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CHAPTER XVII.

NEMESIS.

THERE is a great truth which, the more varied our knowledge, the wider our experience, forces itself upon our minds with still stronger conviction. It is, that the transgression of any moral or natural law carries with it certain punishment. Succeeding generations may first feel the penalty of the ancestral sin, but come it will inevitably, and is no more to be avoided than the advent of that visitor, who, at this moment, is on his way to our door with, "Come, it is time! "

It is quite indifferent with whom are our relations, with our kind or with the soil; the regulating laws which preside over all must be regarded. No matter what we are spendthrift of, our revenues, our bodily vigour, or the vigour of our fields ; eventually the result will always be unnervate exhaustion. Whether the moral law be disregarded in the household or the State, the consequence will always show itself in entanglements, twining round our feet, in sudden stumbling-blocks, and in a shadow which still dodges behind us, even though our sun be at noonday height.

Old sins committed, and committed still by the Saxon peasantry, have begun to tell against them in a way they little expected. We have seen how the Wallack population has increased, outnumbering by far that of the Ger- mans. We know, too, how actively they are striving for power, and, founding their claims on their numerical su- periority, demand that to those who have nothing shall be given of those who have. But how is it that these German colonists, all thinking men, should thus dwindle away, instead of peopling the land with their race? The thing was, the worship of mammon brought its inevitable curse. The man of substance-he who had a roomy dwelling, and barns, and a spacious court, with his stables well stocked with horses and oxen, and vineyards on the hillside, and corn and pasture-land in the valley-could not bear the thought of these possessions being divided. For a middle state he had a decided distaste; and as the patrimony could not be increased to provide amply for each member of a numerous family, the same obnoxious and objectionable causes, which in France check the increase of the population, were allowed to work here among the Saxon peasantry. One child got the house and some land, and the other the remaining portion. Thus, each had a goodly estate, and the peasant's pride was gratified. Moreover, the Saxon never could accustom himself to give the surplus population of his village to towns, as elsewhere is done,-the sons and daughters going into the world to make their way, and gaining their own bread in a humbler sphere. This was repugnant to him. Yet formerly it was not so. In early times the Saxons colonized new spots with the surplus population of their hamlets.

There are villages where the population has remained stationary for a hundred and more years. In others, where originally every inhabitant was German, with but a few Wallack huts outside the boundary, there is now hardly one Saxon left, and the whole population is Wallack. This is the case at Danesdorf, near Elizabethstadt, and the change has taken place since the childhood of men still living.*17_1

Another fact proves the diminution of the present goneration,-the number of individuals in the village schools hundred years ago and now. The following figures relate to certain villages in the neighbourhood of. Fo garas. There were--

In 1764.In 1864.
In one village school, 185 children.120 children.
In another 8989
35 43
71 28

That worldly pride has to do with this state of things, the following circumstances will show. There were throughout Transylvania, Saxon villages, whose inhabitants were not free men like the others; t-j-17_2 these, for some reason or other, had located themselves on the manor of the Hungarian noble, and, in return for the protection given them, had accepted bond-service with the other vassals. They were without land of their own, and consequently poor, and had nothing to give their children in marriage or to leave as a bequest. Yet just in such villages the Saxons were blessed with numerous descendants.

Again, at Peschendorf, not far from Mediasch, the Saxon inhabitants were formerly all serfs. Here it

17_1* According to the census taken in 1787, the Saxon population amounted to 302,204, while sixty-three years later, in 1850, it was only 192,482. Transylvania, of all the Crown lands of the monarchy, is the one where the married population is the least fruitful. Of all the nationalities the Germans, again, are the least prolific. The constant hard labour and poor fare of the Saxon peasantry have to do with this, as well as with the high mortality which is found among them. Whilst with the Roumains there is 1 death to every 39 individuals, among the Hungarians 1 to 36-3, the Germans show a mortality of 1 to 33.5. All these facts suffice to show how it is their numbers so rapidly diminish.

