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Title: Round About the Carpathians
Author: Crosse, Andrew F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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ROUND ABOUT THE
CARPATHIANS


BY

ANDREW F. CROSSE

FELLOW OF THE CHEMICAL SOCIETY


WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
   EDINBURGH AND LONDON
      MDCCCLXXVIII

_The Right of translation is reserved_


MUIR AND PATERSON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.



CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE

CHAPTER I.

Down the Danube from Buda-Pest--Amusements on board the
steamer--Basiash--Drive to Oravicza by Weisskirchen--Ladies of
Oravicza--Gipsy music--Finding an old school-fellow--The
_czardas_.                                                             1


CHAPTER II.

Consequences of trying to buy a horse--An expedition into
Servia--Fine scenery--The peasants of New Moldova--Szechenyi
road--Geology of the defile of Kasan--Crossing the
Danube--Milanovacz--Drive to Maidenpek--Fearful storm in the
mountains--Miserable quarters for the night--Extent of this
storm--The disastrous effects of the same storm at
Buda-Pest--Great loss of life.                                        15


CHAPTER III.

Maidenpek--Well-to-do condition of Servians--Lady Mary Wortley
Montague's journey through Servia--Troubles in
Bulgaria--Communists at Negotin--Copper mines--Forest
ride--Robbers on the road--Kucainia--Belo-breska--Across the
Danube--Detention at customhouse--Weisskirchen--Sleeping
Wallacks.                                                             33


CHAPTER IV.

Variety of races in Hungary--Wallacks or
Roumains--Statistics--Savage outbreak of the Wallacks in former
years--Panslavic ideas--Roumanians and their origin--Priests of
the Greek Church--Destruction of forests--Spirit of
Communism--Incendiary fires.                                          46


CHAPTER V.

Paraffine-works in Oravicza--Gold mine--Coal mines at
Auima-Steirdorf--Geology--States Railway Company's
mines--Bribery                                                        54


CHAPTER VI.

Mineral wealth of the Banat--Wild ride to Dognacska--Equipment
for a riding tour--An afternoon nap and its consequences--Copper
mines--Self-help--Rare insects--Moravicza--Rare
minerals--Deutsch Bogsan--Reschitza                                   58


CHAPTER VII.

Election at Oravicza--Officialism--Reforms--Society--Ride to
Szaszka--Fine views--Drenkova--Character of the
Serbs--Svenica--Rough night walk through the forest                   70


CHAPTER VIII.

Hospitable welcome at Uibanya--Excursion to the Servian side of
the Danube--Ascent of the Stierberg--Bivouac in the
woods--Magnificent views towards the Balkans--Fourteen eagles
disturbed--Wallack dance                                              83


CHAPTER IX.

A hunting expedition proposed--Drive from Uibanya to
Orsova--Oriental aspect of the market-place--Cserna
Valley--Hercules-Bad, Mehadia--Post-office mistakes--Drive to
Karansebes--Rough customers _en route_--Lawlessness--Fair at
Karansebes--Podolian cattle--Ferocious dogs                           90


CHAPTER X.

Post-office at Karansebes--Good headquarters for a
sportsman--Preparations for a week in the mountains--The party
starting for the hunt--Adventures by the way--Fine
trees--Game--Hut in the forest--Beauty of the scenery in the
Southern Carpathians                                                 104


CHAPTER XI.

Chamois and bear hunting--First battue--Luxurious dinner 5000
feet above the sea-level--Storm in the night--Discomforts--The
bear's supper--The eagle's breakfast--Second and third day's
shooting--Baking a friend as a cure for fever--Striking
camp--View into Roumania                                             118


CHAPTER XII.

Back at Mehadia--Troubles about a carriage--An unexpected night
on the road--Return to Karansebes--On horseback through the Iron
Gate Pass--Varhely, the ancient capital of Dacia--Roman
remains--Beauty of the Hatszeg Valley                                131


CHAPTER XIII.

Hungarian hospitality--Wallack laziness--Fishing--"Settled
gipsies"--Anecdote--Old _régime_--Fire--Old Roman bath--The
avifauna of Transylvania--Fly-fishing                                140


CHAPTER XIV.

On horseback to Petrosèny--A new town--Valuable
coal-fields--Killing fish with dynamite and poison--Singular
manner of repairing roads--Hungarian patriotism--Story of
Hunyadi Janos--Intrusion of the Moslems into Europe                  152


CHAPTER XV.

Hunting for a guide--School statistics--Old times--Over the
mountains to Herrmannstadt--Night in the open--Nearly setting
the forest on fire--Orlat                                            160

CHAPTER XVI.

Herrmannstadt--Saxon immigrants--Museum--Places of interest in
the neighbourhood--The fortress-churches--Heltau--The Rothen
Thurm Pass--Turkish incursions                                       173


CHAPTER XVII.

Magyar intolerance of the German--Patriotic revival of the
Magyar language--Ride from Herrmannstadt to Kronstadt--The
village of Zeiden--Curious scene in church--Reformation in
Transylvania--Political bitterness between Saxons and Magyars in
1848                                                                 184


CHAPTER XVIII.

Political difficulties--Impatient criticism of
foreigners--Hungary has everything to do--Tenant-farmers
wanted--Wages                                                        195


CHAPTER XIX.

Want of progress amongst the Saxons--The
Burzenland--Kronstadt--Mixed character of its
inhabitants--Szeklers--General Bem's campaign                        199


CHAPTER XX.

The Tomöscher Pass--Projected railway from Kronstadt to
Bucharest--Visit to the cavalry barracks at Rosenau--Terzburg
Pass--Dr Daubeny on the extinct volcanoes of Hungary--Professor
Judd on mineral deposits                                             209


CHAPTER XXI.

A ride through Szeklerland--Warnings about robbers--Büksad--A
look at the sulphur deposits on Mount Büdos--A lonely lake--An
invitation to Tusnad                                                 219


CHAPTER XXII.

The baths of Tusnad--The state of affairs before
1848--Inequality of taxation--Reform--The existing land
laws--Communal property--Complete registration of titles to
estates--Question of entail                                          232


CHAPTER XXIII.

Fine scenery in Szeklerland--Csik Szent Marton--Absence of
inns--The Szekler's love of lawsuits--Csik Szereda--Hospitality
along the road--Wallack atrocities in 1848--The Wallacks not
Panslavists                                                          243


CHAPTER XXIV.

Ride to Szent Domokos--Difficulty about quarters--Interesting
host--Jewish question in Hungary--Taxation--Financial matters        252


CHAPTER XXV.

Copper mine of Balanbanya--Miners in the wine-shop--Ride to St
Miklos--Visit to an Armenian family--Capture of a robber--Cold
ride to the baths of Borsék                                          260


CHAPTER XXVI.

Moldavian frontier--Tölgyes--Excitement about robbers--Attempt
at extortion--A ride over the mountains--Return to St Miklos         275


CHAPTER XXVII.

Toplicza--Armenian hospitality--A bear-hunt--A ride over to the
frontier of Bukovina--Destruction of timber--Maladministration
of State property--An unpleasant night on the
mountain--Snowstorm                                                  282


CHAPTER XXVIII.

Visits at Transylvanian châteaux--Society--Dogs--Amusements at
Klausenburg--Magyar poets--Count Istvan Széchenyi--Baron
Eötvos--'The Village Notary'--Hungarian self-criticism--Literary
taste                                                                291


CHAPTER XXIX.

A visit at Schloss B------National characteristics--Robber
stories--Origin of the "poor lads"--Audacity of the
robbers--Anecdote of Deák and the housebreaker--Romantic story
of a robber chief                                                    302


CHAPTER XXX.

Return to Buda-Pest--All-Souls' Day--The cemetery--Secret burial
of Count Louis Batthyanyi--High rate of mortality at Buda-Pest       315


CHAPTER XXXI.

Skating--Death and funeral of Deák--Deák's policy--Uneasiness
about the rise of the Danube--Great excitement about
inundations--The capital in danger--Night scene on the
embankment--Firing the danger-signal--The great calamity averted     321


CHAPTER XXXII.

Results of the Danube inundations--State of things at
Baja--Terrible condition of New Pest--Injuries sustained by the
island garden of St. Marguerite--Charity organisation                335


CHAPTER XXXIII.

Expedition to the Marmaros Mountains--Railways in Hungary--The
train stopping for a rest--The Alföld--Shepherds of the
plain--Wild appearance of the Rusniacks--Slavs of Northern
Hungary--Marmaros Szigeth--Difficulty in slinging a hammock--The
Jews of Karasconfalu--Soda manufactory at Boeska--Romantic
scenery--Salt mines--Subterranean lake                               339


CHAPTER XXXIV.

The Tokay district--Visit at Schloss G------Wild-boar
hunting--Incidents of the chase                                      355


CHAPTER XXXV.

Tokay vineyards--The vine-grower's difficulties--Geology of the
Hegyalia--The Pope's compliment to the wine of Tállya--Towns of
the Hegyalia--Farming--System of wages at harvest--The different
sorts of Tokay wine                                                  364


_Map of the Banat and Transylvania with Mr Crosse's route._



ROUND ABOUT THE CARPATHIANS.



CHAPTER I.

     Down the Danube from Buda-Pest--Amusements on board the
     steamer--Basiash--Drive to Oravicza by Weisskirchen--Ladies of
     Oravicza--Gipsy music--Finding an old schoolfellow--The _czardas_.


One glorious morning in June 1875, I, with the true holiday feeling at
heart, for the world was all before me, stepped on board the Rustchuk
steamer at Buda-Pest, intending to go down the Danube as far as Basiash.

Your express traveller, whose aim it is to get to the other end of
everywhere in the shortest possible time, will take the train instead of
the boat to Basiash, and there catch up the steamer, saving fully twelve
hours on the way. This time the man in a hurry is not so far wrong; the
Danube between Buda-Pest and the defile of Kasan is almost devoid of
what the regular tourist would call respectable scenery. There are few
objects of interest, except the mighty river itself.

Now the steamer has its advantages over the train, for surely nowhere in
this locomotive world can a man more thoroughly enjoy "sweetly doing
nothing" than on board one of these river-boats. You are wafted swiftly
onward through pure air and sunshine; you have an armchair under the
awning; of course an amusing French novel; besides, truth to say, there
is plenty to amuse you on board. Once past Vienna, your moorings are cut
from the old familiar West; the costumes, the faces, the architecture,
and even the way of not doing things, have all a flavour of the East.

What a hotch-potch of races, so to speak, all in one boat, but ready to
do anything rather than pull together; even here, between stem and stern
of our Danube steamer, are Magyars, Germans, Servians, Croats,
Roumanians, Jews, and gipsies. They are all unsatisfied people with
aspirations; no two are agreed--everybody wants something else down
here, and how Heaven is to grant all the prayers of those who have the
grace to pray, or how otherwise to settle the Eastern Question, I will
not pretend to say.

Meanwhile the world amuses itself--I mean the microcosm on board the
steamer: people, ladies not excepted, play cards, drink coffee, and
smoke. There is a good opportunity of studying the latest Parisian
fashions, as worn by Roumanian belles; they know how to dress, do those
handsome girls from Bucharest.

When steam navigation was first established on the Danube, as long ago
as 1830, Prince Demidoff remarked, that "in making the Danube one of the
great commercial highways of the world, steam had united the East with
the West." It was a smart saying, but it was not a thing accomplished
when the Prince wrote his Travels, nor is it now; for though the "Danube
Steam Navigation Company" have been running their boats for nearly half
a century, they are in difficulties, "chiefly," says Mr Révy,[1] "from
the neglect of all river improvements between Vienna and Buda-Pest, and
between Basiash and Turn-Severin." He goes on to say that the dearest
interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy are involved in the
rectification of the course of the Danube, recommending a Royal
Commission to be appointed. Those who follow the course of the river may
see for themselves how little has been done, and how much remains to be
done before it can be safely reckoned one of the great commercial
highways of the world.

We had started from Buda-Pest on Monday morning at seven o'clock, and
arrived at Basiash at nine the following morning. We were fortunate in
not having been detained anywhere by shallow water, so often the cause
of delay by this route.

Up to the present time Basiash is the terminus of the railway; it is a
depôt for coal brought from the interior, and though not out of its
teens, is a place fast growing into importance.

As my object was to get to Oravicza in the Banat, I had done with the
steamboat, and intended taking the rail to my destination; but, in the
"general cussedness" of things, there turned out to be no train till the
evening. I did not at all enjoy the prospect of knocking about the whole
day amongst coal-sheds and unfinished houses, with the alternative
refuge of the inn, which was swarming with flies and redolent of many
evil smells; so I thought I would find some conveyance and drive over,
for the distance was not great. If there is anything I hate, it is
waiting the livelong day for a railway train.

There chanced to be an intelligent native close by who divined my
thoughts, for I had certainly not uttered them; he came up, touched me
on the arm, and pointed round the corner. Notwithstanding the intense
heat of the day, the Wallack, for such he was, wore an enormous
sheepskin cloak with the wool outside, as though ready for an Arctic
winter. I followed him a few steps to see what he wanted me to look at;
the movement was quite enough, he regarded it evidently in the light of
ready assent, and in the twinkling of an eye he possessed himself of my
portmanteau and other belongings, motioned me to follow him, which I
did, and then found that my Heaven-sent friend had a machine for hire.

I call it a machine, because it was not like anything on wheels I had
seen before: later on I became familiar enough with the carts of the
country; they are long-bodied, rough constructions, wonderfully adapted
to the uneven roads. In this case there were four horses abreast, which
sounds imposing, as any four-in-hand must always do.

I now asked the Wallack in German if he could drive me to Oravicza, for
I saw he had made up his mind to drive me somewhere. To my relief I
found he could speak German, at all events a few words. He replied he
could drive the "high and nobly born Excellency" there in four hours.
The time was one thing, but the charge was quite another affair. His
demand was so outrageous that I supposed it was an implied compliment to
my exalted rank: certainly it had no adequate reference to the services
offered. The fellow asked enough to buy the whole concern outright--cart
and four horses! They were the smallest horses I almost ever saw, and
were further reduced by the nearest shave of being absolute skeletons;
the narrow line between sustaining life and actual starvation must have
been nicely calculated.

We now entered upon the bargaining phase, a process which threatened to
last some time; all the stragglers in the place assisted at the
conference, taking a patriotic interest in their own countryman. The
matter was finally adjusted by the Wallack agreeing to take a sixth part
of the original sum.

Seated on a bundle of hay, with my things around me, I was now quite
ready for the start, but the driver had a great many last words with the
public, which the interest in our proceedings had gathered about us.
Presently with an air of triumph he took his seat, gave a loud crack or
two with his whip, and off we started at a good swinging trot, just to
show what his team could accomplish.

We took the road to Weisskirchen, leaving the Danube in the rear. The
country was fairly pretty, but nothing remarkable; fine scenery under
the circumstances would have been quite superfluous, for the dust was
two feet deep in the road, and the heels of four horses scampering along
raised such a cloud of it that we could see next to nothing.

We had not proceeded far when the speed sensibly relaxed; I fancy the
horses went slower that they might listen to what the driver had to say,
he talked to them the whole time. He was not communicative to me; his
knowledge of German seemed limited to the bargaining process, a lesson
often repeated, I suspect. As time wore on the heat became almost
tropical; as for the dust, I felt as if I had swallowed a sandbank, and
was joyful at the near prospect of quenching my thirst at Weisskirchen,
now visible in the distance.

Hungarian towns look like overgrown villages that have never made up
their minds seriously to become towns. The houses are mostly of one
story, standing each one alone, with the gable-end, blank and
windowless, towards the road. This is probably a relic of Orientalism.

Getting up full speed as we approached the town, we clattered noisily
over the crown of the causeway, and suddenly making a sharp turn, found
ourselves in the courtyard of the inn.

I inquired how long we were to remain here; "A small half-hour," was the
driver's answer. This was my first experience of a Wallack's idea of
time, if indeed they have any ideas on the subject beyond the rising and
the setting of the sun.

I strolled about the place, but there was not much to be done in the
time, and I got very tired of waiting: the "half-hour" was anything but
"small;" however, one must be somewhere, and in Hungary waiting comes a
good deal into the day's work. I was rather afraid my Wallack was
indulging too freely in _slivovitz_--otherwise plum-brandy--a special
weakness of theirs; but after an intolerable delay we got off at last.

Soon after leaving the town we came upon an encampment of gipsies; their
tents looked picturesque enough in the distance, but on nearer approach
the illusion was entirely dispelled. In appearance they were little
better than savages; children even of ten years of age, lean, mop-headed
creatures, were to be seen running about absolutely naked. As Mark Twain
said, "they wore nothing but a smile," but the smile was a grimace to
try to extract coppers from the traveller. Two miles farther on we came
upon fourteen carts of gipsies, as wild a crew as one could meet all the
world over. Some of the men struck me as handsome, but with a single
exception the women were terribly unkempt-looking creatures.

It was fully six o'clock before we reached Oravicza; the drive of
twenty-five miles had taken eight hours instead of four, as the Wallack
had profanely promised.

We entered the town with a feeble attempt at a trot, but the poor brutes
of horses were dead beat, and neither the pressure of public opinion nor
the suggestive cracking of the driver's whip could arouse them, to
becoming activity.

Oravicza is very prettily situated on rising ground, and the long
winding street, extending more than two miles, turns with the valley.
Crawling along against collar the whole way, I thought the street would
never end. There are very few Magyar inhabitants in this place, which is
pretty equally divided between Germans and Wallacks; the lower part of
the town belongs to the latter, and is known as Roman Oravicza, in
distinction to Deutsch Oravicza. The population is altogether about
seven thousand.

I fancy not many strangers pass this way, for never was a shy Englishman
so stared at as this dust-begrimmed traveller. I became painfully
self-conscious of the generally disreputable appearance of my cart and
horses, the driver and myself, when two remarkably pretty girls tripped
by, casting upon me well-bred but amused glances. All the womenkind of
Oravicza must have turned out at this particular hour, for I had hardly
passed the sisters with the arched eyebrows, when I came upon another
group of young ladies, who were laughing and talking together. I think
they grew merrier as I approached, and I am quite sure I was hotter than
I had been all day. "Confound the fellow! can't he turn into an
innyard--anywhere out of the main street?" thought I, giving my driver a
poke. He knew perfectly well where he was about to take me, and no
significant gestures of mine hastened him forward in the very least.
Presently, without any warning, we did turn into a side opening, but so
suddenly that the whole vehicle had a wrench, and the two hind wheels
jolted over a high kerbstone. Meanwhile the group of damsels were still
in close confab, and I could see took note that the stranger had
descended at the Krone. We were all in a heap in the courtyard, but we
had to extricate ourselves as best we could, for not a soul was to be
seen, though we had made noise enough certainly to announce our arrival.

I pulled repeatedly at the bell before I could rouse the _hausknecht_,
and induce him to make an appearance. At length he deigned to emerge
from the recesses of the dirty interior. Having discharged the Wallack
in a satisfied frame of mind (he had the best of the bargain after all),
I was at leisure to follow mine host to inspect the accommodation he had
to offer me. A sanitary commissioner would have condemned it, but _en
voyage comme en voyage_. With some difficulty and delay I procured water
enough to fill the pie-dish that did duty for the washing apparatus. I
had an old relative of extremely Low Church proclivities who was always
repeating--for my edification, I suppose--that "man is but dust;" the
dear old lady would have said so in very truth if she had seen me on
this occasion.

After supper I strolled into the summer theatre, a simple erection,
consisting of a stage at the end of a pretty, shady garden. Seats and
tables were placed under the lime-trees, and here the happy people of
Oravicza enjoy their amusements in the fresh air, drinking coffee and
eating ices. Think of the luxury of fresh air, O ye frequenters of
London theatres!

The evening was already advanced, the tables were well filled; groups
gathered here and there, sauntering under the greenery, gay with
lanterns; and many a blue-eyed maiden was there, with looks coquettish
yet demure, as German maidens are wont to appear.

A concert was going on, and I for the first time heard a gipsy band.
Music is an instinct with these Hungarian gipsies. They play by ear, and
with a marvellous precision, not surpassed by musicians who have been
subject to the most careful training. Their principal instruments are
the violin, the violoncello, and a sort of zither. The airs they play
are most frequently compositions of their own, and are in character
quite peculiar, though favourite pieces from Wagner and other composers
are also given by them with great effect. I heard on this occasion one
of the gipsy airs which made an indelible impression on my mind; it
seemed to me the thrilling utterance of a people's history. There was
the low wail of sorrow, of troubled passionate grief, stirring the heart
to restlessness, then the sense of turmoil and defeat; but upon this
breaks suddenly a wild burst of exultation, of rapturous joy--a triumph
achieved, which hurries you along with it in resistless sympathy. The
excitable Hungarians can literally become intoxicated with this
music--and no wonder. You cannot reason upon it, or explain it, but its
strains compel you to sensations of despair and joy, of exultation and
excitement, as though under the influence of some potent charm.

I strolled leisurely back to the inn, beneath the starlit heavens. The
outline of the mountains was clearly marked in the distance, and in the
foreground quaint gable-ends mixed themselves up with the shadows and
the trees--a pretty picture, prettier than anything one can see by the
light of "common day."

The following morning I set about making inquiries respecting the mines
which I knew existed in the neighbourhood of Oravicza. I found that an
English gentleman owned a gold mine in the immediate vicinity, and that
he was then living in the town. This induced me to go off at once to
call upon him, and I was immediately received in a very friendly manner.
This accidental meeting was rather curious, for on comparing notes we
found that we had been schoolfellows together at Westminster. H----
being my senior, we had not known each other well; but meeting here in
the wilds, we were as old familiar friends. H---- kindly insisted on my
leaving the inn and taking up my quarters with him in his bachelor
residence, which was in fact big enough to accommodate a whole form of
Westminster boys. I was not at all sorry to avoid a second night at the
Krone, and gladly fell into my friend's hospitable arrangements.

I was in great luck altogether, for that very evening a dance was to
come off at Oravicza, and my friend invited me to accompany him. Dancing
is one of the sins I compound for; moreover, I had a lively recollection
of the bright eyes I had encountered yesterday.

Oravicza is a central place, in a way the chief town of the Banat. It
has a pleasant little society, composed of the families of the
officials, and of the military stationed there; they are mostly German
by origin. Amongst the belles of the evening I soon discovered my merry
critics of yesterday. I was duly presented, and we laughed together over
my "first appearance." It was one of the pleasantest evenings I ever
remember. I hate long invitations to anything agreeable; this party, for
instance, had the charm of unexpectedness. If unfortunately I should
prove not quite good enough to go to heaven, I think it would be very
pleasant to stop at Oravicza--supposing, of course, that my friends all
stopped there as well.

Here I first danced the _czardas_; it is an epoch in a man's life, but
you must see it, feel it, dance it, and, above all, hear the gipsy music
that inspires it. This is the national dance of the Hungarians, favoured
by prince and peasant alike. The figures are very varied, and represent
the progress of a courtship where the lady is coy, and now retreats and
now advances; her partner manifests his despair, she yields her hand,
and then the couple whirl off together to the most entrancing tones of
wild music, such as St. Anthony himself could not have resisted.

[Footnote 1: The Danube at Buda-Pest. Report addressed to Count Andrassy
by J.J. Révy, C.E. 1876.]



CHAPTER II.

     Consequences of trying to buy a horse--An expedition into
     Servia--Fine scenery--The peasants of New Moldova--Szechenyi
     road--Geology of the defile of Kasan--Crossing the
     Danube--Milanovacz-Drive to Maidenpek--Fearful storm in the
     mountains--Miserable quarters for the night--Extent of this
     storm--The disastrous effects of the same storm at Buda-Pest--Great
     loss of life.


My friend H---- is the very impersonation of sound practical sense. The
next morning he coolly broke in upon my raptures over the beauty of the
Oravicza ladies by saying, "You want to buy a horse, don't you?"

Of course I did, but my thoughts were elsewhere at the moment, and with
some reluctance I took my hat and followed my friend to interview a
Wallack who had heard that I was a likely purchaser, and brought an
animal to show me. It would not do at all, arid we dismissed him.

A little later we went out into the town, and I thought there was a
horse-fair; I should think we met a dozen people at least who came up to
accost me on the subject of buying a horse. And such a collection of
animals!--wild colts from the Pustza that had never been ridden at all,
and other ancient specimens from I know not where, which could never be
ridden again--old, worn-out roadsters. There were two or three good
horses, but they were only fit for harness. I was so bothered every time
I put my nose out of doors by applications from persons anxious to part
with their property in horse-flesh, that I wished I had kept my
intentions locked in my own breast. I was pestered for days about this
business. There was an old Jew who came regularly to the house three
times a-day to tell me of some other paragon that he had found. When he
saw that it was really of no use, he then complained loudly that I had
wasted his precious time, that he had given up every other occupation
for the sake of finding me a horse. I dismissed this Jew, telling him
pretty sharply to go about his own business for once, adding that
nothing should induce me to buy a horse in Oravicza.

One day H---- informed me that he was going over to Servia on a matter
of business, and if I liked to accompany him, I should see something of
the country, and perhaps I might find there a horse to suit me. The
Servian horses are said to be a useful breed, strong though small, and
very enduring for a long march.

I was very ready for the expedition, so we hired a _leiterwagen_, which
is in fact a long cart with sides like a ladder, peculiarly suitable for
rough work. I was much surprised to find the Hungarians far less often
in the saddle than I expected; it is true, nobody walks, not even the
poorest peasant, but they drive, as a rule.

We started one fine July morning in our machine for Moldova on the
Danube. The first place we came to was Szaszka, a mining village. Close
by are copper mines and smelting-works belonging to the States Railway
Company. I was told that they do not pay as well as formerly, owing to
the fact that the ore now being worked is poorer than before; it yields
only two per cent. of copper, a very low average. Nothing could well
exceed the dirt of Szaszka; we merely stopped long enough to feed the
horses, and were glad to get off again.

On leaving this place the road immediately begins to ascend the
mountain, and may be described as a sort of pass over a spur of the
Carpathians. It was a very beautiful drive, favoured as we were, too,
with fine weather. The road on the northern side is even well made,
ascending in regular zigzags. After gaining the summit, we left the
post-road that we had hitherto traversed, and took our way to the right,
descending through a forest. The varied foliage was very lovely, and
the shade afforded us most grateful. It was an original notion driving
through such a place, for, according to my ideas, there was no road at
all; but H----, more accustomed to the country, declared it was not so
bad, at least he averred that there were other roads much worse. The
jolting we got over the ruts and stones exceeded anything in my previous
experience. How the cart kept itself together was a marvel to me, but it
accommodated itself by a kind of snakelike movement, not characteristic
of wheeled vehicles in general. Except for the honour and glory of
driving, I would as lief have walked, and I think have done the journey
nearly as soon; but my friend observed, "It was no good giving into bad
roads down in this part of the world."

At one of the worst turnings we met several bullock-carts filled with
iron pyrites from the copper-smelting. The custom of the drivers of
these carts is to stop at the bottom of a steep bit of hill, and then
put five or six pairs of oxen to draw up one cart. The process is a slow
one, but is better for the oxen. We had great difficulty in passing in
safety, for unluckily at the spot we met them the trees were so thick
that they literally walled up the road, and on the other side there
chanced to be a very uninviting precipice, and of course we had the
place of honour.

Soon after this little excitement was over we came upon a fine view of
the Danube, with a long stretch of Servian forests beyond. On we jolted,
till at length New Moldova was reached: this place has
smelting-furnaces, and in the neighbourhood are extensive copper mines.
The district is known as the Banat of Temesvar, an extensive area of the
most fertile land in Europe; rich black soil, capable of growing any
number of crops in succession without dressing. This part of Hungary
supplies the finest white flour, so much esteemed by the Vienna bakers,
and now sought after by the pastrycooks in England.

There was a fair going on at New Moldova, which afforded me an
opportunity of seeing the peasants in their gala dresses. The place is
renowned for its pretty Wallack girls, and I certainly can bear witness
that I saw not a few handsome faces. But what struck me most was the
graceful movements of these damsels: their manner of walking was the
very poetry of motion. I daresay it was the more striking to me because
I had recently come from England, where fashion condemns the wearers of
high-heeled shoes to a rickety waddle! Even here, in these wilds,
fashion maintains a despotic rule. I understand black hair is the thing
at present, so every Wallack maiden dyes her hair to the regulation
colour, though Nature, who never makes a mistake, may have matched her
complexion with auburn locks.

The costume is very pretty and peculiar; it consists of a loose chemise,
a short skirt of homespun, with a double apron front and back, formed of
a very deep thick fringe of various colours. This peculiar garment is
called an _obreska_; I think it has no counterpart in female fashions
elsewhere. When the under-garment is white and fresh the effect is very
good; but in the case of the very poor, if there are but scanty rags
beneath, then, to speak mildly, the fringe is an inefficient covering.
But to-day every damsel is in her best; and how jauntily she wears the
coloured scarf twisted round her head, which falls in graceful folds!
The Wallacks generally have their bare feet covered, not with boots, but
with thongs of leather, something in the form of a sandal. The Servian
women dress quite differently, wear tight-fitting garments, richly
embroidered when their means permit. The men also figure largely in
embroidery.

In the evening the peasants had a dance on the open space in front of
the _czarda_, or village inn. Of course we were there to look on. I
should observe that we had arranged to stay the night at Moldova, for
the afternoon had been taken up in visiting a large manufactory for
sulphuric acid in the neighbourhood. The dance which wound up the day's
amusements can be easily described. "Many a youth and many a maid" form
a wide circle with arms interlaced, they move round and round in a
marzurka step to the sound of music. It appeared to me rather slow and
monotonous. I do not know whether the figure breaks up, leaving each
couple more to their own devices; but we left them still revolving in a
circle.

The following morning we were off on our travels again. A short drive
took us to Old Moldova, a village within the Military Frontier,
regularly constructed, with guardhouse and other Government buildings,
facing the Danube. At this point begins the splendid road by the side of
the river, made by the Hungarian Government in 1840. It reaches as far
as Orsova, taking the left bank of the Danube. It would have been easier
to have followed Trajan's lead, and have made the road on the right
bank; but there were political reasons for deciding otherwise. The
Hungarian Government, as a matter of course, would only construct this
great work within their own territory: the other side of the river is
Servian. The engineering difficulties in making this road were very
great, but they have been everywhere overcome, and the result is a
splendid piece of work.

Arriving at the Danube, we took a steamboat that would land us in
Milanovacz in Servia. The scenery here is magnificent; we were now in
the defile of Kasan. The waters of the mighty river are contracted
within a narrow gorge, which in fact cleaves asunder the Carpathian
range for a space of more than fifty miles. The limestone rock forms a
precipitous wall on either side, rising in some places to an altitude of
more than two thousand feet sheer from the water's edge. The scenery of
this wonderful pass is very varied; the bare rock with its vertical
precipice gives place to a disturbed broken mass of cliff and scaur,
flung about in every sort of fantastic form, or towering aloft like the
ruined ramparts of some Titan's castle. Over all this a luxuriant
vegetation has thrown a veil of exceeding beauty.

The fact of the Danube forcing its way through the Carpathian chain in
this remarkable manner is a very interesting problem to the geologists,
and deserves more careful investigation at their hands than perhaps it
has yet received. They seem pretty well agreed in saying that there
must have been a time when the waters were bayed back, and when the vast
Hungarian plain was an inland sea or great lake.

Professor Hull, in a recent paper on the subject,[2] states the fact of
the plains of Hungary being "overspread by sands, gravels, and a kind of
mud called _loess_, or by alluvial deposits underlaid by fresh-water
limestones, which may be considered as having been formed beneath an
inland lake, during different periods of repletion or partial
exhaustion, dating downwards from the Miocene period."

The Professor goes on to say that "at intervals along the skirts of the
Carpathians, and in more central detached situations, volcanoes seem to
have been in active operation, vomiting forth masses of trachytic and
basaltic lava, which were sometimes mingled with the deposits forming
under the waters of the lakes. The connection of these great sheets of
water with these active volcanic eruptions in Hungary has been pointed
out by the late Dr. Daubeny. The gorge of Kasan, and the ridge about 700
feet above the present surface of the stream, appear to have once barred
the passage of the river. At this time the waters must have been pent
up several hundred feet above the present surface, and thus have been
thrown back on the plains of Hungary. It was only necessary that the
barrier should be cut through in order to lay dry these plains by
draining the lakes. This was probably effected by the ordinary process
of river excavation, and partly by the formation of underground channels
scooped out amongst the limestone rocks of the gorge. These two modes of
excavation acting together may have hastened the lowering of the channel
and the drainage of the plains above considerably; nevertheless the time
required for such a work must have been extended, and it would appear
that while the great inland lakes were being drained, the volcanic fires
were languishing, and ultimately became extinct. Hungary thus presents
us with phenomena analogous to those which are to be found in the
volcanic district of Central France." It is a significant fact that even
at the present day the waters of the Platten See and other lakes and
swamps are diminishing, showing that the draining process is still going
on.

The extent of the great lake of prehistoric times is forcibly brought
before us by the fact that the Alföld, or great plain of Hungary,
comprises an area of 37,400 square miles! Here is found the _Tiefland_,
or deep land, so wonderfully fertile that the cultivator need only
scratch the soil to prepare it for his crop.

As it only took us four hours by steamer to go from Alt Moldova to
Milanovacz, we calculated that we might reach Maidenpek, our destination
in Servia, the same day by borrowing a few hours from the night, as an
Irishman would say. However, it turned out that there was so much
bargaining and dawdling about at Milanovacz before we could settle on a
conveyance that we did not get away till six o'clock--too late a great
deal, considering the rough drive we had before us. Immediately after
starting we began to wind our way up the mountain. The views were
splendid. The Danube at this part again spreads out, having the
appearance of a lake something like the Rhine near Bingen. We looked
right over into Transylvania and Roumania from the commanding position
afforded by the terraced road up which we slowly toiled.

We had hardly gained the highest point when we remarked that the sky was
becoming rapidly overcast by clouds from the west. Our Servian driver
swore it would not rain; he knew the signs of the weather, he said, but
as he applied the whip and galloped his horses at every available
opportunity, it was clear he had an inner consciousness of coming
trouble. The road now led through a forest. Here and there a gap in the
thick foliage gave us a glimpse of the distant landscape, and of the
curious atmospheric effects produced by the coming storm. The clouds
rolled up behind us in dense masses, throwing the near mountains into
deep shadow, while the plain far beneath was flooded with bright
sunshine.

The effect, however, was transitory, for the dark shadow soon engulfed
the distant plain, blurring the fair scene even while we looked upon it.
The change was something marvellous, so sudden and so complete. Up to
this time the air had been still, and very hot; but suddenly a fierce
wind came upon us with a hoarse roar--almost like the waves of the
sea--up the valley and over the hill-top it came, right down upon us,
tearing at the forest-trees. The branches, in all the full foliage of
leafy June, swayed to and fro as the wind went roaring and shrieking
down the hillside; the next moment the earth shook with the clap of a
terrific burst of thunder.

The horses stood still and shuddered in their harness, and it was with
difficulty they were made to go on. It was evident the storm was right
over us, for now succeeded flash upon flash of forked lightning, with
thunder-claps that were instantaneous and unceasing.

At the same time the windows of heaven were opened upon us, or rather
the sluices of heaven it seemed to me; for the rain descended in sheets,
not streams, of water. Without any adventitious difficulties, the road
was as objectionable as a road could be; deep ruts alternated with now a
bare bit of rock strewn with treacherous loose stones, and now a sharp
curve with an ugly slant towards the precipice.

About half an hour after the storm first broke upon us it had become
night, indeed it was so dark that we could hardly see a pace in advance.
The repeated flashes of lightning helped us to make out our position
from time to time, and we trusted to the horses mainly to get us along
in the safe middle course. At moments when the heavens were lit up, I
could see the swaying branches of the fir-trees high above us battling
with the wind, for we were still in the forest. The sound of many waters
around on every side forcibly impressed us with the notion that we must
be washed away--a result not by any means improbable, for the road we
traversed was little better than a watercourse.

I have experienced storms in Norway, and in the Swiss and Austrian Alps,
but I never remember anything to equal this outburst of the elements.

To stop still or to go forward was almost equally difficult, but we
struggled on somehow at the rate, I should think, of a mile and a half
in the hour. The horses were thoroughly demoralised, as one says of
defeated troops, and stumbled recklessly at every obstacle. The driver
was a stupid fellow, without an ounce of pluck in his composition, and
declared more than once that he would not go on, preferring to stop
under such shelter as the trees afforded. We were of another mind, and
insisted on his pushing on. One of us walked at the horses' heads, and
thus we splashed and blundered on for three mortal hours, wishing all
the time that we had slept at Milanovacz. The route became so much worse
that I declared we must have missed the track. We were apparently in a
deep gully, traversed by a mountain torrent hardly a foot below the
level of our road; but the Servian said he knew we were "all right," and
that we should come directly to a house where we could get shelter.

He had hardly spoken when H---- descried some lights not very far ahead,
and in less than ten minutes we came alongside a good-sized hut, which
turned out to be the welcome wine-shop the driver had promised us. Here
was a roof anyhow, so we entered, hoping for supper and beds in the
wayside inn. All our host could produce was a very good bottle of
Servian "black" wine and some coarse bread of the country, so stale
that we could hardly break it. This wine, which is almost as black as
ink, comes from Negotin, lower down the Danube, and is rather a
celebrated vintage I was informed.

It was only in my untravelled mind that the idea of "beds" existed at
all. H---- knew better than to expect anything of the kind. All we could
do was to examine the place we were in with reference to passing the
night. The floor of the room consisted of hard stamped clay, which from
the drippings of our garments had become damp and slightly adhesive to
the tread. The furniture consisted of a few rough stools and three
tables. There was no question of any other apartment, there being only a
dark hole in the rear sacred to the family, into which every sense we
possessed forbade us to intrude. In peering about with the candles we
found that the floor was perfectly alive with insects--such strange
forms, awful in their strangeness--interesting, I daresay, to the
entomologist, but simply disgusting to one not given to collecting
specimens.

If I were dying I could not have laid myself down on that floor, so we
dragged the three tables together. They were provokingly uneven, but
with the aid of a sheepskin _bunda_, and our carpet-bags for pillows,
we contrived something upon which to rest our tired limbs. I should
observe we had partially dried ourselves by a miserable fire fed with
wet wood; in fact, everything was wet--our plaids were soaked, and were
useless as coverlets.

We had agreed to keep one candle burning, with the further precaution
that we should sleep and tie through the night; for it was a
cut-throat-looking place, and the countenance of the ordinary Servian is
not reassuring. It fell to my lot to have the first watch, and I lay
awake staring at the roof, no great height above us. Its dirt-stained
rafters were lit up by the candle, and I soon became aware that the
mainbody of the insects was performing a strategic movement highly
creditable to the attacking party--they dropped down upon us from the
beams! I will not pursue the subject farther, but as long as the candle
burned I did not sleep a wink. I suppose I must have dozed off towards
morning, for H---- roused me from a state of semi-unconsciousness, and
"up we got and shook our lugs."

The first thing I saw on pushing open the door was the steaming carcass
of a sheep hung just outside, with a pool of blood on the very
threshold! In many places in Eastern Europe they have the disgusting
habit of slaughtering the animals in the middle of the street.

As soon as we had swallowed a cup of hot coffee, which is always good in
this part of the world, we lost no time in clearing out of the wretched
hovel where we had passed the night. On every side there were traces of
last night's tempest--trees uprooted and lying across the road, walls
blown down, and watercourses overflowing. It came to my knowledge later
that we got part of the same storm that had fallen with such devastating
fury on Buda-Pest just twenty-four hours earlier.[3]

It is a fact worth noting that this storm affected a large area of
Europe, travelling north-west to south-east. A friend writing from the
neighbourhood of Dresden made mention of a severe storm on the 24th of
June; it broke upon Buda on the 26th, reaching us down in Servia on the
27th.

[Footnote 2: Hungary and the Lower Danube, by Professor Hull, F.R.S., in
Dublin University Magazine, March 1874.]

[Footnote 3: Extract of a private letter, dated Buda-Pest, June 28th,
from Mr Landor Crosse, which appeared in the 'Daily News,' July 6, 1875:
"We have had one of the most dreadful storms that has happened here in
the memory of man. I must tell you that on Saturday evening I was taking
my coffee and cigar in the beautiful gardens of the Isle St Marguerite,
opposite Buda-Pest, when a little after six o'clock a fearful hurricane
arose very suddenly, sweeping over us with terrific force. Branches of
trees were carried along like feathers. After this came a dreadful
thunderstorm, accompanied by rain and hail, the hail breaking windows
right and left, even those that were made of plate-glass. The hailstones
were on an average the size of walnuts, and some very much larger. Two
trees were struck by lightning within thirty yards of me. I had a narrow
escape, for these large trees were shattered, and the fragments
dispersed by the hurricane; it was an awful moment, and I shall never
forget it as long as I live.

"Yesterday I went over to the Buda side, where twenty houses have been
entirely washed away. Nearly the whole of the town is flooded, and every
street converted into a river five or six feet in depth. It is estimated
that more than two hundred people have been drowned.... On Sunday
morning I saw the Danube bearing swiftly away the terrible wreckage of
the storm. There were large articles of furniture, the bodies of men,
women, and children, together with horses and cows, all floating on the
whirling waters.... It rained a waterspout for nearly five hours, and in
consequence the small valleys leading down from the mountain were in
some places thirty feet deep, for a time, in rushing water.... The
tramways in some places are destroyed; the mountain railway wrecked; the
vineyards on the hillside simply ruined.... You will scarcely credit me
when I tell you that a house situated at the bottom of the valley and
near the railway station was literally battered in by a _drift_ of
hailstones. The doors and windows were burst in before the inmates could
escape, and they were actually buried alive in ice. When I saw the house
twenty-two hours afterwards it was still four feet deep in hailstones,
though they had been clearing them away with spades. Just as I got there
they recovered the body of a poor woman who had perished. From this
spot, and for about a mile up the valley, no less than fifty-seven
bodies were found."]



CHAPTER III.

     Maidenpek--Well-to-do condition of Servians--Lady Mary Wortley
     Montague's journey through Servia--Troubles in Bulgaria--Communists
     at Negotin--Copper mines--Forest ride--Robbers on the
     road--Kucainia--Belo-breska--Across the Danube--Detention at
     customhouse--Weisskirchen--Sleeping Wallacks.


We reached Maidenpek without further mishap, and here I began to make
inquiries again about a horse. I was informed that in some of the
villages farther up I should be sure to find the sort of horse I wanted,
and not sorry for an excuse for exploring the country, I agreed to go,
at the same time getting my friend to join me.

We hired some horses for the expedition, and set off, a party of four:
three Englishmen (for we had picked up a friend at Maidenpek) and a Serb
attendant, who was to act as our guide. He rode a small plucky horse,
being armed with a long Turkish gun slung over his shoulder, while his
belt was stuck full of strange-looking weapons, worthy of an
old-curiosity shop. We were mounted on serviceable little nags, and had
also our revolvers.

The ride was truly enjoyable. We soon left the road, and took our way
along a forest path in Indian file, our picturesque guide leading the
way. The path came to an end before long, and we then followed the
course of a little stream; but as it wound about in a most tortuous
manner we were obliged to be continually crossing and recrossing.
Sometimes we rode through a jungle of reeds, at least eight feet high;
then we had to scramble up a sandy bank. The horses were like cats, and
did their scrambling well; and at rare intervals we found ourselves on a
fair stretch of open lawn which fringes the dense forest. There were
bits here and there which reminded one of Devonshire, where the
luxuriant ferns dipped their waving plumes into the cool waters of the
rocky stream. In the forest, too, there were exquisite fairy-spots,
where, as Spenser says, is found "beauty enregistered in every nook."

After a time the way grew more wild in the character of the scenery, and
at length the route we took was so rough that we had to dismount and
lead our horses up the side of a steep hill. It was tiresome work, for
the heat was intense; but gaining the top, we were rewarded by a grand
view of the Balkan Mountains rising directly south. We ought to have
made out Widdin and a stretch of the Danube at Palanka; but the middle
of the day is the worst time for the details of a distant view.

Shortly after this we arrived at a small uncivilised-looking village.
The men were powerfully built in point of figure, and the women rather
handsome. Both sexes wear picturesque garments. This village, like many
others of the same kind, we found encircled by plum-orchards. Thousands
of barrels of dried plums are sent from Servia every year, not only to
Western Europe, but to America. Besides the consumption of the fruit in
its innocent form of prunes, it is made into the spirit called
_slivovitz_, the curse of Hungary and Roumania.

We made a halt at this village, and sent out a man to look up some
horses. He brought in several, but none of them were strong enough for
my purpose. It was then proposed that we should ride on to the next
village. Here we got dinner but no horses. The meal was very simple but
not unpalatable, finishing up with excellent Turkish coffee.

I am writing now of the _status quo ante bellum_, and I must say I was
struck with the well-to-do aspect of the peasants in Servia. By peasants
I mean the class answering to the German _bauer_. It is true they lack
many things that Western civilisation regards as necessaries; but have
they not had the Turks for their masters far into this century? Turning
over Lady Mary Wortley Montague's Letters,[4] there occurs the
following paragraph in her account of a journey through Servia in
1717:--

"We crossed the deserts of Servia, almost quite overgrown with wood,
through a country naturally fertile. The inhabitants are industrious;
but the oppression of the peasants is so great, they are forced to
abandon their houses, and neglect their tillage, all they have being a
prey to janissaries whenever they please to seize upon it. We had a
guard of five hundred of them, and I was almost in fears every day to
see their insolencies in the poor villages through which we passed.... I
was assured that the quantity of wine last vintage was so prodigious
that they were forced to dig holes in the earth to put it in. The
happiness of this plenty is scarcely perceived by the oppressed people.
I saw here [Nissa] a new occasion for my compassion. The wretches that
had provided twenty waggons for our baggage from Belgrade hither for a
certain hire being all sent back without payment, some of their horses
lamed, and others killed, without any satisfaction made for them. The
poor fellows came round the house weeping and tearing their hair and
beards in a most pitiable manner, without getting anything but drubs
from the insolent soldiers. I would have paid them the money out of my
own pocket with all my heart, but it would only have been giving so much
to the aga, who would have taken it from them without any remorse....
The villagers are so poor that only force would extort from them
necessary provisions. Indeed the janissaries had no mercy on their
poverty, killing all the poultry and sheep they could find, without
asking to whom they belonged, while the wretched owners durst not put in
their claim for fear of being beaten. When the pashas travel it is yet
worse. These oppressors are not content with eating all that is to be
eaten belonging to the peasants; after they have crammed themselves and
their numerous retinue, they have the impudence to exact what they call
_teeth-money_, a contribution for the use of their teeth, worn with
doing them the honour of devouring their meat."

This is a lively picture of Turkish rule a century and a half ago; it
helps us to understand the saying, "Where the Turk treads, no grass
grows."

The insurrection in Bulgaria had just broken out when I was in Servia: I
cannot say I heard it much talked of; we, none of us, knew then the
significance of the movement. But great uneasiness was felt in reference
to the wide spread of certain communistic doctrines. A disturbance was
stated to have taken place a few days before at Negotin. The foreign
owners of property expressed themselves very seriously alarmed about the
communistic propagandists who were going round the country. No one
seemed certain as to the course events would take.

