Title


Chapter 2-From Vienna to Bukharest

CHAPTER II.

FROM VIENNA TO BUKHAREST.

three women and five men crossing the Danube by ferry

[47] WHEN I arrived at Vienna, I had yet come to no decision as to the route myself and my companions should adopt. From that point we had to proceed through countries generally but little visited, our observations upon which would consequently have the keen interest of novelty. To reach Odessa, I had to choose between [48] two routes: taking the Danube from Vienna, as far as Galatz and the Black Sea; or the land journey, striking in a northerly direction and reaching Russia by Lem- berg and Brody, or Tchernowitz. After collecting the best advice on the subject at Vienna, I made up my mind in favor of the first. Information, upon which I could depend, caused me to be apprehensive of the obstacles we might meet with on the frontiers of the Empire. It frequently happens, indeed, when there has been a continuity of rainy weather in Southern Russia, that the roads become impassable ; every trace of a path disappears, and the Steppes become a vast plain of mud, in which it is impossible to discover a track : in such a case, woe betide the European car- riage venturing into this dire slough, when even the light télégues of the country can scarcely keep on the surface. On the other hand, too, the total number of persons forming our party was not less than seventeen ; we should, consequently, have required at least five carriages, including the waggon for the baggage and apparatus of the expedition, and such a caravan would require at least thirty or forty horses. It was almost impossible, therefore, that such a supply could be ob- tained on roads like these for several days in succession, with the degree of regularity which was desirable ; for these reasons, the steam-boat, which descends the [49] Danube, from Vienna to Galatz, appeared preferable to all of us, and it was accordingly unanimously resolved we should adopt this route. Moreover, besides being the easier of the two, it presented many advantages. In the first place, we escaped the disagreeable necessity of being separated from each other ; and next, it was a mode of travelling admirably adapted to read- ing and study, and allowed of our exchanging any observations the journey elicited. Let me add, that the Danube, then a recent conquest of steam travelling, was naturally an object of interest to ns. The Danube is, so to speak, quite a modern invention ; it has taken its place — an honour which it well de- serves — among the travel and trade rivers of Europe ; nor is it long since it became the subject of peculiar attention on the part of political writers. The series of letters equally remarkable for their style and the eru- dition displayed in them, which the Journal des Débats adopted as its own, had given forth, on the subject of this promising medium of communication, ideas as just as they were ingenious ; and written, as they were, in a somewhat bantering spirit, they were undoubtedly calculated to allure us between those two banks, where, perchance, some features which hall escaped the traveller of the Journal des Débats might be discovered. Was it not, indeed, very probable that certain traits of real [50] life had remained unobserved on those shores, where his imagination had so felicitously evoked all those inspiring memories of the Dacians and of Rome, all the poetry of legend and history with which he has animated his descriptions? The correspondent of the Débats has written, in this fashion, an eloquent in augural discourse on one of the grandest occasions of modern times : — " The Union, by the Danube, of the Eastern and Western World." We who succeed him will set aside such brilliant generalities, and with more humility will describe how this fusion of the two worlds, so long separated by the Danube, and which it is now destined to unite, is gradually taking place.

three men standing, one smoking

Our berths were secured on board the François Premier, one of the Company's steamers, which was to start from Pesth, for Drenkova, on the 5th of July. Being unable to moderate the adventurous ardour of my companions, I granted them all the leisure they required, that they might trust themselves to the not very perilous chances of navigating the Danube, from Vienna to Pesth, in those flat bottomed boats which perform their journey, passing through Presburg. Accordingly, they placed themselves gaily on board, while I, in a very matter-of-fact way, took the mail on the 3rd of July. The distance from Vienna to the frontier of Hungary is short; how great is the difference, however, of the splendid roads in Austria, from [51] the worn-out highways of Hungary ! Without seeking too minutely the cause of this, it is not difficult to discover that it is radically inherent in the peculiar character of the ancient Hungarian government, and that the remedy for it can only be applied with precaution, in a country where, by virtue of the fundamental laws of the constitution, the nobility are exempt from every species of tax. Now, as the nobility in Hungary forms the entire of the old Hungarian blood, and monopolises all the possessors of land, it is not to be wondered at if all the public works, the burthen of which falls exclusively on the poorer classes, are badly executed, and badly maintained. Of late, it is true, several large land-owners, setting aside all petty self-interest, have turned their attention to the amelio- ration of this state of things. At the head of these noble spirits, whose minds are slaves to their duty, stands forth a man whose generous influence will produce great results in a country which has the strongest desire for social progress ; we speak of Count Stephen Széchény. On their side, the Diet — that assembly of nobles representing a people of nobles — are not the most backward in yielding to the national impulse which has already made itself manifest. Already several resolutions, recently enacted, have given evidence of a laudable inclination to follow that movement towards material ameliorations, which is one of the strongest features of European society. More [52] especially, it must be admitted, that the efforts which the prudence of the Diet of Presburg has made in this direction are clear and precise. untrammelled by any abstract theories, and aim directly at the prosperity of the country, the accomplishment of which will be a new and beneficent era for Hungary. Here, then, we behold this assembly, who it cannot be doubted have comprehended their mission, urged by the influence of progressive ideas towards the gradual reform of shortsighted laws, which would oppose an insurmountable obstacle to all ulterior amelioration, in a country which at last calls out for its share in the benefits of modern civilization, viz. : practicable roads, canals, bridges and railroads. The first necessary condition of this progressive amelioration, which we see commencing in Hungary with wise and persevering caution, will probably bring about a more equitable assessment of taxes, when by a common agreement loyally entered into, every inhabitant of this noble soil, renouncing privileges which are a burthen to all, will consent to bear his share in the public charges.

The posting in Hungary, which is open to public competition, does not appear to me quite to justify the great praise awarded to it by an illustrious personage of France. The supply of post-horses, when left to private enterprise, as in England, is evidently an advantage to those who undertake it, since it constitutes an additional [53] profit to that which the owners already draw from horses employed in farm-work. But if this system is profitable to the owners of horses, it is less advantageous to travellers, who are obliged, on more than one occasion, to wait till a horse returns from the plough, and the ploughman is - transformed into a postillion. A very simple remedy for this, is to take the post-horses supplied by the government, which does not keep horses for two purposes.

A very short stay at Presburg, did not allow us to see more than would come within the ken of any traveller desirous only of a superficial notion of this ancient capital. Although, since the year 1790, Presburg had restored its ancient title to Buda, it has retained within its walls the seat of legislative power, and the apparatus of the ancient Hungarian institutions. This propinquity of the directive power is naturally favourable to Austria ; and while it restored to Buda its rank of capital city, which was due to its importance, the Imperial Government, nevertheless, kept at Presburg the two assemblies, whose deliberations are quickly reported in Vienna. To look at the modest building in which they are held, the rooms devoid of all style, and possessing no other character than that of the most ordinary plainness, with no other furniture than a set of large wooden benches, covered with fresh ink Stains, one would imagine one's-self in an immense school-room.

[54] This absence of all form or ceromony would lead to the conclusion that there existed a harsh contrast between the miserable appearance of this hall of legislature and that pompous array of costume, swords, spurs and prerogatives, with which the nobility surrounds itself: it might be feared that this extreme simplicity was a sign of indifference or contempt for the sanctuary of the laws, were it not easy to ascertain that beneath this somewhat rough simplicity there is shown, among these ill-quartered legislators, a profound sense of the important functions confided to them. The feeling of respect for the laws which reigns within these walls, covers and adorns their nakedness.

Even to those who pass only hastily through it, Presburg is a city which must leave a lasting impression. Pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Danube, it is balanced on the opposite bank by splendid masses of foliage, overshadowing public walks, which are much frequented, and deserve the trouble of crossing the river to see them more closely. The city itself is overlooked by a castle, of which a ruin is all that now remains ; but it is so felicitously situated, as to reckon few rivals in Europe. Presburg possesses, moreover, some remarkable monuments, and all the public establishments belonging to a royal city still in a flourishing state.

On the 4th of July, in the afternoon, we reached Ofen, or rather Buda, the Hungarian city, par excellence, which [55] from its rocky eminence contemplates its four large suburbs, sloping down in echelons to the Danube, while on the opposite side of the stream, on the left bank, Pesth spreads out its broad extent, and all the pomp and magnificence of a new and already wealthy city. The imposing appearance of Buda sufficiently indicates that it is the representative of that historical Hungary which, through so many years, was happy, powerful, and indepen- dent. Under the Romans it was called Sicambria; and tradition declares that its present appellation was conferred upon it in memory of a brother of Attila, whose name was Buda. However this may be, there Buda still stands, to tell all the valiant history of Hungary, which com- mences from the conquest of Arpad ; beholds in the eleventh century the elevation of the dynasty of Stephen ; flows on through twenty-three reigns of the kings of his race, and the sovereigns of the royal branch of Anjou, to Wladislas II., who collected the laws into a code; and terminates with the reign of Louis II., whose death, which occurred at Mohacs, in 1526, determined the downfall of the ancient Hungarian monarchy.

Buda, thus torn from its legitimate princes, and subjected for more than a century and-a-half to the power of the Turks, hag preserved, in spite of itself, the traces of this violent dominion : witness the baths, which are in the oriental fashion; its metal spires, almost in the [56] precise form of minarets, But no sooner were these fierce conquerors expelled, notwithstanding the admixture of Greek forms of worship, all the heads of the church, all the representatives of the royal blood, and of the nationality of Hungary, combined in their efforts to wipe out the wrong which had been done to these sacred walls. Buda preserves in its treasury the crown of St. Stephen, his imperial globe, and his sceptre. It is the seat and residence of the Palatine, and of the high dignitaries of the church ; and since Hungary, so long divided, has recognised the hereditary claims of Austria, Buda has resumed its well-deserved title of queen and capital of Hungary.

There are few situations so remarkable as those of these two cities, Buda and Pesth ; separated by a stream so wide as the Danube, yet really forming one and the same city : Pesth reckons sixty-thousand inhabitants ; it is full of noise and movement, and is the type of an active, bustling, industrious city, producing more than it consumes. The fine streets and broad quays, lined with edifices built in excellent taste, are well adapted for a commerce which is daily increasing.

I had scarcely had time to visit a few streets in the most remarkable quarters, and those monuments whose exterior was most deserving of attention, when I was informed of the arrival of those of my companions who [57] had preferred proceeding to Pest"' by the picturesque route of the Danube. They arrived enchanted with their three days' water journey. The description of what had been seen during their short interval of separation, was immediately communicated to me ; and, not to encroach upon our subsequent observations, which from this point we collected, and noted down in common, I shall place here the remarks in question, in which these gentlemen speak collectively, and according to their particular impressions.

