illustrious visitor arrived here from the south on Friday afternoon, having
been invited to deliver two public lectures to our citizens. The first
of these was given in the Hall of the Mechanics’ Institution on Saturday
evening. A crowd was waiting on the street and, as he entered, accompanied
by the members of Committee in charge of the lectures, gave a hearty cheer.
The meeting in the Hall was numerous.
Kossuth, on entering, met
with an enthusiastic reception. He was accompanied by his former aid-de-camp,
Lieut. Col. Ihasz, and by Sheriff Watson, Baillie Henderson, Councillor Oswald,
Professor Clark, Messrs Macallan, N. Smith, McCombie (of Free Press), &c.
On the motion of the sheriff, Baillie Henderson was called to the chair.
The Chairman said he had
the honour of introducing one of the most distinguished men in Europe –
(cheers) – Louis Kossuth, ex-Governor of Hungary. (Renewed applause). Our
illustrious visitor had kindly complied with our request, and had come to
tell us of those noble struggles in which his country had been engaged, as
well as of the present danger which he thinks, and which many others think,
menaces Europe. (Cheers).
Kossuth then rose, and
was loudly cheered, the cheering being succeeded by a profound silence.
He is a little above the medium size. There is combined ease, grace and
dignity about his movements, as of one “born to command”. His head, according
to the usual marks, is intellectual, the expression of the countenance frank,
pleasing, and almost benevolent, with a tinge of pensiveness, and the eye,
large and lustrous, betokens genius.
In speaking, the foreign
accent is marked, which renders the opening sentences difficult to understand:
soon, however, the speaker establishes a sympathy between himself and his
audience. He takes a grasp of his subject remarkable for comprehensiveness,
and evinces an extraordinary acquaintance with history, as well as human
nature. His oratory stands by itself: the imagery and comparisons are striking,
often startling – the style and language equal to the great masters of former
The voice is sonorous,
yet musical – the action calm and majestic. All is natural; or, if there
is art, it is of the highest kind – that which “conceals art”. Slight as
is the above sketch, it will prepare the reader for being told that any
report which could be given of the lecture would convey but a faint idea
of the reality; but though it were otherwise, there is a kind of copyright
attaching to such lectures, of which it would be unjust, as well as ungenerous,
that the distinguished author should not have the full benefit. This, however,
does not apply to the introduction, which, as having a reference to the
locality, as well as to the personal history of the speaker, we subjoin:-
“Chateaubriand, on hearing
a Mohamedan muezzin announce the hour of prayer at Athens, was led to exclaim
– What a strange history is in that voice of a Turkish priest who, from
a minaret raised on the ruins of the Parthenon, announces the lapse of time,
in Arabian language, to the Christian inhabitants of the city of Minerva!
What a strange history of gigantic events is in that voice. Sir, if a stranger
were listening this evening to my broken accent, with which I profane the
language of Shakespeare before a highly cultivated assembly in the northern
metropolis of Scotland, he might well exclaim – What a strange history
is in that voice!
A German and a Russian
emperor conspire for crushing the constitutional life and national existence
of Hungary, and the chosen chief of the Magyars, of pure Asiatic descent,
driven from his native Pannonia by treason combined with Russian arms; saved
by the magnanimity of a Mohamedan sultan from the blood-thirst of Christian
Emperors; confined to an Asiatic fortress by European diplomacy; released
by the intercession of Republican America; honoured in his fall as no conqueror
has ever been honoured, with popular ovations along the shores of the Mediterranean
Sea, on the banks of the Thames, in the halls of the Capitol at Washington,
and on the banks of the Mississippi – now acting the part of an English
lecturer in the far north of Scotland, discoursing on the Austrian Concordat
in the language of Shakespeare, before the protestant Caledonians of the
ancient devana of Julius Agricola. (Cheers). What a strange history in the
voice of that homeless wanderer, listened to by the citizens of Aberdeen!
And who could tell what
is to be the end of that strange life? Who could tell in what soil the tempest-tossed
head of that homeless wanderer is to be laid down to eternal rest? Will
it be in the soil with which the dust of his father is mingled, or is his
longing heart doomed to break in the lingering agony of homelessness, before
the sun of resurrection shall have risen over his native land? (Applause).
