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Another “Youth of March”: Pálffy Albert
Another “Youth of March”: Pálffy Albert

Pilvax Coffeehouse, Márczius Tizenötödike newspaper, Pállfy's tomb in Kerepesi cemetery

Széchenyi István’s reform ideas of the early 19th century didn’t sit well with Austria.  Nationalist consciousness was on the rise, not just among Hungarians, but among the minorities as well.  The Habsburgs used this; they favored the Slavs, the Romanians over the Hungarians, and poisoned relations between them.  This especially showed when the Hungarians requested that the language of the Diet be Hungarian.

Many great men were imprisoned for their liberal ideas: Kossuth Lajos, Wesselényi Miklós, Lovassy László and more.  This intensified hate in the hearts of the Hungarian people toward the Habsburgs. 

The Revolution had smoldered for years, not just in Hungary, but all over Europe.  On February 28, 1848, the embers burst into flames; revolution erupted in Paris; on March 13th in Vienna and Metternich had to run.

News of the Vienna revolution arrived in Budapest on the night of the 14th at the Pilvax Kávéház, where Petőfi Sándor and his friends usually got together.  Hearing the news, Petőfi said “…Tenni kell és mindjárt holnap… hátha holnapután már késő lesz.”  (We have to act, and immediately tomorrow...  The day after may be too late.)

The very next day, on March 15th in the morning, a small group led by Petőfi, Jókai Mór and Vasváry Pál marched from the Pilvax to the Landerer és Heckenast print shop to publish their 12-point demands, which had been written during the night.  They were joined by students, citizens of Buda and Pest, and peasants from the Pest area who came to the Joseph’s day fair.

Pálffy Albert was one of the intellectuals who took part in the Revolution.  He belonged to Petőfi’s circle of friends, and he was the most radical of them.  He was born in Gyula on April 20, 1820 to Pálffy Ferenc, and Nyéki Julianna.  Pálffy was well educated, attended schools in Debrecen, Nagybánya and Arad, studied theology in Szatmár, but left before being ordained.  Then he studied law in Nagyvárad and Pest.  He took all the exams, got his law degree, but never practiced law.  He worked in a bank, but his passion was literature.  He spent his free time in journalism and writing novels.  His first novel, Magyar millionaire was published in 1846, and A fekete könyv in 1847.  These were not very successful. 

His writings were published in many papers: Nemzeti Újság, Vasárnapi Újság, Budapesti Hírlap, Szépirodalmi Közlöny, Ország-Világ, etc…Some compared his writings to Jókai Mór, the great storyteller of Hungary, but artistically they were far apart.

He became the member of the Tízek Társasága (The Society of Ten – a group of young writers who vowed not to publish their works in any other publication except their own.  Intended to be called Pesti Füzetek, it was never published.  Instead, the group was able to take over the distinguished literary journal, Életképek.)

In 1848, Pálffy became the managing editor of the Márczius Tizenötödike daily paper, which was the most leftist and radical paper.  Basically it was the March Youth’s revolutionary newspaper.  It consisted of only four pages.  Its printing started in the early afternoon, but as news came in of further developments, they were published.  It was the first paper in Hungary that was sold by a rikkancs (newsboy) on the streets.

In the Márczius articles, Pálffy instigated against the Monarchy and published the revolutionaries’ demands.  Because of that, the government shut the paper down, and he was sent to prison in Szeged.  After his release, he hid for years in Belényes (Bihar County), and spent four years at the house of one of his uncles in Szintye (Arad County).  On February 2nd, 1853 he went to Pest where he was arrested and court-martialed and sent to internment in the south Czech town of Budweis.  This is where he met and married Neweklowsky Fanni. 

Soon after their marriage, he was allowed to go back to Hungary and he continued his journalism and writing.  He wrote for the publication called Hon for a while, and also edited Esti Lap.  He was a member of the Kisfaludy (literary) Társaság and the Petőfi Társaság, and from 1884 of the MTA (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia – the Hungarian Academy of Sciences).

He took a long break from writing; he was in his 60s when he started to write again.  As before, his novels were not very successful; they were mostly romantic love stories influenced by French romanticism.  The best of them were Esztike kisasszony professzora, Egy mérnök regénye, Az atyai ház, etc…

The chief merit of Pálffy Albert was the part he played in the Revolution.  His literary achievements consisted in that he was a great publicist, that he established simple taste and modern style journalism.  He was an excellent portrayer of the period; it is most interesting the way he describes the Reform period in A régi Magyarország utolsó éveiben.

Pálffy Albert died in Budapest on December 22nd, 1897.  His resting place is in the Kerepesi úti Cemetery.  His manuscripts are at the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum Manuscript Department.

Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and Webmaster of Magyar News Online.  She is the proud grandmother of two.

 

 


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