GREAT BRITAIN AND HUNGARY
GREAT BRITAIN AND HUNGARY
The historical and cultural links between Britain and Hungary are almost as old as the state of Hungary itself. Apart from Germany, Italy and France, it is to Britain and the British spirit that Hungary's cultural development is most indebted. There is a close relationship also between British and Hungarian political and constitutional thought. It was not for nothing that J. A. Blackwell, a political agent of the British Government in the first half of the nineteenth century, and a good friend of the Hungarians, called the latter "the Britons of the East", and Englishmen "the Magyars of the West".
Medieval English and Hungarian connections were determined and fostered by two factors: the consciousness of Christian community, and dynastic interests. As early as the first half of the eleventh century we find English guests at the Hungarian royal court, and those no lesser personages than Edward and Edmund. Edward, son of Edmund Ironside, married the daughter of King St. Stephen and stayed there until the year 1057. His daughter, St. Margaret, became the wife of King Malcolm of Scotland. Many Scotch families, like the Drummonds and Leslies, trade their descent from the Hungarians who followed the royal family to Scotland.
Already in those days the shortest and safest route to the Near East led through Hungary, just as later, in the days of the steam-boat, it led through the valley of the Danube and as, in our own days, it leads along the London-Istanbul transcontinental railway, motor and air lines. It was along this road that in the eleventh century the pilgrims passed back and forth and that, in 1058, Alfred, Bishop of Worcester, came crusading. In 1095 St. Ladislas, King of Hungary, was invited to become leader of the Crusade, and the delegation which came to offer him the post counted Englishmen among its members.
The two principal medieval centres for Anglo-Hungarian contacts were Paris and Rome. Hungarian students began to attend Paris universities at an early date, and of all the various nationalities collected there it was with the English that they lived and consorted. The natio Anglica was famous not only for its proficiency in scholastic philosophy but also for the fact that its members patronised forty different public-houses. The Magyar students inscribed the names of their own saints in the renowned calendar, which was used by numberless notable persons, and several Hungarian saints passed into international religious observance. But Hungarian students also attended English universities. The very first student inscribed in the books of Oxford was a Hungarian, Nicolaus of Hungaria; he had obtained a scholarship from King Richard I between the years 1195-1196.
Archbishop Lucas Bánffy, an intimate of King Géza II of Hungary, belonged ,in Paris, to the circle of John Salisbury, Thomas Becket, and Walter Mapes. We know of a Hungarian prelate, one of the framers of the Hungarian Golden Bull, who was the guest of the author of the Magna Charta, Archbishop Langton, in Canterbury. Learned English priests brought with them the cult of St. George and propagated it particularly in Transylvania.
There was also a constant diplomatic intercourse between England and Hungary. Envoys were sent by Henry Plantagenet to King Béla III of Hungary, by Andrew III of Hungary to Edward I, by King Louis the Great to Edward II. Béla III took as his second wife Margaret Capet, widow of King Henry. The Angevin kings of Hungary were related to the English royal house through their common Neapolitan-Aragonian descent. As a result of pilgrims' tales and ambassadorial visits there was formed in English minds a picture of Hungary as a far-away, fabulously rich country. Medieval chronicles and ballads, as for example The Squire of Low Degree, refer with awe and wonder to the powerful King of Hungary and to that land of promise, flowing with milk and honey, the Hungarian realm. It must be remembered that in the fifteenth century the populations of England and Hungary were, as far as numbers were concerned, approximately on the same level.
At the time of the Turkish advance, Henry Bolingbroke, the future King Henry IV, came to investigate the possibilities of a war of defence and had an interview with King Sigismund. In those days the King of Hungary was still at the height of his power, and the kings of England and of France solicited his intervention in his capacity of ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Sigismund accepted the role of peace arbitrator and in 1415 spent four months in England with his favourite Hungarian noblemen and a Hungarian escort of honour consisting of several hundred men. John Hunyadi was held in high honour in England, and his victory under the walls of Belgrade was celebrated in Oxford by the ringing of all the church bells, as was later the re-taking of Buda. King Matthias sent envoys to the court of King Henry IV; and King Edward IV invited him to join the league against the French king. His favourite poet, Janus Pannonius, studied in Italy in the company of the English humanist John Free.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was the Turkish wars, the religious struggles of the Protestants and the national resistance against Habsburg oppression which turned the interest of the English towards Hungary. Vladislas appealed to Henry VIII for assistance against the Turks, and King Louis II repeated the appeal on the eve of the Battle of Mohács. The same monarch was appealed to by John Zápolya as well as by Ferdinand of Habsburg. During the century and a half of the Turkish occupation such appeals to England were frequent and they frequently bore fruit. The Eastern and Levantine policy of the English did not leave the Hungarian State out of account. It was thus that there came about and was maintained the complicated, interesting and fruitful connection with the princely court of Transylvania. Contact was established already in the days of the Báthorys through the intervention of the English Ambassador in Constantinople. The necessity of enlightening English public opinion concerning the Hungarian standpoint was felt also in Transylvania. Several bi-lingual proclamations, in Latin and English, were issued in London by the various Transylvanian Princes - by Bocskay in 1606, by George Rákóczi I in 1645, by Michael Apaffy in 1664. Each and all complained of the violation of Hungarian rights, of the shackles placed on the free practice of the Protestant religions and of the arbitrary proceedings of the Habsburgs.
English public opinion was not indifferent to the events that were taking place in the Danube Valley, under the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. Thomas More, before his execution, wrote in his prison cell a Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, in which a Hungarian father discusses with his son the Christian's voluntary martyrdom and unbending loyalty to his principles. The first Englishman to recognise to the full the noble mission of the Hungarian nation, he wrote in this booklet the following fine sentence: "Hungary that hath been ever hitherto a very sure key of Christendom".
