Departure from Schemnitz.—Sunday Dregs of the Miners and their Wives.—Neusohl.—The Landlord's Room. —The Market. —The Sclavack Belt.—Dyctva Peasants.—Visit to a Country Gentleman. — Kind Reception. — Smelting-house. — Collection of Minerals.—Beetroot Sugar.—Manufactures in Hungary.— Castle of Lipcse.—Field Nursing.—Mysteries of the Castle.— Sliacs.—Bathing in Company.—Altsohl.—Mathias Corvinus. —Prisons and Prisoners. — Flogging. — Werbüczy. — Burnt Village.—The Veil.—Kremnitz.—Mines.—Mountain Fall.— Mint.—The Silberblick.

IT was about seven in the morning as we left Sehemnitz; and, though in the middle of August, bitterly cold. The traveller in Hungary should never be without his fur cloak, summer or winter, for, during the hottest days, the mornings and evenings are often very severe. It was Sunday, and the people, mostly Germans, were already flocking to the churches. The women wore their Peitznickel, or short sheep-skin coat, fastened in front with a silver chain and clasp, and ornamented with large silver filigree buttons, while the Hessian boots with high heels, like those on the shoes of our great-grand-mothers, peeped from under their dark pet- [354] SUNDAY DRESS OF THE MINERS. ticoats. In every part of Hungary, the woman in her holiday dress has a pair of high boots reaching to the knees,—red, yellow, or black, as the taste may be ; and, to those who have seen the state of the village roads and streets in winter, when the mud is knee-deep, the utility and decency of these boots will be evident. The men wore the Hungarian dress, which, indeed, the German settlers have everywhere adopted, richly braided, and ornamented with the same profusion of silver buttons and chains. The miners complain that the good old days are gone for ever, when the workmen had so much silver that the heels of their boots were shod with it; but, if not quite so plentiful as formerly, it is evident, from the luxury and comfort of their dress, that the sober and industrious can still accumulate a sufficiency of it.

The first village we passed, as we pursued our way to Neusohl, was Bela Minya, a part of the township of Schemnitz, and possessing mines and crushing-mills. The valley soon becomes exceedingly pretty : the mountains are small, and the vales narrow ; but the former are well diversified with rocks and woods, and the latter variegated with a bright meadow or a narrow strip of yellow corn. Smiling valleys, however, do not always make happy people ; and the two half-starved hags, the only inhabitants we could descry among the miserable huts which constitute the village of Kozelnic, proclaimed anything but prosperity here. We passed, later in the [355] NEUSOHL. day, several waggons full of peasants, apparently returning from some distant church : in one, an elderly peasant was reading prayers, while the others were listening respectfully, uncovered, though it was dreadfully cold, the thermometer being at 50° of Fahrenheit. Further on, we crossed the Gran by one of those long wooden bridges so common here, and followed the river to Bucsa, at which place we got fresh horses. Two hours more brought us to Neusohl, where the Krebse furnished us one poor room, and that indeed the landlord's, every other being filled with travellers. Never, reader, in the course of your travels, where the German language is spoken, or the German stove used, accept the landlord's room ; rather sleep in your carriage ; for, by so doing, you decline an obligation at which they grumble, and for which they make you pay,—and you escape feeding the host's host of hungry vermin. These rooms, from their dirt, heat, and constant occupation, are perfect nests for all sorts of venomous insects ; as we proved by a wretched sleepless night of feverish agony at Neusohl.

Neusohl is a wide-streeted, tolerably well-built country town ; rather imposing in its appearance, because all the houses appear to be in the Italian style, with flat roofs, though I believe it is only a high parapet carried up to hide the roof. In this parapet false windows are generally painted ; and, in one case, an artist, whose adherence to the truth of nature was admirable, had painted the Venetian [356] MARKET AT shutters as in a very broken and dilapidated condition ; no doubt, thinking it most natural they should be so. The use of Venetian shutters is common in every part of Hungary ; more so, perhaps, than in any country I know. All houses above the cottage of the peasant, and sometimes even these, are furnished with this luxury.

Our first morning at Neusohl was fully occupied in observing the peasants at market. The night before, we had noticed some hundreds of the small light waggons of the country, each with four horses, filling the large market-place; their owners making their beds in, under, and around their waggons. Though only the ordinary weekly market, the concourse of people seemed to us very great; but in the neighbourhood of the mining towns more money is in circulation than elsewhere, and the markets are consequently better attended.

