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CHAPTER XX.

TO BÜDÖS.-THE CAVE OF DEATH.-HIDDEN TREASURES.

My host had ordered a waggon to be ready for the morrow, and, when it came, stored it well with wine and provisions for the excursion. There must be something in the air of Transylvania which prevents people from keeping time, for no one seems capable of doing so. The waggon was ordered at six precisely, but it did not ap- pear till seven. Then the guide had not arrived, and after sending for him repeatedly, he came at near eight. And so, after an excellent breakfast, we at last got off. A gun was put into the waggon, in case of need; though how it might be wanted, I am at a loss to say. It is however the custom when travelling, always to have one in the carriage; and as everybody says there is no necessity for being armed, I suppose the habit is a remnant of other days, when attacks were really to be feared from biped as well as other foes. The weapon may have, perhaps, only half a lock, but it is taken nevertheless.

Our coachman inquired if I were really an Englishman; for he could hardly believe that a real one could find his way to little remote Torja. He never had seen an Englishman, he said, but on learning there was no doubt whatever about my nationality, replied, " Then, I would do twice as much for him as for another." Not understanding the reason, I asked him "Why?"-" What have you not done for the Hungarians?" was the answer. "You have treated them as friends. But why do you travel here?" I told him it was a characteristic of English nature to go prying about in strange lands, visiting different people. He seemed to think it strange, but bowed to the fact as a dispensation of God.

The road to Rüdös is indescribable. One wheel is now three feet higher than the other, or we go over blocks of stone which fill the bed of a stream, or into ditches and up banks, with such jolting and rattling, that it is quite incomprehensible that the whole waggon does not fall to pieces. How it held together I do not know, or how the horses managed not to break their legs, I am unable to tell either. Our way lay through a beautiful beech-wood, sloping upwards on each side of us. Everywhere mineral springs were to be seen, oozing up out of the ground. As we moved slowly on, my gipsy guide asked me if I could discern a certain tree which he pointed to. "Yes."--"Well, just there, close to that tree, my mother was eaten by three wolves."-" When and how?" I asked. She was out in the forest in winter, getting wood; my father was out too, but he was a good way off, and could not help her. By the time some one came, a great part of the body was eaten. There are sometimes many wolves here. Yesterday, I was coining along this way from Büdös, and I saw one among the trees."

We stopped on a gentle rise, where the forest had been cleared, to lunch and look around. On one side rose Mount Büdös, a pointed cone of trachyte, 3745 feet high, with large rents in its sides, discernible through the birches and stunted bushes with which the south slope was covered. Before us was a deep valley, and opposite Büdös rose hills of less height. The rocks about here give evident proofs of their volcanic origin ; indeed Büdös itself is a so-called Solfatare,-a volcano which, though never in actual eruption, incessantly pours forth streams of sulphuretted hydrogen gas. These deadly exhalations are the results of inner volcanic action; which, however, a vent being thus formed for the forces generated in the depths of the earth, gives no dread evidences of its existence like Vesuvius or Etna. The trachyte of Mount Büdös is more porous, and more calcined and sonorous, than that of the neighbouring mountains; and is of much older date than any of the formations of the still active volcanoes. " The whole formation of the mountain and the surrounding cones, the sharp-edged blocks and masses of rock, heaped up one on the other, of which those cones consist, the apparently molten surface of the trachyte,- all seems plainly to prove that it was only after the formation of these masses, and when they were in a rigid state, that a grand upheaving took place here ; during which, the powerful gases from below, raising, and straining, and tearing the masses, piled them up in mighty domes and mountain-tops, tossing them about till, here and there, they had found permanent canals leading to the surface of the earth."*20_1

Büdös is Hungarian, and means " stinking." The phenomena which make it remarkable are two cave-like clefts in the whitish-grey calcined trachyte rock, whence, by innumerable fissures, sulphuretted hydrogen gas streams forth, mixed with carbonic acid. The walls are covered with sublimate of sulphur, formed by the gases coming in contact with the colder air.

