Title


CHAPTER XIV.

TO SCHASSBURG.

As every cart and horse was wanted for the vintage, and their owners were busy on the hillsides, it cost some trouuble to get a conveyance. At last, however, the little waggon rattled into the courtyard, and comfortably seated on my throne of hay, I was soon again careering along the high-road. But just before leaving, a large travelling-carriage, with a coupé in front, drawn by six horses, three abreast, was also about to start. A whole family, children and servants, were stowed away in its roomy interior. There were beds and pillows and all imaginable appurtenances of nursery life within. Two young Hungarian women stood ready in the court ; the hint elegance of their figure, their expressive eyes, and certain air of calm dignity telling at once the country [??]he birth. Who were they, I wonder? Could that youug creature with the dark braided hair and passionate cheek be already a wife ? And where might she be going, and who was that taciturn man with her ? I should have liked to know all this,-to have travelled the same road they were going and have met again, -- and while I was gazing down on them from my wooden balcony, the Hungarian coachman flourished his whip, the huge machine rumbled away, and left me thinking of the beautiful unknown. I got into my waggon, and drove in a contrary direction.

The autumn in Transylvania is the finest season in the year. It is long and warm.*14_1 The temperature is regular, and often there is no frost till the end of December. It was never more beautiful than in 1863, and it was real enjoyment to travel through the country. The fine beechwoods were already of a rich golden-brown ; the plains were still green, and covered with sheep and herds of buffaloes ; the air was genial and exquisitely clear, so that the distant white-walled villages, the church towers, and far-off mountain ridges could be distinctly seed. Every line showed with sharp precision.-j-14_2

One valley opens into another. At the foot of the slope lies a hamlet nestling among trees. On the upland all is cultivated; clumps of oaks and beeches dot the landscape and take away monotony from the broad pasture lying between you and Elizabethstadt, the church of which rises yonder, shining brightly in the noontide sun. The two tall towers look commanding, as you advance across the plain. The town is an Armenian settlement, and is said to carry on considerable trade. It looked most dull and desolate, and, as far as outward appearance went, bore no sign of thriving. Armenian shopkeepers were standing listlessly at their doors, idling in the sun. The market-place was dusty and in disorder; the whole place seemed asleep. The church is handsome and spacious. Close to it is a large building, which, even in its dilapidated state, gives evidence of former grandeur. But what a ruin it is now, and how wretched in appearance ! What disorder and dirt in its courts and about the walls ! This was once the castle of the Apaffis, and to them belonged Elizabethstadt and the manors appertaining to it. Now the excise officers and local authorities hold it for their use. The walls and towers which made the castle a stronghold are tumbling down piecemeal, and pig-sties fill the corners and the air with repulsive odours.

14_1 * Repeated observations give an average autumnal temperature of +9 Reaumur.

14_2 -j- How pleasant to be thus travelling in your rude vehicle! . You see around on all sides ; the sun and the fresh air touch your cheek ; You have room enough to move about at will ; and when you like to stop you can do so, to talk to a peasant, to see a ruin, or to astonish and half affright the inmates of some gipsies' hovel by an impromptu visit. They are perfectly amazed when you come, and always fear your presence bodes them evil.

I was struck by the wells in the streets, roofed over, with a very large water-wheel for raising the buckets. In the next village was a row of these. We met on the road numerous cart-loads of deal planks, slowly wending westwards. These all came from the Czekler-land, whereand where only-are extensive pine-forests. These supply all Transylvania with deals.

It is getting on towards evening. The road leads gently upward; we turn a corner on arriving at the top bf the hill, and before us rises a high mound, not unlike Old Sarum, and on it stands a medieval-looking town, and Church, and walls, and gateways. Below are clusters of houses amidst gardens, overtopped by poplars ; and green fields spread around up to the base of a row of hills which $hut in this most picturesque spot. In front, the church Which crowns the Burgh still shines in the faint gleams of e setting sun; lower down there is a wavering light on We windows of antiquated houses; there, too, are but- )Pesses, and a postern-gate and dilapidated towers. The principal gate has half fallen, and the walls beside it are overgrown; and the broken masonry has rolled away down the steep. Some old burghers are standing out there, the day's work done,-discoursing together in groups ; uttering surmises, perchance, of whom the traveller may be whom they see wending down the slope in face of them. And still lower, houses, and high house-roofs, and trees, and strong massive masonry are so mixed up together that you can separate nothing. It will soon be dusk, or you would stop and gaze your fill. The picture so delights you that you do not take your eye off it till the road winds along close beside the foot of the mound, and all above is then shut out from sight. How those stones tell of age, -of other centuries,-mossy and time-worn, and with strong shrubs growing out of the interstices ? On the top of the old wall are dwellings joined in, and mixed up with it in some strange confused way or other, though do not comprehend how. Above, from small lattices, you heads are looking out ; and you go at a foot pace over the rough pavement, and the street is narrow and dark, fro the high gables; and all looks very like the time when Hans Sachs sang so merrily while he made his shoes and rhymes.

