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Damocles. Oh! to go on, day by day, in such a work of Sisyphus, believe
me, is no small sacrifice of any intelligent man to fatherland and
humanity. And this is the present condition of the press, not in Hungary
only, but in all countries cursed by Austrian rule. Indeed, our recent
reforms gave freedom of the press, not to my fatherland only, but
indirectly to Vienna, Prague, Lemberg; in a word, to the whole empire of
Austria and this must ensure your sympathy to us. Contrariwise, the
interference of Russia has crushed the press on the whole European
continent. Freedom of the press is incompatible with the preponderance
of Russia, and with the very existence of the Austrian dynasty, the
sworn enemy of every liberal thought. This must engage your generous
support to sweep away those tyrants, and to raise liberty where now foul
oppression rules.

Some time back there appeared in certain New York papers systematic
falsehoods, which went so far as to state that we, the Hungarians, had
struggled for oppression, while it was the Austrian dynasty which stood
up for liberty! Such effrontery astonishes even one who has seen
Russian treacheries. We may be misrepresented, scorned, jeered at,
censured. Our martyrs, whose blood cries for revenge, may be laughed at
as fools. Heroes, who will command the veneration of history, may be
called Don Quixotes. But that among freemen and professed republicans
even the honour of an unfortunate nation, in its most mournful
suffering, should not be sacred, - that is indeed a sorrowful page in
human history.

You cannot expect me to enter into a special refutation of this compound
of calumnies. I may reserve it for my pen. But inasmuch as the basis of
all the calumnies lies in general ignorance concerning the relation of
the Magyars to other races of Hungary, permit me to speak on the
question of NATIONALITIES, a false theory of which plays so mischievous
a part in the destinies of Europe. No word has been more misrepresented
than the word Nationality, which is become in the hands of absolutism a
dangerous instrument against liberty.

Let me ask you, gentlemen: are you, the people of the United States, a
_nation_, or not? Have you a _national_ government, or not?
You answer, yes: and yet you are not all of one blood, nor of one
language. Millions of you speak English; others French, German, Italian,
Spanish, Danish, and even several Indian dialects: yet you are a nation.
Neither your central government, nor those of separate states, nor your
municipalities, legislate or administer in every language spoken among
you; yet you have a national government.

Now, suppose many of you were struck with the curse of Babel, and
exclaimed, "This union is an oppression! our laws, our institutions, our
state and city governments, are an oppression! What is union to us? what
are rights? what avail laws? what is freedom? what is geography? what
is community of interests to us? They are all nothing; LANGUAGE is
everything. Let us divide the Union, divide the states, divide the very
cities, divide the whole territory, according to languages. Let the
people of every language become a separate state: for every nation has a
right to national life, and to us, the language, and nothing else, is
the nationality. Unless the state is founded upon language, its
organization is tyranny."

What then would become of your great Union? What of your constitution,
the glorious legacy of your greatest man? What of those immortal stars
on mankind's moral sky? What would become of your country itself,
whence the spirit of freedom soars into light, and rising hope
irradiates the future of humanity? What would become of this grand,
mighty complex of your republic, should her integrity ever be rent by
the fanatics of language? Where now she walks among the rising temples
of liberty and happiness, she soon would tread upon ruins, and mourn
over human hopes. But happy art then, free nation of America, founded on
the only solid basis, - liberty! a principle steady as the world, eternal
as the truth, universal for every climate, for every time, like
Providence. Tyrants are not in the midst of you to throw the apple of
discord and raise hatred in this national family, hatred of
_races_, that curse of humanity, that venomous ally of despotism.
Glorious it is to see the oppressed of diverse countries, - diverse in
language, history, habits, - wandering to these shores, and becoming
members of this great nation, regenerated by the principle of common

If language alone makes a nation, then there is no great nation on
earth: for there is no country whose population is counted by millions,
but speaks more than one language. No! It is not language only.
Community of interests, of rights, of duties, of history, but chiefly
community of institutions; by which a population, varying perhaps in
tongue and race, is bound together through daily intercourse in the
towns, which are the centres and home of commerce and industry: - besides
these, the very mountain-ranges, the system of rivers and streams, - the
soil, the dust of which is mingled with the mortal remains of those
ancestors who bled on the same field, for the same interests, the common
inheritance of glory and of woe, the community of laws and institutions,
common freedom or common oppression: - all this enters into the complex
idea of Nationality.