" On the 2nd of July, after receiving your instructions respecting the point at which we were shortly to assemble, we lost no time in gathering together on the banks of the Danube at the place fixed upon by the boatman who was to conduct us down the stream to Presburg. It was from that day that the commencement of our campaign really dated. Accordingly we had all dressed ourselves in the simple uniform we had agreed to adopt, and which we never laid aside during the whole of our voyage. In this trim we embarked in a large boat, in which the master had, according to his promise, provided us with convenient places. This species of craft deserves a short description, as it is the almost unvarying type of all that are met with on the Danube, from Vienna to the vicinity of its mouth. These boats are generally of large dimensions, rudely constructed, and traversed throughout almost [58] their whole length by a large cabin seven or eight feet high, surmounted by a slanting roof, which gives it the appearance of a house. Within this is the hold, which contains the entire cargo — and here, too, the passengers, provided they are able to stand the combination of odours emanating from the merchandise, may be accommodated. The fore and aft parts of the vessel are similar to each other, being very much elevated, and the helm is made fast to the stern by means of common ropes made of the fibre of bark, and is worked by one or more men from a platform on the roof of the cabin. This species of floating châlet, built of white deal, descend in great numbers the stream of the Danube ; but when it is necessary to ascend against the current, it can only be done at the cost of infinite trouble, and by means more picturesque than ingenious, of which we shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

" The master of the boat looked upon us as passengers of no ordinary class, probably on account of our paying, without dispute, the small sum required of us, and had reserved for the mining gentlemen, as he called us (pro- bably on account of our caps, ornamented with two hammers forming a cross), the stern-castle — above which, an old sail formed an elegant canopy. Our chests, turned into sofas, were ranged round this saloon ; and, to insure [59] us against any unwelcome intrusion, the precaution had been taken of nailing the door of the cabin assigned to passengers paying more moderate fares, and occupied by them in common with several barrels of tallow and bundles of leather, the perfume of which penetrated through the partition. These passengers were, for the most part, industrious Israelites, proceeding to Presburg for trading purposes. Just as we were leaving the shore, a new companion was presented to us, and we readily consented to grant him the hospitality which was politely requested of us. We were informed that our fellow traveller was a captain of engineers, on a journey, in company with his two pretty little daughters, to some distance from Vienna.

" We had soon left the city, together with its garden- chequered suburbs, and the majestic trees of the Prater, behind us. At the extreme limits of Vienna, a little bark, manned by officials charged with the examination of our passports, came alongside of us. This formality was quickly discharged by a sub-officer, who, in handing back our papers, politely wished us a pleasant journey. We were touched at this mark of courtesy, which, though certainly trivial, struck us as being very unusual under similar circumstances, and because one rarely sees, in these police affairs, the examiner and the examined look pleasantly at each other, and part mutually satisfied.

[60]

The Danube below Vienna branches out into a multitude of streams, separated by islands of considerable extent, uniformly covered with meadow land, and a green and abundant vegetation. The force of the current caused us to proceed at a rapid rate, and we soon only beheld the tops of the highest edifices in the city, and the magnificent spire of St. Stephen standing out, slender and brilliant, against the deep blue of the long range of mountains which separates Austria from Bohemia. A charming pleasure trip was our journey, starting, as we did, in the mild morning air, and gliding rapidly along the green waters of the Danube, passing on either side a multitude of islets covered with willows. From time to time, some pretty village or fresh-looking country-house appeared, and was quickly masked by the verdure-clad peaks, which seemed to run by as bent upon continually closing up behind us the sinuous banks of the stream. For a long time we continued threading our course through this labyrinth of water and vegetation. And what pleasanter mode of travelling can be desired? You make rapid way, and yet your thoughts can dwell on the objects which surround you — strange alliance of movement and repose.

" Our fellow-traveller, the captain, respected our con- templative silence so long as the Danube, pressed in between the islands, allowed us to follow closely the [61] sinuosities of the right bank. But soon, when we had entered into a broader course, he discreetly ventured upon a few questions relative to certain points, which, from the moment of' our departure, had evidently excited his curiosity. Who were we ? what uniform was that we wore? what was the object of our journey? These questions, insinuated with all the polite and indirect turns of phrase which the German language affords, received answers, of which our companion was fortunate enough to make out the sense, although it required the united efforts of three of us to compose and pronounce the shortest sentence. From this moment an active conversation was engaged, the prin- cipal part being taken by the captain, who soon perceived that he was addressing those who were intelligent listeners, if not brilliant in dialogue, and graciously became our cicerone, selecting, with con- siderate attention, among the objects which attracted our observation, those which might be most interesting to us as Frenchmen.

" When we had left in the rear the pretty villages of Simmering and Neugebaude, the captain directed our attention to the right bank. ` That pointed spire, cased in polished iron,' said he, marks where stands, behind those trees, the pretty town of Ebersdorff. In 1809, Napoleon's head quarters were for several days [62] established there ; and it was from that large island to the left, that the French army sallied out, crossing three bridges boldly thrown over the stream. You were very young then, gentlemen, but I was present on the occasion. Exactly where we are now passing, the waters of the Danube were dyed with blood; and for more than a whole day these shores trembled with a fearful cannonade.' While our companion addressed us thus, our eyes rested on the island of Lobau, now so calm and verdant, and Ebersdorff, a charming little village, which possesses a manufactory of iron-work, and an actively employed spinning-mill. Nature and man's intelligence have not allowed a trace to remain of the bloody and glorious battles which once devastated this beautiful country. Such is the reintegrating power of these two eternal forces ; while the old warriors of Essling and Lobau are falling every day beneath the hand of time, trees full of sap and vigour are spreading their branches over those heroic plains, and a new ge- neration is building up anew, what its fathers had destroyed.

" Lower down appears Petronell, a village on the right bank, occupying the site of the ancient Carnuntum. Our captain informed us that the excavations which have been commenced in the neighbourhood frequently bring to light fragments of Roman works. He also [63] mentioned a triumphal arch — the Heathen's Gate (Heiden-Thor), as it is called, dating from the time of Tiberius, who erected it in commemoration of the conquest of Pannonia. To all this obliging information on the part of the captain, we replied a few words, which he interpreted as expressions of our regret that we had not leisure to visit these interesting remains.

" Towards noon we were travelling through a country of more severe aspect. The Danube, assembling its waters into one bed, expands here into an imposing breadth ; lofty hills bound it to the right, and here and there masses of rock jut forward, like promontories, into its stream. The little town of Haimbourg, soon came in sight. Built in a picturesque recess, it is overlooked by an old citadel, now in ruins, rising on the rounded summit of a mountain. From this citadel, an embattled wall, flanked with towers, descends towards the town, and forms its outward boundary. This fortification, which suggests the infancy of the art, the style of the walls, with their closely ranged battlements, the con- struction of the towers, scattered here and there in the vicinity, seem impressed with the characteristics of Eastern architecture. Haimbourg, twice destroyed by the invasions of the Turks, has been as many times re-built; it is now flourishing, and has been augmented by a large number of new buildings. Admirably situated [64] at the furthest end of a small bay, it forms, as seen from the Danube, an agreeable picture. Haimbourg contains, we are told, two thousand eight hundred inhabitants ; it possesses a tobacco manufactory, producing annually ten thousand tons, and every thing around seems to breathe well-being and prosperity. Here we took leave of our good-natured and well-informed captain, whose company we regretted we could not longer enjoy.

" A few paces lower clown stands Wolfsthal, a small Austrian town, on the confines of the empire, and marking their extent. On the opposite bank, the frontier is indicated in a more remarkable manner, by a huge rock, which is most picturesquely surmounted with ruins. This enormous mass, rising perpendicularly from the waters of the stream, forms the extreme point of the lesser Carpathian chain, which advances in a straight line from the north-east, and forms the boundary between Moravia and the kingdom of Hungary. A river, flowing with yellowish waters — the March — after watering by its tributaries the whole of the Moravian basin, sinks into the Danube at the base of the imposing mass of rock in question. On the right bank, the corresponding elevation to this lower peak of the Carpathians is scarcely traceable, in a range of hillocks of some height, which gradually sink down to the level of the plains situated southward of the Danube. It is through this [65] imposing entrance that the Austrian stream flows into her beautiful kingdom of Hungary, whose rich meadows it irrigates.

" At a short distance from the great rock, formerly defended by a fortress, the ruins of which are all that remains, we landed at the little village of Theben, which extends its name to the entire promontory. It was two o'clock, and our boatmen, not to abandon their fixed custom, were desirous of making their repast in the arbour of a little tavern near the shore. We had so ardent a desire to survey the imposing ruins over- looking the village, that we each of us immediately commenced an independent ascent of the scarped cliff which separated us from the old castle. We were soon dispersed at different heights over this steep declivity ; and, as we gazed around us, we could not but remark the different intervals which the varying tastes or avocations of each caused between us from this moment, when, for the first time, we set foot upon a tract on which we might exercise our observations. M. Huot had halted within a few feet of the level of the Danube, and was zealously hammering at the rocky mass beneath him, to loosen from it his first specimen of the Hungarian soil; Dr. Léveillé, arrested in his upward course by the beauty and variety of the vegetation with which the declivity was clothed, had already collected copious [66] specimens of the local Flora ; Rousseau was looking out for the lizards and reptiles scared by our invasion, and the unfortunate creatures which fell into his grasp purchased, at the cost of a convulsive death in a bottle of spirits, the honour of figuring some day in a geological collection ; a hundred feet above us, Raffet was scaling the walls of an ancient turret, rising in the air like a watch-tower, on which we had looked with longing eyes while passing, a quarter of an hour before, at the foot of the promontory of Theben. The sun was powerful, and many a painful struggle was required, ere we could reach the centre of the old fortress. The platform can only be reached by scrambling over several ramparts of loose fragments, which appear to have been heaped together by the explosion of a mine ; but on attaining the highest point of the ruins, which is a terrace still in a good state of preservation, the trouble and fatigue of the ascent are richly rewarded. At a perpendicular depth of four hundred feet beneath you, the March mingles with the Danube, preserving still for some distance the muddy tint of its waters. In the haze of the distant horizon, to the west, are descried the richly coloured plains of Austria, and the thousand branches of the Danube, with its green islands. At a short distance, to the east, lies Presburg, protected by its [67] white-walled castle overlooking the city ; further on, amidst the clouds of the horizon, the eye traces indistinctly the outline of a range of mountains.