The one cavern-though it hardly deserves the namerecedes about twenty steps. In order to enter it with

20_1 * Frederic Fronius.

safety, care must be taken not to draw breath while in the fatal place. A long respiration is made before rushing in, the nostrils are closed, and then, with hasty steps, the further extremity is reached. A pricking feeling in the eyes is caused by the warm atmosphere. From the feet upwards the whole body has the agreeable sensation of a gentle heat playing round every limb. But your stock of breath is exhausted, and you run back again to the open air, where to breathe does not bring death. The day before I was there a man had committed suicide by entering a step or two. He dropped at once; and when a shepherd that was tending his flocks on the opposite hillside, and who saw him enter, came across to look for him he was dead. The vapours of this cave are highly valued, as a cure for gout, and for diseases of the eye. At the end of the cavern a tasteless, slightly warm liquid, clear as crystal, falls slowly, drop by drop, from the rock,-the result, probably, of the condensed vapours rising from below. A small vessel is placed here to receive the precious water : with this the suffering eyes are wetted, and by all it is acknowledged as a sovereign remedy.

A loose dress is worn by those who take this bath. They go in, remain as long as they can hold their breath, then run out, breathe, and go in again. In summer-time there are always people here who seek relief for their ailing. But as the place is in the middle of a forest, with no human habitation near, those who come must build their own dwelling, as well as bring with them wherewithal to supply their necessities. I saw the remains of such abodes. Fragile as they are, however, the winter storms soon sweep away every vestige of them. They are mere huts, built of fir-branches, cunningly entwined. The Wallacks are extremely skilful in constructing them. When out shooting, I have been surprised at the quickness with which they were built. Hardly had we arrived at the place of our encampment, when the hatchets resounded in the wood, and one tall young fir after another was seen toppling over to the ground. On returning, some hours after, a large hut was erected for me; on one side, a bed of dry leaves, covered with green fragrant twigs, and in the middle a large fire of resinous pine-logs blazed cheerfully.

And in such dwellings the visitors to this bathingplace live. Beds are brought, and cooking utensils ; and from time to time a messenger is dispatched to Büksad or Torja for provisions. Several huts are built; and the kitchen is generally a pile of stones, like an altar, at a little distance from the dwellings. More wealthy people occasionally have a house of boards; but the difficulty of transporting them must be great. There were the remains of a small house of stone, which had been raised some years before ; but it was now so fallen that this wreck of a human habitation flung a sadness over the place.

A year or two ago, an Austrian general and his family were here "during the season," and had a wooden hut put up for their accommodation. On the path that leads up to the cave, I saw a gravestone among the shrubs. It recorded how lie who lay beneath fell a victim to the gaseous exhalations, by drawing breath as he entered the dangerous spot.

Not far from this cleft is a second, called Gyilkos-the Murderer. In flying past the opening, birds drop dead upon the ground. Close to the entrance I found a jay that had thus met death. It reminds one of the influence of the upas-tree, and of its victims that strew the ground in its neighbourhood.

There is a chalybeate spring near, bubbling up front out a peatmoss ; and hither also many visitors come and pitch their tents for the sake of the baths. The beautiful Drosera rotundifolia, with its curious red leaves and white blossoms, shoots up here among the pale lichens.

A two hours' walk through the wood brought us to the St. Anna See,-a mountain lake, in a basin like a crater. The steep sides are wooded with beech, pine, and birch. Not a leaf was moving, and the deep deathlike stillness, the unbroken silence, the placid water in which every tree and cloud was mirrored, gave that tarn, as you suddenly came upon it in the forest solitude, an almost eerie look: a spell seemed to hang over the spot, holding it and you by its strong influence.

The whole district around Büdös contains rich deposits of sulphur; but valuable as this article of commerce is, the abundant source of wealth still remains unheeded. Such is Transylvania. The supplies for this province, as well as the others of the monarchy, are drawn from Sicily; and if we consider the gain accruing only from the various industry connected with the preparation of the mineral, and the possibility of keeping in the country the large sums which now annually leave it without an adequate return, the direct and indirect advantage to the province and the state, from working the mines, would be incalculable. Here were a field for English enterprise ! In conjunction with another undertaking, what brilliant results might be obtained ! What I mean is this : at the different salt-mines are hundreds of thousands of tons of pure refuse salt lying waste. They might be had, for chemical purposes, at a mere nominal sum. Thus two essential features in chemical preparations might be obtained, and which, too, in conjunction, produce valuable and important articles of trade. It is sufficient to name sulphuric acid only, which has played so important a part in raising the industry of Europe to its present state. Sicily has hitherto been the great staple whence the civilized world drew its supplies ; yielding, as it has hitherto done, a million and a half cwt. every year. Thus, on the inexhaustibility of a single spot our material progress seems hitherto to have depended. A single commercial house in Kronstadt employs yearly near 300 cwt., and would probably use more, were its price not so high. The whole stock comes from distant parts of the Empire, or from Sicily or the Papal States; although at a day's journey from the town, abundant sulphur deposits are to be found.*20_2

