A LETTER FROM BUDAPEST: .
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]
Sia,--There have been many happenings in Hungary in the list six months. Towards the close of the year the Minister President Count Bethlen announced a general election, and before the year was out the elections were over and the Government was returned to power with an increased majority. In fact, in a membership of over two hundred and forty, the Opposition numbers about thirty.
Also, a quite new Upper House has been formed, of which I,irty only represent the two hundred and fifty magnates of pre-War times. These forty, said to include representatives or all the historic houses of Hungary, are elected by their Peers, and stand in much the same position as Irish and Scotch Peers in the House of Lords. Other members of the I pper House, which consists of two hundred and forty alto- ttether, are representatives of law, medicine, commerce, finance, literature, learning, agriculture and the different religious persuasions. Of the latter there arc Catholic dignitaries to the number of twenty-three, Protestants nine, including one
nitarian and two Jewish Rabbis representing the Orthodox and Reformed Jews of Hungary.
As Protestants are reckoned as 30 per cent. of the popula- tion, the proportion seems to be fair. The Jewish represen- tation is something quite new and indeed is remarkable. The two Rabbis chosen are both learned men. The Orthodox representative, Dr. Koppel, is ninety-five years of age, and is the Father of the Houk, while Dr. Emmanuel Low has a wide fame as a botanist, and his family record is one of Hungarian patriotism.
Parliament was formally opened on January 29th with much ceremony. All the aristocracy and 'whiles of Hungary appeared in their national costumes with fur-hooded cloaks, resplendent in jewellery, carrying the curved swords which suggest the scimitar of the Turks. The members of the two Houses arranged themselves on each side of the Dais, the Lower House on the right, the 'Upper on the left. Among the latter were noticeable the two young Archdukes Albrecht and Joseph Franz, both in Hungarian dress, thus breaking away from the invariable custom of the Habsburgs on such occa- sions to don uniform. The fathers of the two Archdukes, Frederick and Joseph, were dressed as Field MarshaLs.
• Archduke Albrecht is descended from an elder son of Emperor Leopold II, is popular, rich and clever : he has a following among the magnates in regard to succession to the Throne. There are rumours that he may marry an Italian princess and so strengthen his claims. As far as the direct line is concerned, there is no dearth of heirs. Not only are there three or four younger brothers of Prince Otto, who is already spoken of as King, but the late Emperor Charles also had a brother who is still living. It seems very unlikely, however, that Count Bcthlen will use his majority to raise the question of the Throne, much less to settle it.
The country is beginning to look prosperous : road-making and building of all kinds is going on everywhere. The Danube looks businesslike with barges and tugs, and there is a look about the town generally of activity and verve which is refreshing.
If evidence were wanting otherwise of improvement, the trade figures show an increase in the volume of trade over last year of 157 million gold crowns. There is a good deal of gaiety too, and many dances, including a Szechenyi Ball, a Medical Ball, a Protestant Ball, a Foundling Ball and many private dances. In short, a spirit of optimism is abroad.--I am, Sir, &c., YOUR HUNGARIAN CORRESPONDENT.