" When we had, at last, all assembled on the summit of the ruins, and had gazed at leisure on the beautiful prospect before us, we slowly made our way back to Theben, and rested a few moments in the dark and somewhat unwholesome den where our boatmen and their passengers had installed themselves, and were quietly smoking an after-dinner pipe, over several large pots of excellent beer, supremely indifferent to castles and ruins of all kinds. There were in this rustic tavern scenes full of interest and character. The loose and coarse attire of the Hungarian peasants — their broad felt hats and long hanging hair setting off a dark and masculine countenance — struck our attention for the first time ; it was a fine study of drawing and colour. We felt the greatest desire to question these grave and athletic looking inhabitants of the place, as to the old castle of Theben and its history ; but how was it possible to converse with a set of people who make it a pretext that they are some thousand yards from the Austrian frontier, not to understand a single word of all the German which we clubbed together to inter- rogate them? It must be admitted, however, that we were listened to with benevolent calmness, and without [68] that smile of impatience which, even on the part of the most phlegmatic Germans, always meets the heart- rending efforts of a Frenchman to make himself under- stood. The experiment we made at first of the Latin tongue, so long commonly spoken in Hungary, was not more successful. This traditional language is daily becoming extinct, and we were at the expense of furbishing up our college reminiscences for nothing. At last, however, our host informed us, through the medium of an extraordinary mixture of dialects, that the castle was known by the name of the Knights' Castle (Ritter Schloss), a somewhat unmeaning designation, very com- mon throughout Germany, and upon which, in this instance, no light is thrown by the guide books published on the subject of the Danube, where it is simply stated, that Theben is commanded by a castle, remarkable for its antiquity. As a last addition to our information, we learned, from a Jew on board the boat, that the ruined fortress had served, in 1809, as a retrenchment to the Austrians against the French, and that since then it had remained in the deserted state in which we had found it. On setting out again, the Hungarian custom-house officers were present at our embarkation ; but they were satisfied with our assurance that we were not introducing into the kingdom of Hungary any species of merchandize subject to duty — a statement which was corroborated by [69] our little stock of scientific apparatus, carefully stowed away in the boat. Our craft then left Theben, and at six o'clock in the evening, just as Dr. Léveillé was concluding an interesting lecture he was kind enough to give us, describing the twenty species of plants he had collected on the mountain, we made for the shore on a bare-looking beach, at the foot of the houses, forming the commencement of Presburg.

" When we had made sure of a lodging at an inn — where, by the way, the landlord, in spite of all entreaty, refused to serve us with supper before the regular hour appointed for the evening repast, we had a guide sent for, to take us over the city, who conducted us, the first thing, to the castle, which, from a lofty and picturesque site, over- looks Presburg and its environs. Our good cicerone, in the absence, we suppose, of any other road, made us climb up to the citadel along a winding street, the entire population of which, assembled in groups at every door, saluted us on our passage with such pressing marks of civility, that we were unable to halt a moment anywhere, in order to contemplate at leisure the variety of costume and physiognomy presented at the first glance by the inhabitants of this extraordinary suburb. A gate of ancient construction, and a steep flight of steps, lead to the esplanade upon which stands the old castle. All the works which once constituted it a fortress have [70] been almost entirely dismantled ; and the castle itself — a large quadrangular edifice, flanked at each corner by a square tower — is completely in ruins ; in other respects, this ancient palace has never been remarkable for any- thing but its situation, and the fine prospect it commands. Its four sides are studded with a great number of windows in regular rows, which give it the appearance of barracks. The style of its architecture, like that of the majority of public monuments we saw in Austria, is that of the eighteenth century, and its dilapidated walls still present a few remnants of sculptured flower and scroll work, covered over with mouldering whitewash. The buildings of this period are not among those whose ruins command respect, for they offend the eye, as do all examples of premature decay, all faded relics of a coquettish fancy no longer endowed with the wealth which gave it im- portance. The grand and severe ruins which the hand of Time, had heaped up on the summit of Theben inspired us with lively interest ; but this wreck of the demolished palace of Presburg is a spectacle which can only be regarded with mournful feelings. In the days of its splendour, however, this imposing edifice, from its lofty and magnificent eminence, commanded a majestic prospect of the surrounding country and the stream flowing at its feet. llich, indeed, is the landscape which unfolds itself to the east and to the south, stretching [71] out to the horizon, and which, as we gazed on it, was beginning to vanish in the grey shades of evening. While we were enjoying this admirable prospect, we were accosted by a little man of advanced age, dressed in a half-military costume, who, after saluting us in our own language, addressed us without further preamble, and in a singularly blunt and gruff tone, as follows : — ` You are contemplating, Messieurs les Français, this vast pros- pect ; a very fine one, is it not ? But, to make up for it, this palace is a disgraceful barrack of a place, which is left standing for no reason I can divine. You ob- serve the marks of a fire, which you might be led to believe was recent, but which happened as far back as 1809, twenty-eight years ago ; everything has been left in the same state as the clay after the event ; the people about here care little for public buildings, as you may perceive. And do you know why this castle came to be on fire ? Simply to balance a debtor and creditor account. At those times of war a large depot of military equipments had been established here, and the account-books of the store-keeper being in a very compli- cated condition, one fine night the castle broke out in a blaze ! Fire, you know, purifies everything, and settles all accounts as well.' — ' Sir,' said one of us, ` you appear to judge very harshly of the men of former days, who, to all appearance, are your content- [72] poraries, and probably also your fellow-countrymen.' ` You are right,' he said, ` I am Hungarian, and by this time an old man ; such as you see me, I served under Napoleon : after that, I need say no more, to show that my ideas are not always in accordance with those of my compatriots of the present day.' ` And these ideas of yours,' replied one of us, ` your com- patriots have not the good sense, probably, to appreciate.' ` You have guessed rightly ; consequently, we are often at odds ; we discuss the point, and as I am not under- stood, I get the worst of it. I am only plain lieutenant, gentlemen ; and, in spite of my grey hairs, my heart is still too young for the times and for my country. A month ago, for a slight breach of discipline, I was sentenced to imprisonment in these ruins, to which I am indebted for the pleasure of meeting you here this evening.' ` At any rate, lieutenant,' said we, ` you have an admirable promenade and a delightful prospect to console you.' ` My walk,' he replied, ` is limited to this esplanade ; as for the prospect, I confess myself less sensible to its charms than to the injustice with which I am pursued. You are now on the threshold of my prison, and here I must stop : good luck await you, gentlemen, on your long journey.' As he watched us returning downwards : ` You may be certain,' he cried, ` that it is not these old walls that prevent my [73] getting away from here, if I chose ; but I have pledged my word, and a soldier's word is sacred.'

" We took leave of our captive humorist with painful feelings. ` Here,' said we, as we descended the height, ` is a gloomy recluse, who is to be pitied ; for he has taken the men and things of his country in hatred, and he cannot conceal these unnatural sentiments even from strangers. What would be the result if we had to spend, instead of a few minutes, several hours in the company of this misanthrope? How would it be possible, after such an interview, for a traveller who is only skimming the surface of the manners and insti- tutions of a country, to gather a notion on any subject with which he could rest conscientiously satisfied? The impression he will carry away with him will depend frequently on the good or bad temper of the first in- formant chance may throw in his way ; and is it not incurring a serious responsibility, to repeat assertions which we are unable to confirm by our own personal and disinterested investigations?' In the midst of these reflections, which tended a little to dispel the charm of our undertaking, and enjoined a prudent reserve in the composition of our notes, we also made this remark ; that the persons with whom we had occasion to converse during this first day's journey, had all given a certain turn to their observations, the invariable intention of [74] which was to tickle that feeling of national pride which is said to be so excitable with us. The captain of engineers, the Jew of Theben himself, and the morose lieutenant in the citadel, had equally hit upon that form of courtesy which is the most delicate expression of hospitality, and which consists in talking to your guest on those subjects which may be supposed most flattering to him. Thus, all the allusions to Napoleon and his epoch, which might well surprise us in a country once oppressed by his arms, were evidently only a mark of their benevolent intentions towards us, and for which we were indebted to the mild and easy manners of the Austrian people.


HUNGARIAN INFANTRY (GRENADIERS)

" Returning into the city by a suburb which appeared especially singled out by the soldier as the scene of his Sunday relaxation, we were more than once struck with the soldierly bearing, easy gait, and perfect trim of the Hungarian infantry. Nothing can be more elegant than their uniform, consisting of a white coat with small tails, close-fitting light blue trousers, trimmed with black and yellow stripes and embroidery, and a cap combining comfort with a good defence for the head. This cos- tume, which is worn by men for the most part extremely well-made, is one of the simplest and most graceful uniforms that can be imagined for the foot-soldier. The City of Presburg, which we now traversed in its widest [75] extent, appeared but thinly peopled ; the streets are wide and airy, but built with little regularity ; the 'modern buildings present a tolerable appearance, though built of light materials. We saw the theatre, a large edifice standing on an esplanade, and distinguished by one of the longest Latin inscriptions ever seen — a cir- cumstance which naturally extinguishes all desire to read it. On that day the theatre was closed, but an Italian Punch had erected its itinerant stage under the portico of Thalia. A small group of spectators followed, with listless attention, the universal, but somewhat hack- neyed drama of the Neapolitan humpback. Povero Signor Pulcinella ! To what an audience was he addressing himself ! In what ears was he pouring the treasures of his sarcastic wit, his bursts of jeering laughter, and the burlesque dialect of the lazzaroni ! The grave Hungarians who halted before him seemed to take him for a madman, and the greater number went on their way puffing a disdainful whiff of tobacco.

" As we approached the bridge of boats thrown across the Danube, we began to discover how it was we had found the finest part of the city almost entirely deserted. A dense crowd of people, and a number of elegant carriages, were returning in a body to Presburg. This living stream covered the bridge and the alleys of an adjacent promenade, in such sort, that we, who were [76] the only persons going in a contrary direction, found no little trouble in squeezing our way along. This fashionable assemblage was returning from a theatre built in the open air — a pretty amphitheatre enough, of a semi-circular shape — on the performances of which the curtain had just been let down. It still preserves the name of Arena, a designation which continues in Italy to be applied to all theatres of the same kind. When we had walked a little about the promenade, which was being entirely abandoned, we began to reflect that this significant clearance, on the part of a people so regular in their habits, was a hint which ought not to be lost on travellers who for twenty-four hours had scarcely broken fast. We returned, accordingly, to the Golden Lion ; and this time our host, grown more hospitable, introduced us into a large room, already echoing with the noise of the guests, and the discordant strains of a band of Bohemian musicians.

" From another boatman we had hired a boat to take us to Pesth in thirty-six hours ; on this occasion our craft was a little flat-bottomed boat, just exactly large enough to hold ourselves and our baggage. We had, on either side, given our word to be ready at three o'clock. We were exact to our appointed time, not having reflected that so near the frontier we could expect but little improvement upon German habits ; [77] accordingly, we had had full time to construct a little hut of matting on board our little boat, when, at about five o'clock, the boatman and his helper quietly made their appearance. We left the shores of Presburg from beneath a sort of platform surrounded with a balus- trade. This is called the Königsberg ; and from the summit of this elevation each King of Hungary, upon his accession to the throne, mounted on horseback and equipped in complete armour, brandishes towards the four cardinal points the sword of St. Stephen.