However--to resume my own simple narrative--after dining in the little
village aforesaid, we set our faces again towards Maidenpek, returning
by another route, which afforded us some very romantic scenery. I
finished the difficulty about the horse by purchasing the one I had
ridden that day. He was smaller than I liked, but he had proved himself
strong and sure footed. I cannot say he was a beauty, but what can one
expect for seventeen ducats--about eight pounds English?

The second day of our stay at Maidenpek was principally devoted to
inspecting some copper mines belonging to an English company. They
appeared to be doing pretty well. We next arranged to ride over to
Kucainia, a place some twenty-five miles off. It was settled that we
were to start at seven o'clock in the morning, but a dense white fog
obliterated the outer world--we might have been on the verge of Nowhere.
It was more than two hours before the fog lifted sufficiently to enable
us to proceed. We went on our way some three miles when a drenching
shower came on, and we took shelter in the cavernous interior of an
enormous, half-ruined oak-tree. Natural decay and the pickaxes of the
woodman seeking fuel for his camp-fire had hollowed out a comfortable
retreat from the storm. Surrounding the tree was a bed of wild
strawberries, which helped to beguile the time. When at length the
clouds cleared away, we resumed our saddles with dry jackets. But, as it
turned out, the half-hour we spent under the tree lost us the chance of
some fun.

I must remark that our road lay the whole way through a majestic forest.
We were actually on the highroad to Belgrade, yet in many places it was
nothing more than a grass-drive with trees on either side. Looking some
way ahead when we found ourselves on a track of this kind, we observed
in the distance two men on horseback standing their horses in the middle
of the road, apparently waiting for some one to pass. One of the
fellows, armed with the usual long Turkish gun, seeing our approach,
came forward as if to meet us. We instinctively looked to our revolvers,
but as he came up we saw that the stranger on the black horse (he must
have been _once_ a splendid roadster) had no sinister intentions upon
us. It turned out that he was the pope from a neighbouring village. He
was in a great state of excitement, but shook hands with us all round
before uttering a word. He then told us that the diligence from Belgrade
had been stopped only half an hour ago by five brigands at the bottom of
the very hill we had just passed. The booty was by no means
insignificant. The robbers had made off with 7000 florins in gold; but
what seemed rather significant was the statement that though the driver
and the conductor of the diligence were both well armed, they had
offered but little or no resistance. They declared they were overpowered
by numbers. If there had been a shot fired we certainly must have heard
it.

Later we ascertained that the money belonged to the copper-mining
company at Maidenpek; the loss was not theirs, however, as the
Government would have to reimburse it. It was just like our ill-luck to
wait out of the shower; but for that delay we should have come in for
the affray. I have my doubts as to whether our assistance would have
been particularly welcome to the driver of the diligence. Robbery on the
highroad is a capital offence in Servia.[5]

Arriving at the next village, we found the whole place in a hubbub and
commotion. The men were arming and collecting horses. We went straight
to the post-office to hear the rights of the story; the facts were
mainly as I have related them. The excitement appeared to increase as
the crowd flocked in from the fields. Horses were being saddled, powder
served out, and arrangements made for a systematic battue of the
robbers. After amusing ourselves by watching the warlike preparations,
we rode on to Kucainia.

We were hospitably received by a fellow-countryman who is working the
mines there. We did justice to his capital dinner, and told our robber
story, which our host capped with the rumours of a communistic rising
down south.

After a short stay at Kucainia, we made arrangements for returning over
the Danube; but this time we proposed to strike the river at
Belo-breska, higher up than Milanovacz. We had dropped our other friend,
so H---- and I hired a light cart for the thirty miles to Belo-breska,
my new horse meanwhile being tied on behind, and so we jogged along. The
road was good, but, like the good people in Thackeray's novels, totally
uninteresting. We drove continually through fields of maize--I say
_through_ the fields, for there was no hedge or fence anywhere. The soil
appeared to be splendidly fertile and well cultivated.

Arrived at Belo-breska, our object was to get across the Danube, and
luckily we found a large flat-bottomed boat used for cattle. The owner
demanded a ducat (about nine shillings) for taking us across. I thought
it a monstrous charge, but the fellow had us in his power. I do not
think the Servians are much liked by those who have to do business with
them. From all I heard, Canning's lines about the sharp practice of some
nearer neighbours would apply very well to the Servians:--

    "In matters of commerce the fault of the Dutch
    Is giving too little, and asking too much."

No sooner had we landed on the Hungarian side of the river than up came
a customhouse official, who informed me that I must pay duty for my
horse. Of course, as a law-respecting Briton, I was ready enough to
comply; but the fellow could not tell me what the charge was, saying his
chief was absent, and might not be back for some hours.

This was exasperating to the last degree; the more so that it seemed so
stupid that the man left in charge could not consult a tariff of taxes,
or elicit from the villagers some information. He was stolidly
obstinate, and refused to let my horse go at any price, though I offered
him what H---- and I both thought a reasonable number of florins for the
horse-duty. In less than ten minutes I had worked myself into a rage--a
foolish thing to do with the thermometer at 96° in the shade; but H----
was provokingly calm, which irritated me still more. There is an old
French verse which, rendered into English, says--

    "Some of your griefs you have cured,
      And the sharpest you still have survived;
    But what torments of pain you endured
      From evils that never arrived!"

Now, a little patience would have saved me a useless ebullition of
temper. While I was still at white-heat up came the head official;
removing the cigar from his lips with Oriental dignity and deliberation,
he calmly answered my question, and having paid the money we went our
way.

Our design was now to get to Weisskirchen, and sleep there, that place
being the only decent quarters within reach. Our road was over the
mountains--a lonely pass of ill repute. Several persons had been stopped
and robbed in these parts quite recently. The Government had formerly a
small guardhouse at the top of the pass; but it has been deserted since
1867, when the district ceased to be maintained as the Military
Frontier. Since that time crime has been very much on the increase all
along the border-country. The lawlessness that is rampant at the
extremities of the kingdom shows a weakness in the Central Government
which is very reprehensible. But for this laxity on the borders, the
recent Szeckler conspiracy for making a raid on the Russian railway
could never have been projected.

We arrived all right at Weisskirchen, which was good-luck considering
the chances of an upset in the darkness, for night had overtaken us long
before our drive was half over. Thoroughly tired, we were glad enough to
draw up in the innyard, the same I had visited some weeks before; but
great was our disgust at being told that there was not a bed to be
had--every room was taken. We drove on to inn No. 2, where they had beds
but no supper. We were nearly starving, for we had had nothing to eat
since the morning, so back we had to go to No. 1 to procure supper. When
this important meal was finished, we had to make the return journey once
more. The streets were perfectly dark, and it was an affair of no small
difficulty to find our way. It happened to me that I stepped into
something soft and bumpy. I could not conceive what it was. I made a
long step forward, thinking to clear the obstacle, but I only stumbled
into another soft and bumpy thing. Was it a flock of sheep lying packed
together? The skins of the sheep were there, it is true, but as covering
for the forms of prostrate Wallacks. A lot of these fellows, wrapped in
their cloaks, were sleeping huddled together at the side of the street.
I found afterwards that this is a common practice with these people. The
wonderful _bunda_ is a cloak by day and a house by night.

[Footnote 4: Letters and Works, edited by Lord Wharncliffe, 1837, p.
351, 359.]

[Footnote 5: The robbers were subsequently taken and executed.]



CHAPTER IV.

     Variety of races in Hungary--Wallacks or
     Roumains--Statistics--Savage outbreak of the Wallacks in former
     years--Panslavic ideas--Roumanians and their origin--Priests of the
     Greek Church--Destruction of forests--Spirit of
     Communism--Incendiary fires.


The mixture of races in Hungary is a puzzle to any outsider. There is
the original substratum of Slavs, overlaid by Szeklers, Magyars, German
immigrants, Wallacks, Rusniacks, Jews, and gipsies. An old German writer
has quaintly described the characteristics of these various peoples in
the following manner:--

"To the great national kitchen the Magyar contributes bread, meat, and
wine; the Rusniack and Wallack, salt from the salt pits of Marmaros; the
Slavonian, bacon, for Slavonia furnishes the greatest number of fattened
pigs; the German gives potatoes and vegetables; the Italian, rice; the
Slovack, milk, cheese, and butter, besides table-linen, kitchen
utensils, and crockery ware; the Jew supplies the Hungarian with money;
and the gipsy furnishes the entertainment with music."

Coming to hard facts, the latest statistics of M. Keleti give 15,417,327
as the total population of Hungary. Of these 2,470,000 are Wallacks, who
since the nationality fever has set in desire to be called Roumains; and
if you say Roman at once, they will be still better pleased. They were
in old time the overflow of Wallachia, now forming part of the Roumanian
Principality. The first historical irruption of the Wallacks was about
the end of the fourteenth century, when they became a terrible pest to
the German settlers in Transylvania, dreaded by them as much as Turk or
Tartar. They burned and pillaged the lands and villages of the peaceful
dwellers in the Saxon settlement; but at length they had become so
numerous that the law took cognisance of their existence and reduced
them to a state of serfdom, from which they were not relieved till 1848.

A subject race has always its wrongs, and there is no doubt the haughty
Magyar nobles treated the Wallacks with great harshness and indignity.
It was the old story--good masters were kind to their serfs, but those
less fortunate had a bad time of it, what with forced labour and other
burdens. "A lord is a lord even in hell" is the saying of the peasants.

Mr Paget[6] tells the story of an old countess he met in Transylvania,
who used to lament that "times were sadly changed, peasants were no
longer so respectful as they used to be; she could remember walking to
church on the backs of the peasants, who knelt down in the mud to allow
her to pass over them without soiling her shoes. She could also
remember, though less partial to the recollection, a rising of the
peasantry, when nothing but the kindness with which her mother had
generally treated them saved her from the cruel death which many of her
neighbours met with."

The rising here mentioned took place in 1784, when two Wallacks named
Hora and Kloska were the leaders of a terrible onslaught upon the Magyar
nobles. The Vienna Government was accused on this occasion of being very
tardy in sending troops to quell the insurrection. It was the time when
the unpopular reforms of Joseph II. were so ill received by the Magyars,
and no good feeling subsisted between Hungary and the Central
Government.

But the most frightful outbreak of the Wallacks was, as we all know,
within living memory. You can hear from the lips of witnesses
descriptions of horrors committed not thirty years ago in Transylvania.
Entire villages were destroyed, whole families slaughtered, down to the
new-born infant.

The arms of the Wallacks were supplied by Austria, for whom they were
acting as a sort of militia at the time of Hungary's war of
independence. The Vienna Government has been very fond of playing off
the Wallacks and the Slavs against the Magyars: they have kept the pot
always simmering; if some fine day it boils over, they will have the fat
in the fire.

Of course in Southern Hungary one hears enough about the Panslavic
movement, and Panslavic ideas. "The idea of Panslavism had a purely
literary origin," observes Sir Gardiner Wilkinson in his book on
Dalmatia. "It was started by Kolla, a Protestant clergyman of the
Slavonic congregation at Pesth, who wished to establish a national
literature by circulating all works written in the various Slavonic
dialects.... The idea of an intellectual union of all these nations
naturally led to that of a political one; and the Slavonians seeing that
their numbers amounted to about one-third of the whole population of
Europe, and occupied more than half its territory, began to be sensible
that they might claim for themselves a position to which they had not
hitherto aspired."

But the Wallacks, or, as we will now call them, Roumains, are not Slavs
at all; they are utterly distinct in race, though they are
co-religionists with the Southern Slavs. "The Roumanians," says Mr
Freeman,[7] "speak neither Greek nor Turkish, neither Slave nor
Skipetar, but a dialect of Latin, a tongue akin not to any of their
neighbours, but to the tongues of Gaul, Italy, and Spain." He is
inclined to think these so-called Dacians are the surviving
representatives of the great Thracian race.

Who they were is, after all, not so important a question as what they
are, these two millions and a half of Roumains in Hungary. To put the
statistical figures in another way, Mr. Boner,[8] writing in 1865,
calculates that the Roumains, naturalised in Southern Hungary, number
596 out of every 1000 souls in Transylvania. The fecundity of the race
is remarkable, they threaten to overwhelm the Saxons, whose numbers, on
the other hand, are seriously on the decrease. They are also supplanting
the Magyars in _Southern_ Hungary.

I have myself seen villages which I was told had been exclusively
Magyar, but which are now as exclusively Roumain. It is even possible to
find churches where the service conducted in the Magyar tongue has
ceased to be understood by the congregation.

To meet a Roumain possessed even of the first rudiments of education is
an exception to the rule: even their priests are deplorably ignorant;
but when we find them in receipt of such a miserable stipend as 100
florins, indeed in some cases 30 florins a-year, it speaks for itself
that they belong to the poorest class. The Wallacks lead their lives
outside the pale of civilisation; they are without the wants and desires
of a settled life. Very naturally the manumission of the serfs in 1848
found them utterly unprepared for their political freedom. Neither by
nature or by tradition are they law-respecting; in fact, they are very
much the reverse.

The Roumain is a Communist pure and simple; the uneducated among them
know no other political creed. It is not that of the advanced school of
Communism, which deals with social theories, but a simple consistent
belief that, as they themselves express it, "what God makes grow belongs
to one and all alike." In this spirit he helps himself to the fruit in
his neighbour's garden when too lazy to cultivate the ground for
himself.

This child of nature is by instinct a nomadic shepherd and herdsman; he
hates forests, and will ruthlessly burn down the finest trees to make a
clearing for sheep-pastures. It is impossible to travel twenty miles in
the Southern Carpathians without encountering the terrible ravages
committed by these people in the beautiful woods that adorn the sides of
the mountains.

"The Wallacks find it too much trouble to fell the trees," says Mr
Boner. "They destroy systematically: one year the bark is stripped off,
the wood dries, and the year after it is fired.... In 1862, near
Toplitza, 23,000 _joch_ of forest were burned by the peasantry."

Judging from what I saw during my travels in Hungary in 1875-76, I
should say the evil described by Mr Boner ten years before has in no way
abated. The Wallacks pursue their ruthless destruction of the forests,
and the law seems powerless to arrest the mischief. At present there is
wood and enough, but the time will come when the country at large must
suffer from this reckless waste. There are about twenty-three million
acres of forest in Hungary, including almost the only oak-woods left in
Europe. The great proportion of the forest-land belongs to the State,
hence the supervision is less keen, and the depredations more readily
winked at. Riding one day with a Hungarian friend, I asked what would be
the probable cost of a wooden house then building on the verge of the
forest. My friend replied, laughing, "That depends on whether the
builder stole the wood himself, or only bought it of some one else who
had stolen it; he might possibly have purchased the wood from the real
owner, but that is not very probable. So you see I really cannot tell
you what the house will cost."

Incendiary fires are very common in Hungary. Here, again, the Wallacks
do their share of mischief. If they have a grudge against an active
magistrate or a thriving neighbour, his farmstead is set on fire, not
once, but many times probably. Added to this, the Wallack takes an
actual pleasure in wanton destruction. As an instance, an English
company who are working coal mines in the neighbourhood of Orsova have
been obliged within the last two years to relay their railway from the
mines to the Danube no less than three times, in consequence of the
Wallacks persistently destroying the permanent way and stealing the
rails.

Notwithstanding all this the Wallacks are not without their good points.
They become capital workmen under certain circumstances, and they
possess an amount of natural intelligence which promises better things
as the result of education. "Barring his weakness for tobacco and
spirits, the much-abused Wallack is a useful fellow to the sportsman and
the traveller," said a sporting friend of mine who visits Transylvania
nearly every autumn.

[Footnote 6: Hungary and Transylvania, 1839.]

[Footnote 7: 'Geographical Aspect of the Eastern Question,' Fortnightly
Review, January 1877.]

[Footnote 8: Transylvania: its Products and People.]



CHAPTER V.

     Paraffine-works in Oravicza--Gold mine--Coal mines at
     Auima-Steirdorf--Geology--States Railway Company's mines--Bribery.


The old copper and silver mines of Oravicza are now abandoned, but the
industrial activity of the place is kept up by the working of coal
mines, which have their depôt here. The States Railway Company are the
great owners of mines in this district. They confine their attention to
iron and coal. There are extensive paraffine-works in Oravicza; the
crude oil is distilled from the black shale of the Steirdorf coal,
yielding five per cent of petroleum. At Moldova, where we were recently,
the same company have large sulphuric acid works, employing as material
the iron pyrites of the old mines. Moldova had formerly the reputation
of producing the best copper in Europe, but the mines fell out of work,
I believe, in 1848.

An English gentleman is working a gold mine near Oravicza with some
success. Subsequent to my visit his people came upon what I think the
miners call a "pocket" of free gold. Bismuth is also raised, though not
in large quantities.

Wishing to see the coal mines at Steirdorf, I rode over the hills in
about four hours. As I left Oravicza in the early morning the view
appeared very striking. Looking back, I could see the little town
straggling along in the shadow of the deeply-cleft valley, while beyond
stretched the sunlit plain, level as a sea, rich with fields of ripe
corn. The mists still lingered around me in the mountains, rolling about
in the form of soft white masses of vapour, with here and there a
fringed edge of iridescence. The cool freshness of the morning and the
beauty of the varied scenery made the ride most enjoyable.

Arriving at Steirdorf, I spent some hours in visiting the ironworks,
blast-furnaces, coke-ovens, &c. The coal produced here is said to be the
best in Hungary. The output, I am told, is 150,000 tons; but only
one-third of this is sold, the rest being used by the States Railway
Company for their own ironworks, and for the locomotive engines of their
line.

Professor Ansted,[9] who made a professional visit to this part of the
country in 1862, remarks that "the iron is mined by horizontal drifts or
kennels into the side of the hills. The coal is mined by vertical
shafts. The ironstone is of the kind common to some parts of Scotland,
and known as blackband. There are as many as eight principal seams."

I had sent a man in advance from Oravicza to take my horse back, as I
intended returning by rail. This mountain railway between Oravicza and
Auima-Steirdorf is a remarkable piece of engineering work. In a distance
of about twenty miles it ascends 1100 feet, in some parts as much as one
foot in five. They have very powerful engines and a cogwheel
arrangement, the line making a zigzag up the mountain-side. The effect
is very curious in descending to see another train below you creeping
uphill, now at one angle, now at another.

Considering the expensive nature of the works, and the paucity of
passengers, I almost wonder that the States Railway Company did more
than construct a narrow gauge for the mineral traffic. This company, I
believe, is of Austrian origin, assisted by French capital--in fact, its
head office is in Paris. It obtained large concessions in the Banat
during the Austrian rule in Hungary, acquiring a considerable amount of
property at very much below its real value; in consequence the company
is looked upon with some degree of jealousy by the Hungarians. Of
forest-land alone it owns about 360 square miles. It has a large staff
of officials, mostly Germans, who manage the woods and forests on a
very complicated system, which pays well, but would probably pay better
if simplified. It has also a monopoly of certain things in its own
district, such as salt, &c.

The prevalence of bribery is one of the causes seriously retarding
progress in Hungary. There is as yet no wholesome feeling against this
corruption, even amongst those who ought to show an example to the
community. They have also a droll way of cooking accounts down in these
parts, but there is a vast deal of human nature everywhere, so "let no
more be said."

[Footnote 9: A Short Trip in Hungary and Transylvania.]



CHAPTER VI.

     Mineral wealth of the Banat--Wild ride to Dognacska--Equipment for
     a riding tour--An afternoon nap and its consequences--Copper
     mines--Self-help--Bare insects--Moravicza--Rare minerals--Deutsch
     Bogsan--Reschitza.


The neighbourhood of Oravicza is well worth exploring, especially by
those who like knocking about with a geological hammer. The mines in the
Banat were perhaps worked earlier than any other in this part of Europe.
The minerals of the district present a very remarkable variety. Von
Cotta, I imagine, is the best authority upon the Banat ore deposits.

I had heard a good deal of the silver and copper mines of Dognacska, and
wishing to visit them, I induced my friend H---- to accompany me. We
arranged to go on horseback. I was very glad to escape the "carts of the
country," which, notwithstanding the atrocious roads, are the usual mode
of conveyance. It had always been my intention to ride about the
country, and with this view I brought my saddle and travelling apparatus
from London--English-made articles bear knocking about so much better
than similar things purchased on the Continent.

I had an ordinary pigskin saddle, furnished with plenty of metal rings.
I had four saddle-bags in all, made of a material known as waterproof
flax cloth. It has some advantages over leather, but is too apt to wear
into holes. It is of importance to have the straps of your saddle-bags
very strongly attached. It is not enough that they are sewn an inch into
the bag, they should extend down the sides; for want of this I had to
repair mine several times. Attached to my bridle I had a very convenient
arrangement for picketing my horse. It consisted of a rope about twelve
feet long, neatly rolled round itself; this was kept strapped on the
left side of the horse's head.

The chief pride of my outfit was a cooking-apparatus, the last thing
out, which merits a few words of description. It consisted of a round
tin box, eight inches in diameter, capable of boiling three pints of
water in two minutes and a half; of its own self-consciousness, the
sauce-pan could evolve into a frying-pan, besides other adaptations,
including space for a Russian lamp--a vessel holding spirit--with
cellular cavities for salt, pepper, matches, not forgetting cup, spoon,
and plate. The Russian lamp is a very useful contrivance, in case of
open-air cooking; it gives a flame six or seven inches long, which is
not easily affected by wind or draught.

Amongst the stores I took out from England was some "compressed tea,"
which is very portable. In riding, all powdery substances should be
avoided; I had on one occasion practical experience of this. I had
procured some horse-medicine, and giving my animal one dose, I packed
the rest very carefully, as I thought; on opening my saddle-bag after a
ride of twenty miles, I found, to my disgust, that this wretched white
powder had mixed itself up with everything. I wished I had made the
horse his own medicine-chest, and given him his three doses at once.

Let the weather be ever so warm in Hungary, it is not wise to take even
a day's ride without a good warm plaid; the changes of temperature are
often very sudden, and herein is the danger of fever. The peasant says,
"In summer take thy _bunda_ (fur cloak)."

To complete the catalogue of my travelling appendages, I may mention a
revolver, a bowie-knife, a compass, good maps of the country, and a
flask. My flask held exactly a bottle of wine; it was covered with thick
felt, which on being soaked in water has the effect of keeping the wine
quite cool for an incredibly long time, even in the hottest weather. I
have been told that the Arabs in the desert have long been up to this
dodge with respect to their water-bottles, which are suffered to leak a
little to keep up the evaporation. The food I carried was of course
renewed from time to time, according to circumstances. Naturally I
economised the lamp spirit whenever I could obtain sticks for boiling
the water, as the spirit could not always be procured in the Hungarian
villages.

In starting for Dognacska and Reschitza, we had before us a ride of more
than thirty miles through a very rough country, and with uncertain
prospects of accommodation, so I took with me all my travelling
"contraptions," as they say in the west of England. The weather was
excessively hot the morning H---- and I started on our expedition. About
noon, after we had ridden some two hours, the sun's rays beat down upon
us with such force that we made an unintentional halt on coming to a
well by the wayside. It was one of those picturesque wells so familiar
in Eastern landscape--a beam balanced on a lofty pole, with a rod
hanging from one end, to which is attached the bucket for drawing
water.

Not far from the well was one of those curious tree hay-stacks to be
seen in some parts of Hungary. It is the practice to clear away a
certain number of the middle branches of a tree, then a wooden platform
is constructed, on which a quantity of hay is placed in store for winter
use. This mushroom-shaped hay-rick receives a cover of thatch, out of
the centre of which comes the tree-top.

The shade afforded by this wigwam on stilts looked most inviting just
then, and we yielded to the seduction. We got off, and throwing
ourselves at full length on the grass, allowed our horses to graze close
to us, without taking the trouble to picket them.

The heat of the noonday was perfectly overpowering. The momentary shade
was an intense relief, for we had been in the unmitigated glare of the
sun the whole morning. Of course we quickly had out our cigar-cases, and
puffing the grateful weed, we were soon in full enjoyment of dignified
ease. We were in that idle mood when, one says with the lotus-eaters,
"taking no care"--

                        "There is no joy but calm!
    Why should we only _toil_, the roof and crown of things."

"Why, indeed, should we toil?" I repeated languidly, at the same time
gently and slowly breaking off the end of my cigar-ash.

"Why, indeed?" echoed my friend in a sleepy tone; and, unlike his usual
wont, he was quite disinclined to argue the point, being too lazy for
anything.

In another moment we had both sprung to our feet, most thoroughly roused
from our apathy; the fact was, a big brute of a sheep-dog suddenly
jumped in upon us, barking loud and fiercely. We very soon found means
to rid ourselves of the dog, but that was the least part of the
incident. It appeared that the noise and suddenness of the outburst had
so frightened our horses that they took to their heels and galloped off
as hard as they could tear. Of course we were after them like a shot,
but they had gone all manner of ways. I spotted my little Servian nag
breasting the hill to our right in grand style; the saddle-bags were
beating his flanks. A pretty race we had after those brutes of horses!
We had to jump ditches, and struggle up sandbanks, tear through
undercover, and finally H---- got "stogged" in a treacherous green
marsh. Was there ever anything so exasperating and ridiculous?

After running more or less for three-quarters of an hour in a sweltering
heat, we came upon the horses in an open glade in the wood, where they
were calmly regaling in green pastures, like lotus-eaters themselves.
Never from that day forward have I forgotten the necessary duty of
picketing my horse.

It was well on in the afternoon before we got to Dognacska, a mere
mining village, but prettily situated in a narrow valley. On
approaching, we found it to be a more uncivilised place than we had
expected, and we had not expected much. The children ran away screaming
at the sight of two horsemen, so travellers, I expect, are unknown in
these parts. We found out a little inn, indicated by a wisp of straw
hanging above the door, and here we asked to be accommodated; they were
profuse in promises, but as there was no one to look after the horses,
we had to attend to them ourselves. The woman of the house said the men
were all out, but would be back presently. We only took a little bread
and cheese, but ordered a substantial supper to be ready for us on our
return later in the evening. The fact was, we were in a hurry to be off
to look at the works. Lead, silver, iron, and copper are found at
Dognacska, but the working at present is a dead-alive operation. The
blast-furnaces for making pig-iron are of recent construction, but the
smelting-furnaces were very antiquated.

It was the same answer everywhere, "All belongs to the Marquis of
Carrabas;" in other words, the States Railway Company owns both mines
and forests in all directions throughout the Banat, though at the same
time I was told that they do not undertake metallic mining.

From what I gathered it would seem that the mines round here are not
really very rich. You cannot depend on the working as in Cornwall, for
they are without regular lodes. A rich "pocket" occurs here and there,
but then is lost, the deposit not holding on to any depth.

We made a considerable round, and returned with appetites very sharp
set, and counted on the chicken with _paprika_ that we had ordered to be
ready for us. On arriving at the little inn, great was our disgust to
find it utterly silent and deserted; neither man, woman, nor child was
to be found in or about the place. With some difficulty we caught some
children, who were peering at us behind the wall of a neighbour's house,
and from these blubbering little animals, who I believe thought we were
going to make mince meat of them, we at length extracted the fact that
the people of the inn were gone off haymaking. This was really too bad,
for if they had only told us, we could have made our arrangements
accordingly, but here we were starving and not the remotest prospect of
supper. There was no use wasting unparliamentary language, so I began
foraging in all directions, while H---- busied himself in cutting up
wood to make a fire, a process not too easy with an uncommonly blunt
axe. My researches into the interior of the dwelling were not
encouraging; the fowl was not there, neither was the _paprika_. At
length I discovered some eggs and a chunk of stale bread stowed away in
a corner; there were a great many things in that corner, but "they were
not of my search"--ignorance is bliss.

H---- had done his duty by the fire; he had even persuaded the water to
boil, which I looked upon as the beginning of soup. Happily for us I had
my co-operative stores with me. From the depths of one of my saddle-bags
I drew out a small jar of Liebig's meat--a spoonful or two of this gave
quality to the soup. I added ten eggs and some small squares of bread,
flavouring the whole mess with a pinch of dried herbs, salt, and
pepper--all from "the stores." The result was a capital compound: in
fact I never tasted a better soup of its kind; we enjoyed it immensely.
We had barely finished when in came the woman of the house; she looked
very much surprised, grumbled at our making such a large fire, and made
no apology for her absence.

No one came in to clean and feed our horses, and though I offered a
liberal _trinkgeld_ to any man or boy who would attend to them, not a
soul could I get, they all slunk away. I believe they are afraid of
horses at Dognacska. Self-help was the order of the day, and we just had
to look after the poor brutes ourselves.

We slept in the inn. My bed was made up in the place where I had found
the eggs and bread. I imagine it was the "guest-corner." I do not wish
to be sensational, and I am no entomologist, therefore I will not
narrate my experiences that night; but I thought of the Irishman who
said, "if the fleas had all been of one mind, they could have pulled him
out of bed." Fortunately the summer nights are short; we were up with
the early birds, and started before the heat of the day for Moravicza,
another mining village.

It was a pretty ride. We went for some way alongside a mineral tramway,
which followed the bend of a charming valley. Then we came upon a new
piece of road, made entirely of the whitest marble; it looked almost
like snow. Afterwards our track lay through a dense forest of majestic
trees. We could not have found our way unassisted, but one of the mine
inspectors from Dognacska had been sent with us. It was a delicious
ride, the air still cool and fresh. Sometimes we were in the forest,
and later, skirting a rocky ravine, we followed for a while a mountain
stream. It was rough work for the horses, and once, when leading my
horse over a narrow foot-bridge, he slipped off and rolled right over in
the bed of the stream. Luckily he was none the worse for the accident:
these small Servian horses bear a great deal of knocking about. It was
surprising that the baggage did not suffer, but except getting a little
wet, there was no harm done.

This district is famous, I believe, for several kinds of rare beetles
and butterflies. I saw some beautiful butterflies myself during our
ride.

Before reaching Moravicza we passed some large iron mines, but they were
not in full swing. In the last century the copper mines of this district
yielded extraordinary returns. Baron Born, in his "Travels in the
Banat," mentions a deposit of copper ore reaching to the amazing depth
of 240 feet. Some very fine syenite occurs in large blocks close to
Moravicza, which might be very valuable if made more accessible. The
village is half hidden in a narrow valley. Here we were most hospitably
received by Herr W----. In his collection of minerals he has many rare
specimens from this locality, which is peculiarly rich in regard to
variety. This gentleman kindly gave me some good specimens of magnetite,
greenockite (sulphate of cadmium), aurichalcite, Ludwigite, and garnet.
Leaving Moravicza, we rode on to Deutsch Bogsan, then to Reschitza,
where we arrived in the evening. Here we found a tolerable inn, for it
is a place of some size. We remained two days here; it is a flourishing
little place, the centre of the States Railway Works. They make a large
quantity of steel rails, any number of which will be wanted if half of
the projected lines are carried out, which are only waiting the
settlement of the Eastern Question.

In Reschitza there are large blast-furnaces and Bessemer converters.
Enormous quantities of charcoal are produced; in short, on all sides
there is evidence of mining activity. Narrow-gauge lines run in every
direction, serving the coal mines; there is besides a railway for the
public from Reschitza to Deutsch Bogsan, and from the latter place a
branch communicates with the main line between Buda-Pest and Basiash.

The country round Reschitza is rather pretty, but more tame than what we
had seen in other parts. We returned to Oravicza by a shorter route,
riding the whole distance in one day, which we did easily, for the roads
were not so bad, and it was not much over thirty miles. In Hungary it is
frequently more a question of roads than of actual distance.



CHAPTER VII.

     Election at Oravicza--Officialism--Reforms--Society--Ride to
     Szaszka--Fine views--Drenkova--Character of the
     Serbs--Svenica--Rough night walk through the forest.


We got back to Oravicza just in time to witness an election, which had
been a good deal talked about as likely to result in a row. There were
two candidates in the field: one a representative of the Wallachian
party; the other a director of the States Railway Company. In
consequence of a serious disturbance which took place some years ago,
the elections are now always held outside the town. The voting was in a
warehouse adjoining the railway station. A detachment of troops was
there to keep order, in fact the two parties were divided from each
other by a line of soldiers with fixed bayonets. It was extremely
ridiculous. The whole affair was as tame as possible; no more show of
fighting than at a Quakers' meeting. Of course the States Railway
representative had it all his own way, the officials, whose name is
legion, voting for him to a man. A trainful of Wallacks arrived from
some distant place, but their ardour for their own candidate was drowned
in the unlimited beer provided for them by their opponents.

From what I heard about politics, or rather about the Parliament, it
seems to me that their House of Commons, like our own, suffers from too
many talkers. The Hungarian is at all times a great talker, and when
politics open the sluices of his mind, his speech is a perfect avalanche
of words. His conversation is never of that kind that puts you in a
state of antagonism, as a North German has so eminently the power of
doing; on the contrary, the listener sympathises whether he will or no,
but on calmer reflection one's judgment is apt to veer round again.

The members of the House of Commons number 441, and of these 39 are
Croats, who are allowed to use their own language by special privilege.
The members are paid five florins a-day when the House is sitting, and a
grant of four hundred florins a-year is made for lodgings. There is this
peculiarity about the Hungarian Parliament: hereditary members of the
Upper House can if they choose offer themselves for election in the
Lower House. Many of the hereditary peers do so, meanwhile resigning as
a matter of course their seat in the Upper Chamber.

The reform of 1848 extended the franchise so far that in point of fact
it only stops short of manhood suffrage. The property qualification of a
voter is in some cases as low as a hundred florins yearly income.
Religious and political liberty was granted to all denominations. The
disabilities of the Jews were suffered to remain a few years later; but
in 1867 they were entirely removed, and at the present moment several of
the most active members of Parliament are of the Jewish persuasion.
Elections are triennial, an arrangement not approved by many true
patriots, who complain that members think more of what will be popular
with the constituents, whom they must so soon meet again, than of the
effect of their votes on measures that concern the larger interests of
the State.

Oravicza was so seductive--with its pleasant society; its "land
parties," as they call picnics; its evening dances, enlivened by gipsy
music--that I remained on and on from want of moral courage to tear
myself away. I had thoughts of changing my plans altogether, and of
devoting myself to a serious study of the minerals of the Banat, making
gay little Oravicza my head-centre. Looking back after the lapse of
sober time, I doubt if science would have gained much. Well, well, I
made up my mind to go. "The world was all before me," but I--left my
paradise alone. I had no fair Eve "hand in hand" to help my wandering
steps.

I do think that packing one's portmanteau is the most prosaic thing in
life. Shirts and coats must be folded, and one's possessions have a way
of increasing which makes packing a progressive difficulty. However, at
last I did persuade my portmanteau to shut, and forthwith despatched it,
with some other heavy things, to Hatszeg, a small town in Transylvania,
where I intended to be in the course of ten days.

I was now bound for Uibanya, in the Valea Tissovitza, a few miles from
Orsova on the Danube. There is an English firm down there engaged in
working the coal mines, and I had an introduction to one of the
partners. I rode from Oravicza to Szaszka--the place had become quite
familiar to me by this time--and I slept there. The night was not long,
for I left before sunrise. It is the only way to enjoy the ride; for the
middle of the day in July is really too hot for exertion in this part of
the world, and I found it was best to rest during the great heat of the
day. From Szaszka I pushed on to Moldova, and judging from my former
experience of driving the same road, I must say I prefer the saddle
infinitely. I should observe that on leaving Szaszka I got into a dense
mist on the top of the mountain. Fortunately I knew my bearings. When
it cleared off I had a magnificent view all the way, reaching the Danube
about nine o'clock. Here I spent the day and night at the house of Mr
G----, with whom I was slightly acquainted, and who received me
hospitably. The next morning very early I started for Svenica, a lovely
ride along the Szechenyi road. I had been in the saddle from five to
eleven A.M., and reaching Drenkova, I was not sorry to stop on
account of the great heat. It has only a wretched inn, where myself and
horse fared very badly. The Danube steamers are not unfrequently obliged
to stop at Drenkova and reship their passengers into smaller boats. This
happens when the water is low, and sometimes when the season is very dry
the river has to be abandoned for the road. When the Eastern Question is
settled a vast number of improvements are to be carried out on the
Danube it is said. The first ought to be the deepening of the channel in
this particular part of the river. There would surely be no great
difficulty in removing the obstructions caused by the rocks. But there
are always political difficulties creeping up in this part of the world
to prevent the carrying out of useful works.

My siesta over, I was off again, soon after three P.M., on my
way to Svenica. I had a splendid view of the river, and stopped my
horse more than once to watch the boatmen at their perilous work of
shooting the rapids. Getting to Svenica soon after six o'clock, I made
inquiries about the distance to Uibanya. No two people agreed, but the
chief spokesman declared it was a couple of hours' walk, and he
volunteered to show me the way. The inn was horribly dirty, as one might
expect from the appearance of the village, which is inhabited entirely
by Serbs, otherwise Rascians. It appears that a vast number of Slavs
from Servia took refuge in Hungary at the end of the seventeenth
century. Some were Roman Catholics, but they were mostly of the Greek
Church. A colony settled at Buda. Lady Mary Wortley Montague, writing
from that town in 1717, says that the Governor of Buda assured her that
the Rascian colony without the walls would furnish him with 12,000
fighting men at any moment. They were always a card in the hands of the
Austrians against the Magyars.

Leopold I. granted the Servian refugees very considerable privileges and
immunities, causing thereby great jealousy among the Hungarians. Always
favoured by the Government of Vienna, these people have invariably shown
themselves pro-Austrian; and in 1848 they were destined to be a thorn in
the side of the proud Magyars, who despised them, and took no pains to
disguise the feeling, even at a moment so singularly unpropitious as the
eve of their own rupture with Austria. It seems that in the month of May
in that eventful year the Rascians sent a deputation to Pesth, to the
Diet, setting forth certain grievances and demanding redress. The
Magyars rejected their petition with haughty contempt, "a grievous
fault," says General Klapka in his history. The result was that the
Rascian deputies returned home in a state of great disgust at their
reception, and immediately took up arms against the Hungarians. This was
before the Government of Vienna had thrown off the mask. These facts are
not without significance at the present time. The Rascians are strongly
imbued with ideas of Panslavism, and now disdain any other name than
that of Servians; it would be a great offence to call the humblest
individual of the race by the old appellation of Rascian or Ratzen.
These so-called Servian subjects of the crown of St. Stephen number
about 800,000!

The subject is worth mentioning at some length, because a good deal of
confusion exists respecting this particular division of the great Slav
family.

Judging from what I saw of the inhabitants of Svenica, I think they have
not progressed very far in the ways of civilisation. I could get nothing
in the whole place but a piece of bread; but I was not to be balked of
my tea, so I entered the principal room in the wretched little inn, and
proceeded to take out my cooking apparatus. I was obliged to content
myself with a thick fluid, which they called water; no better was to be
procured. Now it happens that my spirit-lamp, when it begins to boil up,
makes a tremendous row for two or three minutes, as if it meant to burst
up with a general explosion. This circumstance, and my other novel
proceedings, had attracted a lot of idlers round the door, and before
the tea-making was over a number of Serbs and Wallacks crowded into the
room in a state of excited curiosity, and it was with difficulty that I
defended my tea-machine from absolute dismemberment. Though my horse and
I had done a good day's work, I determined to push on to Uibanya, for it
seemed to be not much more than a two hours' walk; moreover, I had been
warned of the bad reputation of the people in the village. I had heard
it was not an uncommon trick with them to steal a traveller's horse in
the night, and quietly ship him over the Danube into Servia. I had no
fancy for losing my possessions in this way, so altogether it seemed
better to go on.

When I started with the guide I had hired from Svenica, there was still
a good half-hour before sunset. We commenced at once climbing a very
steep and stony path, where I had to lead my horse; indeed at times it
was very much like getting my horse over the top of a high-pitched roof,
if such an exploit were possible. We shortly lost all trace of a path. I
turned several times to look at the fine glimpses of the Danube far
below us. Arriving at a fringe of wood, I was not a little surprised to
see emerge from thence a sturdy Wallack, carrying the usual long staff,
armed with an axe at one end. I say surprised, because he at once joined
in with us, and though I had not seen him during our climb, I had my
strong suspicions that he had followed us all the way. My guide spoke a
little German, and I demanded of him in a sharp tone what the other
fellow meant by joining us. My guide answered that he was afraid to
return alone, for that presently we should get into "the forest, where
it would be as dark as a cave," and he had asked the other man to come
with us from Svenica. As according to his own account he had traversed
the forest for nineteen years, I thought he might very well have gone
back alone; besides, if there was any truth in what he said, why should
he have made a mystery about his companion till we were some way on our
journey?

We were now on the outskirts of a thick forest, the sun had set in
great beauty, but every hue of colour had now faded from "the trailing
clouds of glory;" faded, indeed, so quickly that before the fact of
twilight could be realised, it was already night! It was literally dark
as a cave when we penetrated into the forest. My guide had a lantern,
which he lighted; for it would, indeed, have been impossible to make any
progress without the light. Though we were again in a path, the way was
frequently barred by the trunks of fallen trees. We were still
ascending, occasionally coming upon a steep rough bit, difficult for the
horse on account of the loose stones. I think we must have looked very
much like a party of smugglers. The ex-forester walked first, swinging
his lantern as he moved; then came the Wallack volunteer, stumping along
with axe-headed staff. He wanted very much to fall into the rear, but
this I would not allow, and in a resolute tone ordered him forward. I
followed with my little grey horse close upon the heels of my
companions, keeping all the time a keen and suspicious eye upon their
movements. They spoke together occasionally, but I was profoundly
ignorant of what they said, not understanding a word of Wallachian.

Where it was anyhow possible we went at a good pace, but the underwood
and fallen trees hindered us a good deal. My guide told me to look out
for wolves. These forests are said to be full of them in summer, and he
added that a lot of pigs belonging to a neighbour of his had been
carried off by the wolves only the night before. I took this opportunity
of telling him that I was a dead shot, pointing to my revolver, which
was handy; adding a piece of information that I made much of, namely,
that I was expected at Uibanya.

The doubts I felt about the honesty of the guide and the other fellow
were increased by a suspicion that they were leading me the wrong way.
We had been three hours in the forest, always ascending. Now I knew that
my destination was situated in a valley. I asked repeatedly when we
should get there, and invariably came the same short answer, "Gleich"
(directly). I noticed that we were steadily walking in the same
direction, for the trees being less thick I could keep my eye on the
Polar star: this was so far satisfactory. Presently I saw a light or two
in the distance, and before long we came to a cottage, the first in what
turned out to be the little village of Eibenthal. Here we came upon a
party of miners, who gave me the pleasant information that we were still
an hour's walk from Uibanya! There was nothing for it but to go on. I
confess I breathed more freely in the open; we were quite clear of the
forest now. On we went, a regular tramp, tramp, through a long valley
skirted with woods on either side. This last part of the walk seemed
interminable. It was eighteen hours since I had started in the morning.
I was physically weary, and I really believe I went off to sleep for a
second or two, though my legs kept up their automatic motion. I am sure
I must have slept, for I had a notion, like one has sometimes in sleep,
of extraordinary extension of time. It seemed to me that for years of my
life I had done nothing else than walk under the starlit sky into a vast
cave of black darkness, which only receded farther and farther as the
swinging of the lamp advanced with its monotonous vibration of light.

It was just midnight when I descried a faint light in the distance. It
grew as we tramped on. I knew therefore it was no deceptive star setting
in the horizon, but the welcome firelight of a human habitation. This
time it was my goal--Uibanya! I stopped for a moment and fired off a
couple of shots to announce our approach, whereupon some of the people
in the house rushed out to see what was up, and I made myself known by
an English "halloo," and out of the darkness came a voice saying, "All
right."

"All's well that ends well," I said to myself as I paid my guide for
his night's work. I looked round for the Wallack, but the fellow had
sloped off!

I was most kindly and hospitably received, and, O ye gods, with what an
appetite I ate the excellent supper quickly prepared for me!



CHAPTER VIII.

     Hospitable welcome at Uibanya--Excursion to the Servian side of the
     Danube--Ascent of the Stierberg--Bivouac in the woods--Magnificent
     views towards the Balkans--Fourteen eagles disturbed--Wallack
     dance.


A couple of days after my arrival at Uibanya, my friend F---- kindly
arranged a little expedition into Servia, with the object of making the
ascent of the Stierberg, a mountain of respectable elevation, commanding
very fine views. Our guide was the postmaster of Plavishovitza, who
professed a knowledge of the country round about. We drove down to the
Danube, and there crossed the river in a primitive "dug-out," and almost
immediately commenced the ascent of the Stierberg. It became quite dark
by the time we got half-way up the mountain; this we were prepared for,
having made arrangements for camping out the night. We had brought with
us an ample store of provisions, not forgetting our plaids. The heat was
so great when we started that we dispensed with coats, and even
waistcoats, and went on rejoicing in the cool freedom of our
shirt-sleeves. Each wore a broad leather waist-belt, stuck round with
revolvers and bowie-knives. I believe we looked like a couple of the
veriest brigands. Had we only been spotted by a "correspondent," I make
little doubt that we should have been telegraphed as "atrocities" to the
London evening papers.

The more civilisation closes round one, the more enjoyable is an
occasional "try back" into barbarism. This feeling made the mere fact of
camping out seem delightful. Our first care was to select a suitable
spot; we found a clearing that promised well, and here we made a halt.
We deposited our _batterie de cuisine_, arranged our plaids, and then
proceeded to make a fire with a great lot of dried sticks and logs of
wood. The fire was soon crackling and blazing away in grand style,
throwing out mighty tongues of flame, which lit up the dark recesses of
the forest.

Now came the supper, which consisted of robber-steak and tea. I always
stuck to my tea as the most refreshing beverage after a long walk or
ride. I like coffee in the morning before starting--good coffee, mind;
but in the evening there is nothing like tea. The robber-steak is
capital, and deserves an "honourable mention" at least: it is composed
of small bits of beef, bacon, and onion strung alternately on a piece of
stick; it is seasoned with pinches of _paprika_ and salt, and then
roasted over the fire, the lower end of the stick being rolled backwards
and forwards between your two palms as you hold it over the hot embers.
It makes a delicious relish with a hunch of bread.

Our camp-fire and its surroundings formed a romantic scene. We had three
Serbs with us as attendants, and there was F---- and myself, all seated
in a semicircle to windward of the smoke. The boles of the majestic
beech-trees surrounding us rose like stately columns to support the
green canopy above our heads, and in the interstices of the leafy roof
were visible spaces of sky, so deeply blue that the hue was almost lost
in darkness; but out of the depths shone many a bright star in infinite
brilliancy. The scene was picturesque in the highest degree. The
flickering firelight, our Serbians in their quaint dresses moving about
the gnarled roots and antlered branches of the trees, upon which the
light played fitfully, and the mystery of that outer rim of darkness,
all helped to impress the fancy with the charm of novelty.

After supper was finished, and duly cleared away, we all disposed
ourselves for sleep, taking care to have the guns ready at hand, for we
might be disturbed by a wolf or a bear on his nightly rounds. Our
attendants had previously collected some large logs of wood, large
almost as railway-sleepers, to keep up a good fire through the night.
Wrapping my plaid round me, I laid myself down, confident that I should
sleep better than in the softest feather bed. I gave one more look at
the romantic scene, and then turned on my side to yield to the
drowsiness of honest fatigue.

