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CHAPTER XXXVII.

ALONG THE ARANYOS TO TOROCZKO.

ONCE More I passed the valley where the stamping-mills were noisily at work, and soon reached Topänfalva, on the swiftly-flowing Aranyos. The site is pretty : a noble background of forest*37_1 rises behind the village, and, at a bend in the river, you look far up a deep, narrow side-valley which here opens upon the stream. There is a large Government depot of wood beside the river, and shingles for roofing piled np in millions. These, and tubs and gold, are the sole exports of the place.

37_1* To be sold.

The whole of this valley is very pleasing ; it winds and changes often; there is constant variety. When the road leading to Thorda is finished, a more lovely drive than this may not easily be found.

I gave a German, living in the country, a lift in my waggon, part of the way; he told me he did not like the Saxons, they were so mistrustful,and such egotists. Roads, he said, were, in general, better kept formerly under Bach than now : every road was good then. Then, too, there was order. The civil officers he appointed were disliked, being foreigners, but they were friendly and humane. Their unpopularity arose from having to introduce a new system and new regulations : as if they could help this; but they were, my companion continued, far better educated than the "Beamten" now.

The mountain Wallacks (Motzen) that live about here, are considered specially uncouth, revolutionary, and difficult to govern. Several men passed me, with their long black hair braided into a single plait, and hanging over their shoulder in front. The women are said to be hand. some, but I saw none that were so.

In the village churchyards were sometimes six or eight tall saplings, twenty feet high, over a grave, all the branches and bark stripped off, with merely a tuft of foliage at the top ; these indicated that a youth lay buried beneath. At Brezest I found horses awaiting me, and we went on along the river-side, passing many villages. At last we crossed the river, and began to ascend the opposite steep. All this part of the ride was picturesque in the highest degree : we mounted by zigzag and circuitous paths, now winding round a deep dark gorge, where the rocks fell perpendicularly to the river, which, chafed by the many turnings in its course, dashed angrily against the crags, that suddenly made the passage so narrow. At every step upwards, the view became more novel and enjoyable. I could look down now on high hills, and over others, and see fields and villages on the opposite side ; and I was able to peer below into the narrow glen, through which the Aranyos was rushing in intricate windings. And what a sight was revealed to me higher up ! There I saw the far-off chain of the Bahir mountains, with snow upon their tops, and va_ poury clouds ; and the very indistinctness of the outline gave an idea of grandeur and of distance. Between me and them what a vast space ! I could see tributary streams that fell into the Aranyos, and numerous hamlets on their banks; and hills that divided the land, and separated the inhabitants wholly from each other. But for me there were no separations : I overlooked them all. Much as I have been among the mountains, I do not remember any scene that gave me more delight to gaze on. There was beauty, and grandeur, and picturesqueness : an exquisite foreground, whence the eye glanced over a middle dis- tance, varied by slopes and bold promontories, away to the peaks, faintly marking the far horizon.

It took us many hours to cross the ridge. Long lines of packhorses, laden with salt, met us on the way, and we were sometimes obliged to stand aside to let them pass. Close to the mighty walls of rock, among crags and wildness, the path occasionally led where no outlet was visible. But at last we reached the summit,-and descending the other side for nearly as long as we had been mounting, reached Toroczkö at last.

The Unitarian clergyman awaited me, and again I was a guest in a Hungarian family. In the sitting-room, portraits of Shakespeare and Bentham were hanging ; Renan's book, too, was here, but I found it everywhere in Transylvania, both among the clergy and laity. The inhabitants of Toroczkö came originally from Styria, or the neighbourhood, to work the mines of the place; but they have become so thoroughly Hungarian that it is difficult to find any one who speaks German. In their houses, however, the people have preserved their nationality; they are the same as the Saxon dwellings. There, too, were the rows of jugs round the top of the room, the piles of bedding prettily embroidered, and the towels ornamented with red.

