The subject of Count Albert Apponyi's address yesterday afternoon was "Some Aspects of the Constitutional Growth of Hungary and her Relationship with Austria." Count Apponyi was introduced by President Lowell as one who had taken an active part in solving one of the most complex problems of statesmanship that had ever confronted any nation.
Count Apponyi first outlined the conditions under which the Hungarian nation came into existence. Owing to its geographical position, Hungary is the gateway between the East and West, a gateway which demands a firm hand to keep it closed. Many governments had been built up and had given way before the incursions of stronger races. Finally, the forefathers of the present inhabitants settled in there and became Western Christians. After a long invasion the Turks were driven out, and a firm buffer protected the West from the East. The preservation of Hungary thus brought about has been most remarkable, and its solution has been the early assertion of a strong spirit of national unity. This unity had to struggle against feudalism and the racial problem. The solution of the latter was a compromise between the usual solutions. The conquerors did not amalgamate with the conquered, but they did give them full political rights. This national unity has maintained the politics much the same today as at the time of the conquest.
The Magyars embrace more than half of the total population. All other races, however, having equal political rights, may develop their own characteristics as far as geographical conditions allow. They may use their native tongues in conducting city and country affairs, and, in varying degrees, in the schools. There are three kinds of schools: state, parochial, and denominational. In the state schools Hungarian is the official language, although religious teaching is conducted in the native tongue, and from two to four hours are devoted to it during the week. In the parochial and denominational schools, which constitute an enormous majority of 14,000 out of 17,000, the language to be taught is designated by the supporters of the schools, with the condition that Hungarian also be taught. The result of all this is a homogeneous nation in which every man has an equal share in the government.
During the first two centuries of the Union of Austria and Hungary there was no tie that could hold them together, because the throne of Austria was held by inheritance, while that of Hungary was held by election. To remedy this, in 1723, the Pragmatic Sanction was made, stating that the Austrian dynasty should reign by inheritance in both Austria and Hungary, but that the free constitution of Hungary should remain. The two countries were to protect each other from enemies. This is the Magna Carta of Hungary for it established her independence.
The fact that Francis assumed the title of Emperor of Austria-Hungary leads many people into the erroneous impression that he rules over one homogeneous nation. His prerogatives as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary are absolutely different, autocracy as opposed to constitutionalism. For convenience foreign affairs and part of the military organization are managed by a common executive body. All appropriations must be approved by the separate parliaments. There is no common judiciary of the two countries, common legislature, citizenship, or territory. In view of these facts it is evident that Hungary can at any moment abolish the whole machinery of the union. There is no danger of such a course as long as the Union is maintained in the spirit in which it was started, and the promise of independence is kept. The success of the connection depends upon the goodwill of the two countries, and untramelled freedom in their development