In Elizabethan literature the Hungarians were mentioned again and again in one form or another. Sir Philip Sidney who, having visited Vienna, extended his tour to Hungary, wrote: "In Hungary I have seen it the manner at all Feasts, and other such meetings, to have songes of their Ancestors' valour; which that right souldier-like Nation thinck the chiefest kindlers of brave courage". This was the first English appreciation of Hungarian literature and Hungarian valour. Shakespeare also makes occasional mention of Hungarian matters, and several of his contemporaries, in particular Ben Jonson, make copious use of English braggarts who boast of having travelled in Hungary.
The concrete result of the Anglo-Transylvanian diplomatic connection and more especially of the Treaty of Westminster concluded with Gabriel Bethlen in 1625, was the foundation of permanent Hungarian scholarships and a more regular attendance of the English universities by Hungarian students. This could not but lead to the adoption and assimilation of English intellectual currents. The English pre-reformation movements also made their influence felt. Peter Payne, a disciple of Wycliff who had fled to Prague, had a share in inspiring the first Hungarian translation of the Bible.
It was not long before English Protestant literature found its way to Hungary. In 1582 there appeared a book describing the martyrdom of Archbishop Cranmer. From the end of the sixteenth century not only Transylvanian diplomats but also Hungarian theologians paid regular visits to England, at first only to London and Cambridge, later also to Oxford and the Scottish universities. They brought back with them the fermenting ideas of the age, English Puritanism and Presbyterianism. Milton, in his capacity of Cromwell's "Latin scribe", wrote several letters to George Rákóczi II in the name of the Protector, and in his Areopagitica wrote thus of the Hungarian students: "...Nor is it for nothing that the grave and frugal Transylvania sends out yearly from as far as the mountainous boundaries of Russia and beyond the Halcynian wilderness not their youth but their staid men, to learn our language and our theologic arts".
One such group of students, John Tolnai Dali and nine of his companions, in 1638 signed a formal contract in London pledging themselves to spread Puritan ideas in their own country. At home they roused some alarm in the reigning Prince, who saw in them representatives of Cromwell's anti-royalist principles. But they were all the more warmly supported and befriended by his spouse Susanna Lorántffy, and their son, Sigismund Rákóczi, the latter of whom had wedded the younger sister of the Queen of England. It was these Hungarian Puritans who, with the help of their London connections, prevailed on Comenius, the greatest teacher of the century to take up his residence in Sárospatak. Apart from Tolnai, the most prominent Presbyterian personality was Paul Medgyesi, whose literary output in translations and original work filled a whole library.
But the students with scholarships were not the only Magyars to get to England. In 1676 Francis Otrokocsi Fóris sailed from Holland with seven other clergymen, all of them galley-slaves, to collect funds from the charitable with the permission of the King. Gabriel Bethlen sent out three students a year at his own expense, while Michael Apaffy sent eighteen altogether. In the secondary-school of Enyed, in the first half of the century, no teacher was accepted who had not spent some time in Britain. A good number of Hungarian students remained in England for good, and had honourable careers there. Thus in the thirties of the seventeenth century, John Bánffyhunyadi was a schoolmaster at Gresham College; two decades later we find Paul Jászberényi a teacher enjoying a high reputation even at the royal court; John Adami became royal chaplain and panegyrised London both in Latin and English verses.
The Hungarian students who entertained relations with England issued from three cultural centres and strengthened, on their return, three sources of light - Enyed, Sárospatak, and Debrecen. This latter town, situated at the meeting point of the three severed fragments of the dismembered country was influenced by English Puritanism to an exceptional degree. No other idea or doctrine took such deep and lasting hold on it as this. It impressed itself so thoroughly on the character and demeanour of the inhabitants, that as late as the end of the eighteenth century an English traveller was aghast at the "lugubrious tone" of the town. It was in Debrecen that the first English grammar was published on Hungarian soil, in 1664, under the title of Spicilegium Anglicum. A great number of letters, diaries and travel descriptions by Hungarians travelling in England have come to our days. The most notable among these is Martin Szepsi Csombor's Europica Varietas, the first travel-book to appear in Hungary, and still taking a distinguished place among descriptive books dealing with England. Beatissimum certum regnum, wrote home from London one of the Hungarian envoys. It was to this happy and fortunate land that those in need of assistance instinctively turned. Nor did the English Protestants forget their struggling co-religionists. In 1712 they collected the imposing sum of 11,000 pounds for the Calvinist school in Enyed, and a few decades later an even larger sum for the college in Debrecen. Both these schools were using the revenue derived from these sums as lately as the last few decades.
The names of the Transylvanian Princes, Gabriel Bethlen, George Rákóczi I, Michael Apaffy, Emeric Thököly, Francis Rákóczi II, were well known to Englishmen; so much so, that the English anti-royalists were dubbed "Teckelites" in memory of Emeric Thököly's followers. During the Rákóczi rebellion the British Ambassador made efforts to reconcile the two hostile camps, and it is known that Queen Anne had no little part in bringing about the Peace of Szatmár. For a long time Maria Theresa was officially known in England only as the Queen of Hungary. And after the conclusion of the Turkish occupation the British Government went so far as to guarantee the integrity of the restored Kingdom of Hungary. When, under Joseph II's oppressive tyranny, the Hungarian aristocracy appealed to England for moral support, there was talk of sending George III's third son, the Duke of Kent, to be King of Hungary.
The exhaustive political literature of the French age of enlightenment, in particular Montesquieu's theories, liberated instincts long latent in the legal mind of the Hungarians. In and around the year 1790 an imposing mass of books appeared dealing with the similarity, parity and equivalence of the English and Hungarian constitutions (George Aranka, Adalbert Barits, Joseph Hajnóczy, Joseph Reviczky, Nicholas Skerlecz). It was shown that in the face of revolutionary movements England and Hungary alike took their stand on their historic constitution. There is no doubt that British constitutionalism was the pattern and example aimed at in the reform movements of 1790 and 1848.