" Presburg and its castle were soon left in the dis- tance, marking their outline upon a cloudy sky — an effect so happily conveyed by English engravings. The Danube, chafed by a fresh breeze from the east, dashed against the sides of our boat, impelled swiftly along by the current and a pair of long oars. Below Presburg the stream flows between banks of a truly wild cha- racter. We followed the widest of its branches, that which flows round the southern portion of the island of Schutt, one of the largest river islands of Europe, its extent being no less than twelve leagues by seven. The country on all sides is flat, uninhabited, and covered throughout with willows and brushwood.

At the aspect of this utter solitude it is difficult to believe one's self in Europe, and in the midst of a country rich in thickly populated towns. Such is the [78] deserted state of these tracts of meadow land that the animals themselves seem ignorant of the danger with which the presence of man threatens them. Frequently we came across large flocks of herons and cormorants gazing upon us from the shore with the most tranquil confidence. Sometimes we heard the shrill cry of the gull, transporting us, in imagination, amidst the breakers of the sea-shore. At other times, large herds, wandering about without a keeper, would halt, as if to contemplate us in our boat ; but occasionally the waste would become peopled, and the silent air filled with a strange tumult : this was when one of those large floating houses, which we have already, described, was ascending the stream, drawn by a team of fifty horses, painfully toiling from ford to ford, from island to island, with these ponderous machines. Every horse carries a man ; and every rider in this nautical squadron, now plunged up to his middle in the stream, now ploughing a deep slanting furrow in the loose sand, utters an uninterrupted succession of frightful yells, responded to by the no less savage shouts of the troop collected on the roof of the huge boat. It is in truth one of the most singular spectacles that can be seen, is this troop of half savage and mud-be-grimed boatmen, with their black faces hidden in a forest of long hair, or overshadowed by an immense broad flat hat. We recognized in them, only with a [79] more strongly marked character, and a still greater ampli- tude of garment, the well defined type of the Bas Breton race. Sometimes, too, we would come across a long string of floating water mills, which, from amid the tall trees on the shore, to which they are securely moored, are seen to slant out towards a more rapid current in the stream. But the solitary inhabitants of these shores that interested us the most are the gold searchers, scattered over the islands, or on isolated tracts of beach. These poor people are incessantly employed in sifting the sands of the Danube, to gather from them the particles of gold which the stream carries down in its course. A stream of water, which has passed through a heap of sand and gravel collected upon a hurdle, is kept continually running over an inclined plane, covered with felt or coarse cloth — the minute particles of the pre- cious metal thus remaining in the meshes of the tissue. We examined closely these good people, engaged, with no other shelter than their large hats, in this interminable labour. Not one of them could speak one intelligible word to us, or understand one of our questions relative to their monotonous occupation. Our boatman informed us, that these men, who work the whole day exposed to the inclemency of the seasons, are scarcely able to earn the value of fifteen sous of French money by a day's labour. This boatman was a man of an extremely [80] good humoured character, and appeared to possess the knowledge of an experienced pilot as to all the manoeuvres by which our journey could be shortened. He, too, as if by conspiracy, had his word to say about Napoleon. He had served the great man as an ally and a dragoon some eight-and-twenty years since ; and, from this glorious epoch of his life, the brave trooper (now a sailor) had retained but one single phrase of French, with which he honoured us on every possible occasion. His entire stock of French consisted of these words — ' Adieu! mon bon ami.'

" We had disembarked at the foot of an ancient monastery, which is now the principal inn of the village of Kézis ; the public room of this hostelry was already occupied by several groups, all belonging to the peasant class, so remarkable in this country for their open and manly demeanour, and rugged physiognomy. The cus- tom they have of shaving their temples to a certain height, gives a strange and somewhat wild character to their heads. Their hair, closely cropped in front, is left to grow to its full length behind, and hangs floating over their shoulders. A garment of coarse linen, drawn in round the loins by a broad belt of stitched leather, as hard as a piece of wood; enormous boots of undressed leather; the broad national hat stuck over the head with a decided air, and a certain abruptness of deport- [81] ment and gesture ; such are the principal features which distinguish the people of this country.

" A young man apparently belonging to the ecclesi- astic order, and who was taking his meal apart from the rest, advanced towards us, and politely enquired whether he could be of any service to us ; the mixed Latin of the middle ages, which he used in conversing with us, adapting itself with facility to the most ordinary topics. This young man informed us, among other things, that all his compatriots who had received any- thing like a regular education habitually used the Latin language, which still continues, in Hungary, the lan- guage of science and of the law. In answering our courteous acquaintance, we were more than once driven to the use of barbarisms, which did not, however, prevent our conversation being very animated on both sides. The furniture of the public room, in which we were, con- sisted of wooden benches and tables ; no other ornaments could be seen about it save a few rude engravings, after the fashion of our illustrated ballad of the ` Wandering dew,' encircled with Hungarian legends, and pasted on the wall, in company with the prospectus of a French journal, ` L'Europe Littéraire,' which probably owed this distinction to its elegant vignette. One of the corners of the room was occupied by a mill for crushing salt, exactly similar to the ancient mill used by the Romans, [82] and still to be found among the Arabs. The doors, open to all comers, gave access to a number of beggars and hideous cripples, whose noisy importunities dis- turbed our frugal dinner. Soon after, we were visited by three German female musicians, whose costumes, with harp and guitar slung across their shoulders, too surely indicated wandering minstrels. One of them was young, of an interesting countenance, and with all that decency of demeanour which is generally to be found in Germany, where this species of nomadic talent is not always a cloak for mendicity. The songs with which these poor women regaled us did not exhibit more art than we have a right to expect from street virtuosi. Just as we were returning to our boat, we were given to understand that our pilot, the ex-dragoon, had a favour to crave from us ; and this boon was to grant a passage to our three singers, who were sisters, and were bound for Pesth. We could not refuse this sup- port to the fine arts, too frequently condemned to foot it, and our journey proceeded amidst the strains of national minstrelsy. Komorn arrested us for a short space towards the evening. This city, the Hungarian name of which is Kornaron, the capital of the county of that name, is situate at the confluence of the Donau- Waag and the Neutra with the Danube. Extensive fortifications, of modern construction, defend the city [83] and its approaches. All around indicates that the po- sition must be one of great stratagetic importance, and that the citadel of Komorn deserves the high reputation it possesses among military men.


HUNGARIAN INN AT KEZIS, ON THE RIGHT BANK OF THE DANUBE.

" A halt of only a quarter of an hour did not allow us to visit a church of some beauty, dedicated to St. Andrew, and which is one of the five churches in Komorn devoted to the Catholic religion. Three places of worship are open to the followers of various persuasions in this city, which is peopled by no less than 12,000 inhabitants. The broad quays and fine- looking houses which we observed, denoted that affluence has become one of the conditions of life in this place. But as night was approaching, and the ap- pearance of the heavens threatened a storm, we were unable to judge either of the character or industry of the population.

" At nightfall, the wind rose with increased violence, the rain fell in large drops, and the swelling waters of the Danube made rough work for our frail craft, whose flat bottom rendered it unfit to cope with such an adversary. The shores were so distant at this time, that it seemed as if we were navigating an extensive lake ; moreover, the most complete darkness soon shut us out from all prospect, with no other shelter than four feet square of matting, beneath which our trembling [84] fellow-passengers had taken refuge. No other course was left us, than to accelerate by every means our nocturnal journey, and each of us, in turn, came to the relief of our boatmen, wearied by fifteen hours toil. Bewildered by the roaring of the wind, and soaked through by the rain, we reached the land without being aware of it, so pitchy dark were the heavens. The experienced skill of our pilot had guided us safely into a small bay on the right bank, and we groped our way to a neighbouring inn, where the only answer made to our call was the immediate blowing out of the lights ; however, we were at last, after some par- leying, admitted, and the hostess, with her active attendants, soon made us a good fire. As for our supper, after the fashion of the Homeric heroes, the most skilful, perhaps, but not the most famished of our drenched party, had to lend a helping hand to pre- pare it.

" A few hours rest in this inn, which belongs to the village of Hohenmarch, had repaired the fatigues of our little Danubian tempest ; and on the 4th of July the rising sun beheld us floating towards Gran. Standing out in relief at the foot of the beautiful undulations of the Matra hills, Netzmahl, and its rich vineyards, the possessions of the Counts Zichy and Esterhazy, were soon left behind us, as also the boundaries of the Pala- [85] tinate of Komoru ; and, with a new province, we greeted a new and most imposing landscape.

" The river Gran, flowing from the north, pours its waters into the Danube at the foot of those hills which we had so long seen in the distance, without reaching them ; and henceforward the stream, with increased rapidity, flows in the narrow bed which it has made for itself through this chain of mountains, covered with verdure, and studded with picturesque ruins. Before entering this narrow channel, we had landed at Gran, the Esztergom of the Hungarians, situated on the right bank of the Danube, in an agreeable valley. Capital of the Palatinate, and for a long time the residence of the kings of Hungary, Gran has more than once fallen into the hands of the Turks, the inveterate foes of this beautiful country; but it always continued dear to the high dignitaries of the Church ; who, driven away by the invaders, still brought back, after each storm, the pomp and grandeur of an archiepiscopal establishment, which dates from the eleventh century and the mar- tyrdom of St. Stephen.

" On the mountain which commands the city, and on the site of its ancient citadel, a primate of the Church, Prince Alexander of Rudnay, erected the costly edifices with which his piety endowed the ancient metro- polis of this diocese. A palace for the archbishop, [86] another palace for the chapter, and a vast seminary — are the monuments which overlook the valley ; but that which worthily crowns this sacred hill, so long in the possession of the Mussulman, is a gigantic and magnificent church, which is unfortunately not com- pleted. This vast Basilic, formed on the plan of a Greek cross, is built of masses of brick-work, but covered with slabs of granite and porphyry of exquisite beauty. Protected at present by a temporary roof, this metropolitan church is intended to be surmounted by a dome, which will admirably complete the grandest building to be seen in this country. However, unfinished as it is, the ill-fated church is already treated as are too often our old Gothic monuments ; the ignoble coating of whitewash, that abominable disguise which would disfigure the noblest piles, already covers these half- finished walls. The carvings have disappeared beneath this wretched whitewash, which has not even respected the Imperial Palace at Vienna.

" After glancing at the beautiful prospect around, the mountains, the city, and the stream, which is crossed here by a ferry, we continued our journey, not forgetting our travelling musicians, who, during our visit to the citadel, had piously attended mass in a little chapel near the shore.