Like as the imponderable atom partakes of the substantial character of the
infinite worlds, just so my own fate depends on the fate of whole nations.
The Continent of Europe remaining oppressed, I have to die in exile or on
the scaffold. The Continent of Europe free, and I see my own dear native
home in freedom again. (Cheers.)
Sir, I love my country
with all the ardour of a patriot’s heart – (cheers) – and I would not want
the inducements of personal happiness to devote my life to its freedom
and prosperity – (renewed cheers) – but since all the hopes of the man
and the father are thus identified with the longings of the patriot, you
will find it but natural that all my feelings and all my thoughts should
eternally be bent on the liberation of my country.
Call it virtue, call it
fragility, approve of it, or blame me for it, it is a fact that Time, unsparing
to all, to me loaded with the burden of protracted adversity, may bend this
decaying frame – the shadow of baffled expectations may cast its gloom
over my spirits; but, as long as this poor heart has but one throb, as
long as one spark of self-conscious intellect glimmers in my mind, my heart
can feel nothing, my mind can think of nothing but of freedom and fatherland.
Owing to this singleness
of purpose, I do not hesitate to confess that with me the task of a lecturer
is a hard one. Not because in my position the task is that of a plain labourer.
I hold labour to be an honour and a blessing, not degradation or a curse.
(Applause.) And, besides, I may be allowed to say, that I have a right
to be proud of doing a plain labourer’s work, that the homeless children
of the exiled father may have education and bread, earned by honourable
toil. (Cheers.) I have had all the treasures of my country under my disposition;
and I went to exile with a plain walking-stick under my right hand, and
with a light carpet-bag on my left arm. Seeing my country shattered to ruins
by a flagrant violation of Divine and human laws, I would have considered
it a desecration to save even my own fortunes from amongst the ruins of
my fatherland. Sir, I glory in my honest poverty, and I glory in this, my
humble work. (Applause.)
Therefore, it is not from
being a plain labourer’s work that the task of a lecturer is a hard one to
me; it is a hard one because such are the unconquerable pre-occupations of
my soul, that, howsoever I may strive I cannot succeed in mustering such
a composure as might enable me to come up, in the capacity of an English lecturer,
to the legitimate expectations of such a distinguished assembly. This thought
makes me uneasy, ladies and gentlemen, because I am incapable of trifling
with any obligation. (Cheers.) I owe you gratitude for your kindness, liberality,
and sympathy. I owe you gratitude for the balm of consolation you are pouring
on the sorrows of the father and the grief of the patriot. I owe you intense
gratitude for the cheering fact – sure to extend its beneficent influence
far beyond the sphere of the humble lecturer – I owe you gratitude for the
cheering fact that, notwithstanding the disadvantages of the political situation
of the moment, even the indifferent incident of my presence amongst you was
sufficient to elicit such manifestations of public opinion in Scotland as
will convince the oppressed nations on the Continent that the British people
never has ceased, and never will cease, to take the warmest interest in the
cause of liberty abroad.
These manifestations are
the more significant, the less they are owing to any stirring incident.
Such as they are, they are the spontaneous result of the deeply rooted
love of liberty – at the same time a cheering revelation of the spreading
ascendency of the principle of that solidairty upon which the hopes of humanity
rest. (Cheers.) I have a strong unfaltering faith in the paternal designs
of Providence. I consider it a valuable progress in the onward course of
the destinies of mankind that the heart-stirring wrongs and noble misfortune
of my country, and in consequence of it, the familiar public intercourse
to which I have been admitted, both by the people of Great Britain and America,
were not without influence towards awakening a livelier attention for foreign
affairs – consequently towards developing that sentiment of active brotherhood
between nations, the want of which has undoubtedly much contributed in the
past to the instability to which the isolated efforts of freedom have been
Therefore, Sir, feeling
myself under so manifold obligations of gratitude, I certainly would most
fervently wish to testify my appreciation of the kindness of this assembly,
by endeavouring to perform, in an acceptable manner, my present task: however,
as from the reasons I have alluded to, I cannot hope to come up to the legitimate
expectations of this assembly, allow me to entreat you, ladies and gentlemen,
that you will crown the work of your liberality by lowering your expectations
to a level with my present position; and that, instead of letting me walk
in the shadow of great expectations, you will allow me to stand in the warming
rays of your indulgence, while I perform the plain labourer’s work, on
which I now enter as in duty bound.”