In point of fact, English taste had by this time invaded every field of social and cultural life. Contemporary French and German literature, particularly the publications of Vienna and Göttingen, speedily transmitted all the newest British intellectual currents. Many Hungarian aristocrats as well as writers began to learn English, and the trips to England, which in the preceding fifty years had almost wholly ceased, started anew. Maria Theresa's ordinance, designed to attract Protestant Hungarians to Vienna, was evaded; there is a tradition in Enyed that there were students who temporarily set up as Viennese wine-merchants, using the funds thus acquired for a stay at an English university.
The last decades of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth marked the golden age of an Anglomania that was productive of the happiest results for Hungary. The Magyar magnates on their trips to England made friends with the English aristocracy of birth and letters; the Magyar gentry discovered its counterpart in the English gentry; the Magyar reformers saw their ideals realised by the liberal and progressive English bourgeoisie. Tudor and Georgian country-houses arose in the midst of parks laid out on the English pattern: the English example was followed in the economic field by the establishment of factories, in the cultural and intellectual fields by the foundation of an Academy of Sciences, a National Museum, public libraries, a permanent theatre. Clubs, called "Casinos" (because the appellation "club" was prohibited) modelled themselves on English clubs; the champions of prison reform came back with travellers' tales of what they had seen in England. Banks, financial institutes and insurance companies followed English financial traditions. English engineers and work-men were employed on the construction of roads, railroads and bridges; even the factories had English workers from England. There was an affinity even in the architectural and decorative style of the two countries, the same reverence for classical traditions was evinced by the empire style which assumed an almost national character in both.
This widespread interest in England and English things was in a great measure due to two men - Count Stephen Széchenyi and Baron Nicholas Wesselényi. Their joint trip to England proved a decisive event in the social life of their country. It is not without justification that some people date the beginning of the reform era from the time of Széchenyi's first English journey. There is no domain of public life which he did not in some measure modify on the English pattern. The improvement of horse-breeding, the introduction of horse-racing, the foundation of the National Casino, the construction of the Suspension Bridge, the regulation of the Danube and the Tisza, were only a part of his activities in this direction. Széchenyi knew the leaders of English political, social and intellectual life; he was on a footing of intimacy with all the Secretaries for Foreign Affairs - Castlereagh, Canning, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston, as well as with every British Ambassador in Vienna. From his numerous journeys to England he always brought back something useful for his own country. "Hungary must acquire the same superiority in the East", he said, "as Britain enjoys over the Continent".
Baron Nicholas Wesselényi, a Transylvanian, introduced English fashions in his own part of the country. It was thanks to him that horse-breeding, horse-racing, hunting, fencing and swimming came into vogue in Transylvania. He maintained that the English and the Hungarians were the two nations which preferred traditional sports to mere physical exercises, a fact which accentuated the affinity between them. Wesselényi was largely responsible for the English orientation of the younger members of the Pozsony Diet, which was subsequently to exert so decisive an influence on Hungary's political development.
Practically every member of that group which goes by the name of the reform generation had travelled in England and recorded his experiences in print. Alexander Bölöni Farkas, Francis Pulszky, Baron Joseph Eötvös, August Trefort, Ladislas Szalay, Bartholomew Szemere, Count Aurelius Dessewffy, Joseph Irinyi, Lawrence Tóth, the leading personalities of the liberal-democratic revolution of 1848, as well as of the following era, the members of the first constitutional government, the creators of the modern form of local administration, judicial procedure and education, were all recruited from this group.
The most notable among them was Louis Kossuth, who acquired the knowledge of the English language during his detention in a Buda prison cell in 1839, and who, less than twenty years later, used his knowledge to agitate both in England and in America, amid the acclamations of thousands, for the Hungarian cause, the Danubian small nations and for European liberty. Southampton, London, Birmingham, Manchester, formed the various stages of his triumphal tour. This was in October and November 1851; in 1852, after his return from the United States, he settled in England and until 1857 expended all his energies, as orator and statesman, in his country's cause. Not less than one hundred and ten books have appeared in the English language, of which Kossuth is the subject; several thousand English articles were written about him and one hundred and fifty-three English poems addressed to him, some of them by first-rank writers and poets. Kossuth himself published fourteen books and pamphlets and several hundred articles in English. How highly he was esteemed by his English contemporaries may be gauged from the following utterance of Cobden concerning him: "Kossuth is certainly a phenomenon; he is not only the first orator of the age, but he unites the Qualities of a great administrator with a high morality and an indefatigable courage. This is more than could be said either of Demosthenes or of Cicero".
At this period English public opinion unanimously acclaimed the Magyar people as the martyrs of liberty, democracy and progress, whose war of liberation against Imperial and Czarist tyranny had been for all its unsuccessful ending, a great and fine achievement. British travellers, political agents, and such politicians as had studied the Hungarian question, were all convinced of Hungary's historical importance in the Danubian Basin. This can be derived from the writings of Paget, Quin, Urquhart, Blackwell, Mac Gregor, Miss Pardoe and others. Same of them, like Blackwell, went so far as to declare that, in her own interest, England needs an independent Hungary. Before the Suez Canal the duel between the Zollverein and the Board of Trade had to be fought out in the middle Danubian Basin, which explains the great importance ascribed to the kingdom of Hungary or, in its place, to the Danubian Confederation with Hungary in its centre.
After 1849 there were many who held that the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not a desirable consummation and who would merely have transferred the centre of gravity of the Danubian Basin from Vienna to Buda. In 1849 Kossuth and his colleagues would have welcomed a Danubian Confederation under the protection of Britain; diplomacy had no little share in bringing about the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.