The different trades had each its separate quarter. Just under our windows were the sellers of broad-brimmed hats ; and Bicknell and :Moore never had Bond-street loungers more difficult to please than the cunning Neusohler found his Sclavack customers. This crown was too flat; that brim was too narrow—not being more than eighteen inches wide ! " Who would buy so ugly a hat as this?" said one, as he stuck it jauntily on one side over his greasy locks; or " Who, so thin a felt as that?" said another, as he gave it a thump that would have tried the strength of Mambrino's helmet itself. [357] NEUSOHL. And then the cheapenings the poor merchants had to undergo ; though the price of a good hat, large enough to form two or three of any other country, was only half-a-crown! The cobblers exhibited a goodly array of boots and shoes, almost as much peaked at the toe as a Turkish slipper ; and, when yellow, bearing a very close resemblance to it. The best Hessian boots cost about seven shillings. Among the principal traders were the dealers in articles of red leather. Their ware was chiefly cornposed of the great belts worn by the peasants ; nearly a foot wide, and so thick and hard that I think they would turn a pistol ball. The Sclavack does not feel comfortable without this huge incumbrance buckled round his waist; he thinks its support strengthens him : he uses it for a pocket ; he conceals his knife and fork in it; he hangs his flint and steel to it ; his tobacco-bag is generally stuffed into some corner of it ; and, if he does not find his short wooden pipe stuck into his boot or between the back of his neck and shirt, he even searches for that too in his belt. As the Sclavacks have adopted the Hungarian fashion of short shirts, the belt serves to fill up the interval between the shirt and the trousers, which, however, it effects but imperfectly. Large leathern wallets formed another important commodity ; these the peasant uses to carry his bread and bacon in whenever he goes to any distance from home. These, and many other articles with which their booths were filled, were, as [358] MARKET AT NEUSOHL. far as the leather was concerned, exceedingly well made ; but the buckles, though showy, were rudely fashioned, and broke almost immediately.

Some pretty sheepskin jackets with the wool inside, highly ornamented with flowers sewed in coloured leather, of which I asked the price, were ten shillings each.

There were several different kinds of wheat and barley ; as well as, oats, rye, buck-wheat, white beans, peas, dried prunes, poppy seeds (used in making puddings), and a small round farinaceous seed called prein or gelbe krísa. The fruit-market was poor ; some unripe ill-looking water melons declared the mountain air agreed but sadly with them.

The dress of the peasants was excellent: the morning was cold, and many of them had their peltz röckels slung over their shoulders after a very Spanish and most picturesque fashion. It is here a short cloak with sleeves, generally of a dark colour, lined with fur and braided. As it hangs over the left shoulder, leaving the right arm free, often fastened in front with a silver band, and descending about halfway down the thigh, it gives considerable grace to the figure. The leg is encased in thick white pantaloons, finished by a rude sandal strapped round the ankle ; while the whole man reposes under the shadow of his hat, which is literally wider than any part of his body.

The women are generally worse clothed than the men ; often with bare feet, and a very scanty portion [359] DYETVA PEASANTS. of petticoat. The more wealthy, however, have knee-boots, and sheepskin jackets. Among the Sclavacks the women are hardly treated ; I have frequently observed them carrying heavy burdens while the men were quietly smoking beside them. The general covering for the head is a handkerchief, which reaches behind down to the waist, and in front tics under the chin. The unmarried girls wear their hair in a long plait hanging down the back ; the married have it tied up, and wear a band across the forehead.


Old Stephan, after a good deal of difficulty, persuaded two very fine fellows to come into H___'s room that he might sketch them. They were from [360] VISIT TO A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN. Dyetva, a district in the neighbourhood of Neusohl, celebrated for the beauty of its men and the ugliness of its women ; the honesty of the parties being in the inverse ratio of their comeliness. Although Sclavacks, they had remarkably black hair, oval faces, and arched noses. Some of our friends, on seeing the sketch, protested against a pair of boots worn by one of them ; declaring that no Dyetva man had ever come fairly by such articles. They were fine fellows, however; and seemed to like the joke of being drawn, although they objected to standing still so long; and declined taking anything for the trouble we had given them till Stephan suggested that a few glasses of Sliwowitz might not be amiss on so cold a morning.

We had sent early in the day a letter of introduction to the family of Mr. R--, who resided near Neusohl, with our cards, and a request to know when we should find them at home ; for luckily we were aware that in Hungary, as I believe generally on the continent, etiquette requires that the stranger should make the first visit,—a knowledge, the want of which has sometimes excluded our countrymen from society. The answer was, that they dined at one, and a carriage would be sent for us a little before that time.

Accordingly, at the hour fixed, a smart hussar came up to announce the carriage ; and in about half an hour we found ourselves entering the gateway of an old castle—one of those four-cornered buildings [361] KIND RECEPTION. enclosing a large court, and bearing a square tower at each angle, so common in Hungary and Transylvania. Part of it had been somewhat modernized : but on one side was still the open staircase and corridor, communicating with a whole suite of rooms ; and on the other an old black tower, preserved quite in its ancient state, in honour of Francis Rakótzi II., who is said to have held a Diet within its walls of the Protestant chiefs who had taken up arms in his cause.

