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Chapter 12: Kossuth.—1852.

The Hungarian refugee comes to the United States seeking national aid for his country. Fully informed in advance of the existence of slavery and the dominance of the Slave Power, he affects neutrality and flatters the South. Garrison, on behalf of the American Anti-slavery Society, exposes him in an elaborate letter. Uncle Tom's Cabin appears.

Father Mathew's stay in America outlasted two years. A nine days wonder, he was heard and thought of no more after (like a candle lowered into a foul well) he had taken his passports for the South. On November 8, 1851, he sailed from New York, recalling1 himself for a moment to public attention by issuing a farewell address. He professed to have added more than 600,000 disciples to the cause of total abstinence—an empty boast. He tendered to his countrymen on this side of the Atlantic some wholesome parting advice, but with a grave omission as to their duty towards slavery, which Mr. Garrison supplied by appending to the address in the Liberator the Irish Address of 1842. Father2 Mathew left also his thanks to individuals—to a slaveholder, first of all: to Henry Clay, namely. To the same hollow friend alike of temperance and of freedom, he wrote on December 29, 1851, from Cork, sending good3 wishes and blessings for the New Year to the ‘pride and glory’ of the United States, and writing himself down ‘the most grateful of your admirers.’

Father Mathew had, nevertheless, witnessed on the spot the degradation of the North by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, thanks to Clay above all other men. He had seen the workings of that measure in all their atrocity —the land stirred as never before, in its good and bad elements. He had seen the suppression of free speech attempted, in the name of the Union and the Constitution, by the dregs of society like Rynders, with the approval of4 [340] what was most ‘respectable’ in church and state. He had seen George Thompson, a co-worker with O'Connell5 in behalf of Irish and Catholic emancipation, singled out for dedication to mob violence by Henry Clay in the6 Senate Chamber.7 Like the priest in the parable, and like the Priest of all times, he walked by on the other side.

He had hardly touched his native shores when another foreigner embarked for the United States from the sister isle of Great Britain—destined to excite an even greater enthusiasm in America than Father Mathew had done; to be tried by the same touchstone; to follow his evil example; and equally to serve, not the ends of his mission, but a higher end in the pointing of a great moral lesson and the satisfaction of poetic justice.

Kossuth's coming had been long prepared. A people born of revolution had watched with eager sympathy the course of the Hungarian uprising, and had fully adopted Kossuth as its hero. None thought of applying to him Mr. Garrison's criterion, when, amid his contention with Father Mathew, in an article on “Patriotism and Christianity—Kossuth and Jesus,” Lib. 19.138; Writings of Garrison, p. 78. he wrote, in the summer of 1849: ‘He [Kossuth] is strictly local, territorial, national. The independence of Hungary, alone, absorbs his thoughts and inspires his efforts; and, to obtain it, he feels justified [i. e., by the laws of war] in disregarding the claims of humanity, and suspending all the obligations of morality.’ No one anticipated that these words would exactly express [341] Kossuth's relation to slavery and the abolitionists as soon as he consented to make his appeal for help to a slaveholding nation. Towards the close of 1849, the meetings of Hungarian sympathizers began to multiply so greatly that Mr. Garrison grouped them as a text for another8 article, on ‘National Hypocrisy’—testing these manifestations not only by the national sin of slaveholding, but by the Government's refusal to acknowledge the independence of Hayti; and recalling the Polish demonstrations of twenty years before, in which the South was9 conspicuous. When in the winter of 1849-50 Congress assembled, it was a pro-slavery doughface, Lewis Cass,10 who offered in the Senate a resolution suspending diplomatic relations with Austria by way of pressure on Hungary's behalf—an interference with the domestic concerns of a foreign country which Thompson did not fail to11 improve, in repelling censure of his apostleship of human rights in the United States.

Kossuth, meanwhile, had surrendered to Turkey and12 been interned, and had implored Palmerston's13 intervention—for his country against Austrian subjugation; for himself against the dreaded extradition to Russia. On March 3, 1851, President Fillmore, with the same hand that had signed the Fugitive Slave Law, approved a joint resolution of the very Congress which had passed that law,14 offering a vessel of the Mediterranean squadron to Kossuth and his fellow-exiles, if they were disposed to profit by this mode of escape. On March 27, Kossuth, at Broussa,15 indited his grateful acceptance, lavishing upon the United States the most fulsome flattery. ‘May your great example, noble Americans, be to other nations the source of social virtues; your power be the terror of all tyrants, the protector of the distressed, and your free country ever continue to be the asylum of the oppressed of all nations!’

Long before this address saw the light, the abolitionists had grave cause to dread Kossuth's arrival. ‘Who shall receive him?’ asked Whittier. [342]

Who shall receive him? Who, unblushing, speak16
Welcome to him who, while he strove to break
The Austrian yoke from Magyar necks, smote off17
At the same blow the fetters of the serf,—
Rearing the altar of his Fatherland
On the firm base of freedom, and thereby,
Lifting to Heaven a patriot's stainless hand,
Mocked not the God of Justice with a lie!
Who shall be Freedom's mouthpiece? Who shall give
Her welcoming cheer to the great fugitive?
Not he who, all her sacred trusts betraying,18
Is scourging back to slavery's hell of pain
The swarthy Kossuths of our land again!
Not he whose utterance now, from lips designed19
The bugle-march of Liberty to wind,
And call her hosts beneath the breaking light,—
The keen reveille of her morn of fight,—
Is but the hoarse note of the bloodhound's baying,
The wolf's long howl behind the bondman's flight!
O for the tongue of him who lies at rest20
In Quincy's shade of patrimonial trees,—
Last of the Puritan tribunes and the best,—
To lend a voice to Freedom's sympathies,
And hail the coming of the noblest guest
The Old World's wrong has given the New World of the West!

Who should receive him, indeed, if not those who had invited him? A prior question was, Who shall inform him truly of the state of affairs in the so-called land of freedom? An American who had known Kossuth at home, and likened him to Washington and Channing21 combined, told of having often observed Channing's works on his table—excellent aids (we will add) to Kossuth's theological development, but not calculated to make him shun the society or applause of slaveholders. Save him! save him! wrote Henry C. Wright to James Haughton22 of Dublin. Tell him of American slavery. ‘He is lost —lost to himself and the friends and cause of liberty in all coming time—if he lands on this slavery-cursed shore.’ ‘ “here lies Kossuth—the American [343] slaveholder” —must be his epitaph if he touches our shore!’ And again, after reading the address from Broussa: “Slave-catchers will do by him as they have done, successfully, by Theobald Mathew—avail themselves of his world-wide fame and influence to prop up American slavery.” Lib. 21.195. ‘Will the Kossuth of America be the Kossuth or Haynau of Hungary? One or the other he must be.’

The English abolitionists needed no urging. Kossuth was to land in England. W. H. Ashurst wrote to Mr. Garrison on October 13, 1851, that a common friend, of23 weight, had put in his hands for Kossuth24 a packet describing ‘with faithfulness and correctness the true state of the slave question in the States.’ On November 4,

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