"Are you sure," you ask yourself, " that this really is the nineteenth and not the sixteenth century ?" or are you in a dream? though everything, especially the tremendous jolting of the waggon, as if it would come to pieces, seems very real. And still in a sort of doubt you go onward to the hostel, prepared to meet all that may present itself, however antiquated, without surprise.

Presently the street opens on the market-place, broad and sufficiently spacious, but sloping somewhat; for the hill on which the upper town is built descends h abruptly into the very middle of the town. Indeed a Palace[?] of Schassburg stands on this slope, one house uprising behind the other; and a steep street leads to the quarter above.

How you stare in wonderment at all you see there I' the architecture of the fine gateway with its massive most picturesque tower,*14_3 the narrow streets, and the curious out-of-the-way places that you chance upon as you rove about. It is like Nuremberg and Ulm, with something of the quaint little towns with walls still round them, to

Market-place, Schassburg
"Market-place, Schassburg"

be found on the borders of the Rhine. Look where you may, some object is seen indicative of the troublour past. Everything is strong and for defence, and for guarding against surprise. Before reaching the gate of the Burgh is a strong, small oaken door, leading you know not whither, though you would like to know it; then a covered way; further on are steps for reaching a higher part, and here you pass through a low arch and emerge on a sort of platform overlooking the town ; and what a conglomeration of buildings just within the citadel ! There is the narrowest possible space between them, so that the passage can hardly be called a street. The houses just in this " Thurm Strasse," are small, but built with great strength; their interior is vaulted, and the narrow winding staircase of massy stone. This was probably a dangerous part, and being close to the gate, here the most desperate attacks were made. Each house was a little fortress, and gloomy and dismal were the vaulted passages, for little was the light that entered by the iron. barred windows in those thick walls. Further onward, all wore. a pleasanter look. There was a square with neat houses, and pretty green jalousies, and old-fashioned decorations, and old- fashioned neatness. A quiet and certain well-to-do air was about the place. I fancied it could not have looked very different three hundred years ago. Here, away from the walls and the besiegers, the inhabitants seemed to have breathed more freely. They gave themselves more room; houses were not so cramped; nor were the walls nor the interiors of such ponderous strength. Beyond this was a covered archway or tunnel that led to a spot halfway up the hillside, where the gateway and ruined bastion stood which I had seen from a distance on first approaching the place. The wall circumvallation had been flanked at intervals with towers and nothing could be more picturesque than these, standing on all sides on the steep declivity, while the old wall went now up the most precipitous places and now down among trees, following every bend in the uneven ground.

14_3 * The eaves-course of the tower of the new church, St. James the Less, Borden Street, Westminster, greatly resembles that of the tower in the burgh of Schassburg.

At the very summit stand the church and the Gymnasium, to which a long, straight, covered flight of steps leads. One never was tired of groping about the passages and streets, and prying into the courts behind the houses, making at every step some new discovery, and finding cause for wonderment.

Street in Schassburg
"Street in Schassburg"

Before the evening closed in, I went up to the belfry of the church. I looked down on the high, steeply- sloping, tiled roof of a square tower that rose from the fortress wall. Its shape and build told of the middle ages. There was the churchyard, and, bordering it in pell-mell confusion, straggling up the hill, houses of dwellers in 'the Burgh. Away to the east lay a fertile plain. Round the town were slopes covered with beeches, and to the west was a wooded declivity; while between this and the mound of the citadel ran a ridge, dividing the one dale in which the town lay from a new valley on the other side. I could look over into it. On the top of the ridge was a churchyard, with poplars and willows. There was foliage everywhere, and yonder, winding through it, ran the river.

The windows on the four sides of the belfry formed the frame to my pictures, each different and rivalling the others in beauty. For a long time I had not seen so lovely a landscape, so original too in character, with the sturdy gateways, and towers, and postern, and medieval dwellings mixed up with it, and now all softened and blended harmoniously by the melancholy gleaming of a setting sun. I never think of this place but as " Schassburg the Picturesque."

