The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz/Volume One/13 In London
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Volume One: Chapter XIII: In London
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|Translated from the original German by Eleonora Kinnicutt and Carl Schurz.|
ABOUT the middle of June I arrived in London. Kinkel had already selected rooms for me on St. John's Wood Terrace, not far from his house, and he had also found pupils for me to whom I was to give lessons in the German language and in music, the proceeds of which would be more than sufficient to cover my modest wants. The well-known paradox that you can have more in London for a shilling and less for a pound, than anywhere else, that is to say, that you can live very cheaply and comparatively well in modest circumstances, while life on a grand scale is very expensive, was at that time as well founded as undoubtedly it still is. I could have found a great many more pupils if I had been able to speak English. But, strange as this appeared to myself in later life, my musical ear still rebelled against the sound of the English language, and could not conquer its repugnance. The peculiar charm of its cadence I began to appreciate only as I learned to speak it with fluency. In the social circles to which I was admitted, and of which I shall say something later, German and French were sufficient. In teaching German to others the Princess De Beaufort's method in teaching me French proved of great use to me.
Some of my pupils took a very lively interest in old German literature, and requested me to read with them the Nibelungenlied; and, as not seldom happens, in my rôle of teacher I learned more of the subject I had to teach than I had known before, and than I would have learned otherwise. I taught and learned with real enthusiasm, for — I may permit myself here to remark, by the way — the Nibelungenlied is, in my opinion, certainly not in elegance of diction, but surely in dramatic architecture, the grandest and most powerful epic presented by any medieval or modern literature.
GOTTFRIED KINKEL AND CARL SCHURZ
In my social intercourse, the Kinkel family occupied naturally the first place. Their house was small, and modestly furnished. But in this house dwelled happiness. Kinkel had regained the whole cheerful elasticity of his being. His hair and beard were, to be sure, touched with gray, but the morbid pallor which his imprisonment had imparted to his face had yielded to the old fresh and healthy hue. With cheerful courage he had undertaken the task of founding for his family in a foreign country a comfortable existence, and his efforts were crowned with success. To the private lessons he gave were added lectures and other engagements at educational institutions. During the first months he had earned enough to give his wife an Erard grand piano, and Frau Kinkel won in a large social circle an excellent reputation as a teacher of music. The four children promised well as they grew up. There could have been nothing more pleasant and instructive than to see Frau Kinkel occupied with the education of her two boys and two girls. They not only began to play on the piano as soon as they were physically able, but they also sang with perfect purity of tone and naïve expression, quartets composed by their mother especially for them.
The joy I felt when I observed the new life of this family I cannot well describe. I learned to understand and appreciate one great truth: there is no purer or more beautiful happiness in this world than the consciousness of having contributed something toward the happiness of those one loves, without demanding any other reward than this consciousness.
The gratitude of Kinkel and his wife was so sincere and untiring that it frequently embarrassed me. They constantly were looking for something that they could do to please me. At the time when I was thinking of settling down in London it was hard work for me to induce them to accept my declination when they uttered the wish that I should live in their house. Now I had at least to consent to their pressing proposition that my youngest sister should come over from Germany to be educated in their home, like a child of the family. This turned out happily, as my sister was also blessed with that cheerful Rhenish temperament that radiates sunshine. Then Frau Kinkel insisted upon giving me further lessons upon the piano, and I resumed my musical studies with renewed zest. My teacher taught me fully to appreciate Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann, and conducted me through the enchanted gardens of Chopin. But more than that, she familiarized me with the rules and spirit of thorough-bass and thereby opened to me a knowledge which in the course of time I learned to value as an enrichment of musical enjoyment. Then she put at my disposal her Erard grand piano, which was reverenced in the family like a sacred thing, and upon which, aside from herself, I was the only one privileged to practice and to improvise, although there was, for such things, another instrument of less value in the house.
