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ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT OF A YOUNG AMERICAN IN HUNGARY, BY THE
OFFICIALS OF AUSTRIA.
Just after the great struggle of the Hungarian nation for independence had closed so disastrously, and a wail of sorrow was ascending from all the land, an American traveler entered their country to learn by personal intercourse, more of this unfortunate people. Charles Loring Brace was a young man of education, then in Europe to engraft upon the solid structure of scholastic culture, the graces of the varied knowledge that travel brings. He found in Hungary all which, as a republican, he had longed to see on the continenta nation educated practically for freedom, passionately loving it, ready to peril all to gain it--a nation, too, of singularly generous and manly character.” No American gentlemen before had ever been known to have mingled in their social life, and all that had come to us respecting that distant people was as uncertain and unreliable as the coloring of romance. His book, "Hungary in 1851" is a beautifully written tribute to the virtues of a people of such pride of nationality that no stronger indignation at an unworthy proposal can be expressed than in the simple utterance—“I AM A HUNGARIAN !"
Mr. Brace entered Hungary in the spring, and at once penetrated to the heart of the country. It was just after the first band of exiles under Gov. ernor Ujhazy, had reached America, and he found the few acts of kindness from his countrymen to those unfortunate nen keenly appreciated. Wherever it was known that he was an American, he was welcomed with a passionate fervor that showed the intense feeling of those people. sider your countrymen," said they, " as our friends; you have given us your sympathy and aid, and the time will never come when our homes will not be open to you.” He relates a touching instance of this appreciation which occurred at a large and refined dinner company: “We had been chatting pleasantly at the meal," says he, " when suddenly the host arose-made courteous and dignified' old man, with head whitened, and forehead furrowed by the sufferings of himself and his family, in the Hungarian cause, and proposed the health of their American guest,' and accompanied it with a speech; I cannot remember it exactly, but he spoke in deep, feeling tones of the degradation of their country--of how much they had hoped for her, and how much was lost--of the gloomy future for them and their children, for years to come. Then he alluded to the exiles-- Sir,' said he, 'when our countrymen were beggared and homeless, you Americans sheltered them-you have opened your houses to them--you have given them money and land-and most of all, you have remembered that they were sufferers in the same cause with you—you have given them your sympathy. May God bless you and your country for this! I am but an humble Hungarian, but tell your countrymen from me, that if there is any man in this land who will not open his hearth and home, and all he has to the American stranger, he is not worthy to be called a Hungarian !'
It was the very company which you would expect not to show any signs of feeling; polite, accomplished, nearly all people of the world. Yet, whether it was the appearance and tones of the old man, which seemed to speak of the nameless sufferings that had beaten over him; or whether it was tho thought of the unhappy fortunes of their country and of the homeless exiles, I could not avoid noticing, in the solemn stillness after the speech, that tears were coursing down many a cheek. When would ever an Anglo-Saxon dinner-party, gentle or simple, allow itself to be caught away into such an indulgence of feeling ?"
On another occasion, while examining the buildings of the university at Debreczin in Inner Hungary, he was invited into one of the halls where the students were about to sing some national songs. The enthusiasm with which he was received must have been exceedingly gratifying to him, especially as he had but recently graduated at one of our universities--Yale. But here is his story:
“I followed them, and quite unexpectedly found myself in a large coneert-hall, before a crowd of people, who welcomed me with an Eljen ! [hurrah!] which made the walls ring again. At the other end of the room was a full choir of students. It appeared my friends wished to give me a little pleasant surprise, and had prepared this concert of the Hungarian music for the purpose. The choir, composed of men and boys, was remarkably well trained ; and they evidently sang with an excitement and interest unusual.
The songs were mostly of Hungary—her beauty and glory, their love and devotion to her, and, with the plaintive tone, peculiar to Hungarian music, seemed darkly forboding future calamity to her. Without doubt, the presence of one from that nation who had welcomed the Hungarian exiles, and had alone sympathized with her cause, gave a reality to their expressions of feeling, which nothing otherwise could. And, as the deep voices swelled and thrilled over the words which spoke of their beautiful Fatherland, their love unquenchable for her, their “hopes with her to die, I could scarcely restrain my tears. I seemed to be listening to the Jews singing 'the songs of Zion in a strange land. And at length as the chorus of their fa
Zu deinem Vaterland bleib
* To thy country remain
arose, and swelled, and was echoed again and again, with passionate tone and tearful eye, from every man and child in the room, it seemed to me that they, in this time of their country's gloom and misfortune, were sending forth by the stranger, to other lands, their vows of unshaken fidelity and love.