" We next beheld Wisegrad. In the twelfth century, [87] when the Hungarian sovereigns inhabited Gran, Wisegrad possessed magnificent gardens, costly dwelling-houses, and delightful baths for the relaxation of royalty. Wisegrad is still beautiful in the midst of its ruined enceinte, and the dilapidated remains of its crested walls, relics of a splen- dour which has fallen under the barbarous hand of the Turk. The enchanting situation of this castle, in the midst of such beautiful scenery, gave us a clue to the ety- mology of Wisegrad, which we traced to VISUS-GRATUS, a name which frequently recurs in the present day in many parts of Europe, under the modern form of BELLE-VUE.

" After irrigating all this fine country, the Danube resumes its course through the meadows, dividing itself to embrace the beautiful island of St. Andrew, so rich in vine- yards and villa residences, passing Waitzen, celebrated for its superb cathedral, and whose numerous spires denote a large population, just as the gallows erected near its gates show it to be the seat of criminal justice. Our still rapid progress scarcely allowed us a glimpse of St. Andrew, Donawetz, and Alt-Ofen, and the renowned sites of the island of the Hares. Our pilot kept his word, and just as the thirty-sixth hour was expiring, we arrived, surprised and delighted, in the midst of the animated and majestic panorama presented by the cities of Buda and Pesth, divided by the broad current of the Danube.

" When we had disembarked on the Pesth side of the [88] river, not without some trouble, on account of the number- less boats, and the turbulent and importunate crowd blocking up the approaches to the quay, we recompensed our boatman, who saluted us all, and this time very á propos, with his French phrase, Adieu mon bon ami. We received, at the same time, the humble thanks of our poor musicians, whose budget, exhausted for us, was henceforward destined to charm Hungarian ears. After which, we proceeded towards the interior of the city, along a magnificent quay bordered by a row of palaces worthy a great and opulent capital.

" Shortly afterwards, we joined M. de Demidoff, who had arrived a few hours before us."

I had no difficulty in collecting these first impressions of my companions, so vividly had their minds been struck, and so ready were their memories to lay up a store of obser- vations. Each brought his tribute to find a place in my journal, and more than once I incurred the mute disappro- bation of the less experienced of my fellow-travellers for refusing to attach the same importance to facts, new only to them, which they possessed in their eyes — a wholesome rigour nevertheless, for the further we journeyed, the more particulars we should have to note down. The nearer I approached the frontiers of Russia, passing through coun- tries rarely explored, the more I expected opportunities for the free exercise of my pen, anticipating that the [89] originality and wildness, if I may use the expression, of my new acquaintances, would redeem me from the tedious monotony of certain books of travel.

The next day, on the 5th of July, the François Premier had assembled all its passengers, and left the twofold city beneath a hazy sky, which cleared up soon after sunrise. We did not take leave of this noble spot without saluting, with our noisy artillery, the ancient and the modern capitals of Hungary, cities which differ so widely in age, manners and aspect. Buda commands her younger sister, who, in spite of her gay attire, owes her the respect due to a venerable elder sister. If one be the city of commerce and progressive ideas, the other is the city of history, kings and nobles — the city which fought and suffered long ere it beheld its young rival, whose mag-nificence embellishes the opposite bank, rise beneath the protective shadow of its walls. To follow out the com- parison, if it be true that Buda represents the noble Hungary of olden times, and that Pesth be the type of the Hungarian people of the present, it may be said that the bridge which unites the two cities is the symbol of the present political condition of the country. The old bridge is already insufficient for the existing traffic, as is admitted on both sides. But Buda is opposed to any new construc- tion; the cause of this is, that on the old bridge, toll is paid only by the people, the nobility, by virtue of its privileges, [90] being exempt. Were a new bridge built, on the other hand, the privilege would naturally expire in the presence of a new tax, which would make no distinction between simple and noble, for the tendencies of the diet in matters of public revenue, incline now in a marked manner towards principles of equality. Buda resists, therefore, and will long hold out against this sacrifice of its ancient immu- nities.

In the space of an hour, both cities were out of sight, and the Danube now flowed in the midst of its dreary meadows. The stream had overflowed its banks, and spread its waters far around, inundating farms and villages, whose inhabitants are no better than amphibious savages. Herds of white oxen, and occasionally buffaloes, long flocks of cormorants, scared by the noise of our vessel, were the only incidents which diversified our journey.

At every village of any importance, the François Premier stopped to exchange a few passengers, and a volley of salutes. Not far from one of these villages, called Adoni, the name of Schubry was pronounced, and we learnt that the adventurous brigand, who for many years had spread consternation in these regions, and had, previous to his vagabond career, been a swineherd, had just been killed at the age of thirty-four, leaving behind him an immortal store of marvellous histories, destined during the long winter nights to make more than one generation [91] of the good and credulous peasants shudder at their horrors.

It is easy to perceive that steam-boat travelling is yet a novelty in this country, and that the astonishment and curiosity of the people at this spectacle are not yet ex- hausted. Such was the irresistible interest which it pos- sessed in their eyes, that the better to observe us, a throng of men and even of women waded out up to their knees in the black and muddy stream, where they remained transfixed, even after the steamer had resumed its speed.

Ever since we had crossed the Rhine, we had never ceased wondering how, in all the villages, so many ap- peared idle, even during harvest time, when the assistance of all the inhabitants should seem to be in requisition. By the operation of what cause is so much leisure left to people so abject? Yet the country we were traversing seems more than any other to demand the labour of man ; for the inundation which yearly lays waste its fields is an enemy which must be fought with to be overcome. But no ! the Hungarian peasant seeks some elevated spot on which to erect his hut, and once in a place of secu- rity, he abandons his field to the annual invasion of the stream. The truth indeed is, that this people have endured a long course of sufferings, and in the matter of invasions, have experienced many more cruel than those of the Danube; hence, doubtless, they have become indifferent [92] to all such calamities. Everywhere we meet the same indo- lence, the same carelessness, the same contempt for the resources a rich and fertile nature has lavished upon the inhabitants of these countries ; energy and the love of labour alone, are not to be found — those two powerful incentives which have urged human industry daringly to encroach upon the ocean, and to say to the tempest, as in the Scripture, " Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further." Our course continued still devoid of interest, in the midst of the inundated fields, till we reached Tolna, where several passengers disembarked. Tolna is peopled by Germans ; sacked and gutted at the time of the retreat of the Turks, this little town was suc- ceeded by a small burgh, built upon its ruins by a party of agricultural settlers. The cultivation of the vine and the tobacco plant, carried on within a limited range, forms the support of this colony.

The first day's journey of the François Premier ended at Mohacs. We required all the assistance which the current of the Danube could afford us to reach our station for the night, our steamer being a new one, and the supply of steam being irregularly kept up through the inexperience of the stokers, the machinery propelled us but slowly. The crew, moreover, made up of natives of every imaginary country, yielded but slow obedience to the captain, whose orders had to be conveyed to this floating [93] Babel in three or four different languages. With respect to the boat itself, it was evident that its builders had not piqued themselves on following the sumptuous and con- venient models presented by other nations, the neglect of all refinements amounting in these steamers to absolute contempt. A steamer which does not travel at night, yet keeping its passengers on board, should offer better accommodation for rest than can be found in one narrow saloon, infested with disgusting insects, and serving in turn as dining, sleeping, and dressing room, though equally unfitted by its filthiness for either purpose. No better berth was to be had than a mattress placed 'upon chairs, an unoccupied table, or the wet planks of the deck. When this important line of steam communication, how- ever, from Vienna to Constantinople, is more generally adopted, the conveyance of travellers will become an object of greater care and attention on the part of the various companies, by whom they have been hitherto neglected, the only object in view being the mere accom- plishment of the journey itself. The administration will subsequently have to turn its attention to the crew em- ployed, as well as to the comforts travellers have a right to expect from them. This is one of the necessary conditions for the due maintenance of the service.

On reaching Mohacs, just as day was declining, we were surrounded by a clamorous crowd flocking to the [94] shore, which they converted into a complete slough of mud. The plank for landing was scarcely adjusted, when a number of miserable, half-clad women, both old and young, encumbered the deck. Women at Mohacs perform the masculine duties of porters ; and the neces- sary supply of coal for our next day's journey was soon conveyed on board in a hundred wheelbarrows, which they trundled along with the most noisy activity. The appear- ance of these poor wretches, with their somewhat too scanty costume, and singularly determined deportment, was truly original and characteristic. The men, who remained tranquil spectators of the rude labour assigned to the women, wear the same loose, easy costume and peculiar hat to which we have already alluded. On the adjacent shore, in the midst of a bed of deep black mud, an extraordinary medley of lookers-on, half men and half ducks, some merchants and some sailors, waited, in the utmost confusion, for our landing. Four spirited horses, badly harnessed to a broken-down old carriage, and kept in check with difficulty by a coachman attired in coarse grey linen — such was the country equipage of more than one noble personage who quitted us at Mohacs to go shooting over their inundated lands. A number of skiffs, made out of the hollow trunks of trees, and almost swamped by the weight of two men, paddled, during this time, round the steamer, which might be well [95] compared to one of those adventurous vessels which, in the time of the Argonauts, neared the then unknown shores of the Danube. We entered the city, in spite of the increasing darkness, and proceeded some distance. We found the streets spacious and regular, but filled with damp and stinking manure, and the houses wretched. The public edifices are, for the most part, in harmony with the rest of the city. More important from its history than by its present population and influence, Mohacs has twice beheld upon its plains a struggle between the Hungarian Monarchy and the Turkish Invader. In 1626 Louis IL, a young monarch full of promise, lost his life in a celebrated and bloody battle, in which the flower of the nobility fell valiantly beside him ; and from that day, Hungary groaned under an oppressive yoke. But also when, in 1687, the Turks retreated, and, driven back by a series of defeats, descended the Danube as far as Belgrave, Mohacs witnessed a splendid day of reprisals. It was on account of this brilliant victory that Prince Eugene was called, in this country, the Terror of the Turks. This town, twice celebrated in history, is one of the apanages of the Bishop of Fünf Kirchen. Situated a little to the west, the delightful suburb, which the Hungarians call Peks, points, with pride, to its venerable cathedral — the first raised upon the Christian soil of Hungary, and on the foundations of a Roman [96] citadel. The prelate of this diocese is said to have an immense fortune at his disposal. Mohacs reckons four thousand inhabitants, whose lot we should not be disposed to envy, if we formed an opinion of the country from its deplorable aspect at the time of our passing through it. It was rather an amusing coincidence, that the only monument of art we were able to discover was the Statue of Népomucène, the patron of Mohacs, whose intercession is all-powerful against inundations. Never had the blessed protector of the town a better opportunity to exercise his power than this year, when the insolent waters of the Danube overflowed, even to the very foot of his image. This saint is placed in the very middle of the town, not far from the market, and its whitewashed pedestal is flanked by cannons, captured from the Turks, or rescued from the depth of the river. Night obliged us to retreat towards the François Premier ; and at night, Mohacs was filled with a prodigious number of frogs, left by the Danube in the damp streets, and which, jumping and croaking in all parts, pursue the benighted wayfarers into their very houses.