The Kinkels, naturally, introduced me also in the social circles which were open to them. Of course my ignorance of the English language I felt as a great drawback. But I had the good fortune of establishing relations of something like friendship with several English families in which German or French was spoken. There I learned to understand how much sincere warmth of feeling there may be hidden in English men and women who often appear cold, stiff and formal. I was soon made to feel that every word of friendly sympathy addressed to me, and every invitation to more intimate intercourse — words which with other people pass as mere superficial expressions of politeness — was to be taken as perfectly honest and seriously meant. Theirs was true hospitality, without pretension and without reserve, in which one breathed the atmosphere of assured confidence. I have also not infrequently been surprised in such friendly intercourse with persons who at first acquaintance seemed to be rather dull, by the reach of thought, the treasures of knowledge, the variety of experiences, and the comprehensive views of life and of the world, which came forth in familiar talks.
At that period, the German language was much in fashion in England, probably owing to the circumstance that the popularity of Prince Albert, whose merit as the patron of the great International Exposition of 1851 was universally recognized, had reached its highest point. It had become a widespread custom to sing German songs at evening parties and the German "Volkslieder," seemed to be especial favorites. I could not but be amused when in great company a blushing miss was solemnly conducted to the piano "to give us a sweet German folk song," and she then, in slow time and in a tone of profound melancholy, which might have indicated a case of death in the family, sang the merry German tune, "Wenn i' komm, wenn i' komm, wiederum komm," etc., etc.
In later years I have often regretted that at that time I did not take more interest in the political life of England and did not seek acquaintances in political circles. But even without this, I received a deep impression of the country and the people. How different was the restless commotion in the streets of London in its mighty seriousness and its colossal motive power, from the gay, more or less artistically elegant, but more than half frivolous activity that entertains the visitor on the streets of Paris; and how different from the half military, half philistine appearance presented by Berlin, which at that time had not yet become a world city! How well justified, how natural, appeared to me the national pride of the Briton, when in Westminster Hall I beheld the statues and busts, and in the Abbey the tombs of the great Englishmen, which stood there as monuments of mighty thoughts and deeds! How firmly founded appeared to me the free institutions of the people to whom civil liberty was not a mere phrase, a passing whim, or a toy, but a life-principle, the reality of which the citizen needed for his daily work, and that lived in the thoughts and aspirations of every Englishman as something that is a matter of course! I saw enough of the country and of the people to feel all this, although we refugees in London lived separate lives as on an island of our own in a great surrounding sea of humanity.
A large number of refugees from almost all parts of the European continent had gathered in London since the year 1848, but the intercourse between the different national groups — Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Hungarians, Poles, Russians — was confined more or less to the prominent personages. All, however, in common nourished the confident hope of a revolutionary upturning on the continent soon to come. Among the Germans there were only a few who shared this hope in a less degree. Perhaps the ablest and most important person among these was Lothar Bucher, a quiet, retiring man of great capacity and acquirements, who occupied himself with serious political studies, and whom I was to meet again in later life as Bismarck's most confidential privy-councilor. In London, as in Switzerland, the refugees zealously discussed the question to whom should belong the leadership in the coming revolution. Of course this oversanguine conception of things gave rise to all sorts of jealousies, as will always happen among people similarly situated, and the refugees therefore divided into parties which at times antagonized one another with considerable bitterness.
When Kinkel arrived in London he occupied, naturally, a very prominent position among the refugees and became, so to speak, the head of a large following. But he also had his opponents who would recognize in him only a poet, a learned man and a political dreamer, but not a "practical revolutionist" fit to be a real leader in a great struggle. Many of these opponents gathered, strange to say, around Arnold Ruge, a venerable and widely known philosopher and writer, to whom the name of a mere learned man and political dreamer might have been applied even more justly. Then there were groups of socialistic workingmen who partly gathered around Karl Marx and partly around August Willich; and finally, many neutrals, who did not trouble themselves about such party bickerings, but went individually each his own way.
