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Lot 85: Hungarian Hero Lajos Kossuth Writes Autograph Letter from His London Exile
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Lajos Kossuth, Hero of Hungary, Writing from his London Exile: “Please my dear Sir! Try to prevent in some way or other this inconvenience” ********** KOSSUTH, LAJOS. (1802-1894). Hungarian patriot and statesman. ALS. (“L. Kossuth”). 1½pp. 8vo. N.p. [London], April 10, N.y. [c.1853]. Written on both sides of a single sheet to Ph. H. King (?).********** “We have scarcely begun, and I already receive complaints about orders over executed postage, etc. I don’t know why am I to be teazed [sic] with such matters, and how it comes to pass that from the circular we published men were not able to learn that I am not the publisher. Please my dear Sir! try to prevent in some way or other this inconvenience, chiefly as I have no servant to send day by day to the office with the letters I receive. I feel embarrassed in having so often to request my adjutant Captain Frater to drive to the Strand. The complaint of Mr. Motherwell is easily redressed – but that of Professor Newman is of a very serious nature, very nearly implying to me in a material point of view a failure – after all the English public is not to be got out of the beaten track. Newspapers through newsvendors that is their way. I send you all the letters I got this morning, and request you to read them and to answer.” ********** While still in his early twenties, Kossuth became a deputy in the Hungarian Diet where he regularly wrote letters to his superior of such high quality that they circulated in manuscript among political liberals. Soon he was editing his own gazette and despite the Austrian Empire’s efforts to censor and prevent circulation of his writings, his fame and influence grew. In March of 1848, upon hearing the news of the Paris Revolution, Kossuth made a powerful speech at the Diet, which catapulted him into the leadership position of the nascent Hungarian Revolution. He became the de facto dictator of Hungary, but upon the rebellion’s failure, fled to Turkey in April 1849. ********** In September 1851, with Congressional approval, Kossuth boarded a U.S. Naval frigate in Izmir, Turkey, bound for America. When Napoleon III refused him permission to travel through France to reach England, he protested and left the vessel at Gibraltar. Landing at Southampton on October 23, Kossuth remained in England for three weeks, at which time he was feted by leading British politicians and created amongst the public “Kossuth mania.” The Times criticized the craze prompting public burnings of the newspaper. Kossuth’s visit even had repercussions for the British government when Secretary of State Lord Palmerston’s sympathy for Kossuth, in the face of Queen Victoria’s expressed displeasure, led to the collapse of Prime Minister Russell’s government. ********** After continuing to the United States, where Kossuth was portrayed as a Hungarian George Washington, he captured the imagination of the people, but was unable to obtain official U.S. government support. However, he became only the second foreign citizen to address a joint session of Congress, was welcomed with great fanfare at the White House and at a congressional banquet, and embraced by crowds of enthusiastic Americans. In 1852, he returned to England, where he spent the next eight years attempting to lead the Hungarian independence movement in exile through speeches and published works. ********** Despite a new Hungarian regime that offered him amnesty and his election in absentia to the Diet in 1867, Kossuth never reconciled himself to the new government and did not take his seat. All of his manoeuvers and plans eventually came to naught, and his involvement with Hungary’s history remains a controversial subject. His popularity, however, is evident in the towns and streets across the world named in his honor and the monuments that celebrate his bravery, including those erected in Budapest and New York City. ********** Our letter likely refers to eccentric scholar, polymath and writer Francis William Newman (1805-1897), brother of Cardinal Newman, known for his meditations on faith: The Soul, her Sorrows and Aspirations and Phases of Faith, or Passages from the History of my Creed. His works are quoted in Karl Marx’s “Lectures on Political Economy.” In 1853, Newman edited Select Speeches of Kossuth, published by Trübner & Co. ********** Written on the recto and verso. Folded with a tiny file hole in the upper left corner. Irregular left edge and in very good condition.