That this is instinctively felt by the common sense of the people,
nowhere is more manifestly shown than at this very moment in my native
land. Hungary was declared by Francis Joseph of Austria _no more to
exist_ as a Nation, no more as a State. It was and is put under
martial law. Strangers, aliens to our laws and history as well as to our
tongue, rule now, where our fathers lived and our brothers bled. To be a
Hungarian is become almost a crime in our own native land. Well: to
justify before the world the extinction of Hungary, the partition of its
territory, and the reincorporating of the dissected limbs into the
common body of servitude, the treacherous dynasty was anxious to show
that the Hungarians are in a minority in their own land. They hoped that
intimidation and terrorism would induce even the very Magyars to disavow
their language and birth. They ordered a census of races to be made.
They performed it with the iron rule of martial law; and dealt so
arbitrarily that thousands of women and men, who professed to be
Magyars, who professed not to know any other language than the Magyar,
were, notwithstanding all their protestation, put down as Sclaves,
Serbs, Germans, or Wallachians, because their names had not quite a
Hungarian sound. And still what was the issue of this malignant plot?
That of the twelve millions of inhabitants of Hungary proper, the
Magyars turned out to be more than eight millions, some two millions
more than we know the case really is. The people instinctively felt that
the tyrant had the design through the pretext of language to destroy the
existence of the complex nation, and it met the tyrannic plot as if it
answered, "We are, and must be, a nation; and if the tyrant takes
language only for the mark of nationality, then we are all Magyars." And
mark well, gentlemen! this happened, not under my governorship, but
under the rule of Austrian martial law. The Cabinet of Vienna became
furious; it thought of a new census, but prudent men told them that a
new census would give the whole twelve millions as Magyars; thus no new
census was taken.

But on the European continent there unhappily has grown up a school,
which bound the idea of nationality to the idea of language only, and
joined political pretensions to it. There are some who advocate the
theory that existing States must cease, and the territories of the world
be divided anew by languages and nations, separated by tongues.

You are aware that this idea, if it were not impracticable, would be a
curse to humanity - a deathblow to civilization and progress, and throw
back mankind by centuries. It would be an eternal source of strife and
war: for there is a holy, almost religious tie, by which man's heart is
bound to his home, and no man would ever consent to abandon his native
land only because his neighbours speak another language than himself.
His heart claims that sacred spot where the ashes of his fathers
lie - where his own cradle stood - where he dreamed the happy dreams of
youth, and where nature itself bears a mark of his manhood's toil. The
idea were worse than the old migration of nations was. Nothing but
despotism would rise out of such a fanatical strife of all mankind.

And really it is very curious. Nobody of the advocates of this
mischievous theory is willing to yield to it for himself - but others he
desires to yield to it. Every Frenchman becomes furious when his Alsace
is claimed to Germany by the right of language - or the borders of his
Pyrenees to Spain - but there are some amongst the very men who feel
revolted at this idea, who claim of Germany that it should yield up
large territory because one part of the inhabitants speak a different
tongue, and would claim from Hungary to divide its territory, which God
himself has limited by its range of mountains and the system of streams,
as also by all the links of a community of more than a thousand years;
to cut off our right hand, Transylvania, and to give it up to the
neighbouring Wallachia, to cut out like Shylock one pound of our very
breast - the Banat - and the rich country between the Danube and
Theiss - to augment by it Turkish Serbia and so forth. It is the new
ambition of conquest, but an easy conquest not by arms, but by language.

So much I know, at least, that this absurd idea cannot, and will not, be
advocated by any man here in the United States; which did not open its
hospitable shores to humanity, and greet the flocking millions of
emigrants with the right of a citizen, in order that the Union may be
cut to pieces, and even your single States divided into new-framed,
independent countries according to languages.