We found a party of eight or ten persons already assembled,—most of them, like ourselves, chance visitors; a circumstance which makes little matter where housekeeping is conducted on so plentiful a scale as in Hungary. Nothing could exceed the kindness of our reception ; and it was not long before our host, having first got out of us the plan of our journey, and the possible length of our stay here, observed, "Nell, I am sorry it is not longer; but I can manage to show you something of the neighbourhood, even in the time you mention: for the rest, rooms are ready for you here. By-the-bye, why did you not come here yesterday? you would have found it more comfortable than the inn. There are horses to take you about, and my son will be happy to show you what is at too great a distance for me ; and, when you must leave us, I hope you will allow me to give you some hints for your route, and letters of introduction to render it more easy." Now, who in the world could feel himself a stranger when [362] HUNGARIAN GENTRY. so addressed by one of the most good-natured old gentlemen in the world, who did not make any one of these offers with the least thought of trouble on his part, or refusal on ours ?

We were now in the house of one of the higher class of Hungarian country gentlemen; like their prototypes in England in many respects, the best specimens of their countrymen. But it should be remembered that we were also in the house of a highly educated and very well-informed man, and it is of such only I speak. Proud of their country, they are not blind to its wants ; ready at any moment to draw their sabres in defence of their constitution, they are by no means ignorant of its defects; and it is they who boldly stand forward in the support of liberal opinions in the lower chamber. Mixing more with the peasants than the absentee magnates, they know what are their real wants, and they would fain remedy them. Retaining a strong love for their own language, they do not neglect the cultivation of others, especially the German and French ; but they are not the apes of every folly of foreign growth, and they think it no disgrace to eat, drink, speak, or dress as their fathers did before them. T am not one of those who would maintain national prejudice, for it is national ignorance ; nor who would oppose the introduction of any foreign improvement, for that were to oppose the progress of civilization ; but I despise the man who can see nothing good at home, and I hate him who is ashamed of a [363] SMELTING. country which his own neglect tends every day to injure.

During our sojourn with our hospitable friend, we had an opportunity of seeing most of the wonders of Neusohl and its neighbourhood.62 The smelting-house, in which six or seven huge furnaces are constantly at work, is the largest in Hungary. From the facility with which wood is obtained, most of the ore from Schemnitz is brought here to be smelted, as well as a considerable quantity of copper ore obtained in the immediate vicinity. The ore is for the most part very imperfectly separated from the matrix, as indeed might be anticipated from the bad state of the crushing and washing mills we have before alluded to. On its arrival here it first undergoes a process of roasting in the open air, by laying alternate layers of ore and charcoal one above the other, and so exposing it to a slow combustion, by which the sulphur and arsenic are sublimed and driven off. The slag which is supposed still to contain any quantity of metal undergoes the same process, and is again smelted. A large quantity of pure lead is used at Neusohl as a flux ; a great part of which is lost,—it is said, to the amount of twenty pounds for every mark of

62The mines of Herrengrund we did not see, partly for want of time, and partly from not knowing all the interest they possess. The produce is 1,500 cwts. of copper, with a small quantity of silver ; but the cementwasser, and the formation of ice-beds, are the objects which I most regret not having examined at Herrengrund.
[364] CHARCOAL BURNING. silver,63 which, as the lead is from Styria, and costs nearly twenty shillings the cent. is very considerable. They have now constructed chambers through which the smoke passes, and deposits a small portion of the lead ; but the loss is still much greater than it ought to be.

The magazine of wood is such as might be expected where so many fires must be fed. The trees are floated down from the mountains during the floods singly as they are felled ; and are here, by a particular arrangement of canals, flood-gates, &c. brought to any point desired, collected and arranged, previously to being reduced to charcoal. I believe the charcoal is made here, as elsewhere, by piling immense heaps of wood in a circular form, leaving only a very small opening for air, and covering the whole with fine dust to prevent a too rapid combustion. The principal part of the wood so employed is fir and beech.

I must not forget to mention Professor Zipser's collection of minerals ; its own intrinsic value, as well as the politeness with which its learned owner shows it to strangers, are both deserving of notice.64

63The mark of silver is worth 24 florins, or 21. 8s. according to the report of the miners : authors state it at 25 florins, or 21. 10s. The mark of gold is 366 florins, or 361. 12s.
64It may be useful to English collectors to know that the mineralogists of Hungary are much in want of collections of English fossils, for which they would gladly exchange their rich minerals

Within this last year or two, a company has been formed at Neusohl for manufacturing sugar from beet-root. The sugar they produce is white and fine, but it is said to be inferior in flavour to that of the cane. The process of manufacture is simple : the beet is torn into very small portions which form a pulp ; this is reduced to a syrup by evaporation in a double cylinder, and the vegetable particles and colouring matter are removed by repeated refinings with milk or blood.

