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Vol.VI. PHILADELPHIA, MARCH, 18 50. No. 3.
THE HUNGARIAN STRUGGLE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
BY FRANCIS J. OBCND.
, Hk struggle between liberty and despotism,since the first French Revolution, in 1789, never was half as intense or as pregnant with imports tant consorqucnces as that which the world has just witnessed, and which ended with the subjugation of the Magyars by the combined armies of Russia and Austria. It has left all the parties engaged in it prostrate, and has scaled the doom of Austria. It overthrew the European doctrine of the atalua quo,—a mere diplomatic chimera that never had any real application in time and space—and proclaimed, trumpettongued, perpetual war between barbarism and civilization. The plains of Pannonia are now added to the battle-ground of the great and unceasing struggle between the lovers and the enemies of mankind; while Turkey, which has been slumbering for two generations, is called in to decide the contest. Meanwhile the forces of both parties are recruiting;—when the Parisians shall have done dancing, the combat will again begin in the streets of Paris, and terminate with the overthrow of feudalism, or a new armistice between mind and physical force. To believe in a permanent victory of despotism, would be despairing of Providence and the destiny of the human race. It would proclaim of sensualism over every noble
quality of the soul, and degrade history into a mere recital of crimes, without a warning or a moral. It is the mind which marks the progress of the human race, not the physical condition in which we are placed. If the mind is pregnant with changes, it is in vain to arrest its course by physical obstacles. The Russians themselves, if they could accomplish the conquest of western Europe, would, like the Mantshoo Tartars who conquered China, be subdued by the civilization of the vanquished.
For more than a thousand years Austria has been the watchtower, if not of liberty, at least of that species of civilization which, in the end, must beget liberty as a condition of its existence. Planted by Charlemagne on the eastern confines of Christianity, she guarded Germany and France against the Huns and Turks, who repeatedly swarmed over her fertile plains, and threatened the destruction of the empire. But Austria soon forgot what she owed to Europe; and, intent on her own aggrandizement, increased her own power at the expense of Germany. She became, by marriage, a conglomerate of many distinct nations, which she had neither the energy nor the mind to assimilate to her own people; sho acquired physical momentum without moral or intellectual force. The House of Hapsburg aimed at universal empire, without possessing one of the qualities of a great ruler. It increased its territory as a farmer increases his estate; it never comprehended its mission to become the mediator between tho different nations that met on the confines of Europe and Asia. Austria est imperare orbi universo, was the motto of Frederic IV., one of the poorest successors to the crown of Charlemagne, after the principle of this onward march had been explained in the wellknown adage: "Bella gcrunt alii, tu felix Amtria nubt!" Austria grew in body, not in mind; she had the physical strength of a giant, and the soul of an infant. The different nationalities of her people coexisted, but were stunted in their growth, and recognised no historical necessity of combination.
But this was not the only fault of Austria and the House of Hapsburg. To the crimes of omission must yet be added those of commission in Germany. The House of Hapsburg comprehended its mission in Central Europe as little as that on the confines of the two continents. Jealous of the petty princes of Germany, it yet never had the courage and power to subdue them. It sought possession, and not power; territory rather to divide among children, than national character and elevation. It traded away whole provinces of the German empire for family possessions in Italy, lost Switzerland by its tyranny, the northern provinces and the Alsace by inactivity and military blunders, and at last, from sheer impotency, was content to share its power with one of its rebellious vassals.* The best opportunity for Austria to consolidate the German empire into an hereditary instead of elective monarchy, was offered her in the Thirty Years' War; but oven then, when a multitude of circumstances combined to favour her aspirations, she had not the moral courage to will it; but rather sought safety from herself in the assassination of her successful general.-J- "That the House of Hapsburg never had a mission to rule Germany," wrote Gentz, the secretary of Prince Metternich, in 1806, to Johannrs Von Moli.ek, the historian, "appears to me evident, from the fact that it was never able to reduce Germany to an hereditary monarchy." The fact is, the House of Hapsburg bethought itself of its own hereditary possessions, and was always ready to sacrifice the interests of the elective crown of Germany to those of the members of its own family.
The French Revolution found Austria entirely unprepared for the crisis, and her repeated defeats sufficiently evinced that she was unable to resist the new ideas of the age; while, at the same time, she had not the courage to adopt and guide them. The battle of Austerlitz, and the subsequent battles of Auerstaedt and Jena, terminated the existence of the German empire; but the Austrian monarchy still continued as a separate European power.
The war of 1812, '13, '14, and '15, brought a new element into play; it was that of the roused nationality of the Germans. It was the enthusiasm of united Germany on which Austria herself was borne along, which drove
• Frederic of Prussia. f The Duke of Wallensk'in.