English capital played an important part in Hungary's economic revival after 1867 and English influence was in no small measure operative in the liberal organisation of Hungarian institutions. Friendly relations between England and Hungary continued to obtain even when, after Count Andrássy's fall, Vienna's policy ceased to envisage wide horizons. It may even be remembered that in 1901, when Great Britain had no friends on the Continent, Hungary openly ranged herself by her side. In 1906 Hungarian Members of Parliament paid an official visit to England, which in the following year was returned by a group composed of numerous members of the Eighty Club. Even during the first world war there was practically no sign of any estrangement between the two countries. The portrait of King Edward VII, who in his younger days had several times honoured Hungary with his visits, remained hanging on the wall of the National Casino throughout the war; and the treatment accorded to the British subjects who had remained in the country, did not fail to rouse appreciation in England after the war.
Many English visitors were surprised to discover how thorough and widespread was the knowledge of the English language in this country. Sooner or later they had to realise that very few countries on the Continent had been so profoundly influenced by the English spirit as Hungary. The first English text was printed in Hungary in 1614, the first English grammar in 1664. English history has been taught at the University of Budapest since 1777, and the English language since 1806. There is also a second English chair in Debrecen, while in Sárospatak there is a secondary-school modelled on the college system, in which the language of instruction is English. The knowledge of English literature has been materially furthered by a law passed in 1924, which made incumbent on thirty secondary-schools, more especially Protestant ones, to include the teaching of English in their curriculum. The scholarships for Hungarian students at the various English universities, recently augmented by those of the British Council, have done their part in promoting an Anglo-Hungarian rapprochement, although it must be admitted that there have been years when the number of Hungarian students in England had fallen considerably short of that witnessed during the age of the Reformation. An excellent opportunity for the fraternisation of British and Hungarian youth was furnished by the Boy Scout Jamboree at Birkenhead in 1929, in which 850 Hungarian boy scouts took part.
From the foregoing it will be seen that since the seventeenth century there has been no English intellectual movement which has not exercised an influence on Hungarian life. Bacon was read and quoted in Hungary only a few years after the English edition of his works appeared. Since the eighteenth century Shakespeare has been made the subject of a veritable cult, and in the course of the last hundred and fifty years the greatest Hungarian poets have tried their hand at translating him. The translations of Kazinczy, Vörösmarty, Petőfi, Arany, Babits, Kosztolányi and Lawrence Szabó are all masterpieces, and no theatrical season passes without the repertory of the Hungarian theatres being enriched by a new translation, a new production or a revival of one or other of his plays. It is interesting to note that even Kossuth at one time applied himself to a translation of Macbeth.
But there is a great vogue also for other English writers, for the great Victorians no less than for the newer authors: Burke, Byron, Scott, Shelley, Keats, Dickens, Burns, the Brownings, Meredith, Wilde, as well as Wells, Galsworthy, Maugham, Chesterton, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, Huxley are all read in the original and are perhaps as popular and as widely quoted as in their own country.
It may be mentioned as a matter of curiosity that certain Hungarian words have made their way into the English language, such as csárdás, hussar, coach, goulash, paprika, Tokay, dolman, Teckelite. It goes without saying that a great many more English words have been assimilated by the Hungarian language. Up till recent times practically all the terms employed in sport were English, and very many of the expressions belonging to the field of general culture and the technical sciences were borrowed from the English.
It may not be without interest to make a list of the great English writers who in one connection or another mentioned Hungary and the Hungarian people. It is an imposing list, containing the names of Mandeville, Walter Mapes, Roger Bacon, Gower, Thomas More, Sidney, Dee, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Raleigh, Bacon, Ben Jonson, Bright, Addison, Lady Montague, Defoe, Lillo, Smollett, Richardson, Byron, Coleridge, Lowell, Whittier, Macaulay, Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, Cobden, Dickens, Landor, Moore, Swinburne, Meredith, Toynbee, Baring, Joyce, Belloc, Dawson, P. J. Allen and H. G. Wells.
Among Hungarian historical characters the following are known and have been written about in England: Saint Elizabeth, Hunyadi, Zápolya, Gabriel Bethlen, George Rákóczi I, Nicholas Zrínyi the poet, Thököly, Francis Rákóczi II, Stephen Széchenyi, Kossuth, Pulszky, Francis Liszt, Deák and Andrássy.
For a hundred and fifty years Hungary's greatest intellects - authors, poets and politicians - have lived and worked under the spell of the English genius. In addition to the authors of the beginning and middle of the 19th century the authors of the fin de siècle and the first half of the 20th century likewise collaborated in spreading the English spirit in Hungary. The generation of great authors around the years of the World War, the members of the so-called Nyugat-(West)movement ,as Michael Babits, Desiderius Kosztolányi, Árpád Tóth, Frederick Karinthy and Desiderius Szabó, were just as much devoted readers, diffusers of English literature as were the members of the most important group, the so-called essayist generation after the first World War, as Gabriel Halász, Béla Hamvas, Ladislaus Németh, Ladislaus Cs. Szabó, Anthony Szerb and Nicholas Szentkuthy. The youngest generation of poets also devote their best endeavours to the masterpieces of English poetry.
The élite of Hungarian intellectual life has known for generations that
the future history of mankind will a great measure be shaped by the English-speaking
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HUNGARY
If Anglo-Hungarian relations may be traced as far back as the foundation of the Hungarian kingdom, it may with equal truth be said that the historic connection between North America and Hungary dates from the discovery of the American Continent. There are, indeed, some historians who believe in good faith that a certain Tyrker mentioned in the Norse Chronicles was a Hungarian visitor of that Continent. Leaving aside such hypothetical theories, it may be stated as a fact that the great traveller of the sixteenth century, Humphrey Gilbert, had a Hungarian travelling companion, one Stephanus Parmenius Budaeus, a student of London and Oxford Universities, who on the recommendation of Richard Hakluyt became the chronicler of Humphrey's second voyage and found his death on the shores of Nova Scotia. Another far from uninteresting link is formed by the Transylvanian patent of nobility of Captain John Smith, first President of the State of Virginia and Governor of New England. No biographer of this renowned captain of mercenaries omits to mention his participation in the Hungarian campaign led by the Duc de Mercour and the alleged patent of nobility conferred upon him in reward of his merits by Sigismund Báthory, Prince of Transylvania.