Tempted by the high duties imposed on our sugars by Austria, and encouraged by the success of the beet cultivators in France, they have commenced a system which, if followed by others, would be most injurious to Hungary. Our host was one of the shareholders ; rather, as he said, to avoid the imputation of slackness when others thought the country might be benefited, than from a persuasion of the utility of the undertaking. "I should not regret," he observed, " losing the little I have ventured tomorrow, to have commerce placed on a more natural footing. Would to God I might see the clay when we should receive the sugars of England, and she take our wine and corn in return ; how quickly would improvement march, how happy might Hungary still be !" Such are the opinions of an enlightened man : the generality of Hungarians, however, are full of the idea that nothing but manufactures can ever make them rich ; they do not see why they should not prosper there as well as [366] MANUFACTURES AND COMMERCE. elsewhere ; but, unfortunately, those who have tried have found out the fact to their cost ; but then they have a most happy way of shutting their eyes to facts, and declaring that the Austrian Government will not let them prosper ! Poor Government! though far from being your admirer, I must confess much more is laid on your shoulders than you ought to bear. Mischievous you very often are, but I believe more frequently from stupidity than intention. Want of population, want of manufacturing habits, want of education, of mechanists, of capital, of industry, and the existence of a much more agreeable, easy, and comfortable way of employing both time and capital,—that is, in production,—are quite sufficient causes, without accusing the Austrians of the failure.

Nor is success to be desired, unless indeed it is desired to buy dear and bad what might be bought elsewhere cheap and good ; and to remain isolated in barbarism, rather than mingle in intercourse with civilization. In a Diet which took place as far back as 1405, in a preamble probably to some foolish restrictive act, it is declared, " (Qum quodammoclo pars sit magna clementine, id quod de suo quisque habere potest ab aliis mutuare ;"65 and such is unfortunately the state of political economy at the present day in the beads of the greater part of Hungarian country gentlemen.

65Engel. Ueschichtc von Ungarn, Part ii. p. 243.

About ten miles above Neusohl, along the pleasant banks of the Gran, stands the village of Lipcse, and, on a rock above it, the old castle of the same name. Four large long-tailed horses of our host's own breeding, put to a light britschka which a pair of ponies would have sufficed for, soon brought us to the foot of the hill. In our drive up the valley we observed a new style of nursing, which necessity — ever fruitful mother—had taught the Sclavack women to have recourse to when engaged in the


business of the harvest. Three strong poles are planted into the ground, and made to meet at the top ; and from these is slung a kind of hammock, in which the child lies ; while a blanket is thrown over the whole to protect the little nestling from the sun. The castle of Lipcse is still in good preservation, and is used as a dwelling by the Government steward, who has the care of the forests in [368] LIPCSE. this neighbourhood, as well as a prison for offenders. Its exterior is difficult to describe ; its high walls, small windows, and peaked roof distinguish it from anything we have in England ; while its little corner towers, with sugar-loaf top and unturreted battlements, remind one of those small castles so common in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh.

As we were still admiring the dark arches of the old gateway tower, two young ladies, sisters of the Burg Herr, came down to welcome our companion as an old acquaintance, and to invite us into the castle. As in many other strong places, the entrance door to the castle itself is midway up the wall, to be reached only by a temporary staircase of wood, which in the present case conducted us to the part inhabited by the family, where we found all the comforts of a modern house inclosed within walls of six feet thick. It formed so beautiful a picture, that ancient chamber with its richly groined ceiling, as the light of the setting sun fell through the arched window on the figures of its fair habitants, that H-- sighed as he thought how little time he could stay, and how fine a study it would make. A door in this room communicates with a secret staircase which has an opening in the outer wall of the castle ; and by this means it is said that Szécsi Maria carried on a secret intercourse with her lover Wesselényi, then a young knight in her father's service. I am rather inclined to doubt [369] LIPCSE. this legend ; though it appears that the Palatine did at one time reside here, for on the stairs is a huge similitude of a bull's head carved in wood, to commemorate a feat of Wesselényi's, who is said to have killed a tremendous wild bull in the neighbouring forests with his own hand.66

Our pretty hostesses kindly volunteered to act as our guides to the mysteries of the castle. In one part was a chamber constructed below the floor of another room, and only to be entered by a secret trap-door, where three unfortunate knights were once held prisoners, and who, on the castle being suddenly stormed and taken, were forgotten in the haste of flight, and unknowingly starved to death by the conquerors. Here was the little Gothic chapel preserved unhurt by the lapse of years, or by the rude hand of man. There was the well cut in the solid rock, and I know not how many fathoms deep. They have a good plan of showing such things here, by throwing down a lighted bundle of straw, which the draught made by its passage causes to blaze up and illuminate the dark secrets of dungeon, mine, or well.

In an upper room we found one of the prisoners who had been engaged in the Schemnitz mining robbery : he was a locksmith, and was allowed the

66The Aurochs (Bos Urus), formerly a habitant of the great forests of Germany and Hungary, and of which this was undoubtedly a specimen, is now extinct in those countries, though still found in one forest of Poland.
[370] LIPCSE. use of his tools, with which he was working very comfortably for his own profit. As his conduct had been irreproachable while here, he was allowed every liberty he could desire.