On a subject of this sort, accurate information is necessary ; I therefore profit by two reports made by M. Brem, director of a chemical factory at Hermannstadt, and by Dr. F. Schur, Professor at Kronstadt ; and I give also extracts from a paper of the former gentleman, containing the analysis of the alum and sulphur found at Mount Büdös.

The sulphur deposits are situated at the south and west of Büdös, and not on the mountain itself. The places are Kis Soosmezö, also Vontala feje Bálványos, and a little above the chalet Gál Andras. Thirty different diggings were undertaken in a circuit of at least eighteen miles ; but the extent of the ground where the deposits are, is more than three times this size. The deposits run in

20_2* The sulphuric acid factory at Ilermannstadt, the only one in the province, uses 3-400 cwt. annually. The custom-house returns for Transylvania vary from 300 cwt. to 3000 cwt., as the article comes sometimes from Trieste, sometimes from Vienna, where the duty has already been paid. In 1863 the amount of sulphur produced in the Austrian monarchy was 35,085 cwt., at an average price of 6fd. 44kr. per cwt.
In 1858 the import from foreign states was 71,337 cwt.
In 1859 " 86,673 "
The consumption has regularly augmented, owing to the increase in the number of soda factories.

unequal strata of from 1 to 9 inches under the mould, which varies in thickness from 1 to 3 feet. The soil was everywhere saturated with sulphur, and in this permeated earth pieces of pure sulphur were found. They were of pale yellow colour, fine-grained, and with a strong smell of sulphuretted hydrogen. Here and there only was a sort found with a certain hardness (cohesion), and even this, when dried, became brittle and triturable. All this shows that the mineral is a true volcanic sulphur, and that the deposits will continue as long as the inner activity of Mount Büdös lasts. A careful analysis gives as result, in the earth taken in one place, 63.96 per cent., in a se- cond spot, 61.00 per cent., and in a third, 41.01 per cent. of sulphur.

The district whence the earth was taken is a space of 16,000,000 square fathoms. Allowing for interruptions in the deposits, and taking these at an average thickness of three inches instead of nine, 200 lbs. of sulphur might be obtained from every square fathom, even if we suppose the earth to contain only 50 per cent. of the mineral. But we have seen that it has 61 per cent., and, in some instances, near 64 per cent. of sulphur. Continuing the calculation, the district would contain 16,000,000 cwts. of the precious commodity. Ten years ago, raw sulphur, from Sicily and the Papal States (vice Trieste), cost, in Hermannstadt, 92 florins per cwt. Competent authorities are of opinion that it might be produced here for 5 florins per cwt., inclusive of the carriage from Büdös to Kron- stadt. Sulphur costs more than this in the places where it is produced in Poland, Slavonia, and Bohemia. Every year, the demand for the article increases ; for almost each year brings with it new appliances, and shows how in- dispensably necessary it is in the daily life of civilized communities. We all know what are the profits arising from chemical fabrications ; and I think the facts here given will hardly fail to attract the attention of those who are willing to turn their knowledge and spirit of enterprise to account. For Transylvania at large, but for Kronstadt especially, it would be of the greatest advantage to obtain the article in question at a cheaper rate ; for not only might undertakings which, as yet, are but projects, be called into existence, but others already thriving, be considerably enlarged.

Besides sulphur, other treasures are hidden in the earth. Alum, a most important article in commerce, and without which many a branch of trade would never be developed, is also found near Büdös. There are springs here strongly impregnated with it, and aluminous earth and slate are also found. Close by, fuel in abundance is to be had; for, as well as wood, there is a peatmoss at the foot of Mount Büdös, many miles in extent.

