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KOSSUTH'S SPEECH E S.
NOTHING appears in history similar to the enthusiasm roused by Kossuth in nations foreign to him, except perhaps the kindling for the First Crusade by the voice of Peter the Hermit. Then bishops, princes, and people alike understood the danger which overshadowed Europe from the Mohammedan powers; and by soundly directed, though fanatical instinct, all Christendom rushed eastward, till the chivalry of the Seljuk Turks was crippled on the fields of Palestine. Now also the multitudes of Europe, uncorrupted by ambition, envy, or filthy lucre, forebode the deadly struggle impending over us all from the conspiracy of crowned heads. Seeing the apathy of their own rulers, and knowing, perhaps by dim report, the deeds of Kossuth, they look to him as the Great Prophet and Leader, by whom Policy is at length to be moulded into Justice; and are ready to catch his inspiration before he has uttered a word. Kossuth undoubtedly is a mighty Orator; but no one is better aware than he, that the cogency of his arguments is due to the atrocity of our common enemies, and the enthusiasm which he kindles to the preparation of the people's heart.
His orations are a tropical forest, full of strength and majesty, tangled in luxuriance, a wilderness of self-repetition. Utterly unsuited to form a book without immense abridgment, they contain materials adapted equally for immediate political service and for permanence as a work of wisdom and of genius. To prepare them for the press is an arduous and responsible duty: the best excuse which I can give for
having assumed it, is, that it has been to me a labour of love. My task I have felt to be that of a judicious reporter, who cuts short what is of temporary interest, condenses what is too amplified for his limits and for written style, severely prunes down the repetitions which are inevitable where numerous * audiences are addressed by the same man on the same subject, yet amid all these necessary liberties retains not only the true sentiments and arguments of the speaker, but his forms of thought and all that is characteristic of his genius. Such an operation, rightly performed, may, like a diminishing mirror, concentrate the brilliancy of diffuse orations, and assist their efficacy on minds which would faint under the effort of grasping the original.
It is true, the exuberance of Kossuth is often too Asiatic for English taste, and that excision of words, which needful abridgment suggests, will often seem to us a gain. Moreover, remembering that he is a foreigner, and, though marvellous in his mastery of our language, still naturally often unable to seize the word, or select the construction which he desired, I have not thought I should show honour to him by retaining anything verbally unskilful. To a certain cautious extent, I account myself to be a translator, as well as a reporter ; and in undertaking so delicate a duty, I am happy to announce that I have received Kossuth's written approval and thanks. Mere quaintness of expression I have by no means desired entirely to remove, where it involved nothing grotesque, obscure, or monotonous. In several passages, where I imperfectly understood the thought, I have had the advantage of Kossuth's personal explanations, which have enabled me to clear up the defective report, or real obscurities of his words.
. Nevertheless, I have to confess my conviction, that nothing can wholly compensate for the want of systematic revision by the author himself; which his great occupations have made impossible. The mistakes in the reports of the speeches are sometimes rather subtle, and have not roused my suspicion. Of this I have been made disagreeably sensible, by the fol. * The number of speeches, great and small, spoken in his American half-year, is reckoned to be above 500.
lowing errata communicated to me by Kossuth in the first great speech at New York, here marked as No. VII.
Page 34, line 6 from bottom, for every young, every great, every beautiful virtue, read ever young, ever great, ever beautiful Nature.
Page 45, line 15 from bottom, for of War, read of State.
Page 51, line 6 from bottom, for Bombaste Compagne, read Bomba et Compagne, or Bomba and Company.
Page 52, lines 7-10, the quotation from John Adams should extend two lines farther, and include the quotation from Shakspeare; and the word Austrian should
be omitted line 1, for we ve laws, read
Page 53, line 1, for we were to Austria, read we owed to Austria.
Nearly all the points on which attempts have been made to misrepresent in England the cause of Hungary are cleared up in these speeches. On two subjects only does it seem needful here to make any remark; first, on the Republicanism of Kossuth ; secondly, on the Hungarian levies against Italy in the year 1848.
1. Kossuth is attacked by his countrymen on opposite grounds : Szemerè despises him for not becoming a republican early enough, Count Casimir Bathyanyi reproves him for becoming a republican at all. The facts are these. Kossuth, like all English statesmen, was a historical royalist, not a doctrinaire. When the existing reign had become treacherous and lawless, he was willing to change the line of succession, and make the Archduke Stephen king ; (see p. 298). When the dynasty had become universally detested and actually expelled, he approved most heartily* the deposition of the Hapsburgs; but still held himself in suspense as to the future of the constitution. By his influence instructions were sent to his representative in England (p. 6), which were equivalent to soliciting a dynasty from the British government. Meanwhile Szemerè, his Home Secretary, took on himself to avow in the Diet that the government was REPUBLICAN, and no voice of protest was raised in either house. Indeed, Mr. Vucovics, who was Minister of Justice under Kossuth, states (see Appendix I) that the government and both houses responded unanimously
* How unanimous was the whole country, is clear by the facts stated in p. 9. How spontaneous was the movement, and free from all government intrigue, see in Appendix I. This is entirely confirmed by our envoy Mr. Blackwell : Blue Book, March-Ap. 1848.