Near the top of the castle were some originally very handsome apartments ; one room, with its large bow-window projecting from the corner of the castle, and looking on both sides far and wide over the beautiful valley of the Gran, stretched out as upon a map below, must have formed a delightful saloon. This was evidently the favourite bower of "some faire ladye" of former days ; for a small open hearth and chimney—rare luxuries in those days-were constructed in the bow itself. How easily can fancy recall the scenes of by-gone times in such a spot ! Youth and beauty occupied in working the arms of some favoured knight on the silken scarf; and ever and anon, as the sun cast his last rays over the valley, watching the windings of the road with hopes of his long-delayed return, or, at least, that some wayworn pilgrim would demand her hospitality, and wile away the weary hour with tales of war and love from foreign parts. It requires little imagination to draw such a picture in Hungary : travelling is difficult, and communication tardy ; in the country, where books are scarce, and society distant, ladies fill up their time with embroidery, and a stranger who can talk to them of distant lands is not unfrequently looked upon as a God-send in such remote places.


It would have been a disgrace to have left this neighbourhood without having visited Sliács, a favourite bathing-place only a few miles from Neusold, had not indeed an invitation to a large dinner given by some of the bathers to the rest of the company induced us to go. Sliács is not too well provided with the means of lodging those who seek its healing waters; but our friends had kindly bespoken rooms for us, and we found ourselves at once comfortable. Not that our apartments were magnificent; from some Englishmen the cold white-washed walls, bare floors, odd chair or two, rough table, and plain box-bedstead filled with clean straw, might scarcely extract that meaning adjective : but we were old travellers, and had fared worse ; besides, the rooms, such as they were, had just served during a much longer residence one of the most young and beautiful brides of Hungary. It is wonderful how contentedly an Hungarian lady quits the luxury of her own home, and submits to sleeping in her open carriage, or suffers all the inconveniences of. such wretched accommodations as those of Sliács, without a murmur.

Everybody comes to a bath with a full determination to enjoy himself, and to-day was especially one of festivity. The dinner, long and ponderous, with speeches and toasts in abundance, occupied from one till nearly four. Toasts are not given, as with us, after dinner; but between the courses, and always in the presence of the ladies: the speeches [372] COMPOSITION OF THE WATER. are the same complimentary convivial affairs that after-dinner speeches are with us. Some mountebanks and riders, attended by the ever-ready band of gipsy musicians, filled up the time till sun-set, when the ball was to begin. Here, again, we were fortunate enough to receive an invitation, and enjoyed till midnight as much heat and dust as a summer ball could possibly produce in any other part of dancing Europe.

In the course of the day we visited the different springs; some cold, and others tepid. They contain an oxide of iron with carbonic acid, besides salts of lime, magnesia, and soda. The cold springs are considered highly tonic, and are recommended for nervous complaints. The warm are alterative and tonic. They have deposited here, and in the neighbourhood, a large quantity of magnesian lime-stone : indeed, the upper layer of the strata, on which the bathing-place stands, has been formed by its own waters. The principal bath is about fifteen feet long by nine wide, under cover of a large wooden building, affording room for promenading and music. I was astonished to hear that it was the fashion to bathe here in public; but conceive my horror, precise reader, when some very pretty ladies quietly informed me that they took their second bath in the evening, and hoped I would join them ! Supposing that I had misunderstood the matter, I could only bow, and look as an ingenuous youth should look on such an occasion ; and it was not till [373] A BATHING PARTY AT SLIÁCS. some of my male friends assured me of the fact, and offered to supply me with a bathing-dress, that I might make my appearance in the received costume, that I fully comprehended the invitation. Accordingly, about six in the evening, my nether man encased in a wide pair of linen trowsers, and the upper in an equally wide linen shirt fastened close at the neck, and covered up in a cloak, I


marched down to the bath. On each side are separate tiring rooms for ladies and gentlemen, where the cloaks and slippers are removed, and the bather then descends the stairs, and enters the water before he is admitted into the bathing-room, so that the figure is entirely concealed, and nothing but a new head [374] A BATHING PARTY AT SLIÁCS. is seen to enter. We were a pleasant party of about fourteen up to our necks in hot water ; and we amused ourselves for an hour — the prescribed time — in moving about and talking, just as in a drawing-room. I do assure the delicate reader, that, as far as I could see, nothing occurred that could shock any one:— a " soyez sage ! " or two, sotto voce, or an occasional contact which produced a kind of electric thrill through one's frame, might perchance occur ; but, as for the latter, it was only from want of habituation to it that such an effect was produced ; for a thin old gentleman of sixty, who had used these baths for many years, assured me such accidents did not thrill him at all ! Let me say, however, that many ladies object to this admixture ; and it is so much unknown in some parts of Hungary, that they doubted me when I mentioned having seen it. One poor girl, though strongly recommended by her physicians to bathe here, had never been able to persuade herself to enter, and told me she wept with shame the first time she saw it. Such baths are common in Austria, and, I believe, in some other parts of the Continent.