But, alas! there was no sleep for me. I had hardly closed my eyes when I
was attacked by a regiment of mosquitoes. I was so tormented by these
brutes that I never slept a wink. I sat up the greater part of the night
battling with them; and what provoked me more was the tranquillity of
F----'s slumbers. I could bear it no longer, so at three A.M. I
woke him up, saying it was time for us to be stirring if we wanted to
get to the top of the mountain to see the sun rise. I believe he thought
I need not have called him so early, and grumbled a little, which was
very unreasonable, for the fellow had been sleeping for hours to my
knowledge. Rousing our Serbs, we set them about making preparations for
breakfast; but when the water was boiled and the tea made, it turned out
to be utterly undrinkable. The water-cask had had sour wine in it, and
the water was spoiled. We consoled ourselves with the hope that we might
get some sheep's milk on the mountain.

We reached the summit of the Stierberg before five o'clock; it has no
great elevation, but the position commands magnificent views of all the
surrounding country. Advancing to the verge of the precipice overlooking
the Danube, a sheer wall of rock 2000 feet in depth, we signalled our
arrival by discharging our rifles simultaneously. This "set the wild
echoes flying." Each cliff and scaur of the narrow gorge flung back the
ringing sound till the sharp reverberations stirred the whole defile.
Before the fusillade had ceased we beheld a sight I shall never forget.
The sound had disturbed a colony of eagles, who make their nests in
these rocky fissures. They flew out in every direction from the face of
the cliff, and went soaring round and round, evidently in much alarm at
the unwonted noise. We counted fourteen of these magnificent birds. I
wanted to get a shot at one, but they never came near enough. After
circling round for several minutes they flew with one accord to the
opposite woods, and were no more seen.

The view from the Stierberg is splendid. On every side were stretches of
primeval forest. Bounding the horizon on the north-east we made out the
Transylvanian Alps; to the south lay Servia, and more distant still the
Balkan Mountains. As the sun rose higher, lighting up in a marvellous
way all the details of this fair landscape, we could see far eastward a
strip of the Danube flashing in the sunbeams.

We turned reluctantly from the grand panorama, but we began to feel the
distressing effects of thirst. We had failed to procure any sheep's
milk, but the postmaster declared that when we got back to our
camping-place we should be able to find some fresh water. Arrived at
this pleasant spot, we rested under the beech-trees, and sent off two of
the Serbs to look for water. After waiting some time one of them brought
us some, but it was from a stagnant pool, alive with animalculæ, quite
unfit to drink. I never remember suffering so much from thirst. The heat
was excessive, but happily before reaching the Danube we found a
delicious spring gushing out from the limestone rock. It was an
indescribable refreshment for thirsty souls. We further regaled
ourselves with a good meal at the village on the Hungarian side of the
Danube, after crossing again in the "dug-out."

The pope of the village entered into conversation with us, and finding I
was a stranger he ordered a Wallack dance for our amusement. The
costumes of the women were picturesque, but the dance itself was a slow
affair, very unlike the lively _czardas_ of the Magyar peasant.



CHAPTER IX.

     A hunting expedition proposed--Drive from Uibanya to
     Orsova--Oriental aspect of the market-place--Cserna
     Valley--Hercules-Bad, Mehadia--Post-office mistakes--Drive to
     Karansebes--Rough customers _en route_--Lawlessness--Fair at
     Karansebes--Podolian cattle--Ferocious dogs.


During my stay at Uibanya the _Förstmeister_ (head of the forest
department) from Karansebes came over on business, and he told us there
was to be a shooting expedition on the Alps in his district. He further
invited us to take part in it, and I gladly accepted, as it fitted in
very well indeed with my plans. Karansebes is directly on the route to
Transylvania, whither I was bound. The district we were to shoot over is
the rocky border-land between Hungary and Roumania. My friend
F----agreed to accompany me, and on our way we proposed visiting the
celebrated baths of Mehadia. Early one morning we started for Orsova, a
drive of thirty miles, splendid scenery all the way. The latter part of
our journey was by the side of the Danube, on the Szechenyi road again.

We passed a number of hay-ricks in trees, which I have before described.
Some of them were built up in the form of an inverted cone. The
luxuriance of the foliage is very striking. Nothing can exceed the
beauty of the wild vines so frequent on the banks of the Danube. They
fall in graceful festoons from the trees; sometimes they reach across to
the trees on the other side of the road, forming a complete arch of
greenery. In the autumn the vine leaves turn to a glowing red, like the
Virginian creeper, and then the effect of this mass of rich colouring is
indeed glorious. Meanwhile gay butterflies of rare form fluttered about
among the trailing vines, and bright green lizards darted in and out of
the stone wall. Then an eagle or a vulture would swoop down from the
heights, and settle himself on some pinnacle of rock, where he remained,
motionless as a stuffed bird.

When we reached Orsova we only stopped long enough to get some dinner
and take the usual siesta. This place is on the frontier; three miles
farther down you pass out of Hungary into Roumanian territory. Had we
stayed any time we should certainly have gone to see Trajan's bridge,
about eighteen miles hence. The so-called "Iron Gates" are just below
Orsova. The designation is a misnomer, for the river ceases to be pent
up between a defile, the hills recede from the shore, and the "Gates"
are merely ledges of rock peculiarly difficult for navigation. Orsova is
celebrated as the place where the regalia of Hungary were concealed by
Kossuth and his friends from 1849 to 1853. The iron chest which held the
palladium of the kingdom, the sacred crown of St Stephen, was buried in
a waste spot, covered with willows, not far from the road. There is a
somewhat Oriental look about Orsova. In the market-place there is a
profusion of bright-coloured stuffs, prayer-carpets, and Turkish
slippers. A narrow island of no great length, just below Orsova, is
still held by the Turks. There is a small mosque with minarets visible
amongst a group of the funeral cypress-tree, so characteristic of the
presence of the Turk.

Our road to Mehadia was away from the river, following instead the lead
of a lateral valley. As we drove out of Orsova we passed a lot of
Wallack huts forming a kind of suburb. These huts are built of wattles
stuccoed with mud, always having on one side of the dwelling a space
enclosed by stockades some ten feet high; this is a necessary protection
for their animals against the depredations of wolves and bears, which
abound here.

Leaving this village we continued our way through the Cserna Valley,
which has few signs of cultivation beyond the orchards and vineyards
that climb up the hillsides of the narrow ravine. On our left we passed
a ruined aqueduct of Turkish origin, eleven arches still remaining. As
we proceeded, the valley narrowed considerably, and the scenery became
more wild and striking. Here vegetation is in its richest profusion; the
parasitical plants are surpassingly graceful, wreathing themselves over
rocks and trees.

Mehadia, or more strictly, Hercules-Bad, is the most fashionable bath in
Hungary. The village of Mehedia must not be confounded with it, for it
lies at a distance of six miles thence. The situation of Hercules-Bad is
extremely romantic. Above the narrow rocky valley rise bare limestone
peaks, girdled with rich forests of every variety of foliage. There are
two kinds of springs, the sulphurous and the saline. The Hercules source
bursts out from a cleft of the rock in such an immense volume that it is
said to yield 5000 cubic feet in an hour. The water has to be cooled
before it is used, the natural heat being as much as 131° Fahrenheit.
Its efficacy is said to be so great that the patient while in the bath
"feels the evil being boiled out of him"! Some of the visitors had not
yet had their turn of cooking, I suppose, or if they had been boiled,
were rather underdone, for I met a good many gouty and rheumatic
patients still in the hobbling condition.

The country round Mehadia is so wild, both in regard to the scenery and
to the native population, that the contrast of dropping suddenly into a
fashionable watering-place is very curious. This bath is much frequented
for pleasure and health by the luxury-loving Roumanians, who invariably
display the latest extravagance of Parisian fashion. Men in
patent-leather boots devoted to cards and billiards, while in the
immediate neighbourhood of glorious scenery, with bear and chamois
shooting to be had for the asking, seem to me "an unknown species," as
Voltaire said of the English. From what I learned of the ways of the
place it seems that the Magyar and Transylvanian visitors keep quite
aloof from the Roumanian coterie; they have never anything pleasant to
say of one another. At Boseg, a bath in the Eastern Carpathians which I
visited later, the separation is so complete that the Roumanians go at
one period of the season and the Hungarian visitors at another.

It had always been my intention to stay a few days at the Hercules-Bad,
and I had given the place as an address for English letters. Accordingly
I presented myself at the _poste restante_. Seeing that I was a
Britisher, the postmaster gave me all the letters he possessed with
English postmarks. Many of them were of considerable antiquity. Out of
the goodly pile I selected some half-dozen that bore my name; but I was
greatly surprised to come across one that had made a very bad shot for
its destination. It bore the simple name of some poor Jacktar, with the
address "H.M.S. Hercules."

The Romans had their _établissement_ here. The present name comes from
the "Thermæ Herculis" of classic times. There are many interesting
remains here--fragments of altars, sculptured capitals, and stones with
inscriptions, all telling the same story--the story of Roman dominion
and greatness.

Just then we had no time for archæology, for we wanted to push on to
Karansebes, and we stayed only a day and a half at Mehadia. As it was
more than we could comfortably manage to do the whole distance in a day,
we arranged to drive as far as Terregova and sleep there. We left
Mehadia early in the afternoon, F----'s groom riding my horse. The road
was excellent--all the roads are in the districts of the Military
Frontier. As an example of the quick temper of the Wallacks, I will
mention a little incident which happened on the road. We met some of
these people, and one of them, who was looking another way, stumbled
most awkwardly against the groom's horse, and very nearly met with an
accident. Though it was so clearly his own fault, he had hardly
recovered himself when, raising his axe, he was about to strike our
servant on the head. Meanwhile another fellow seized a big stone, which
I believe was going to make a target of the same head. Luckily I turned,
and seeing the scuffle, I was out with my revolver in a moment, pointing
it at the man with the axe. He understood my language, and made a hasty
retreat. F---- said he had no doubt it would have gone badly with the
groom if the distance between us had been greater.

We were in for adventures in a small way that evening. Just after
sunset, when it was already rather dark in the valley, we found
ourselves suddenly stopped by a man, who leaped out from behind a rock,
seized the horses, and with a powerful grasp brought them down on their
haunches. F---- had the reins, so I jumped down and made straight at the
fellow, revolver in hand. I imagine he did not expect to find us armed,
or he found us literally too many for him, but diving into the bushes,
he was gone even quicker than he came.

We had hardly got the horses into full trot again, when we noticed two
cartloads of Wallacks driving side by side on in front of us. When we
came up they would not let us pass, and continued this little game for
more than ten minutes, notwithstanding all our expostulations. They were
driving much slower than ourselves, and F---- began to lose patience; so
holding the horses well in hand, he told me to fire off my revolver in
the air. After this they thought proper to draw aside, but even then
leaving us so little room that we risked our necks in passing them in a
very awkward corner. I was told afterwards by the postmaster of
Karansebes that a diligence had fallen over the precipice at this very
place, only a very short time before, owing to the Wallack drivers
purposely obstructing the road. Such are the Wallacks--I beg their
pardon, Roumanians!

When we got to Terregova, we were glad to find quite a decent inn, the
Wilder Mann, kept by civil people. After supper we had a chat with our
hostess, who being a regular gossip, was very pleased to tell us a lot
of stories about the wild character of the country-people. She was very
sorry that the frontier was no longer under the Austrian military rule,
for, she said, having been accustomed to the strict military system so
long, the Wallacks, now they have more liberty, have become utterly
lawless, and exceedingly troublesome to their German neighbours. She
added that the _gendarmes_, who were supposed to keep order in the
district, were far too few to be of any real use. She complained
bitterly against the Wallacks for firing the forests, and they had
become much worse since '48. "In fact the time will come," she said,
"when wood will be scarce, and then everybody will suffer; but they
don't think, and they don't care, and just lay their hands on anything."

The Government certainly ought to look to the preservation of the
forests, and above all they ought to make the law respected amongst a
population which is so little advanced in civilisation as to be
indifferent to the first principles of order. The Wallacks want
education, and above all they want a decent priesthood, before they can
make any sound progress. With all their ignorance and lawlessness, it is
curious that they pride themselves on being descendants of the ancient
Romans, ignoring their "Dacian sires."

The next day we went on to Karansebes--a good road and charming scenery.
This is the highroad into Transylvania, called the Eisenthor Pass; but
it hardly merits the name of pass, inasmuch as it only crosses the spur
of the hills. The distance from Orsova on the Danube to Hatszeg in
Transylvania is 110 miles: the district is known as the "Romanen
Banat," and, as the name imports, is principally inhabited by Wallacks,
otherwise Roumanians.

We arrived at Karansebes in the afternoon, and by good-luck it chanced
to be fair-day. This is a central market for a considerable extent of
country, so that there is always a great gathering of people. In driving
into the town we passed a long bridge which crosses a low-lying meadow,
the central arch being sufficient to span the stream, at least in
summer. From this elevation we had a capital view of the fair, which was
being held in these meadows, and could look down leisurely on the whole
scene; and a very novel and amusing sight it was.

There were hundreds of people; and what a variety of races and diversity
of costumes! The Wallack women, in their holiday suits, were the most
picturesque. Many of them were handsome, and they have generally a very
superior air to the men; they are better dressed and more civilised
looking. There were a sprinkling of Magyars in braided coats, or with
white felt cloaks richly embroidered in divers colours. But the
blue-eyed, fair-complexioned German was far more numerous. The Magyar
element is very much in the minority in this particular part of Hungary.
The Jews and the gipsies were there in great numbers--they always are
at fairs--in the quality of horse-dealers and vendors of wooden articles
for the kitchen. The Jew is easily distinguished by his black corkscrew
ringlets, and his brown dressing-gown coat reaching to his heels. This
ancient garment suits him "down to the ground;" in fact his yellow
visage and greasy hat would not easily match with anything more cleanly.
These Jewish frequenters of fairs are, as a rule, of the lowest class,
hailing either from the Marmaros Mountains in North-Eastern Hungary, or
from Galicia.

The fair is really a very important exhibition of the products and
manufactures of the country, and it is well worth the attention of the
stranger, who may pass on with the motley crowd through streets of
stalls and booths. One _annexe_ is devoted to furniture, from a winged
wardrobe down to a wooden spoon. In another part you see piles of
Servian rugs, coarse carpets, sheepskin _bundas_, hairy caps of a
strange peaked form, broad hats made of reed or rush, and the delightful
white felt garments before mentioned, which are always embroidered with
great taste and skill. Horses, cows, and pigs are also brought here in
great numbers to exchange owners. The long-horned cattle are perhaps the
most striking feature in the whole fair. They are white, with a little
grey on the necks, flanks, and buttocks. Oxen are much used for hauling
purposes as well as for the plough. A pair of oxen, it is considered,
will do the work of four horses.

Professor Wrightson says: "The Podolian is an aboriginal race, descended
from the wild urox (_Bos primigenius_). The race is remarkable for its
capability of resisting influences of climate, and its contentedness
with poor diet.... The Hungarian oxen are considered by naturalists as
the best living representative of the original progenitors of our
domestic cattle." Of the buffalo the same writer says: "It was
introduced into Hungary by Attila; it is found in the lowlands, on both
sides of the Danube and the Theiss, Lower Hungary, and Transylvania. In
1870 there were upwards of 58,000 in Transylvania, and more than 14,000
in Hungary."[10]

Later in my tour, when at Klausenburg, I had an opportunity of seeing an
extensive dairy where upwards of a hundred buffalo cows were kept. The
farm alluded to is admirably managed, and, I am told, yields very
profitable returns.

It is the opinion of Professor Wrightson that cattle are diminishing in
Hungary owing to the breaking up of pastures and the recurrence of
rinderpest. He says he does not think that the English market can look
to Hungary for a supply of cattle at present. This gentleman did not, I
believe, visit Transylvania, and I am inclined to think the supply from
_that_ part of the kingdom is greatly on the increase; there the
pastures are _not_ in process of being turned into arable land, and the
rise in prices has given an impetus to the profitable employment of
capital in raising stock.

In walking round the fair, we took notice of the horses. I could have
made a better bargain than I did in Servia. A useful cart-horse could be
bought, I found, for about six or seven pounds. I daresay I could have
picked out a few from the lot fit for riding, but of course they were
rough animals, mere peasant horses. Some of the colts, brought in a
string fresh from the mountains, were wild, untamed-looking creatures;
but hardly as wild as the Wallacks who led them, dressed in sheepskin,
and followed each by his savage wolf-like dog. The dogs are very
formidable in Hungary. It is never safe to take a walk, even in the
environs of a town, without a revolver, on account of these savage
brutes, who, faithful to their masters, are liable to make the most
ferocious attacks on strangers. This special kind of dog is in fact most
useful--to the shepherd on the lonely _puszta_, to the keeper of the
vineyard through the night-watches, when the wild boar threatens his
ravages--and in short he acts the part of rural police generally.

In Hungary, as elsewhere, there are dogs of kindly nature and gentle
culture. I can record a curious instance of reasoning power in a dog
named "Jockey," who is well known at Buda Pest. He has the habit of
crossing over from Pest to Buda every morning of his life in one or
another of the little steamboats that ply backwards and forwards. He
regularly takes his walk over there, and then returns as before by
steamer. This is his practice in summer; but when winter arrives, and
the ice on the Danube stops the traffic of the steamboats, then Jockey
has recourse to the bridge. I believe there is no doubt of this
anecdote. Another instance of sagacity is attributed to him. His master
lost a lawsuit through the rascality of his attorney; Jockey feels so
strongly on the subject that he snarls and growls whenever a lawyer
enters his master's house. Here, of course, the instinct is stronger
than the powers of discrimination.

[Footnote 10: 'Report on the Agriculture of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire,' Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, vol. x. Part xi. No.
xx.]



CHAPTER X.

     Post-office at Karansebes--Good headquarters for a
     sportsman--Preparations for a week in the mountain--The party
     starting for the hunt--Adventures by the way--Fine trees--Game--Hut
     in the forest--Beauty of the scenery in the Southern Carpathians.


We put up at the Grünen Baum, the principal inn at Karansebes. My first
business was to worry everybody about my guns, which I had telegraphed
should be sent from Buda Pest to this place. I am afraid the postmaster
will never hear the name of an Englishman without associating the idea
of a fussy, irritable, impatient being, such as I was, about my guns. Of
course it was very provoking that they had not arrived. This postmaster
was a pattern official, an honour to his calling; he not only bore with
me, but he offered to lend me a gun if mine did not come. In Germany
there is a saying, "_So grob wie ein postbeamter_." The postmaster of
Karansebes was a glorious exception to the rule.

On one occasion, while I was waiting in the office for an answer to one
of the many telegrams that I had despatched, a peasant woman came in
with a letter without an address. The postmaster seeing this, and
thinking she could not write, asked her to whom he should address the
letter. She was dreadfully indignant with him for his well-meant offer,
and said, "My son knows all about it--it is no business of yours."

"But I can't forward it without an address," objected the postmaster.

"Yes, you must," she rejoined, getting more and more angry--"you must;
that's what you are paid for doing."

Here some other people came to the rescue, and by dint of all talking at
once for full twenty minutes, they induced her to give her son's
address; but it was a clear case of "convinced against her will," for as
she quitted the office she turned round and said, with a shake of the
head, "It's all very well to put that; but my son will know who it is
from."

Karansebes is not at all a bad place as headquarters for the sportsman.
In the neighbourhood there is very good snipe-shooting in spring and
autumn. The fishing too is excellent for trout and grayling. The bear,
the wolf, and the chamois are to be met with on the heights, which form
this portion of the great horseshoe of the Carpathians.

The day before our expedition we were occupied with a few necessary
preparations. When these matters were settled to our satisfaction, we
went off in good time to secure a few hours' sleep, as we were to start
at four A.M.

F---- and I were up in capital time, eager for the day's work, and
anxious, moreover, not to keep the rest of the party waiting. There was
an Austrian general, however, amongst the number, and therefore we might
safely have slept another hour. The morning was very unpromising, the
rain descended in a dull persistent downpour. We tried to hope it was
the pride of the morning. The prospect was dreary enough to damp the
spirits of some of our party. One man found that urgent private affairs
called him hence; another averred he had an inflammatory sore throat. I
expected a third would say he had married a wife and could not come.
Happily, however, the weather cleared a little as the morning advanced,
and further desertions were arrested.

At length the whole party got off in sundry _leiterwagen_, a vehicle
which has no counterpart in England, and the literal rendering of a
ladder-waggon hardly conveys the proper notion of the thing itself. This
long cart, it is needless to say, is without springs; but it has the
faculty of accommodating itself to the inequalities of the road in a
marvellous manner. It has, moreover, a snake-like vertebræ, and even
twists itself when necessary.

My guns never came after all, and I was obliged to borrow. The one lent
me had one barrel smooth-bore, the other rifled.

We drove for some distance along the Hatszeg highroad, then turned off
to the right. Continuing our course for some time, we came to the pretty
little village of Mörül, where we breakfasted. It was quite the cleanest
and neatest Wallack settlement that I had seen at all. It is celebrated
for the beauty of its women. Several very pretty girls in their
picturesque costume were gathered round the village well, engaged in
filling their classical-shaped pitchers. Every movement of their arms
was grace itself. The action was not from the elbow, but from the
shoulder, whereby one sees the arm extended in the curved line of
beauty, instead of sticking out at a sharp angle, as with us Western
races.

The weather had improved considerably. Our breakfast, for which we
halted on the further outskirts of the village, was very agreeably
discussed amidst much general good-humour. The peasants regarded us with
frank undisguised curiosity, coming round to watch our proceedings.

After leaving Mörül we got really into the wilds. A very bad road led
up through a magnificent valley, the scenery most romantic; indeed every
turn brought to view some new aspect, calling forth admiration. On our
right was a fine trout-stream of that delicious brown tint welcome to
the eye of the fisherman. At times the water was seen breaking over a
rocky bed with much foam and fret, and then would find for itself a
tranquil pool beneath the shadow of some mighty beech-tree.

The foliage of the forest, which closed down upon the valley, was simply
magnificent. The trees in the Southern Carpathians are far finer than
those of the Austrian Alps; they attain a greater average height. The
variety, too, was very striking in many places. The strip of green
pasturage that bordered our road was fringed with weeping birch-trees,
which gave a singular charm to the woodland scene.

A turn in the direction of the valley brought us within sight of the
high range of mountains forming the frontier between Hungary and
Roumania. Some of the higher summits were ominously covered with dirty
clouds. It was observed that they were lifting, at least some of the
most sanguine thought so. However, judging from my former experiences in
Upper Austria and Styria, I could not say that I thought it was a good
sign, supposing even they were lifting. I think myself there is better
chance of fine weather in high regions when the clouds descend and
disappear in the valleys.

Coming shortly to the foot of the mountain, the Sarka, which is upwards
of 6000 feet in height, we made a temporary halt. We had now to change
our _leiterwagen_ for horses. All signs of a road had long ceased. On
the green knoll in front were a herd of shaggy mountain horses with
their Wallack drivers--as wild a scene as could well be imagined. Here
we unpacked our various stores of provisions, fortified ourselves with a
good dinner, and made necessary arrangements for the change of
locomotion. There was some trouble in properly distributing the things
for the pack-horses. Care had to be taken to give each horse his proper
weight and no more. It was also very important to see that the packages
were rightly balanced to avoid shifting.

I had left my own horse at Karansebes, because he was in need of rest;
so F---- and I had to select horses from amongst the promiscuous lot
brought up by the "hunt." We chose out a couple of decent-looking
animals--indeed I rather prided myself on my selection, drew attention
to his good points, and rallied F---- on his less successful choice.

At length everything was ready. Judging from the amount of baggage, the
commissariat department was all right. The order of march was this: ten
gentlemen, like so many knights on horseback with lances in rest, rode
on in front, in Indian file: our long alpen-stocks really somewhat
resembled lances. Each man had his gun slung behind. In the rear of
these gallant knights came a dozen pack-horses heavily laden, each with
his burden well covered up with sheepskins; behind again followed a lot
of Wallacks--these irregulars were to act as beaters.

On we went in this order for seven hours. The pace was so slow that I
confess it made me impatient, but our path through the forest was too
narrow and too steep to do more than walk our horses in single file. The
character of the vegetation visibly changed as we ascended. We left the
oak and beech, and came upon a forest of pine-trees, and I thought of
the lines--

    "This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight."

The grey moss which hangs in such abundant festoons from the fir-trees
has a most singular effect, almost weird at times. These ancients of the
forest, with their long grey beards and hoary tresses, look very solemn
indeed in the gloaming.

What unheeded wealth in these majestic trees, which grow but to decay!
Enormous trunks lay on every side: some had passed into the rottenness
which gives new life; and here fungi of bright and varied hues, grey
lichen, and green moss preserved together the contour of the gigantic
stem, which, prostrate and decayed now, had once held its head high
amongst the lordlings of the forest.

In the last century these woods were tenanted by wild aurochs and the
ibex, but both are extinct now in Hungary. Red-deer and the roe are
still common enough. "The wild-cat, fox, badger, otter, marten, and
other smaller carnivora are pretty numerous." Mr Danford[11] goes on to
say that "feathered game is certainly not abundant. There are a good
many capercailzie in the quiet pine-woods, pretty high up, but they are
only to be got at during the pairing season. Hazel-grouse too are common
in the lower woods, but are not easily found unless the call-system be
adopted. Black game are scarcely worth mentioning as far as sport is
concerned. Partridges scarce, not preserved, and the hooded crows and
birds of prey making life rather hard for them." Mr Danford further
speaks of the chamois-eagle as "not rare in the higher mountains." The
fisher-eagle "generally distributed." The king-eagle also "not rare."
The carrion-vulture "common throughout the country," also the red-footed
falcon. At one time and another I have myself seen most of these birds
in the Carpathians, which form the frontier between Transylvania and
Roumania.

Meanwhile I must resume the description of our march, which was a very
slow affair. As we ascended, the trees decreased in size. We had long
ago left the deciduous foliage behind us; but the pines themselves were
smaller, interspersed with what is called "crooked timber," which grows
in grotesque dwarf-like forms. The forest at last diminished into mere
sparse shrubs, and finally we reached the treeless region, called in
German the _Alpen_, where there is rich pasturage for cattle and sheep
during the summer. We were now on tolerably level ground, and I thought
we should get a trot out of our wretched horses, but no, not a step
faster would they go. I believe we went at the rate of about two miles
and a half an hour. We tried everything--I mean F----and I--to get the
animals to stretch out over the turf; but they set to kicking
vigorously, backing and rearing, so that to avoid giving annoyance to
our companions, we were obliged to give in, and let the brutes go their
own pace.

We had gone but a very little way on the Alpen before we found ourselves
enveloped in a thick mist, added to which the track itself became
uncertain. We went on: if the saying "slow but sure" has any truth in
it, we ought to have been sure enough. My horse reminded me of the reply
of the Somersetshire farmer, who, when he was asked if his horse was
steady, answered, "He be so steady that if he were a bit steadier he
would not go at all." Notwithstanding that we moved like hay-stacks, and
the cavalcade seemed to be treading on one another's heels, yet,
ridiculous to say, we got separated from our baggage. Darkness set in,
and with it a cold drizzling rain--not an animated storm that braces
your nerves, but a quiet soaking rain, the sort of thing that takes the
starch out of one's moral nature.

All at once I was aroused from my apathy by a shout from the front
calling out to the cavalcade to halt. I must observe a fellow on foot
was leading the way in quality of guide. A pretty sort of a guide he
turned out to be. He had led us quite wrong, and in fact found all of a
sudden that he was on the verge of a precipice!

There was a good deal of unparliamentary language, expressed in tones
both loud and deep. It was an act of unwisdom, however, to stop there in
a heap on the grassy slope of a precipice, swearing in chorus at the
poor devil of a Wallack. I turned my horse up the incline, resolved to
try back, hoping to regain the lost track. It was next to impossible to
halt, for we had not even got our plaids with us--everything was with
the baggage-horses. Of course "some one had blundered." We all knew
that! The guide stuck to it to the last that "he had not exactly lost
his way." The fellow was incapable of a suggestion, and would have stood
there arguing till doomsday if we had not sent him off with a sharp
injunction to find some shepherds, and that quickly, who could take us
to the rendezvous. Being summer time, there would be many shepherds
about in different places on the Alpen, and the Wallack could hardly
fail to encounter some herdkeeper before long.

We waited, as agreed, on the same spot nearly an hour, and then we heard
a great shouting to the right of us. This was the guide, who I believe
must have been born utterly without the organ of locality. He had found
some shepherds, he told us subsequently, not long after he had left us,
but then the fool of a fellow could not find his way back to us, to the
spot where we agreed to wait for him. There was a great deal of shouting
before we could bring him to our bearings: the fog muffled the sound,
adding to the perplexity.

The shepherds now took us in tow. We had to go back some distance, and
then make a sharp descent to the right, which brought us to the
rendezvous, and we effected at last a junction with our lost luggage.
Arriving at the hut, which had been previously built for us, we were
delighted to find a meal already prepared; it was in fact a very
elaborate supper, but I think we were all too exhausted to appreciate
the details. I know I was very glad to wrap my plaid round me and
stretch myself on the floor.

The next morning we were up with the first streak of dawn. It was with
some curiosity that I looked round at our impromptu dwelling and its
surroundings, upon which we had descended in total obscurity the night
before. The position of our camping-place was not badly chosen; we were
just within the girdle of forest above which rises the grassy Alpen.
About forty yards to the left or north-east of us was a small stream,
the boundary, it seems, between the Banat and Transylvania. We were
provided with two necessaries of life, wood and water, close at hand.

The hut, however, was more picturesque than practical, as subsequent
events proved. The Wallacks had constructed it by driving two strong
posts into the ground about ten yards apart. A tree was placed across,
with a couple of smaller supports, and on this was made on a rough
framework a sloping roof to the windward side. The roofing consisted
entirely of leaves: it is called in German _laubhütte_, but is in fact
more of a parasol than an umbrella. I should have preferred a hut made
of bark, such as I have seen used by shepherds and sportsmen in Styria.

The interior of the hut had a droll appearance. Bacon, sausages,
meal-bags, and various other things were hanging from pegs fastened into
the supports of the roof; and the gear belonging to ten sportsmen were
stowed away somehow. The place might have passed for the head-centre of
a band of brigands.

The mountain on which we were encamped forms part of the western side of
a long valley, at the bottom of which, quite 2000 feet below us, is a
magnificent trout-stream. The sides of this valley are clothed with
dense forests, with broken cliffs obtruding in places. The height of the
Carpathians in this part of the range must not be taken as a gauge of
the scenery, which quite equals in grandeur the higher Alps in many
parts of Switzerland and the Tyrol. Comparisons are dangerous, for the
lovers of Switzerland will silence me with glaciers and eternal snow;
these advantages I must concede, still contending, however, for the
extreme beauty and wildness of the Southern Carpathians. The
characteristics of the scenery are due to the broken forms of the
crystalline rocks, the singular occurrence of sharp limestone ridges,
and the deep forest-clad valleys, traversed by mountain torrents, which
everywhere diversify the scene.

[Footnote 11: The Ibis, vol. v., 1875. The Birds of Transylvania. By
Messrs. Danford and Brown.]



CHAPTER XI.

     Chamois and bear hunting--First battue--Luxurious dinner 5000 feet
     above the sea-level--Storm in the night--Discomforts--The bear's
     supper--The eagle's breakfast--Second and third day's
     shooting--Baking a friend as a cure for fever--Striking camp--View
     into Roumania.


We started for our first battue in capital time, taking with us a crowd
of Wallack beaters. Our places were appointed to us by the director of
the hunt, and some of us had a stiffish climb before reaching the spot
indicated. At a right angle to this valley there protrudes one of those
characteristic limestone ridges; it terminates in an abrupt precipice or
declivity above the stream. My place was some half-way up, a good
position; for while I could see the course of the stream, I could
command a fair range of ground above me.

It was impossible not to take note of the exquisite beauty of the whole
scene, particularly as it then appeared. The sun breaking through the
clouds, threw his sharply-defined rays of light into the depths of the
misty defile, playing upon the foam of the water, and giving life and
colour to the hanging woods. I hardly took it in at the time, but rather
remembered the details afterwards; for my thoughts were occupied in
trying to judge the distance up to which I might fire with any chance of
success--distances are always very deceptive on the mountains.

I must observe that we hoped to get a shot at some bears, but the
chamois were the legitimate object of the hunt. The late autumn or early
winter is the best time for bear-hunting.

I had not been long at my post when I heard two shots in quick
succession fired below me. I found a chamois had been shot.

For our next battue we turned right-about face, the beaters coming from
the other side; but we had bad luck. One of our party saw a bear at some
distance, fired, and--missed it. The fact of a bear having been sighted
encouraged us in keeping up our battues pretty late, but nothing more
was shot that day. It was very disappointing, because if the bear was
thereabouts our numerous staff of beaters ought to have turned him up
again. Some of the party were altogether sceptical about a bear having
been seen at all. Of course the man who had fired held to the bear as if
it was the first article in his creed. The dissentients remarked that
"believing is seeing," as some one cleverly said of spiritualism. I
don't know whether it was better to think you had missed your bear or
had no bear to miss.

When we returned to the hut in the evening we found that a couple of men
left in charge had made some great improvements. The Wallacks, who are
sharp ready-handed fellows, to do them justice, had in our absence cut
down some trees, split them with wooden pegs, and constructed out of the
rough timber a long table and a couple of benches. These were placed in
front of our hut; the supper was spread, the table being lighted with
some four lanterns, supplemented by torches of resinous pine-wood.

The weather had been fair, though sport had been bad, so with a feeling
not "altogether sorrow-like" we sat down to a hearty good meal. One of
the dishes was chamois-liver, which is considered a great delicacy. We
had, indeed, several capital dishes, well dressed and served hot--a most
successful feast at 5000 feet above the sea-level. A vote of thanks was
proposed for the cook, and carried unanimously. The wines were
excellent. We had golden Mediasch, one of the best wines grown in
Transylvania, Roszamáber from Karlsburg and Bakatar. The peculiarity
about the first-named wine is that it produces an agreeable pricking on
the tongue, called in German _tschirpsen_.

Before turning in we had a smoke, accompanied by tea with rum, the
invariable substitute for milk in Hungary.

As there were four big fires burning in the clearing outside the hut,
the whole scene was very bright and cheerful. The wood crackled briskly,
the flames lit up the green foliage, and the moving figures of our
attendants gave animation to the picture. Amongst ourselves there were a
few snatches of song, and from up the hill where the Wallacks were
camped came a chorus of not unmusical voices. One after another of our
party dropped off, betaking himself to his natural rest. I was not the
last, and must have slept as soon as I pulled the plaid over my ears,
for I remembered nothing more.

I daresay I slept two or three hours; it may have been more or less, I
don't know, but the next moment of consciousness, or semi-consciousness,
was an uneasy feeling that a thief was trying to carry off a large tin
bath that belonged to me, in my dream. As he dragged it away it seemed
to me that he bumped it with all his might, making a horrible row.
Meanwhile, oppressed by nightmare, I could not budge an inch nor utter a
cry, though I would have given the world to stop the thief. I daresay
this nonsense of my dream occupied but an instant of time. I woke to the
consciousness of a loud peal of thunder. "We are in for a storm,"
thought I, turning drowsily on my other side, not yet much awake to the
probable consequences.

There was no sleep for me, however. The rest of the party were, one and
all, up and moving about; and the noise of the storm also increased--the
flashes of lightning were blinding, and the crash of the thunder was
almost simultaneous. Through the open side of our hut I could see and
hear the rain descending in torrents; fortunately it did not beat in,
but it was not long before the wet penetrated the roof--that roof of
leaves that I had mentally condemned the day before. After the rain once
came through, the ground was soon soaking.

It was a dismal scene. I sat up with the others, "the lanterns dimly
burning," and occupied myself for some time contriving gurgoyles at
different angles of my body, but the wet would trickle down my neck.

We made a small fire inside the hut, essaying thereby to dry some of our
things. My socks were soaking; my boots, I found, had a considerable
storage of water; the only dry thing was my throat, made dry by
swallowing the wood-smoke. A more complete transformation scene could
hardly be imagined than our present woeful guise compared with the
merriment of the supper-table, where all was song and jollity.

A German, who was sitting on the same log with myself, looking the
picture of misery, had been one of the most jovial songsters of the
evening.

"Thousand devils!" said he, "you could wring me like a rag. This
abominable hut is a sponge--a mere reservoir of water."

"Oh, well, it is all part of the fun," said I, turning the water out of
my boots, and proceeding to toast my socks by the fire on the thorns of
a twig. "Suppose we sing a song. What shall it be?--'The meeting of the
waters'?"

I had intended a mild joke, but the Teuton relapsed into grim silence.

The storm after a while appeared to be rolling off. The thunder-claps
were not so immediately over our heads, and the flashes of lightning
were less frequent; in fact a perfect lull existed for a short space of
time, marking the passage probably to an oppositely electrified zone of
the thunder-cloud. During this brief lull we were startled by hearing
all at once a frightful yelling from the quarter where the Wallacks were
camping, a little higher up than our hut.

Amidst the general hullabaloo of dogs barking and men shouting we at
last distinguished the cry of "Ursa, ursa!" which is Wallachian for
bear. Our camp became the scene of the most tremendous excitement;
everybody rushed out, but in the thick darkness it was impossible to
pursue the bear. The more experienced sportsmen were not so eager to
sally out after the bear, as they were anxious to prevent a stampede of
the horses. When the latter were secured as well as circumstances would
permit, a few guns were fired off to warn the bear, and then there was
nothing for it but to watch and wait. The dogs went on barking for more
than an hour, but otherwise the camp relapsed into stillness. I spent
the remainder of the night sitting on a log before the fire, smoking my
pipe with the bowl downwards, for the rain had never ceased, and clouds
of steam rose from our camp-fires. The fear was that the powder would
get wet. I must have dropped off my perch asleep, for I picked myself up
the next morning out of a pool of water. It was already dawn, and
looking eastward I saw a streak of light beneath a dark curtain of
cloud, like the gleam on the edge of a sword, so sharp and defined was
it. This was hopeful; it had ceased raining too, and a brisk wind came
up the valley.

There was plenty to be done, in drying our clothes and preparing
breakfast under difficulties. In the midst of this bustle a Wallack came
in to tell us that the bear had really got into the camp in the night,
and that he had killed and partly eaten one of the horses. This
confirmed the fact that the bear had been sighted by one of our party
the day before; though we missed him, he had had his supper, and we were
minus a horse.

I followed the Wallack a few steps up the hill, and there, not far off,
on a knoll to the left, lay the carcass of the horse. It was a strange
sight! Crowds of eagles, vultures, and carrion-crows were already
feasting on the remains. Every moment almost, fresh birds came swooping
down to their savage breakfast. Bears do not always eat flesh; but it
seems when once tasted, they have a liking for it, and cease to be
vegetarians. A simple-minded bear delights in maize, honey, wild apples
and raspberries.

Our guns required a good deal of cleaning before we were ready to start
for the second day's sport.

The result of the battues were not satisfactory. A fine buck was shot,
and two or three chamois were bagged. We sighted no less than three
bears, but they all broke through the line, and got off into the lower
valleys. The provoking thing was that the bear or bears came again to
our camp the second night; but they were able to do no mischief this
time. The horses were kept better together, and the dogs scared the
intruders from close quarters I imagine. Fires certainly do not frighten
the bear in districts where they get accustomed to the shepherds'
fires.

The third day of our shooting the weather was good, but we had no sport
at all. I believe we should have done better with a different set of
beaters, and this opinion was shared by several of our party. The
_Förstmeister_ had made a mistake in choosing men from the villages in
the plain, instead of getting some of the hill shepherds, who know the
mountains thoroughly well, and are not afraid of a bear when they see
one. Some of our beaters were funky, I believe, and gave the bear a wide
berth I feel sure, otherwise we must have had better sport.

During the evening of the third day F---- got a bad attack of fever, the
intermittent fever common in all the Danubian Provinces. After supper
the rain came on again, not violently, but enough to make everything
very damp. I felt that under the circumstances the hut was a very bad
place for him, so I cast about to see what I could do. As good-luck
would have it, not very far off I discovered a horizontal fissure in the
cliff, a sort of wide slit caused by one rock overhanging another ledge.
It was fortunately sheltered from the wind, and promised to suit my
purpose very well.

I collected a pile of sticks and firewood, thrust them blazing into the
cavity, and fed the fire till the rocks were fit to crack with the heat.
I remembered having seen cottagers heat their ovens in this way in
Somersetshire. I now raked out the fire and all the mortuary remains of
insects, and then laid down a plaid thrice doubled for softness. Having
done this, I seized upon my friend, weak and prostrate as he was, and
shoved him into his oven like a batch of bread. I had previously given
him a big dose of quinine (without which medicine I never travel in
these parts), and now I set to work rubbing him, for he was really very
bad indeed. In ten minutes or so F----became warm as a toast. The
terrible shivering was stopped, so my plan of baking was succeeding
capitally. It is true he complained a little of one shoulder being
rather overdone, but that was nothing. The vigorous rubbing was of great
service also. I remembered the saying, "Whatever is worth doing at all
is worth doing well," so I rubbed my patient with a will. He objected
rather, but he was too weak to make any resistance, so I rubbed on. I
knew it would do him good in the end; so it did--I cured him. I think,
however, the cure was mainly due to the baking!

After I had satisfied myself that my friend was going on well, I
arranged our waterproofs in front of the opening like curtains; and then
I turned in myself, for there was room for me too in the oven. The rain
descended pretty heavily in the night, but we slept well; and my patient
presented a most creditable appearance in the morning.

On the fourth day some of our party bagged a few chamois, but the
incidents of the day were in no way remarkable. At night F---- and I
returned to our cave. The others had dubbed it the "Hôtel d'Angleterre."
Considering the capability we had of warming-up, our quarters were not
half bad.

The succeeding morning it was settled that we should strike our camp and
move on to a fresh place. The beaters were sent back, for they were not
a bit of good. Some of the party also left, amongst them my German
friend. I do not think he will ever join a bear-hunt again, and his
departure did not surprise us. After leaving our late quarters we rode
for some hours along a singular ridge, so narrow at places as to leave
little more than the width of the sheep-track on the actual summit. This
ridge, more or less precipitous, rises above the zone of forest, and is
covered with short thick grass. We passed, I should think, thirty flocks
of sheep at different times, attended by the wild-looking Wallacks and
their fierce dogs.

We made a halt in the middle of the day, but the rain was coming down,
and we were glad to be soon off again.

In the afternoon we got over into the Roumanian side of the frontier.
The lofty limestone ridge of which I have spoken is in fact the
boundary-line at this part. We were at an elevation of about 6000 feet,
judging from the heights above us, when suddenly, or almost suddenly,
the clouds were lifted which hitherto had enveloped us. It was like
drawing up the curtain of a theatre. I never remember to have seen
anything so striking as this sudden revealing of the fair world at our
feet, bathed in glowing sunlight. We beheld the plains of Roumania far
away stretched as a map beneath us; there, though one cannot discern it,
the swift Aluta joins the Danube opposite Nicopolis; and there, within
range of the glass, are the white mosques of Widdin in Bulgaria. We
looked right down into Little Wallachia, where woods, rocks, and streams
are tumbled about pellmell in a picturesque but unsettled sort of way.
The very locality we were traversing is the part where the
salt-smugglers used to carry on their trade, and many a sharp encounter
has been fought here between them and the soldiers. This is now a thing
of the past, since Roumania has also introduced a salt monopoly.

We were treated to this glorious view for little more than half an hour;
the clouds then enveloped us again, and blotted out that fair world,
with all its brightness, as if it were not. A strong wind blew up from
the north, bringing with it a storm of rain and sleet which chilled us
to the bones. The horses went slower and slower. Including the noonday
halt, we had been ten hours in the saddle, and men and horses had had
pretty well enough. I never recollect a colder ride.

We encamped that night in the forest. I looked out for another rock
oven, and found one not otherwise unsuitable for shelter; but
unfortunately this time the opening was to the windward side, so it was
useless for our purpose. It was a good thing F---- did not have a return
of his fever here, for we had to pass the night very indifferently.

The next morning the weather continued so persistently bad in the
mountains that we voted the "hunt" at an end, and made the best of our
way towards Mehadia, from which place we were in fact not so very
distant. The descent was very rapid; at first through a thick forest,
then into the open valley, where the heat became intense. The change of
temperature was very striking.



CHAPTER XII.

     Back at Mehadia--Troubles about a carriage--An unexpected night on
     the road--Return to Karansebes--On horseback through the Iron Gate
     Pass--Varhely, the ancient capital of Dacia--Roman remains--Beauty
     of the Hatszeg Valley.


After a week of such weather as we had had in the mountains, a
water-tight roof over one's head was in itself a luxury; so we were not
inclined to quarrel with our quarters at the hotel at Mehadia, had they
been even less good than they were.

F---- and I wished the next day to get back to Karansebes; he had left
his carriage, and I my Servian horse. A Hungarian gentleman, one of the
late expedition, said he would arrange to have a _vorspann_, if we would
join him, as he also wanted to go there. This well-understood plan
insures to the traveller relays of horses, and we were only too glad to
acquiesce in the prospect of making the journey pleasantly and quickly.

The driver who was to take us the first stage came in and asked for a
florin to get some oats for his horses. Very foolishly I gave him the
money, nothing doubting; and off he went to spend it on _slivovitz_,
the result being that he was soon drunk and incapable. If we had
realised the fact at once it might have been better, but we waited and
waited, not knowing for a long time what had happened. This upset all
our _vorspann_ arrangements, and to our great disgust the best part of
the day was wasted in seeking another vehicle and horses to take us to
Karansebes. At last we succeeded in obtaining a lumbering sort of
covered conveyance, whose speed we doubted from the first; but the
owner, who was to drive us, declared he would get us to our journey's
end in an incredibly short space of time.

We took care to give no _pourboire_ in advance; but what with the
inevitable dilatoriness of the people down in these parts, it was after
seven o'clock before we left the Hercules-Bad, and we had fifty miles to
drive.

Not even the ten hours of undisturbed consecutive repose in the downy
bed at the Mehadia hotel had made up the deficiency of sleep during the
foregoing week, and drowsiness overcame us. I think we must have had a
couple of hours of monotonous jog-trot on the fairly level road when I
fell asleep, and I suppose my companions did the same.

I must have slept long and profoundly, for when I woke, pulling myself
together with some difficulty, having slept in the form of a doubled-up
zigzag, I found it was daylight. I was surprised that we were not
moving; I rubbed my eyes, and looked out at the back of the cart, and
there I saw a round tower on a slight eminence, encircled by a belt of
fir-wood, the very counterpart of a pretty bit of scenery I had noticed
in the twilight. I looked again, and sure enough it was just the tower
itself and no other, and the very same belt of wood. The explanation was
not far to seek. I was the first to wake up in our "fast coach." Every
mortal soul--and there were five of us, besides the four horses--had, it
seems, gone to sleep much about the same time that I did. The magic
sleep of eld must have fallen upon us. The simple fact was, we had
passed the night in the middle of the highroad. Was there ever anything
so ridiculous?

We were about seven miles from Mehadia; I knew the country perfectly
well. Of course we made a confounded row with the idiot of a driver, who
certainly had been hired--not to go to sleep. I have known these
Wallacks drive for miles in a state of somnolency, the horses generally
keeping in the "safe middle course" of their own accord. As there were
some awkward turns not far ahead of us, it was perhaps just as well that
the horses stopped on this occasion.