In the days of the Counter-Reformation a certain number of Hungarians found their way to North America, although not as many as to South America, whose monastic discoverers include many Hungarian Jesuits. The pioneer settlements of Quakers founded in the seventeenth century by William Penn had a number of Magyar and Saxon members from the Hungarian uplands and from Transylvania. The first map of California was drawn by a Hungarian Jesuit. Of the men whom the defeat of the Rákóczi uprising drove into exile, only one or two Poles sought refuge in America; Francis Rákóczi II himself, the last occupant of the throne of Transylvania, was financially engaged in the Compagnie d 'Occident, which was to have handled the colonising of Canada and the Valley of the Mississippi.
The Magyars who from the end of the eighteenth century emigrated to North America in considerable numbers took no mean part in two momentous events in American history, the American Revolution and the Civil War.
The most outstanding Hungarian participant in the American Revolution was Michael de Kovács whom latter-day American historians have enrolled among their country's national heroes. Michael de Kovács had been a soldier in the army of Frederick the Great before he became Colonel-Commandant of Washington's first cavalry regiment, the so-called Pulaski Legion, being appointed to the post by the Continental Congress at the recommendation of Washington himself. Kovács was killed on May 11, 1779, at the siege of Charlestown. Several Hungarian officers fought, as members of French regiments, in the American Revolution, some of them of Polish extraction, like the brothers Polareczky and Francis Benyowsky, younger brother of the famous traveller Maurice Benyowsky. The latter also intended to take part in the war, and there was a plan afoot for him to be sent to America by the King of France at the head of 3000 men; Benjamin Franklin supported the scheme and General Steuben recommended him personally to Washington. Benyowsky also wished to recruit three brigades in Germany; but this was declined by President Madison.
With the spread of historical and geographic knowledge which marked the age of enlightenment, public interest in Hungary turned more and more towards the newly-formed United States of America. At the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth both original and translated descriptions of that Continent began to appear in print, while from 1820 direct reports were published in the Hungarian press. Hungarian merchants who had settled in America attained respected positions there; while Hungarian agricultural methods, especially in the field of viticulture, were in many places adopted with good results. On the other hand, Hungarian travellers returning from the States endeavoured to introduce in their own country those social and humanitarian reforms which they had seen in a freer world, where more pleasant conditions and more exalted ideals held sway. For the last century and a half two ideas run unbroken through the course of American-Hungarian relations - liberty and democracy.
The American ideal found its first and finest interpretation in a Hungarian book by a Transylvanian Unitarian, Alexander Bölöni Farkas, published a hundred and ten years ago under the title Travels in North America. It contains an almost religiously inspired, enthusiastic account of the world of real democracy, that Land of Promise which, to a Hungary pervaded by the retrograde spirit of the Congress of Vienna, appeared irradiated with an almost unearthly glory. For the writer of this book, America meant the realisation of the highest degree of human happiness, a Paradise on earth. For him, Republicanism, Liberalism, Democracy were no mere political catchwords, but religious convictions, as is made evident by his meditations over Washington's tomb. "I have stood at the graves of kings and celebrated men, have admired the memorials of their deeds, but that feeling of reverence which suddenly thrilled through me before this tomb I had only felt in the Pantheon and in Westminster Abbey. There passed through my mind all the sufferings and struggles undergone by America for the rights of man, struggles in which the man whose dust lay at my feet had so large a share, and I felt my heartthrob. Had I not been restrained by cold reason, I would willingly have prostrated myself before this tomb."
Alexander Farkas's book of travels was the most effective publication of the period which has come to be called the age of reform. True, it subjected its author to the persecution of the reactionary Viennese Government, but on the other hand it exercised a decisive influence on the course of Hungarian history by directing the interest of Kossuth and his companions towards the New World. The ablest public men of that age, Stephen Széchenyi, Nicholas Wesselényi, Francis Kölcsey and Transylvania's political leaders were all fired with a desire to visit America, and were only prevented from carrying out their design by the impediments placed in their way by the Viennese Government or, in some cases, by lack of funds.
But if they could not themselves go to the New World, the New World came to them in the form of books. Tocqueville's work on America was translated into Hungarian within a year of its publication, and it is known that Kossuth read it with lively interest. The example of the American Revolution was frequently cited in the course of the Hungarian struggle for liberty. "The principles of the American Declaration of Independence", said Francis Pulszky, "were the guiding principles also in the Hungarian war of liberation". The men who stood at the head of American affairs realised the significance of the gigantic struggle which was developing in the Carpathian Basin and the valley of the Danube and which culminated in the Crimean war. Already at the end of the year 1848 the American Charge d'Affaires in Vienna undertook, at Kossuth's request, to act as intermediary between the Hungarian Government and that of Olmütz, and by this act, though it proved fruitless, did more on Hungary's behalf than any other foreign government. Later there was very nearly established a permanent diplomatic intercourse. On June 18,1849 Clayton, the American Secretary of State, instructed Ambrose Dudley Man, an attaché of the American Embassy in Paris, to repair to Hungary; but he never got further than Vienna. The day before, the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Casimir Batthyány, provided an American Magyar, Edward Theodore Damburghy, with a letter to the President and Secretary of State of the U. S. A. In 1849 agitatorial meetings were constantly being held in America urging that assistance should be sent to the Hungarians. Reid Mayne wished to lead an expeditionary force to Hungary. At one of the meetings, the organising committee of which included Abraham Lincoln, a resolution was passed requesting the government to recognise Hungary's independence. The President of the United States, Zachary Taylor, was willing to accede to this request, provided the Magyars emerged victorious from their struggle.