The quantity of gas emitted from the water is so great, that a woman is constantly employed in waving a flag over the heads of the bathers to produce a current of air, and so remove it. The gas was still strong enough to give me a headach in a few minutes, and the current of air starved our [375] A DIRTY TRICK. heads and shoulders to perfection. Some drink the waters, as well as use them in bathing; and it is considered best to do both together. For this purpose a stream is constantly running from a pipe above the bath, round which the drinkers flock to fill their glasses. A trick very neatly played on an unfortunate Austrian Countess, whose pride and ill-temper had rendered her the enemy of the whole bath, deterred me from venturing. A mischievous wight, who offered to fill her glass for her, by a cunning sleight of hand exchanged the clear water of the spring for the dirty contents of the bath ; and, if the homoeopathic doctrine be true,—similia similibus curantur,—gave her an opportunity of getting rid of some dozen horrible diseases at a single draught. The effects of the Sliács baths are said to be almost miraculous; but I cannot vouch for half the wonderful things I have heard of their efficacy.

The next morning we paid our visits and made our adieus to our friends in the bath, after which four miserable peasants' horses dragged us slowly back to R___ . We felt exceedingly sorry when the time arrived that we must quit our friends at R___. By our host and all his family we had been received and treated in a manner which, as passing strangers, we could scarcely understand; had we been acquaintances of years' standing, they could not have taken more interest in us, or behaved to us with more genuine kindness.

Our way now lay towards Kremnitz; but we deter- [376] MATHIAS CORVINOS. mined to deviate a little from the road to visit Altsohl, formerly a place of considerable importance, and still interesting from its castle, once the favourite hunting-seat of Mathias Corvinus. I had too great a respect for the memory of the " Good hing Mathias," as the Hungarian peasant still calls him, to pass the spot where, laying aside for a while the severe rigour of his reforming spirit, and allowing to his nobles some repose after the strict discipline in which he held them, Mathias bent all his energy and determination —great minds are always energetic, however trifling the object of their pursuit—against the unhappy bears and wolves of the forests of Altsohl.

Corvinus, placed on the throne by a succession of fortunate incidents, rather than by right or merit,- for the power usurped by his father, John Hunyad, as governor of Hungary, during the minority of the weak Ladislaus, could scarcely entitle him to the former, while his extreme youth at the time of his election precluded the possibility of his having, then, proved the latter,—still knew so well how to maintain and adorn his exalted position, that he would seem one of those rare instances in the history of the world, where fortune has awarded a crown to one whom nature has formed to wear it. In vain Austria and Bohemia pressed him on the west ; in vain would Poland, on the north, drive him from his throne; in vain did the warlike Mahomet, with his infidel hordes, ravage the southern provinces of his kingdom; as vain were domestic con- [377] MATHIAS CORVINUS. spiracies and civil wars as foreign plots and hostile invasions: Mathias, feared by his nobles and loved by his peasants, overcame by arms or diplomacy all his enemies, and extended his conquests till Vienna itself was subjected to his rule.

There are few instances in which great men have directly aided the progress of constitutional liberty —when, though governing others, they have known how to govern themselves ; and Mathias had this failing of great minds—he would fain have been despotic. The checks which a constitutional form of government often imposed on the execution of his plans, or the stern voice of reproof in which a representative assembly sometimes dared to address even this dreaded monarch, suited but ill with his determined disposition. Fortunately, however, Mathias was as politic as proud ; and, when pressed for men or money,—the budget has ever been the best bulwark of liberty,—no one knew better how to obtain them by timely concessions than the wise King of Hungary.

His encouragement of learning and the arts was equal even to that of the Medici; he employed the best artists from Italy ; he founded a university at Presburg; he established the first printing-press at Buda; and the library of MSS., containing fifty thousand volumes, which he collected at an enormous expense, was a monument of his liberality of which few princes can boast an equal. These MSS., the greater part transcribed in the most beautiful [378] CASTLE OF ALTSOHL. manner by the copyists he maintained at Florence and in other parts of Europe, were richly gilt, and uniformly bound, and may still be considered as gems of biblical taste. During the period the Turks occupied Buda, the barbarians used this library to light the stoves of their baths ; and in 1666, when Lambecius obtained permission to search there, he found only three or four hundred dusty volumes hidden in a dirty cellar: the bibliomane secured three of them : and a few years afterwards, when the Turks finally evacuated the place, some more were recovered, most of which have been presented to public libraries or foreign courts. Bitterly was the death of Corvinus lamented by the Hungarian peasantry ; and the " Meg holt Mattyas, el múlt az igazsag,"—Mathias is dead, and justice gone—is still a common proverb in their mouths when oppression escapes unpunished.

It is probable that the castle of Altsohl was built by John Hunyad in 1457, when, after the defeat of Giskra and his Bohemians, he burnt the old castle, of which some few remains are still visible. It has been long neglected, and the necessary repairs it has undergone have not been such as to improve its appearance. It is melancholy to see how little either the Government or people seem interested in preserving these monuments of past times, so important to history and art. Altsohl is royal property, and is used for the residence of some Government officers as well as for a prison. The old gateway is [379] CASTLE OF ALTSOHL. degraded to the purposes of smoking bacon : in winter a large fire is made; the double gates are shut ; and the bacon, hanging from the top, becomes well cured by a repetition of this process every night for some months. There are some Gothic arches of rich and elegant workmanship, as well as several old doors, which have escaped the hand of barbarian improvers, and still proclaim the former magnificence of the building. I like the open balcony which runs round the interior court of this and almost all the old castles in Hungary ; it gives a life and lightness to the large court-yard, which almost reconciles one to its manifest inconveniences.