Kinkel certainly was not free from ambition, nor from illusory hopes of a speedy change in the Fatherland. But his first and most natural aim was to make a living for his family in London. This claimed his activity so much that he could not, to so great an extent as he might have wished, take part in the doings of the refugees, a great many of whom had no regular occupation. Neither was it possible for him to keep open house for his political friends and to put his working hours at their disposal, and to make the home of his family the meeting place of a debating club for the constant repetition of things that had been told many times before.
Kinkel was therefore reproached with giving to the cause of the revolution too little, and to his family interests too much of his time and care, and it was said that he was all the more to blame, as he owed his liberation in a high degree to the helpfulness of his democratic friends. However unjust such a reproach, it touched Kinkel deeply. He was in this state of mind when a scheme was proposed to him, characteristic of the feverish imagination of the political exiles. The scheme was to raise a "German National Loan," of I do not remember how many million thalers, to be redeemed at a certain time after the establishment of the German Republic. The money thus raised was to be at the disposal of a central committee to be expended in Germany for revolutionary ends. To expedite the levying of that national loan Kinkel was to go to America without delay, and by means of public agitation, in which his personal popularity and eminent oratorical gifts were expected to prove highly effective, induce the Germans living in America, and also, if possible, native Americans, too, to make liberal contributions. In the meantime some of his friends were, through personal efforts, to win the assent of other prominent refugees to this plan, and thus, if possible, to unite all refugeedom in one organization. But Kinkel was to leave for America forthwith without exposing the project to the chance of further consultation, so that the refugees, who otherwise might have doubted or criticised the plan, would have to deal with it as an accomplished fact.
In later years it must have appeared to Kinkel himself as rather strange, if not comical, that he could ever have believed in the success of such a plan. At any rate this project was one of the most striking illustrations of the self-deception of the political exiles. But there can hardly be any doubt that the reproaches directed against Kinkel, as to his giving more care to the well-being of his family than to the revolutionary cause, and as to his owing a debt of gratitude to one of his friends in further efforts for the revolutionary movement, was to him one of the principal motives for accepting this plan without hesitation. Only a few days after the matter had been resolved upon in a confidential circle Kinkel broke off his activity as a teacher in London — a very great sacrifice for him thus to expose his family to new hazards — and departed for America. I, being still quite young and inexperienced, was sanguine enough to consider the success of such an undertaking possible, and went into it with zeal. I was considered capable of doing some diplomatic service and therefore charged with the task of traveling to Switzerland in order to win the assent of the prominent refugees living there, and so to prepare the foundation for a general organization. This task I assumed with pleasure, and on the way paid a visit to Paris, of which I did not, however, advise the polite prefect of police, and soon met my old friends in Zürich.
For these, I had become, because of the liberation of Kinkel, an entirely new person since my departure a year before. They now attributed to me a great deal more insight and skill than I possessed, and my diplomatic mission, therefore, met with but little difficulty — that is to say, the prominent refugees, in the expectation that a national loan would, through Kinkel's agitations in America, turn out a great success, readily declared their willingness to join the proposed movement.
The most important man, and at the same time the most stubborn doubter, I found there, was Loewe von Calbe. As the last president of the German National Parliament he had gone in the spring of 1849 with the remnant of that assembly from Frankfurt to Stuttgart and there he had, arm in arm with the old poet Uhland, led the procession of his colleagues to a new meeting place, when it was dispersed by a force of Würtemberg cavalry. He was a physician by profession, and had acquired a large treasure of knowledge in various directions by extensive studies. He made the impression of a very calm, methodical thinker, who also possessed the courage of bold action. There was something of well-conditioned ease in his deportment, and when the sturdy, somewhat corpulent man sat down, looked at the listener with his uncommonly shrewd eyes, and then exposed his own opinion in well-formed, clear sentences, pronounced in slow and precise cadence, he made the impression of authority, the very presence of which was apt to convince, even before the argument had been conducted to its last conclusions. Loewe was not nearly as sanguine as most of us with regard to the possibility of a speedy change of things in Germany, although even he was not entirely untouched by the current illusions of the exiles' life. He expressed to me his doubts as to the chances of the projected national loan; but as he did not altogether repel the plan, and as I was anxious to win him for this enterprise by further conversations about it, I accompanied him on a tramp through the "Berner Oberland."