The dress of the people here is undoubtedly the richest and most handsome of any in the whole province ; it is well worth describing:-In winter is worn, hanging over the shoulders, a short hussar jacket of black cloth, bordered all round, and the cuffs also, with finest lambskin three inches broad. It has a standing collar of dark fur, though this is never put on, and the whole of the sleeves even are lined with fur. Down the front is blue braid, and, in the spaces between, gold thread and crimson silk are seen. At the throat is a large gilded clasp, with amethysts, and garnets, or pearls ; and large raised buttons and tassels ornament the front and sides.

The sleeves of the shift, which is as fine as batiste, are very large. Across the upper part, six rows of gold spangles overlapping each other form a broad bar, and from this to the wrist a perpendicular line of the same breadth descends ; this mass of metal, on the white linen, looks very handsome. At the wrist, the full sleeve is held together by a cuff, five or six inches broad, knitted of red silk and gold thread.

In winter, the girls wear a waistcoat of green cloth, without sleeves, lined with fur, and embroidered with yellow braid; it fits tight to the body, and round the neck and the sleeve-hole, and below, runs a broad border of white lambskin. Over this comes a looser jacket of sheepskin; the pocket-holes trimmed with white and black fur, with fox-skin round the neck. The whole of the snowy white sheepskin is ornamented with red braid. The lawn bosom of the shift is richly embroidered in black. The apron is, like the bodice, of green cloth, trimmed with yellow braid; but this is three or four inches broad, '111 a variety of patterns. The white petticoat, which reaches to the ankle, is plaited in innumerable little folds. Below, the boots of red leather with small high heels, can just be seen.

In summer, instead of the jaunty hussar jacket, a short mantle, reaching only a little below the waist, is worn; it is of blue, cloth, bordered all round with green ribbon. The girls wear on their head a tiara of black velvet, about five inches broad in front, and the whole of this is co- vered with gold lace, sewed upon it. At the back of the head a fringe of ribbons of all colours,-red, white, green, black, and yellow, gold brocade and silver brocade,-hangs down to the shoulders, and looks extremely pretty. But the matrons have a charming head-gear first comes a tight-fitting cap of muslin, embroidered with white braid, which covers the forehead ; then a veil of the most delicate gauzy web is placed over the head, and brought under the chin, so that the oval of the face alone is seen; and the two ends embroidered in red, and with a lace border two inches wide, hang loose down on either side behind. The girdle is very Oriental-looking ; it is two or three inches broad, and is made of six or more thick red silk cords bound together at intervals with gold thread. The ends, formed of' a double green and red cord, hang down in front. A silk handkerchief, not for use but show, of the brightest colours possible, hangs open from the girdle, and the toilette is then comptcte.

Nothing can be more charming than this Torocrlsö costume; it is most becoming, and the materials-at least among the richer peasants-of the very finest quality ; a painter, who should cone here, would be enchanted with it. There is the ruin of an ancient castle just outside the little market-town, perched up on a steep pointed rock.

The district about Toroczkö abounds in iron; it makes excellent steel, and obtained "honourable mention" at the Exhibition of' 1862. The ore contains from 60 to 70 per cent. of iron. The mining is carried on by the peasants, who understand nothing whatever of such operation; and the mountains are covered with heaps of rubble thrown out at the mouths of the numerous adits. The smelting-houses are fashioned in the most primitive style; and I should think Tubal Cain proceeded in his working of metals much in the same manner as the people of Toroczkö at the present day. A shed erected beside a brook, covers the smelting-furnace, built up of clay and stones ; on one side, large bellows blow the fire : a hole is above to feed the furnace, and below on the opposite side is another by which the molten metal is got out. When it is ready, the glowing mass is hauled forth and dragged to a hole scooped in the earth, and partly filled with charcoal ; here, with large hammers, it is beaten into a compacter shape, and then two men, each armed with a common woodman's axe, chop the great lump till it is cut in two. The time and labour thus expended is great, but it is useless to propose a better manipulation the people prefer keeping to their own old ways. The ore is so easily fusible, that after being roasted it melts without any ingredient being mixed with it. Were these rich mines worked in a manner only approaching even to the requirements of the case, the iron of Toroczkö would, on account of its excellence, find its way to distant mar- kets, and the inhabitants derive from the mines twenty times the profit they now gain. About 7200 cwt.*37_2 of iron ore is produced a year : price 9-10ft. per cwt.

