FROM A SPEECH DELIVERED IN BOSTON, ON THE 7TH OF NOVEMBER, 1849, AT A FESTIVAL OF THE NATIVES OF NEW HAMPSHIRE ESTABLISHED IN MASSACHUSETTS.
WE have all had our sympathies much enlisted in the Hungarian effort for liberty. We have all wept at its failure. We thought we saw a more rational hope of establishing free government in Hungary than in any other part of Europe, where the question has been in agitation within the last twelve months. But despotic power from abroad intervened to suppress that hope.
And, Gentlemen, what will come of it I do not know. For my part, at this moment, I feel more indignant at recent events connected with Hungary than at all those which passed in her struggle for liberty. I see that the Emperor of Russia demands of Turkey that the noble Kossuth and his companions shall be given up, to be dealt with at his pleasure. And I see that this demand is made in derision of the established law of nations. Gentlemen, there is something on earth greater than arbitrary or despotic power. The lightning has its power, and the whirlwind has its power, and the earthquake has its power; but there is something among men more capable of shaking despotic thrones than lightning, whirlwind, or earthquake, and that is, the excited and aroused indignation of the whole civilized world. Gentlemen, the Emperor of Russia holds himself to be bound by the law of nations, from the fact that he negotiates with civilized nations, and that he forms alliances and treaties with them. He professes, in fact, to live in a civilized age, and to govern an enlightened nation. I say, that if, under these circumstances, he shall perpetrate so great a violation of national law as to seize these Hungarians and to execute them, he will stand as a criminal and malefactor in the view of the public law of the world. The whole world will be the tribunal to try him, and he must appear before it, and hold up his hand, and plead, and abide its judgment.
The Emperor of Russia is the supreme lawgiver in his own country, and, for aught I know, the executor of that law also. But, thanks be to God, he is not the supreme lawgiver or executor of national law, and every offence against that is an offence against the rights of the civilized world. If he breaks that law in the case of Turkey, or any other case, the whole world has a right to call him out, and to demand his punishment.
Our rights as a nation, like those of other nations, are held under the sanction of national law; a law which becomes more important from day to day; a law which none, who profess to agree to it, are at liberty to violate. Nor let him imagine, nor let any one imagine, that mere force can subdue the general sentiment of mankind. It is much more likely to diffuse that sentiment. and to destroy the power which he most desires to establish and secure.