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1. Memoirs of a Hungarian Lady; by Theresa Pulsky. 2 vols.
8vo. Colburn. London. 2. Hungary, and the Hungarian Struggle; by Thomas Grieve
Clark. Edinburgh. 1850.
The former of these volumes is a book to be placed on the same shelf with the touching memoirs of Madame la Rochejacquelin and Madame Bonchamps. Madame Pulsky had not, indeed, to endure the extremity of danger, misery, and horror, which those high-minded French ladies passed through : but if their trials were greater, the cause for which she endured was a far holier one. The struggle in La Vendee was for a false faith and selfish princes; that in Hungary, was for the dearest rights of a free and self-dependent people.
The history of Europe presents us with three examples of nations, temporarily enslaved by superior force, who have gloriously regained and maintained their freedom. In Scotland and Portugal, a disputed succession and a divided aristocracy were taken advantage of by a powerful and ambitious neighbour, to bring a distracted country under an iron yoke. In both, indomitable patriotism and intense national hatred toward the oppressors were the means-in the hands of the representatives of the ancient princes of the land-of breaking off the yoke of a people, infinitely superior in number, riches, and extent of territory, and nowise inferior in bravery. The struggle was decisive: the aggressor in both cases received a lesson, which effectually prevented any resumption of those schemes of conquest, which had ended in ignominious defeat. We hardly know whether Greece cau be legitimately classed with these heroic examples. During upwards of four centuries, she bent under the Turkish yoke: yet, although roused to resist it, not by an impulse from within, but from without, she fought so gallantly and pertinaciously for her freedom, that the interference of foreign nations, which alone secured her the prize, must be looked upon, more as the interposition of a judge to award justice, than as that of a partizan to secure an advantage.
The close of the last century, which witnessed the judicial punishment of so many nations, beheld also the darkest and deepest of national crimes. Poland was torn asunder at the very moment, when she was most worthy of existence. The tyranny of her nobles, the immorality of all classes, and the anarchy of her Governmentall call. ed for retribution from the All-just, as well as the All-merciful, ruler of nations. But the instruments of His wrath heightened their own crime by punishing Poland, not for her defects, but for her determi
nation of correcting them; not for her past tyranny, but for her newly established freedom ; not for the confusion of her past elections and the evils entailed by the Liberum Veto, but on account of the danger to their own despotism, from the proximity of a constitutional and hereditary throne, a liberal aristocracy, and a free and thriving people.
The history of Hungary stands out in strong contrast to those we have named. She has never been enslaved.
The Hunga. rians chose Ferdinand of Austria and his successors, as freely as any people ever chose a King—as freely as the Germanic Électors chose the same princes to be Emperors of the most Holy Roman Empire: consequently the continual never-ceasing struggle between a free people and their despotic princes assumed the party character of a domestic contest, rather than that of a unanimous national conflict for life and death against a foreign foe. A Hungarian magnate could serve the purposes of his lawful sovereign with far less violence to his honour and conscience, than a Scotchman of the fourteenth century could swear fealty to Edward, or a Fidalgo of the sixteenth could enrol himself among the courtiers of Philip II. Again, as the Austrian princes were truly the sovereigns of Hungary, the sympathy of foreign nations was in no wise roused. It would be expecting too much of the statesmen and diplomatists of England and France, to require that they should interest themselves in the domestic disputes of the Emperor and his sub. jects. Still less could foreign sovereigns be expected to forget the maxim of Frederick the Great, mon metier, c'est d'etre Roi,” and to form alliances with subjects, however just might be their cause against their King.
Only half of Hungary was free. Her nobles were probably the most patriotic in Europe ; but then they were the Hungarian nation. The other half of her population were, like the Serfs, or Helots, deprived of all political rights, and could not hold a foot of land, until earth received them into her bosom. The great lesson, which nature teaches us, was unheeded. The equality between man and man, at his entrance into this life and his departure from it, ought surely to prevail, in some degree, during his passage through it. In all that regards their relations to God, all men are equal ; in all that regards their relations to each other as human beings, desirous of kindness, claimants of justice, possessors of will, and owners of property, they should be no less so. The divinely appointed and most wisely ordered differences of station, of circumstances, and of enjoyment, are sufficient. Before God and the law, all men are equal. This had been forgotten in Hungary, as it was in France, in Germany, and in the West Indies—as it is in Asia, in Russia, and in the slave states of America. But the Hungarian nobles, whose fore-fathers, two centuries ago, had so fully understood toleration, that, while fighting for Protestantism, they did not expel the Jesuits, could not be blinded for ever, even by self-interest, to the
rights of others. The Diet of 1832 began to revise the Hungarian constitution. Before, however, we enter into the detail of recent events, we must take a glance at the past.