Until then I had seen the snowy heads of the Alps only from afar. Now for the first time I came near to them and, so to speak, sat down at their feet. We walked from Bern to Interlaken and then by way of Lauterbrunnen and the Wengern Alp to Grindelwald; then we ascended the Faulhorn, and finally turned to the lakes by way of the Scheideck. We stopped at the most beautiful points long enough to see the finest part of this range. Of all the wonderful things that I saw, the deepest impression was produced upon me not by the vast panoramas, as from the top of the Faulhorn, where large groups and chains of the Alps are embraced in one view, but it was the single mountain peak reaching up into the blue sunny ether from a bank of clouds that separated it from the nether world, and standing there as something distinct and individual. It was the image of the eternally firm, unchangeable, certain, looking down as from a throne in serene sunlight upon the eternally unstable and untrustworthy. This picture became especially impressive when behind a veil of cloud the dull mysterious thunder of the plunging avalanches was heard. As we were favored by constantly beautiful weather I enjoyed this spectacle frequently and always with a feeling that I cannot designate otherwise than devotional.
I was so deeply touched by all this magnificence that I envied every peasant who could spend his life in such surroundings. But my enthusiasm was sobered by an enlightening experience. On the village street of Grindelwald I noticed one day a man of an intelligent face, who was saluted by the children playing on the street, with especial interest. From his appearance I concluded that he must be the schoolmaster of the village, and I was not mistaken. I stopped and asked him for some information about local conditions, and found him amiably communicative. He told me that in the Valley of Grindelwald, a valley covering hardly more than four or five square miles, there were people who had never passed its boundaries. The whole world as seen by them was therefore enclosed by the Schreckhorn, Mönch, Eiger, Jungfrau and Faulhorn. In my enthusiasm I remarked that the constant sight of so magnificent a landscape might perhaps satisfy the taste of any man. The schoolmaster smiled and said that the ordinary peasant was probably least conscious of this grand beauty. He saw, in the phenomena of nature which he observed, rather that which was to him advantageous or disadvantageous, encouraging or troublesome, or even threatening. The cloud formations, which caused us a variety of sensations and emotions, signified to him only good or bad weather; the thunder of the avalanches reminded him only that under certain circumstances they might do a great deal of damage; he saw in the fury of the mountain hurricane, not a grand spectacle, but destructive hail storms and the danger of inundations, and so on.
I asked the schoolmaster whether it was not true what we frequently heard of the famous Swiss' homesickness, that those born and reared in these mountains could not be satisfied or happy elsewhere, and if forced to live in foreign parts, were consumed by a morbid longing for their mountain home. The schoolmaster smiled again and thought such cases of homesickness did occur among the Swiss, but not in larger number nor with greater force than with the inhabitants of other regions. Everywhere he supposed there might be people that adhere to the habits and conditions of life of their homes with a warm and even morbid attachment. But he knew also of a large number of Swiss who in foreign countries, even on the flat prairies of America, had settled down and felt themselves well satisfied there.
"Am I to understand from you," I asked, "that as a rule the Swiss himself does not appreciate the beauty of his country?"
"No, not that," answered the schoolmaster; "the more educated people know everywhere how to appreciate the beautiful because of its beauty; but the laboring man, who here is always engaged in a struggle with nature, must be told that the things which are to him so often troublesome and disagreeable, are also grand and beautiful. When his thought has once been directed to that idea, he will more and more familiarize himself with it, and the Swiss," added the schoolmaster with a sly smile, "also the uneducated Swiss, have now learned to appreciate the beauty of their country very highly."