Well, we jogged on all that day, reaching Karansebes between one and two
o'clock. We had been some eighteen hours on the road!

Here F---- and I parted, my friend returning to Uibanya, while I pursued
my way to Transylvania.

I slept the night at Karansebes, rising very early; indeed I started
soon after four o'clock. I was again on my little Servian horse, who was
quite fresh after his long rest, and I saw no reason why I should not
reach Hatszeg the same evening, as the distance is not more than
forty-five miles. About two miles from Karansebes I passed a hill
crowned with a picturesque ruin, locally called Ovid's Tower. Tradition
fondly believes that Ovid spent the last years of his banishment, not on
the shores of the stormy Euxine, but in the tranquillity of these lovely
valleys. Certain it is that the name and fame of many of the great
Romans are still known to the Wallacks; and the story is told by Mr
Boner, that they have a catechism which teaches the children to say that
they have Ovid and Virgil for their ancestors, and that they are
descended from demigods!

On my way I passed the villages of Ohaba, Marga, and Bukova. On arriving
at Varhely, or Gradischtie, as it is called in Wallack language, I found
that it was worth while to stay the night, for the sake of having the
afternoon to examine the Roman remains scattered about the
neighbourhood.

The Wallack villages I had passed through were very miserable-looking
places: they are generally in the south of Transylvania. The houses are
mostly mere wattled wigwams, without chimneys; a patch of garden, rudely
hurdled in, with the addition of a high stockaded enclosure for cattle.
Some of the women are extremely pretty, and, as I have said before, the
costume can be very picturesque; but they are often seen extremely
dirty, in which case the filthy fringe garment gives them the appearance
of savages.

Varhely is conspicuous for its dirt even among Wallachian villages, yet
once it was a royal town. It is built on the site of the famous
Sarmisegethusa, the capital of ancient Dacia. In Trajan's second
expedition against Decebalus, King of the Dacians, he came from Orsova
on the Danube by the same route that forms the highroad of this day--the
same I had traversed in my way hither. It is curious to reflect how
nation succeeding nation tread in each other's footsteps, through the
self-same valley, beneath the shadow of the old hills. Here they have
trudged, old Dacian gold-seekers, returning from the daily labours of
washing the auriferous sands of the mountain streams; here, too, have
tramped victorious Roman soldiers--Avars, Tartars, Turks, and other
intruders. A long and motley cavalcade has history marshalled along this
route for two thousand years and more!

The old Dacians were strong enough we know to exact a yearly tribute
from Domitian: it was for this insult that Trajan marched upon Dacia,
defeating Decebalus at Klausenburg, in the heart of Transylvania, which
was at the time their greatest strong-hold. It was after this that the
Dacian king retreated upon Sarmisegethusa, and there Trajan came down
upon them through the Iron Gate Pass. Unable to defend themselves, the
Dacians set fire to their royal city and fled to the mountains. On these
ruins the Romans, ever ready to appropriate a good site, erected the
city of Ulpia Trajana, connecting it by good roads with the existing
Roman colonies at Karlsburg and Klausenburg.

Unless the traveller had brought historic facts with him to Gradischtie,
he would hardly be induced to search for tesselated pavements and relics
of royalty amongst the piggeries of this dirty Wallack village. It is a
literal fact that a very fine specimen of Roman pavement exists here in
an unsavoury outhouse, not unknown to pigs and their congeners.

This Hatszeg Valley, in the county of Hunyad, has long been celebrated
for the richness of its Dacian and Roman antiquities. These treasures
have unfortunately been dispersed about amongst various general
collections of antiquity, instead of being well kept together as
illustrative of local facts and history. The archæologist must seek for
these remains specially in the Ambras collection of the Archæological
Museum at Vienna, the National Museum at Buda Pest, in the Bruckenthal
Museum at Herrmannstadt, also in the Klausenburg Museum. Dr H. Finály,
Professor of Archæology at the University of Klausenburg, is the great
living authority on this interesting subject. To him I am indebted for
some information, conveyed in a letter to a private friend.[12] The
professor alludes to the fact of the treasures being all carried away,
adding that on the spot very little is to be found except the remains of
Roman encampments (_castra stativa_), Roman military roads, together
with the foundations of buildings, the materials of which however are
usually carried away by the peasants. Nor are the records of former
interesting discoveries to be found in one volume, but are dispersed
about in the various publications of learned societies, such as the
'Archælogiæi Közlemények' of the Hungarian Academy, the 'Year-Book of
the Transylvanian Museum,' and 'Verhandlungen und Mittheilungen' of the
Verein fur Siebenbürgische Landeskunde of Herrmannstadt.

That the materials of the old Roman buildings are now used for baser
purposes, one has abundant proof; even in my hurried inspection I saw
many a sculptured stone and fragment of fluted column doing duty as the
support of a wretched Wallack shanty. Another evidence of the Roman
occupation of the country occurs in the case of certain plants now found
growing wild, which are exotic to the soil. This, I am told, occurs in a
marked manner at Thorda, which was known to be a Roman colony. The
plants, it may be presumed, were brought thither by the Roman
legionaries. The most picturesque bit of Roman antiquity is the Temple
at Demsus, within a short drive of Varhely. It is on a small eminence
overlooking a cluster of Wallack dwellings, and has long been used as a
church by these people.

The Hatszeg Valley, which comprehends the district I am now describing,
is the pride of Transylvania, not less for its fertility than for its
beauty. It has the appearance of having been filled in former geological
ages by the waters of a widespread lake.

It was a lovely afternoon, but very hot, when I rode into the little
town of Hatszeg. Everywhere is to be seen evidence of the careful
cultivation of the maize and other crops. Numerous villages dot the
plain and cluster amidst the thickly-wooded hillsides. And now we come
upon the railway system again, which has stretched out its feelers into
the wilds of the Southern Carpathians. The railroad enters Transylvania
by two routes. The main line is from Buda-Pest to Grosswardein, and so
on by Klausenburg--the Magyar capital--to the present terminus of
Kronstadt, one of the chief towns of the Saxon immigrants. This includes
a branch to Maros Vásárhely. It is proposed to carry this line over a
pass in the Carpathians to Bucharest. The second line of railway
entering Transylvania starts from Arad, and terminates at Herrmannstadt,
the Saxon capital, having a branch to the mineral district of Petrosèny.

It will be seen from the above that this "odd corner of Europe," as
Transylvania has been called, is fairly well off for iron roads; and
considering how short a time some portions of them have been opened,
they have already borne good fruit in developing the resources of the
country.

[Footnote 12: Martin Diosy, Esq.]



CHAPTER XIII.

     Hungarian hospitality--Wallack laziness--Fishing--"Settled
     gipsies"--Anecdote--Old _régime_--Fire--Old Roman bath--The
     avifauna of Transylvania--Fly-fishing.


I had brought with me from London a letter of introduction to a
Hungarian gentleman residing near Hatszeg, and finding his place was not
far off, I rode over to see him the evening of my arrival.

I had merely intended to make a call, but Herr von B----, with true
Hungarian hospitality, insisted that I should stay at his house as long
as I remained in the neighbourhood.

"What! allow a stranger to remain at the inn?--impossible!" he said with
resolute kindness.

It was in vain that I made any attempt to plead that I felt it was
trespassing too much on his hospitality. His answer was very decided. He
put the key of the stable which held my horse in his pocket, and turning
to one of his people he gave orders that my things should be brought
hither from the Hatszeg inn.

I was soon quite at home with my new friends, a young married couple,
whose _ménage_, though very simple, was thoroughly refined and
agreeable. As it was my first visit to a Hungarian house, I found many
things to interest me. Several of the dishes at table were novelties,
the variety consisting more in the cooking than in the materials; for
instance, we had maize dressed in a dozen different ways. It was
generally eaten as a sort of pudding at breakfast, at which meal there
was also an unfailing dish of water-melons. Of course we had _paprika
handl_ (chicken with red pepper), and _gulyas_, a sort of improved Irish
stew; and gipsy's meat, also very good, besides excellent soups and many
nameless delicacies in the way of sweets.

All Hungarian men are great smokers, but as a rule the ladies do not
smoke; there are some exceptions, but it is considered "fast" to do so.

The peasants in the Hatszeg Valley are all Wallacks, and as lazy a set
as can well be imagined; in fact, judging by their homes, they are in a
lower condition than those of the Banat. So much is laziness the normal
state with these people that I think they must regard hard work as a
sort of recreation. Their wants are so limited that there is no
inducement to work for gain. What have they to work for beyond the
necessary quantity of maize, _slivovitz_, and tobacco? Their women make
nearly all the clothes. Wages of course are high--that is the trouble
throughout the country. If the Wallack could be raised out of the moral
swamp of his present existence he might do something, but he must first
feel the need of what civilisation has to offer him.

The village of Rea, where I was staying, is about the wildest-looking
place one can well imagine in Europe. The habitations of the peasants
are made of reed and straw; the hay-ricks are mere slovenly heaps,
partially thatched; the fences are made up of odds and ends. As for
order, the whole place might have been strewn with the _débris_ of a
whirlwind and not have looked worse. As a natural consequence of all
this slatternly disorder, fire is no uncommon occurrence; and when a
fire begins, it seldom stops till it has licked the whole place clean--a
condition not attainable by any other process.

Fishing was a very favourite amusement with us, and Herr von B----
several times organised some pleasant excursions with that object. One
day we went up the Lepusnik, a magnificent trout-stream.

We drove across the valley, and then followed a narrow gorge near the
village of Klopotiva. The scenery was enchanting, but our fishing was
only moderately successful; for the trout were very much larger than in
the valley nearer home, and they bothered us sadly by carrying away our
lines.

Some way up the valley we came upon a little colony of gipsies, who were
settled there. Their dwellings were more primitive than the Wallacks
even. The huts are formed of plaited sticks, with mud plastered into the
interstices; this earth in time becomes overgrown with grass, and as the
erection is only some seven feet high, it has very much the appearance
of an exaggerated mound or anthill, and would never suggest a human
habitation.

A fire was burning in the open, with a tripod to support the iron
pot--just as we see in England in a gipsy's camp; and the people had a
remarkable resemblance in complexion and feature, only that here they
were far less civilised than with us.

I entered one of the huts, in which by the way I could scarcely stand
upright, and found there a man employed in making a variety of simple
wooden articles for household use. The gipsies are remarkably clever
with their hands; many of these wooden utensils are fashioned very
dexterously, and even display some taste. The gipsy, moreover, is always
the best blacksmith in all the country round; and as for their music, I
have before spoken of the strange power these people possess of stirring
the hearts of their hearers with their pathetic strains. It has often
seemed to me that this marvellous gift of music is, as it were, a
language brought with them in their exile from another and a higher
state of existence.

That these poor outcasts are capable of noble self-sacrifice, the story
I am about to relate will testify. Not far from this very gipsy
settlement, in a wild romantic glen, is a steep overhanging rock, which
is known throughout the country as the "Gipsy's Rock," and came to be so
called from the following tragical occurrence. It seems that many years
ago--about the middle of the last century, I believe--there was a famine
in the land, and the poor gipsies, poorer than all the rest, were
reduced to great straits. Some of them came to the neighbouring village
and begged hard for food. The selfish people turned them away, or at
least tried to do so; but one poor fellow would not cease his
importunities, and said that his children were literally starving.
"Then," said one of the villagers in a mocking tone, "I will give your
family a side of bacon if you will jump that rock."

"You hear his promise?" cried the gipsy, appealing to the idle crowd. He
said not another word, but rushing from their midst, clambered up the
rock, and in another instant took the fatal leap!

I see no reason to discredit the story, generally believed as it is in
the district; and, happily for the honour of human nature, it has many a
parallel, in another way perhaps, but equal in self-sacrifice and
devotion.

The gipsies in Hungary are supposed to number at least 150,000. The
Czigany, as they are called, made their appearance early in the
fifteenth century, having fled, it is believed, from the cruelty of the
Mongol rulers. They were allowed by King Sigismund to settle in Hungary,
and were called in law the "new peasants." Before the reforms of 1848
they were in a state of absolute serfdom, and could not legally take
service away from the place where they were born. The case of the gipsy
was the only instance in Hungary, even in the Hungary of the old
_régime_, of absolute serfdom; for oppressive as were the obligations of
the land-holding peasant to his lord, yet the relation between them was
never that of master and slave. As a matter of fact, if the Hungarian
peasant gave up his _session_--that is to say, the land he occupied in
hereditary use--he was free to go wheresoever he pleased, and was not
forced to serve any master. In practice the serf would not readily
relinquish the means of subsistence for himself and family, and
generally preferred the burden, odious though it was, of the _robot_, or
forced labour. This personal liberty, which the Hungarian peasant in the
worst of times has preserved, is deep-rooted in the growth of the
nation, and accounts for their characteristic love of freedom in the
present day. It was this that made the freedom-loving peasant detest the
military conscription imposed by the Austrians in 1849, an innovation
the more obnoxious because enforced with every species of official
brutality.

The poor Czigany had not been so fortunate as to preserve even the
Hungarian serf's modicum of liberty. Mr Paget mentions that forty years
ago he saw gipsies exposed for sale in the neighbouring province of
Wallachia.

There are a great many "settled gipsies" in Transylvania. Of course they
are legally free, but they attach themselves peculiarly to the Magyars,
from a profound respect they have for everything that is aristocratic;
and in Transylvania the name Magyar holds almost as a distinctive term
for class as well as race. The gipsies do not assimilate with the
thrifty Saxon, but prefer to be hangers-on at the castle of the
Hungarian noble: they call themselves by his name, and profess to hold
the same faith, be it Catholic or Protestant. Notwithstanding that, the
gipsy has an incurable habit of pilfering here as elsewhere; yet they
can be trusted as messengers and carriers--indeed I do not know what
people would do without them, for they are as good as a general
"parcels-delivery company" any day; and certainly they are ubiquitous,
for never is a door left unlocked but a gipsy will steal in, to your
cost.

The gipsy is sometimes accused of having a hand in incendiary fires; but
I believe the general testimony is in his favour, and against the
Wallack, whose love of revenge is the ugliest feature in his character.
These people seem to forget the saying that "curses, like chickens, come
home to roost," for they will set fire to places under circumstances
that not unfrequently involve themselves in ruin.

We were calmly sitting one day at dinner when we heard a great row all
at once; looking out of the window, we saw dense clouds of smoke and
flame not a hundred yards from the house. We rushed out immediately to
render assistance, but without water or engines of any kind it was
difficult to do much. However, Herr von B---- and myself got on the top
of the outhouse that was in flames, and stripped off the wooden tiles,
removing out of the way everything that was likely to feed the fire.
There stood close by a crowd of Wallacks, utterly panic-stricken it
seemed: they did nothing but scream and howl as if possessed. The
building belonged to one of them, but he only screamed louder than the
rest, and was not a bit of use, though he was repeatedly called on to
help. If the wind had set the other way, it would have been just a
chance if the whole village had not been burned down. In this instance
the fire was caused by mere carelessness.

The number of excursions to be made in the Hatszeg Valley is endless. On
one occasion I took my horse and rode off alone to inspect mines and
mining works in the mountains. While looking over the ironworks at
Kalan, I was told of the existence of some Roman remains in the
neighbourhood, so taking a boy from the works with me to act as guide, I
set off, walking, to examine the spot. He led me into the middle of a
field, not far off the main road; and here I found the remains of a
Roman bath of a very interesting character.

It was singularly constructed. I must observe first that there was a
protruding mass of rock rising about fifteen feet above the surrounding
ground, and of considerable circumference. In the middle of this there
was a circular excavation ten feet in diameter and ten feet deep. At the
bottom I discovered a spring of tepid mineral water, which flowed away
through a small section cut perpendicularly out of the wall of the great
bath; judging from other incisions in the stone, a wooden slide may have
been used to bay back the water. On the face of the rock I noticed a
Roman inscription, but too much mutilated for me to make anything of it.
An attempt had been evidently made to utilise this mineral water, for in
the field were some primitive wooden bathing-houses, and not far off
there was actually a little inn, but I fear the public had not
encouraged the revival of the Roman bath.

In poking about after game or minerals, one frequently comes upon
evidence of the former occupation of the country. Speaking of game, the
partridges are not preserved, and they are scarce; of course I was too
early, but in autumn the woodcock-shooting, I understand, is first-rate.
Quails and snipes are also common in the Hatszeg Valley.

Herr von Adam Buda, or, as one should say in Hungarian, Buda Adam (for
the Christian name always comes last), has devoted much time to the
avifauna of Transylvania. He has a fine collection of stuffed birds at
his residence at Rea, near Hatszeg. These are birds which he has himself
shot, and he is quite the local authority upon the subject.

I have alluded to the trout-fishing in the district. I went out
frequently, and had generally very fair sport indeed. Mr Danford, in his
paper in 'The Ibis,'[13] in speaking of fishing, says: "Perhaps the best
stream in the country is the Sebes, which joins the Strell near Hatszeg.
The trout are not bad, one to two lbs. in weight; and the
grayling-fishing is really good--almost any number may be taken in
autumn, when weather and water are in good order. The Sil also, near
Petrosèny, is a fine-looking river, and used to be celebrated for its
so-called 'salmon-trout;' but these had quite disappeared when we saw
it, having been blown up with dynamite, a method of fishing very
commonly practised in the country, but now forbidden by law. Indeed
fly-fishing is gaining ground, and English tackle in great demand."

This practice of the wholesale destruction of fish by the use of
dynamite has not been stopped a moment too soon; and some time must now
elapse in certain waters before they can become properly stocked again.

It was now time for me to quit the happy valley, and I bade adieu to my
kind friends near Hatszeg. I believe if I had remained to this day, I
should not have outstayed my welcome. I had come to pay a morning visit,
and I stopped on more than a fortnight.

The Hungarian has a particularly pleasant way of greeting a stranger
under his own roof. He gives you the idea that he has been expecting
you, though in reality your existence and name were unknown to him till
he read the letter or the visiting-card with which you have just
presented him.

I now sent my portmanteau, &c., on to Herrmannstadt, packed my
saddle-bags to take with me, and once more rode off into the wilds. My
destination this time was Petrosèny.

[Footnote 13: Vol. v., The Birds of Transylvania.]



CHAPTER XIV.

     On horseback to Petrosèny--A new town--Valuable
     coal-fields--Killing fish with dynamite and poison--Singular manner
     of repairing roads--Hungarian patriotism--Story of Hunyadi
     Janos--Intrusion of the Moslems into Europe.


The history of the town of Petrosèny is as short as that of some of the
western cities of America. It began life in 1868, and is now the
terminus of a branch railway.

Before the wicked days of dynamite, and as long ago as the year 1834, a
fisherman was leisurely catching salmon-trout up the Sil; he had time to
look about him, and he noticed that in many places the rocks had a black
appearance. He broke off some pieces and carried them home, when he
found that they burned like coal; in fact he had discovered a coal mine!
Those were simple-minded days, for instead of running off with these
valuable cinders under his arm, fixing on an influential chairman and a
board of directors for his new company, this good man did nothing but
talk occasionally of the black rock that he had seen when fishing. Many
years elapsed before any advantage was taken of this valuable discovery.
At length a more careful search was made, and it proved that coal
existed there in abundance! In 1867 mining was commenced on a large
scale by the Kronstäder Company. The next year a town was already
growing up in the neighbourhood of the mines, and increased in a most
surprising manner. In 1870 the railway was opened from Petrosèny to
Piski, on the main line from Arad. The growth of the place, however,
received a check in the financial crisis of 1873.

The town itself is in no way remarkable, being a mere collection of
dwellings for the accommodation of the miners and the employés; but the
scenery in the neighbourhood is simply magnificent. In approaching
Petrosèny the railway rises one foot in forty, no inconsiderable
gradient.

The coal-fields are partly in the hands of Government, and partly owned
by the before-named Kronstäder Company. Between these separate interests
there is not much accord. The Kronstäders say that Government has not
behaved fairly or openly, but has secured to itself so many "claims" as
to damage considerably the prospects of the private speculators.

While at Petrosèny, I heard great complaints against the Government for
selling coal at such a low price that they must actually work at a
loss. The Kronstäder Verein say they are prevented in this way from
making their fair profits, as they are obliged to sell down to the
others. It would appear to be a suicidal policy for the pockets of the
tax-payers to be mulcted for the sake of securing a prospective monopoly
and the ruin of a private enterprise. As it stands it is a pretty
quarrel.

Writing in 1862, Professor Ansted says: "The coal of Hungary is of
almost all geological ages, and though none is first-rate in point of
quality, a large proportion is excellent fuel. The coals most valued at
the present moment in Hungary are those of the _Secondary_ and _not_ of
the _Palæozoic_ period. But the great body of coal is very much newer;
it is _Tertiary_, and till lately was regarded as of comparatively
modern date. In the Ysil Valley there is a splendid deposit of _true_
coal."[14] Since the time when the above was written the resources of
the Ysil or Sil Valley--viz., Petrosèny--have been abundantly developed,
as we see, and it has been pronounced to be "one of the finest coal
mines in Europe." One of the seams of coal is ninety feet in thickness;
but up to the present time it has been found impossible to make it into
coke.

The miners at Petrosèny are great offenders in regard to the abominable
practice of killing fish by means of dynamite. It is very well to say
that the law forbids it; but the administrators of the law are not
always a terror to evil-doers, and perhaps the timely present of a dish
of fine trout does not sharpen the energies of the officials. Another
mode of destroying fish is practised by the Wallacks. There grows in
this locality a poisonous plant, of which they make a decoction and
throw it into the river, thereby killing great numbers of fish at a
time.

While driving round Petrosèny I had an opportunity of seeing the
Hungarian manner of making roads. The peasants have to work on the roads
a certain number of days in the year, and if they possess a pair of
oxen, these must also be brought for a specified time. An inspector is
supposed to watch over them. One afternoon we came upon a score of
peasants, men and women, who were engaged in mending a bridge. Their
proceedings were just an instance of how "not to do a thing." They were
placing trees across the gap, and the interstices they were filling up
with leafy branches, over which was thrown a quantity of loose earth and
stones well patted down to give the appearance of a substantial and even
surface. Of course the first rain would wash away the earth and leave as
nice a hole as you could wish your enemy to put his foot into. For all
purposes of traffic the bridge was safer with the honest gap yawning in
the traveller's face.

It is said that the magistrates make matters easy and convenient for the
peasants, if the latter, by being let off public work, attend
gratuitously to the more pressing wants of the individual magistrate.

"You see, nobody suffers but the Government," says the man of easy
conscience, not seeing that, after all, the good condition of the roads
concerns themselves more than the officials in the capital.

In many things the Hungarians are like children, and they have not yet
grown out of the idea that it is patriotic to be unruly. The fact is,
the Central Government was so long in the hands of the Vienna Cabinet,
who were obnoxious in the highest degree to the Hungarians, that the
latter cannot get the habit of antagonism out of their minds, though the
reconciliation carried through by Deák in 1867 entirely restored
self-government to Hungary. "What do we want with money?" said a
gentleman of the old school. "Money is only useful for paying taxes, and
if we have not got it for that purpose, never mind!"

On leaving Petrosèny the route I proposed to myself was to take the
bridle-path over the mountains to Herrmannstadt. But in following this
out, I omitted to visit the Castle of Hunyad--a great mistake, for
castles are rare in this part of Europe, and the romantic and singular
position of Schloss Hunyad renders it quite unique in a way. It is
situated, I am told, on a lofty spur of rock, washed on three sides by
two rivers which unite at its base, a draw-bridge connecting the
building with a fortified eminence high above the stream.

The place is associated with the name of Hungary's greatest hero, John
Hunyadi, who was born near by, and who subsequently built the castle.
The story of his birth, which took place somewhere about 1400, is
romantic enough. His mother was said to be a beautiful Wallack girl
called Elizabeth Marsinai, who was beloved by King Sigismund. When he
left her he gave her his signet ring, which she was to bring to him in
Buda if she gave birth to a son.

Showing all proper respect to the wishes of its parents, a child of the
"male persuasion" made its appearance in due course of time; and the
joyful mother, accompanied by her brother, set off walking to Buda, with
the small boy and the ring for credentials. When resting by the way in a
forest the child began playing with the ring, and a jackdaw, who in all
ancient story has a weakness for this sort of ornament, pounced upon the
shining jewel and carried it off to a tree. The brother with commendable
quickness took up his bow and shot the bird; thus the ring was
recovered, and the story duly related to the king, who evolved out of
the incident a prophetic omen of the boy's future greatness. His majesty
had the child brought up at the Court, and bestowed upon him the town of
Hunyad and sixty surrounding villages.

It was in the reign of Sigismund that the Turks first regularly invaded
Hungary; and the young Hunyadi soon distinguished himself by a series of
victories over the Moslems. To him Europe is indebted for the check he
gave the Turks. He forced them to relinquish Servia and Bosnia, and in
his time both provinces were placed under the vassalage of Hungary. We
may go further and say that had Hunyadi's plans for hurling back the
Moslem invaders been seconded by the other Christian powers, we should
not have the Eastern Question upon our hands in this our day. But, alas!
all the solicitations of this great patriot were met with short-sighted
indifference by the Courts of Europe. It is true that the Diet of
Ratisbon, summoned by the Emperor Frederick, voted 10,000 men-at-arms
and 30,000 infantry to assist in repelling the Turks; and it is true
that the Pope in those days was anti-Turkish, and vowed on the Gospels
to use every effort, even to the shedding of his blood, to recover
Constantinople from the infidels. The old chronicles give a curious
account of the monk Capestrano, who, bearing the cross that the Pope had
blessed, traversed Hungary, Transylvania, and Wallachia, to rouse the
people to the danger that threatened them from the intrusion of the
Moslem into Europe. Special church services were instituted; and at noon
the "Turks' bell" was daily sounded in every parish throughout these
border-lands, when prayers were offered up to arrest the progress of the
common enemy of Christendom.

Hunyadi's son, Matthias Corvinus, rivalled his father as a champion
against the Turks. He was elected King of Hungary, and after reigning
forty-two years, passed away; and the people still say, "King Matthias
is dead, and justice with him."

[Footnote 14: A Short Trip in Hungary and Transylvania, p. 242.]



CHAPTER XV.

     Hunting for a guide--School statistics--Old times--Over the
     mountains to Herrmannstadt--Night in the open--Nearly setting the
     forest on fire--Orlat.


I found some difficulty while at Petrosèny in getting a guide to convoy
me over the mountains to Orlat, near Herrmannstadt. My Hungarian friend
proposed that, choosing a saint's day, we should ride over to the
neighbouring village of Pétrilla, where I would certainly find some
peasant able and willing amongst the numbers who crowd into the village
on these occasions.

Accordingly we went over, and I was very pleased I had gone, for the
rural gathering was a very pretty and characteristic sight. The people
from all the country round were collected together in the churchyard,
dressed of course in their bravery, and a very goodly show they made.
They were the finest Wallacks I had seen anywhere; they were superior
looking in physique, and many of them must really have been well off, if
one may judge a man's wealth by the richness of the wife's dress.

Some of the young girls were very pretty, and wore their silver-coin
decorations with quite a fashionable coquettish air. The Wallack women,
whether walking or standing, never have the spindle out of their hands:
the attitude is very graceful, added to which the thread must be held
daintily in the fingers. They are very industrious, making nearly all
the articles of clothing for the family.

After a great deal of palavering--I think we must have spoken to every
able-bodied man in the churchyard--I at last induced a young Wallachian
to say he would accompany me. He spoke a little German, which was a
great advantage. I told him to procure himself a good horse, and to take
care that all his arrangements were completed before night, as I wished
to start very early the following morning.

To this he replied that it would be quite necessary to start early, and
begged to know if five o'clock would be too soon; adding that as I must
pass through Pétrilla, would I meet him at the corner of the churchyard?

To this I agreed, repeating that we were to meet not a moment later than
five o'clock. My friend and I returned to Petrosèny, and the afternoon
was occupied in making preparations for two days on the mountains. I
supplied myself with a good amount of _slivovitz_, as a medium of
exchange for milk and cheese with the shepherds, who understand this
kind of barter much better than any money transactions.

The next day, when it came, brought a continuance of good weather, and I
was up betimes, looking forward with pleasure to the mountain ride. I
reached Pétrilla a few minutes after five o'clock; but my man was not at
the churchyard corner, whereupon I rode all round the churchyard,
thinking he might by mistake have pitched on some odd corner, and be out
of sight under the trees. However, I looked in vain--a man on horseback
is not hidden like a lizard between two stones! Verily he was not there.

I waited half an hour all to no purpose. I now resolved to try and find
out where he lived. I had understood that he belonged to the village.
After a great deal of trouble and bother, and poking of my nose into
various interiors where the families were still _en déshabillé_, I
unearthed my guide. He coolly said that he was waiting for the horse,
which was to be brought to him by some other lazy fellow not yet up.

I could not speak Wallachian, and he pretended not to understand a word
of my wrathful tirade in German, which was all nonsense, because I
found later that he spoke that language fairly well. I insisted that he
should come with me to find the horse, and so he did at last, in a
dilatory sort of way, and then it turned out that the animal was waiting
at the other end of the village for his rider.

Well, thought I, we shall start now; but no, there were two to that
bargain. The Wallack calmly informed me that he must return to his hut,
for he had not breakfasted. Not to lose sight of him, I returned too. He
then with Oriental deliberation set about making a fire, and proceeded
to cook his _polenta_ of maize. I had got hungry again by this time,
though I had breakfasted at Petrosèny before starting, so I partook of
some of his mess, which was exceedingly good, much better than oatmeal
porridge.

In consequence of all these delays it was after eight o'clock before we
really started. The horse which my guide had procured for himself was a
wretched animal--a tantalising object for vultures and
carrion-crows--instead of being a good strong horse, as I had stipulated
he should be; but there was no help for it now, so on we went.

My companion soon gave me to understand in good German that he was a
superior sort of fellow. He had been to school at Hatszeg, and knew a
thing or two. I have heard it stated that the Wallacks are so quick
that they make great and rapid progress at first, distancing the German
children; but that they seem to stop after a while, and even fall back
into ignorance and their old slovenly ways of life.

On referring to the statistics of Messrs Keleti and Beöthy, I see that
only eleven per cent of Roumains (Wallacks) attend the primary schools,
and this percentage had not increased between the years 1867 and 1874.
The percentage of the Magyars attending the primary schools is
forty-nine per cent, while the Slavs, again, are twenty-one.

"The world is only saved by the breath of the school-children," says the
Talmud. A conviction of this truth makes every inquiry into educational
progress extremely interesting. According to M. Keleti's tables,
fifty-three per cent of the males and sixty-two per cent of the females
in Hungary generally are still illiterates. This excludes from the
calculation children under six years of age. On comparing notes, other
countries do not come out so very much better. It is calculated that 30
per cent of French conscripts are unable to read; moreover, in _our_
"returns" of marriages in England in 1845, a percentage of forty-one
signed the register with _marks_. In 1874 the number of illiterates was
reduced to twenty-one per cent.

I elicited a good many interesting facts from my Wallack guide, several
that were confirmatory of the terrible ignorance existing amongst the
priesthood of the Greek Church. The popes do not commend themselves to
the good opinion of the male part of the community, whatever hold they
may have on the superstition of the women. I cannot see myself how
things are to be mended till the position and education of the
priesthood are improved. It is said that, in the old days before '48,
when the peasants had to render forced labour to the lord of the land,
the Transylvanian nobles would have the village pope up to the castle,
and keep him there for a fortnight in a state of intoxication, thus
preventing his giving out the saints' days at the altar on Sunday. This
was done that their own harvest-work should proceed without the
inconvenience of suspending operations at a critical time on _fête_
days, the people themselves being too ignorant to consult the calendar!

The Magyar nobles are improved, and do not play these pranks now; but
very little progress, I imagine, has been made on the side of the
priests. Chatting with my Wallack guide helped to beguile the tedious
nature of the ride, an ascent over roughish ground all the way. Arriving
at the summit, we made a noonday halt.

A fire was soon burning, whereat our dinner of robber-steak was
roasted; but the halt was shorter than usual, for I was anxious to push
on, remembering how much time had been lost at starting.

We now gained the other side of the mountain-chain, passing the remains
of an old Turkish camp, the outlines of which were quite visible. From
this point there is a magnificent view, interminable forests to the
eastward clothing the deep ravines that score the hillsides. The
accidents of light and shade were particularly happy on this occasion,
bringing out various details in the picture in a very striking manner.
As a general rule, there is no time so unpropitious for scenic effect as
noonday.

We passed from the grassy Alpen down into the thick of the forest,
losing very soon any glimpse of the distant view, or any help from
conspicuous landmarks. It was a labyrinth of trees, with tracks crossing
each other in a most perplexing manner. I could not have got on without
a guide.

When the evening approached I thought it was time to look out for
quarters for the night. Our first necessity was water, but we went on
and on without coming upon a stream. It was provoking, for we had passed
so many springs and rivulets earlier in the day, and now darkness
threatened to wrap us round with the mantle of night before we had
arranged our bivouac. When the sun sets in the East, it is like turning
off the gas; you are left in darkness suddenly, without any intervening
twilight. As a fact one knows this perfectly well; but habit is stronger
than reason, and day after day I went on being perplexed, and often
unready for the "early-closing" system.

"Water we must have," said I to the Wallack. "Let us strike off from the
direct route and follow the lead of this valley, we shall find water in
the bottom for a certainty."

We hurried forward, leading our horses through the thick undercover,
always diving deeper into the ravine. At length I discovered a trickling
amongst the stones, and a little farther on we came upon a grassy spot
beneath some enormous pine-trees. It was an ideal place for a bivouac!

When the horses had been carefully picketed, we proceeded to make a fire
and cook our supper, which consisted of gipsy-meat and tea.

The meal finished to my perfect satisfaction, (how good everything
tastes under such circumstances!) I then stretched myself on a sloping
bank overspread by a thick covering of dry _needle-wood_, as the Germans
call the leaves of the fir-tree. How soft and clean it felt, and how
sweet the aromatic perfume that pervaded the whole place! Lighting my
pipe, I gave myself up to the perfect enjoyment of repose amidst this
romantic scene. The Wallack, covered by his fur _bunda_, was already
asleep, and save the bubbling of the water in the little stream, and the
crackling of the fire, there was absolutely not a sound or a breath.
Through the tasselled pine branches, festooned with streamers of grey
moss, I could see the stars shining in the blue depths of ether. One can
realise in these regions the intense _depth_ of the heavens when seen at
night; we never get the same effect in our "weeping skies."

Before wrapping my plaid round me for the night, I threw some fresh wood
on the fire, which, crushing down upon the hot embers, sent up a
scintillating shower of sparks that ran a mad race in and out of the
greenery. I saw that the horses were all right, I put my gun handy, and
then I gave myself up to sleep.

I do not know how long I had slept, but I was conscious of being
bothered, and could not rouse myself at once. I dreamed that a bear was
sniffing at me, but instead of being the least surprised or frightened,
I said to myself in my dream, as if it was quite a common occurrence,
"That's the bear again, he always comes when I am asleep." The next
moment, however, I was very effectually awakened by a tug that half
lifted me off the ground. I must mention that I had tied my horse's
halter to my waist-belt in case of any alarm in the night, for I sleep
so soundly always that no ordinary noise or movement ever wakes me. I
sprang up of course, calling the Wallack at the same time. Something had
frightened the horses, and they had attempted to bolt. We found them
trembling from head to foot, but we could not discover the cause of
their fright. I fired off my revolver twice; the Wallack in the meantime
had lighted a bundle of resinous fir branches as a torch. He had
carefully arranged it before he slept; it is a capital thing, as it
gives a good light on an emergency.

After making an examination of the place all round, and finding nothing,
we made up a bright fire, and again laid ourselves down to rest. I had
my saddle for a pillow, and it was not half bad. Before giving myself
over to sleep I listened and listened again, but I heard nothing except
the hooting of the owls answering each other in the distance. The night
had grown very cold, and a heavy dew was falling, but notwithstanding
these discomforts I had another good nap.

Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we were off early. Instead of
going uphill again to recover our former route, we followed the stream,
which gradually increased in size, and we came at last to a place where
a dam had been thrown across the valley with the object of floating the
wood cut in the forest. This small lake was very pretty; the water was
as clear as crystal. Farther on we came upon another dam of larger
dimensions; but though it had evidently been quite recently constructed,
there was no one about, and no signs of wood-cutting. Here we began to
ascend again, and about mid-day got to a place called La Durs, a
customhouse for cattle coming from Roumania; it is not absolutely on the
frontier, but very near it. I heard later that this district has a bad
reputation for smugglers and robbers, the latter being on the increase,
it is said; always the same story of unrepressed lawlessness on the
frontier.

We made no stay at the customhouse, but rode on a couple of miles
farther, where, coming upon a nice spring, we dined. Not a single
shepherd had we met, so there had been no chance of bartering for milk;
it was not surprising, because our track had been almost entirely in the
forests, and of course the shepherds are higher up on the Alpen. At this
last halting-place we nearly set the forest on fire. The grass was very
dry all round, and before I was aware of it, the fire ran along the
ground and caught the trees. It blazed up in an inconceivably short
time. I rushed up directly, to cut off what branches I could with my
bowie-knife; but though calling loudly to the Wallack to assist me, he
never concerned himself in the least. This exasperated me beyond
measure, seeing what mischief was likely to accrue from the
misadventure. Luckily a man came up, riding on one horse and leading
another, and he readily gave me a helping hand, and between us we put
out the fire. The Wallack never raised a finger!

Getting into conversation with the new-comer, I found that he was going
to Orlat, whereupon I arranged to go on with him. Accordingly I paid my
guide, and was not sorry to have done with him, he had so disgusted me
about the fire, and I was especially glad to get quit of his wretched
horse, which had greatly retarded our progress. I transferred my
saddle-bags to the spare horse, and we got on much faster, reaching
Orlat by sunset.

Before descending into the plain we had a magnificent view.
Herrmannstadt seemed almost at our feet, though in reality it was still
a long way off; the Fogaraser Mountains stretching away towards
Kronstadt, appeared in all their picturesque irregularity, and along the
plain at their base were scattered the villages of the Saxonland, each
with its fortress-church, a relic of the old time, when the brave
burghers had to hold their own against Turk and Tartar.

At Orlat I found a small inn, but they had no travellers' room in it;
however some of the family were good enough to turn out, and I was very
glad to turn in, and that rather early.



CHAPTER XVI.

     Herrmannstadt--Saxon immigrants--Museum--Places of interest in the
     neighbourhood--The fortress-churches--Heltau--The Rothen Thurm
     Pass--Turkish incursions.


The following morning a ride of ten miles brought me to Herrmannstadt.
Here I put up at the Hotel Neurikrer, a comfortable house; it was a new
sensation getting into the land of inns. The fact is, the Saxons are not
indifferent to the existence of inns; it relieves them of the necessity
of hospitality. The Hungarian will take the wheels off his guest's
carriage and hide them to prevent his departure, whereas the Saxon would
be more inclined to speed the parting guest with amiable alacrity. There
is an old-world look about Herrmannstadt that gives one the sensation of
being landed in another age; it is a case of Rip Van Winkle, only
"t'other way round," as the saying is: one has awakened from the sleep
in the hills to walk down into a mediæval town, finding the speech and
fashions of old Germany--Luther's Germany!

The Saxon immigrants in Hungary number nearly two millions. The greater
proportion of these is found in Transylvania; the rest, some forty
thousand, have a compact colony under the shadow of the Tatra Mountains,
in the north of Hungary, called from time immemorable the "Free
District." But it was to the slopes of the Southern Carpathians, to the
"land beyond the forest," where the first Saxons came and settled. It is
still called "Altland," being the oldest of their possessions in
Hungary. In fact this appellation of the "Oldland" belongs, strictly
speaking, to the Herrmannstadt district. Formerly no Hungarian was
allowed to settle in the town, so jealous were the burghers of their
privileges. I believe the earliest date of the Saxon immigration is
1143. The country had been wasted by the incursions of the Tartars, and
in consequence the Servian Princess Helena, widow of the blind King Bela
of Hungary, invited them hither during the minority of her son, Geysa
II. They appear to have come from Flanders, and from the neighbourhood
of Cologne. They were tempted to this strange land by certain privileges
and special rights secured to them by the rulers of Hungary, and
faithfully preserved through many difficulties; as a fact the Saxons of
Transylvania retained their self-government down to the middle of this
century.

These people have played no unimportant part in European history; for
Herrmannstadt and Kronstadt, the sister towns of Saxon Transylvania,
were called the bulwarks of Christianity all through the evil days of
Moslem invasion. Herrmannstadt was called by the Turks the "Red Town" on
account of the colour of its brick walls. It was besieged in 1438 with a
force of 70,000 men headed by the Sultan Amurad himself, and great were
the rejoicings amongst the brave burghers when it became known that an
arrow directed from one of the towers had rid them of their foe! Trade
and commerce must have prospered, by all accounts, in those days; and
the burghers made themselves of importance, for King Andrew II., a man
far in advance of his time, summoned them to assist in consultation at
the Imperial Parliament. The wealth of Herrmannstadt is a thing of the
past; the place has now the appearance of a dead level of competence,
where riches and poverty are equally absent. There were no new houses
building to supply an increasing population, nor, I should say, had any
been built for many years.

The town is prettily situated on a slight elevation above the
surrounding plain; it has the fine range of the Fogaraser Mountains as a
background. The old moat, where Amurad fell pierced by the well-directed
arrow, has been turned into a promenade; parts of the fortifications
remain in a state of picturesque ruin. Herrmannstadt is the seat of the
Protestant Bishop of Transylvania, and there is a fine old church,
which, however, has suffered severely in the process of restoration.

The interior of the church is in that unhappy condition which bespeaks
the churchwarden's period--whitewash plastered over everything,
obliterating lights and shades and rare carvings beneath a glare of
uncouth cleanliness. In their desire to remove every object that could
harbour dust or obstruct the besom of reform, they have bodily removed
from the church many rich monuments and interesting effigies, and these
are to be seen huddled away in an obscure corner of the churchyard. The
church has a large collection of richly-embroidered vestments belonging
to the pre-Reformation days.

Herrmannstadt is decidedly rich in collections. The Bruckenthal Library
contains an illuminated missal of great beauty; the execution is
singularly fine, and the designs very artistic. The curious thing is
that the history of this rare volume is unknown; by some it is believed
to have come from Bohemia during the time of the troubles in that
country, however nothing is positively known. The book is of the finest
vellum, containing 630 pages in small quarto. The pictures of
architecture and scenery are extremely interesting; the first represent
buildings familiar to us in old German towns, and the rural scenes
depict a variety of agricultural instruments, together with many details
of home life in the olden time. The colours of the birds and flowers are
as bright as if only finished yesterday. The ingenuity of the design is
very striking; no two objects are alike. It would have taken hours to
have looked over the volume thoroughly.

In the palace, of which the museum forms a part, there is a gallery of
pictures, collected by the Baron Bruckenthal, formerly governor of
Transylvania. The history of these pictures is very curious, they were
mostly purchased from French refugees at the time of the first
revolution. It appears that both at that period, and at the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes, many French families had sought an asylum in
Hungary and Transylvania. In the Banat I am told there are two or three
villages inhabited entirely by people who came originally from France;
they retain only their Gallic names, having adopted the Magyar tongue
and utterly lost their own. This little colony of the Banat belonged of
course to the Huguenot exodus. I had now an opportunity of examining a
collection of the Roman antiquities obtained from the Hatszeg Valley.

I remained several days at Herrmannstadt, principally for the sake of
resting my horse, which unfortunately had been rubbed by the saddle-bags
on my ride from Petrosèny. I spent the time agreeably enough, exploring
the neighbourhood and making chance acquaintances. I bought here Bishop
Teusch's 'History of Transylvanian Saxons,' a handy-book in two volumes.
It interested me very much, especially reading it in the country itself
where so many stirring scenes had been enacted.

Wishing to see some of the neighbouring villages, I set off one fine day
on a walking expedition. I chose Sunday, because on that day one can see
to best advantage the costume of the peasants. Hammersdorf is a pretty
enough village, "fair with orchard lawns," but not so charming as
Heltau, which, standing on high ground, commands an extensive view of
the whole plain, with the old "Red Town" in the foreground of the
picture. The church in this village is a very fine specimen of the
fortified churches, which are a unique feature of the Transylvanian
border-land. The origin of this form of architecture is very obvious; it
was necessary to have a defence against the incursions of the Tartars
and Turks, who for centuries troubled the peace of this fair land. In
every village of the Saxons in the south and east of Transylvania the
church is also a fortified place, fitted to maintain a siege if
necessary. The construction of these buildings varies according to
circumstances: the general character is that the sacred edifice is
surrounded, or forms part of a strong wall with its watch-towers; not
unfrequently a second and even a third wall surround the place. In every
case a considerable space of ground is enclosed around the church,
sufficient to provide accommodation for the villagers; in fact every
family with a house outside had a corresponding hut within the fortified
walls. Here, too, was a granary, and some of the larger places had also
their school-tower attached to the church. It happened not unfrequently
that the villagers were obliged to remain for some weeks in their
sanctuary.

Heltau is an industrious little place. Here is manufactured the peculiar
white frieze so much worn by the Wallacks. Nearly every house has its
loom, but I was told the trade is less flourishing than formerly. The
woollen-cloth manufacturers of Transylvania have suffered very much from
the introduction of foreign goods; but, on the other hand, if they would
bestir themselves they might enormously increase their exports. Heltau
is a market-place, and reserves many old privileges very jealously. Its
inhabitants were often in dispute with the burghers of Herrmannstadt,
and on one occasion they had the audacity, in rebuilding their
church-tower, to place four turrets upon it. Their neighbours regarded
this with great indignation, for are not four turrets the sign and
symbol of _civic_ authority? The burghers of Herrmannstadt hereupon
obliged the men of Heltau to sign a bond, saying that "they were but
humble villagers," and promising to treat their haughty neighbours with
all due "honour, fear, and friendship."

From Heltau I went on to Michaelsburg, an extremely curious place. In
the centre of a lovely valley rises a conical rock of gneiss, protruding
to the height of 200 feet or more. This is crowned by the ruins of a
Romanesque church. There are, I believe, only two other specimens of
this kind of architecture in the country. The time of the building of
Michaelsburg is stated to be between 1173 and 1223. Before the use of
artillery this fortified church on the rock must have been really
impregnable. Inside the walls I found a quantity of large round
stones--the shot and shell of those days; these stones were capable of
making considerable havoc amongst a besieging party I should say. The
custom was in the old time that no young man should be allowed to take
unto himself a wife till he had carried one such stone from the bed of
the river where they are found, to the summit of the rock within the
church walls. As these stones weigh between two and three hundredweight,
and the ascent is very steep, it was a test of strength. The villagers
were anxious to prevent the weaklings from marrying lest they should
spoil the hardy race.

The view from the village itself is very pretty, home-like, and with a
more familiar look about the vegetation than I had seen elsewhere. There
were orchards of cherry-trees, and hedges, as in our west country,
festooned with wild hops and dog-roses. Every girl I met was busily
engaged plaiting straw as she walked. This straw is for hats of a
particular kind for which the place is famed. Besides this industry, the
people are great bee-keepers, and make a good trade by selling the
honey. The produce of the hives in the Southern Carpathians is the very
poetry of honey; it is perfectly delicious, not surpassed by that of
Hymettus or Hybla, so famed in ancient story. This "mountain honey"
sometimes reaches the London market, but, unfortunately, not with any
regularity. It is most difficult to make these people practical in their
trade dealings; and as for _time_, they must have come into the world
before it was talked about.