Nearly all the Hungarian airs open in a low, plaintive measure, and gradually increase in force and wildness as they go on. This plaintive tone through nearly all the Hungarian music, and even in the sound of the language, as it first strikes upon the ear of the stranger, is very remarkable. I have often sat listening in the drawing-rooms, to the songs or the conversation, and wondered whether there was not something ominous-propheticof the future of the nation, in this tone of sadness so peculiar to the Hungarian. It is very strange and interesting to the traveler, everywhere in Hungary, to observe how these national songs are remembered and sung. In many places they are forbidden, but the people will sing them. I remember that in one family I heard a young lady sing one of these songs with such an extreme enthusiasm, that I had apprehensions for a little while she was becoming insane.
Among the airs which I heard at this concert, some of the best were connected with the most unmeaning words. There is one celebrated air, with a singularly beautiful though somewhat monotonous refrain, beginning
• Hortobagy puzta
where the only idea which I could find conveyed was
Over the prairie
Blows the wind i'
The life on the puztas, or prairies, and the adventures and loves of the Csikosses, or half-wild cattle-drivers upon them, seemed to form one of the most favorite themes in these airs,
After the concert was over, I expressed my thanks, and turned to go out, when I found a long lane opened in the crowd, through which I passed, under vociferous Eljens, looking as meekly as a modest man could at such an unexpected reception."
In another place he says,
“I had received a beautiful note in English from a lady this morning, rcquesting me to call upon her, as she wished to know one of that noble nation who sheltered the exiles from Hungary'. I called and she addressed me at once in English. In the course of the conversation, with characteristic Hungarian eloquence of tone she burst forth, ‘Did you know it, sir ? We meant to have a republic like yours. Görgey was our Arnold. If it had not been for him, we should have been free. O, if you could have seen our armies as they marched through here! How proud they were, how hopeful and strong! And now they are gone! But they were ready, and no one feared to die for his country. And to think it was all for nothing!
The intense manner in which this lady expressed herself indicated but the depth of the national depression at their great misfortune.. It was shown in various ways.
"I have been in,” says Mr. Brace, "a most sensible and cultivated family, where all the ladies were dressed in black for their country, and where they wore small iron bracelets-almost as heavy as handcuffs--on their wrists, in memory of the solitary prisoners of Arad and Temeswer. I have seen, too, often in Hungary, bits of the BROOMS with which Haynau was beaten, brought over by some one, put up in handsome gold settings, and worn as pins by the ladies! And there is scarcely a family in the country without the little bracelets worked by the Hungarian prisoners, and marked with the first letters of the names of the Generals who were executed by the Austrians, in this way—'P. V. D. T. N. A. K. L. S.' --which can also be read, 'Panonnia Vergisst Deinen Tod Nie; Als Klager Leben Sie!' (Hungary forgets thy death never! As accusers they shall live !) It is a penal offense, by the way, wearing these now. It would be difficult for any one of the cool Anglo-Saxon blood to credit the instances I met with constantly here of this intensity of feeling, on political matters. It is well known that at the treacherous surrender at Világos, many of the private soldiers shot themselves through the brain in the bitterness of their despair. The number of cases of insanity after the Austrian victory, beginning with that of one of their most lamented and distinguished leaders, would be incredible. The almost dramatic coolness and bravery with which the Hungarians died on the scaffold and the gallows, after this late Revolution, would hardly be credible. There were several instances of insanity previous to the execution, but not a solitary one of fear during them. Many went forth before the file of soldiers, with a cigar in their mouth. One of the bravest of the thirteen generals shot at Arad, was reserved to the last, while, the others were executed. "I was always first in the attack,' said he, 'why am I last here? »»
Without further preliminaries we pass over to the circumstances of the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Brace. This occurred at the city of Gros Wardein, one of the great military stations for the Austrians in Hungary. On the day of his arrival he was taking dinner with a friend in the dining roorn of a hotel, when the latter, perhaps to show that he had an American as an acquaintance, asked Mr. Brace about Ujhazy's Hungarian colony in Iowa. The latter answered in a general way, and rather avoided conversation from a kind of mistrust of two men who sat at the table. The next day, in the midst of a pleasant conversation at a dinner party, he was interrupted by the entrance of a little gentleman in black followed by a gens d'arme. The small gentleman announced himself as the “Chief of Police,'' with a warrant for his arrest, and the examination of his papers, on the charge of his having “Proclamations!"