We were shown some villanously whitewashed rooms ; in one of which the ceiling is considered embellished by a series of terrible-looking figures, called Roman Emperors and Kings of Hungary. Our guide assured us the great Diet—meaning the celebrated assembly of Polish nobles under Louis I. to establish the order of succession in the two countries, in 1382,—was held in this room ; though, if I am not very wrong in my notion of the age of the castle, it was not then in existence. Below the floor, in another room, is a small secret chamber, where Bethlen Gábor is said to have concealed the sacred crown of St. Stephen. It is singular that, although twice chosen king, and in actual possession of the crown, this champion of Protestantism never placed it on his head, though it is highly probable that it might have secured him the throne.


The castle is now used only as a prison, and steward's house ; and its solid gateway is, as usual, hung with handcuffs, leg-irons, whips, and other notable instruments of torture,—one of which was new to us, and excited our curiosity. It was a flat


board, of the shape of, and, from the resemblance called also, the Violin, with a hole in the centre, and two smaller ones at the end ; the former, as we afterwards learned, for the head, and the latter for the hands of unfortunate transgressors of the law. The violin is used only for women ; and they are generally made to promenade the town, bearing this clumsy [381] PRISONS AND PRISONERS. substitute for a collar round the neck, amidst the laughter and abuse of the whole place.

While on this subject, I may as well say something of the prisons of Hungary, and the treatment of prisoners.

Many of the buildings used for prisons are old castles now no longer inhabited ; or, in other cases, the lower part of county-houses, where the magistrates meet for the transaction of business. Several prisoners usually occupy one room, which generally does not appear deficient in size or light, though always unclean, and commonly ill-ventilated. There may be some still worse places than these,— travellers often talk of horrid dungeons; but I never happened to see such, and cannot therefore speak of them. Any very dangerous ruffian, whose escape is much feared, is put in irons, and secured in some strong place whence escape is impossible. In ordinary cases nothing would be easier than to get out of an Hungarian prison ; though, I believe, it is rarely attempted.

The common prisoners in the towns are made to do the work of scavengers, and are also employed in other ways, such as drawing water, carrying mortar and stones for public buildings, and in performing any other labour to which the county officers choose to set them. In some places they are the only labourers to be observed, and the clanking of their chains follows you at every step : sometimes, they may be seen threshing corn, at others driving cattle, [382] PRISONS AND PRISONERS. and in one case I remember to have been ferried across a river by a prisoner in chains. They are allowed, frequently even in small towns, and always in the country, to go about without any guard ; the only restraint being the iron ring around the ankle, united by a chain to another ring round the waist. According to the character or crime of the prisoner, his chain is light or heavy. Where the prisoner is an artisan, lie is generally allowed his tools, and carries on his labour for his own profit.

It must be remarked that I do not speak of the Austrian political prisons; one of which, Munkács, is situated in Hungary : of them I know nothing from personal observation ; nor is it probable I should have been allowed to visit them, had I applied.

The charge of intentional cruelty cannot be supported against the prison discipline of Hungary ; but it is sadly wanting in efficiency. The most galling restriction of the prison ought to consist in the deprivation of liberty, and in the observance of strict order and sobriety ; which are not only severe punishments to the disorderly, and much dreaded by them, but have likewise a beneficial effect on the future character of the culprits : here, on the contrary, the prisoners have a great deal of personal liberty, and feel the restraint of confinement almost as little as when free.

The morality of a prison is about the same in one country as another ; but the pernicious effects [383] A CLEVER MAN. of bad example are greater here than with us, because the moral ignorance of the peasantry is deeper, and their habits have much more of that wandering and adventurous character which lends such a charm to the robber's life ; and they are, therefore, more easily led into adopting it. It is rarely a shepherd gets into prison that he does not learn some new and improved plan of stealing his neighbours' sheep before he comes out, and it is commonly in the same school that a swineherd acquires those winning ways that makes another's pigs follow him as docilely as did the beasts of former days the pipe of Orpheus. A simple fellow, who had been sent with a large herd of swine into some woods in Transylvania to winter them on acorns, laughed when some of his fellow-herdsmen complained that their flocks grew smaller and smaller in spite of their care. " Why don't you put on bells," said he, " as I do ; you would then always hear the ringing of them if any one came among your pigs?" A few nights after, the poor fellow found all his own pigs gone, and the bells left behind them. Sorrowing he returned to his master's house, and received his flogging without a murmur ; but, when it was over, he exclaimed, " If I could but see the man who stole my pigs, I would treat him to a bottle of wine if it took the last kreutzer I had." On his master's inquiring what he meant, he answered, "He must be a clever fellow; he must know some great secrets; and who knows but he [384] FLOGGING. might teach them to me? He not only drove my pigs away, but he went among them during the night,—and they so savage that I dared not have done it myself, — took off their bells, and coaxed them away without a squeak or a grunt from any of them. Oh, he must be a great man ! " A few months of prison education would hardly have been lost on so willing a scholar.