This sounded to me at first like a very prosaic philosophy, but as I thought about it, I concluded that the schoolmaster was right. The perception of natural beauty is not primitive, but the result of education, of culture. Naïve people seldom possess it or at least do not express it. The aspects of nature, mountain, valley, forest, desert, river, sea, sunshine, storm, etc., etc., are to them either beneficent, helpful, or disagreeable, troublesome, terrible. It is a significant fact that in Homer with all the richness of his pictures there is no description of a landscape or of a natural phenomenon from the point of view of the beautiful. We remark the same in the primitive literature of other countries. In the same spirit spoke the farmer from one of the flat prairies of the west of America, who once traveled on a steamboat on the magnificent Hudson, and when he heard an enthusiastic fellow-traveler exclaim, "How beautiful these highlands are," answered dryly, "It may be a pretty good country, but it's a little too broken."
My diplomatic mission in Switzerland was quickly accomplished. I soon had the assent of almost all the prominent exiles to the plan of the national loan and I thought I had done a good service to the cause of liberty. Then I returned to London. Frau Kinkel asked me to live in her house during the absence of her husband, and I complied with her wish, but life in that house was no longer as cheerful as before Kinkel's departure. I then felt how great the sacrifice was that Kinkel had made by undertaking the mission to America. Frau Johanna had seen him go with sadness and anxiety. She could not be blamed for thinking that the burden imposed upon her by the political friends was all too heavy. She accepted her lot, but not without serious dejection. Her health began to suffer, and conditions of nervousness appeared, and it is probable that then the beginning of that heart disease developed which a few years later brought her to an early grave. The news which we received from Kinkel, was indeed, as far as he himself was concerned, very satisfactory; but it did not suffice to cheer the darkened soul of the lonely woman, however heroically she tried to seek courage in her patriotic impulses and hopes.
Kinkel had much to tell in his letters of the cordiality with which the Germans in America had welcomed him. Wherever he appeared his countrymen gathered in large numbers to listen to the charm of his eloquence. As he traveled from city to city one festive welcome followed another. The enthusiasm of the mass meetings left nothing to be desired. Although Kinkel at that period spoke English with some difficulty, he was obliged to make little speeches in that tongue, when native Americans took part in the honors offered to him. So he visited all the important places in the United States, north, south, east, and west. He also paid his respects to President Fillmore and was received with great kindness. These happenings he described with bubbling humor in his letters, which breathed a keen enjoyment of his experiences, as well as a warm interest in the new country. In short, his journey was successful in all respects, except in that of the German National Loan. Indeed, committees were organized everywhere for the collection of money and for the distribution of loan certificates; but the contributions finally amounted only to a few thousand dollars, a small sum with which no great enterprise could be set on foot. Kossuth, who visited the United States a few months later for a similar purpose, and who enjoyed a greater prestige, and was received with much more pomp, had the same experience. And it was really a fortunate circumstance that these revolutionary loans miscarried. Even with much larger sums hardly anything could have been done but to organize hopeless conspiracies and to lead numbers of patriotic persons into embarrassment and calamity without rendering any valuable service to the cause of liberty.
At that time, however, we thought otherwise. Emissaries were sent to Germany to investigate conditions there and to build up the revolutionary organization — that is to say, to find people who lived in the same illusions as the exiles, and to put these in correspondence with the London Committee preparatory to common action. Some of these emissaries exposed themselves to great dangers in traveling from place to place, and most of them returned with the report that there was general discontent in Germany and that an important disturbance might soon be looked for. That there was much discontent in Germany was undoubtedly true. But of those who really dreamed of another general uprising there were only a few. The revolutionary fires had burned out; but the exile was so unwilling to accept this truth as to be inclined to look upon everybody that expressed it as a suspicious person. He therefore worked steadily on.