I made a short excursion into the Rothen Thurm Pass, the principal road
across the Southern Carpathians, if we except the Tomöscher Pass from
Kronstadt, which, owing to local circumstances, has become more
important. The Rothen Thurm or Red Tower Pass is extremely picturesque.
It is traversed by the Aluta, which though rising in the Szeklerland in
the north-east, finds its way through the Carpathian range, flowing at
length into the Lower Danube. The red tower stands at the narrowest part
of the defile, an important position of defence; and not far from this
spot signal victory was gained by the Christians over the infidels. In
the year 1493 the Turks made one of their frequent raids into
Transylvania. They had succeeded in collecting a vast amount of booty,
including many fair young maidens and tender youths, and were returning
in long cavalcade through the Red Tower Pass. Here, however, they fell
into an ambuscade arranged by the men of Herrmannstadt, headed by their
burgomaster, the brave George Hecht. At a concerted signal the Saxons
rushed upon the despoilers with such a fierce and sudden onslaught, that
though the Turks far exceeded them in number, they were completely
overpowered. Many a turbaned corpse lay that day on the green margin of
the classical Aluta, and few, very few, of the hated Turks, it is said,
escaped over the frontier to tell the tale of their disaster. How many a
home must have been gladdened by the sight of the rescued children after
that happy victory!

These abductions are not altogether a thing of the past. In the autumn
of 1875, the very date of my tour, a paragraph appeared in a Pest
newspaper stating that a young girl of great beauty in the neighbourhood
of Temesvar, in the Banat of Hungary, had been secretly carried off into
Turkey without the knowledge or consent of her parents. It was further
stated that these scandalous proceedings were of very frequent
occurrence in the border provinces. For some years past the supply of
beautiful Circassians has been deficient, it is said, so doubtless the
harems of Constantinople are supplied with Christian maidens to make up
the numbers. The late Sultan--I mean the one who committed suicide--was
considered a moderate man, and he had eight hundred women in his harem,
at least so a relative of mine was credibly informed at Constantinople.



CHAPTER XVII.

     Magyar intolerance of the German--Patriotic revival of the Magyar
     language--Ride from Herrmannstadt to Kronstadt--The village of
     Zeiden--Curious scene in church--Reformation in
     Transylvania--Political bitterness between Saxons and Magyars in
     1848.


My horse being all right again, I thought it high time to push on to
Kronstadt, which is nearly ninety miles from Herrmannstadt by road.
There is railway communication, but not direct; you have to get on the
main line at the junction of Klein Köpisch--in Hungarian, Kis Kapus--and
hence to Kronstadt, called Brasso by the non-Germans. This confusion of
names is very difficult for a foreigner when consulting the railway
tables. I have often seen the names of stations put up in three
languages. Herrmannstadt is Nagy Szeben. The confusion of tongues in
Hungary is one of the greatest stumbling-blocks to progress; and
unfortunately it is considered patriotic by the Magyar to speak his own
language and ignore that of his neighbour.

It happened to me once that I entered an inn in a Hungarian town, and
addressing the waiter, I gave my orders in German, whereupon an elderly
gentleman turned sharply upon me, saying--also in German, observe--"It
is the custom to speak Hungarian here."

"I am not acquainted with the language, sir," I replied. "German is not
to be spoken here--Hungarian or nothing," he retorted. I simply turned
on my heel with a gesture of impatience. It was rather too much for any
old fellow, however venerable and patriotic, to condemn me to silence
and starvation because I could not speak the national lingo, so in the
irritation of the moment I rapped out an English expletive, meant as an
aside. Enough! No sooner did the testy old gentleman hear the familiar
sound, invariably associated with the travelling Britisher in old days,
than he turned to me with the utmost urbanity, saying in French, "Pardon
a thousand times, I thought you were a German from the fluency of your
speech; I had no idea you were an Englishman. Why did you not tell me at
once? What orders shall I give for you? How can I help you?" It ended in
our dining together and becoming the best friends; in fact he invited me
to spend a week with him at his château in the neighbourhood. In the
course of conversation I could not help asking him why, as he spoke
German himself and the people in the inn also understood it--in fact I
am not sure but what it was their mother-tongue--why he would not allow
the language to be spoken?

"We are Hungarians here," he replied, going off into testiness again,
"and we do not want that cursed German spoken on all sides. I, for one,
will move heaven and earth to get my own language used in my own
country. Ha, ha! the Austrians wanted us to have their officials
everywhere on the railway. We have put a stop to that; now every
man-jack of them must speak Hungarian. It gave an immensity of trouble,
and they did not like it at all, I can tell you."

I did not attempt to argue with the old gentleman, for his views were
inextricably mixed up with feelings and patriotism.

As a matter of fact, in the early part of this century the Magyar
language was hardly spoken by the upper classes except in communicating
with their inferiors; but when the patriotic Count Stephen Széchenyi
first roused his fellow-countrymen to nobler impulses and more
enlightened views, he held forth the restoration of the national
language as the first necessity of their position. In his time it meant
breaking down the barrier which separated classes. He was the first in
the Chamber of Magnates who spoke in the tongue understood by the
people; hitherto Latin had been the language of the Chambers. With the
exception of a group of poets--Varósmazty, Petoefy, Kolcsey, and the
brothers Kisfaludy--there were hardly any writers who employed their
native language in literature or science. Count Széchenyi set the
fashion, he wrote his political works in Hungarian, and what was more,
assisted in establishing a national theatre.

There is perhaps no place where Shakespeare is so often given as at the
Hungarian theatre at Buda-Pest, and it is said by competent judges that
their translation of our great poet is unequalled in any language,
German not excepted.

To a foreigner the Hungarian tongue appears very difficult, because of
its isolated character and its striking difference from any other
European language. In Cox's 'Travels in Sweden,' published in the last
century, he mentions that Sainovits, a learned Jesuit, a native of
Hungary, who had gone to Lapland to observe the transit of Venus in
1775, remarked that the Hungarian and Lapland idioms were the same; and
he further stated that many words were identical. As a Turanian
language, Hungarian has also an alliance with the Turkish as well as the
Finnish; but there are only six and a half millions of Magyars who speak
the language, and by no possibility can it be adopted by any other
peoples.

For their men of letters it is an undeniable misfortune to have so
restricted a public; a translated work is never quite the same. The
question of language must also limit the choice of professors in the
higher schools and at the university. But political grievances are mixed
up with the language question, and of those I will not speak now, while
I am still in Saxonland, where they do not love the Magyar or anything
belonging to him.

Returning to the itinerary of my route, I left Herrmannstadt very early
one morning, getting to Fogaras by four o'clock; it was about
forty-seven miles of good road. This little town is celebrated for the
cultivation of tobacco. There is a large inn here, which looked
promising from the outside, but that was all; it had no _inside_ to
speak of--no food, no stable-boy, nothing. After foraging about I got
something to eat with great difficulty, and feeling much disgusted with
my quarters, I sallied forth to find the clergyman of the place, to whom
I introduced myself.

I spent the evening at his house, and found him a very jolly old fellow;
he entertained me with a variety of good stories, some of them relating
to the tobacco-smuggling. The peasants are allowed to grow the precious
weed on condition that they sell it all to the State at a fixed rate.
Naturally, if they otherwise disposed of it, they would be able to make
a much larger profit, as it is a monopoly of the State. They have a
peculiar way of mystifying the exciseman as to the number of leaves on a
string, for this is the regulation way of reckoning; besides which,
wholesale smuggling goes on at times, and waggon-loads are got away.
Occasionally there is a fight between the officials and the peasants.

I had intended getting on to Kronstadt the next day, but I stopped at
the Saxon village of Zeiden. The clergyman, on hearing that there was a
stranger in the place, hastened to the inn, where he found me calmly
discussing my mid-day meal. He would not hear of my going on to
Kronstadt, but kindly invited me to be his guest. I heard a great deal
later of his unvarying hospitality to strangers.

The next day being Sunday, of course I went to church with my host. The
congregation, including their pastor, wore the costume of the middle
ages; it was a most curious and interesting sight. I am never a good
hand at describing the details of dress, but I know my impression was
that the pastor--wearing a ruff, I think, or something like it--might
just have walked out of a picture, such as one knows so well of the old
Puritans in Cromwell's time. The dress of the peasants, though unlike
the English fashion of any period, had an old-world look. The married
women wore white kerchiefs twisted round the head, sleeveless jackets,
with a mystery of lace adornments. The marriageable girls sat together
in one part of the church, which I thought very funny; they wore
drum-shaped hats poised on the head in a droll sort of way. Some of them
had a kind of white leather pelisse beautifully wrought with embroidery.
Each girl carried a large bouquet of flowers. These blue-eyed German
maidens were many of them very pretty, and all were fresh looking and
exquisitely neat. It was an impressive moment when the whole
congregation joined in singing--

    _"Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott;"_

"the Marseillaise of the Reformation," as Heine calls Luther's hymn,
"that defiant strain that up to our time has preserved its inspiring
power."

The Reformation spread with wonderful rapidity throughout the length and
breadth of Hungary, more especially in Transylvania. It appears that the
merchants of Herrmannstadt, who were in the habit of attending the great
fair at Leipsic, brought back Luther's writings, which had the effect of
setting fire to men's minds. At one time more than half Hungary had
declared for the new doctrines, but terrible persecutions thinned their
ranks. According to the latest statistics there are 1,109,154 Lutherans
and 2,024,332 Calvinists in Hungary. The Saxons of Transylvania belong
almost exclusively to the Reformed faith; they had always preserved in a
remarkable degree their love for civil and political freedom, hence
their minds were prepared to receive Protestantism. Three monks from
Silesia, converts to Luther's views, came into these parts to preach,
passing from one village to another, and in the towns they "held
catechisings and preachings in the public squares and market-places,"
where crowds came from all the country round to hear them. The peasants
went back to their mountain homes with Bibles in their hands; and since
that time the simple folk, through wars and persecutions, have held
steadfast to their faith.

Herrmannstadt became a second Wittenberg: the new doctrine was not more
powerful in the town where Luther lived. Several bishops joined the
party of the seceders, and already the towns throughout Hungary had
generally declared for the Reformation; in many the "Catholic priests
were left, as shepherds without flocks."[15] When Popish ceremonies
aroused the ridicule of the people, and when even in country districts
the priests who came to demand their tithes were dismissed without their
"fat ducks and geese," there was a general outcry against the new
heresy. The Romish party knew their strength at the Court of Vienna. At
the instigation of the Papal legate Cajetan, Louis II. issued the
terrible edict of 1523, which ran as follows: "All Lutherans, and those
who favour them, as well as all adherents to their sect, shall have
their property confiscated and themselves be punished with death as
heretics and foes of the most holy Virgin Mary."

While the monks were stirring up their partisans to have the Lutherans
put to death, a national misfortune happened which saved Protestantism,
at least in Transylvania. Soliman the Magnificent set out from
Constantinople in the spring of 1526 with a mighty host, which came
nearer and nearer to Hungary like the "wasting levin." King Louis lost
his army and his life at the battle of Mohacks, leaving the Turks to
pursue their way into the heart of the country, slaughtering upwards of
200,000 of its inhabitants. To this calamity, as we all know, succeeded
an internal civil war, resulting from the rival claims of John Zapolya
and the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria for the crown of Hungary.
Transylvania took advantage of this critical time to achieve her
independence under Zapolya, consenting to pay tribute to the Porte on
condition of _receiving assistance against the tyranny of Austria_. Thus
it came about that the infidel Turks helped to preserve the Reformation
in this part of Europe: they became the defenders of Protestant
Transylvania against the tyranny of Roman Catholic Austria. "Sell what
thou hast and depart into Transylvania, where thou wilt have liberty to
profess the truth," were the words spoken by King Ferdinand himself to
Stephen Szantai, a zealous preacher of the gospel in Upper Hungary, whom
he desired to defend.

It is said that the first printing-press set up in Hungary was the gift
of Count Nadasdy to Matthias Devay, who was devoted to the education of
youth; and the first work that was issued from the press was a book for
children, teaching the rudiments of the gospel in the language of the
country. The same Protestant nobleman aided the publication in 1541 of
an edition of the New Testament in the Magyar tongue. "It is a
remarkable fact," says Mr Patterson,[16] "connected with the history of
Protestantism, that all its converts were made within the pale of
_Latin_ Christianity. In the nationalities of Hungary there belonged to
Latin Christianity the Magyars, the Slovacks, and the Germans."

In Transylvania the progress of Protestantism was secured. In 1553 the
Diet declared in favour of the Reformation by a majority of votes, and
while the province was governed by Petrovich, during the minority of
Zapolya's infant son, he freed the whole of Transylvania from the
jurisdiction of the Roman hierarchy.

When the Turks were finally expelled from Hungary by the second battle
of Mohacks in 1686, Protestantism had grown strong enough in
Transylvania to extract from the house of Hapsburg the celebrated
_Diploma Leopoldium_ (their Magna Charta), which secured to them
religious liberty once and for ever.

[Footnote 15: See The History of Protestantism, by Rev. J.A. Wylie, Part
29.]

[Footnote 16: The Magyars; their Country and Institutions.]



CHAPTER XVIII.

     Political difficulties--Impatient criticism of foreigners--Hungary
     has everything to do--Tenant-farmers wanted--Wages.


It is remarkable that the Saxons in Transylvania, who had suffered so
much tribulation from the religious persecutions of the house of
Hapsburg, preferring even to shelter themselves under the protection of
the Turk, should be the first to support the tyranny of Austria against
the Magyars in 1848.

I visited at the house of a village pastor, who told me he had himself
led four hundred Saxons against the Hungarians at that time. The
remembrance of that era is not yet effaced; so many people not much
beyond middle age had taken part in the war that the bitterness has not
passed out of the personal stage. Pacification and reconciliation, and
all the Christian virtues, have been evoked; but underlying the calm
surface, all the old hatreds of race still exist. Nothing assimilates
socially or politically in Hungary. The troubled history of the past
reappears in the political difficulty of the present. And what can be
done when the Magyar will not hold with the Saxon, and the Saxon cannot
away with the Szekler? Are not the ever-increasing Wallacks getting
numerically ahead of the rest, while the Southern Slavs threaten the
integrity of the empire?

Prosperity is the best solvent for disaffection. When the resources of
Hungary are properly developed, and wealth results to the many, bringing
education and general enlightenment in its train, there will be a common
ground of interest, even amongst those who differ in race, religion, and
language. It was a saying of the patriotic Count Széchenyi, and the
saying has passed into a proverb, "Make money, and enrich the country;
an empty sack will topple over, but if you fill it, it will stand by its
own weight."

"You call yourselves 'the English of the East,'" I said one day to a
Hungarian friend of mine; "but how is it you are not more practical,
since you pay us the compliment of following our lead in many things?"

"You do not see that in many respects we are children, the Hungarians
are children," replied my friend. "'We are not, but we shall be,' said
one of our patriots. You Britishers are rash in your impatient
criticism of a state which has not come to its full growth. It is hardly
thirty years since we emerged from the middle ages, so to speak; and you
expect our civilisation to have the well-worn polish of Western States.
Think how recently we have emancipated our serfs, and reformed our
constitution and our laws. Take into account, too, that just as we were
setting our house in order, the enemy was at the gate--progress was
arrested, and our national life paralysed; but let that pass, we don't
want to look back, we want to look forward. We have still to build up
the structure that with you is finished; we are deficient in everything
that a state wants in these days, and in our haste to make railways,
roads, and bridges, to erect public buildings, and to promote industrial
enterprises, we make certain financial blunders. You must not forget
that we in Hungary are much in the same state that you were in England
in the thirteenth century, before tenant-holdings had become general. We
shall gradually learn to see the advantages to be derived from letting
land on your farm system. There is nothing we desire so much as the
creation of the tenant-farmer class, which hardly exists yet. Large
estates would be far better divided and let as farms on your system. We
are in a transition state as regards many things in agricultural
matters. English or Scotch farmers would be welcomed over here by the
great landowners. Your countryman, Professor Wrightson, convinced
himself of this when he was here in 1873. If they could command some
capital, the produce of the land in many instances could be doubled."

I asked my friend about labourers' wages, but he said it was difficult
to give any fixed rate. A mere agricultural day-labourer would get from
1s. 3d. to 1s. 6d.; sometimes the evil practice of paying wages in kind
obtained--viz., a man receives so much Indian corn (_kukoricz_). And not
unfrequently a peasant undertakes to plough the fields twice, to hoe
them three times, and to see the crop housed, for which he receives the
half of the yield provided he has furnished the seed. The peasants' own
lands, as a rule, are very badly managed; their ploughing is shallow,
and they do nothing or next to nothing in the way of drainage.



CHAPTER XIX.

     Want of progress amongst the Saxons--The
     Burzenland--Kronstadt--Mixed character of its
     inhabitants--Szeklers--General Bem's campaign.

It was a glorious morning when I left the comfortable village of Zeiden.
Before me were the rich pastures of the Burzenland, a tract which
tradition says was once filled up by the waters of a great lake, till
some Saxon hero hewed a passage through the mountains in the Geisterwald
for the river Aluta, thus draining this fertile region.

The mountainous wall to the rear of Zeiden is clothed by magnificent
hanging woods, which at the time I describe were just tinged with the
first rich touches of autumn. It was a lovely ride through this fertile
vale. On every side I saw myself surrounded by the lofty Carpathians, or
the lesser spurs of that grand range of mountains; the higher peaks to
the south and south-east were already capped with snow. The village in
which I had so agreeably sojourned for a couple of days almost rises to
the dignity of a little town, for it has nearly 4000 inhabitants.
Considering its situation, on the verge of this rich plain, and many
other local circumstances, it is, I suppose, a very favourable example
of a German settlement in Transylvania. I had been struck by the extreme
neatness of the dwellings and the generally well-to-do air of the
people, but there is nothing progressive about these Saxons. I saw
plainly that what their fathers did before them they do themselves, and
expect their sons to follow in the same groove. There is amongst them
generally a dead level of content incomprehensible to a restless
Englishman.

When I asked why they did not try to turn this or that natural advantage
to account, I was met with the reply, "Our fathers have done very well
without it, why should not we?" I could never discover any inclination
amongst the Saxons to initiate any fresh commercial enterprise either at
home or abroad, nor would they respond with any interest to the most
tempting suggestions as to ways and means of increasing their
possessions. It is all very well to draw the moral picture of a
contented people. Contentment under some circumstances is the first
stage of rottenness. The inevitable law of change works the
deterioration of a race which does not progress. This fact admits of
practical proof here. For instance, the cloth manufactures of
Transylvania are falling into decay, and there is nothing else of an
industrial kind substituted. The result is a decrease of the general
prosperity, and a marked diminution in the population of the towns. Nor
is this the case in populous places only. The Saxon villager desires to
transmit the small estate he derived from his father intact to his
_only_ son. He does not desire a large family; it would tax his energies
too much to provide for that. It is deeply to be lamented that a
superior race like the educated Saxons of Transylvania, who held their
own so bravely against Turk and Tartar, and, what was more difficult
still, preserved their religious liberty in spite of Austrian Jesuits,
should _now_ be losing their political ascendancy, owing mainly to their
displacement by the Wallacks. According to the last census, the German
immigrants in Hungary are estimated at 1,820,922. I have no means of
making an accurate comparison, but I hear on all hands that the numbers
are diminished. There are, besides, proofs of it in the case of villages
which were exclusively Saxon having now become partly, even wholly,
Wallachian.

There are wonderfully few châteaux in this picturesque land. In my
frequent rides over the Burzenland I rarely saw any dwellings above what
we should attribute to a yeoman farmer. As a matter of fact there are
fewer aristocrats in this part of Hungary, or perhaps I should say this
part of Transylvania, than in any other.

After my pleasant morning's ride I found myself at Kronstadt, and put up
at Hotel "No. 1"--an odd name for a fairly good inn. There is another
farther in town--the Hotel Bucharest--also a place of some pretension.
The charges for rooms generally in the country are out of all proportion
to the accommodation given. Travellers are rare, at least they used to
be before the present war; but Kronstadt is the terminus of the direct
railway from Buda-Pest, which, communicating with the Tomöscher Pass
over the Carpathians, is the shortest route to Bucharest.

As far as the buildings are concerned, Kronstadt has much the air of an
old-fashioned German town. As you pass along the streets you get a peep
now and then of picturesque interior courtyards, seen through the
wide-arched doorways. These courts are mostly surrounded by an open
arcade. Generally in the centre of each is set a large green tub holding
an oleander-tree. This gives rather an Oriental appearance to these
interiors. The East and West are here mixed up together most curiously.
Amongst the fair-haired, blue-eyed Saxons are dusky Armenians and
black-ringleted Jews, wearing strange garments. By the way, the
merchants of these two races have ousted the Saxon trader from the
field; commerce is almost completely in their hands.

The market-day at Kronstadt is a most curious and interesting sight. The
country-people come in, sitting in their long waggons, drawn by four
horses abreast, they themselves dressed in cloaks of snow-white
sheepskins, or richly-embroidered white leather coats lined with black
fur. The head-gear too is very comely, and very dissimilar; for there
are flat fur caps--like an exaggerated Glengarry--and peaked hats, and
drum-shaped hats for the girls, while the close-twisted white kerchief
denotes the matron. The Wallack maiden is adorned by her dowry of coins
hanging over head and shoulders, and with braids of plaited black
hair--mingled, I am afraid, with tow, if the truth must be spoken.

Kronstadt is rather a considerable place; the population is stated to be
27,766, composed of Saxons, Szeklers, and Wallacks, who have each their
separate quarter. It is most beautifully situated, quite amongst the
mountains; in fact it is 2000 feet above the sea-level. The Saxon part
of the town is built in the opening of a richly-wooded valley. The
approach from the vale beyond--the Burzenland, of which I have spoken
before--is guarded by a singular isolated rock, a spur of the
mountain-chain. This natural defence is crowned by a fortress, which
forms a very picturesque feature in the landscape. Formerly the town was
completely surrounded by walls, curtained on the hillside, reminding one
of Lucern's "coronal of towers." In the "brave days of old" the
trade-guilds were severally allotted their forts for the defence of the
town--no holiday task for volunteers, as in our "right little, tight
little island."

Though the dangers of the frontier are by no means a thing of the past,
the town walls and the towers are mainly in ruins, overgrown with wild
vines and other luxuriant vegetation. As no guidebook exists to tell one
what one ought to see, and where one ought to go, I had all the pleasure
of poking about and coming upon surprises. I was not aware that the
church at Kronstadt is about the finest specimen of fourteenth-century
Gothic in Transylvania, ranking second only to the Cathedral of Kashau
in Upper Hungary.

My first walk was to the Kapellenburg, a hill which rises abruptly from
the very walls of the town. An hour's climb through a shady zigzag
brought me to the summit. From thence I could see the "seven villages"
which, according to some persons, gave the German name to the province,
Siebenbürgen, "seven towns." The level Burzenland looked almost like a
green lake; beyond it the chain of the Carpathian takes a bend, forming
the frontier of Roumania. The highest point seen from thence is the
Schülerberg, upwards of 8000 feet, and a little farther off the
Königstein, and the Butschrtsch, the latter reaching 9526 feet. Hardly
less picturesque is the view from the Castle Hill. Quite separated from
the rest of the town is the quarter inhabited by the Szeklers. This
people constitute one of four principal races inhabiting Transylvania.
They are of Turanian origin, like the Magyars, but apparently an older
branch of the family. When the Magyars overran Pannonia in the tenth
century, under the headship of the great Arpad, they appear to have
found the Szeklers already in possession of part of the vast Carpathian
horseshoe--that part known to us as the Transylvanian frontier of
Moldavia. They claim to have come hither as early as the fourth century.
It is known that an earlier wave of the Turanians had swept over Europe
before the incoming of the Magyars, and the so-called Szeklers were
probably a tribe or remnant of this invasion, the date of which,
however, is wrapped in no little obscurity.

This is certain, that they have preserved their independence throughout
all these ages in a very remarkable manner. "They are all 'noble,'" says
Mr Boner, "and proudly and steadfastly adhere to and uphold their old
rights and privileges, such as right of limiting and of pasture. They
had their own judges, and acknowledged the authority of none beside.
Like their ancestors the Huns, they loved fighting, and were the best
soldiers that Bem had in his army. They guarded the frontier, and
guarded it well, of their own free-will; but they would not be compelled
to do so, and the very circumstance that Austria, when the border system
was established, obliged them to furnish a contingent of one infantry
and two hussar regiments sufficed to alienate their regard."[17] In
another place Mr Boner says, "The Szekler soldier, I was told, was
'excessive,' which means extreme, in all he did."

In the view of recent events, it may be worth while to recall to mind a
few particulars of General Bem's campaign in Transylvania. In no part of
Hungary was the war of independence waged with so much bitterness as
down here on these border-lands. The Saxons and the Wallacks were
bitterly opposed to the Magyars; and on the 12th of May, in the eventful
'48, a popular meeting was held at Kronstadt, where they protested
vehemently against union with Hungary, and swore allegiance to the
Emperor of Austria. Upon this the Szeklers flew to arms--on the side of
the Magyars, of course; throughout their history they have always made
common cause with them. In the autumn of the same year, Joseph Bem, a
native of Galicia, who had fought under Marshal Davoust, later with
Macdonald at the siege of Hamburg, arid had also taken part in the
Polish insurrection of 1830, attached himself to the Hungarian cause. He
had formed a body of troops from the wrecks and remnants of other corps,
and soon by his admirable tactics succeeded on two occasions in beating
the Austrians at the very outset of his campaign; the latter of these
victories was near Dées, to the north of Klausenburg, where he defeated
General Wardener. The winter of that terrible year wore on. In
Transylvania it was not merely keeping back the common enemy, the
invader of the soil, but it was a case where the foes were of the same
township, and the nearest neighbours confronted each other on opposite
ranks.

The Austrians meanwhile had called in the Russians to aid them in
crushing the Hungarians; and at the time it was believed that the Saxons
of Transylvania had instigated this measure. It is easy to understand
how the Russians would be hated along with their allies; it was a
desperate struggle, and well fought out by Magyars and Szeklers, ably
handled by General Bem. Herrmannstadt and Kronstadt both fell into his
hands, after a vigorous defence by the Austro-Russian garrisons; in
fact, by the middle of March '49, the whole of Transylvania, with the
exception of Karlsburg and Dèva, was held by the troops of this
fortunate general. But, as we all know, the Hungarian arms were not so
successful elsewhere, and the end of that struggle was approaching,
which was to find its saddest hour at Villagos on the 13th of August,
when the Hungarians were cajoled into laying down their arms before the
Russians!

The rest of the miserable story had better not be dwelt upon. Much has
changed in these few years. Now a Hapsburg recognises the privilege of
mercy amongst his kingly attributes. The last words of Maximilian, the
ill-fated Emperor of Mexico, were, "Let my blood be the last shed as an
offering for my country." Since then capital punishment has become of
rare occurrence in Austria; and remembering his brother's death, the
Emperor, it is said, can hardly be induced to sign a death-warrant!

[Footnote 17: Boner's Transylvania, p. 624.]



CHAPTER XX.

     The Tomöscher Pass--Projected railway from Kronstadt to
     Bucharest--Visit to the cavalry barracks at Rosenau--Terzburg
     Pass--Dr Daubeny on the extinct volcanoes of Hungary--Professor
     Judd on mineral deposits.


Kronstadt is a capital place as headquarters for any one who desires to
explore the neighbouring country. One of my first expeditions was to
Sinia, a small bath-place in the Tomöscher Pass, just over the
borders--in fact in Roumania. Here Prince Charles has a charming
château, and there are besides several ambitious Swiss cottages
belonging to the wealthy grandees of Roumania. My object was not so much
to see the little place, as it was to explore this pass of the
Carpathians, now so familiar to newspaper correspondents and others
since the Russo-Turkish war began.

As I mentioned before, a railway is projected from Kronstadt through
this pass, which will meet the Lemberg and Bucharest line at Ployesti,
that station being less than two hours from the Roumanian capital. Up to
the present hour not a sod of this railway has been turned; but
curiously enough, with only two or three exceptions, all the "war maps"
have made the capital mistake of marking it down as a _completed_ line.
In the autumn of 1875, when I was there, the levels had been taken and
the course marked down; if it is ever really carried out, it will be one
of the most beautiful railway drives in Europe. It is a most important
link in the railway system of Eastern Europe. The Danube route is
frequently, indeed periodically, closed by the winter's ice, and
sometimes by the drought of summer, in which case the traveller who
wants to get to Roumania must take the train from Buda-Pest to
Kronstadt, and thence by road through the Tomöscher Pass to Ployesti.

There is a diligence service twice daily, occupying fourteen hours or
thereabouts, dependent, of course, on the state of the roads, which can
be very bad--inconceivably bad. For the sake of the excursion I took a
place in the _postwagen_ one day as far as Sinia, where there is a
modern hotel and very tolerable quarters. The scenery of the pass is
very romantic. In places the road winds round the face of the precipice,
and far below is a deep sunless glen, through which the mountain torrent
rushes noisily over its rocky bed; at other times you skirt the stream
with its green margin of meadow--a pastoral oasis amidst the wild
grandeur of bare limestone peaks and snowy summits. The autumnal
colouring on the hanging woods of oak and beech was something more
brilliant than I ever remember to have seen; the effect of being oneself
in shadow and seeing the glory of the sunlight on the foliage of the
other side of the defile, was most striking. Above this ruby mountain
rose other heights with a girdle of dark fir, and higher still were
visible yet loftier peaks, clothed in the dazzling whiteness of
fresh-fallen snow. In the Southern Carpathians there is no region of
perpetual snow, but the higher summits are generally snow-clad late in
the spring and very early in the autumn. I was told there is good
bear-hunting in this district.

While at Kronstadt I made the acquaintance of some Austrian officers
quartered in the neighbourhood. They kindly invited me to the cavalry
barracks at Rosenau, and accordingly I went over for a few days. The
barracks were built by the people of the village, or rather small town,
of Rosenau; for they were obliged by law to quarter the military, and to
avoid the inconvenience of having soldiers billeted upon them they
constructed a suitable building. The cavalry horses were nearly all in a
bad plight when I was there, for they had an epidemic of influenza
amongst them; but we found a couple of nags to scramble about with, and
made some pleasant excursions. One of our rides was to a place called
"The Desolate Path," a singularly wild bit of scenery, and curiously in
contrast to the rich fertility of Rosenau and its immediate
neighbourhood. This pretty little market town lies at the foot of a
hill, which is crowned with a romantic ruin, one of the seven burgher
fortresses built by the Saxon immigrants. There is a remarkably pretty
walk from the village to the "Odenweg," a romantic ravine, with
beautiful hanging woods and castellated rocks disposed about in every
sort of fantastic form. It reminded me somewhat of some parts of the
Odenwald near Heidelberg. Very likely the wild and mysterious character
of the spot led the German settlers to associate with it the name of
Oden.

We also rode over the Terzburg Pass. The picturesque castle which gives
its name to this pass is situated on an isolated rock, admirably
calculated for defence in the old days. It belonged once upon a time to
the Teutonic Knights, who held it on condition of defending the
frontier; but they became so intolerable to the burghers of Kronstadt,
that these informed their sovereign that they preferred being their own
defenders, and thus the castle and nine villages were given over to the
town. The Germans who had left their own Rhine country for the sake of
getting away from the robber knights were not anxious for that special
mediæval institution to accompany them in their flitting, we may be
sure. The democratic character of the laws and customs of the Germans of
Transylvania is a very curious and interesting study; in not a few
instances these people have anticipated by some centuries the liberal
ideas of Western Europe in our own day.

After returning from the visit to my military friends at Rosenau, I was
told I must not omit to make some excursions to the celebrated mineral
watering-places of Transylvania. The chief baths in this locality are
Elopatak and Tusnad. The first named is four hours' drive from
Kronstadt. The waters contain a great deal of protoxide of iron,
stronger even than those of Schwalbach, which they resemble. Tusnad, I
was told, is pleasantly situated on the river Aluta, an excellent stream
for fishing. The post goes daily in eight hours from Kronstadt. The
season is very short, being over in August. Tusnad is said to contain
one hundred springs of different kinds of water. I am not a
water-totaller, so I did not taste all of them when I visited the place
later on; but undoubtedly alum, iodine, and iron do severally impregnate
the various springs.

I remembered reading long ago Dr Daubeny's work on "Volcanoes," in which
he says that Hungary is one of the most remarkable countries in Europe
for the scale on which volcanic operation has taken place. There are, it
is stated, seven well-marked mountain groups of volcanic rocks, and two
of these are in Transylvania. The most interesting in many respects is
the chain of hills separating Szeklerland from Transylvania Proper. It
is within this district that most of the mineral springs are found.

These volcanic rocks are of undoubted Tertiary origin, say the
geologists. The whole range is for the most part composed of various
kinds of trachytic conglomerate. "From the midst of these vast tufaceous
deposits, the tops of the hills, composed of trachyte, a rock which
forms all the loftiest eminences, here and there emerge.... The trachyte
is ordinarily reddish, greyish, or blackish; it mostly contains mica. In
the southern parts, as near Csik Szereda, the trachyte encloses large
masses, sometimes forming even small hillocks, of that variety of which
millstones are made, having quartz crystals disseminated through it, and
in general indurated by silicious matter in so fine a state of division
that the parts are nearly invisible. The latter substance seems to be
the result of a kind of sublimation which took place at the moment of
the formation of the trachyte.... Distinct craters are only seen at the
southern extremity of the chain. One of the finest observed by Dr Boné
was to the south of Tusnad. It was of great size and well characterised,
surrounded by pretty steep and lofty hills composed of trachyte. The
bottom of the hollow was full of water. The ground near has a very
strong sulphureous odour. A mile to the SSE. direction from this point
there are on the tableland two large and distinct _maars_ like those of
the Eifel--that is to say, old craters, which have been lakes, and are
now covered with a thick coat of marsh plants. The cattle dare not graze
upon them for fear of sinking in. Some miles farther in the same
direction is the well-known hill of Budoshegy (or hill of bad smell), a
trachytic mountain, near the summit of which is a distinct rent,
exhaling very hot sulphureous vapours.... The craters here described
have thrown out a vast quantity of pumice, which now forms a deposit of
greater or less thickness along the Aluta and the Marosch from Tusnad to
Toplitza. Impressions of plants and some silicious wood are likewise to
be found in it."[18]

Since Dr Daubeny's time there have been many observers over the same
ground, the most distinguished being the Hungarian geologist Szabó,
professor at the University of Buda-Pest. A countryman of our own has
also taken up the subject of the ancient volcanoes of Hungary, and has
recently published a paper on the subject. Professor Judd has confined
his remarks principally to the Schemnitz district in the north of
Hungary. But the following passage refers to the general character of
the formation. Professor Judd says:[19] "The most interesting fact with
regard to the constitution of these Hungarian lavas, which in the
central parts of their masses are often found to assume a very coarsely
crystalline and almost granitic character, while their outer portions
present a strikingly scoriaceous or slaggy appearance, remains to be
noticed. It is, that though the predominant felspar in them is always of
the basic type, yet they not unfrequently contain _free quartz_,
sometimes in very large proportion. This free quartz is in some cases
found to constitute large irregular crystalline grains in the mass, just
like those of the ordinary orthoclase quartz-trachytes; but at other
times its presence can only be detected by the microscope in thin
sections. These quartziferous andesites were by Stache, who first
clearly pointed out their true character, styled 'Dacites,' from the
circumstance of their prevalence in Transylvania (the ancient Dacia)."

In concluding this highly instructive and interesting memoir of the
volcanic rocks of Hungary, Professor Judd says: "The mineral veins of
Hungary and Transylvania, with their rich deposits of gold and silver,
cannot be of older date than the Miocene, while some of them are
certainly more recent than the Pliocene. Hence these deposits of ore
must all have been formed at a later period than the clays and sands on
which London stands; while in some cases they appear to be of even
younger date than the gravelly beds of our crags!"

For any one who desires to geologise in Hungary and Transylvania there
is abundant assistance to be obtained in the maps which have been issued
by the Imperial Geological Institute of Vienna, under the successive
direction of Haidinger and Von Hauer. "These are geologically-coloured
copies of the whole of the 165 sheets of the military map of the empire;
and these have been accompanied by most valuable memoirs on the
different districts, published in the well-known 'Jahrbuch' of the
Institute. Franz von Hauer has further completed a reduction of these
large-scale maps to a general map consisting of twelve sheets, with a
memoir descriptive of each, and has finally in his most valuable and
useful work, 'Die Geologie und ihre Anwendung auf die Kenntniss der
Bodenbeschaffenheit der Osterrungar. Monarchie,' which is accompanied by
a single-sheet map of the whole country, summarised in a most able
manner the entire mass of information hitherto obtained concerning the
geology of the empire."

I have given this passage from Mr Judd's paper because there exists a
good deal of misapprehension amongst English travellers as to what has
really been done with regard to the geological survey of Austro-Hungary.

[Footnote 18: A Description of Active and Extinct Volcanoes, by C.
Daubeny, p. 133. 1848.]

[Footnote 19: 'On the Ancient Volcano of the District of Schemnitz,
Hungary,' Quarterly Journal, Geo. Soc., August 1876.]



CHAPTER XXI.

     A ride through Szeklerland--Warnings about robbers--Büksad--A look
     at the sulphur deposits on Mount Büdos--A lonely lake--An
     invitation to Tusnad.


Feeling curious not only about the geology of the Szeklerland, but
interested also in the inhabitants, I resolved to pursue my journey by
going through what is called the Csik. I made all my arrangements to
start, but wet weather set in, and I remained against my inclination at
Kronstadt, for I was impatient now to be moving onwards.

When I was in Hungary Proper they told me that travelling in
Transylvania was very dangerous, and that it was a mad notion to think
of going about there alone. Now that I was in Transylvania, I was amused
at finding myself most seriously warned against the risk of riding alone
through the Szeklerland. Every one told some fresh story of the
insecurity of the roads. Curiously enough, foreigners get off better
than the natives themselves; people of indifferent honesty have been
known to say, "One would not rob a stranger." It happened to me that
one day when riding along--in this very Szeklerland of ill-repute--I
dropped my Scotch plaid, and did not discover my loss till I arrived at
the next village, where I was going to sleep. I was much vexed, not
thinking for a moment that I should ever see my useful plaid again.
However, before the evening was over, a peasant brought it into the inn,
saying he had found it on the road, and it must belong to the Englishman
who was travelling about the country. The finder would not accept any
reward!

There was a fair in the town the day I left Kronstadt. The field where
it is held is right opposite Hotel "No. 1," and the whole place was
crowded with country-folks in quaint costumes--spruce, gaily-dressed
people mixed up with Wallack cattle-drivers and other picturesque
rascals, such as gipsies and Jews, and here and there a Turk, and, more
ragged than all, a sprinkling of refugee Bulgarians. Though it was a
scene of strange incongruities--a very jumble of races--yet it was by no
means a crowd of roughs; on the contrary, the well-dressed, well-to-do
element prevailed. The thrifty Saxon was very much there, intent on
making a good bargain; the neatly-dressed Szekler walked about holding
his head on his shoulders with an air of resolute self-respect--they
are unmistakable, are these proud rustics. Many a fair-haired Saxon
maiden too tripped along, eyeing askance the peculiar "get-up" of the
Englishman as he was about to mount his noble steed and ride forth into
the wilds. If I was amused by the crowd, I believe the crowd was greatly
amused at my proceedings. Mine own familiar friend, I verily believe,
would have passed me by on the other side, I cut so queer a figure. As
usual on these occasions, I had sent forward my portmanteau, this time
to Maros Vásárhely; but everything else I possessed I carried round
about me and my horse somehow, and I am not a man "who wants but little
here below."

Besides my _toilette de voyage_, I had my cooking apparatus, a small jar
of Liebig's meat, and some compressed tea, and other little odds and
ends of comforts. I had also provided myself with some bacon and
_slivovitz_ for barter, a couple of bottles of the spirit being turned
into a big flask slung alongside of my lesser flask for wine. Nor was
this all, for having duly secured my saddle-bags, I had the plaid and
mackintosh rolled up neatly and strapped in front of the saddle; then my
gun, field-glass, and roll of three maps were slung across my shoulders.
_Nota bene_ my pockets were full to repletion. In my leathern belt was
stuck a revolver, handy, and a bowie-knife not far off.

But the portrait of this Englishman as he appeared to the Kronstadt
people on that day is not yet complete. His legs were encased in Hessian
boots; his shooting-jacket was somewhat the worse for wear; and his hat,
which had been eminently respectable at first starting, had acquired a
sort of brigandish air; and to add to the drollery of his general
appearance, the excellent little Servian horse he rode was not high
enough for a man of his inches.

With my weapons of offence and defence I must have appeared a "caution"
to robbers, and it seems that the business of the fair was suspended to
witness my departure. I was profoundly unconscious at the time of the
public interest taken in my humble self, but later I heard a very
humorous account of the whole proceeding from some relatives who visited
Kronstadt about three weeks afterwards. I believe I am held in
remembrance in the town as a typical Englishman!

Well, to take up the thread of my narrative--like Don Quixote, "I
travelled _all_ that day." If any reader can remember Gustave Doré's
illustration of the good knight on that occasion, he will have some idea
of how the sky looked on this very ride of mine. As evening approached,
the settled grey clouds, which had hung overhead like a pall all the
afternoon, were driven about by a rough wind, which went on rising
steadily. The grim phantom-haunted clouds came closer and closer round
about me as darkness grew apace, and now and then the gust brought with
it a vicious "spate" of rain. With no immediate prospect of shelter, my
position became less and less lively. I had not bargained for a night on
the highroad, or lodgings in a dry ditch or under a tree. Indeed those
luxuries were not at hand; for trees there were none bordering the road,
or in the open fields which stretched away on either side; and as for a
_dry_ ditch, I heard the streams gurgling along the watercourses, which
were full to overflowing, as well they might be, seeing that it had
rained for three days.

My object was to reach the village of Büksad, but where was Büksad now
in reference to myself? I had no idea it was such a devil of a way off
when I started. I had foolishly omitted to consult the map for myself,
and had just relied on what I was told, though I might have remembered
how loosely country-people all the world over speak of time and space.

When at length the darkness had become perplexing--_entre chien et
loup_, as the saying is--I met a peasant with a fierce-looking
sheep-dog by his side. The brute barked savagely round me as if he meant
mischief, and I soon told the peasant if he did not call off his dog
directly I would shoot him. He called his dog back, which proved he
understood German, so I then asked if I was anywhere near Büksad. To my
dismay he informed me that it was a long way off; how long he would not
say, for without further parley he strode on, and he and his dog were
soon lost to view in the thick misty darkness.

Not a furlong farther, I came suddenly upon a house by the roadside, and
a man coming out of the door with a light at the same moment enabled me
to see "Vendéglo" on a small signboard. Good-luck: here, then, was an
inn, where at least shelter was possible; and shelter was much to be
desired, seeing that the rain was now a steady downpour. On making
inquiries, I found that I was already in Büksad. The peasant had played
off a joke at my expense, or perhaps dealt me a Roland for an Oliver,
for threatening to shoot his dog. A _paprika handl_ was soon prepared
for me. In all parts of the country where travellers are possible, the
invariable reply to a demand for something to eat is the query, "Would
the gentleman like _paprika handl_?" and he had better like it, for his
chances are small of getting anything else. While I was seeing after my
horse, the woman of the inn caught a miserable chicken, which I am sure
could have had nothing to regret in this life; and in a marvellously
short time the bird was stewed in red pepper, and called _paprika
handl_.

I was aware that Count M---- owned a good deal of property in the
neighbourhood of Büksad, and as I had a letter of introduction to his
bailiff, I set off the next morning to find him. My object in coming to
this particular part of the country was principally to explore that
curious place Mount Büdos, mentioned by Dr Daubeny and others. I wanted
to see for myself what amount of sulphur deposits were really to be
found there. Count M----'s bailiff was very ready to be obliging, and he
provided me with a guide, and further provided the guide with a horse,
so that I had no difficulty in arranging an expedition to the mount of
evil smell.

Having arranged the commissariat as usual, I started one fine morning
with my guide. We rode for about two hours through a forest of majestic
beech-trees, and then came almost suddenly, without any preparation,
upon a beautiful mountain lake, called St Anna's Lake. It lies in a
hollow; the hills around, forming cup-like sides, are clothed with
thick woods down to its very edge. Looking down from above, I saw the
green reflection of the foliage penetrating the pellucid water till it
met the other heaven reflected below. The effect was very singular, and
gave one the idea of a lovely bit of world and sky turned upside down;
it produced, moreover, a sort of fascination, as if one must dive down
into its luring depths. No human sight or sound disturbed the weird
beauty of this lonely spot. I longed at last to break the oppressive
silence, and I fired off my revolver. This brought down a perfect volley
of echoes, and at the same time, from the highest crags, out flew some
half-dozen vultures; they wheeled round for a few moments, then
disappeared behind the nearest crest of wood.

My guide soon set about making a fire; and while dinner was being
cooked, I bethought me I would have a bath. I took a header from a
projecting rock, but I very soon made the best of my way out of the
water again. It was icy cold; I hardly ever recollect feeling any water
so cold--I suppose because the lake is so much in shadow. After the meal
we pushed on to Büdos, another two hours of riding; this time through a
forest so dense that we could scarcely make our way. At last we reached
a path, and this brought us before long to a roughly-constructed
log-hut. This, I was told, was the "summer hotel." Further on there
were a few more log-huts, the "dependence" of the hotel itself. The
bathing season was over, so hosts and guests had alike departed. This
must be "roughing it" with a vengeance, I should say; but my guide told
me that very "high-born" people came here to be cured.

It is a favourite place, too, for some who desire the last cure of all
for life's ills; a single breath of the gaseous exhalations is death.
One cleft in the hill is called the "Murderer;" so fatal are the fumes
that even birds flying over it are often known to drop dead! The
elevation of Mount Büdos is only 3800 feet; there are several caves
immediately below the highest point. The principal cave is ten feet high
and forty feet long, the interior being lower than the opening. A
mixture of gases is exhaled, which, being heavier than the atmosphere,
fills it up to the level of the entrance; and when the sun is shining
into the cave, one can see the gaseous fumes swaying to and fro, owing
to the difference of refraction.

I experienced a sensation which has often been noticed here before. On
entering the cave, and standing for some minutes immersed in the gas,
but with my head above it, I had the feeling of warmth pervading the
lower limbs. I might have believed myself to be in a warm bath up to
the chest. This is a delusion, however, for the gaseous exhalation is
pronounced by experimenters to be cooler, if anything, than the air; I
suppose they mean the air of an ordinary summer day. The walls of the
cave arc covered with a deposit of sulphur, and at the extreme end drops
of liquid are continually falling. This moisture is esteemed very highly
for disease of the eyes; it is collected by the peasants. The gas-baths
are resorted to by persons suffering from gout or rheumatism. They are
taken in this manner: The patient wears a loose dress over nothing else,
and arriving at the mouth of the cave, he must take one long breath.
Instantly he runs into the dread cavern, remaining only as long as he
can hold his breath; he then rushes back again. One single inhalation,
and he would be as dead as a door-nail! How the halt and lame folk
manage I don't know, but my guide was eloquent about the wonderful cures
that are made here every year.