When, after the disastrous battle of Mohatsch, the Emperor Ferdinand was fighting with Zapoyla for his crown, the latter having suffered defeat, took refuge in Transylvania. "A great part of the nobles was on his side. The real strength of the country however lay in the Saxons : it was they who had the fortified towns; they had arms and money. The question was, whose part would they take?"*14_4 Zapoyla now summoned them to assemble and meet him on the Sunday after Reminiscence, 1527, with bows and arrows, accoutrements for 1000 horsemen, and the tithes which his Diet had levied. But they refused to stir. Zapoyla's rage was great. But notwithstanding they remained unshaken in their fealty to the Emperor. The whole of the Burzenland, Hermannstadt, and all that was Saxon ground, with the exception of Klausenburg, acknowledged him. So the Vaiwode, Stephen Bathori, laid siege to Schussburg. The suburbs and a great part of the lower town were burnt, but the upper fortress could not be taken, and for many years it remained faithfully a stronghold for the Emperor. But before this, the citadel was on the point of going to ruin, from being deserted by the inhabitants. Many left it altogether, on account of the burdens which residence there entailed, and settled in the lower town. The place was already a solitude, and King Ladislaus began to fear that the land would lose one of the firmest bulwarks against the invasions of Turks and Tartars. With wisdom and forethought, he ordered that all those trades which, according to olden custom, had till now been carried on in the Burgh, were henceforth to return and not settle elsewhere; and moreover, that all wares were to be exposed for sale there, and there only. Whoever built a new house in the Burgh was to be tax-free for seven years. And later, the magistrate and town-council ordained that in future the court of justice should be held only in the citadel; that the half of the councilmen and of the four principal guilds-tailors, goldsmiths, locksmiths, and carpenters-might dwell there and nowhere else. By these regulations, the upper town was again inhabited and preserved. Twice the citadel was taken by the Szeklers. On one occasion admission was gained by cunning, in the e way as Linlithgow Castle was taken in the time of Edward II. A load of wine was brought up during divine service, and just as the waggon was in the gate, the foe rushed through, -it being impossible to bar the way or close the oaken doors.

14_4 * Teutsch, ` Geschichte der Sachsen,' p. 240.

Many of the houses in Schassburg are three stories high,-a sign how great was the want of room formerly; forcing the inhabitants to go upwards, as they could not extend their dwellings laterally in the circumscribed space.

It was market-day while I was there ; and the numerous large-horned white oxen lying unyoked before their carts of corn and vegetables, formed pretty and picturesque groups. By them stood the muffled women and long- haired Wallacks. Directly over the housetops you saw the steep Burgh covered with trees, out of which peeped the dismantled walls, and here and there a curious old tower. What a spot this would be for an artist ! and what abundance of material he would find here ! Some houses in the Burgh have over-hanging roofs ; but many are of a construction that, with the various surrounding details, makes quite a picture. The gable roof is open, with a gallery of dark wood, nearly black with time, along the front. Here piles of golden Indiancorn lie drying in the sun, with their long, pale, tapering leaves falling in sheaves over the balustrade. The beams of the roof have a reddish tinge, and all sorts of forms present themselves which you cannot well make out. A mass of deep shade is behind, into whose profundity it is impossible to pierce.

I tasted a delicious wine from Batzko Madarasch ; it cost but 6s. per eimer. The usual price, for must, that year (18G3) had been from is. 2d. to Is. 8d. per eimer, in the neighbourhood of Schassburg. Beef was selling at twopence, and' pork at fourpence per pound. The "Klafter" of beechwood for fuel (144 square feet), cost five florins, or ten shillings.

The territory belonging to the burghers is large,-too much so indeed for the population, which is the reason it is so imperfectly tilled. They have here now the fivefield rotation system; formerly the three-field was adopted. Fruit grows in the neighbourhood in great profusion. Those citizens who have no time to occupy themselves with farming, give their fields to a Wallack peasant, who, instead of rent, returns them a part of the produce. This sort of arrangement is common throughout the country. Sometimes one-half, sometimes one-third of the returns is given for the hire. Several of the Protestant clergy- men do this, not caring to be troubled with the business of a farm. Their share of the crops is brought home and housed for them; the Wallack, who probably has no land of his own, keeps his moiety, and thus both parties get just what they want.

Throughout Transylvania, I found the guilds were still in existence, though the old restrictions on trade had been removed. The guild system, with its strange customs and ceremonies, its strict laws and far-reaching jurisdiction, had been kept up here long after it had been allowed to fall into disuse in Germany. It was in keeping with many other arrangements, carefully maintained, and harmonized well with the tastes of the people.