37_2* This was the quantity named to me by a competent authority in Klausenburg ; but I have since read, in an account written by Dr. Andrac, that 17,000 cwt. are produced. I therefore give both computations.

The population is Unitarian. At the Communion, bread is used, as with the Calvinists : in the Lutheran Church they have wafers.

From here I drove to Thorda, and saw, in passing, the remarkable cleft in the mountains called the Thorda Spalt. On my right I had always the mountain-ridge, which separated the higher land from the extensive plain south- ward; on the other side, the Aranyos; and it is through this rocky barrier that the cleft is formed. A mountain stream roars along the narrow channel ; and when much rain has fallen, it rises to such a height, and boils and rushes so impetuously, that to pass there is impossible. This passage through the mountain is some miles long; at the bottom it is now six or eight feet wide, now perhaps twenty. The sides of the wild crags are 950 feet high, and very little out of the perpendicular ; the only path therefore is beside the stream, or the bed of the torrent itself, where large fragments of rock serve as stepping-stones. The further you go, the wilder becomes the scene. Some distance up the steep sides are large caverns, capable of holding a hundred persons ; the entrance to one of these was once barricaded by a bandit, who, in the seventeenth century, had made it his retreat. At the end of the passage, you gaze down on Thorda and the plains beyond.

Up to 1848, Thorda was what is termed oppidum nobilium : every one of the original citizens was a nobleman or freeholder, and had particular rights, privileges, and innnunities ; they chose no representative, but represented themselves.

The mines here are on a large scale. Till 1815, from 400,000 to 500,000 cwt. of salt were raised yearly. The Romans worked them, and vestiges of their labours present themselves continually. In one place, cinders have been found on spots where they sharpened their tools; in another, leathern bags, locked up in the salt in an old shaft, and the remains of ladders of birch-wood, so well preserved that even the rind is still white. The fragments of oak, however, have all turned black, owing to the tannin contained in the wood acting on the iron, and forming a sort of black ink. Strange to say, both woods were still elastic. Here the strata of salt are undulating, like the billows of a suddenly crystallized ocean ; the cause of this baffles inquiry. The neatness with which the miners hew the walls is remarkable ; but I was told it takes ten years before a workman learns to do it well.

Wood is dear at Thorda, on account of the disappearance of the forests. All along the rivers, dams are made for driving mills, and these consume an immense quantity of young trees,-oak-saplings of ten, fifteen, and twenty years' growth. The dams are constantly washed away, and as often renewed, so that the rising forests disappear to replace these huge unwieldy structures.

The Wallack population still name the plain round Thorda after Trajan.*37_3 On the plateau opposite the mine was a fortified Roman stronghold, called Salina, and in the childhood of my companion a large portal still existed there, but the stones have all been carried away to build colleges and mills. There is everywhere the same utter carelessness about the antiquities of the country.

37_3 * A curious instance of the strictness with which these people observe the feasts of their Church, was afforded me while in the north. I had told a ,young Wallack girl to go to the photographer to have her likeness taken ; but though she wished it, she never went. The portrait was sent me long after I had left, and I then learned that the reason of her delay was, that she had not ventured to be photographed during Lent.

I stayed at Thorda with a Saxon family who had been long expecting me, and after a sojourn, which was so pleasant that I only regret it was not longer, returned once more to Klausenburg.

Now came the only sorrowful part of my whole journey,-the bidding farewell to those valued friends, Hun- garian and German, with whom at different times I had passed so many pleasant hours. I hope they will remember mo with the same kind feeling with which I always think of them, and that no one will take amiss what is here said of his nation. This book could and ought to be better than it is ; but, with all its shortcomings, I can aver, in the concluding words of another of my works, that "in no one instance am I conscious of exaggeration, or that a single assertion may be found which is not truth."




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