The gens d'arme first took him to the blouse of the friend with whom he was stopping, where he found a sentinel already stationed, and all his writing and books collected for the examination of the police. From the gens d'arme he learned that a warrant had been issued for him within six hours of his arrival, and that he had been searching for him from that time. The soldier finally drove him to an old castle outside of the city, used as a prison.
"As we rode through the heavy old arched gateway,” says Mr. Brace, "into the court within, I looked around curiously at the grim walls, and could not but feel a momentary heart-sinking, when I remembered how far I was from friend or aid, and how many a hopeful man had entered such a prison in the Austrian states, never to come forth again."
On his entrance the officer asked why he was there. “I have not the slightest idea,” he replied. “I suppose because I am an American.” The officer then thoroughly searched him, taking from him all his money, every scrap of paper, and leaving him only his watch and toothpick, and then he was conducted to a miserably lighted, dirty cell, in which was a common Honved, convicted of carrying a false pass, and a tailor imprisoned for possessing a concealed weapon. To his remonstrance against such quarters, the officer replied that it was according to orders, and that it would be "a part of his experience as a traveler," and then bade him Gute Nacht!
In a few moments a friendly voice called through the key-hole of the adjoining room, begging him, "not to be blue, for it was always hard at first.” Mr. Brace slept little that night. At one time he thought it all a mistake, and that he should be released the next day; then again, it seemed to him as if there was a deliberate intention to treat him as a common criminal, and he felt how completely he was in their power. His great consolation was that not the slightest word or writing of a treasonable character could be brought against him. The next day he was conducted by two soldiers with fixed bayonets to a court in the room below, comprising four military officers and a clerk, with eight soldiers as a guard. He was greeted politely, and a sharp, keen-eyed man commenced the examination in the bland way peculiar to Austrian officers ; ', and we add, so peculiar to crafty men the world over. He was first asked his name, that of his father, his profession, birth-place, etc. Connecticut, the name of his native state, occasioned some delay to the clerk in writing. To the inquiry, "what are your objects in Hungary ?" he frankly replied, " as a traveler to study the character and manners of the people, and to investigate the old political institutions of the country." But he found that he had erred in his candor, that he was in the presence of a heartless inquisitor who was determined to convict him of crime. "We do not believe you,” said he, “we know the sympathy of the Americans with the revolutionists here. You are the first that has ever been in the land. We can prove that you are in a wide conspiracy. We understand this route of travel and these many acquaintances. There is a wide complot here. I have been accustomed to trace plots for many years. I see your object. Speak out plainly and confess!” Mr. Brace was startled at such a perversion of justice ; but, putting on an indifferent face, he replied he did not believe he had any such proofs, and that he did not recollect a single acquaintance who had a relation in America.
Questions of the most. searching kind were put to him as to his acquaintance with the Hungarian emigrants. Luckily the name of Gen. Csetz was the only one of importance he recollected. He had met him at Hamburg, where he gave him a note of introduction to a friend in Hungary, a government officer, which, although it simply said, “the Herr Von Csetz introduces Mr. Brace to his friend Mr. S. of Pesth,” was pounced upon by the examining Major or Auditor with the greatest avidity, who asserted that some plot was hidden under this introduction, and that his only hope was in confession. Mr. Brace smiled at this perversion; but he was far from easy. He felt as if he was getting entangled in meshes from which he could not escape, that the auditor might have suborned witnesses against him, and he remembered how utterly helpless he was. The memory of all the terrible stories he had read of Spanish Inquisitions came over him, but it was only for a moment, and he prepared to meet the examination carefully and manfully.
It appeared that he had seen Ujhazy in the streets of New York, and although he had never spoken to him, the auditor returned to the subject again and again, urging him to speak out, openly and frankly. your agreement with Ujhazy, and where are your letters from him ?» The auditor would take no denial, until Mr. Brace closed the subject by a continued reiteration, asked him for his proofs, and ended by declaring, “if he knew him, and every Hungarian emigrant in America, it was no evidence of conspiracy."
In Mr. Brace's luggage was found a pamphlet printed in 1848, called
" What is