17_2 -j-t See page 99.

would be difficult to find a household where there were only three children ; and they rejoice that it is so. But at St. Jacob's, a free, and consequently rich village, close by, it would be equally difficult to find one with as many as three.

In the Palatinate, where the peasants have large possessions, and in the Mark, in Westphalia, it is the same. The farmers there are rich, and live like nobles, and cannot bear the thought of their fine estates being one day divided. And yet it is he who has the largest farm who most needs stalwart sons to help him in his labour ; and in their place must hire inefficient labourers whom he cannot trust.

The clergy do their utmost, by their representations, to work a change ; and it is they alone who can do so. When a young couple come to the pastor to plight their troth, and when, as is the custom among the Saxons, they go again to him on the Sunday after the wedding to receive a blessing, lie can explain to them their duties and responsibilities, and exhort them to bear these in mind. Even from the pulpit, difficult as the subject is, it has been vigorously and eloquently treated. I have before me two admirable sermons, by a man whose happy talent for seizing the popular style both in his written and spoken words, as well as his keen observation, ought to obtain for him a larger audience than his own nation affords. In that village where he preached, the population had, in five years, diminished by five-and-thirty souls.

In a book by Stephen Roth, addressed to his countrymen, the subject is thus alluded to:-" Nations are preserved from decay by being blessed with children, and by educating them. That disgraceful chapter about calculation as to the number of a family among the Saxons, I shall pass over ; for were the skin of my face as thick as sole-leather, shame would still redden through it like coals of fire. I will only say, that to destroy a parent's hope, is to plant over the grave of a people a mark of infamy worse than the gallows, and that, for but one such deed, the Lord would inscribe the name of that people in His registry of Death."

Adverting only to the evil in a worldly sense, its consequences are all-important. Everywhere, throughout the land, the Saxons, who took the first, are now gradually falling into a secondary position. In their once flourishing villages, the Wallacks are increasing so fast, that their ever-growing population displaces and threatens soon to overwhelm entirely the original settlers. In some places it has done so. On the banks of the Kokel there are German villages, which are so but in name. One by one the Saxons have died out, and some few have emigrated. In Jakobsdorf (Gyakos) is a large Saxon Protestant church, with a clergyman and clerk, and the whole congregation now consists of a single family. In 1847, the last family but one, having probably become amalgamated with the Wallack inhabitants in everything but religion, at last adopted that also. An acquaintance of mine, who told me the fact, was present when the parties professed their new creed, at the same time giving up the Saxon for the Wallack dress. In S. Bonyha, S. Danyan, S. Csavas, the population was originally all Saxon; but now it has dwindled away to a minority.

At Erked there were formerly but five Wallack families; now they form one-third of the population. But go where you may, it is the same;*17_3 and on their numerical superiority the Wallacks found continually new claims.

17_3* It is very remarkable how, in South Tyrol also, though probably not from the same cause, the German clement is gradually being superseded by another-the Italian. It is pushed back to Salerno, where it once formed a compact mass, but which, now yielding, has taken its course into the lateral valleys.

The number of their representatives in the Transylvanian Parliament is so great, that they carry every measure by an overwhelming majority ; for as the Hungarian party still holds aloof, the Saxons stand alone. Thus the Wallacks have become de facto the ruling power in the land. They seek office with avidity, and-partly from policy and partly on account of the dearth of civil officers -all the different departments are filled with them, from the highest to the lower grades. Most of these men are in every respect unfit for office, both as regards general culture-I might almost say civilization-and special education. In the numerous judicial cases, in which they have to decide between Saxons and Roumains, the Saxons go to the wall. The merited retribution for a heavy offence against nature and morality has fallen upon them. They expected that while their numbers remained stationary, those of their serf dependants would do the same. But their calculations have proved false; the vassals have grown in strength, and the hum of their voices, always raised to demand new concessions, grows louder and louder, like the murmur of the waves as, closely following each other, they dash forward to take possession of the shore.




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