There are a variety of mineral springs in different parts of the
mountain. At the source some have the appearance of boiling, from the
quantity of carbonic acid gas given off; but it is only in appearance,
for the water is very cold.

The springs which yield iron and carbonic acid are much used for
drinking. There are also some primitive arrangements for bathing near
by. A square hole is cut in the ground; this is boarded round, and a
simple wooden shed, like a gigantic dish-cover, is put over it. Here
again my guide said that miraculous cures are wrought annually. It is a
wonder that anybody is left with an ache or a pain in a country which
has such wonderful waters. I think my guide thought I was a doctor, who
was searching for a new health-resort, and he was quite ready to do his
share of the puffing.

On Mount Büdos itself, in other parts than the cave, there occurs a good
deal of sulphur; specimens are often found distributed which are very
rich indeed. The place certainly deserves a thorough exploration, with a
view to utilising the sulphur deposits; but it is so overgrown with
vegetation that the search would involve considerable trouble and
expense.

There is a fine view from Mount Büdos towards Moldavia. I was fortunate
in having good lights and shades, and therefore enjoyed the prospect
most thoroughly. I should like to have remained longer on the summit,
but not being prepared for camping out it was not possible; so very
reluctantly we set about returning.

My guide led me back to Büksad by another route, a rough road, with
deep ruts and big stones that must make driving in any vehicle, except
for the honour and glory of it, a very doubtful blessing. But bad roads
never do seem to matter in Hungary. Everybody drives everywhere; they
would drive over a glacier if they had one. Occasionally we came upon
some charming bits of forest scenery. The trees were grand, especially
the beech; they were of greater girth than any I had yet seen in
Transylvania. I noticed many mineral springs by the roadside; one could
distinguish them by the deposit of oxide of iron on the stones near by.

When I got back to Büksad, I found the bailiff waiting to tell me that
Count M---- and Baron A---- desired their compliments, and would be
pleased to see me at Tusnad, if I would go over there. I had no
introduction to these noblemen, and mention the invitation as an
instance of Hungarian hospitality. They had simply heard that an
Englishman was travelling about the country.

I rode over to Tusnad the following day, and found it, as I had been led
to expect, a very picturesque little place, a number of Swiss cottages
dropped down in the clearing of the forest, with a good "restauration,"
built by Count M---- himself. When I was there the season was over; but
I am told that it is full of fashionables in June and July, and that the
waters have an increasing reputation. My attention was drawn to the
singular fact of two springs bubbling up within six feet of each other,
which are proved by chemical analysis to be distinctly different in
composition. I fancy Count M---- was much amused at the fact of an
English gentleman travelling about alone on horseback, without any
servants or other impedimenta. I remember a friend of mine telling me
that once in Italy, when he declined to hire a carriage from a peasant
at a perfectly exorbitant price, and said he preferred walking, the
fellow called after him, saying, "We all know you English are mad enough
for anything!"

I don't know whether the Hungarian Count drew the same conclusion in my
case, but I could see he was very much amused; I don't think any other
people understand the Englishman's love of adventure.



CHAPTER XXII.

     The baths of Tusnad--The state of affairs before 1848--Inequality
     of taxation--Reform--The existing land laws--Communal
     property--Complete registration of titles to estates--Question of
     entail.


I mixed exclusively in Hungarian society during my stay at the baths of
Tusnad. With Baron ---- and Herr von ---- I talked politics by the hour.
The Hungarians have the natural gift of eloquence. They pour forth their
words like the waters of a mill-race, no matter in what language. My
principal companion at Tusnad spoke French. The true Magyar will always
employ that language in preference to German when speaking with a
foreigner; but as often as not the Hungarians of good society speak
English perfectly well. The younger generation, almost without
exception, understand our language, and are extremely well read in
English literature.

I had so recently left Saxonland, where public opinion is opposed to
everything that has the faintest shade of Magyarism, that I felt in the
state of Victor Hugo's hero, of whom he said, "Son orientation était
changée, ce qui avait été le couchant était le levant. Il s'était
retourné." The transition was certainly curious, but I confess to
getting rather tired of the mutual recriminations of political parties;
respecting each other's good qualities, they are simply colour-blind.

After the Saxons had been allowed to drop out of the conversation, I led
my Magyar friend to talk of the state of things before 1848, and to
enlighten me as to the existing condition of laws of property. My
Hungarian--who, by the way, is a man well qualified to speak about legal
matters--showered down upon me a perfect avalanche of facts. Leaving out
a few patriotic flashes, the substance of what he told me was much as
follows. I had especially asked about the recent legislation on the land
question.

"In the old time, before '48, the State, the Church, and the Nobles were
the _sole_ landowners. The holding of land was strictly prohibited to
all who were not noble; but to the peasants were allotted certain
tracts, called for distinction 'session-lands.' For this privilege the
peasant had to give up a tenth part of the produce to the lord, and
besides he had to work for him two, and in some cases even _three_, days
in the week. The _robot_, or forced labour, varied in different
localities. The lord was judge over his tenants, and even his bailiff
had the right of administering twenty-five lashes to insubordinate
peasants. The _time_ of the forced labour was at the option of the lord,
who might oblige his tenant to give his term of labour consecutively
during seed-sowing or harvest, at the very time that the peasant's own
land required his attendance. It may easily be imagined that this was a
fruitful cause of dispute between the lord and his serfs.

"But the most glaring act of injustice under the old system was that
_all the taxes_ were paid by the session-holding peasantry, while the
nobles were privileged and tax-free. They absolutely contributed nothing
to the revenue of the country in the way of direct taxes!

"This peculiarity of the Constitution made it the interest of the Crown
to _preserve_ the area of the tax-paying peasant-land against the
encroachments of the tax-free landlord. It often happened that on the
death or removal of a peasant-holder the lord would choose to absorb the
session-land into the _allodium_, which, being tax-free, resulted in a
loss to the imperial revenue. To prevent this absorption of
session-lands by the landlord, and also to accommodate the burdens of
the peasantry, which had become almost intolerable in the last century,
owing to the tyranny of the feudal superiors--to prevent this, I repeat,
a general memorial survey with a view to readjustment took place in 1767
by command of Maria Theresa.

"This very important settlement, which came to be known as the
'URBARIAL CONSCRIPTION,' laid down and defined the rights and
services of the peasants, and the amount of land to be held by them. The
nobles henceforth were obliged to find new tenants of the peasant class
in the event of the 'session-lands' becoming vacant. Likewise their
unjust impositions on the serfs were restricted, and the _rights_ of the
latter, in respect to wood-cutting and pasturage on the lord's lands,
were established by law.

"This was all very well as far as it went," said my friend; "but the
inequality of taxation and the forced labour were crying evils not to be
endured in the nineteenth century. Our people who travelled in England
and elsewhere came back imbued with new ideas. We in Transylvania assume
the credit of taking the lead in liberal politics. Baron Wesselényi was
one of the first to advise a radical reform, and others--Count Bethlen,
Baron Kemeny, and Count Teleki--were all agreed as to the necessity of
bringing about the manumission of the serfs. It is an old story now. I
am speaking of the third and fourth decades of the century, and
political excitement was at white-heat. The extreme views of Wesselényi
raised a host of opponents among his own class, who regarded the
prospect of reform as nothing short of class suicide. Everything else
might go to the devil as long as they retained their privileges; the
devil, however, is apt to make a clean sweep of the board when he has
got the game in his own hands, but these noble wiseacres could not see
that. In other parts of the country good men and true were working up
the leaven of reform. The great patriot Széchenyi, as long ago as 1830,
when he published his work on 'Credit,' had shown his countrymen their
shortcomings. He had proved to them that their laws and their
institutions were not marching with the spirit of the age; that, in
short, the 'rights of humanity' called for justice. What this truly
great man did for the material improvement of his country could hardly
be told between sunrise and sundown. You practical English were our
teachers and our helpers in those days, when bridges had to be built,
roads to be made, and steam navigation set up in our rivers. English
horses were brought over to improve the breed in Hungary, and English
agricultural machinery still turns out treasure-trove from our fields.
But beyond all this, what we saw and admired in England's history was
her constitutional struggles for liberty; the efforts made by freedom
within the pale of the law; her capacity, in short, for self-reform. You
see how it is, my dear sir, that everything English is so popular with
us in Hungary."

I bowed my acknowledgments, and begged my friend to proceed with his
narrative of events.

"Well, to go back to our own history," he continued, in a tone which had
in it a shade of melancholy, "you see from 1823 to the eve of 1848 the
Diet had been tinkering at reform in a half-hearted sort of way, but the
Paris revolution let loose the whirlwind, and events were precipitated.
I need not tell you there was a standing quarrel between us and the
reactionary rulers in Vienna. It was the deceitful policy of Austria to
bring about a temporary show of agreement between us. The Archduke
Stephen was appointed Viceroy, assisted by a council composed entirely
of Hungarians. Now mark this turning-point in our history. The first Act
of this Diet, presided over by Count Batthyanyi, was to abolish at one
sweep the class privileges of the nobility. Roundly speaking, eight
millions of serfs received their freedom by that Act! Nor was this all,
the important part remains to be told--and I do not think foreigners
always realise it--the Act further enforced that the session-lands held
by the peasants became henceforth _their freehold property_. Half, or
nearly half, the kingdom thus, by the voluntary concession of the
nobles, became converted from a feudal tenure, burdened with duties,
into an absolute freehold.

"Like every sudden change, the result was not unmixed good. The Wallacks
especially were not prepared for their emancipation; they thought
equality before the law meant equality of goods."

I now inquired how the working of the land laws was carried out, and to
this my friend replied:--

"As a lawyer I can give you an exact statement in a few words. The
disturbed state of the country after the war of independence, which
followed immediately upon the emancipation of the serfs, prevented for a
while the effective realisation of the great reform of '48. However, in
1853 several imperial decrees were promulgated, by means of which the
changed system was worked out in detail. 'Urbarial courts' were
instituted to inquire into the amount of compensation due to the lords
of the manors who had lost the tithes and the 'forced labour' of the
former serfs. To meet this compensation 'State urbarial bonds' were
created and apportioned; they bear five per cent. interest, and are
redeemable within eighty years, with two drawings annually. The fund for
this compensation is raised by a special tax on every Hungarian subject;
not only the freed peasant pays towards the fund, but the lord himself,
and those who never had any feudal tenants.

"The peasants had also to receive their compensation for the loss of
pasturage and the right of cutting wood on the lord's demesne. In lieu
of these privileges they received allotments of forest and pasturage as
absolute property. The land thus acquired by the peasants is in fact
_parish property_, or in other words, communal property. This is the
only instance in which the parish appears as landowner, for all other
peasant property, with the exception of the parish buildings, such as
the school, is the property of the respective peasants. The parish
authorities regulate the usage of the common pasturage and common
forest. The sale or cutting down of the latter is subject to the
permission of the county authorities."

I now proceeded to question my friend about the laws respecting the
transfer of land, and especially about the registration of titles of
estate. To these inquiries he replied as follows:--

"Land in Hungary is the absolute property of that person, or corporate
body, who appears as owner in the registry. A limitation of claim to
ownership does not exist with us; indeed it is contrary to the law. The
_Avitische Patent_ of 1854 prescribed further that every one should be
regarded as the rightful owner who actually held the property in
1848--_i.e._, the _status quo_ of 1848 to be accepted as the basis. The
_Urbarium_ of Maria Theresa was, in short, the stand-point in all these
arrangements, whether it was the sessional lands of tenants formerly
held in hereditary use, now freehold, or the _allodium_ of the noble.
Immediately succeeding the _Avitische Patent_, the _registration of
land_ was made law, in conformity with which all estates had been
surveyed and entered on the registry as belonging to those owners who
possessed the same in consequence of the above-named patent."

"But how about disputed inheritance-lands held by mortgagees, and other
contingencies always arising in regard to estates?" I asked.

"I am sorry to say that dreadful cases of injustice were caused by this
enactment. Whole families were reduced to beggary, and the greatest
rascals obtained possession by this law of enormous estates, simply
because they happened to hold the land in 1848, and the rightful owner
did not advance his claim within the prescribed time. The evil could
not be redressed, and in 1861, when the Hungarian Constitution was
reinstated, the Diet of that year was obliged to accept and confirm the
_Avitische Patent_, and the registration of land as directly following
it. The grievances are past, but the benefit remains to us and our
children. In Hungary at the present time the transfer of land is as
simple as buying or selling the registered shares of a railway company.
The registry forms the basis of every transaction connected with landed
property, and, as we lawyers say, what is not entered there _non est in
mundo_. Mortgages must be set down against the registered title.
Contracts of leases are also entered, and in the case of farms being
taken, caution-money, amounting generally to a quarter's rent, must be
deposited with the authorities."

"One more question. Are there no entailed estates amongst your
aristocracy?"

"Very few, indeed, even among the richest aristocracy. An Act of
entailment can, it is true, be founded, but it is rarely permitted,
being looked upon with disfavour for reasons of political economy. Such
an Act would require in any case the special permission of the sovereign
and of Government; and then the estate is placed under a special court.
Without special permission from this court neither an alteration of the
Act can take place, nor is sale or mortgage allowed. Hungarian law also
interposes some restrictions in the case of a testator, who must leave
by will at least half his property to his children. And with regard to
women, the law with us is specially careful to preserve a woman's legal
existence after marriage."



CHAPTER XXIII.

     Fine scenery in Szeklerland--Csik Szent Marton--Absence of
     inns--The Szekler's love of lawsuits--Csik Szereda--Hospitality
     along the, road--Wallack atrocities in 1848--The Wallacks not
     Panslavists.


The charming scenery of the Szeklerland, and the kindly hospitality of
the people, induced me to linger on. I had many a ride through those
glorious primeval forests, where the girth of the grand old oak-trees
and their widespreading branches are in themselves a sight to see: the
beech, too, are very fine. Climbing farther, the deciduous woods give
place to sombre pine-trees--the greybeards of the mountain. A great
charm in this part of the country, at least from a picturesque point of
view, is the affluence of water. Every rocky glen has its gurgling rill,
every ravine its stream, which, at an hour's notice almost, may become a
mountain torrent, should a storm break over the watershed. A plague of
waters is no unfrequent occurrence, as the farmer in the valley knows to
his cost. Fields are laid under water, and the turbulent streams often
bring down great masses of earth and rock in a way that becomes
"monotonous" for the man who has to clear his land or his roads of the
_débris_. Mr Judd remarks that the volcanic rocks of Hungary have
"suffered enormously from denuding causes." Every fresh storm reminds
one that the process is in active operation.

After finally leaving Tusnad, I rode on to Csik Szent Marton, where, as
there was no inn, I had to present myself at the best house in the place
and crave their hospitality. My request was taken as a matter of course,
and they received me with the greatest kindness; in fact it was with
great difficulty that I could get away the next day. My host entreated
me to remain longer, and when he found that I was really bent on
departing, he gave me several letters of introduction to friends of his
along the road I was likely to travel. It was a very acceptable act of
kindness, for there are hardly any inns in this part of the country. "If
Transylvania is an odd corner of Europe," then is the Csik or
Szeklerland a still more odd corner; by no possibility can it ever be
the highroad to anywhere else. I am not surprised that my lawyer friend
said that there were still some lawsuits pending in connection with the
allotments of forest and pasturage in this part of Hungary, though
everything was definitely settled elsewhere. The Szekler is as
troublesome and turbulent in some respects as his own mountain streams;
added to which he dearly loves a lawsuit: it is in the eyes of the
peasant a patent of respectability, as keeping a gig formerly was in
England.

"Why do you go to law about such a trifle?" observed a friend of mine to
his neighbour.

"Well, you see I have never had a lawsuit, as all my neighbours have had
about something or another; so, now there is the chance, I had better
have one myself!"

It is well for the lawyers that there is "a good deal of human nature"
everywhere, especially in Hungary, otherwise they would have a bad time
of it, where the legal expenses of "transfer" are a few florins, whether
it be for an acre of vineyard or for half a _comitat_. I must observe,
however, that in the sale of lands or houses, Government intervenes with
a heavy tax on the transaction.

Leaving my hospitable entertainers at Csik Szent Marton, I went on to
Csik Szereda, where I was kindly taken in by the postmaster. In this
case I was provided with a letter; but a stranger would naturally go to
the postmaster or the clergyman to ask for a night's lodging. At first I
felt diffident on this score; but I soon got over my shyness, for in
Szeklerland they make a stranger so heartily welcome that he ceases to
regard himself as an intruder. In out-of-the-way places one is looked
upon as a sort of heaven-sent "special correspondent." There is a story
told of Baron ----, one of the nearly extinct old-fashioned people, who
regularly, an hour or so before the dinner-hour, rides along the nearest
highroad to try and catch a guest. It has even been whispered that on
one occasion a couple of intelligent-looking travellers, who declined to
be "retained" for dinner, were severely beaten for their recalcitrant
behaviour, by order of the hospitable Baron. The story is well founded,
and I daresay took place before '48, when anything might have happened.

I can bear witness that I have never myself been ill-treated for
declining Hungarian hospitality, but when in Saxonland something very
much the reverse occurred to me. I once entered a village at the end of
a long day's ride, and stopping at the first house, asked for a night's
lodging, whereupon I was told to ask at the next house. They said they
could not take me in, excusing themselves on the score of an important
domestic event being expected. I went on a little farther, though the
"shades of night were falling fast," and repeated my request at the next
house. I give you my word, there were _more_ domestic events--always
the same excuse. I began to calculate that the population must be
rapidly on the increase in that place. It was too much. I entered the
last house of that straggling village with a stern resolve that not even
new-born twins should bar my claim to hospitality!

I found the postmaster at Csik Szereda a very intelligent man, with a
fund of anecdotes and recollections, which generally centred in the
troubles of '48. As I mentioned before, the Szeklers rose _en masse_
against the Austrians. One of their officers, Colonel Alexander Gál,
proved himself a very distinguished leader. Corps after corps were
organised and sent to aid General Bem. "It was a terrible time; the men
had to fight the enemy in the plain while our old men and women defended
their homesteads against the jealous Saxons and the brutal Wallacks."

It was not in one place, or from one person, but from every one with
whom I spoke on the subject, that I heard frightful stories of Wallack
atrocities. In one instance a noble family--in all, thirteen persons,
including a new-born infant--were slaughtered under circumstances of
horrible barbarity within the walls of their castle. The name I think
was Bardi; it is matter of history.

Amongst other horrors, the Wallacks on several occasions buried their
victims alive, except the head, which they left above ground; they
would then hurl stones at the unfortunate creatures, or cut off the
heads with a scythe. It was not a war of classes but of race, for the
poor peasants amongst the Magyars and Szeklers fared just as badly at
the hands of the infuriated Wallacks as the nobles.

The belief is still held that the Vienna Government instigated the
outbreak. Certainly arms had been put into the hands of these
uncivilised hordes under the pretence of organising a sort of militia.
Metternich knew the character of these irregulars, as he had known and
proved the character of the Slovacks in Galicia in the terrible rising
of the serfs in 1846. His complicity on that occasion has never been
disproved.

The winter of 1848-49 must have been a time of unexampled misery to the
Magyars of Transylvania. The nobles generally dared not remain in their
lonely châteaux; it was not a question of bravery, for how could the
feeble members who remained home from the war guard the castle from the
torches of a hundred frantic, yelling wretches, who, with arms in their
hands, spared neither age nor sex? For the time they were mad--these
Eastern people are subject to terrible epidemics of frenzy!

The Szekler town of Maros Vásárhely, which was strong enough to keep the
Wallacks at bay, was the sanctuary of the noble ladies and children of
that part of Transylvania. It was so full of fugitives that the
overcrowding was most distressing. A lady, the bearer of an historic
name, told me herself that she and seven of her family passed the whole
winter in one small room in Maros Yásárhely. Added to the discomfort and
insalubrity of this crowding, they were almost penniless, having nothing
but "Kossuth money." For the time the sources of their income were
entirely arrested. In this instance one of the children died--succumbed
to bad air and privation. Another patrician dame kept her family through
the winter by selling the vegetables from her garden; this together with
seventeen florins in silver was all they had to depend upon. Add to this
the misery of not hearing for weeks, perhaps even for months, from their
husbands or sons, who were with the armies of Görgey or Bem.

The Magyars were not always safe in the towns, for at Nagy Enyed, a
rather considerable place, the Wallacks succeeded in setting fire to it,
and butchered all the inhabitants who were not fortunate enough to
escape their fury. In the neighbourhood of Reps the castles of the
nobility suffered very severely. Grim incidents were told me, things
that were too horrible not to be true--infants spiked and women
tortured. One cannot dwell upon the details! What struck me as very
remarkable was the fact that Magyars and Wallacks are now dwelling
together again in peace side by side. It reminds one of the people who
plant their vines again on Vesuvius directly an eruption is over. In the
last century, in 1784, there was a dreadful outbreak of the Wallacks.
Individually they are really not bad fellows--so it seemed to me--and
one hears of fewer murders among them than perhaps in Ireland. The
danger exists of leaders arising who may stir up the nationality
fever--the idea of the great _Roumain_ nation that looms big in their
imagination!

They love neither Croatians, Slavonians, nor Austrians, and they are no
longer a safe card to play off against the Magyars; but indeed I would
fain believe that better and wiser counsels now prevail. Austria is not
the Austria of '48, any more than the England of to-day is the same as
England before the Reform Bill.

The autumn evenings were getting long, and after supper, as I sat
smoking my pipe by the stove in the simple but scrupulously neat
apartment of my host, he, in his turn, asked me about England. It is
very touching the warmth with which these people in the far-off "land
beyond the forest" speak of us. "We never can forget how kindly England
received our patriots." This, or words like it, were said to me many
times, and always the name of Palmerston came to the fore. "He cordially
hated the Austrians." What better ground of sympathy?



CHAPTER XXIV.

     Ride to Szent Domokos--Difficulty about quarters--Interesting
     host--Jewish question in Hungary--Taxation--Financial matters.


From Szereda I went to Szent Domokos. It was a long ride, and I was
again nearly benighted. However, I reached my destination this time just
as the last streak of daylight had departed.

I had some difficulty in making the people I met understand that I
wanted the postmaster's house. No one, it appeared, could speak a word
of German. At length I found the place; but a new difficulty arose. The
postmaster, it seemed, was away, as far as I could make out from his
wife. She seemed greatly puzzled, not to say alarmed, at seeing an armed
horseman ride up, who demanded hospitality; and I daresay she was the
more puzzled at not being able "to place me," as the Yankees say, for
she asked me if I was a Saxon, an Austrian, or a Turk? My appearance, I
suppose, was rather uncouth and alarming. She was young and very
pretty--an Armenian, I learned afterwards. These women are apt to have
Oriental notions about men, and she was evidently afraid to ask me in.

There was I, with my tired horse, completely up a tree. I thought to
myself, I cannot stay in the street, so pushing my way through a sort of
courtyard, I found out what appeared to be the stable. This I took
possession of, all the time making the most polite bows and gestures,
for we hardly understood a word of each other's language. There was no
help for it, I must make myself at home. I put the horse up, I relieved
him of his saddle and saddle-bags, and seeing a bucket and a well not
far off, I fetched some water. By this time the young woman had called
in some neighbours, and I could see them watching me from behind the
half-closed doors and windows. I must observe I had lighted my own
lantern that I always carried with me, so that my proceedings were made
quite visible to the cautious spectators. They never attempted to
interfere with me, and I went on doing my work quietly and
unostentatiously. The position was ludicrous in the highest degree!

While I was yet foraging for my horse's supper, by good-luck in came the
postmaster. He spoke German, and I was soon able to make all square. He
was as civil as possible, offering me at once the hospitality of his
roof, which in fact I had already assumed. I saw he was very anxious to
remove the unpleasant impression of his wife's mistake. He bade me
welcome many times over, he thanked me for the honour I did him in
offering to sleep under his humble roof, and further persisted in
calling me "Herr Lord." It was in vain that I corrected him on this
point. "I was an Englishman, therefore I must be a 'Herr Lord,' and
there was an end of it."

When Mr Boner was travelling in Szeklerland he was also, _nolens
volens_, raised to the peerage, so I suppose it is a settled conviction
of the people that we are all lords in Great Britain.

We had for supper a capital _filet d'ours_ from a bear that had been
shot only two days before. I enjoyed my supper immensely; the wine was
as good as the food. My pretty hostess laughed a good deal over the
false alarm my appearance had created. Her husband interpreted between
us, but I promised to learn Hungarian before I paid them another visit.
My host proved himself to be a very intelligent man; I had an
exceedingly interesting conversation with him after supper. He
complained bitterly of the heavy pressure of taxation, saying that
Government ought to manage things more economically, for that every year
now there was a deficit.

"Yet your country is rich in natural resources, as rich almost as
France, barring her advantages of seaboard."

"Yes, we have wealth under the soil," he replied, "and what we want is
capital to develop our resources. Herein Austria has stood in our way;
you know the old policy of Austria, as far back as Maria Theresa's time,
which was to make Hungary Catholic, to make her poor, and to turn her
people into Germans. This last they will never do; but they have
succeeded in their second project only too well. They have made us poor
enough, they have discouraged manufactures and industries of every kind.
We wish for free trade, but Austria is opposed to it. The manufactures
of Bohemia must be nursed, and accordingly we are made to suffer. We
want to be brought into contact with our customers in Western Europe; we
want, in fact, to get our trade out of the hands of the Jews."

"I wish to ask you your candid opinion about the Jews. Some people say
they are the curse of the country; others again, that Hungarian commerce
would be nowhere without them."

"I will tell you what happens," replied my friend, evading a direct
answer to my latter observation. "A wretched Jew comes into this
village, or some other place--it does not matter, it is always the same
story. He comes probably from Galicia as poor as a rat, he settles
himself in the village, and sells _slivovitz_ on credit to the foolish
peasant, who, besotted with drink and debt, gets into his meshes; in the
end, the Jew having sucked the blood of his victims, possesses himself
of their little property, finds himself the object of universal hatred,
and then he moves on. He makes a fresh start in some other place,
beginning on a higher rung of the ladder; and you will find him sitting
in the highest seats before he has done."

"If your people were less of spendthrifts and managed their affairs
themselves, then the Jews would cease to find a harvest amongst you."

"Yes, that is true," he answered; "but we are not practical; we do not
organise well. The Jew always manages to be the middle-man between
ourselves and the consumers."

"But without the Jew you would perhaps not even get so near to the
consumer," I observed quietly.

My host puffed out a volume of smoke, and after a pause observed, before
he placed his pipe again between his lips, "In this part of the country,
in the Szeklerland, the better class of merchants are nearly all
Armenians."

Apropos of the tax question, I have looked into the matter since, and I
am rather surprised to find the proportion not so heavy as I thought; on
the whole population it is about £1 a-head--certainly less than is borne
by many other states. In England, I believe, we are taxed at over £2
a-head. Then, again, it is true that since 1870 there has been an annual
deficit, and the equilibrium of income and expenditure can hardly be
counted upon just yet; still things are moving in the right direction.
The Hungarians have been reproached for managing their finances badly
since the compromise with Austria in 1867, when the revenue came
exclusively under their own control. But in answer they say, that having
so lately entered the community of states, they found themselves in the
position of a minor who comes into house and lands that have need of
every sort of radical repair and improvement. Hungary has had to spend
heavily upon road-making, bridges, railroads, sanatory and other
economic improvements, and very heavily for rectification of the course
of the Danube; in fact they have ambitiously set themselves too much to
do in the time. They have rendered Buda-Pest, with its magnificent river
embankments, one of the finest capitals in Europe. The Magyar does
everything with a degree of splendour that savours of the Oriental.
They know not the meaning of the homely adage which tells a man to "cut
his coat according to his cloth."

Added to the pressure of accumulated expenses, Hungary has had a
succession of bad harvests--she has been passing through the seven lean
years. The last season has shown, however, a decided improvement, so we
may hope the bad corner is turned. I am informed that this year the
schedule for unpaid--viz., arrears of--taxes is completely wiped off.
Then, again, the income-tax in the space of five years ending 1874
increased from 5,684,000 florins to 27,650,000 florins!

The financial account of the current year is reassuring. At the sitting
of the Hungarian Diet on the 30th October,[20] the minister, in
presenting the estimates for 1878, said that in 1876 and 1877 the
expenditure had been reduced by £1,250,000. It was not possible to
continue at the same rate, and the net reduction next year would be
£360,000. It is true the deficit of 1877 is £1,600,000, a sufficiently
grave sum; but to judge the position fairly it is necessary to look at
the budgets of former years. In 1874, "in consequence of rather too
hasty investment of money in railways and other public works," the
deficit was £6,000,700; in 1876 it had fallen to £3,100,000. The present
year, therefore, shows a steady reduction of those ugly figures at the
wrong side of the national account.

[Footnote 20: 'Hungarian Finances,' the Times, October 31, 1877.]



CHAPTER XXV.

     Copper mine of Balanbanya--Miners in the wine-shop--Ride to St
     Miklos--Visit to an Armenian family--Capture of a robber--Cold ride
     to the baths of Borsék.


Having expressed a wish to see the copper mine at Balanbanya, which is
some five miles from Szent Domokos, my host proposed to drive me over
the next morning. When the morning came the weather looked most
unpromising; there was a steady downpour, without any perceptible break
in the clouds in any quarter. I had made up my mind to go, and as after
the noonday meal it cleared slightly, we started. The mud was nearly up
to the axletree of our cart. After driving some time we reached a wild
and rather picturesque valley, in which rises the Alt, or, as it is
called when it reaches Roumania, the Aluta. The course of this stream is
singularly tortuous, winding about through rocks and defiles, often
changing its direction, and finally making a way for itself through the
Carpathian range.

As we approached the copper mine it had all the appearance of a volcano,
for a heavy cloud of smoke hung over the spot like a canopy. This mine
has been worked for many years; formerly it paid well, but now it is in
the hands of a company, who are working at a loss, if I could believe
what I was told.

I have repeatedly noticed in Hungary that people commit themselves to
works of this kind without the technical knowledge necessary to carry
them on successfully. The necessary capital, too, is generally wanting
to bring these mining operations to a successful issue; added to this
the managers are often not conspicuous for their honesty.

I went over these works, and gave particular attention to the refinery.
Some of the processes for collecting the metal are ingeniously simple
and effective. The copper-ore is remarkably pure, being, it is said,
free from arsenic and antimony. The concern ought to pay, for the copper
is so well esteemed that it obtains the best price in the market.

After inspecting the place, we went into the inn to have some supper,
and while there, several miners came in. I had heard that they were
renowned for their mining songs down in these parts, so I made friends
with the men and begged them to sing. After a little persuasion and a
refilling of glasses they began.

The music of their songs was very mournful, and the words equally so,
descriptive of the dangers the poor miner had to encounter in searching
for ore in the gloomy depths of the earth. I believe my companion, the
postmaster, was very puzzled to understand what could interest me in
these rough miners. The scene was exceedingly picturesque; for some six
or eight of these stalwart fellows, with skin and clothes reddened by
the earth, sat by a long table, each with his flask of wine before him,
while the flicker of an oil-lamp threw its yellow light over the group.
One of the men spoke German, and with him I talked. He had elicited from
me the fact of my being an Englishman, whereupon he asked me a variety
of questions about our mines and our forests. Finally he inquired
whether our bears were as large as theirs. When I told him we had none
he could not credit it, saying, "But you must have bears on the
frontier?" When I explained that we lived upon an island he seemed much
surprised. I saw that his natural politeness prevented his saying what
was in his mind, but it was evident he thought that if the English lived
in an island they could not be such a great people after all.

Not wishing to put my host to expense, more especially as the expedition
was undertaken solely for my benefit and at my suggestion, I paid the
score at the Balanbanya Inn without saying anything. I was very vexed to
find, however, that by doing so I had offended my companion very much.
He reminded me that I was a stranger in Szeklerland and his guest, and
it was contrary to all his ideas of hospitality that I should be the
paymaster. Instead of starting homewards, as we were ready to do, he
ordered more wine and some sardines, being the greatest delicacy the
house afforded. I was obliged to make a show of partaking of something
more, though I had amply supped. For these extras of course my friend
paid, but he was only half appeased, and was never quite the same again.

The following morning I left the house of my too-hospitable
entertainers. My destination now was St Miklos. My road thither lay
through a pine-forest, as lonely a tract as could well be imagined, for
there were no signs whatever of human habitations. Certainly the weird
solitude of a pine-wood is more impressive than any other kind of forest
scenery. Under the impervious shade and the long grey vistas, one moves
forward with something of a superstitious feeling, as though one were
intruding into the sanctuary of unseen spirits. I cannot say that I was
a prey to such idle fancies, for the spirits I was likely to meet would
be very tangible enemies. This district had a bad reputation, owing to
several robberies having been committed in the neighbourhood; in fact
the whole country was just then under martial law. I was well armed, and
being alone I kept my weather-eye open; but I saw not even the ghost of
a brigand, and reached St Miklos in safety.

It is usual when incendiary fires or robberies have been rife in any
district to place that part of the country under the _Statorium_, so
that if any person or persons are caught in _flagrante delicto_, they
are summarily tried and hung before a week is over. When I was in
Transylvania in the autumn of '75, the whole of the north-eastern corner
was under the _Statorium_.

At St Miklos I put up at the house of an Armenian, who received me with
a most frank and kindly welcome, conducting me to the guest-chamber
himself after giving orders to the servants to attend to my horse. St
Miklos is charmingly situated in the valley of Gyergyó, at an elevation
of nearly 3000 feet above the sea-level. Here one is right in amongst
the mountains, the higher summits rising grandly around. The scenery is
very fine. There are interminable forests on every side, broken by
ravines and valleys, with strips of green pasture-land. In former times
these primeval woods were tenanted by the wild aurochs, but now one sees
only the long-horned white cattle and the wiry little horses belonging
to the villages that nestle about in unexpected places. St Miklos is
almost entirely inhabited by Armenians. There is a market here, and it
is considered the central place of the district. The year before my
visit the town was nearly destroyed by fire. Upwards of three hundred
houses were burned down in less than three hours. The loss of property
was considerable, including stores of hay and _kukoricz_ (Indian corn).
Since this conflagration, which caused such widespread distress in the
place, they have established a volunteer fire brigade. This ought to
exist in every village. Prompt action would often arrest the serious
proportions of a fire. It would be a good thing if some substitute could
be found for the wooden tiles used for roofing; in course of time they
become like tinder, and a spark will fire the roof. The houses in
Hungary are not, as a rule, constructed of wood, as in Upper Austria and
Styria, nor are they nearly so picturesque as in that part of the world.
In some Hungarian villages the cottages are painted partly blue and
partly yellow, which has a very odd effect; and throughout the country
they are built with the gable-end to the road.

When I was at St Miklos there was great excitement over the recent
capture of a famous robber chief, whose band had kept the country-side
in a state of alarm for some months past. I was asked if I would like to
go and see him, and of course I was glad to get a sight at last of one
of the robbers of whom I had heard so much in my travels. I was never
more surprised than, on arriving in front of a very shaky wooden
building, to be told that this was the prison. A few resolute fellows
might have easily broken in and effected the rescue of their chief.

There was no romance about the appearance of the miserable wretch that
we found within, stretched on a rough bed with wrists and feet heavily
ironed. These manacles were hardly needed, for he was severely wounded,
and seemed incapable of rising from his pallet. I never saw so repulsive
a countenance; and the flatness of the head was quite remarkable. His
eyes were very prominent, and had the restless look of a hunted animal,
which was painful in the extreme; but there was absolutely no redeeming
expression of human feeling in the dark coarse face. Well, there was
something human about him though. I was told he had been photographed
that morning, and that he had expressed considerable satisfaction at the
idea of his portrait being preserved. He was under sentence of death!
There were various stories told of his capture, but I think the
following is the true account. It appears that he and his gang made
their appearance from time to time in the forest round the well-known
watering-place of Borsék. When visitors were on their way to the baths,
they were frequently stopped by the robbers in a mountain pass, in the
immediate neighbourhood of a dense forest that stretches far away for
miles and miles over the frontier. It was the custom of the robbers to
demand all the money, and they would relieve the travellers of their fur
cloaks and overcoats, and other useful articles; but if they did not
offer any resistance, they were permitted to go on uninjured, to take
their cure at the baths. I should doubt, however, that anybody would be
welcome there without a well-filled purse; at least I judge so from what
I heard of the eminently commercial character of the place.

The robbers had the game in their own hands for a long while, but they
made a mistake one fine day. They stopped a handsome equipage, which
seemed to promise a good haul; but lo, behold, it was the
_Obergespannirz_, the lord-lieutenant of the county! He had four good
horses, and so saved himself by flight. But the authorities now really
bestirred themselves, and the soldiers were called out to exterminate
this troublesome brood. They were accompanied by a renowned bear-slayer
who knew the forest well. It was with great difficulty that they
succeeded at last in tracking the robbers, or rather robber, for it was
only the chief who was trapped after all. It appears that the soldiers
and their guide came upon a small hut surrounded by almost impenetrable
thickets. The hunter crept on in advance of the rest, and looking into
the interior through the chinks of timbers, he saw a man drying his
clothes by a small fire. He quietly said, "Good-day." The robber started
up, and seizing his gun, flung open the door and fired his fowling-piece
at once at his visitor. Fortunately the powder proved to be damp, or he
must have received the full charge. The bear-slayer was now in close
quarters, and fired off his revolver within a short distance of the
other's head. The shot took effect, and he fell in a heap stunned and
senseless. At first they thought he was dead, and it is marvellous that
the well-aimed discharge did not kill him. His skull must have been
uncommonly thick. This fellow was known to be the leader. The rest of
the gang had probably escaped into Moldavia, from whence they came.

My friends at St Miklos were kind enough to promise to get up a
bear-hunt for me, and it was arranged that I should go and see the
baths of Borsék, and return on Saturday night, so as to be ready for the
bear-hunt on Sunday. The "better observance of the Sabbath" is always
associated with bear-hunting in these parts.

I left St Miklos in a snowstorm, though it was only the 16th of
September--very early for such signs of winter. I was not prepared for
wintry weather. It frustrated my plans and expectations a good deal. I
was disappointed, too, in the climate, for I had always heard that the
late autumn is about the finest time for Transylvania.

I have invariably remarked that whenever I go to a new country it is the
signal for "abnormal meteorological disturbances," as they call bad
weather in the newspapers. My own notion is that weather is a very mixed
affair everywhere.

For three mortal hours I rode on through a blinding snowstorm. At length
I espied the ruin of an unfinished cottage by the wayside, and here I
bethought me I would take shelter and see after my dinner; for whatever
happens, I can be hungry directly afterwards--I think an earthquake
would give me an appetite.

My unfurnished lodgings were in as wild a spot as imagination could
picture. No wonder that the builder had abandoned the construction of
this solitary dwelling; why it had ever been commenced passes my
comprehension. It was just at the entrance of a mountain valley,
treeless, stony, and rugged, through which there were at intervals the
semblance of a track--a desolate, God-forgotten-looking place. On
consulting the map I found that the "road" led to Moldavia. I resolved
it should not lead me there. Here then, in this dreary spot, with its
gable-end to the road, and turning away from the prospect--and no
wonder--stood the carcass of a cottage. My horse and I scrambled over
the breach in the wall, where a garden never had smiled, and got into
the roofless house. It was with considerable difficulty that I found
sticks enough for my kitchen fire. I had to try back on the route I had
passed, for I remembered not far in the rear a group of firs standing
sentinels in the pass. I always took care to have an end of rope in my
pocket; with this I tied up my fagot, shouldered it, and returned to the
house of entertainment. The result of my trouble was a blazing fire,
whereat I cooked an excellent robber-steak. I made myself some tea, and
afterwards enjoyed--yes, actually enjoyed--my pipe. There is a pleasure
in battling with circumstances, even in such a small affair as getting
one's dinner under difficulties.

After washing-up (by good-luck there was a stream near by), I packed up
my belongings, and giving a last look around to see that I had left
nothing, I departed without as much as a _pourboire_ for "service," one
of the advantages of self-help.

The prospect for the rest of my ride was not lively, a good ten miles
yet to be done on a bad road. It had ceased to snow, but the clouds kept
driving down into the valley as if the very heavens themselves were in a
state of mobilisation. It is curious to notice sometimes in the higher
Carpathians how the clouds march continuously through the winding
valleys; always moving and driving on, these compact masses of vapour
are impelled by the currents of air in the defiles which seam the
mountains.

My way was now through an interminable pine-forest, the road stretching
in a perfectly straight line and at a perceptible rise. Indeed it was
uphill work altogether. The ceaseless dripping of the rain made the
whole scene as cheerless as it well could be. The snow had turned to
cold dull rain, which was far more depressing. I wished the mineral
springs at Borsék had never been discovered. It was too late to turn
back to St Miklos, where I devoutly wished myself, so I had nothing to
do but plod on with my waterproof tight round me. It was impossible to
go fast, for in places the mud was very deep and the road was beset
with big stones.

It was dark when I reached Borsék, and again I wished I had never come.
The inn was very uncomfortable; there was no fireplace in any of the
rooms. The baths are only used in the height of summer, and if it turns
cold, as it does sometimes at this elevation, people I suppose must
freeze till it gets warm again. I had come a fortnight too late; the
world of fashion departs from Borsék at the end of August. Ten or twelve
springs rise within a short area, and vary curiously in quality and
temperature. The source which is principally used for exportation is
remarkable for the quantity of carbonic acid it contains. About 12,000
bottles are filled every day; some 1500 on an average break soon after
corking, owing partly to the bad quality of the bottles. There is a
glass manufactory in the place, and though they have good material they
turn out the work badly.

The export trade in the mineral waters is very large. They are much
valued for long sea voyages, as the water keeps for years without losing
its gaseous qualities.[21]

The baths of Borsék belong to two different parishes, and they are by no
means agreed as to the management. Some years ago the principal spring
was struck by lightning and entirely lost for a time, but after much
digging it was found again. The situation of Borsék is extremely
romantic, and in the height of summer it must be very delightful; but in
summer only--let no one follow my example and go there out of season. Of
course the place is surrounded by magnificent forests, but it is a
crying shame to see how they have been treated. In every direction there
is evidence of the ravages of fire. You may see in a morning's walk the
blackened stems of thousands of trees, the results of Wallack
incendiarism. If the Wallacks go on destroying the forests in this way,
they will end in injuring the value of the place as a health resort; for
the efficacy of the perfumed air of the pine-woods is well known,
especially for all nervous diseases.

The houses are badly built at Borsék, and the arrangements for comfort
are very incomplete. Most of the habitations appear to have been run up
with green wood; the result may be pleasant and airy in summer, when the
balmy breeze comes in from cracks in the doors and window-frames, but
except in great heat, a perforated house is a mistake. People have to
bring their own servants and other effects. I should say a portable
stove would not be a bad item amongst the luggage.

The Borsék waters are very much drunk throughout Hungary, especially
mixed with wine. Everywhere I noticed that eight people out of ten would
take water with their wine at meals. In the district round there is
splendid pasturage for cattle. Large numbers of cattle fed in these
parts are now sent to Buda-Pest and Vienna. The serious drawback to
Borsék is its great distance from a railway. The nearest station is
Maros Vásárhely, which is nearly ninety miles away. The drive between
the two places is very fine--that is, the scenery is fine, but the road
itself is execrable. A telegraph wire connects Borsék with the outside
world, but the post only comes twice a-week.

[Footnote 21: The waters of Borsék are much taken as an "after-cure."]



CHAPTER XXVI.

     Moldavian frontier--Tölgyes--Excitement about robbers--Attempt at
     extortion--A ride over the mountains--Return to St Miklos.


Instead of going back to St Miklos by the same route, I resolved to
diverge a little if the weather permitted. I wanted to visit Tölgyes, a
village on the frontier of Moldavia, which is said to be very pretty.
The weather decidedly improved, so I rode off in that direction. The
road, owing to the late rains, was in a dreadful state. All the mountain
summits were covered with fresh snow; it was a lovely sight. The
dazzling whiteness of these peaks rising above the zone of dark
fir-trees was singularly striking and beautiful. The effect of sunshine
was exhilarating in the highest degree, and the contrast with my recent
experience gave it a keener relish.

At Tölgyes there is a considerable trade with Moldavia in wood. Quite a
fresh human interest was imparted to the scene by this industry. By the
side of the stream small rafts were in course of construction, and the
trunks of the trees were being placed in position to make the descent of
the stream. The woodman's axe was heard in the forest, and many a
picturesque hut or group of huts were to be seen by the roadside, where
the woodmen and their families live, to be near their work. The labour
of getting the timber along these tortuous mountain streams is very
great. A ready market is found at Galatz, where a great deal of this
wood is sent.

I remained the night at Tölgyes. The whole place was in a state of
excitement about brigands; every one had some fresh rumour to help swell
the general panic. A company of soldiers were kept constantly patrolling
the roads in the neighbourhood. I should say they were pretty safe not
to encounter the robbers, who are always well informed under those
circumstances.

In studying my pocket-map, I found that there was clearly a short cut
over the mountains to St Miklos. On inquiry I extracted the confirmation
of the fact with difficulty, and I had still more difficulty in inducing
anybody to go with me as a guide. At length I secured the services of a
fellow who was willing to go for a tolerably substantial
"consideration." I was afraid to work my way entirely by the map, for
roads are apt to be vague in these parts. Ten chances to one whether
you know a road when you see it; it might be a green sward, or the
rubbly dry bed of a mountain torrent, or a cattle-track; it may lead
somewhere or nowhere. Unassisted you may wander all manner of ways.

I made my start very early in the morning, for I had a long way to go,
and my guide was on foot; there was not much use in being mounted,
considering the pace that the roughness of the road forced us to take.
Before leaving Tölgyes I had a row with the innkeeper. He made a most
exorbitant demand upon me, at least three times over what was properly
due. I told him at once that I declined to pay the full amount he asked.
I knew perfectly well what the charge ought to be, and I said I should
pay that and no more. Hereupon he got very angry, and informed me that
he should not saddle my horse or let me go till I had paid him in full.
I immediately went into the stable and saddled the horse myself; I then
put down on the window-seat the money which I considered was due to him,
giving a fair and liberal margin, but I was not going to be "done"
because I was a foreigner. I ordered my guide to proceed, and I myself
quickly rode out of the place. The innkeeper worked himself up into a
tremendous rage, and declared he would have me back, or at least he
would have his cold meat and bread back that I had ordered for the
journey. I gave my horse the rein, and left the fellow uttering his
blessings both loud and deep.

We had ten miles of as bad a road as any I had yet seen in my travels.
The mud in some places was two feet deep. We followed the windings of a
stream called the Putna Patak, and came presently to a wayside inn
frequented by foresters. Here we made a short halt, got a bottle of
decent wine and a crust of bread. Immediately on quitting this place we
turned into a less frequented path, and began a stiffish ascent. It was
a superb day, and I enjoyed it immensely, not having been much favoured
by weather lately. Our route was through a thick forest, the trees, as
usual in these, magnificent, with their gigantic girth, and
widespreading branches. At times I got a glimpse of the snowy mountain
summits standing out against the intensely blue sky.