FACSIMILE OF THE LAST PAGE OF A LETTER WRITTEN BY GIUSEPPE MAZZINI TO CARL SCHURZ DURING THEIR SOJOURN IN LONDON, 1851
Party spirit has not crept in among us, at least on my side. Dominated by the idea, which you must find sufficiently just, that the initiation of the movement belongs to-day to the Alliance of Nationalities, and weary of the systematic discussions and disintegrating methods which have come to us from French socialism, I have done the utmost I could to choose a common ground and bring you all to it. I have stood in equal relations with the men of different shades of political opinion. I have acceded — the matter of the money is a proof of this — to all demands, no matter whence they came. I have been unsuccessful. I have found ten centers instead of a single one; rivals instead of the compact ranks of combatants I sought. To-day I do not know where to be looking for Germany — I mean, for that which represents the aim, the hope, the activity of Germany. On one hand I meet French communities, on the other, Proudhonian independence. This deeply grieved me, for I aim singly at action, and feel excessive shame for democracy which talks, talks, talks, and allows itself to be beaten at every point by those who do not talk, who hate one another, but have the sense to remain united for the purpose of defeating us.
Believe me. Devotedly,
At that time I was favored by what I considered a mark of great distinction. One day I received a letter from Mazzini, written in his own hand, in which he invited me to visit him. He gave me the address of one of his confidential friends who would guide me to him. His own address he kept secret, for the reason, as was generally believed, that he desired to baffle the espionage of monarchical governments. That the great Italian patriot should invite me, a young and insignificant person, and so take me into his confidence, I felt to be an extraordinary distinction. Mazzini was looked upon in revolutionary circles, especially by us young people, as the dictatorial head of numberless secret leagues, as a sort of mysterious power which not only in Italy, but in all Europe, was felt and feared. Wonderful stories were told of his secret journeys in countries in which there was a price on his head; of his sudden, almost miraculous, appearance among his faithful followers here and there; of his equally miraculous disappearance, as if the earth had swallowed him; and of the unequaled skill with which he possessed himself of the secrets of the governments, while he knew how to conceal his own plans and acts. By us young men he was regarded as the embodied genius of revolutionary action, and we looked up to his mysterious greatness with a sort of reverential awe. I therefore felt, when I was called into his presence, as if I were to enter the workshop of the master magician.
The confidential friend designated by Mazzini conducted me to the dwelling of the great leader, situated in an unfashionable street. In the vicinity of his house we met several black-eyed, bearded young men, manifestly Italians, who seemed to patrol the neighborhood. I found Mazzini in an extremely modest little apartment, which served at the same time as drawing room and office. In the middle of the room there was a writing table covered with an apparently confused heap of papers. Little models of guns and mortars served for paper weights; a few chairs, and, if I remember correctly, a hair-cloth sofa, completed the furniture. The room as a whole made the impression of extreme economy.
Mazzini was seated at the writing table when I entered, and, rising, he offered me his hand. He was a slender man of medium stature, clad in a black suit. His coat was buttoned up to the throat, around which he wore a black silk scarf, without any show of linen. His face was of regular, if not classic, cut, the lower part covered with a short, black beard, streaked with gray. The dark eyes glowed with restless fire; his dome-like forehead topped with thin, smooth, dark hair. In speaking, the mouth showed a full, but somewhat dark row of teeth. His whole appearance was that of a serious and important man. Soon I felt myself under the charm of a personality of rare power of attraction.
Our conversation was carried on in French, which Mazzini spoke with perfect ease, although with some of the accent peculiar to the Italians. He was constantly smoking while he spoke. He developed even in this confidential conversation between two men an eloquence such as in my long life I have hardly ever heard again — warm, insinuating, at times vehement, enthusiastic, lofty, and always thoroughly natural. The three greatest conversationalists with whom it has been my good fortune to come into touch were Mazzini, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Bismarck. Of these Dr. Holmes was the most spirited in the "bel esprit" sense; Bismarck the most imposing and at the same time the most entertaining in point of wit, sarcasm, anecdote, and narratives of historical interest, brought out with rushing vivacity and with lightning-like illumination of conditions, facts and men. But in Mazzini's words there breathed such a warmth and depth of conviction, such enthusiasm of faith in the sacredness of the principles he professed, and of the aims he pursued, that it was difficult to resist such a power of fascination. While looking at him and hearing him speak I could well understand how he could hold and constantly augment the host of his faithful adherents, how he could lead them into the most dangerous enterprises and keep them under his influence even after the severest disappointments.