And do you know, gentlemen, whence this absurd theory sprang up on the
European Continent? It was the idea of Panslavismus - that is the idea
that the mighty stock of Sclavonic races is called to rule the world, as
once the Roman did. It was a Russian plot - it was a dark design to make
out of national feelings a tool to Russian preponderance over the world.

Perhaps you are not aware of the historical origin of this plot. It was
after that most immortal act of tyranny, the third division of Poland,
that the chance of fate brought the Prince Czartorinsky, to the Court of
Catherine of Russia. He subsequently became minister of Alexander the
Czar. It was in this quality that, with the noble aim to benefit his
fallen fatherland, he claimed from the young Czar the restoration of
Poland, suggesting for equivalent the idea of Russian preponderance over
all nations of the old Sclavonic race. I believe his intention was
sincere; I believe he did not mean to overlook those natural borders,
which, besides the affinity of language, God himself has drawn between
the nations. But he forgot that he might be no longer able to master
the spirits which he would raise, and that an undesired fanaticism might
force sundry fantastical shapes into his framework, by which the frame
itself must burst in pieces. He forgot that Russian preponderance cannot
be propitious to liberty; he forgot that it cannot be favourable even to
the development of the Sclave nationality, because Sclavonic nations
would by this idea be degraded into mere Russians, that is, absorbed by

Russia got hold of the fanciful idea very readily! May be that young
Alexander had in the first moment noble inclinations; the warm heart of
youth is susceptible to noble instincts. It is not common in history to
find young princes so premature in tyranny as Francis-Joseph of Austria.
But a few years of power were sufficient to extinguish every spark of
noble sentiment, if there was one, in Alexander's heart. Upon the
throne of the Romanoffs the man is soon absorbed by the Autocrat. The
traditional policy of St. Petersburg is not an atmosphere in which the
plant of regeneration can grow, and the fanciful idea became soon a
weapon of oppression and of Russian preponderance - Russia availed
herself of the idea of Panslavism to break Turkey down, and to make an
obedient satellite out of Austria. Turkey still withstands her, but
Austria has fallen into the snare. Russia sent out its agents, its
moneys, its venomous secret diplomacy; it whispered to the Sclave
nations about hatred against foreign dominion - about independence of
religion connected with nationality under its own supremacy; but chiefly
it spoke to them of Panslavism under the protectorate of the Czar. The
millions of his large empire also, all oppressed - all in servitude - all
a tool to his ambition; them too he flattered with the idea of becoming
rulers of the world, in order that they might not think of liberty: he
knew that man's breast cannot maintain in ascendancy two great passions
at once. He gave them ambition and excluded the spirit of liberty. This
ambition got hold of all the Sclave nations through Europe; so
Panslavism became the source of a movement, not of nationality, but of
the dominion of languages. That word "language" replaced every other
sentiment, and so it became a curse to the development of liberty.

Only one part of the Sclavonic races saw the matter clear, and withstood
the current of this dark Russian plot. These were the Polish
Democrats - the only ones who understood that to fight for liberty is to
fight for nationality. Therefore they fought in our ranks, and were
willing to flock in thousands upon thousands to aid us in our struggle;
but we could not arm them, so I would not accept them. We ourselves had
a hundredfold more hands ready to fight than arms - and there was nobody
in the world to supply us with arms.