The tracts where the earth is found are very extensive, and are characterized by a strong sulphuric smell, as well as by a total want of vegetation. The following is an analysis of the aluminous earth--

Silica 14.00 per cwt.
Clay 18'98
Potash 1.00
Lime 9.65
Sulphuric Acid 51.59
Water and Sulphuric Clay, mixed with Lime , 3.54
-----
100.00

The advantages which thus present themselves are so startling and manifold, that it would not at all surprise me if many were to doubt their reality. " It is too good to be true," is an almost natural thought, on hearing of the existence of such fields of wealth still allowed to lie fallow from century to century. And some may say, " Were it worth while, some one would surely have been found to turn such opportunities to account." In answer to this, I repeat the words of my Hungarian guide at Kovászna" This is Transylvania." He evidently thought them, and meant them to be, sufficient explanation for the strangest anomaly ; and, now I know the country, I think so too. All the alum used in Transylvania is imported from abroad, which raises its price considerably above the intrinsic worth.

It is a well-known fact that the preparation of alum from its elements is a cheaper process than that of ob- taining it by a compounding of its constituent parts. In England it is obtained in this way, which enables the English merchant to sell it at Trieste for 6fl. per cwt. But at Vienna, what with lfl. 40kr. duty and 4f. 60kr. land and sea carriage, it is not to be had for less than 12f. The same with that fabricated at Munkács and Muzsai, which costs 8f1. per cwt., and llfl. by the time it reaches Vienna. Alum brought from Poland and Bohemia and the other Austrian Provinces to Transylvania, would never cost less than 13f. per cwt. ; while the production of the same at Büdös would not amount to more than 5 1/2 fl.*20_3

The elements necessary for the produce of alum and vitriol being present in such abundance in Transylvania, there is no fear of the manufacturer not being able to compete with the foreign importer. The demand in Austria for alum is very considerable; and the produce of the Büdös district would not only find a market in Tran- sylvania, but in the other provinces of the monarchy as well.

20_3 * All these estimates, be it remembered, refer to 1853. Since then the consumption has increased, and the prices have also risen.

At last we left the forest, and gaining the summit of a hill, looked down on the fertile plains stretching away in the far distance to the south. Yonder was the fertile Haromszek, with the river Alt winding through it, and passing on its course villages without number. Below was Bükshd, and there we stopped. A glass factory is here, belonging to a Hungarian nobleman; and the Director, also Hungarian, did all he possibly could to oblige me in every way. It was really striking to find, even in such an out-of-the-way village, men who talked of England with a respect and admiration quite unbounded. May all her acts towards the nations henceforth be such as to promote the feeling, to strengthen and to justify it !

A great deal of the glassware goes to Wallachia, especially little ornamented lamps for hanging up in chapels or before a shrine. No fine glass is made here. It is the same as with the porcelain and woollen cloths : the better sorts are all imported, though there is excellent porcelain earth for their manufacture in Transylvania. I saw here large kettledrums of glass; the upper surface as thin as the finest paper. The air, in passing over it, as over the strings of an AEolian harp, causes a vibrating tone. The peasantry are fond of the toy. Shalms or trumpets, seven feet long, are also made here, but it requires great skill to play upon them.

All the workmen in the factory have genuine German names, their parents or themselves having immigrated hither from Bohemia; though not one now understands a word of the language. An exceptional state of things exists at Bükszád. Every house pays to the lord of the manor a "hearth tax" of 2f1. a year. For this, however, the cottager receives in return all the firewood he wants. The inhabitants have no taxes to pay to Government except the poll-tax ; all the rest the nobleman who owns the estate takes upon himself. There is reciprocal service and assistance. If a villager builds a new house, he gets all the timber necessary for the purpose for 12f1. He also pays only 75kr. a year rent for a joch of land. These are considerable advantages ; and in return each peasant has to fell the wood on the estate for 40kr. per klafter; or, if he bring it in from the forest, for 601cr. per klafter. He has moreover the privilege of sending all his cattle to pasture on the land of the nobleman, for which, as payment, he is required to bring in one piece of timber of a certain length, from the forest to the manor-house. For pasturage in the forest he pays 18kr. per cow or ox a year.