At mid-day I told the guide to look out for the next spring, for there
we would dine. We did not find a spring for some time, at least not by
the wayside, and I was reluctant to lose time by wandering about. At
length when we had secured a water-tap--viz., a little trickling rill
flowing between some stones and spongy moss--we found ourselves in a
difficulty about the fire. There was plenty of wood, but it was all
soaking wet and would not burn. Luckily a fir-tree was spied out, which
provided us with a good quantity of turpentine, and with this we
persuaded the fire to blaze up a bit. We cooked the dinner, had a smoke,
a short rest, and then _en avant_--always through the forest.

Later in the afternoon, emerging from the wood, we came upon a grassy
plateau which commanded a glorious view of the Transylvanian side of the
Carpathians. I was glad to see the familiar valley of Gyergyó away
westward, with its numerous villages and green pasturage. The same
physical peculiarity pervades the whole of Hungary. Whenever you get a
vale of any extent, it is as flat as if it were a bit of the great
plain. Everywhere you have the impression that formerly the waters of a
lake must have covered the level verdure of the valley. As soon as I
caught sight of St Miklos I dismissed my guide, for his services were no
longer required, and I could get on quicker without him. I had still a
long distance to go, for I was not far below the summit. I was extremely
anxious to get into safe quarters before dark, so I made the best of the
way, leading my horse down the steep bits, and mounting again for a
short trot where it was possible.

On arriving at the house of my Armenian friends at St Miklos, happily
before sundown, I was greatly disappointed to find that there would be
no bear-hunt the next day. Those detestable robbers had turned up again,
and the people who were to have formed part of the sporting expedition
were obliged to go robber-hunting, a sport not much to their taste I
fancy.

It appeared that the fellows had entered an out-of-the-way inn, or
rather wine-shop, and boldly ordered the owner to procure for them a
certain amount of gunpowder, which they required should be ready for
them the next day, and failing to carry out their orders, they
threatened to shoot him. He was obliged to promise, for there were five
of them, and except women he was alone in the house. They drank a
quantity of his wine, and asked for no reckoning, saying they would pay
for it the next day along with the gunpowder.

Directly they had left the premises, the innkeeper set off as fast as
his legs could carry him to St Miklos to ask for help. The robbers
seemed to be such bunglers that one would judge them to be new to the
business; but the innkeeper's terror knew no bounds, and he declared
they were awful-looking cut-throats. Two of the men were caught the
next day. I saw them brought into the village heavily manacled; they
were harmless-looking Wallacks, not very different in appearance from my
guide over the mountain. Though armed with guns, they made no
resistance; and when they were discovered they had called out lustily to
the soldiers not to fire, for they would give themselves up. I expect
they were let off with imprisonment, but I never heard the end of the
story. I owed them a grudge for spoiling my bear-hunt, which I missed
altogether, for I could not wait until the following Sunday.

I left St Miklos with an introduction to some rich Armenians at
Toplicza, where I intended making my next halt.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     Toplicza--Armenian hospitality--A bear-hunt--A ride over to the
     frontier of Bukovina--Destruction of timber--Maladministration of
     State property--An unpleasant night on the mountain--Snowstorm.


At Toplicza I was very hospitably received by the family to whom I took
the letter of introduction from my friends at the last place.
Unfortunately I could not converse with the elders of the family, for
they spoke no German, and my Hungarian was limited. However, there was a
charming young lady with whom I found no difficulty in getting on; she
understood not only the language but the literature of Germany.

A bear-hunt was soon proposed in my honour. The headman of the village
was brought into our council, and he quickly sent round orders that
everybody was to appear the following day--which conveniently happened
to be _fête_ day--for a hunt. Those who had guns would be placed at
different "stands," and those who had no guns were expected to act as
beaters.

The _Richter_, or headman, was a fine specimen of a Wallack; he was six
feet three, broad chested, with flowing black hair--a handsome fellow of
that type. I told him I should not like to fight him if he knew how to
use his fists. He was pleased at the little compliment. The next day the
Wallacks came pouring in from all the outlying parts of the village. It
was really a very picturesque sight. The men wore thongs of leather
round their feet in place of boots; and those who had no guns were armed
with the usual long staff surmounted by the formidable axe-head.

A great deal of time was wasted in preparations. The Wallacks are the
most dilatory people in the whole world. It was nearly three o'clock
before we got to the forests where we hoped to give Bruin a rendezvous.
The guns that some of the party carried were "a caution"--more fit for a
museum of armoury than for anything else. The Wallacks try to remedy the
inefficiency of their guns by cramming in very large charges of powder,
at least two bullets, and some buckshot besides. I often thought the
danger was greater to themselves than to the bear. They never fire over
twenty-five yards, and in fact generally allow the bear to come within
twelve yards, when they pepper away at him.

At last we were in position. It is usual to have a second gun, but I
had only my rifle and revolver; unfortunately my gun was with my baggage
at Maros Vásárhely. After waiting for some time without hearing anything
but the creaking of the pine-trees in the wind, the advance of the
beaters was at length audible. You hear repeated thuds with their axes
on the trees, and you know that they are beating up your way. All at
once I heard the unmistakable tread of some heavy four-footed beast. I
held my breath, fearing to betray my presence. Nearer and nearer came
the heavy tread, the branches cracking as the animal broke its way
through the thicket. It must be a bear of the largest size, thought I,
with a glow of delight warming up my whole frame at this supreme moment.
I had just raised the rifle to my shoulder, when--judge my disgust--when
emerging from the thicket I saw a stray ox make his appearance! I could
hardly resist putting a bullet into the stupid brute's carcass, but I
remembered that I should have to pay for that little game.

We moved on to another part of the forest, and the same programme of
taking our positions and arranging the course of the beaters was gone
through; but we met with no success. This was the more provoking,
because on our return we found the fresh slot of a bear. He had
evidently just saved himself in time; the marks of his claws were quite
visible in the soft mud.

These footprints were all we were destined to see, for evening was
drawing on, and it was impossible to pursue the sport any farther. Of
course we commenced operations far too late in the day; it was simply
ridiculous to begin at such a late hour in the autumn afternoon. It was
very disappointing; but there is so much of mere chance in bear-hunting,
that where one man has the luck to kill four or five in a season,
another may go on for two years following without getting as much as a
shot.

The sportsman will be glad to hear, though the farmer is of quite
another mind, that bears, wolves, and wild-boar are increasing very much
in the Carpathians generally. I have mentioned this fact before, but I
allude to it again because it was everywhere corroborated. On all sides
this increase is attributed to the tax on firearms, which deters the
peasants from keeping them down. They are often too poor to pay for a
shooting licence and the gun-tax.

Toplicza has some warm mineral springs. Warm water seems to be turned on
everywhere in Hungary. One of these springs is situated close to the
river, where a simple kind of bath-house has been constructed. The water
contains iodine. While at Toplicza I heard that somewhere up in the
mountains on the Bukovina side there is a large deposit of sulphur. The
accounts were very vague, but I thought I should like to have a look at
the place. The district was pronounced to be so unsafe, and so many
robbers had appeared on the scene lately, that I thought proper to take
two men with me; one as a guide, for he had been there before, and a
forester armed with a gun.

My friends the Armenians kindly insisted on providing me with everything
necessary in the shape of food; and one day, the weather being fine, I
started at noon on this expedition along with my attendants. We soon got
into the forest again. The size of the trees was almost beyond belief;
but, alas! many of them had been destroyed in the same ruthless manner
that I have so often alluded to in my travels. Here were half-burned
trunks of splendid oak-trees lying rotting on the ground in every
direction, showing clearly that the forest had been fired. The attempt
at a clearing, if that was the object, was utterly abortive; for when
the trees are down a thick undercover grows up, more impervious by far,
and there is less chance of obtaining pasturage than ever, but the
Wallack never reasons upon this. The State reckons the value of its
"forests" at something like 27,000,000 florins, and yet there is no
efficient supervision of this property, which, from the increasing
scarcity of wood in Europe, must become in time more and more valuable.
The mines of Hungary are estimated in round numbers at 210,000,000
florins, and here again there is a lamentable absence of wise
administration. The mining laws, I understand, are at present under
revision. Foreign enterprise is not discouraged, but I cannot go so far
as to say that the adventure would not meet with difficulties from local
obstructions of an official or semi-official nature.

We had started from Toplicza in beautiful weather, but before sunset a
complete change came on, and heavy rain set in. This was a very
uncomfortable look-out, for we could see nothing that offered us
anything like a decent shelter for the night. The guide urged us to go
on, for he said there was a hut at the top of the mountain; so we beat
our way along through the driving rain, and eventually came to the top.
We soon found the hut, but it was a mere ruin; it might have been in
Chancery for any number of years, indeed one end had tumbled in. It was
as uninviting a place to spend a night in as could well be imagined.
Fortunately one corner was still weather-proof, the fir bark of the roof
yet remaining intact. We had to be careful, however, about the roof,
which consisted of stems of trees supported longitudinally. It was easy
to see that a very little incautious vivacity on our part would bring
the whole structure down on our heads. Water was found not far off, and
we soon had a fire, which blazed up cheerfully. Its warmth was very
necessary, for it was bitterly cold and damp. I had brought with me a
hammock made of twine; this I slung in the driest corner, and after
supper I turned in and was soon asleep. The faculty of sleep is an
immense comfort. A man may put it high up on the credit side in striking
the balance of good and evil in his lot.

When I awoke the next morning, I found that the weather was worse than
ever. The mist was so dense that the Wallack guide said it was perfectly
impossible to go on, in fact we might consider ourselves lucky if we
were able to get back without mischance. Not to be daunted, I waited
till nearly noon, thinking it was possible that the mist might rise, and
restore to us the bright skies of yesterday. A change came, but not the
one we hoped for. The cold rain turned into snow, so it would have been
sheer madness to think of going on.

We were in a wretched plight, crowded together in the corner of the
ruined hut, and snow as well as "light" came in "through the chinks that
time had made." Owing to a change in the wind, the smoke of the fire
outside drifted in; and there was evidence of a worse drift--that of the
snow, which before nightfall I daresay may have buried the cottage out
of sight.

I now gave orders for returning, and just as I stepped out of the hut,
or was in the act of leaving, one of the heavy beams from the roof fell
upon me; it caught me on the back of my head--a pretty close shave! The
ride back, with the consciousness of having failed to attain the object
I had in view, was depressing. Nothing could be more unlovely than these
once glorious forests. In parts we had to pass through a mere morass,
into which my horse kept sinking.

At last we got back to Toplicza. The forester and the Wallack thought
themselves amply compensated by a few paper florins. I daresay they kept
off the rheumatism by extra potations of _slivovitz_. As for myself,
having been dipped, yea, having even undergone total immersion in the
morass, I felt like those extinct animals who have left their
interesting bones nice and dry in the blue lias, but who in daily life
must have been "mud all over." I presented such a spectacle on my
return, that I consider it was an instance of the greatest
kindness--indeed it must have been a severe strain on the hospitality
of my friends to give me house-room.

As my garments had not the durability of those of the Israelites in the
wilderness, it became a very desirable object to effect a junction with
my portmanteau, which was sitting all this time at Maros Vásárhely. The
weather, too, had calmed my ardour for the mountains, and I resolved to
strike into the interior of Transylvania, and see something of the
towns.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     Visits at Transylvanian châteaux--Society--Dogs--Amusements at
     Klausenburg--Magyar poets--Count Istvan Széchenyi--Baron
     Eötvos--'The Village Notary'--Hungarian self-criticism--Literary
     taste.


I must now drop the itinerary of my journey and speak more in
generalities; for after leaving the wilder districts of the Szeklerland,
I took the opportunity of presenting some of the letters of introduction
that I brought with me from England.

For the succeeding six weeks or more I spent my time most agreeably in
the châteaux of some of the well-known Transylvanian nobles. For the
time my wild rovings were over. The bivouac in the glorious forest and
robber-steak cooked by the camp fire--the pleasures of "roughing
it"--were exchanged for the charms of society.

And society is _very_ charming in Transylvania. Nearly all the ladies
speak English well, and are extremely well read in our literature. To
speak French is a matter of course everywhere; but they infinitely
prefer our literature, and speak our language always in preference when
they can.

The works of such men as Darwin, Lyell, and Tyndall are read. I remember
seeing these, and many other leading authors, in a bookseller's shop in
Klausenburg. It is true this last-named place is the capital--viz., the
Magyar capital--of Transylvania, but in most respects it is a mere
provincial town.

A friend and myself happened to be lunching one day in the principal
inn--it was in the _salle à manger_--and we were talking together in
English. Presently I noticed a remarkably little man at the next table,
who looked towards us several times; finally he got up from his chair,
or rather I should say got down, and making a sign to us equivalent to
touching his hat, he said, "Gentlemen, I am an Englishman; I thought it
right to tell you in case you should think there was no one present who
understood what you were talking!" It was very civil of the little
fellow, for we were talking rather unguardedly about some well-known
personages. I then asked him how he came to be in this part of the
world, and he told me he was a jockey, and had been over several times
to ride at the Klausenburg races; but he added he was very sorry that
they always took place on a Sunday! There is certainly no "_bitter_
observance of the Sabbath" in Hungary generally. Offices are open, and
business is conducted as usual--certainly in the morning.

There is some good coursing in the neighbourhood of Klausenburg, which
is kept up closely on the pattern of English sport. I had two or three
good runs with the harriers, and on one occasion got a spill that was a
close shave of breaking my neck. Count T---- had given me a mount. The
horse was all right, but not knowing the nature of the country, I was
not aware that the ground drops suddenly in many places. Coming to
something of this kind without preparation, the horse threw me, and I
was pitched down an embankment upwards of twelve feet in depth. Several
people who saw the mishap thought it was all up with me, but, curiously
enough, I was absolutely unhurt. A pull at my flask set me all right,
and I walked back the five miles to Klausenburg. The horse unfortunately
galloped away, and was not brought back till the next day, and then
minus his saddle; however, it was recovered subsequently.

In the present scare about hydrophobia the following is worth notice.
One day when walking in the principal street of Klausenburg I heard a
great barking amongst the dogs, of which there were some dozen following
a closed van. On inquiry I found that once a-week the authorities send
round to see if there are any dogs at large without the regulation
tax-collar. If any such vagabonds are found they are consigned to the
covered cart, and are forthwith shot. This excellent arrangement has the
effect of keeping down the number of dogs; besides, there is the
safeguard attendant upon the responsibility of ownership. The funny part
of the matter is that the tax-paying dogs are not the least alarmed at
the appearance of the whipper-in, but join with great show of public
spirit in denouncing the collarless vagrants.

Klausenburg has not the picturesque situation of Kronstadt, but it is a
pleasant clean-looking town, with wide streets diverging from the Platz,
where stands the Cathedral, completed by Matthias Corvinus, son of
Hunyadi. This famous king, always called "the Just," was born at
Klausenburg in 1443.

As Herrmannstadt and Kronstadt are chiefly inhabited by Saxon
immigrants, and Maros Vásárhely is the central place of the Szeklers, so
may Klausenburg, or rather Kolozsvár, as it is rightly named, be
considered the Magyar capital of Transylvania.

The gaieties of the winter season had not commenced when I was there,
but I understand the world amuses itself immensely. The nobles come in
from their remote châteaux to their houses, or apartments, as it may be,
in town, and then the ball is set going.

There is a good theatre in Klausenburg. I found the acting decidedly
above the average of the provincial stage generally. I saw a piece of
Moliere's given, and though I could only understand the Hungarian very
imperfectly, I was enabled to follow it well enough to judge of the
acting.

Shakespeare is so great a favourite with the Hungarians that his plays
are certainly more often represented on the stage at Buda-Pest than in
London. The Hungarian translation of our great poet, as I observed
before, is most excellent.

It was a band of patriotic poets who first employed the language of the
Magyars in their compositions. Hitherto all literary utterance had been
confined to Latin, or to the foreign tongues spoken at courts. The rash
attempt of Joseph II. to denationalise the Magyar and to Germanise
Hungary by imperial edicts had a violent reactionary result. The
strongest and the most enduring expression is to be found in the popular
literature which was inaugurated by such men as Csokonai and the two
brothers Kisfaludy, who were all three born in the last century. The
songs of Csokonai have retained their hold on the people's hearts
because, and here is the keynote--"because they breathe the true
Hungarian feeling." The insistent themes of the Magyar poets were the
love of country, the joys of home, the duty of patriotism. Such was the
soul-stirring 'Appeal' ('Szózat') of Varósmazty, the chief of all the
tuneful brethren, the Schiller of Hungary. Born with the nineteenth
century, and at once its child and its teacher, he died in 1855--too
soon, alas! to see the benefits accruing to his beloved country from the
wise reconciliatory policy of his dear friend Deák. His funeral was
attended by more than 20,000 people, and the country provided for his
family.

Whenever the poets of Hungary are mentioned the name of Petoefy will
occur, and he was second to none in originality of thought and poetic
utterance. An intense love of his native scenery, not excepting even the
dreary boundless Alföld, afforded inspiration for his genius. His poetic
temperament and pathetic story give him a certain likeness to the brave
young Körner, dear to every German heart. Petoefy was engaged in editing
a Hungarian translation of Shakespeare when he was interrupted by the
political events of 1848. His pen and sword were alike devoted to the
cause of patriotism, and entering the army under General Bern, he
became his adjutant and secretary. During the memorable winter campaign
in Transylvania he wrote proclamations and warlike songs. We all know
the story of the Russian invasion of Transylvania at Austria's appeal,
and how the brave Hungarians fought and fell at the battle of
Schässburg. This engagement took place on the 31st of July '49. Petoefy
was present, and indeed had been seen in the thick of the fight; but in
the evening he was missing from the roll-call, and, strange to say, his
remains, though searched for, were never identified. The mystery which
hung over his fate caused many romantic stories to be circulated, and
not a few claimants to his name and fame have arisen. Even within the
last three months a report has reached his native village that he had
been seen in the mines of Siberia, where he has been kept a prisoner all
these years by the Russians!

The language of the Magyars was heard not in poetry alone, but in the
sternest prose. "Hungary is not, but Hungary shall be," said Count
Széchcnyi. The men who worked out this problem were politicians,
writers, and orators. Foremost among them may be reckoned Baron Eötvos,
one of the most liberal-minded and enlightened thinkers of the day. His
efforts were specially directed to improving the education of all
classes of the community. With this end and aim he worked unceasingly.
He held the post of Minister of Cultus and Education in the first
independent Hungarian Ministry in 1848, but withdrew in consequence of
political differences with his colleagues. Again in 1867 he held the
same _porte-feuille_ under Count Andrassy, but died in 1870 universally
regretted. His best known literary productions arc two novels, 'The
Carthusian' and 'The Village Notary,' The latter highly-interesting,
indeed dramatic story, may be recommended to any one who desires to know
what really were the sufferings entailed upon the peasantry under the
old system of forced labour. It is one of those fictions which, as old
Walter Savage Landor used to say, "are more true than fact." It was the
'Uncle Tom's Cabin' of that day, and of the cause he had at heart--the
abolition of serfdom. In reading this most thrilling story, one can
understand the evil times that gave birth to the terrible saying of the
peasant, "that a lord is a lord, even in hell."

Yet it was the nobles themselves who abolished at one sweep all the
privileges of their order. It was by their unanimous consent that the
manumission of nearly eight millions of serfs was granted, at the same
time converting the feudal holdings of some 500,000 families into
absolute freeholds.

In Hungary it would appear that public opinion is generously receptive
of new impulses, and in this particular the Hungarians resemble us, as
they claim to do in many things, calling themselves "the English of the
East."

"It is curious," said Baroness B---- to me one day, "that with all our
respect for British institutions, and everything that is English, that
we fail to copy their straight good sense. We have too many talkers, too
few workers. We are not yet a money-making nation; we have no idea of
serious work, and our spirit for business is not yet developed. Almost
all industrial or commercial enterprises are in the hands of Jews,
Armenians, Greeks, who are great scoundrels generally."

"The Armenians are instinctive traders," I remarked.

"Yes, true; just as we are the very reverse. But this change has come
over us. Taking again our cue from England, we see that trade can be
respectable, and those who follow it are respected--with you at least.
We try to _Englishify_ ourselves, and some of the younger members of the
community make a funny hash of it. For instance, a rich young country
swell in our neighbourhood went over to England and came back in
raptures with everything, and tried to turn everything upside down at
home without accommodating his new ideas to the circumstances that were
firmly rooted here. You may see him now sit down to dinner with an
English dresscoat over his red Hungarian waistcoat. His freaks went far
beyond this, and he came to be known as the 'savage Englishman.'"

I asked my hostess if our English novels were much read.

"Everybody likes your English fiction," replied Baroness B----. "It is
immensely read, and has helped to promote the knowledge of the language
more perhaps than anything else. We, too, have our writers of fiction.
Jokai is the most prolific, but he has got to be too much an imitator of
the French school. One of his earlier novels, 'The New Landlord,' has
been translated into English, and gives a good picture of Hungarian life
in the transition state of things. For elegance of style he is not to be
compared to Gzulai Paul and Baron Eötvos."

"There seems to be a growing interest in natural history and
literature," I remarked, "judging from the enormous increase of
newspapers and journals which pass through the post, both foreign and
local."

"With regard to local journals," replied the Baroness, "we have the
'Osszehasonlitó irodalomtörténelmi Lapok' ('Comparative Literary
Journal'), which is published at Klausenburg, at Herrmannstadt, and at
Kesmark in Upper Hungary. There are Natural History Societies, who
publish their reports annually. Added to this, there are few towns of
any size that have not their public libraries. I speak specially of
Transylvania, where we affect a higher degree of culture than in Hungary
Proper."

Baroness B---- was very anxious to impress upon me that certainly in
Transylvania the ladies of good society do not affect "fast" manners or
style. "Very few amongst us," she said, "adopt the nasty habit of
smoking cigarettes. I am very sorry that Countess A---- has attempted to
introduce this fashion from Pest."

Buda-Pest, though the capital, is not the place to find the best
Hungarian society. Many of the old families prefer Pressburg; and
Klausenburg is to Transylvania what Edinburgh was to Scotland, socially
speaking, before the days of railroads. In the season good society may
be met with at the various baths, but every year the facilities of
travel enable people to go farther a-field health-seeking and for
pleasure.



CHAPTER XXIX.

     A visit at Schloss B------National characteristics--Robber
     stories--Origin of the "poor lads"--Audacity of the
     robbers--Anecdote of Deák and the housebreaker--Romantic story of a
     robber chief.


The three weeks I remained at Schloss B---- were amongst the most
agreeable days I spent in Transylvania. There were a great many visitors
coming and going, affording me an excellent opportunity of seeing the
society of that part of Hungary. With regard to the younger generation,
the Transylvanians are like well-bred people all the world over. The
ladies have something of the frankness of superior Americans--the sort
of Americans that Lord Lytton describes in 'The Parisians'--and in
consequence conversation has more vivacity than with us.

In the elder generation you may detect far more of national peculiarity;
in some cases they retain the national dress, and with it the Magyar
pride and ostentation, so strongly dashed with Orientalism. Then again,
in the houses of the old nobility, one is struck by many curious
incongruities. For example, Count T---- has a large retinue of
servants--five cooks are hardly able at times to supply his hospitable
board, so numerous are the guests--yet the walls of his rooms are simply
whitewashed, and the furniture is a mixture of costly articles from
Vienna and the handiwork of the village carpenter. A whole array of
servants, who are in gorgeous liveries at dinner, may be seen barefooted
in the morning.

In talking with some of the elderly members of the family, I heard many
curious anecdotes of old Hungarian customs; but "the old order changeth"
here as elsewhere, and a monotonous uniformity threatens the social
world. Even as it is, everybody who entertains his friends at dinner is
much the same as everybody else, be he in Monmouth or Macedon.
Distinctive characteristics of race are found more easily in the common
people, who are less amenable to the change of fashion than their
superiors. Baroness B---- had a complete repertory of robber stories,
some of which are so characteristic that I will repeat them here.

I have before alluded to the peculiarity which existed in the old system
preserving to the peasant his personal freedom, though the land was
burdened with duties. It was not till 1838 that the Austrians
introduced the conscription, and subsequently they carried out the law
with a brutality that made the innovation thoroughly detested by the
peasantry. Accustomed to their tradition of personal freedom, the forced
military service in itself was regarded with intense dislike. The richer
classes were enabled to pay a certain sum of money for exemption, but
the poor were helpless; they were dragged from their houses and sent to
distant parts of the empire, to serve for a long period of years. As
cases had not unfrequently occurred of the recruits running away, they
were subjected to the ignominy of being chained together in gangs; and
as if this was not enough, many superfluous brutalities were inflicted
by the Austrian officials.

To escape from this hated service, many a young man fled from his home
in anticipation of the next levy of the conscription, and hid himself in
the shepherds' _tanya_ in the plain. These remote dwellings in the
distant _puszta_ were no bad hiding--places, and the fugitives were
freely harboured by the shepherds, who shared the animosity of the "poor
lads" against the Austrian conscription. In course of time these outlaws
found honest work difficult to procure; they became, in short, vagabonds
on the face of the earth, and ended by forming themselves into robber
bands. They had also their class grievance against the rich, who had
been enabled to buy themselves off from serving in the army. The numbers
of the original fugitives were soon increased by evil-doers from all
sides--ruffians who had a natural bent for rapine--and a plague of
robbers was the result, threatening all parts of Hungary. The mischief
grew to such serious proportions, and it transpired that the robbers had
everywhere accomplices in the towns and villages. Persons of apparently
respectable position were suspected of favouring them; they were called
"poor lads," and a glamour of patriotism was flung over the fugitives
from Austrian tyranny.

During the war of independence these robber bands rallied round their
elected chief, Shandor Bozsa, and actually offered their services to the
Hungarian Government, as they desired to take part in the great national
struggle. The Provisional Government accepted their services, and they
came pouring in from every part of the country. At first they behaved
very well, and in fact many of these "irregulars" distinguished
themselves by acts of great valour. In the end it was the old story;
they soon showed a degree of insubordination that rendered them worse
than useless to the regular army. By the time the struggle for
independence had found its melancholy ending at Villagos, these fellows
were again at their old tricks of horse-stealing and cattle-lifting, and
they went so far as to waylay even the _honved_, the national Hungarian
militia. The well-disposed part of the community was powerless to resist
the robbers, for after the disastrous events of 1849 the Austrian
Government prohibited the possession of firearms, even for hunting
purposes, so that villages and towns, one might almost say, were at the
mercy of a band of well-armed robbers. The Government were so busy
hunting down political conspirators, and hanging, shooting, and
imprisoning patriots, that they were indifferent to the increase of
brigandage. The statistics of the political persecutions which Hungary
suffered at the hands of Austria during the ten years that followed
Villagos were significant. Upwards of two thousand persons were
sentenced to death, nearly ten times that number were thrown into
prison, and almost five thousand Hungarian patriots were driven into
exile--amongst the number Deák, the yet-to-be saviour of his country.

But to return to the robbers. They had spread themselves over the whole
land; from the forests of Bakony to Transylvania, from the Carpathians
to the Danube, no place was free from these desperate marauders. They
committed incredible deeds of boldness. On one occasion seven or eight
robbers attacked a caravan of thirty waggons in the neighbourhood of
Szegedin, the cavalcade being on its way to the fair in that town. The
traders were without a single firearm amongst them, so that the
fully--armed brigands effected their purpose, though it was broad
daylight. Another time they entered a market town in Transylvania and
coolly demanded that the broken wheel of their waggon should be mended,
threatening to shoot down anybody who offered the slightest opposition.
The post was frequently stopped, but it came to be remarked, that though
the passengers were generally killed, the drivers escaped. This,
together with the fact that the post was always stopped when there were
large sums of money in course of transit, led the authorities to suspect
that their employés were in collusion with the robbers, and subsequent
events proved this to be the case.

When the hostility of Austria had somewhat cooled down, the dangerous
up-growth of these robber bands attracted the serious attention of the
Government, and not only _gendarmerie_ but military force were employed
against them. The officials to a man were Germans and Bohemians,
indifferently honest, and hated by the peasantry, who, after all,
preferred a Hungarian robber to an Austrian official. The consequence
was that they were not by any means very ready to depose against the
"poor lads," and the Government found themselves unequal to cope with
the difficulty, so things went from bad to worse.

In 1867, when at last the reconciliation policy of Deák had effected a
substantial peace with Austria, the Hungarian Constitution being
reestablished, and the towns and _comitats_ (counties) having got back
their prerogatives and self-government, the intolerable evil of
brigandage was at once brought before the attention of the Parliament
assembled at Buda-Pest. There were a great many speeches made upon the
subject, and Count Forgács with a considerable military force was
despatched to Zala and the adjoining country against the robbers. He
simply drove them out of one part of the country to carry on their
devastations in another, and dreadful robberies and murders were
reported from Szegedin. On several occasions the post was stopped, and
the passengers were invariably killed. They even stopped the railway
train one day at Péteri.

Government were now obliged to take stronger measures. They recalled
Count Forgács, and despatched Count Rádaz as Royal Commissary with
augmented powers, Parliament in the mean time voting a grant of 60,000
florins for the purpose.

The energetic measures taken by Count Rádaz led to some remarkable
disclosures. He discovered that tradesmen, magistrates, and other
employés in towns and villages were in communication with the brigands,
and in fact shared the booty. It came to be remarked that certain
persons returned suddenly to their homes after a mysterious absence,
which corresponded with the commission of some desperate outrage in
another part of the country.

In the space of fifteen months Count Rádaz had to deal with nearly six
hundred cases of capital offences, and no less than two hundred of the
malefactors were condemned to the gallows.

"Wherever they can the peasants will shelter the 'poor lads' from the
law," said my friend. "It happened only last spring in our neighbourhood
that a robber had been tracked to a village, but though this had
happened on several occasions, yet the authorities failed to find him.
It was known that he had a sweetheart there, a handsome peasant girl,
who was herself a favourite with everybody. One day, however, the
soldiers discovered him hidden in a hay-loft. There was a terrible
struggle; the robber, discharging his revolver, killed one man and
wounded another. At length he was secured, strongly bound, and placed in
a waggon to be conveyed to the nearest fortress. When passing through a
wood the convoy was set upon by a lot of women, who flung flowers into
the waggon, and a little farther on a rescue was attempted; but the
military were in strong force, and the villagers had to content
themselves with loud expressions of sympathy for the 'poor lad.' He was,
in truth, a handsome, gallant young fellow--open-handed, generous to the
poor, and with the courage of a lion--just the sort of hero for a
mischievous romance."

The following story, related by my friend Baroness B----, proves that
there were men amongst these outlaws who were not destitute of patriotic
feeling. In the year 1867 a band of "poor lads" surprised a country
gentleman's house by night. It was their habit to ask for money and
valuables, and woe betide those who refused, unless they were strong
enough to resist the demand. Horrible atrocities were committed by these
miscreants, who have been known to torture the inhabitants of lonely
dwellings, finishing their brutal work by setting fire to house and
homestead.

On the occasion above named the robber band consisted of more than a
dozen well-armed men, and as the household was but small, resistance
was out of the question. They made a forcible entrance, and were going
the round of every room in the house, collecting all valuables of a
portable nature, when it chanced that they entered the guest-chamber,
that had for its occupant no less a person than the great patriot
Francis Deák. The intruders instantly pounced on a very handsome gold
watch lying on a table near the bedside. Mr Deák, thus rudely disturbed,
awoke to the unpleasant fact that his much-prized watch was in the hands
of the robbers. Giving them credit for some feelings of patriotism, he
simply told them who he was, adding that the watch was the keepsake of a
dear departed friend, and begged they would restore it to him. On
hearing his name the chief immediately handed the watch back,
apologising "very much for breaking in on the repose of honoured Mr
Deák, whom they held in so much respect," adding "that the nature of
their occupation obliged them to make use of the hours of the night for
their work."

The chance of interviewing Mr Deák was not to be neglected, so the
robber chief sat down by the bedside of the statesman and had a chat
about political affairs, and finally took his leave with many
expressions of respect. Not an article of Mr Deák's was touched; they
even contented themselves with a very moderate amount of black-mail
from the master of the house, and no one was personally injured in any
way.

My next story is a very romantic one; it was related to me by an English
friend who was travelling in Hungary as long ago as 1846, when the
circumstance had recently occurred. It seems that in those days a
certain lady, the widow of a wealthy magnate, inhabited a lonely castle
not far from the principal route between Buda and Vienna. She received
one morning a polite note requesting her to provide supper at ten
o'clock that night for twelve gentlemen! She knew at once the character
of her self-invited guests, and devised a novel mode of defence. Some
people would have sent post-haste to the nearest town for help, but the
_châtelaine_ could easily divine that every road from the castle would
be watched to prevent communication, so she made her own plans.

At ten o'clock up rode an armed band, twelve men in all; immediately the
gate of the outer court and the entrance door were thrown open, as if
for the most honoured and welcome guests. The lady of the castle herself
stood in the entrance to receive them, richly dressed as if for an
entertainment. She at once selected the chief, bade him welcome, gave
orders that their horses should be well cared for, and then taking the
arm of her guest, she led him into the dining-hall. Here a goodly feast
was spread, the tables and sideboard being covered with a magnificent
display of gold and silver plate, the accumulation of many generations.

The leader of the robber band started back surprised, but immediately
recovering his presence of mind, he seated himself calmly by the side of
his charming hostess, who soon engaged him in conversation about the gay
world of Vienna, whose doings were perfectly familiar to them both. At
length, when the feast was nearly ended, the chief took out his watch
and said, "Madame, the happiest moments of my life have always been the
shortest. I have another engagement this night, but before I leave allow
me to tell you that in appealing to my honour, as you have done
to-night, you have saved me from the commission of a crime. Bad as I am,
none ever appealed to my honour in vain. As for you, my men," he said,
looking sternly round with his hand on his pistol, "I charge you to take
nothing from this house; he who disobeys me dies that instant."

The chief then asked for pen arid paper, and writing some sentences in a
strange character, handed it to his hostess, saying, "If you or your
retainers should at any time lose anything of value, let that paper be
displayed in the nearest town, and I pledge you my word the missing
articles shall be returned." After this he took his leave, the troop
mounted their horses and departed.

My friend told me that he was enabled to verify the story; and he
subsequently discovered the real name of the robber chief. He was an
impoverished cadet of one of the noblest families in Hungary. His fate
was sad enough; lie was captured a few months after this incident, and
ended his life under the hands of the common hangman.



CHAPTER XXX.

     Return to Buda-Pest--All-Souls' Day--The cemetery--Secret burial of
     Count Louis Batthyanyi--High rate of mortality at Buda-Pest.


Some matters of business recalled me to Buda-Pest in the midst of a
round of visits in Transylvania. The great hospitality of my new friends
would have rendered a winter in that delightful country most agreeable,
but the holiday part of my tour was over, and circumstances led me to
pass some months in the capital.

I got back just in time for All-Souls' Day. The _Fête des Morts_ is
observed with great ceremony throughout Hungary, especially at
Buda-Pest. In the afternoon of this day a friend and myself joined the
throng, who were with one accord making their way eastward along the
Radial Strasse, the great thoroughfare of Pest. It appeared as if the
whole population of the town had turned out; private carriages,
tramways, droskies alike were all crammed, driving in the same direction
with the ceaseless stream of pedestrians. It was the day for the living
to visit their dead! Attired in black, almost every one carried a
funeral wreath; even the poorest and the humblest were taking some
floral offering to their beloved ones who sleep for evermore in the
great cemetery.

There is a dynamic force in the sympathy of a crowd. I had the sensation
of being carried along with the moving masses, without the exercise of
my own will, I hardly know how one could have turned back. And on we
went, the light of the short winter day meanwhile fading quickly into
the gloom of night. Once beyond the gaslighted streets, the sense of
darkness in the midst of the surging multitude was oppressive and
unnatural. We were borne on towards the principal gate of the cemetery,
and here the effect was most striking. We left the outer darkness, and
stepped into an area of light; beyond the belt of cypress and of yew
there was so brilliant an illumination that it threw its glowing
reflection on the clouds that hung pall-like over the whole city.

In all that crowded cemetery--and it is crowded--there was not a single
grave without its lights. The most ordinary had rows of candles marking
the simple form of the gravestone; but there were costlier tombs, with
an array of lamps in banks of flowers beautifully arranged; and in the
mausoleum of Batthyanyi the illuminations were effected by gas in the
form of architectural lines of light. At this point the crowd was
greatest. To visit the tomb of the martyred statesman is deemed a
patriotic duty. The particulars relating to the disposal of Count
Batthyanyi's body after his judicial murder in 1849 are not very
generally known; the facts are as follows.

At the close of hostilities in 1849, Haynau, commissioned by the Vienna
Government, condemned people to death with unsparing barbarity--it was a
way the Austrians had of stamping out insurrections. Amongst their
victims was Count Louis Batthyanyi, some time President of the Hungarian
Diet. Haynau wanted to have him hung at the gallows, but he was
mercifully shot, at Pest on the 6th October 1849. It is said that the
infamous Haynau was nearly mad with rage that his noble victim escaped
the last indignity of hanging. His remains were ordered to be buried in
a nameless coffin in the burial-ground of the common criminals,.and for
many years it was supposed that he had received no other sepulchre. This
was not so, however, for two priests who were greatly attached to the
magnate's family procured possession of his body, and secretly conveyed
it to the church in the Serviten Gasse, where they built up the coffin
in the wall, and carefully preserved it for years. When the
reconciliation with Austria took place, concealment being no longer
necessary, they revealed their secret. The coffin was then opened, and
it was found that the features of the unfortunate Batthyanyi had been
singularly well preserved. Several who had fought for freedom by his
side in 1848 looked once more on the face of their leader. The
subsequent funeral in the new cemetery was made the occasion of a very
marked display of patriotic feeling. Later an imposing monument was
erected, but Count Batthyanyi's best and most enduring monument is the
part he took in the emancipation of the serfs.

Turning aside from the public demonstrations around the tombs of poets
and patriots, we wandered down the more secluded alleys of the cemetery.
In a lonely spot, quite away from the crowd and the glare, we came upon
an exquisite little plot of garden with growing flowers, shrubs, and
cypress-trees, tended, one could see, with loving care, "and in the
garden there is a sepulchre." I shall not easily forget the look of
ineffable grief visible on the face of an elderly man who was arranging
and rearranging the lights round and about the family grave. We noticed
that the names on the slab were those of a wife and mother, followed by
her children, several of them, sons and daughters, the dates of their
decease being terribly close one upon another. I had a conviction that
the lonely man we saw there was the only survivor of his family; I feel
sure it must have been so. It was very touching the way in which he
(aimlessly, it seemed to me) moved first this light and then the other,
or grouped them together around the vases of sweet flowers that decked
the graves. It was all that remained for him to do for his beloved ones;
and we could see the poor man was vainly occupying himself, lingering
on, unwilling to leave the spot!

We had not much fancy for returning amongst the patriotic crowd gathered
about the gaslighted Valhalla, so we made our way out.

We English must have our say about statistics whenever there is a
wedding or a funeral, and as a fact Buda-Pest comes out very badly in
its death-rate. It is only within the last two or three years that they
have taken to publish the comparative returns of the capital cities of
Europe, and now it appears that Buda-Pest is in the unenviable position
of having on an average the highest death-rate of any European town! By
some this is attributed to the great excess of infant
mortality--consolatory for the grown-up people, as reducing their risk;
but the children, who die like flies before they are twelve months old,
may say with the epitaph in the country churchyard--

    "If then we so soon were done for,
    What the deuce were we begun for?"

I do not speak as one with authority, but duly-qualified persons tell me
that nursery reform is much needed in Hungary. I know not what it is
they do with the children, only it seems the system is wrong somewhere,
as the bills of mortality clearly testify.

Then, again, the position of Pest is not healthy; it lies low, indeed
some part of the city is built on the old bed of the Danube. The
drainage, however, is very much improved of late years, and the
magnificent river embankments have done much to obviate the malaria
arising from mud-banks.



CHAPTER XXXI.

     Skating--Death and funeral of Deák--Deák's policy--Uneasiness about
     the rise of the Danube--Great excitement about inundations--The
     capital in danger--Night scene on the embankment--Firing the
     danger-signal--The great calamity averted.


The winter is usually a very pleasant season at Buda-Pest. There is
plenty of amusement; in fact, during the carnival, parties, balls, and
concerts succeed one another without cessation. The Hungarians dance as
though it were an exercise of patriotism; with them it is no languid
movement half deprecated by the utilitarian soul--it is a passion
whirling them into ecstasy. But dancing was not the only diversion. The
winter I was at Buda-Pest a long spell of enduring frost gave us some
capital skating. The fashionable society meet for this amusement in the
park, where there is a piece of ornamental water about five acres in
extent. Here the Skating Club have established themselves, having
erected a handsome pavilion at the side of the lake to serve as a
clubhouse.

From time to time _fêtes_ are given on the ice. I was present on more
than one occasion, and I must say it would be difficult to imagine a
more animated or a prettier scene. The Hungarians always display great
taste in their arrangements for festive gatherings. During the gay
carnival of 1876 "all went merry as a marriage-bell" till the sad news
spread that the great patriot Deák was sick unto death. Then we heard
that he had passed away from our midst--I say "our midst," for Hungary
throws a glamour over the stranger that is within her gates, and, moved
by irresistible sympathy, you are led to rejoice in her joy and mourn
with her in her sorrow.

Buda-Pest presented on the day of Deák's funeral a scene never to be
forgotten. It was a whole people mourning for their friend--their safe
guide in time of trouble, the statesman who of all others had planted a
firm basis of future prosperity.

Francis Deák was endowed with that rare gift of persuasion which can
appeal to hostile parties, and in the end unite them in common patriotic
action. Any one who has attentively considered the state of parties in
Hungary during the last decade will know with what irreconcilable
elements the great statesman had to deal. To the Magyars he said, "He
who will be free himself must be just to others;" while to the Slavs he
said, "Labour with us, that we may labour for you." "Reconciliation"
and "compromise" with Austria were the most unpopular words that could
be uttered at that time, yet Deák bravely spoke them in his famous open
letter on Easter day 1865. He continued his calm and steady appeal to
public opinion till his patriotic efforts were rewarded by the close of
that long-standing strife between the Hungarian people and their king.

On the day of the funeral the ground was white with snow, the cold was
intense, but a vast concourse of people followed Deák to his grave. On
the road to the cemetery every house was hung with black, the city was
really and truly in mourning; and well it might be, for their great
peace-maker was dead, the man who beyond all others of his generation
had the power to restrain the impatient enthusiasm of his countrymen by
wise counsels that had grown almost paternal in their gentle influence.

While we were still thinking and talking of Deáks political career, a
very present cause for anxiety arose in reference to the state of the
Danube. The annual breaking up of the ice is always anticipated with
uneasiness, for during this century no less than thirteen serious
inundations have occurred. This year there was reason for alarm, for
early in January the level of the river was unusually high, and a
further rise had taken place, unprecedented at that season.

The greatest disaster of the kind on record took place in 1838, when the
greater part of Pest was inundated, and something like four thousand
houses were churned up in the flood; nor was this all, for the loss of
life had been very considerable, owing to the sudden nature of the
calamity on that occasion. The recollection of this terrible disaster
within the living memory of many persons kept the inhabitants of
Buda-Pest very keenly alive to any abnormal rise of the Danube waters.
There were, besides, additional circumstances which created uneasiness
and led to very acrimonious discussions. In recent years certain
"rectifications" had been effected in the course of the Danube, which
one-half of the community averred would for ever prevent the chance of
any recurrence of the catastrophe of 1838. But there are always two
parties in every question--"Little-endians" and "Big-endians"--and a
great many people were of opinion that these very "rectifications" were,
in fact, an additional source of peril to the capital.

The case stands thus: the river, left to its own devices, separates
below Pest into two branches, called respectively the Soroksár and the
Promontar; these branches continue their course independently of each
other for a distance of about fifty-seven kilometres, forming the great
island of Csepel, which has an average width of about five kilometres.
By certain embankments on the Soroksár branch the _régime_ of the river
has been disturbed, and according to the opinion of M. Révy, a French
engineer,[22] this has been a grave mistake, and he thinks that the
Danube misses her former channel of Soroksár more and more. He further
remarks in the very strongest terms upon an engineering operation "which
proposes the amputation of a vital limb, conveying about one-third of
the power and life of a giant river when in flood--a step which has no
parallel in the magnitude of its consequences in any river with which I
am acquainted."

Now let us see which side the Danube took in the controversy in the
spring of 1876. On the 17th of February the public mind had been almost
tranquillised by the gradual fall of the water-level, but appearances
changed very rapidly on the morning of the 18th, for alarming
intelligence came to Buda-Pest from the Upper Danube. It seems that a
sudden rise of temperature had melted the vast deposits of snow in the
mountains of the Tyrol and other high ranges which send down their
tributary waters to the Danube. A telegram from Passau announced the
startling news that the waters of the Inn had risen eleven feet since
the afternoon of the previous day, and further news came that the Danube
had risen twelve and a half feet in the same time. Following close upon
this came intelligence of a disastrous inundation at Vienna which had
caused loss of life and property. The boats and barges in the winter
harbour of the Austrian capital had been dragged from their anchorage,
covering the river with the _débris_ of wreckage; in short, widespread
mischief was reported generally from the Upper Danube.

There was a prevalent idea that Buda-Pest had been saved by the flood
breaking bounds at Vienna, but events proved that our troubles were yet
to come. There was a peculiarity in the thaw of this spring which told
tremendously against us. It came westward--viz., down stream instead of
up stream, as it usually does. This state of things greatly increased
the chances of flood in the middle Danube, as the descending volume of
water and ice-blocks found the lower part of the river still frozen and
inert. Even up to the 21st the daily rise in the river was only six
inches, and if the large floes of ice which passed the town had only
gone on their course without interruption all might still have been
well. Unfortunately, however, this was far from being the case. It seems
that at Eresi, a few miles below Buda-Pest, where the water is shallow,
the ice had formed into a compact mass for the space of six miles, and
at this point the down-drifting ice-blocks got regularly stacked, rising
higher and higher, till the whole vast volume of water was bayed back
upon the twin cities of Buda and Pest, the latter place being specially
endangered by its site on the edge of the great plain.

The authorities now devised plans for clearing away this ice-barrier,
which acted as an impediment to the flow of the river. They tried to
blow it up by means of dynamite, but all to no purpose; and it soon
became apparent that the danger to the capital was hourly on the
increase. At Pest the excitement and alarm became intense, for the
mighty waters were visibly and inexorably rising. We saw the steps of
the quay disappear one after another; then the whole subway of the
embankment became engulfed. Ominous cracks appeared in the asphaltic
promenade of the Corso, and the public were warned not to approach the
railings, lest they should give way bodily and fall over into the water,
which was lapping at the stonework. The "High-Water Commission" found it
necessary to close all the drains, and steam-pumps were brought into
requisition; the town was in fact besieged by water, and the enemy was
literally at the gates. The ordinary business of life was suspended. The
greeting in the street was not, "Good-day; how are you?" but, "What of
the Danube?" "Do you know the last reading of the register?" "Does the
water still rise?"