The youngest of the European nations, the Hungarians, more than any other retain the characteristics of the East, from whence they came. From their homes in Central Asia, they migrated to the shores of the Caspian; and from thence to the Black Sea, they rolled like a devastating flood over Eastern Europe. Attila shook the empire of Rome, as five centuries later, the second inundation of the same warlike race made the Emperors of Germany and Constantinople tremble. They are the only people, who can point to a social contract between their rulers and themselves, at the very beginning of their existence as a nation. Before their invasion of Europe, they elected Almos, the father of Arpad and his descendants, as their leader, or Duke, stipulating that, “if the Duke were to break the contract, he should be deposed, and cursed, and banished "-a very plain-spoken declaration-wholesome moreover, and often appealed to by their descendants. The Magyars, as the followers of Arpad were called, became the nobles, as the conquered inhabitants became the peasants of Hungary. Her first Kings were some of the best and most energetic, of whom any country can boast. Among them were St. Stephen, her first Christian King; Ladislas the Great, her chief Legislator; and “ Koloman,” the deformed, but farsighted and enlightened Prince, powerful alike in mind and body, who, in the days of our William the Red, declared that “ witches should not be punished--for there were none !"
The liberties of England and Hungary were secured about the same time. The Golden Bull of 1222, the Magna Charta of the Magyars, established the famous principles, on which so much of the subsequent fate of Hungary has turned, that " if the King
or his descendants should despise the laws of the country, that • then the Magnates and free men should be entitled to resist the • authority of such a King, without thereby incurring the penal• ties of high treason."
Hungary may be said to have entered the European family of nations in the time of Edward I. of England, by the election of Charles Robert of Anjou and Naples, great grandson in the female line of Bela IV. His son, Louis the Great, conquered Naples, to revenge the death of his brother Andrew, the prototype of the unfortunate Darnley, as the beautiful and bewitching Joanna was of Mary Stuart. What must we think of the charms and talents of her, who could prevail on the Pope to acquit her of the murder of her husband, on the ground that she had been bewitched, and who could induce the brother of that very husband to forego the indemnification, she was sentenced to pay for the expenses of the war? But the Hungarians suffered. The indemnity, which Louis forgave to the fascinating Queen of Naples, he raised from the peasantry, by granting a ninth of the whole agricultural produce to the nobles for ever,
as a reward for the sacrifices they had made during the war. Thus a woman's charms, a prince's momentary impulse, and things, which in common parlance are styled mere accidents,” often affect the welfare of nations. It is our consolation to know, that even these minute threads in the warp of human life are in the hands of Him, whose never-ce
-ceasing Providence rules the universe: and “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ?”
The year 1414 was marked by a Jacquerie, as frightful in its character, and still more mysterious in its causes, than that which has so recently occurred in Gallicia. The Pope's Legate preached a Crusade: the peasants alone took the cross, and then turned their arms against the nobles. At this distance of time, it is difficult to assign the true origin of this outbreak, and to say positively, whether the peasants avenged the tyranny of their masters, or the priests the disobedience of their noble auditors. Probably it arose from a combination of both causes.
At the close of this century, the Hungarians, under the heroic Matthias Corvinus, overran Austria, and took Vienna. The battle of Mohacz in 1516—at which Louis. II. ended his inglorious life, and by which Suleiman effectually broke the power of Hungary, which had so long been the bulwark of Christendom against the Turks-opened the way to the throne for Ferdinand of Austria, brother-in-law of the late King, and brother of the Emperor Charles V.
The end of the sixteenth century saw more than two-thirds of Hungary Protestant. The Emperor Rudolph, a thorough Jesuit, confirmed by his sole authority in 1604 all the laws in favour of the Romish Church, and forbade the discussion of religious subjects in the Diet. It might as well be forbidden in this present year in the British House of Commons. Upper Hungary immediately refused supplies ; and the Hungarian cavalry swept up to the walls of Vienna. A peace was concluded in that city, securing perfect religious freedom to Hungary. But, after a short respite under Matthias, Ferdinand of Styria, the blood-thirsty and relentless tool of the Jesuits, ascended the throne; and the first man of note among the Esterhazys became his willing instrument. Thrice did that gallant warrior and enlightened statesman, Bethlem Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, compel the false Ferdinand to confirm the treaty of Vienna: but every advantage, gained by the Imperial arms during the Thirty years' war, was a signal to the wily Emperor for a fresh attack on the religious freedom of Hungary. He succeeded in destroying both the constitution and the Protestant faith in Bohemia : for he had sworn faith to his people, as priests swear fealty to Sovereigns, “ with reservation of the rights of the Church."
Leopold I. marked his reign with the blood of the Protestants. They were obliged to fly in crowds to the protection of their Mussulman neighbours. Ferdinand II. and his son had been somewhat restrained and guided by the Counsels of Pasman, Archbishop of Gran, and Niklas Esterhazy ; but Leopold had no