When I was at Bücksztd in 1863, rye cost 2f1. per kübel = 64 quarts ; and wheat 3fd. 20kr. The year before, it had cost 6 ,9. The three-field system is practised, and a field is manured every six years. Maize grows here, but not in the Csik. Between this latter district and Bükszid there is no great distance; yet potatoes here cost 32kr. per kübel, and in the Csik only 24kr. Beef was 91cr. a pound. I do not know why there should be no buffaloes here, as they are so prized throughout the country, on account of their rich milk. Buffalo milk is looked upon as indispensable; and it was always a matter of surprise to every inquirer, when he learned that we had none in England. Those who are accustomed to it, think the ordinary cows' milk not fit to drink in coffee, and really pity those who live where it is not to be had. That of the buffalo cow is very much fatter, and more satiating. The buffalo is a displeasinglooking animal, and its smell is so strong, that the servant who tends it is not allowed to come into the sitting-room, on account of the effluvium retained in the clothes. Dull-looking as the creature is, it seems to be affectionate; for when the man or milk-maid leaves, to whom the cow has been accustomed, she pines after the absentee, and refuses to be milked by the new-comer. On such occasions, it is necessary to put on some article of clothing of the former servant ; when, deceived by the smell, the cow quietly allows herself to be approached.

There is no school in the place, nor, I believe, in the other Szekler villages ; but in winter, the children go to the precentor or clerk for instruction. Here, unlike the Saxon land, the rural population increases. The houses of the peasantry in the Csik are better built, the more northward you go ; as there the long straight pines are nearer at hand, and plentiful.

A fortnight before my arrival, four horses had been devoured by wolves in the village, as they stood in the road waiting for the waggoner. The loss however is not so great as might be supposed; for my landlord bought one day a couple of good-looking colts, a year old, for 40f1. (just #4). In the preceding week, a large bear had been shot in the next hamlet; and as a man brought the news that he had crossed the fresh track of one, in passing through the wood, I started early next morning with six men to try if we could find him.

The tracks were quite fresh, and we saw that two animals were together. It was easy to follow them in the snow ; and after tracing them to a dense part of the forest, some of the men went in as beaters, while I and the others took our appointed stands. But we afterwards found that both had gone up the hills, and accordingly we went further and further, hoping that where the wood was thickest they might have made a halt. We always came upon the slots of the pair jogging along together ; and after repeated drives, and following the game for miles through the snow, we gave up any further attempt. It was fatiguing work; for we went to the top of the mountain; but the sight of the magnificent trees, independent of the excitement of expectation, made amends for all. The men, too, were the best I had while in Transylvania. They did their work admirably, without noise, and in a way which showed me that they were thoroughly good sportsmen.

There was only one circumstance that marred my pleasure, and that was to see clearings in the wood where all the trees had been destroyed by fire. They had been purposely fired to get rid of them. To fell them was too much trouble, and therefore during the dry weather they had been burnt. Some had fallen, others as yet were standing.*20_4 The Wallacks destroy systematically. One year the bark is stripped off, the wood dries, and the year after it is fired.

Incendiarism in Transylvania is of so frequent occurrence that, some years ago, in a part of the Csik, gallows were erected at short intervals, on which to hang whoever might be convicted of the crime. I saw them along the roadside, and on the hills bordering the villages, and for a long time could not imagine what they were. There is but one opinion about the greater number of fires being the work of the Wallacks. It is an easy way of taking revenge, or of satisfying spite. The fear of it is so great, that the most flagrant trespasses are endured without complaint, in order to escape the almost sure retribution of seeing the glare of the flames over barns and stables and dwelling-house, should the offender be punished. On one estate which I visited, the farm buildings had been fired six times in the week before my arrival, out of revenge. I have spoken on this subject with Hungarians and Saxons, with nobles, clergy, peasantry, in every part of the country, and from all I heard an expression of the same firm conviction.*20_5 Occasionally, of course, a forest conflagration is accidental, owing to carelessness : the shep- herds make a fire to warm themselves, and go away, leaving it to spread or go out as it may ; if a breeze come, the embers are fanned into a flame, and the mischief is achieved.

20_4* Before 1848 the forests were better cared for. There were foresters to manage them, but the Szeklers sent them away, saying, " We want no foresters; the woods are ours, and we will do what we like with them."