Now let me see what was the condition of Hungary under these

Eight hundred and fifty years ago, when the first King of Hungary, St.
Stephen, becoming Christian himself, converted the Hungarian nation to
Christianity, it was the Roman Catholic clergy of Germany whom he
invited to assist him in his pious work. They did assist him, but the
assistance, as happens with human nature, was accompanied by some
worldly designs. Hungary offered a wide field to the ambition of
foreigners, and they persuaded the King to adopt a curious principle,
which he laid down in his last Will and Testament - that it is not good
for the people of a country to be but of one extraction and speak but
one tongue. A second rule was, to adopt the language of the
Church - Latin - for the language of government, legislature, law and all
public proceedings. This is the origin of that fatality, that Democracy
did not grow up for centuries in Hungary. The public proceedings being
in Latin, the laws given in Latin, public instruction carried on in
Latin, the great mass of the people, who were agriculturists, did not
partake in any of this; and the few who in the ranks of the people
partook in it, became severed and alienated from the people's interests.
This dead Latin language, introduced into the public life of a living
nation, was the most mischievous barrier against liberty. The first
blow to it was stricken by the Reformation. The Protestant Church,
introducing the national language into the divine services, became a
medium to the development of the spirit of liberty, and so our ancient
struggles for religious liberty were always connected with the
maintenance of political rights. But still, Latin public life went on
down to 1780. At that time, Joseph of Hapsburg, aiming at
centralization, replaced the Latin by the German tongue. This roused the
national spirit of Hungary; and our forefathers seeing that the dead
Latin language, excluding the people from the public concerns, cannot be
propitious to liberty, and anxious to oppose the design of the Viennese
Cabinet to Germanize Hungary, and _so melt it into the common
absolutism of the Austrian dynasty_ - I say, anxious to oppose this
design by a cheerful public life of the people itself, from the year
1790 began to pass laws in the direction that by-and-by, step by step,
the Latin language should be replaced in the public proceedings of the
Legislature and of the Government by a living language familiar to the
people itself. And what was more natural, than that, being in the
necessity to choose one language, they choose the Magyar? the more so,
since those who spoke Hungarian were not only more than those who spoke
any one of the other languages, but were if not more than, at least
equal to, all those who spoke several other languages together.

Be so kind to mark well, gentlemen; no other language was oppressed - the
Hungarian language was enforced upon nobody. Wherever another language
was in use even in public life; of whatever Church - whatever popular
school - whatever community - it was not replaced by the Hungarian
language. It was only the dead Latin, which by-and-by became eliminated
from the diplomatic public life, and replaced by the living Hungarian in

In Hungary, I say. Gentlemen, be pleased to mark: never was this measure
extended into the municipal life of Croatia and Sclavonia, which, though
belonging for 800 years to Hungary, still were not Hungary, but a race
with distinct local institutions.

The Croatians and Sclavonians themselves repeatedly urged us in the
common parliament to afford them opportunity to learn the Hungarian
language, that, having the right, they might also enjoy the benefit, of
being employed in the government offices of our common Hungary. This
opportunity was afforded to them, but nobody was forced to make use of
it; while neither with their own municipal and public life, nor with the
domestic, social, religious life, of any other people in Hungary itself,
did the Hungarian language ever interfere. It replaced only the Latin
language, which no people spoke, and which was contrary to liberty,
because it excluded the millions from public life. Willing to give
freedom to the people, we expelled that Latin tongue; which was an
obstacle to its future. We did what every other nation in the old world
has done, clearing by it the way to the universal liberty.

Your country is happy even in that respect. Being a young nation, you
did not find the Latin tongue in your way when you established this
Republic; so you did not want a law to eject it from your public life.
You have a living language, which is spoken in your Congress, in your
State Legislatures, and by which your Government rules. It is not the
native language of your whole people - and yet no man in the Union takes
it for an oppression that legislature and government is not carried on
in every language spoken in the United States.

And one thing I have to mention yet. This replacing of the Latin
language by the Hungarian was not a work of our recent measures, it was
done before, step by step, from 1791. When we carried in 1848 our
democratic reforms, and gave political, social, civil, and full
religious freedom to the whole people, we extended our cares to the
equal protection of every tongue and race, affording to all equal right
to aid out of the public funds, for the moral, religious, and scientific
development in churches and in schools. Nay, we extended this even to
political affairs, sanctioning the free use of every tongue, in the
municipalities and communal corporations, as well as in the
administration of justice. The promulgation of the laws in every tongue,
the right to petition and to claim justice in each man's tongue, the
duty of the government to answer in the same, all this was granted, and
thus far more was done in that respect also, than any other nation ever
accorded to the claims of tongues; by far more than the United States
ever did, though there is no country in the world where so many
different languages are spoken as here.