After the disastrous conclusion of the struggle, America evinced a strong interest in the fate of the Hungarian exiles. Small and remote as the Hungarian nation must have appeared to her, she yet saw in it the champion of democracy and liberty. Without America's watchful care, the fate of the Hungarian refugees, and with it the Hungarian cause, would have been swamped in the dull indifference of the world. It was as a result of American intervention that Louis Kossuth, former Governor of Hungary was liberated from his internment in Turkey, and it was an American steamer, the Mississippi, which carried him to America at the American Government's invitation - an invitation which made him the guest of the American nation and launched him on a lecturing tour. During his sojourn in Turkey Kossuth had elaborated a far-reaching political scheme which in a letter dated June 15, 1850, he imparted to Ladislas Teleki. The scheme envisaged the union of all the Danubian peoples in a Danubian Confederation which should have Hungary as its focus and should be modelled on the United States of America. Kossuth stayed in the States from December 1851 until June 1852, the various stages of his tour being New York, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis and New Orleans. From the moment of his landing, states and cities, nationalities and corporations vied with each other for the privilege of entertaining him and hearing him speak. Kossuth had taught himself English during the term he served as a political prisoner, deriving his knowledge from Shakespeare and the Bible, and the archaic flavour of his language charmed the cream of the educated American public. He was idolized, and lionized, all over the continent, and that to a greater extent even than Lafayette, since in Lafayette's day the guiding spirits had not as yet at their command the same complex system for expressing and directing public opinion as in the eighteen-fifties. In the speeches addressed to him he was described as Europe's political Martin Luther, as Europe's Epaminondas, and as Hungary's George Washington. There were even those who tried to prove, with a fine array of theological arguments, that he was the greatest man on earth since Jesus Christ. At the banquet given in his honour by the City of New York his bust adorned the table beside those of Washington and Lafayette; and the Freemasons' Lodge of Chicago presented him with a flag on which Asia was personified by Moses, America by Washington and Europe by Kossuth himself. How firmly established in the American mind is the idea of Kossuth as the incarnation of the love of liberty of the European small nations is shown by the fact that in an American historical work which saw the light about twenty years ago (Harold Bellman's Architects of the New Age) he is ranged with Washington, Lincoln, Mazzini, and Tolstoi, among the great creators of the modern era. It cannot be denied that Kossuth foresaw, with a marvellous intuitive clarity, the coming trend of world affairs and held fast to his ideas even when he was forced to recognise that they were of no immediate profit. In his American speeches he broached four fundamental principles which even as late as the times immediately following the first world war appeared completely chimerical and have only begun to be faintly adumbrated since the Atlantic Charter. Yet it may safely be prophesied that these conceptions will be the guiding ideas of the second half of the twentieth century.
Kossuth in America advocated and demanded a) the right of every nation "to dispose of itself"; b) the abolition of secret diplomacy; c) America's participation in world affairs, especially in European affairs; d) an alliance between Great Britain and America, which later on might be joined by other states for a concerted defence of the self-determination of the smaller nations. Not even American statesmen had, in those days, thought seriously of a union of the Anglo-Saxon democracies in opposition to the union of the autocratic European powers. "England and America!" he addressed the English-speaking nations, "do not forget in your proud security those who are oppressed. Save those millions of people who otherwise would bleed to death, do not withold from them the charter of this privilege, and thus become the saviours of the world".
The first considerable Hungarian settlements in America owed their existence to Kossuth's American journey and were formed by members of his travelling party. These enthusiasts of liberty and independence preferred the hazards of the New World to the certainties of the citadel of reaction which they had left behind them, and were glad to settle on the land which they received free from the American Government, although they found it no easy matter to accomodate themselves to conditions, agricultural methods and a climate so different from their own. They fitted with much greater ease into the possibilities opened to them by the American Civil War, which offered them a welcome opportunity not only to show their gratitude for the refuge offered them by the Union, but also to fight for the ideals which they had been unable to carry to victory in their native land. In 1861 the number of Hungarians in America barely reached 4000, yet of these, 1000 entered the service of the Unionist army - a percentage unattained by any other alien race. It is an eloquent testimony to the military qualities of the Magyar people that of this comparatively small number two rose to the rank of Major-General, while five became Brigadier-Generals, fifteen Colonels, two Lieutenant-Colonels, fourteen Majors and fifteen Captains. General Julius Stahel-Számwald commanded a brigade; General Alexander Asbóth was made Commandant of an entire military zone. Among the staff officers, special distinction was won by Colonel Philip Figyelmessy, Colonel Géza Mihalóczy, organiser of the Lincoln Rifles, and Colonel George Utassy, organiser and commander of the New York Infantry Regiment which was named Garibaldi Guard. Colonel Charles Zágonyi, at the head of his own Frémont Guard took the Heights of Springfield from greatly superior hostile forces in a reckless charge known in American history as Zágonyi's Death Ride.
President Abraham Lincoln appointed Ladislas Ujházy as Consul in Ancona at the beginning of the Civil War, and after its conclusion many other Hungarians were given posts in the American diplomatic and consular services as well as in other public services. Thus Alexander Asbóth became American Minister in the Argentine and in Uruguay, Julius Stahel-Számwald served for many years as Consul-General in China and Japan, George Pomutz became American Consul in St. Petersburg and Philip Figyelmessy Consul in British Guiana. General Albin Schoepf and Major Charles Semsey also received honourable appointments, the former in the Patent Office and the latter in the Immigration Office.