20_5* "If you accuse a Wallack, whether he be punished or not, you risk having your house set fire to, do you not ? " I asked of a man who knows the people well. " It is not a chance, but a certainty," was the answer. That they were, even in earliest times, addicted to incendiarism and destruction of forests, is shown by the stringent laws put in force against such crimes. See Chapter VIII., " The Immigrants," page 100.

When at Enyed, I saw two considerable forests on fire. In one, the flames had burst out in eleven different places at the same time; and 25 joch of young oak were destroyed. A year or two ago, there were repeated fires in the neighbourhood of Gyergyb Sz. Miklos; and there was no doubt but that one of the popes, not far from Toplitza, was the incendiary. He was, however, not convicted, but died while still in prison. In 1862, near Toplitza, 23,000 joch of forest were burned by the peasantry. In 1848, the Wallacks cut down and carried off a whole oak wood belonging to the gentleman who has leased the estate there. If this goes on, a time will soon come when the dearth of wood will make itself felt. It is therefore the duty of Government to take measures for stopping this destruction. The low state of culture of the Wallack population prevents their comprehending that present abundance may have an end. As wood has grown without their care, they think it will continue to do so.

The rainfall also, in a country, is greatly influenced by the forests that cover its surface. And not only this, but the land where rain falls suffers or is protected by the absence or presence of trees. Where there are none, as in the Mezöseg, the earth on the steep hillsides is washed away by the flood of water that pours down them, leaving only the stiffer clay behind, or a stony soil. If the forests at the heads of rivers or on their banks are felled, periodical floods will inevitably be the consequence, as has been undeniably proved to be the case in certain departments of France. On one side drought is occasioned; on the other, inundation. At Verespatak, the bed of the stream which flowed there is now dry; and in order to obtain water to feed the mill-race of each crushing-mill erected along the valley, ponds have been dug higher up, to collect the rain. The woods which once stood here are all gone; the hilltops are entirely treeless. The Spaniards in America did the same as the Wallacks here, and with the same result : they cut down forests, and did not plant again.

It is, moreover, a fact that can hardly fail to attract the attention of even a superficial observer, as lie travels through Transylvania, that the stone-built, tiled, and well-ordered houses of the Saxon villagers are continually being burned down; while the wattled, chimneyless dwellings of the Wallacks, covered with thatch as they are, and with the smoke finding its way through the straw covering as best it can, are hardly ever seen on fire. In Jaad, a large Saxon village near Bistritz, the fire broke out at a part where, being driven by the wind blowing at the time, the greatest damage must be occasioned. But this circumstance obtains always, where the causes of such conflagrations are not surely known. It is rare that there is a calm at the time; it is rare, too, for the fire to begin in a part where the wind does not assist the devastation. In a village I passed through-one large charred ruin,-the fire had broken out in an uninhabited house. All these circumstances are evidently suspicious-looking. The mode of revenge is in keeping with the character of the Wallack,-getting it, as he does, without personal risk or exertion. At the same time, too, that an enemy is struck, the hatred against those possessing property is gratified. When at the prison of Maros Ujvar, I obtained the culprits' own testimony on this subject. The first man I spoke to told me the fire had broken out "by accident."-" Well," I said, "you, no doubt, are innocent. But tell me why the others do it ; for, that they do set fire to places is well known.""Why," he replied, "it is annoying to see the Saxons so thriving. There is such a difference between them and us-between their villages and ours." I spoke to another prisoner, convicted of incendiarism, also a Wallack. " It is not always we," he said, "who set fire to the Saxon villages; but," he added, laughing, "sometimes it does so happen, that, when angry, we do it to revenge ourselves." I give their very words.

NOTE.

Constantinople is supplied with water from reservoirs attached to streams that p called the Forest of Belgrade. Some i a district ca aas through years ago p c rmzssion w;is given to cut down the timber of this forest, and speculators did so largely. The consequence was soon felt. The reservoirs began to fail, and the Government was obliged to interfere and restrict its permission in order to prevent the drying up of the springs, the inevitable consequence of depriving them of the shade of trees.

The Volga has also diminished, in consequence of cutting down the forests in the Ural mountains ; and in the Madras presidency it is the same. The Caffres in South Africa are as wasteful as the Wallacks, and hence the basin of the Orange River is gradually being deprived of moisture, and the desert grows in extent. See Meeting of the Geographical Society, March 13, 1865.




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