Mazzini had undoubtedly given up, if not formally, yet in fact, his membership in his church. But there was in him, and there spoke out of him, a deep religious feeling, an instinctive reliance upon a higher Power to which he could turn and which would aid him in the liberation and unification of his people. That was his form of the fatalism so often united with great ambitions. He had a trait of prophetic mysticism which sprung from the depths of his convictions and emotions, and was free of all charlatanism and all affectation, all artificial solemnity. At least that was the impression made upon me. I never observed in him any suggestion of cynicism in his judgment of men and things — that cynicism in which many revolutionary characters pleased themselves. The petty and usually ridiculous rivalries among the leaders of the exiles did not seem to touch him; and discord and quarreling among those who should have stood and worked together, instead of eliciting sharp and offensive criticism on his part, only called from him expressions of sincere and painful regret. The revolution he aimed at was not merely the attainment of certain popular rights, not a mere change in the constitution of the state, not the mere liberation of his countrymen from foreign rule, not the mere reunion of all Italy in a national bond; it rather signified to him the elevation of the liberated people to higher moral aims of life. There vibrated a truthful and noble tone in his conception of human relations, in the modest self-denying simplicity of his character and his life, in the unbounded self-sacrifice and self-denial which he imposed upon himself and demanded of others. Since 1839 he had passed a large part of his life as an exile in London, and in the course of this time he had established relations of intimate friendship with some English families. It was undoubtedly owing to the genuineness of his sentiments, the noble simplicity of his nature, and his unselfish devotion to his cause, not less than to his brilliant personal qualities, that in some of those families a real Mazzini-cult had developed which sometimes showed itself capable of great sacrifices.
The historic traditions of his people, as well as the circumstance that to the end of liberating his fatherland he had to fight against foreign rule, made him a professional conspirator. As a young man he had belonged to the "Carbonari," and then there followed — instigated and conducted by him — one conspiracy upon another, resulting in insurrectionary attempts which always failed. But these failures did not discourage him; they rather stimulated his zeal to new efforts. In the course of our conversation he gave me to understand that he had preparations going on for a new enterprise in upper Italy, and as he probably considered me a person of influence in that part of German refugeedom which would control the disposition of our prospective national loan, he wished to know whether we would be inclined to support his undertaking with our money. At any rate, he evidently desired to create among us a disposition favorable to such coöperation. He no doubt took me for a more influential person than I was. I could only promise him to discuss the matter with Kinkel and his associates, after his return from America. But I did not conceal from Mazzini that I doubted whether the responsible German leaders would consider themselves justified in using moneys which had been collected for employment in their own country for the furtherance of revolutionary uprisings in Italy. This remark gave Mazzini an opportunity for some eloquent sentiments about the solidarity of peoples in their struggle for liberty and national existence. At that time neither of us knew yet how small would be the result of the agitation for a German national loan.
I was honored with another meeting that has remained to me hardly less memorable. In October, 1851, Louis Kossuth came to England. After the breakdown of the Hungarian revolution he had fled across the Turkish frontier. His remaining on Turkish soil was considered objectionable by the Austrian government, and unsafe by his friends. The Sultan, indeed, refused his extradition. But when the republic of the United States of America, in general sympathy with the unfortunate Hungarian patriots, offered them an American ship-of-war for their transportation to the United States that offer was unhesitatingly accepted. But Kossuth did not intend to emigrate to America for the purpose of establishing there his permanent residence. He was far from considering his mission as ended and the defeat of his cause as irretrievable. He, too, with the sanguine temperament of the exile, dreamed of the possibility of inducing the liberal part of the old and also of the new world to take up arms against the oppressors of Hungary, or at least to aid his country by diplomatic interference. And, indeed, could this have been accomplished by a mere appeal to the emotions and the imagination, Kossuth would have been the man to achieve it. Of all the events of the years 1848 and 1849, the heroic struggle of the Hungarians for their national independence had excited the liveliest sympathy in other countries. The brave generals, who for a time went from victory to victory and then succumbed to the overwhelming power of the Russian intervention, appeared like the champions of a heroic legend, and among and above them stood the figure of Kossuth like that of a prophet whose burning words kindled and kept alive the fire of patriotism in the hearts of his people. There was everything of heroism and tragic misfortune to make this epic grand and touching, and the whole romance of the revolutionary time found in Kossuth's person its most attractive embodiment. The sonorous notes of his eloquence had, during the struggle, been heard far beyond the boundaries of Hungary in the outside world. Not a few of his lofty sentences, his poetic illustrations and his thrilling appeals had passed from mouth to mouth among us young people at the German universities. And his picture, with thoughtful forehead, the dreamy eyes and his strong, beard-framed chin, became everywhere an object of admiring reverence.