The first links between Hungary and American scientific circles were forged by the men who played a part in the Hungarian age of reform and in the war of liberation. Charles Nagy, the notable mathematician and astronomer, Lenau's friend, travelled all over America in 1832-33 and subsequently established contacts between the Hungarian Academy of Science and the Philadelphia Philosophical Society, which had been founded by Franklin. Charles Krajtsir, a native of Szepes, in North Hungary, an expert scholar of Asiatic languages, became Professor of Virginia University and in the fifties wrote all the philological and natural history articles in the great American Encyclopaedia. Augustus Haraszthy not only introduced the cultivation of the hop and the vine in Wisconsin and California but was also the founder of the Wisconsin Historical Society. John Xántus, an eminent geographer, the subsequent founder of the Budapest Zoo, formed, in the fifties, one of the committees deputed to investigate conditions in Kansas Territory. Later he led an expedition to Southern California and the Sierra Madre. Alexander Asbóth was the projector of New York City; the great metropolis on Manhattan Island was built according to his plans. Edison had also a Hungarian collaborator, Theodore Puskás. In the world of literature and art, the stage and the screen, a constantly growing number of Hungarians have gained the recognition of the American public, as witness Michael Munkácsy, Béla Bartók, Francis Molnár and others. Nor did Count Albert Apponyi's eloquence fail to exercise its wonted effect on his American hearers.
In the eighteen-seventies there started a strong wave of emigration from Central Europe to the United States, and thus also from Hungary. It is estimated that more than half a million Hungarians went out to try their luck in the States in the period between 1861 and 1907. For the Central European mind, America has always appeared as the land of unlimited possibilities. The Hungarian masses, despairing of attaining an adequate standard of life under the conditions of feverish competition at home, turned their eyes towards the more promising regions of the New World. The majority of the emigrated Magyars became useful members of American society; they were valued as good workers both in the class of manual labourers and in that of clerks; but they have also shown their ability to make their way to higher spheres if opportunity offered; before the present war as many as sixty Hungarians were employed as professors at American colleges.
Hungary remembers with no little gratitude the manifold benefits she received at America's hands after the first World War. During the war, the Hungarians living in the States were treated with consideration, just as Americans were treated in Hungary. It is also remembered that during the years of hardship experienced by Hungary; in the early twenties, a large percentage of the children of Budapest were saved by the devoted care of the American Red Cross Society.
Friendly relations were established after the first World War also with American learned circles. Thanks to the fellowship of the Rockefeller Foundation, a great number of Hungarian students have been enabled to gain expert knowledge in their own special branches of study in American laboratories. No less valuable for Hungary has been the Jeremiah Smith Foundation, formed out of the honorarium offered by the Hungarian Government for the financial supervision imposed by the League of Nations.
A lively interest has always been felt in Hungary in every manifestation of American thought. Of American writers, the greatest popularity has been attained by Whitman, Longfellow, Poe, Emerson, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, Thornton Wilder; two Hungarian poets, Michael Babits and Desiderius Kosztolányi, have done much towards the propagation of American poetry in Hungary while American general literature has found an able interpreter in Joseph Reményi.
American-Hungarian relations have developed naturally and consistently. The hundred thousand or so of Hungarians who have emigrated beyond the ocean mean a stronger tie with America than exist with any other country.
Sympathy for and interest in the United States did not cease in Hungary,
during either the first or the second World War. The call of America's
voice was listened to with unwearied interest by the Hungarian people.
America has been the country of humanity, liberty and democracy in the
eyes of the Hungarian élite for more than a century and a half. To help
realize on the Continent the leading principles of the union of the English-speaking
peoples, the Atlantic Charter, is practically the historical task of every
nation which has been, and wants to be, maintaining historical relations
with the United States. Daniel Webster wrote nearly a hundred years ago:
"We shall rejoice to see our American model upon the Lower Danube and on
the mountains of Hungary". The Hungarian nation, as a member of the free
human community desires to realise this old, but still valid human ideal
in Central Europe.
HUNGARIANS IN THE BRITISH EMPIRE
HUNGARIANS IN THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Historical and cultural links bind Hungary not only to England and America but also to the British Empire as a whole. Hungarian travellers and explorers have taken an active part in the discovery and revelation of unknown positions of the globe for the benefit of the most stable and durable of empires, the British. No other Danubian people has had so many sons who participated in the British work of discovery, conquest and pacification. It was British government support which made it possible for so many Magyars to devote their lives, in spite of restricted conditions at home, to the acquisition of knowledge in the interest or humanity at large.
In Asia a whole row of erudite Hungarians have been swept into the orbit of the British Empire, Hungarians have never lost their interest in the ancestral home of their race nor their belief that they must have racial kindred in Central Asia. Although they have failed to find the cradle of their race, more than one of their travellers and explorers have, in the course of their researches, enriched with valuable material the stock of knowledge of the white race and of its representative in Asia, the British people.
The most eminent Hungarian Asiatic explorer was Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, the great Tibetan scholar. who in middle life entered the service of the British Empire and lived in India and Tibet from 1820 until his death in 1842. He, too, had originally started out in search of the cradle of his race, and already in the beginning of his pilgrimage had enjoyed the assistance of the British Legation in Baghdad. During the all but two decades of his sojourn in Persia, Afghanistan, India, and in the Lamaseries of Tibet, at that time almost wholly unknown, he collected 40,000 Tibetan words. The Asiatic Society of Bengal published his big English-Tibetan dictionary and grammar in 1834. The last years of his life were spent in the library of the Society's Calcutta Branch, the entrance of which is still adorned with his bust. He is buried in Darjeeling.
Another Hungarian who rendered valuable services to British interests in India was Arminius Vámbéry. In the years between 1862-1864 he wandered all over Central Asia. The political observations which he made in the course of his philological studies gained him the friendship of men like Palmerston, Canning, Lord Lytton and Livingstone, and he had the privilege of being received by Queen Victoria as well as by King Edward VII.