In this as in other matters, we see how little change the original nature of these men has undergone. Less exposed than their countrymen at home to that intercourse and jostling on the great thoroughfares of life, they re- tained what was peculiar to themselves, while the others gradually stripped it off. All that love of formula which characterized every act of social and public life in Germany, whether in the promulgatiomof a law, in a private or diplomatic letter, the wording of a passport, or the cancelling an indenture of apprenticeship, and which was generally retained in that country until very lately, still shows itself in the character of the German in Transylania. In the peasantry most particularly-that conservative part of every nation-this is very perceptible. At their marriage festivals, the election of their clergy, their Bruderschaft ceremonial, the long speeches in a set form, with endless repetitions, are all in the spirit of old times in Germany. Even in the mother-country, railway communication, forcing people to be quicker, has not yet quite put an end to all this tedious paraphernalia of endless phrases, which, as with some of their philosophers, are always the more involved, hopeless, and unintelligible, the less their meaning is worth finding out.

We rejoice now at that misfortune which has enabled us to follow the daily life of the inhabitants of an old Roman town ; to walk about their market-place, go into their houses, see what the good housewife had stored in her cellar or larder, and, peeping into the oven, even find the loaf therein ready for baking ; to behold again, in short, in perfect preservation, a thousand interesting details which everywhere else are obliterated or have passed away.

Pompeii, locked up in lava, has supplied us with something far better than written history. We have bodily before us a piece of a long-past century-real, palpable; and, though lifeless, still there are the actors-each just as he was suddenly arrested in the very midst of action.

Now, in Transylvania we have something akin to this. Here, too, is a people that had strayed to the land be- yond the forest, and sat there for centuries, locked out from intercourse with their kind. Not, of course, like men wrecked on an island in some lonely sea; but apart from that communion with their fellows, without which, in Europe, men become like bees in amber, and when chanced upon are, to the finder, as interesting as fossil remains. Indeed, they have somewhat of their value and character; for they furnish what nothing else could give, and they indicate a state that is most curious, because gone from us for ever.

The immigrants came hither, and carried with them their household gods. In the land of their birth, most things have changed : old customs have fallen into oblivion ; the ancient costume has been replaced by a more modern one, the house-gear has made way for other ornament; in the hurry and bustle of to-day there is no time for long-winded speeches about nothing, and so the traditional observances grew neglected and forgotten. As nations mixed with each other, all this was natural. But with those others, shut out from such intercourse, it was different. They clung together, and preserved all their old ways unchanged for centuries, as though their very existence depended on doing so. For them the world had all that while been standing still. Waiting for it to go on, they have been standing still with it. They talked together their Lower Rhine and Frisian dialect just as when they quitted home; they dressed still as though eight hundred years were but as yesterday; and the sayings which their ancestors had learned from their grandmothers, the present race went on repeating exactly as though the old grand-dames were alive and at home in the chimney-corner. Words elsewhere forgotten are in daily use here. Forms and ceremonials that we read of as half mythical observances, constitute a part of every-day life. The Saxon peasant tills his fields now just as lie did when the wild hordes used to desolate them. He is still distrustful, forgetting that in five hundred years much has changed, that there is no Vaiwode to call on him for levies, that no cry will e raised to shut the town gates for safety against the advancing Turk. He still locks up his corn inside the high church wall, partly, may be, for convenience, but in great measure also because it was done by his fore thers. In the large lockers which serve as wardrobes the peasant's house, are girdles and ornaments which, generations, have descended as heirlooms in the family, which not impossibly were brought from the old land, and of which the like are there no longer to be found. For the philologist, as well as the antiquarian, there are here endless sources of information. And a great advantage for any seeker is, that he would everywhere find those who could assist him in his search-men who, with German assiduity, have traced the different tributary streams of knowledge to their fountain-head, through tangled and untrodden districts ; and who, though comparatively unknown, still continue their pioneering work as zealously as though a world-wide fame awaited their discoveries.

The distribution of culture in the Saxon towns and villages is so remarkable a feature, that it cannot fail to take the traveller by surprise. Everywhere he finds what in old times were so fittingly called " students," or, as we now say, " scholars." The papers which appear in the Proceedings of the Antiquarian and of the Hermannstadt Scientific Society, sufficiently show the diligence and attainments of these men. As regards the interest of the matter and the depth of research contained in them, these volumes might fairly rank with similar ones which Germany or England could bring. Besides elaborate dissertations, serving to elucidate some dark part of history, an inscription or a monument, there are pages with as much information about rites, customs, festivals, costume, etc., as may be found in `Notes and Queries,' Scott's Notes to his Poems, in Disraeli's ' Curiosities of Literature,' and in the books of John Timbs. On all that relates to church history, there is ample material. The geology and geognosy of the country have been minutely described, its botany and the fauna also. In deed, in every department that may interest him, the stranger will find some one who can point out the road to be taken, the landmarks to be kept in sight, and tell him of numerous bye-paths covered up and hidden for ages, but which, on being traversed, were found, quite unexpectedly, to lead to the desired end.

