Then burst a storm of applause which rose and fell, rose and fell, burst out again and again and again, explosion after explosion, hurricane after hurricane, with no apparent promise of ever coming to an end; and meantime the whole Left was surging and weltering about the champion, all bent upon wringing his hand and congratulating him and glorifying him.
Finally he got away, and went home and ate five loaves and twelve baskets of fish, read the morning papers, slept three hours, took a short drive, then returned to the House, and sat out the rest of the thirty-three-hour session.
To merely stand up in one spot twelve hours on a stretch is a feat which very few men could achieve; to add to the task the utterance of a hundred thousand words would be beyond the possibilities of the most of those few; to superimpose the requirement that the words should be put into the form of a compact, coherent, and symmetrical oration would probably rule out the rest of the few, bar Dr. Lecher.
In consequence of Dr. Lecher’s twelve-hour speech and the other obstructions furnished by the Minority, the famous thirty-three-hour sitting of the House accomplished nothing. The Government side had made a supreme effort, assisting itself with all the helps at hand, both lawful and unlawful, yet had failed to get the Ausgleich into the hands of a committee. This was a severe defeat. The Right was mortified, the Left jubilant.
Parliament was adjourned for a week—to let the members cool off, perhaps—a sacrifice of precious time; for but two months remained in which to carry the all-important Ausgleich to a consummation.
If I have reported the behaviour of the House intelligibly, the reader has been surprised by it, and has wondered whence these law-makers come and what they are made of; and he has probably supposed that the conduct exhibited at the Long Sitting was far out of the common, and due to special excitement and irritation. As to the make-up of the House, it is this: the deputies come from all the walks of life and from all the grades of society. There are princes, counts, barons, priests, peasants, mechanics, labourers, lawyers, judges, physicians, professors, merchants, bankers, shopkeepers. They are religious men, they are earnest, sincere, devoted, and they hate the Jews. The title of Doctor is so common in the House that one may almost say that the deputy who does not bear it is by that reason conspicuous. I am assured that it is not a self-granted title, and not an honorary one, but an earned one; that in Austria it is very seldom conferred as a mere compliment; that in Austria the degrees of Doctor of Music, Doctor of Philosophy, and so on, are not conferred by the seats of learning; and so, when an Austrian is called Doctor, it means that he is either a lawyer or a physician, and that he is not a self-educated man, but is college-bred, and has been diplomaed for merit.