30 MARCH 1861, Page 14


FOB some time past M. Louis Kossuth has been striking notes in London intended to circulate in Hungary as money. They are promissory notes, bearing the royal arms of Hungary, and payable in the event of the restoration of Hungarian independence. Count Rudolph Apponyi, the Austrian Ambassador, complained of the publication of such notes in a friendly State, and was told,-of course, that the law was open to the Austrian Government as to all other foreigners. The Count unexpectedly resolved to profit by the advice, and applied to the Court of Chancery for an in- junction to restrain M. Kossuth and his printers, Messrs. Day and Co., from issuing the notes. As a matter of course, M. Kossuth appealed to the liberal sympathies of English- men, and in his affidavit filed on Monday, he raises the whole question pf the legal status of Hungary and its King. The press generally has endorsed his defence, and if the case were about to go before a jury, there could scarcely be a doubt of his triumphant acquittal.

There are, however, we think, just grounds to doubt whether M. Kossuth's arguments are either legally or morally quite so tenable as the enemies of Austria would have Englishmen believe.

M. Kossuth argues in his affidavit not only that he has a right to strike the notes, but that the Emperor of Austria has no locus standi when complaining of such an act. The last King of Hungary, he contends, was Ferdinand V., and since his abdication there has "been no legal King of Hun- gary." He himself, as legally appointed Governor of the kingdom, has a right to issue notes payable by the kingdom. As to the royal arms, no such arms exist, or ever have existed, and the right to the guardianship of the crown, the most important portion of the arms, is inherent in all the nobles of Hungary, of whom defendant is notoriously one. He further alleges that the notes are not "spurious," inas- much as they will not be issued until the restoration of the legal system renders them once more of full value, and legal force. The argument is acute, but some of its steps must have been prepared for men totally ignorant of the history of the last two decades. It is quite possible that by the law of Hungary Francis Joseph is not legally King, but in that case neither has Ferdinand V. legally ceased to be King. The constant allegation of the Hungarians is that Ferdinand has never abdicated the throne, and, therefore, if M. Kossuth's view of history is correct, the right to issue notes rests not with himself, but with the poor old man at Prague, whom he styles the last King of Hungary. As to the Governorship, before that claim can be admitted, M. Kossuth must prove that he never resigned his trust into the hands of Gorgei, who used it to fling away the magnificent position M. Kossuth had acquired. The mystic rights of Hungarian nobles form a subject too recondite for ordinary pens, but it has yet to be proved that the privileges which appertain—if they do appertain—to the whole body of the Hungarian nobility, can be employed by their single representative while exiled from his country.

In truth, however, the whole discussion is simply a clever political debate. We are not yet reduced to the condition in which a court can exercise the highest functions of the monarchy. A jury is irresponsible, but no court in Eng- land would decide that a sovereign recognized by the esta- blished Government had no existence in law. If Ferdinand V.

be still King, his son is, in his own imbecility, his legal re- presentative, and if not, the plaintiff is the only King recog- nized by Great Britain, and enjoying as such a status in her courts. The second argument is we imagine, much stronger, so strong that the court will probably refuse the injunction. It amounts to this, that the paper being valuable only in a contingency which may never occur, is not a note within any legal meaning of the term, and may be issued like any other indifferent print a publisher may choose to engrave. M. Kossuth, however, pushes his defence far beyond the admission of his technical or legal innocence. He obviously expects not only the acquittal, but the sympathy of all Eng- lishmen in his efforts to strike a blow of any kind at the power of Austria in Hungary. We do not know that he is mistaken in that anticipation. So strono-b is the sentiment of hostility to Austria, so keen the sympathy with the past wrongs of Hungary, so high, we may add, the popular ad- miration for his personal character and achievements, that almost any political act would be forgiven to M. Kossuth. Exiles unjustly exiled are -not expected to be either very temperate or very discreet in their efforts for restoration. But personal sympathy is not to blind us to the fact that M.

Kossuth, in issuing these notes, is performing the one act which no refugee has any right to perform, viz. making Wieland the basis of operations the Government which shelters him can only condemn. England, which protects everybody from political persecution, has a right to expect that those who benefit by her protection shall not thwart her clear interests or visible policy. Apart from all technical subtleties, M. Kossuth will not deny that his object in striking these notes is to accelerate, pro tanto, the downfal of the House which has oppressed him, and which is, for reasons higher than the interests of any individual, still an English ally. That it is so considered in Austria is evident from the action of the Ambassador. Indeed, the fact is patent, the mere existence of the notes interesting every one who holds—or under M. Kossuth's explanation of their origin ought to hold—them, in raising them to their original value. The issue is a direct encouragement to revolution in Austria, an event which all English statesmen dread as the beginning of calamities, and which one who accepts the hospitality of Great Britain has no right to accelerate. Suppose the Comte de Paris to issue notes payable on the downfal of the Napoleon dynasty, we fancy Government would very speedily find means to prevent tile operation; and no man who believes that an alliance should either be honest or brought to a termination would cavil at that exercise of power. We have every sympathy for Hungary, but M. Kossuth has no right, by the exercise of Hungarian powers in England, to embroil the home he has chosen with one of its permanent allies.