On the dawn of the 6th July, we were again moving on through a flat country, passing on our right Erdöod, whose only object of interest is the ruin of an ancient castle, pointed out to us as once the domain of the Counts of Palffy ; Wukovar, a magnificent convent erected [97] at the confluence of the Wuka, whose terraces, from a distance, overhang the banks of the Danube. Here, beneath the shade of the lime-tree, peaceful Franciscans were wrapt in meditation or repose, and looked down upon us, fleeting by, as one of those illusions of the world which now and then interrupt the solitude of their reveries. Then rises in view Scharnigrad, with its dungeon in ruins ; and finally Illok, marking upon the clear blue sky a long line of rampart walls, now crumbling vestiges of Ottoman conquest.

Soon, however, we discerned Peterwardein, the Gibraltar of the Danube, a truly formidable citadel, with rampart towering above rampart, and for which nature has done her utmost in seconding the art of defence. This noble fortress, whose name is inseparable from that of Eugene of Savoy, is in a perfect state of efficiency. We paid a visit to it, toiling up its steep and vaulted ascent, while our steamer was unlading merchandize at Neuzats, which lies on the left bank. Neuzats and Peterwardein are united by a bridge of boats, which was opened to let our steam-boat through. We had scarcely time to obtain one glance of this magnificent fortress, before we beheld, in full trim, our steamer making for the breach in the bridge. We were about fifteen or twenty on land — Jews merchants, a priest, and a young Parisian lady, [98] going to Bukharest. On a sudden, one and all, we set off running towards the bridge, till we reached the place through which the steamer was to pass ; but the fearful rapidity of the stream caused the François Premier, generally so calm and steady in its course, to rush past like lightning through the gap, and soon to be far beyond our reach. Then arose a hue and cry among the passengers, who might well doubt if they were not abandoned upon this strange shore. The captain had cried out that we were to take a boat and follow ; the boat was forthcoming, it was a slight shell of pine-tree wood, and in order to get into this perilous conveyance, we had to leap a height of eight feet. Everybody appeared suddenly seized with frenzy, all rushing together to precipitate themselves into it ; the Parisian lady would undoubtedly have fallen into the water, had she not, by a lucky chance, come down with her whole weight upon the priest. At last, the boat bearing this unsteady crowd, all standing up and pressing together, was confided to the current of the stream, and borne down in many zig-zag directions. When it approached the steamer, it required the efforts of all those who had preserved their presence of mind, to control the rest of these trembling passengers, few of whom had any skill in swimming, and who, by all eagerly making at the same time for the point [99] by which to get upon deck, very nearly occasioned a general upset. We were compelled, by loud words and gesticulations, to keep down the most bewildered of them. Safely arrived, however, on deck, it was easy to read upon more than one countenance a determi- nation never again to venture on picturesque excursions, for which the company manifests so little indulgence. But must we not be resigned to our fate ! In all times, enterprises of transport have shown a marked predi- lection to merchant goods, a lifeless but lucrative heap, possessing neither the caprices nor the curiosity of the traveller. For these alone had we tarried at Neuzats ; and great was our error, to imagine this delay was intended as a personal attention to the passengers.

The excitement occasioned by this occurrence had scarcely subsided, when a fresh cause of alarm called forth our general commiseration. A poor stoker, struck with apoplexy, was brought on deck, and slowly restored to animation. After some objections, the doctor, Léveillé, succeeded in bleeding him, which seemed a necessary course to take in his case. The poor fellow, however, had hardly returned to consciousness, when he fell into the most horrible and convulsive delirium, his fury being so violent, that even his comrades could not venture near to control him. This frightful disorder of the brain, known to the faculty by the term, " delirium tremens," [100] is generally attributed to the habitual intemperance of its victim, and more especially to the use of powerful spirituous liquors. After continuing in this state several hours, this infuriated sailor, whose drowsy consciousness had only been awakened during his fit by the gift of a few pieces of money, fell at length into a complete lethargy, and was conyeyed to the Hospital of Semlin, at which town our second day's journey terminated.

During this distressing scene, we had passed by Karlowitz, and had been cruising amidst innumerable islands that checquer the Danube. On our left, we had seen the mouth of the Theiss, one of the most con- siderable tributaries of the Danube, flowing down from Upper Hungary, from north to south, almost in a line parallel to the Danube, which, from Gran to Erdöd, runs also in this direction. The Theiss is noted for being richer in fish than any other river in Europe ; owing, perhaps, to the extensive marshy plain which forms its right bank, contributing greatly to the increase of the species, who find abundant means of nourishment in the decayed vegetable matter suspended in the waters. Our course through these flat islands and inundated banks continued to be very uninteresting, and the night was far advanced when we halted before Semlin.

The steamer stopped at some distance from the town, to reach which it is necessary to cross a marsh [101] which must prove seriously injurious to the public health.

Semlin is a stronghold, the chief military station on the frontier of Slavonia, and the last on the Hungarian terri- tories. Beneath its walls, the waters of the Save, flowing into the Danube, swell it to such an extent that it becomes a huge lake, whose banks are scarcely discernible in the distance. It is this position, so advantageous to the commerce of Semlin, that gives it an appearance of bustle and activity, which the traveller in Hungary is so little accustomed to see. Opposite the town, in the hazy distance, appear the towers and ramparts of Belgrade, guarding the entrance into Servia. All communication between the opposite banks is strictly interdicted, in consequence of the plague, which is a continual scourge to the Servians. Upon their desolate shore, a miserable village was pointed out to us, whose inhabitants had all fled the contagion. The dying alone had remained, without succour or consolation ; one poor hut had still a light burning within, soon, alas ! to expire with the inmate. This was a heart-rending spectacle, and thanks to the speed of the current, our unavailing compassion was soon diverted.

On our departure, Belgrade, seen through the mist of early morning, with its citadel and numerous minarets rising, as they seem to do, from the bosom of the waters, [102] afforded us a magnificent spectacle. This great city, occupying a sloping plain on the banks of the river, is protected on the Servian side by the immense height on which the stronghold, with its imposing bulwarks, is stationed. It would scarcely be supposed that between two towns so near one another as Semlin and Belgrade, a difference so striking should be found to exist ; yet this difference is so remarkable, that on crossing from one to the other, an innumerable space seems to separate them, so far behind has Hungarian Semlin, with her European aspect, left Turkish Belgrade, in her Eastern indolence and careless ease. Upon beholding this medley of red roofs, round-headed walnut-trees, black cypresses, and shining minarets, every one feels that in this Turkish capital each individual is free to select his own place in the sunshine, and turn his habitation, as he pleases, towards Mecca or Constantinople. Even from the middle of the river, it is easy to picture the damp and tortuous alleys that wind through that labyrinth of trees and houses.

By the aid of our telescope, we could discover, on the threshold of these picturesque dwellings, circles of grave looking smokers, who were little conscious that they were the objects of our scrutiny, and that their balloon- shaped turbans, brown faces, calm and easy attitudes, were being rendered from afar, in the extempore album [103] of Raffet. In the highest part of the city is seen the house of Prince Milosch, Pasha of Servia ; Youssouf Pasha, chief of the Turkish forces occupying Belgrade, has fixed his residence beneath the walls of the citadel.

Not far from Belgrade, we met a boat, in which were seated, in a row, a number of women covered with white veils. They were going up the stream, and kept close to the inundated banks ; immediately behind them followed a numerous escort of riders, armed with hatchets, whose horses were up to their middle in water. At the head of the boat, and with his eye fixed on this precious trust, destined no doubt for the Pasha's harem, sat a man wearing a green turban, and apparently invested with the sole command over the escort, the women, and the rowers. We gazed earnestly on this characteristic scene, till it was lost to sight.

Semendria, whose walls occupy a great extent of space, next appeared before us, and on the opposite side, upon the level plains of this province, which is no longer Hungary proper, but goes by the name of the military boundary, or the Banat, we beheld the first stations of that indefatigable guard that keeps watch night and day over the movements of the river, ever on the alert to repel any encroachment of its formidable current back to the shores of Servia. The wise and beautiful organ- ization of these military colonies of the Danube, has [104] solved, as regards the Banat, the difficulty of securing the safety of a shore line, by a system which at the same time constitutes the prosperity of the inhabitants. Military discipline, as applied to measures for the public health, has proved no less salutary in its effects when applied also to the government, the cultivation, and, in fact, to the whole living interest of this vast country, so long a prey to the caprices of warfare. The whole territory of the Banat is divided under regiments and companies, and a perfect equality in the rights and duties of each segment of this sort of perpetual camp, secures to the service the strictest regularity. The entire popu- lation forms but one disciplined and well organized army, whose duty it is, by turns, to cultivate the ground, tend the flocks, and guard the frontiers. The order that attends the working of these colonies, protected as they are by a paternal government, offers a powerful argument in favour of the system of associations.


HUNGARIAN POST, MILITARY COLONY. BANKS OF THE DANUBE.

By this system, possession being collective and not individual, the administration of property belongs to the head of the family, whether that right be obtained by natural laws, or by virtue of election. Already has this scheme produced the most prosperous results, securing at once, the order, well-being, and perfect tranquillity of one of the most important frontiers ; thus proving that [105] institutions which, in certain states, are wisely set aside as impracticable theories, may in others meet with a favourble development. In short, is not to seize the right opportunity, the secret of all good administration ?

These posts of colonist soldiers are stationed on the shores of the Banat, at distances sufficiently near to keep up an easy communication between them. Their barracks are most frequently built of earth ; but oc- casionally, the better to resist the rising of the Danube, they are constructed on a more solid foundation, and raised upon piles on the shore. Here, in the most profound solitude, live these vigilant guardians of the public health — visited only by a few aquatic birds, familiarized with their inoffensive bayonets. Immense herds of horses, belonging to the colonial cavalry, are sometimes seen galloping through the meadows to quench their thirst at the running stream. We observed them about mid-day, when the heat fell vertically upon the plain and river, closely packed together, their heads hanging down, motionless, beneath the weight of' this burning atmosphere.

It was beneath the scorching rays of a brilliant after- noon sun that we reached the spot where the Danube narrows itself, and plunges in one single stream, between the high barriers opposed to it — on the north by the Karpathians, and on the south by the Balkhan.

