Page:The voice of an oppressed people.pdf/56

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to the Bohemian Diet (12 September, 1871) Francis Joseph acknowledged the rights of Bohemia and promised to be crowned as its King.

Promises have ever been cheap with Francis Joseph. The Czechs formulated their wishes in a draft constitution—the Fundamental Articles of 10 October, I871—but in less than a month the influence of Berlin and Budapest succeeded in getting rid of Count Hohenwart and his ministry, and in replacing it by one selected for the special purpose of breaking Bohemian opposition. Never in the nineteenth century, in any civilized and constitutional country save Hungary, has a government, acting for the sovereign himself, behaved so shamelessly. An electoral caucus was organized to control the elections to the Diet and the Central Parliament; votes were openly bought and sold; meetings were suppressed by force; and the Czech papers and their editors persecuted. The gendarmerie and troops did not shrink from bloodshed. Corruption was rampant everywhere. In all departments of the administration the national life was checked and Germanization openly proclaimed. Vexations of all kinds, even in trifling matters, were the rule. I remember how the national songs were forbidden and the national emblems prohibited. Czech telegrams were not accepted, and we composed French words giving a meaning in our language. Vienna succeeded so far that a group of Moravian deputies gave up their policy of passive resistance, which had culminated in abstention from the Central Parliament and even from the Diets, and in refusal to pay the taxes. Finally the Premier, Count Taaffe, the descendant of an Irish family, agreed in 1879 to make some concessions if all the Czech deputies would take their seats in the Central Parliament. At the beginning of his speech from the Throne the Emperor acknowledged their "full right of constitutional conviction." Certain administrative rights were granted, and the long-fought-for Czech University was established; on the whole