From An Claidheamh Soluis, November 26, 1904.
We do not know that there has been published in Ireland in our time any book in English more important than “The Resurrection of Hungary.” It may look absurd to write thus of a penny pamphlet, but we are weighing our words. “The Resurrection of Hungary” marks an epoch, because it crystalises into a national policy the doctrines which during the past ten years have been preached in Ireland by the apostles of the Irish Ireland movement. That movement originated with the foundation of the Gaelic League; the Gaelic League continues, and must always continue, to be the soul and nerve-centre of the movement; but the movement is wider than the Gaelic League. There are departments of national life with which the League voluntarily precludes itself from dealing. Now, the pamphlet before us concerns itself with the whole national life, and more especially with political nationality. It enunciates with regard to political nationality the truth which the Gaelic League enunciates with regard to spiritual nationality; that the centre of gravity of a nation must be within the nation itself. Its main argument is thus not one which can legitimately be discussed in the columns of AN CLAIDHEAMH SOLUIS. We must content ourselves with recommending every member of the Gaelic League to buy the pamphlet and to study it for himself. Here we can refer only to points which come within our own special sphere.
Perhaps the fact which most clearly stands out in the story of a national revival so brilliantly told in this pamphlet is that the revival had its beginning in a language movement. Nay, it is insisted on that the revival would have been impossible only for the fact that the spirit of traditional Hungarian nationality preserved a continuous existence in the ballad-making of certain poets and dreamers who refused to believe that Hungary was dead, and who sang in Hungarian of her coming triumph. The movement of revival which eventuated in the creation of a free and prosperous and renowned kingdom commenced with the language and industrial propaganda of Szechenyi.
Szechenyi’s position from 1825 up to the rise of Deak and Kossuth corresponds almost exactly to the position of the Gaelic League.
“Revive your language, educate yourselves, build you agriculture and your industries,” this was the basis of his teaching … He laboured unceasingly to implant love of country in his people’s hearts – to improve their intellectual and industrial condition. His busy brain was ever devising new schemes to benefit the country, his iron will surmounting the obstacles that barred their path, his steady hand pointing the way to their realisation. He strove to unite the nation – peasant and noble – in a common brotherhood of affection and awaken them to a recognition that the interests of one were the interests of all – to make them realise that whether they were gentle or simple they were first of all Hungarians.”
The parallel is even closer:
“As Szechenyi, a non-Hungarian, speaking Hungarian, realised the value of the language which had come in Hungary in those days, as it is in Ireland in modern times, to be deemed a lingua rustica – so non-Irish-speaking Irishmen in our time have realised the value of the Irish language and thrilled it again with life. Szechenyi throughout his life could never speak Hungarian without an effort or without an Austrian accent – some of his lieutenants in the revival could never speak three sentences of it – but they taught all Hungary to be proud of it, and taught all young Hungary to speak it, so that to-day the Hungarian language is the only language of millions in Hungary whose fathers and grandfathers spoke no word of it.”
The early pages of the pamphlet tell the fascinating story of how, under Szechenyi’s leadership, Hungary waxed hopeful and strong and enterprising and progressive and creative; how a National Academy arose, a national Press sprang up, a national literature, destined before the end of the century to become one of the most vigorous and original literatures of Europe, commenced to grow. Students who would wish to follow the fortunes of the Hungarian language movement in greater detail are referred to the lecture on “The Need of an Irish Academy,” which was recently delivered in Liverpool by Dr. Kuno Meyer, and which we have been so fortunate as to secure for publication in AN CLAIDHEAMH SOLUIS. Dr. Meyer, who has just returned from a long visit to Hungary, works out the parallel between the two countries in the most interesting fashion. The moral of the whole story is that the Hungarian language revival of 1825 laid the foundation of the great, strong, and progressive Hungarian nation of 1904. And so shall it fall out in Ireland.