[106]

Beginning from the village of Ui-Palanka, the western undulations of these two great chains rise in high masses on either shore ; our course, in consequence, soon led us between ranges of lofty rocks, amidst which the detona- tions of the François Premier awoke the most superb echoes. The occasion of all this clatter was a place called Basiasch. Basiasch is nothing more than a coal depôt for the steamers; and yet, on arriving and departing, it is the object of these formidable salutes, repeated as many as ten times by the distant echoes ; and, what is still more strange, this insignificant station returns these salutes, shot for shot, as though it were a real and veritable citadel. Passing beyond Babakaï, a conical rock of considerable height, rising in the middle of' the stream, we entered a narrow gulf-like basin, into which the Danube rushes, winding at every step to seek its path among the masses of rock through which it has forced a passage. On the right bank, the ruins of an ancient and imposing fortification are still seen to crown the heights. This is Columbatch, which once kept watch like a vulture over this important passage — Columbatch, which in the present day sends forth from the hollows in its rocks those formidable swarms of flies so destructive to the herds. Once fairly in the midst of this sombre and mysterious pass, where the green waters of the stream flow over a rocky bed, the traveller is hurried through [107] a succession of surprises : but so delighted is he to gaze once more at a landscape, to find himself again in the midst of a broad and richly coloured prospect, that he easily forgives the melancholy of the vast swamps of the Danube, the filth of its cities, and its disgusting reptiles — he forgives even the blundering stoppages of the François Premier, which bring him, in the dead of night, in the midst of a country he is desirous of seeing. He forgets the Spartan fare to which the steamer condemns its passengers ; and the more particu- larly as the hour is approaching for deliverance from it. In the midst of this grand spectacle of roaring waters and vigorous vegetation, we reached the foot of a small house, standing quite isolated on the left bank. This house, scrupulously closed to travellers, and opening its doors only to bales of merchandize, is Drenkova. It was the goal which, for the last three days, we had been striving to reach — the terminating point of our tedious water journey. Like Basiasch, Drenkova is a mere empty name ; and if the traveller has reckoned on finding a town, a hamlet, or even the most trumpery inn, he is awfully undeceived. You are at Drenkova — that's all: you are set ashore — and there's an end of it. Behold the fresh green turf, those tufts of flowering shrubs, those gaunt, solemn mountains — hearken to the wild echo which your steps awaken — this is Drenkova!

[108]

Nevertheless, these uninhabited shores, on account of their very solitude, are full of charm and tranquillity. On all sides the vegetation is extremely rich, and in the summer the temperature is very mild ; for directly the sun advances towards the horizon, the surrounding mountains cast their vast cool shadows over the Danube. A few shepherds only people this wilderness, whose dress, peculiar to this portion of the Banat, is almost entirely borrowed from the sheep over which they watch ; and whose skins, turned in or out, according to the season, serve them as covering for both head and body.

We had all disembarked together, in order to enjoy a stroll, and the pleasure of again treading on solid ground. Our naturalists were in a few minutes dis- persed in every direction ; while Raffet, ensconced by the wayside, began to sketch every one that passed. The models who appeared so opportunely were women, wearing on their heads a kind of turban of twisted stuff; a large chemise, open in front, scarcely concealed their busts ; and the rest of their attire was composed of two aprons, or something of the kind, over a very close-fitting petticoat. There were also military colonists in the plainest kind of uniform, with tattered cloaks, worn-out caps, and the rest to match ; and troopers belonging to the corps engaged in watching this line of shore, whose caps were of black sheepskin, and [109] their trappings thickly studded with brass and iron nails. These personages were no less obliging than picturesque, and afforded our artists every facility for accomplishing his object, the slight recompense they received for a few moments of immobility appearing to transport them with delight and astonishment.

However beautiful a place may be, it is pleasant, nevertheless, at nightfall, to meet with some other shelter than the vault of heaven ; on this occasion we found our boat far preferable to the hospitable, but comfortless lodging offered us at Drenkova.

The 8th of July, the fourth (lay of our water journey, commenced under the most agreeable auspices. At day- break a large boat, laden with our carriages and baggage, started in advance of us for Alt-Orsova. From Drenkova to this town, the navigation of the Danube is rendered impracticable for large craft, by the shelves of rock, and the tortuous and rapid currents, rushing with the violence of cataracts, which obstruct and break up its course. The traveller is conveyed from that point in light boats, which, being constructed with flat bottoms, are able to glide over the obstacles which so unfor- tunately impede this admirable channel of communication. Accordingly, we embarked in a boat manned by eight oars, with a little cabin in the stern, whose flag, floating from the top of a light mast, bore inscribed [110] upon it the name of Ttinde. Scarcely had we pushed off from the shore, when we felt the difference in rapidity, and especially in smoothness, of this portion of the stream. As we neared the village of Islaz, which stands on the Banat shore, we found the Danube covered with bubbling foam. A shelf of rocks, extending from the Hungarian side, advances so far beneath the waters, that the boats are obliged to steer for the Servian shore, where they are carried along by a current of extreme violence and rapidity. After an interval spent amidst the rushing and whirling of waters, the navigation becomes smooth again for a few moments, at the end of which a fresh succession of rapids, covered with white foam, is met with, which continues until the mountains gradually sink to a lower level, and allow an easier passage to the accumulated mass of waters.

From time to time, a few villages appeared in view on the Servian side, and on the opposite bank. Among these Milanova, dating only five years back, has replaced the wretched hamlet of Birniksa, and stands on the Servian side, in honour, it is said, of the son of the Pasha Milosch. On our left we passed Tricouli, an ancient fortress, consisting of three towers. Two towers of similar construction stand upon a height, while the third is surrounded on all sides by the waters of the [111] Danube, and communicates by a bridge with the rock on which its twin sisters are built. This ancient place of strength is now turned into a quarantine station.

The Danube soon narrows its channel once more, and runs through another defile, where its whirling current dashes against the gigantic obstacles which obstruct its course. Here we were set ashore, and the most majestic scenes we had yet beheld since we commenced our journey through these regions arrested our attention on every side. A wall of rocks rising to a height of more than eight hundred feet, overhangs the stream from either bank. Some yards above the level of the Danube, cut out in the lower portion of these immense rocks, a mag- nificent road is seen winding — a recent undertaking, still pursued with vigour, and worthy those grand vestiges of ancient Rome, relics of which are still extant on the Servian shores of the Danube. A spacious grotto opens out from the Banat side, and beneath its vaulted roof, taking advantage of the natural cavities, a rustic hostelry has been constructed. After resting awhile beneath the shade afforded by this cool retreat, we proceeded along the road to the spot where a steep path leads up to the entrance of the grotto of Veterani, celebrated for the stirring legends which attach to it of exiles, robbers, and deadly conflicts.

During the war sustained by Hungary against the Turks, in 1788, the grotto of Veterani is said to have [112] been occupied as an entrenchment by a garrison of infantry and a piece of cannon, hoisted with considerable labour to its mouth, commanded from this impregnable position the course of the river to a wide range.

Our boat awaited us at the lower end of the road, and we again began to drift rapidly down the stream, keeping near the Servian shore. We were enabled to observe, that on this side the rocks were regularly shaped out at their base, to make space for the windings of a road which follows without interruption the sinuosities of the Danube ; this road is the work of the Romans, who, during the war with the Dacians, long occupied these countries previous to leaving them in the possession of their colonies. Shortly after, on the same shore, a large inscription appeared through the interstices of a mass of brushwood ; our boatman detained us a moment to contemplate this noble memorial of the victorious passage of a great people. On the face of an immense vertical rock, a richly sculptured frame-work, ornamented with spread eagles, surrounds this long inscription. Not- withstanding the ravages of time, and the blackened traces left by the fires which, during so many ages, the shepherds have kindled at the foot of this historical rock, the two first lines may yet be deciphered, the result of the process of divination being as follows :

IMP. CÆS. P. NERVÆ. FILIUS NERVA TRAJANUS
GERM. PONT. MAX.

[113]

When we had contemplated, from a prudent distance, not to alarm the coast-guard, this imposing memento, which one is so astonished to find in the midst of such a desert, and in a region probably not a whit more civilised than when Trajan directed his legions thither, we resumed our course towards Alt-Orsova, the ancient fortress of the Banat, and shortly after we were installed in the only solitary and humble inn which this little town possesses. Of all the passengers of the François Premier not belonging to our party, we had only retained the young French lady who was proceeding to Bukharest, and met with so singular an escape at Peterwardein, and an old Armenian merchant of agreeable intercourse and courteous manners. The latter, who from a long acquaintance with this route had become an expe- rienced pilot in respect of the Danube, spoke of nothing but his apprehensions as to the formidable pass we had to encounter on the morrow. He had laid such stress on the rashness of braving, at a time when the waters were so high, those terrible banks of rock, in the bed of the Danube, called by the Turks Demir Gapy (the Iron Gate), that we had allowed ourselves to be per- suaded to accompany our Armenian by the land route to the Skéla station, where the steam-boat, navigating the lower Danube, awaited our arrival. This arrange- ment, moreover, suited our taste for exploring, and [114] indulging our curiosity, and would allow of our visiting Mehadia, a place renowned. for its mineral waters, the beauty of its scenery, and the remains of Roman wealth and luxury which are still to be found mingled with modern structures. The Romans were acquainted with the medical properties of these waters, and they were consecrated, according to their mythology, so full of poetical images, to Hercules, Venus, and Hygeia. An untoward circumstance presented an obstacle to our intentions, and obliged us to renounce this interesting excursion. The land route to Skéla was at that time partly inundated, and we were accordingly under the necessity of braving the dangerous cataracts aforesaid, and trusting our fate to the boat which was to carry us through these shoals to the Wallachian shore.

It was left for us to determine how we should employ the half day which remained at our disposal ; each fol- lowed his own fancy. Orsova, however, is soon ex- hausted ; three streets at right angles with the Danube, and two parallel with it, constitute the whole town, which is as yet but thinly inhabited. The custom-house people took possession of all our baggage, and while they were leisurely employed in making an inventory of it, we paid a visit to the lazaretto, at a short distance from Orsova. A shed, divided into three longitudinal compartments, serves as a public waiting-room, and the officials occupy [115] the intermediate space. A number of Servians, of miserable appearance, were confined in the space assigned to suspected persons, and held out to the visitors, over the partitions, some trifling wares of no very attractive appearance. Among these articles, which were pretended to be of Eastern manufacture, we recognised some bearing the address of the Rue St. Denis, in Paris.

In the midst of these puny Mussulmans, we were not long in distinguishing a little man, with a cunning and some- what impudent expression of face. European garments, not a little the worse for wear, and that hideous cap worn by Turks in the discharge of any public service, composed his entire costume ; he was smoking his pipe with a dignified air, when suddenly perceiving us, he addressed us in Italian. A colloquy ensued, in which the semi- Turk displayed a certain degree of caustic humour, some wit, but more especially a rare amount of assurance. The functionary who thus honoured us with his conversation was no less a personage, according to his own account, than the private medical attendant of the Pasha Milosch.