Napoleon back across the Rhine ; it was "the power of liberal ideas in Germany," as the proud conqueror himself admitted, that lost his cause on the battle-fields of Leipsic and IIanau. But no sooner was the danger passed, than Austria and Prussia relapsed into their former state of torpor. Austria, at the Congress of Vienna, preferred to consolidate her own hereditary monarchy, to presiding over the destinies of regenerated Germany ; and the Emperor Francis declared to the deputies of the Hanse Towns, that he had not yet made up his mind, whether he would accept his old office (!)—the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. For the purposes of military defence against France and her liberal ideas, the German confederation of Frankfort-on-the-Maine was formed, which deprived the smaller states of Germany of the means of entering into alliances with foreign powers; but nothing was done to secure the progress or consolidation of Germany herself. Austria and Prussia alternately were made to preside over the confederation ; twenty millions of Germans were left at the mercy of petty princes, and exposed to their rapacious extortions. To secure the attachment of these princes to the House of Hapsburg and Brandenburg, it was urged that they should form themselves into miniature constitutional monarchies, in order that their power should be broken by the antagonism of the people, and depend for its existence on the preponderance of Austria and Prussia as European powers. So far the diplomacy of Metternich.
The revolution of 1830 exhibited the weakness of Germany to a lamentable extent; but the joint action of Austria and Prussia, together with the reactionary movements of Louis Philippe himself, preserved the peace of Europe. The last struggle was made by Poland against Russia. Had that struggle succeeded, the policy of Austria might possibly have changed; she might then have become a Sclavonic empire, instead of a Russian province. Metternich, at that time, felt some conservative compunctions. He saw that if Poland were crushed, it would be incorporated into the Russian Empire, and the old diplomate had a sincere dread and hatred of the Czar. But his dread of him was greater than his hatred; and thus he again consigned himself to inactivity, and awaited the progress of events. The utmost action to which the court of Vienna and its chancellor could be roused, was an offer of mediation despatched to Prince Paskewich before Warsaw. The Trince received the letter from the Austrian courier; but being in the act of arranging the storm on Praga, he invited the messenger to wait till he should be at leisure to read it. Praga fell, and with it the devoted city of the Polish heroes. The mediation -was then declined, as no longer necessary. But Russia did not forget the disposition of Austria, and determined to give her officious neighbour a taste of revolution in her turn.
The revolution of Cracovia of 17th and 21st February, 1846, soon spread into Austrian Galicia, and crossing the Carpathian Mountains, planted the germ of insurrection in Hungary. The Magyars holding, in regard to Austria, pretty much the same positiou which Poland held to Russia, only unsubdued and undivided in their strength, had expressed their liveliest sympathy for the Poles from the commencement of the first revolution; and this new outbreak, and the dastardly means resorted to by Austria to suppress it, excited a bitterness of feeling, and a contempt for the Austrian government, which it became manifest would sooner or later prove destructive to the wholo monarchy. It is well known that Austria, finding herself too weak to suppress the revolution of Galicia by military force, excited the peasantry to revolt against their lords, and by a universal massacre, stilled the sentiment of independence, in the spirit of assassination and plunder. A universal cry of horror pervaded the monarchy at the sight of these atrocious proceedings; but Austria heeded it not. The Hungarian nobles saw ihcir own fate written on the wall. From that moment they prepared for their defence, and sacrificed the distinction of caste to the consolidation and homogeneity of their country. The peasants became proprietors in fee-simple; the feudal system gave way to the national elevation of a whole people.
The revolution of Cracovia found Russia so well prepared, that the tranquillity of her own Polish provinces was not disturbed for a single moment; nay more, Russia warned Austria to be prepared, and offered her then, as subsequently in the Hungarian struggle, a division of her army. Mettcrnich declined the offer; his national pride went just far enough to prefer the employment of his own Polish Lazzaroni to the aid proffered by the Emperor of Russia. The murders and assassinations then committed under the sanction of the Austrian government, drove many Polish nobles of Galicia into
Russia, where they were hospitably received. Austria paid her butchers at the rate of ten florins a head! The charge was publicly mad« at the time in the French Chamber, and remained uncontradicted, except by a few newspaper articles in the Vienna papers.
It was now clear that Galicia, with her four millions of people, was reduced to a conquered province, but Austrian dominion over her extended no further than the reach of Austrian bayonets. That province was now sympathizing
with Russia, rather than with the unnatural tyrant. If doomed to be crushed by despotism, the Poles preferred that which was coupled with unity of race, and with the prestige of a great destiny. On that side, then, Austria was undermined by her powerful Russian neighbour. Mettcrnich saw it; but had not the energy to resist it. His puerile fears of liberty occupied him in Germany and Italy, and rendered him more apprehensive of the mob of Paris, than of the powdered Tamerlan in St. Petersburg. He was now old and decrepit. The dissipations of his youth, which had once nearly cost him his life, while minister to the French Republic,* had sapped his energy, and he was
• Ho escaped with a sound drubbing, periodically re