When now, delaying his journey to America, he arrived in London the enthusiasm of the English people seemed to know no bounds. His entry was like that of a national hero returning from a victorious campaign. The multitudes crowding the streets were immense. He appeared in his picturesque Hungarian garb, standing upright in his carriage, with his saber at his side, and surrounded by an equally picturesque retinue. But when he began to speak, and his voice, with its resonant and at the same time mellow sound, poured forth its harmony over the heads of the throngs in classic English, deriving a peculiar charm from the soft tinge of foreign accent, then the enthusiasm of the listeners mocked all description.
Kossuth had been offered the hospitality of the house of a private citizen of London who took an especial interest in the Hungarian cause; and there during his sojourn in the British capital he received his admirers and friends. A kind of court surrounded him; his companions, always in their Hungarian national dress, maintained in a ceremonious way his pretension of his still being the rightful governor of Hungary. He granted audiences like a prince, and when he entered the room he was announced by an aide-de-camp as "the Governor." All persons rose and Kossuth saluted them with grave solemnity. Among the exiles of other nations these somewhat undemocratic formalities created no little displeasure. But it was Kossuth's intention to produce certain effects upon public opinion, not in his own, but in his people's behalf, and as to that end it may have seemed to him necessary to impress upon the imagination of the Englishmen the picture of Hungary under her own Governor, and also to illustrate to them the firm faith of the Hungarians themselves in the justice of their cause, it was not improper that he used such picturesque displays as means for the accomplishment of his purpose.
Our organization of German refugees also sent a deputation to Kossuth to pay their respects, and of that deputation I was one. We were ushered into the reception-room in the customary way and there saluted by aides-de-camp with much gold lace on their coats — handsome fellows, with fine black mustaches and splendid white teeth. At last Kossuth appeared. It was the first time that I came near to him. The speaker of our deputation introduced us each by name, and as mine was called Kossuth reached out his hand to me and said in German: "I know you. You have done a noble deed. I am rejoiced to take your hand." I was so embarrassed that I could not say anything in response. But it was, after all, a proud moment. A short conversation followed, in which I took but small part. A member of our deputation spoke of the socialistic tendencies of the new revolutionary agitation. I remember distinctly what Kossuth answered. It was to this effect: "I know nothing of socialism. I have never occupied myself with it. My aim is to secure for the Hungarian people national independence and free political institutions. When that is done my task will have been performed."
On public occasions, wherever Kossuth put forth his whole eloquence to inflame the enthusiasm of Englishmen for the Hungarian cause, his hearers always rewarded him with frantic applause; but his efforts to induce the British government to take active steps against Russia and Austria in behalf of Hungary could not escape sober criticism, and all his attempts to get the ear of official circles and to come into confidential touch with the Palmerston ministry came to nothing. In fact, the same experience awaited him in the United States: great enthusiasm for his person and for the heroic struggles of his people, but then sober consideration of the traditional policy of the United States, and an unwillingness to abandon that traditional policy by active intervention in the affairs of the old world.
Before Kossuth began his agitation in America, Kinkel had returned from there. He had much to tell of the new world that was good and beautiful, although he was obliged to confess to himself that the practical result of his mission was discouragingly trifling. With robust energy he resumed his interrupted activity as a teacher, and with him the old sunshine returned to the Kinkel home.