On an island in the neighbourhood of Orsova, between two stately branches of the Danube, and facing Servia, which is under his government, Prince Milosch has established his residence ; rather, it would seem, on account of the remarkable character of the situation than [116] of its fortifications, which are half fallen into ruins. This Pasha is spoken of as a man of elevated mind and profound erudition. He is said, also, to carry his severity, at times, almost to cruelty. His childhood, like that of Sixtus the Fifth, was spent amidst the rude toil of a herd. That one who has risen from so humble a degree to a position so exalted should be inflated with some pride need excite no wonder.

The learned doctor who was before us asserted himself to be the favourite as well as the medical adviser of his master. An Illyrian by birth, then a renegade and something of an outlaw, a surgeon, an apothecary, a courtier, and for the rest, in his contempt of dress, a philosopher — this curious personage had taken a master's degree in impudent roguery. With what inexhaustible eloquence did he extol the wealth and power of his pro- tector ! A few artillerymen in ragged uniform, part of the Pasha's army, bore witness, however, that his princely bounty did not extend to the appointments of his soldiery.

Orsova, which is so near Turkey, cannot consider itself, in spite of the sanitary precautions employed in its qua- rantine, as completely secure ; and this, probably, is the reason that the preventive measures taken against the introduction of the plague amount there to a system of persecution. Woe betide the traveller who, enticed by the beauties of the journey from Constantinople to Vienna [117] by the Danube, should undertake to ascend the stream. After experiencing interminable delays in the passage to Orsova, he would there have finally to expiate his fatal imprudence in the quarantine, where a fortnight's impri- sonment would indefinitely lengthen the duration of his journey. This little town is, however, extremely cha- racteristic. The picturesque disorder of the military colonies, the careless deportment of the women, the roguishness of the children, rendered more striking by the large loose dresses of the country — such were the traits of local manners we were enabled to seize, as it were, by stealth.

We left Orsova in a different boat, larger and more solidly built than the first, and we soon drifted down to New Orsova, or Ada Galeh (Fortified Island), as it is called by the Turks. This place of strength, the favourite residence of the Pasha, stands on a flat island, pleasantly situated, and covered with verdure and plants of various kinds, mingled with buildings and fortifications in the most lamentable condition. No regular plan is observ- able in the construction of this fortress ; and it is evident, that the system upon which it is built, the result of the ignorant precautions of a succession of Pashas, is conformable to no rules of art. On the Servian shore, a large fortified tower, flanked by casemates and level batteries, forms a connection with the defences of Ada- [118] Galeh, and ensures to Servia the possession of the entire branch of the Danube which washes the right side of the island. When we had, at last, left behind us both these fortresses, we dashed into the foaming tumult of waters, where the Danube whirls madly round in eddies about the rocky peaks which bristle up from its shallow bed. This really dangerous part of the journey lasts for not less than twenty minutes ; the roaring of the angry waters, the wild beauty of the neighbouring hills, and the vast prospect which opens out in front, rendering this rapid transit extremely impressive. The angry stream soon resumes, however, its majestic aspect, and spreads out serenely, and as though reposing from its trouble and agitation, between the distant shores of Wallachia and Servia. From this point we could perceive on the naked strand on the Wallachian side a few sorry- looking huts. This assemblage of hovels is called Skéla- and immediately opposite, on the Turkish shore, stands Cladova. Here our perilous navigation terminated. Henceforward the Danube flows peaceably on, presenting neither danger nor obstacle. The large steamer, the Argo, which we beheld moored alongside the barren shore, was only awaiting our arrival to dart forth upon the broad sheet of water stretching out before us, and which, from that point, is subject to the dominion of Turkey.

The first aspect of the Wallachian territory, upon which [119] we now set foot, was not of a character to entice us. A desolate and naked tract, studded with a few huts built of mud and brushwood, is the prospect which presents itself to the traveller awaiting the departure of the steam- boat from Skéla. We employed our time to some profit, however, by a visit to Tchernecz, a little town situated at about a league's distance inland ; and it is just to confess how much we were struck from the first by its thoroughly oriental character. Tchernecz consists of little more than a long winding street lined with shops and stalls, which render it still narrower. All these shops are dirty, and the wares spread out in them for sale are frequently of a disgusting nature. It was Sunday, and the entire population was idle. The men were smoking their pipes before their doors, and the women, apart, though not entirely secluded from the men, were seated carelessly on the ground, with one leg bent under them and the other raised so as to touch the chin with the knee, carrying on lazy and listless conversation. This attitude, though strange, is graceful, and there is a loose negligence about it which is quite in harmony with the languid physiognomy of most of the young women. The costumes worn by the people bear a strong resemblance to the eastern form of dress ; and, in other respects, the aspect of all these grave, immovable faces, with long, half-shaded eyes, makes one feel that there, on the [120] opposite shore, stands Turkey ; and that she has left upon Tchernecz an impress of her manners which it will take time to efface. We were spectators of a Wallachian dance, replete with character and originality. Six men, spread out in a line with their arms interlaced, performed a marching movement from right to left and from left to right alternately, varying the step according to the taste or talent of the dancer, and heavily marking time to a tune played by two screeching fiddles. The two coryphcei, that is to say those who lead the dancers to the right or to the left, grasp, with the disengaged hand, a tall staff, on which they lean ; and it is their peculiar function to embellish, with a variety of graces and flourishes, this dance, the general character of which is masculine and severe. A young Wallachian serjeant discharged this office with marked success. Holding up his head with a proud air, he swayed the whole chain of dancers along with his lusty arm, and ever and anon cast a satisfied glance at his legs, which he agitated with an agility and precision always faithful to the mea- sure. The musicians were two Bohemians of that numerous and erratic race known in Wallachia by the name of Tsigans. One of these men presented so ad- mirable a type of beauty that it was not without a feeling of pity that we saw the serjeant, who showed himself so skilful in the dance, inflict repeated blows with his [121] staff on his noble and interesting face, too beautiful to belong to a degraded soul, but which, nevertheless, expressed no other sentiment than that of brutish submission.

On our return from Tchernecz, in the afternoon, we found our vessel, the Argo, exposed to a storm of projectiles of a novel character. The inhabitants of Skéla were showering on our deck, with emulous per- severance, a volley of land tortoises ; a species of bom- bardment which seemed to fill the besiegers and the besieged of both sexes with equal delight. Our intention was not to descend the stream as far as Galatz, the lower station of the Danube steamers. We were to leave the Argo at the foot of an ancient fortress on the Wallachian shore, called Giouljévo, whence it was our intention to proceed to Bukharest. The steamer we were now conveyed by would have travelled much faster than that which brought us from Pesth, had she not had to take an immense barge in tow, laden with coal, for one of the depôts on the route. Throughout the whole day, which was overclouded and rainy, and during which the wind blew with extreme violence, the weight of this enormous mass retarded our progress, and more than once threatened the safety of one or both vessels. At one time, the whole forepart of the coal barge was carried away ; and to repair , this disaster entailed a [122] considerable loss of time. To complete our distress, the captain, who was an Italian, could with difficulty make himself understood by a Hungarian and Wallachian crew. Again, we must repeat it, for the interest of the Danube Steam Navigation Company, the prosperity of this useful association will never be ensured, until it has reviewed with severe scrutiny its organisation, hitherto extremely deficient, and provided for the rapid transit and complete security of the traveller, as well as for the comfort which every class of society has a right to claim at the hands of a public undertaking.

We soon came abreast of Widdin, which was still healthy, though perhaps only for a few days, the plague being at the very gates of this great city. Driven along by a violent current, we were just enabled to obtain a glimpse of some fortifications, apparently in good con- dition, above which rises the harem of Seid Pasha, studded with innumerable windows closed with blinds, and surrounded by balconies of irregular construction. Seid Pasha possesses no less than a hundred wives, carelessly waiting, as we were told, till the ravages of the plague should thin their number, and make a few vacancies in their lord's favour. Widdin abounds in edifices which may almost be considered elegant, is thickly planted with shrubs, and bristles with those long slender minarets, which cannot be compared to [123] anything better than wax candles topped with silver extinguishers. A few troops in good order, a small naval arsenal, and a number of war ships drawn out along the river-side, attest the zeal of a vigilant and active chief, worthy to govern a place of this importance, numbering not less than thirty thousand inhabitants.

A frightful and desolate space, devoid of all vegetation, separates Widdin from Lon-Palanka, the principal city of Bulgaria. Further on is Oréava, then a prey to the destructive ravages of the plague.

As soon as we were delivered from our dangerous and troublesome task of towing, the captain of the Argo, wishing to make up for lost time, determined not to allow any stoppage during the night, and trusting to the experienced steerage of an excellent Hungarian pilot, he made us continue our course in the midst of a multitude of islands, through which the Danube makes itself a thousand passages, spreading out to such a breadth as at times to resemble an inland sea. Szystow and Rouschouk are the last Bulgarian towns perceived on the right bank, the scene, at a remote period, of desolating wars, and now wasted by another plague, for we are now in the land of plagues. Shortly after, the Argo, steering towards the left bank, across the whole broad extent of the Danube, and coasting its low flat islands, from which the approach of the vessel startled into flight myriads [124] of pelicans, cormorants, and storks, landed us at last in the principality of Wallachia, beneath the dismantled walls of Giourjévo.

An abrupt shore, on which our baggage and carriages were hoisted with infinite labour, and the assistance of a great number of horses, received our caravan, somewhat wearied with the last monotonous part of our journey. It was not till we had fulfilled a series of long and tedious formalities, that we were enabled to obtain post horses to take us to Bukharest. After three hours spent in journeys backwards and forwards, and urgent solicitations, we succeeded in obtaining the disposal of all the post horses possessed by Giourjévo, where they are kept in an enclosure, and entirely without shelter. Twenty-four of these were collected, of which only two carriages availed themselves. These horses are small and slight, and without breeding. They bear a great resemblance to what in France are vulgarly called porteurs de cerises, but they are remarkably spirited, full of energy, and fly like the wind. The mode of harnessing them is extremely simple — two slender ropes serve as traces, and are united across the chest by a leather strap ; another rope of smaller size is twisted round the head, in the fashion of a halter ; no bit is used, and the feet are unshod, so that the animal is thus entirely at liberty. If these horses become fatigued in the interval from one stage [125] to another, the postillions dismount, and begin to rub their eyes, and pull their ears, believing that this refreshes them. Twelve of these coursers were harnessed, two by two, to each of our carriages. Animated by the long, shrill cry of the postillion, a species of half-naked savages, they suddenly started off, carrying us across plains, inter- sected by ravines, brooks, and bottomless bogs, and brought us by evening to Bukharest. Some of my com- panions had remained behind, waiting for the return of the post-horses. They took advantage of the interval, to make observations on all the curious diversions practised on the occasion of the festival of St. Peter, which fell on the day of our arrival at Giourjévo. I shall leave to them the task of describing these noisy revels.


[126]

[Page 126 is a Blank Page.]




Text Archive Home | Book Details | Table of Contents