He then proceeded with
the lecture, the subject of which was the recent Concordat between the
Pope and the Emperor of Austria. He laid down the principle that every nation
has a right to manage its own domestic affairs, and should assert that right;
and, referring to the grasping ambition of the Papacy, said the Magyars
and the Scotch were the only nations which (though the majority of the former
were Roman Catholics) had never allowed the Pope to meddle with their domestic
concerns. With regard to religious liberty, he wished to “do to others
as he would that they should do to him.”
Religion, however, was
one thing – priestcraft and papal power another. He quoted from the Treaties
of Paris 1815, and Verona, 1822, to show that the continental nations avowedly
aimed at destroying representative government and the freedom of the press,
and warned the people of this country not to allow the influence of Great
Britain to be used in support of these principles. On this point he quoted
a despatch of Lord Normanby, dated April 19, 1849, showing that Great Britain
had approved of the restoration, through French intervention, of the Pope
(in the expectation, apparently, of an improved form of government). He
stated the opinion that if Great Britain had prevented Russia from interfering
to aid Austria in crushing the independence of Hungary, the Eastern War
would have been saved – and he enforced the duty of the people taking an
interest in foreign affairs, so that he policy of Great Britain might answer
to the sentiment of Great Britain. (Loud cheers).
A vote of thanks to Baillie
Henderson, on Mr Oswald’s motion, with three enthusiastic cheers for Kossuth,
concluded the proceedings.
On Monday evening, the
hall was crammed by a respectable audience, who gave the illustrious Magyar
an enthusiastic greeting. He was accompanied to the platform, in addition
to the gentlemen mentioned above as present on Saturday evening, by Baillie
Smith, Councillor Ross, Dr Daun, Mr Leslie, Architect, Rev. Mr. Ireland
of Ellon, Mr Jasdowski, &c.
Professor clark was, on
the motion of Baillie Henderson, called to preside, and, in a spirited speech,
introduced M. Kossuth, who delivered his lecture on Hungary, with special
reference to its Protestantism. The Protestantism of Hungary had been in
existence before the Reformation, in fact, ever since the introduction of
Christianity into the country; and both Roman Catholics and Protestants
had united successfully to resist Papal encroachment in the country. Their
maxim had always been that Papal interference is “a wind that blows nobody
good.” (Cheers and laughter). He referred again to the recent Concordat
between the Pope and the Emperor of Austria, dwelling on the design of the
Concordat, and the means of its accomplishment. After eloquently urging
unity among Protestants to resist the encroachments of papal despotism, M.
Kossuth concluded, amid deafening applause, with a thrilling apostrophe to
The Chairman again addressed
the meeting, and concluded by moving (seconded by Sheriff Watson) a vote
of thanks to M. Kossuth, which was responded to enthusiastically, the mass
of the audience rising to their feet and cheering heartily.
M. Kossuth responded briefly.
A vote of thanks, moved
by Councillor Ross, was passed to the Chairman, and the assembly separated,
after giving three cheers for Hungary.
After the meeting, a deputation
of gentlemen of the Committee, and others, waited on Madame Kossuth, at
Douglas’ Hotel, when Mr Oswlad, on behalf of a few warm friends, in a neat
and feeling address, presented her with a splendid granite bracelet and
shawl pin, mounted with silver – of Aberdeen manufacture – and made specially
in testimony of respect and sympathy. M. Kossuth warmly acknowledged the
compliment, and remarked that the manifestations with which they had been
greeted from one end of Scotland to the other, by men not led away by a sudden
emotion, induced him to believe that the cause which he had at heart had
M. Kossuth left for the
south by the mail train yesterday at eleven o’clock.