Read CHAPTER XL. THE BROTHERHOOD OF NATIONS of Select Speeches of Kossuth, free online book, by Kossuth, on ReadCentral.com.

[Newark.]

The Rev. Dr. Eddy introduced Kossuth to the citizens of Newark, and made an address to him in their name. After this, Kossuth replied:

Gentlemen, It was a minister of the Gospel who addressed me in your name: Let me speak to you as a Christian who considers it to be my heartfelt duty to act, not only in my private but also in my public capacity, in conformity with the principles of Christianity, as I understand it.

I have seen the people of the United States almost in every climate of your immense territory. I have marked the natural influence of geography upon its character. I have seen the same principles, the same institutions assuming in their application the modifying influences of local circumstances; I have found the past casting its shadows on the present, in one place darker, in the other less; I have seen man everywhere to be man, partaking of all aspirations, which are the bliss as well as the fragility of nature in man, but in one place the bliss prevailing more and in the other the fragility. I saw now and then small interests of the passing hour, less or more encroaching upon the sacred dominion of universal principles; but so much is true, that wherever I found a people, I found a great and generous heart, ready to take that ground which by your very national position is pointed out to you as a mission. Your position is to be a great nation; therefore your necessity is to act like a great nation; or, if you do not, you will not be great.

To be numerous, is not to be great. The Chinese are eight times more numerous than you, and still China is not great, for she has isolated herself from the world. Nor does the condition of a nation depend on what she likes to call herself. China calls herself “Celestial,” and takes you and Europe for barbarians. Not what we call ourselves, but how we act, proves what we are. Great is that nation which acts greatly. And give me leave to say, what an American minister of the Gospel has said to me: “Nations, by the great God of the Universe, are individualized, as well as men. He has given each a mission to fulfil, and He expects every one to bear its part in solving the great problem of man’s capacity for self-government, which is the problem of human destiny; and if any nation fails in this, He will treat it as an unprofitable servant, a barren fig-tree, whose own end is to be rooted up and burnt.”

Jonah sat under the shadow of his gourd rejoicing, in isolated, selfish indifference, caring nothing for the millions of the Ninevites at his feet. What was the consequence? God prepared a worm to smite the gourd, that it withered. God has privileged you, the people of the United States, to repose, not under a gourd, but beneath the shadow of a luxuriant vine and the outspreading branches of a delicious fig-tree. Give him praise and thanks! But are you, Jonah-like, on this account to wrap yourselves up in the mantle of insensibility, caring nothing for the nations smarting under oppression? stretching forth no hand for their deliverance, not even so much as to protest against a conspiracy of evil doers, and give an alms to aid deliverance from them? Are you to hide your national talent in a napkin, or lend it at usury? Read the Saviour’s maxim:

Do unto others as ye would that others do unto you!” This is the Saviour’s golden rule, applicable to nations as well as to individuals. Suppose when the United States were struggling for their independence, the Spanish Government had interfered to prevent its achievement sending an armament to bombard your cities and murder your inhabitants. What would your forefathers have thought how felt? Precisely as Hungary thought and felt when the Russian bear put down his overslaughtering paw upon her. They would have invoked high heaven to avenge the interference and had there been a people on the face of the earth to protest against it, that people would have shown out, like an eminent star in the hemisphere of nations and to this day you would call it blessed. What you would have others do unto you, do so likewise unto them.

And though you met no foreign interference, yet you met far more than a protest in your favour; you met substantial aid: thirty-eight vessels of war, nineteen millions of money, 24,000 muskets, 4,000 soldiers, and the whole political weight of France engaged in your cause. I ask not so much, by far not so much, for oppressed Europe from you.

It is a gospel maxim “Be not partaker of other men’s sins.” It is alike applicable to individuals and nations. If you of the United States see the great law of humanity outraged by another nation, and see it silently, raising no warning voice against it, you virtually become a party to the offence; as you do not reprove it, you embolden the offender to add iniquity unto iniquity.

Let not one nation be partaker of another nation’s sins. When you see the great law of humanity, the law upon which your national existence rests, the law enacted in the Declaration of your Independence, outraged and profaned, will you sit quietly by? If so (excuse me for saying) part of the guilt is upon you, and while individuals receive their reward in the eternal world, nations are sure to receive it here. There is connection of cause and effect in a nation’s destiny.

A nation should not be a mere lake, a glassy expanse, only reflecting foreign, light around but a river, carrying its rich treasures from the fountain to distant regions of the earth.

A nation should not be a mere light-house, a stationary beacon, erected upon the coast to warn voyagers of their danger but a moving life-boat, carrying treasures of freedom to the doors of thousands and millions in their lands.

I confess, gentlemen, that I shared those expectations, which the nations of Europe have conceived from America. Was I too sanguine in my wishes to hope, that in these expectations I shall not fail? So much I dare say, that I conceived these expectations not without encouragement on your own part.

With this let me draw to a close. One word often tells more than a volume of skilful eloquence. When crossing the Alleghany mountains, in a new country, scarcely yet settled, bearing at every step the mark of a new creation, I happened to see a new house in ruins. I felt astonished to see a ruin in America. There must have been misfortune in that house the hand of God may have stricken him, thought I, and inquired from one of the neighbours, “What has become of the man?” “Nothing particular,” answered he: “he went to the West he was too comfortable here. American pioneers like to be uncomfortable.” It was but one word, yet worth a volume. It made me more correctly understand the character of your people and the mystery of your inner prodigious growth, than a big volume of treatises upon the spirit of America might have done. The instinct of indomitable energy, all the boundless power hidden in the word “go ahead,” lay open before my eyes. I felt by a glance what immense things might be accomplished by that energy, to the honour and lasting welfare of all humanity, if only its direction be not misled and I pray to God that he may preserve your people from being absorbed in materialism. The proud results of egotism vanish in the following generation like the fancy of a dream; but the smallest real benefit bestowed upon mankind is lasting like eternity. People of America! thy energy is wonderful; but for thy own sake, for thy future’s sake, for all humanity’s sake, beware! Oh! beware from measuring good and evil by the arguments of materialists.

I have seen too many sad and bitter hours in my stormy life, not to remember every word of true consolation which happened to brighten my way.

It was nearly four months ago, and still I remember it, as if it had happened but yesterday, that the delegation, which came in December last to New York, to tender me a cordial welcome from and to invite me to Newark, called me a brother, a brother in the just and righteous appreciation of human rights and human destiny; brother in all the sacred and hallowed sentiments of the human heart. These were your words, and yesterday the people of Newark proved to me that they are your sentiments; sentiments not like the sudden excitement of passion, which cools, but sentiments of brotherhood and friendship, lasting, faithful, and true.

You have greeted me by the dear name of brother. When I came, you entitled me to the right to bid you farewell in a brother’s way. And between brethren, a warm grasp of hand, a tender tear in the eye, and the word “remember,” tells more than all the skill of oratory could do. And remember, oh remember, brethren! that the grasp of my hand is my whole people’s grasp, the tear which glistens in my eyes is their tear. They are suffering as no other people for the world, the oppressed world. They are the emblem of struggling liberty, claiming a brother’s love and a brother’s aid from America, who is, happily, the emblem of prosperous liberty!

Let this word “brother,” with all the dear ties comprized in that word, be the impression I leave upon your hearts. Let this word, “brethren, remember!” be my farewell.