It is, too, a custom in Transylvania as well as in Germany to give at the close of the school year a report of the state of each Gymnasium, the course of study, the names and progress of the pupils, etc. To this is always added a paper by the rector, or one of the professors ; and such essay is almost invariably a valuable addition to antiquarian, historical, or scientific knowledge. It is only a pity that these papers are scattered as they are, and not published separately in a collected form, classed according to their subject.

In Schassburg is a branch society of the ` Verein fur Siebenburgische Landeskunde ;"*14_5 and two of its most valuable members, Rector Müller and Professor Haltrich, reside here. The former is now publishing a ' Collection of the Roman Inscriptions in Transylvania.'t-j-14_6 His last work, `Siebenbürgische Sagen' (Transylvanian traditions), was a rich accumulation of stories originating in, and throwing a light upon popular belief.

In this little town I found the names and works of the various living German authors were well known. Bodenstedt, Riehl, Geibel, Kobell were as familiar names as Tennyson and Kinglake are to us. One man showed me all `Mirza-Schaffy,' that lie had copied, not being able in his straitened circumstances to buy the book. Grimm corresponded with one of the professors, delighted with the rich collection this gentleman was making in folklore, and urging him to proceed. As there is a Gymnasium at Schassburg, youths come thither from all parts ; and from their lips the old stories, nursery rhymes, charms, and fairy tales were written down as they repeated them. Variations in the text and dialect were noted and compared, and the result will be a ` Transylvanian-Saxon Idiotikon,' which Professor Haltrich is now writing in the few spare hours which his school-duties leave him.

14_5 * `Association for promoting a knowledge of all relating to Transylvania'.

14_6-j-t For the history of the Romans in the province, this work will be indispensable. Mommsen published a smilar work ; but that of Müller will contain, besides the mere inscription, an exact description of the place where It was found and on what found, with, as far as possible a completion of it, if not too mutilated. Every book in which any inscription has been mentioned or alluded to will also be named.

Macaulay's works are in the library here, and are read in the original. On my expressing some astonishment that this one corresponded with Fallmerayer, and another with a literary celebrity in Germany,-that in short they knew quite well what the men of letters were doing there, -the answer was, " Wir hangen an Deutschland." (We cling to Germany). " We do all we can to keep pace with the world,-at least not to be left too far behind."

As I have observed elsewhere, there is something touching in this attachment, and in such striving after light. These men-I mean the professors-are all badly paid. Early and late, they have work to perform which leaves them little leisure, and their means for buying books and keeping literary and scientific journals are but very small. Then, too, the carriage from Germany adds to the expense, and still more burdensome is the high rate of agio, and, consequent loss on every paper florin. Yet, notwithstanding all these difficulties, they manage to accomplish a great deal.*14_7

On leaving Schassburg I had to wait a long time before my waggon was ready ; and it was suggested to me that the driver was possibly waiting till the clock had struck twelve, as throughout Transylvania there is a superstition that to start on a journey between eleven and noon is unlucky.

14_7 * Might not the editors of literary and scientific journals in Germany send their distant countrymen regularly a copy of their publications? It would be a brotherly and a most graceful act. Our learned societies might also forward a copy of their reports. They would be well bestowed. They would, too, receive in return "reports " of equal value and of equal interest.

Whether there is also a superstition about making haste and keeping time, I do not know, but in my life I never met such want of punctuality as here. I always thought that in this respect the Bavarians were bad enough, and were not to be surpassed. Of all wares, time with them is the cheapest. But in this country absolutely no one kept to time. For a person you had ordered punctually at seven to make his appearance at nine was not thought extraordinary. Punctuality is simply a thing unknown.

A knowledge of our peculiar taste in cookery had penetrated even hither. When the meat was very underdone it was said to be " Englisch."

I left Schassburg-but not before the clock had struck twelve-to proceed to Kronstadt. The streets are certainly in a sad condition, paved badly and with a considerable brook, with high broken banks, running through the broadest. Most of them are narrow, as must necessarily be the case in a fortified town, where space, being circumscribed, is valuable. But no place in Transylvania fixes your by its exquisite picturesqueness, for as you look from the upper town down into the two vales, can you remember to have seen a spot that has such a charm and such amenity.




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