Louis Kossuth's travelling companion, Ladislas Berzenczey, travelled in the Himalayas in 1874. He was the first person to cross the Pamir plateau and to get to India via Kashgar and the Caracorum Mountains, and it was he who first drew attention to the importance of Eastern Turkestan. In the years between 1878-1881 Count Béla Széchenyi, Stephen Széchenyi's son, organised an expedition through the Indies, Burmah and other Asiatic regions. He took with him the eminent geologist, Louis Lóczy, and the eastern scholar, Gabriel Bálint, and the results of their researches were published in three imposing volumes.
The venerable explorer, Sir Aurel Stein, was born and educated in Budapest. He undertook his first Indian expedition in 1887; in 1900-1901 he was head of the eastern department of Lahore University; in 1903, 1904, 1906-1908, and in 1913-1916 he explored Turkestan, Inner Asia, China, Persia and Mesopotamia, and revealed to the world the civilisation of the Inner Asiatic oasis towns, The material which he brought back from these expeditions - 12 cases the first time, 90 the second time, and 182 the third time, - augments the treasures of the British Museum. He became Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire and has had honorary degrees conferred upon him by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
In Africa, too, Hungarians have adventured into regions where even Englishmen had not set foot before, The scene of recent operations, Madagascar, represents the oldest link with Hungary. In 1774 Count Maurice Benyowsky occupied a portion of the island, pacified it, and laid the foundations of the fort of Louisburg. The tribe elected him King of Madagascar.
A Hungarian woman's name is associated with the pacification of the Sudan. Anna Flora Sass, wife of Sir Samuel Baker, Governer of Khartoum, took part in the expedition which, in the years between 1860-1864, discovered the Albert Nyanza and explored Zanzibar, Abyssinia and the sources of the White Nile.
In 1888 Count Samuel Teleki, a Transylvanian Hungarian, discovered Lakes Stephanie and Rudolf and in 1892-93 he traversed Kenya, mapping a line which extended over three thousand kilometres.
A number of Hungarian travellers explored the Congo regions and the northern parts of South Africa. In 1888 John Jankó studied physico-geographic conditions in these regions, while in 1898 Francis Hopp collected ethnographic material. Emil Torday, the well-known anthropologist, travelled across the Bushongo country in 1900, 1905 and 1907, on the second occasion as an emissary of the British Museum.
The Western Hemisphere also had its Hungarian explorers. A Hungarian graduate of Oxford University, Stephanus Parmenius Budaeus, accompanied Humphrey Gilbert on his expedition in 1583 and left a record of it which has come down to our days. John Xántus, a learned Magyar who has given the world a description of the California of his days, in 1858 discovered fifty-nine islands between the American Continent and Australia. About 1780, three decades before Humboldt, Joseph Székely Balogh classified the trees and plants of British Guiana according to Linnaeus's system.
Countless tenuous threads of this sort, drawn across the map of the world, connect Hungary with the British Empire. These Hungarian savants laboured in the first place for British interests, and through them for humanity at large; only in exceptional cases did their own nation profit by the results of their labours. But is not this absence of national egoism the hallmark of the scientific spirit all over the world?
English coin from the 10th century, found in Gödöllő
Remnant of St. Gregory's early Anglo-Saxon Ezechiel homilies (Archiepiscopal Library, Esztergom)
Sword with a dragon badge, presented by King Sigismund of Hungary to the city of York
First book of the Genesis, Bible of Demetrius Nekcsei, treasurer of Charles I., King of Hungary (Library of Congress, Washington)
First page of the "Secretum Secretorum", a codex of Louis the Great, King of Hungary, after 1370 (Bodleian Library, Oxford)
Refectory of the Franciscan monastery of Kolozsvár, in perpendicular style
Chalice with wire-enamel (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
Badge of the guild of St. George, Buda 1528 (Silver gilt, enriched with enamel, corel and malachite) (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
Sir Thomas More's "Dialogue" of a Hungarian father and son
The first English text printed in Hungary in the "Oratio Dominica Polyglottos", 1614 (Library of the Reformed College, Kolozsvár)
George Rákóczi II's "Manifesto" in defence of human and religious rights
John Bánffyhunyadi, Hungarian alchimist, Professor of Gresham College, 1646
The first English Grammar in Hungary, by Georg Komáromi Csipkés, Debrecen, 1664
Birds of England, by James Bogdany, painter at the court of William III and Queen Anne (In the collection of Lord Fairhaven)
Count Maurice Benyowsky
Playbill of an early Hungarian Hamlet-performance, Debrecen, 14th August 1798 (The scenery was built in the courtyard of the White Horse Inn)
Count Stephen Széchenyi, as Byronic traveller, Water-colour by John Ender, 1818
Bust of Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, presented by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta)
Portrait of William Leitch, his master, by Nicholas Barabás, 1834
Portrait of Adam Clark, who executed the construction of the Suspension Bridge between Buda and Pest, Painted by Nicholas Barabás, 1840
Széchenyi in English clothes in the forties, Lithograph by Charles Sterio after a watercolour by Count Emmanuel Andrássy
John Paget, author of "Hungary and Transylvania", 1839
Miss Julia Pardoe, author of "The City of Magyar, or Hungary and her Institutions in 1839-40"
An unknown photograph of Louis Kossuth during his stay in the U.S.A., 1852
Flag presented to Louis Kossuth by the Chicago Lodge of Free Masons, 1852
Countess Claudine Rhédey, wife of Duke of Teck, mother of Mary, Queen of England
The western new-Gothic Tudor wing of the Bánffy-castle, Bonchida, Transylvania
Drawing-room of the Szapáry-castle, English empire style, Bük (County of Vas)
Library of Countess Theresa Győry, English empire style, Perkáta (County of Vas)
Francis Liszt, in old age, about 1884, Elliott and Fry photograph
President Theodore Roosevelt with Count Albert Apponyi in Hungary, May 1911
Lord Baden Powell with Count Paul Teleki at the Jamboree in Gödöllő, 1933