It is therefore the most calumnious misrepresentation to say that the
Hungarians struggled for the dominion of their own _race_. No; we
struggled for civil, political, social, and religious freedom, common to
all, against Austrian despotism. We struggled for the great principle
of _self-government against centralization_; because centralization
is absolutism; and is inconsistent with constitutional rights. Austria
has given the very proof of it. The House of Austria had never the
intention to grant constitutional life to the nations of Europe. I will
prove that on another occasion. But the friends of the Hapsburgs say,
it has granted a constitution - in March, 1849. Well, where is that
Constitution now? It was not only never executed, but it was, three
months ago, formally withdrawn. Even the word Ministry is blotted out
from the Dictionary of the Austrian government! Schwarzenberg is again
House, Court, and State Chancellor, as Metternich was; only Metternich
ruled not with the iron rule of martial law over the whole empire of
Austria as Schwarzenberg does. Metternich _encroached upon_ the
constitutional rights of Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, and Slavonia.
Schwarzenberg has _abolished_ them, and young Francis-Joseph has
melted all the nations together into common bondage, where the promised
_equality of nationalities_ is carried out most literally, to be
sure, for they are all equally oppressed, and all are equally ruled by
absolutist principles and by the German language. And why was that
illusory constitution withdrawn? Because it was a lie from the
beginning; an impossibility. It was founded on the principle of
centralization. It centralized thirteen different nations, which had had
no political history in common, except to have groaned under Austrian
rule. Under such circumstances to have a common life was an absurdity
augmented by deceit.

I cannot exhaust this vast topic in one speech. We want Republican
institutions, so founded on self-government everywhere, that the people
themselves may be sovereign everywhere. This is the cause, for which I
humbly request your protecting aid. It is the cause of oppressed Europe.
It is the cause of Germany, bleeding under some thirty petty tyrants who
lean on that league of despots, the basis of which is Petersburg. It is
the cause of fair, but unfortunate Italy, which in so many respects is
now dear to our heart. We have a common enemy; so we are brothers in
arms for freedom and independence. I know how Italy is situated; and I
dare confidently to declare, there is no hope for Italy, but in that
great republican party, at the head of which Mazzini stands. It has
nothing to do with communistical schemes, or the French doctrines of
Socialism: but it wills, that Italy be free and republican. Whither else
could Italy look for freedom and independence, if not to that party
which Mazzini leads? To the King of Naples perhaps? Let me be silent
about that execrated man. Or to the dynasty of Sardinia and Piedmont?
This professes to be constitutional; yet it captures those poor
Hungarian soldiers who seek an asylum in Piedmont, - captures, and
delivers them to Austria to be shot: and they _are_ shot,
increasing the number of those 3742 martyrs whom Radetzky murdered on
the scaffold during three short years. The House of Savoy is become the
blood-hound of Austria against fugitive Hungarians.

Gentlemen, the generous sympathy of public opinion here (God be
blessed!) is strongly aroused to the wrongs and sufferings of Hungary. I
look to _your_ aid to keep that sympathy alive, - to urge the
formation of societies to collect funds and support a loan, - to move in
favour of the propositions which I had the honour to express at the
Corporation Banquet. Consider not the weakness of my address, but only
the strength of my cause; and following the generous impulse of your
republican hearts, accord to it the protective aid of the free
independent Press. Then I may yet see fulfilled the noble words of your
Chairman's poetry: -

Truth crush'd to earth shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies _among_....
(let me add, Sir,).. _with all_ her worshippers.

In the course of the same evening, one of the toasts drunk was, "To the
Political Exiles of Europe," to which Michael Doheny, Esq., an Irish
exile, first responded, in a speech full of animosity against England.
After him Mr. DANA made the following speech, which may be a useful
comment on that of Kossuth.

My friend, who has taken his seat, spoke in his own right as a political

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