobleman perished soon after. Count Eugene Vichy, a young man connected with one of the first families in Hungary, paid a visit to the Ban of Croatia, in order, it was said, to obtain an exemption of the districts in which his estates lay from the devastations of the Croats, who spared neither sex nor age. He was arrested as a traitor by one of his own tenants, who conducted him, bound, to the Isle of Czessel, where he was delivered over to Görgei, by whom, as president of a council of war, he was put upon his trial for high treason. In his portmanteau were found papers which compromised him - a safe conduct from Jellachich, and some copies of an address by the Emperor to the Hungarian nation, and to the troops in South Hungary, designed to encourage them to revolt against the Diet at Pesth. Vichy's defence was not one that any court could credit. He alleged that he knew nothing about the documents, and that they must have been secretly put in his portmanteau by his valet. It was inferred that he had been plotting with the Ban - the enemy of his country - who, notwithstanding the barbarous manner in which his followers conducted the war, was secretly authorised and subsidised by the Emperor, whose appeal to the Hungarian army was in the possession of the prisoner. He was, therefore, found guilty, and condemned to be hanged as a traitor. His last words were, "I die innocent, and may God grant that I may be the last victim; and may he protect my country, and save it from such judges as mine have been! Long live Hungary! Long live the King! " The dead body was cut down by the people, who stripped it and divided the clothes as trophies. After being subjected to all sorts of indignities, it was cast upon a dunghill on the banks of the Danube, where it remained till it was half devoured by wild animals. At length a young Greek priest came and buried the remains, which were subsequently removed to the family vault, in the church of Kalos.

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