"Still rising"--this was always the answer. On the morning of the 23d
the river had risen upwards of two feet in twenty-four hours. Hundreds
of people now thought seriously of flight from the doomed city. There
was a complete exodus to the heights behind Buda. The suspension bridge
was crowded day and night by the citizens, carrying with them their
wives, their children, and a miscellaneous collection of valuables. In
the town the shopkeepers removed their goods to the upper stories,
plastering up the doors and windows of the basement with cement; and
careful householders laid in provisions for several days' consumption.
The authorities had enough on their hands; amongst other things they had
to provide means of rescue, if necessary, for the inhabitants of Old
Buda, New Pest, and other low-lying quarters. The names of all public
buildings standing on higher levels, or otherwise suitable as places of
refuge, were notified in the event of a catastrophe. Boats also were
drawn up on the Corso and in some of the squares. From the want of these
precautions there had resulted that lamentable loss of life in 1838.

Furthermore, the public were to be informed when the danger became
imminent by the firing of cannon-shots from the citadel on the lofty
Blocksberg, which dominates the town on the Buda side. The day of the
24th had been wild and stormy, the evening was intensely dark; but
notwithstanding, thousands, nay half Pest, crowded the river-bank. For
hours this surging multitude moved hither and thither on the Corso,
drawn together by the sense of common danger and distress.

I was there amongst the rest, peering into the darkness. My brother's
arm was linked in mine, and we stood for some time on the Corso, just
above the fruit-market, facing Buda; but nothing, not even the outline
of the hills, was visible in the thick, black darkness of the night.
"Ah! what is that?--look!" cried my brother, with a pressure of the arm
that sent an electric shock through my body. Yes, sure enough, there was
a flash of fire high up on the Blocksberg that made a rift in the
darkness; and then, before we had time for speech, there came a sharp,
ringing, detonating sound that made every window in the Corso rattle
again. Once, twice, thrice the booming cannon roared out its terrible
warning. It was the appointed signal, and we all knew that now the
waters had risen so high that Old Buda and other low-lying districts
were in danger.

That was a terrible night. The general excitement was intense, and there
were few people, I imagine, in all Pest who slept quietly in their beds.
Every hour news came of the spread of the inundation. The waters were
pouring in behind Pest from the upper bend of the river. Matters looked
very serious indeed. All communication with the suburb of New Pest was
cut off by the inroads of the flood. The night, with its pall of
darkness, seemed interminable; but at length the morning came, and--God
help us!--what a sea of trouble the light revealed! Whole districts
under water; churches and palaces knee-deep in the flood; and above
Pest--a widespread lake creeping on over the vast plain.

The only news of the morning was a despairing telegram from Eresi that
the barrier of ice there was immovable. This meant, as I have said
before, that there was no release for the pent-up waters in the ordinary
course. The accumulated flood must swamp the capital, and that soon. The
river had ceased to flow past; it was no longer the "blue Danube"
running merrily its five miles an hour, but a dead sea, an inexorable
volume of water, slowly, silently creeping up to engulf us. Pest is a
city which literally has its foundations made on the sand; a portion of
it is built on the old bed of the Danube. Assuming a certain point as
zero, the official measurements were made from this, and notices were
published that if a maximum of twenty-five feet were attained by the
rising waters, then Pest must inevitably be flooded.

As evening came on, with the cloudy forecast of more rain, the gravest
anxiety was visible on the face of every soul of that vast multitude.
This anxiety was intensified when it was announced that the latest
measurement was twenty-four feet nine inches; and what was simply
appalling, that the register marked six inches rise in less than an
hour. It was clear to every one that the critical moment had arrived.
There was little to hope, and much to fear. Darkness fell upon as dismal
a scene as imagination could well conceive. If the water once overlapped
the embankment at the fruit-market, it must very soon pour in in vast
volume; for the streets there are considerably lower than the level of
the Corso--as it was, several large blocks of ice had floated or slid
over on the quay. At this spot a serious catastrophe was apprehended.

I think it must have been ten o'clock (my friends and I had just taken a
hasty supper) when the fortress on the Blocksberg again belched forth
its terrible sound of warning. This time there were six shots fired;
this was the signal of "Pest in danger." A profound impression of alarm
fell on the assembled multitude. Some went about wringing their hands;
others left the Corso hastily, going home, I imagine, to tell their
women to prepare for the worst. I was unconscious at the time of taking
note of things passing round me, and it seems strange, considering the
acute tension of my nerves, that I saw, and can now recall with
persistent accuracy, a lot of trivial and utterly unimportant incidents
that happened in the crowd. I remember the size and colour of a dog that
manifested his share in the common excitement by running perpetually
between everybody's legs, and I could draw the face of a frightened
child whom I saw clinging to its mother's skirts.

We never quitted the Corso. Though this was the third night we had not
taken off our clothes, it was impossible to think of rest now. I felt no
fatigue, and I hardly know how the last hour or two passed, but I heard
distinctly above the murmur of voices the town clocks strike twelve.
Just afterwards, a man running at full speed broke through the crowd,
shouting as he went, "The water is falling! the water is falling!" He
spoke in German, so I understood the words directly. There was great
excitement to ascertain if the report was correct. Thank God! he spoke
words of truth. The gauge actually marked a decrease of no less than two
inches in the height of the river, and this decrease had taken place in
the space of half an hour. The river had attained the highest point when
the danger-signal was fired. It had never risen beyond, though the level
had been stationary for some time.

Every one was surprised at the rapid fall of the Danube; it was
difficult to account for. It soon came to be remarked that the vast
volume of water was visibly moved onward. If the river was flowing on
its way, that meant the salvation of the city--the fact was most
important. I myself saw a dark mass--a piece of wreckage, probably, or
the carcass of an animal--pass with some rapidity across a track of
light reflected on the water. It was difficult to make out anything
clearly in the darkness, but I felt sure the object, whatever it was,
was borne onward by the stream.

It was a generally-expressed opinion that something must have happened
farther down the river to relieve the pent-up waters. Very shortly
official news arrived, and spread like wildfire, that the Danube had
made a way for itself right across the island of Csepel into the
Soroksár arm of the river.

Csepel is an island some thirty miles long, situated a short distance
below Pest. The engineering works for the regulation of the Danube had,
as I said before, closed this Soroksár branch, and the river, in
reasserting its right of way to the sea, caused a terrible calamity to
the villages on the Csepel Island, but thereby Hungary's capital was
saved.

[Footnote 22: The Danube at Buda-Pest. Report addressed to Count
Andrassy by J.J. Révy, C.E. 1876.]



CHAPTER XXXII.

     Results of the Danube inundations--State of things at
     Baja--Terrible condition of New Pest--Injuries sustained by the
     island garden of St. Marguerite--Charity organisation.


Though Buda-Pest had escaped the worst of the threatened calamity, the
state of the low-lying suburbs of the town on both sides of the river
was very serious, and, as it turned out, weeks elapsed before the waters
entirely subsided. The extent of the Danube inundations in 1876 was far
greater than the flood of 1838; the latter was localised to Buda-Pest,
where, from the suddenness of the catastrophe, the sacrifice of life was
far greater than at present. But on this occasion the mischief was wide
spread indeed. From Passau to Orsova the banks of the Danube were more
or less flooded. The havoc below Pest was wellnigh incalculable. The
river had in places spread itself out like a small sea, inundating lands
already in seed; this was specially the case at Paks, where both banks
of the river are equally low--as a rule, the left side was the more
flooded the whole way along.

At Baja the destruction to property was most serious. Some very
important works had just been completed, and these were all swept away
two days after the Danube had burst over the Csepel Island at Pest. It
is a matter of interest to note the travelling rate of the flood, which
from being ice-clogged was less rapid than one would suppose. Baja is
120 miles below Pest.

The works here referred to were in parts a canal, to feed the old
Francis Canal, which connects the Danube and Theiss, in order to prevent
the stoppage of traffic, unavoidable at low water. The water and ice
brought down by the flood hurled themselves with such force against the
closed gates of the canal that they were burst open, and a masonry wall
7 feet in thickness and 250 in length was entirely overthrown. This
incident, together with many others, helps to illustrate the action of
water in flood as a factor in certain geological changes--the gorge of
Kasan, to wit, where the Danube has broken through the Carpathian chain.

In the course of little more than a day the waters at Buda-Pest had
fallen two and a half feet; but afterwards the fall was very slow
indeed, which circumstance greatly protracted the misery of the
unfortunate inhabitants of Old Buda and New Pest, the two districts most
seriously compromised. Joining a relief party, I went in a pontoon to
visit New Pest. Vast blocks of ice were lying heaped up amidst the
_débris_ of the ruin they had made; whole terraces and streets were only
distinguishable by lines of rubbish somewhat raised above the flood: the
devastation was complete.

On our way to the pontoon we passed a tongue of land which had not been
submerged, with a few houses intact. In this street, if it may be so
called, a crowd of more than a hundred women was collected; these were
mostly seated on boxes or other fragments of furniture that had been
saved; one and all had their faces turned towards the waste of waters,
where their homes had been. I shall never forget their looks of mute
despair; there was no crying, no noise, their very silence was a gauge
of the utter misery that had befallen them.

The sea of trouble in which we found ourselves was strewn with wreckage
of all kinds, including the bodies of many domestic animals. Doubtless
many lives were lost; it will perhaps never be known how many. It was
unfortunate that no service was organised for saving life at the
bridges. Several lamentable accidents and loss of life took place owing
to the drifting away of boats and barges up stream. A friend of mine saw
a barge with four men on board jammed in between blocks of ice, and
hurried under the suspension bridge and down the stream. No one was able
to respond to the heart-rending appeals of the men, who very probably
might have been saved if simply ropes had been hanging from the bridge.
I myself saw a poor fellow perish in those churning waters; it was
terrible to think of his thus drowning in the presence of thousands of
fellow-creatures.

The amount of wreckage that passed Buda-Pest gave one some idea of the
frightful amount of damage higher up the stream; there were heaps of
barrels, woodstacks, trees, furniture, and even houses with their
chimneys standing!

The beautiful island of St. Marguerite, just above Buda-Pest, suffered
most severely. It was four feet under water; and the drift ice did
immense damage to the trees, causing abrasions of the bark at eight to
ten feet above the ground.

It may well be imagined that the Charity Organisation Committee had
enough on their hands. Nearly 20,000 people sought the shelter provided
in the public buildings and other places appointed by the authorities,
and for fully a month after the catastrophe thousands had to be fed
daily at the public expense.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

     Expedition to the Marmaros Mountains--Railways in Hungary--The
     train stopping for a rest--The Alföld--Shepherds of the plain--Wild
     appearance of the Rusniacks--Slavs of Northern Hungary--Marmaros
     Szigeth--Difficulty in slinging a hammock--The Jews of
     Karasconfalu--Soda manufactory at Boeska--Romantic scenery--Salt
     mines--Subterranean lake.


The spring was already melting into summer--and the melting process is
pretty rapid in Hungary--when an opportunity occurred enabling me to
visit the north-eastern part of the country with a friend who was going
to the Marmaros Mountains on business. Even this wild and remote
district is not without railway communication, and we took our tickets
for Szigeth, in the county of Marmaros, learning at the same time, to
our great satisfaction, that we could go straight on to our destination
without stopping. Though my friend is a Hungarian the route was as new
to him as to myself.

The railway system has been enormously extended in this country during
the last ten years. In Transylvania, in the Tokay Hegyalia, in the
Zipsland, and in the mining district of Schemnitz a whole network of
lines has been opened up. Our route from Debreczin to Szigeth is one of
those recently opened. The railway statistics of Hungary are very
significant of progress. In 1864 only 1903 kilometres were open, whereas
ten years later the figures had risen to 6392 kilometres; and the
extension has been very considerable even subsequently, though
enterprise of every kind received a check in 1873, from which the
country has not yet recovered.

I confess I was very glad to have come in for the days of the iron
horse, for it would be difficult to imagine anything more tiresome than
a drive on ordinary wheels across the vast Hungarian plain. It is so
utterly featureless as to be even without landmarks. Except for the
signs of the heavenly bodies, a man might, in a fit of absence, turn
round and fail to realise whether he was going backwards or forwards.
Right or left, it is all the same monotonous dead level, with scarce an
object on which to rest the eye. Here and there a row of acacia-trees
may be seen marking the boundary of an estate, and near by the sure
indication of a well in the form of a lofty pole balanced transversely;
but even this does not help you, for "grove nods at grove," and what you
have just seen on the right-hand side is sure somehow to be repeated on
the left, so you are all at sea again.

Sometimes a mirage deludes the traveller in the Hungarian plain with the
fair presentment of a lake fringed with forest-trees; but the semblance
fades into nothingness, and he finds himself still in an endless waste,
"without a mark, without a bound." Dreary, inexpressibly dreary to all
save those who are born within its limits; for, strange to say, they
love their level plain as well, every bit as well, as the mountaineer
loves his cloud-capped home.

This plain--the Alföld, as it is called--comprises an area of 37,400
square miles, composed chiefly of rich black soil underlain by
water-worn gravel--a significant fact for geologists. It is worthy of
remark that the Magyar race is here found in its greatest purity. Here
the followers of Arpad settled themselves to the congenial life of
herdsmen. At the railway stations one generally sees a lot of these
shepherds from the _puszta_, each with his axe-headed staff and
sheepskin cloak, worn the woolly side outwards if the weather is hot.
They can be scented from afar, and their scent, of all bad smells, is
one of the worst. The fact is, the shepherds keep their bodies well
covered with grease to prevent injurious effects from the very sudden
changes of temperature so common in all Hungary. This smearing of the
skin with grease is also a defence against insects, which seems
probable, if insects have noses to be offended.

Nowhere does the intrusion of modern art and its appliances strike one
more curiously by force of contrast than in the wilder parts of Hungary.
Just outside the railway station life and manners are what they were two
centuries ago, and yet here are the grappling-irons of civilisation. No
doubt a change will come to all this substratum of humanity, but it
takes time. Even the railways in these wilder parts have not exactly
settled themselves down to the inexorable limits of "time tables." It
occurred on this very journey that we stopped at some small station, for
no particular reason as far as I could see, for nobody got in or out;
but the heat was intense, and so we just made a halt of nearly an hour.
I could not make out what was up at first, but looking out I saw the
stokers, pokers, and engine-driver all calmly enjoying their pipes,
seated on the footboard on the shady side of the train! Some one or two
people remarked that the officials in this part of the world were lazy
fellows, but the passengers generally appeared in no great hurry, and
after a while the train moved on again. At several places on the line we
passed luggage trains waiting on the siding for their turn to be sent on
to Buda-Pest. In many of these open trucks we noticed a considerable
number of those fine Podolian oxen, common in these parts, and lots of
woolly-haired pigs, that look for all the world like sheep at a
distance.

The effect of tapping these out-lying districts is already producing its
natural result; the cultivator finds a ready market for his produce, and
the value of land is rising, and "_must_ rise in Hungary," says
Professor Wrightson in his report on the agriculture of the
Austro-Hungarian empire.[23]

In approaching Debreczin we noticed frequent instances of the
efflorescence of soda-salts upon the surface of the soil. This
occurrence greatly impairs the fertility of some parts of the Alföld.
Land drainage would probably cure this evil, but I do not fancy any
serious experiments have been tried. Skill and labour have not yet been
brought to bear on the greater part of the land in Hungary. It is a
country where a vast deal has yet to be done, and such are the
prejudices of the common people that improvements cannot be introduced
at once and without some caution; in fact, the material conditions of
the country itself and the climate necessitate considerable experience
on the part of any foreigner who may settle in Hungary and think to
import new fashions in agriculture.

Stopping at Debreczin only long enough to get a little supper at the
station restaurant, we pursued our journey through the night. I do not
imagine that we lost much that was worthy of note owing to the darkness,
for the line continues to traverse a sanely plain utterly devoid of good
scenery. Towards morning we passed two important towns--namely, Nagy
Károly and Szathmár. The hitter is the seat of a Catholic bishop, and
has no less than 19,000 inhabitants--a good-sized place for Hungary. In
1711 the peace between the Austrians and Rákoczy was signed in this
town. Not far from here are the celebrated gold, silver, and lead mines
of Nagy Banya.

We arrived at the junction station of Kiraly-haza early in the morning,
and there learned the agreeable news that we must wait ten hours, though
only a few miles from our destination. From this place there is a line
to Sátoralja-Uihely, a junction on the main line between Buda-Pest and
Lemberg. The town of Kiraly-haza is situated in a wide valley bounded by
high mountains. The plain is left far behind, and we are once more under
the shadow of the Carpathians. The heat of the day was intense, and
there was not much in the immediate neighbourhood to tempt us out in the
broiling sun, so we just got through the time as best we could. The food
was very bad and the wine execrable, an adulterated mixture not worthy
of the name. This is a rare occurrence in Hungary, and it ought not to
have been the case here, for there are good vineyards close to the town.

It was getting towards evening before our train appeared, and when it
stopped at the station as wild a looking crew turned out of the
carriages as I ever remember to have seen. On inquiry I found that these
people were Rusniacks. Their occupation at this time of the year is to
convey rafts down the Theiss. It seems their work was done, and they
were returning by train. After the halt of ten minutes, and when the
passengers were resuming their seats, I found that these fellows were
all crowded into some empty horse-boxes attached to the train. The
officials treated them as if they were very little better than cattle.
These people, with their shoeless feet encased in thongs of leather,
with garments unconscious of the tailor's art, and in some instances
regardless of the primary object of clothes as a human institution, were
the most uncivilised of any I had yet seen in Hungary.

These Rusniacks, or "Little Russians," as they are called, are tolerably
numerous--not less than 470,000, according to statistical returns. They
are to be found almost exclusively in the north-east of Hungary. They
were fugitives in the old days from Russia, to whom they are intensely
antagonistic, having probably suffered from her persecutions. In
religion they are dissenters from the orthodox Greek Church,
assimilating more with Roman Catholicism. These people are another
variety in the strange mixture of races to be found in Hungary. It is
thought, and it would seem probable, that the very fact of the military
conscription will help to civilise these Rusniacks by drawing them out
of their savage isolation in the wild valleys of the Marmaros Mountains.

There are many peculiarities respecting the races inhabiting the
northern parts of Hungary. It would be a great mistake to put the Slavs
of the north in the same category with the Slavs of the south: the
former are on far better terms with the Magyars; they are for the most
part contented, hard-working people, not troubling themselves at all
about Panslavism. The reason is not far to seek. The Slovacks, as they
are called by way of distinction, numbering about two millions, do not
belong to the Greek Church. The greater proportion are Roman Catholics,
the rest Lutherans and Calvinists. Many of the Catholics are said to be
descended from refugees who fled from the tyranny of the Greek Church in
Polish Russia.

After leaving Kiraly-haza we got into charming scenery. As we approached
the Carpathians we passed through vast oak-forests, and here and there
had a glimpse of the Theiss rushing along over its stony bed.
Occasionally we caught sight of herds of buffaloes bathing in the river.
It is difficult to imagine that these fierce-looking creatures, with
their massive shaggy heads, can ever be tractable; yet they can be
managed, though only by kindness--"the rod of correction they cannot
bear." At length we reached the end of our railway journey. Marmaros
Szigeth is the present terminus of the line, and I should say will very
probably remain such; for the iron road would hardly meander through the
denies and over the heights of the Carpathians, to descend into the
sparsely-inhabited wilds of the Bukovina. We sought out the principal
inn at Szigeth, a wretched place, with only one room and a single bed at
our disposal.

My friend took possession of the bed at my request, for I told him I was
quite independent of the luxury, having provided myself before I left
England with an excellent hammock made of twine. I had learned to sleep
in these contrivances during my naval volunteer days, but the order to
"sling hammocks" would not have been easy to obey under the present
circumstances. I was forced to put my screws in the floor and hang my
net over some heavy furniture; but when I got in, the table that I had
chiefly depended upon gave way with a crash, and I found myself on the
floor. My friend laughed heartily; he had never seen a hammock before,
and, spite of my representations, I do not think he was properly
impressed by the great utility of the invention. Of course I was not to
be foiled, so I cast about for another method of "fixing." I tried
several dodges, but nothing answered exactly; something always gave way
after a few minutes of repose--either I came down with a bump, or some
abominable, ramshackle chest of drawers got over-turned.

Now my friend was very tired and sleepy, and desired nothing so much as
a little repose. My experiments ceased to interest him, and the noise
caused by my repeated misfortunes irritated him. A large-minded man
would have admired my tenacity of purpose, but he did not. One can never
tell what people are till we travel with them. In a tone of mingled
solicitude and irritation he offered to vacate his bed in my favour. He
declared he would willingly lie on the hard floor, or indeed, if I would
only consent to take his place, he would sit bolt upright in a chair
through the livelong night.

"I will do anything," he added piteously, "if you will only be quiet
and not try to hang yourself any more in that horrible netting."

I would not hear of my friend leaving his bed, and after one or two more
mischances self and hammock were suspended for the night at an angle a
trifle too low for the head. Except for the honour and glory of the
thing, perhaps I might have slept as well on the floor; but one does not
carry a patent contrivance all across Europe to be balked of its use
after all.

My friend woke me once during the night by shaking me roughly. He said I
had nightmare, and made "such a devil of a row that he could not sleep."
I have some dreamy recollection of finding myself in a London
drawing-room in the inexpressibly scanty garments of a Rusniack, and
when I turned to leave in all decent haste I found the way barred by an
insolent fellow with the head of a buffalo bull. When I awoke in the
early morning I found my friend already dressed and rather sulky. He
observed that he had never met a man so addicted to nightmare as myself,
adding, that another time if I must sleep in my hammock, it would be
better to see that the head was higher than the feet.

"It does not make any difference to me," I replied cheerfully, "I am as
fresh as a lark."

There was no time for further discussion, for our breakfast was ready (a
very bad breakfast it was, too), and the vehicle we had chartered the
night before was also waiting to convey us some miles into the interior
of the country, to the soda manufactory at Boeska. On our way we passed
through the village of Karasconfalu, inhabited entirely by Polish Jews.
The dirt and squalor of this place beggar description. The dwellings are
not houses, but are simply holes burrowed in the sandbanks, with an
upright stone set up in front to represent a door; windows and chimneys
are unknown. If it were not for a few erections more like ordinary human
habitations, the place might have passed for a gigantic rabbit-warren.
As we drove through we saw some of the villagers engaged in slaughtering
calves and sheep in the middle of the road, the blood running down into
a self-made gutter; it was a sickening sight. The people themselves have
a most peculiar physiognomy, especially the men, who in addition to long
beards wear corkscrew ringlets, which give them a very odd appearance.
Their principal garment is a kind of long brown dressing-gown, which in
its filthy grimness suits the wearer down to the ground. The feet are
bound up in thongs of leather. The shoemaker's trade is apparently
unknown in these parts. The inhabitants of this delightful village have
the reputation of being a set of born cheats and swindlers; if it is
true, then certainly the moral is plain, that dishonesty is not a
thriving trade. The fact is, being all of one sort, the profession is
overcrowded, and the result is that the sharpest amongst them emigrate,
or rather I should say go farther a-field to exercise their craft. I am
told that many of the low Jews, who make themselves a byword and a
reproach by their practices of cheating and usury throughout Hungary,
may be traced back to this foul nest in the Marmaros Mountains. It would
be well for the credit of the Jewish community in Hungary, as well as
elsewhere, if something were done to raise these people out of the utter
degradation which surrounds them from their birth.

Not far beyond Karasconfalu we came upon Boeska, situated in the midst
of the most beautiful and romantic scenery, not at all suggestive of the
neighbourhood of a chemical manufactory. Putting up at the house of the
manager of the works, we remained here two or three days, during which
time we made some excursions into the heart of the mountains. One of our
drives took us some miles along the side of the beautiful river Theiss,
which though a proverbial sluggard when it reaches the plain, is here a
swift and impetuous stream. Our object was to see the timber-rafts pass
over the rapids; it was a very exciting scene, and as this was a
favourable season, owing to the state of the river, we came in just at
the right time. The Rusniacks--the people generally employed in this
perilous work--certainly display great skill and coolness in the
management of their ticklish craft. If by any mischance the timbers come
in contact with the rocks, then the danger is extreme; and hardly a year
passes that some of the poor fellows do not get carried away in the
swirling waters, which have made for themselves deep and treacherous
holes in this part of the stream.

The pine-trees in the forests of the Marmaros Mountains are simply
magnificent; the birch and oak are hardly less remarkable. It is really
grievous to see the amount of ruthless destruction which is allowed to
go on in these valuable forests, more especially in those belonging to
the State. It is the old story--the Rusniack herdsman, to get herbage
for his cattle, will set fire to the forest, and perhaps burn some
hundreds of acres of standing timber. The result brings very little good
to himself; but the blackened trunks of thousands of half-burned trees
bear witness to the peasant's inveterate love of waste, and the utter
inefficiency of the forest laws, or rather of their administration.
Throughout Hungary it is the same, the power of the law does not make
itself felt in the remoter provinces. For example, in the year 1877
there have been scores of incendiary fires in the county of Zemplin;
homesteads, hayricks, and woods have suffered, and yet punishment rarely
falls on the offender. Government should look to this, for lawlessness
is a most infectious disorder.

The Marmaros district is chiefly known for the salt mines, which have
been worked here for centuries. Salt is a Government monopoly in
Hungary, and is sold at the high price of five florins the
hundredweight, forming, in fact, an important source of revenue. The
mines at Slatina, not far from Szigeth, are well worth a visit. One of
the chambers is of immense size; in this a pyramid of salt is left
untouched, and by its downward growth marks the progress of excavation.
At the foot of this pyramid is a little altar, where every year, on the
3d of March, mass is celebrated with great ceremony, that being the day
of Kunigunde, the patron saint of the mines.

One of our expeditions was to visit the mines at Ronasick. Here, too, is
an enormous cave with a dome-shaped roof, one hundred and fifty feet
above the surface of the water, which covers the floor to the amazing
depth, it is said, of three hundred feet. Part of the visitor's
programme is to be paddled about on this subterranean lake. We embarked
on a raft slowly propelled by rowers; a cresset fire burning brightly at
the prow of our craft cast strange lights and shadows on the black
waters, added to which the shimmering reflection of the white-ribbed
walls had a very singular effect. But the sensation was still more weird
when we saw other mystic forms appearing from out the black darkness;
first a mere speck of red light was visible, till nearing us we beheld
other boats freighted with grim-looking figures that glided past into
the further darkness. These phantom-like forms, steering their rafts
through the black and silent waters, were grotesquely lit up from time
to time by the pulsating red firelight. It might have been a scene from
Dante's 'Inferno'!

It was with the sense of escape from a living tomb that we emerged from
the depths below into the upper air, and here awaited us a sight never
to be forgotten, more especially for its singular contrast to the horrid
gloom of the under-world. Here, above ground, in the blessed free
expanse of earth and sky, we beheld the heavens ablaze with all the
intensest glory of a magnificent sunset. One's soul in deep gladness
drank in the ineffable loveliness of nature, as if athirst for the
beauty of light and life.

[Footnote 23: Journal of Agricultural Society, vol. x. Part xi. No.
xx.]



CHAPTER XXXIV.

     The Tokay district--Visit at Schloss G------Wild-boar
     hunting--Incidents of the chase.


My first expedition to the Tokay district was in the winter; I was then
the guest of Baron V----, who has a charming château, surrounded by an
English garden, in this celebrated place of vineyards.

In the winter there is a very fair amount of good sport in this part of
Hungary. Sometimes one is enabled to go out hare-shooting in sledges; of
course the horses' bells are removed on these occasions. Hares are not
preserved in the Tokay district, but they are pretty numerous. I myself
shot fifty-four in the space of a few weeks, which is nothing compared
to an English battue of a single day; but then this is sport, and there
is immense pleasure in dashing right across country behind a pair of
fleet horses, thinking yourself well repaid if you bag a couple or three
hares in the afternoon's scamper. For wolf and wild-boar hunting one
must penetrate into the forests which extend in the rear of the
southern slopes of this Tokay range of hills.

During my stay at G---- a party was got up for a few days' shooting in
the interior. On this occasion we were to shoot in Baron Beust's
forests, which extend over an area of about forty miles square; as it
may be supposed, the sport is not the easy affair it is in the
well-stocked parks of Bohemia.

There was not snow enough for sledging, so we drove to the rendezvous on
wheels, using the springless carts of the country, the roads being far
too rough for ordinary carriages. Wrapped in our _bundas_, we were proof
against the cold. The wolf-skin collar turned up rises above the head
and forms a capital protection; and very necessary it was on this
occasion, for there was a keen cutting wind the day we started.

I carried a smooth-bore breechloader charged with the largest buck-shot
in one barrel and with a bullet in the other. In Hungary the forests are
usually so thick that one scarcely ever fires at a long range, and heavy
shot at a short distance in a thicket is better than a bullet. After
driving in a break-neck fashion for about two hours we arrived at the
river Bodrog, a tributary of the Theiss. Nearly every winter the country
hereabouts is under water; I remember once seeing it when there was all
the appearance of an extensive inland sea. Sometimes the inundations are
disastrous, but the ordinary flood is an accepted event, and no damage
accrues beyond the prevalence of marsh fever in April and May, when the
water recedes. This part of the country offers first-rate
wildfowl-shooting in the season.

Everywhere in Hungary the different races are strangely mixed up
together: the Tokay Hegyalia, it is true, is chiefly peopled by Magyars,
and the language is said to be the purest Magyar spoken anywhere; but
there are Slavs and Jews amongst them, and our drive of twenty miles
brought us into an area where the Slavs predominate. The difference of
these races is very marked: the one, fair complexioned and blue eyed;
the Magyar, dark, almost swarthy amongst the lower classes. At
Olasz-Liszka, a small town within the Tokay district, there is an
Italian colony, as the name Olasz (Italian) would imply. As long ago as
the days of Bela II. this place was peopled by Italian immigrants from
the neighbourhood of Venice, invited hither by the king, who greatly
encouraged the cultivation of the vine.

Go where you will in this country, there is a Babel of tongues. In this
instance our special coachman was a Bohemian, speaking his own
language--a very different dialect from the Slovacks who were the
"beaters" for our hunt. The gamekeepers, or rather the foresters (for
the game is of secondary consideration), were all Magyars. Their
language, as we know, bears no affinity to any of the rest. The marvel
is that the world gets on at all down here. The gentlemen of our party
spoke together indifferently German, French, and English.

It is curious to hear the peasant come out with, "Why the Tartar are you
doing this?" for an angry expletive. It is a relic of the old troubled
times when the country suffered from the frequent depredations of Turks
and Tartars. The Tokay district, say the chronicles, was fearfully
harassed by the Turks as late as 1678.

It is worth while recalling a contemporaneous fact. In 1529 the crescent
had been substituted for the cross on the Cathedral of Vienna to
propitiate the Turks, and it was not till 1683 that the symbol of the
dreaded Moslem was removed. When the Hungarians ceased to fear the Turk,
they ceased to hate him; and since 1848 they remember only the generous
hospitality of the Porte, and the cruel aggressions and treachery of the
Russians. The Slav has a longer memory, for to this day he repeats the
saying, "Where the Turk comes, there no grass grows."

When we arrived at our destination our appetites were far too keenly set
to think about the Eastern Question, and right glad were we to see
active preparations for supper. The national dishes, the _gulyas hus_
and the _paprika handl_, were produced amongst a number of other good
things, such as roast hare. You get to like the _paprika_, or red
pepper, very much. I wonder it is not introduced into English cookery,
it makes such a pretty-coloured gravy. If the traveller finds himself
attacked by marsh fever, and should chance to be without quinine (a
great mistake, by the way), let him substitute a spoonful of _paprika_
mixed with a little red wine, repeating the dose every four hours if
necessary. While smoking our peace-pipes after supper, one of the
keepers came in to announce the welcome fact that it was snowing hard;
fresh-lain snow would materially increase our chances of tracking the
wild-boar.

Next morning when we started the weather had somewhat cleared, which was
just as well, seeing we had to walk two or three miles to our first
battue. Arrived at the rendezvous, we found the "beaters" waiting for
us. They were a wild-looking crew were those Slovacks, with shaggy coats
of black sheepskin, and in their hands the usual long staff with the axe
at one end. Notwithstanding their uncouth appearance, later experience
has shown me that the Slovacks, as a rule, are patient, hard-working
people.

The forest where we were consisted entirely of beech and oak. The acorns
attract the wild-boar, which have increased in a very remarkable manner
in this locality. I was told that twenty years ago there were no
wild-boar in these forests, while now there are hundreds. This seems
odd, for the oak-trees are pretty well as old as the hills, and offered
the same temptation in the way of food formerly as now. In fact the
increase of the wild-boar is a serious nuisance to the vine-grower, for
they tramp across to the southern hill-slopes, and occasionally make
raids on the vineyards, devouring the grapes with unparalleled
greediness, and what is still worse, they will sometimes plough up and
destroy a whole plot of carefully-tended vineyard.

Formerly there were many deer in these forests, but now there are only a
few roedeer. We saw no traces of wolves on this occasion, but there are
plenty in this part of the country.

We were only ten guns, and were soon posted each man in his proper
position waiting for the _schwarzwild_, as the Germans say; but, alas!
nothing appeared till the beaters themselves came in sight. So we had to
organise battue number two. The beaters walk quietly forward, tapping
the trees now and then. This is quite noise enough for the purpose of
rousing the game; if they shouted or made too much row, the game would
get wild and scared.

In the next battue I had hardly been five minutes at my post when I
heard from behind the breaking of dead branches, as of some animal
advancing slowly. It was a fine buck which made his appearance, but he
scented me and made off. Again about a hundred yards off I got a glimpse
of him between the trees. I fired with effect. We found him afterwards
about two hundred yards farther on, where he had fallen. It was very
provoking; up to lunch-time we sighted no wild-boar, though we saw by
the snow that they must have been about the hillside during the night.
We had soon a good fire blazing, at which robber-steak was nicely
cooked. I never enjoyed anything more. We washed down our repast with
good Tokay.

After luncheon we commenced work again. By this time we had advanced
into the very heart of the forest. The smooth boles of the tall
beech-trees looked grand in their winter nakedness, rising like columns
from the white frost-bespangled ground. I took up my stand, gun in
readiness, waiting for the tramp, the snort, or the grizzly dark form of
the wild-boar, but nothing came to disturb the utter solitude of the
scene.

But hark! I hear shots fired repeatedly in the lower valley. I, too,
begin to look out with quickened pulse, peering into the misty depths of
the forest, and with ear alert for every sound, but all to no purpose.
Nothing comes my way, though again I hear two more shots echo sharply in
the narrow valley nearer to me than before. After the lapse of a few
minutes the beaters came up, breaking through the dead branches of
undercover. I knew now that my own chance was gone, but I was curious to
know what had happened, and joining two of my friends whose "stand" had
been near mine, we hurried down the valley to see what sport had turned
up for the other guns. On inquiry it appeared that at least seventy
wild-boars had passed close to one of our party, but the sight of so
many at once had made his aim unsteady, and he only succeeded in
wounding one of the number. The animal had dashed into the half-frozen
stream at the bottom of the valley, and our friend had to reload and
give him his final shot there.

We formed one more battue, but nothing came of it, and it was already
high time to return to our quarters, for the whole scene was growing dim
in the wintry twilight. Some of the party, myself included, went by
arrangement to the house of one of the foresters. The good people, in
their desire to be hospitable, gave us a warm reception. They had heated
the rooms to such an extent that we were almost baked alive.

The next morning we resumed our sport. During the first battue eight
wild-boars were sighted. One was shot instantly; the others broke
through the line of beaters, but in doing so a very unusual thing
happened, for one of the foresters succeeded in killing a boar by a
tremendous blow from his axe. We were very much surprised that the
animal had come near enough, for as a rule they will not approach human
beings except when wounded, and then they are most formidable
assailants. I regret to say that one of our dogs was ripped up by one of
this herd of eight.

This was the beginning and end of our sport for the day. Our indifferent
luck was to be accounted for from the fact of there being, comparatively
speaking, not much snow.



CHAPTER XXXV.

     Tokay vineyards--The vine-grower's difficulties--Geology of the
     Hegyalia--The Pope's compliment to the wine of Tállya--Towns of the
     Hegyalia--Farming--System of wages at harvest--The different sorts
     of Tokay wine.


The vintage is the season of all others for Tokay; in former days it was
a very gay affair, for then every noble family in Hungary, especially
the bishops, had vineyards in the Hegyalia, and the magnates came to the
vintage with large retinues of servants and horses; and feasting and
hospitality were the order of the day. In the good old times every
important event in the family was celebrated by much drinking of Tokay,
but in those degenerate days other fashions prevail. Before their
kingdom was dismembered the Poles were the best customers for Tokay
wine, but they are too poor now to have such luxuries; added to this,
Russia has for nearly a century past laid an almost prohibitive duty on
Hungarian wine. The fiscal impositions of Austria have also weighed
heavily on Hungary's productions. At present North Germany and
Scandinavia are amongst the most ready purchasers of Tokay; and England
is beginning to appreciate the "Szamarodni" or "dry Tokay," remarkable
for the absence of all deleterious sweetness.

In good years the vintage of Tokay may be estimated at something like
150,000 _eimers_, an _eimer_ being about two and a half gallons; but a
really good year is the exception, not the rule. For three years (since
1874) the vintages have all been below the average. The season of 1876
was a complete failure; a disastrous frost on the 19th of May in that
year completely destroyed the hopes and prospects of the vine-grower.
Indeed he has a trying life of it, for his hopes go up and down with the
barometer. If his vines escape the much-dreaded May frosts, there is a
risk that the summer may be too wet for the grapes, which love sunshine.
Then, again, in the hottest summers there are violent hail-storms, and
in half an hour he may see his promising crop beaten to the ground. It
has been well remarked that "the weather seems to have no control over
itself in Hungary."

The vine-grower's troubles do not end when the vintage is successfully
over. Tokay is a troublesome wine in respect to fermentation; it
requires three years before it can travel, and even when these critical
years are over, the wine will sometimes get "sick" in the spring--at
the identical time when the sap rises in the living plant.

The unique quality of the Tokay is due to the soil, and perhaps to some
other conditions; but not to the peculiarity of the grape, for, as a
matter of fact, they grow a variety of sorts. The cultivation of the
vine appears to be of great antiquity in this part of the world. The
introduction of the plant is attributed to the inevitable Phœnician;
but, treading on more assured historic ground, we find that King Bela
IV., in the thirteenth century, caused new kinds of grapes to be
imported from Italy, and brought about an improvement generally in the
culture of the vine.

But to return to the question of the soil. The Tokay Eperies group of
hills is one of several well-defined groups of volcanic rocks that exist
in Hungary and Transylvania. In the Tokay district the formations are
partly eruptive, partly sedimentary, but nowhere older than the Tertiary
period, say the geologists. The Hegyalia (which means "mountain-slopes"
in the Magyar tongue) forms the southern spur of the extended volcanic
region, composed of trachyte and rhyolithe, beginning at Eperies and
terminating in the conical hill of Tokay, which protrudes itself so
singularly into the Alföld, or plain.

But the vine-growing district does not end at Tokay; it continues on
the eastern slopes of the mountain range as far as Uihely, forming two
sides of an irregular triangle, and the total length, say from Szanto in
the west to Tokay, and from Tokay to Uihely, being about thirty-eight
miles.

As a matter of fact, Tokay, which gives its name to the wine, does not
produce the best vintage; other localities are more esteemed. Tállya,
for example, situated a few miles east of Szanto, has long been
renowned. As early as the sixteenth century the excellence of the wine
from this district was acknowledged by infallible authority. It appears
that during the sitting of the Council of Trent, wines were produced
from all parts for the delectation of the holy fathers. George
Draskovics, the Bishop of Fünfkirchen, brought some of his celebrated
vintage, and presenting a glass of it to the Pope, observed that it was
_Tállya_ wine. Whereupon his Holiness pronounced it to be nectar,
surpassing all other wines, exclaiming with ready wit, "Summum
Pontificum _talia_ vina decent." This place, so happily distinguished by
Papal wit, is pleasantly situated on the side of the hill; it possesses
about 2100 acres of vineyards.

The places in the Hegyalia are all called towns, though in reality they
are not much more than large villages. Tokay has 4000 inhabitants; it
is at the foot of the hill, close to the junction of the Theiss and the
Bodrog; a ruined castle forms a picturesque object in the foreground,
and beyond is the far-stretching plain. Professor Judd says[24] that at
one period of their history "the volcanic islands of Hungary must have
been very similar in appearance to those of the Grecian Archipelago."
Looking at the conical-shaped hill of Tokay, and the other
configurations of the range, it is quite easy to take in the idea, and
under certain atmospheric conditions the great plain very closely
resembles an inland sea.

At Tokay the Theiss becomes navigable for steamers, but the circuitous
course of the river prevents much traffic, more especially since the
extension of railways. The next place is Tarczal, and here the Emperor
of Austria has some fine vineyards. Some people have an idea that all
the wine grown in the whole district is Imperial Tokay, and that the
vineyards themselves, one and all, are imperial property. This is very
far from being the case; in fact, since 1848, the peasant proprietors
hold more largely than any other class. The easy transfer of land
facilitates the purchase of small lots, and the result is that every
peasant in the Hegyalia tries to possess himself of an acre or two, or
even half an acre of vineyard. The cultivation seems to pay them well;
but a succession of bad seasons must be very trying, for the vineyards
cannot be neglected be the year good or bad.

At Zombar, a village in this locality, there is a good instance of what
can be got out of reclaimed land; it was formerly under water for the
greater portion of the year. The soil is so rich in decayed vegetable
matter as to be almost black, and now grows excellent crops of tobacco
and Indian corn. The country north-east of Tokay is certainly the most
picturesque side, there is more foliage, and there is also water.

The first time I drove through Bodrog-Keresztur, which is on this side,
I thought that, notwithstanding the pretty country, I had never seen so
desolate a place. The town was once famed for its markets, but the
railways have changed all this; almost every other house is a ruin, and
large trees may be seen growing between the walls.

In the last century a company of Russian soldiers were stationed here
for the purpose of buying Tokay wine for the Russian Court.

One of the prettiest little places in the Hegyalia is Erdö-Benye; it is
off the main road, right in amongst the hills. It boasts the largest
wine-cellar in the whole district; it has twenty-two ramifications at
two different levels, the whole being cut out of the solid rock; it is
more like a subterranean labyrinth than a cellar. This place was
formerly the property of the renowned family of Rákoczy, who played no
mean part in Hungarian history. Not far from Erdö-Benye are
mineral-water baths, romantically situated in the oak-forest.

Sáros Patak and Uihely are the two most noteworthy towns in the
north-eastern side of the Tokay triangle. The first named has a
Calvinist college of some considerable reputation, a library of 24,000
volumes, a printing-press, and a botanical garden. Uihely is the county
town of Zemplin. An agricultural show was held here last spring (1877),
which I attended. Our English-made agricultural implements were very
much to the fore on this occasion. Some people complain of these
machines on the score of their getting out of order rather easily, and
of the immense difficulty of having them repaired in the country. This
objection, I have heard, does not apply alike to all the English makers.
At this show there were some new kinds of wine-presses which attracted a
good deal of attention; before long no doubt not a few changes will be
effected in the process of wine-making in Tokay. Considering that
Hungary holds the third rank in Europe as a wine-producing country, the
whole question of the manipulation of wine is a very important one for
her.

Amongst the live stock at this show I noticed some very fine merino
sheep. In Hungary the wool-producing quality is everything in sheep, as
mutton has hardly any value. This was only a country show, and the
horses, from an Englishman's point of view, were not worth looking at;
but there are plenty of fine horses in Hungary. The Government has been
at immense pains to improve the breed by introducing English and Arabian
sires. For practical purposes the native breed must not be decried; the
Hungarian horse, though small, has many excellent qualities. For
ordinary animals the prices are very low, which fact does not encourage
the peasants to take much care of the foals. On this occasion I bought a
couple of horses for farming purposes; the two only cost me about £11.

With regard to farming, our English notions of "high farming" will not
do in Hungary; what is called the "extensive system" pays best. For
instance, if I were already farming, and had some disposable capital at
hand, I should find it pay me better to invest in buying more land than
in trying to increase the produce of what I had already in hand. After
some practical experience in the country, I have no hesitation in saying
that Hungary offers a good field for the employment of English capital.

Vineyards, on the other hand, can only be worked "intensively." Nothing
requires more care and attention. To begin with, the aspect of the vine
garden influences the quality of the wine immensely. Then there is the
soil. The best is the plastic clay (_nyirok_), which appears to be the
product of the direct chemical decomposition of volcanic rock. This clay
absorbs water but very slowly, and is, in short, the most favourable to
the growth of the vine. As the vines are mostly on the steep hillsides,
low walls are built to prevent the earth from being washed away. In the
early spring one of the first things to be done is to repair the
inevitable damage done by the winter rain or snow to these walls, and to
clear the ditches, which are carefully constructed to carry off the
excess of water. I should observe that in the autumn, soon after the
vintage, the earth is heaped up round the vines to protect them from the
intense cold which prevails here, and directly the spring comes, one
must open up the vines again. In Tokay the vines are never trellised,
they are disposed irregularly, not even in rows--the better to escape
the denudation of their roots by rain. Each vine is supported by an oak
stick, which, removed in autumn, is replaced in spring after the
process of pruning. When the young shoots are long enough they are bound
to these sticks, and are not allowed to grow beyond them.

No less than three times during the summer the earth should be dug up
round the roots of the vine, and it is very desirable to get the second
digging over before the harvest, for when harvest has once commenced it
is impossible to get labourers at any price. The harvest operations
generally begin at the end of June, and last six weeks. In the part of
Hungary of which I am now speaking the labourer gets a certain
proportion of the harvest. In this district he has every eleventh stack
of corn, and as they are fed as well during the time, a man and his wife
can generally earn enough corn for the whole year. The summers are
intensely hot, and the work in consequence very fatiguing. The poor
fellows are often stricken with fever, the result, in some cases, of
their own imprudence in eating water-melons to excess.

It is not till the third or fourth week in October that the vintage is
to be looked for. It is not the abundance of grapes that makes a good
year; the test is the amount of dried grapes, for it is to these brown
withered-looking berries that the unique character of the-wine is due.
If the season is favourable, the over-ripe grapes crack in September,
when the watery particles evaporate, leaving the rasin-like grape with
its undissipated saccharine matter.

In order to make "Essenz," these dry grapes are separated from the rest,
placed in tubs with holes perforated at the bottom. The juice is allowed
to squeeze out by the mere weight of the fruit into a vessel placed
beneath. After several years' keeping this liquid becomes a drinkable
wine, but of course it is always very costly. This is really only a
liqueur. The wine locally called "Ausbruch" is the more generally known
sweet Tokay, a delicious wine, but also very expensive. It is said to
possess wonderfully restorative properties in sickness and in advanced
age.

Another quality, differently treated, but of the same vintage, is called
"Szamarodni," now known in the English market as "dry Tokay." This dry
wine preserves the bouquet and strength of the ordinary Tokay, but it is
absolutely without any appreciable "sweetness." In order to produce
Szamarodni the dry grapes must not be separated from the others. The
proportion of alcohol is from twelve to fifteen per cent.

When first I saw the vintage in the Tokay district, I was greatly
interested in the novelty of the whole scene. It is well worth the
stranger's while to turn aside from the beaten track and join for once
in this characteristic Hungarian festivity, for nowhere is the Magyar
more at home than in the vine-growing Hegyalia.

[Footnote 24: Ancient Volcanoes of Hungary.]


THE END.


MUIR AND PATERSON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.


[Illustration: Map of the BANAT and TRANSYLVANIA with Mr. Crosse's
Route]





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