Although I have several times seen the flogging-block, and although every one assures me that it is very frequently and very publicly used, it so happened that, during the whole time I was in Hungary, I never saw a peasant flogged ; but I once accidentally saw a soldier under punishment, which I may describe, as the operation is performed in precisely the same manner.

When the prisoner is laid down and secured, the Haiduk stands over him with a long hazel stick, about the thickness of a finger, with which he gives the blow with his full force, waiting a minute between each stroke. Considerable talent is required to flog well, the object being to inflict the smartest pain with the least bodily injury ; and, therefore, no one is allowed to perform who has not perfected himself in the art by practising on a stuffed sack. All this is very disgusting and very savage, brutalizing to the lord, even more than the peasant ; for the reader will scarcely believe that some of these hardy fellows laugh at such a punishment, and it is a point of honour among them to bear it, [385] MILITARY FLOGGING. without flinching. Nothing renders the young peasant so irresistible to his mistress as his heroic support of the five-and-twenty. I believe the greater part of the Hungarian landowners are sincerely glad that this barbarous privilege no longer belongs to them ; but with their bailiffs the case is different. They think all order, all law is at an end; declare they can no longer manage the rebellious peasantry ; and lament, as the fall of Hungary, the end of their petty tyranny. I could have often laughed, had not the laugh been soured by scorn, at the doleful complaints of these men, so often the oppressors of the peasant, and robbers of their masters' property.

But, if the noble can no longer indulge his spleen in the sufferings of his inferiors, the officer enjoys that right in its fullest extent : if a buckle is rusty, a horse ill cleaned, the soldier a few minutes late on parade, or any other slight infraction of duty committed, the military officer can order him to be laid down, stripped, and flogged before the other men. The occasion on which I witnessed it was as I was travelling, early in the morning, over a plain where a regiment of dragoons had been exercising: the greater part were wheeling off, but one troop I observed remained on the ground. As we drew nearer I could distinguish the officer in front of his corps, and before him a man in uniform stretched on the sand ; and I could hear the whistling of the hazel stick through the air, and the dead sound of it falling on living [386] MILITARY FLOGGING. flesh. It was a sickening scene, and I was heartily glad when we had passed out of sight and hearing of it.

The youngest subaltern may at any time, and for very trivial faults, flog the men under his command. A young lieutenant of hussars told me himself, that, having once been reprimanded by a superior officer for the bad condition of a detachment under his care, he told him that, if he did not object to his flogging a little more freely than common, he would have them in order in two months' time. Consent was readily given, and he kept his word ; but during that time he had not a moment's rest, nor had a day passed without several punishments, for, as he said, he had flogge'd them up to the highest pitch of discipline,—and he was praised !

As a town, Altsohl's best days are gone. A single, over-wide, unpaved street, with some broken walls and towers, are all that remain of its former importance. Its inhabitants were busied in spreading to dry the first drawing of the hemp, which is cultivated to a considerable extent in this neighbourhood ; and there was not a stagnant pool near but was filled with women up to their waists in its black waters.

While we stayed to devour something, which our appetites induced us to suppose a dinner, we again met our mountebanks from Sliács, who gave H___ a proof of their sleight of hand by conjuring away his camp-stool. These people are always either [387] WERBÖCZY. Bohemian or gipsies; the Hungarians having a profound contempt for such occupations, to which scarcely any necessity can drive him. In Hungary, as well, I think, as in Germany, these gentry are called English riders ; and the common people so firmly believe them English, that the servant of one of our friends inquired whether we did not all ride upon our heads in England.

I was sorry to leave this neighbourhood without seeing Dobronyiva, where there are said to be the ruins of an old castle, the gift of King Ludwig to Werböczy ; but I was told they were so inconsiderable as to be without interest,—an account I have since had reason to doubt. Stephan Werböczy was entrusted by the Diet, in 1507, to draw up a digest of the acts of the Diets and of the customs of the country, that the laws might be known and understood by all. In 1514, he presented his Tripartitum to the Diet, and from that time to the present it has formed the chief part of the Corpus juris of the Hungarian lawyers. The weak character of the king, and the position of Werboczy as a follower of Zapolya, who courted the favour of the lesser nobles, contributed to render this work extremely favourable to the interests of this class, as well as to restrict the power of the Crown and magnates ; but the time of its publication, just after the servile insurrection under Dosa, stamped it with a character of cruelty and injustice towards the peasantry, of which they have [388] A BURNT VILLAGE. felt the ill effects through many generations. It is, however, undoubtedly a work of the greatest national interest, and may almost be considered the foundation of written law in Hungary.

One of the first objects which arrested our notice between Altsohl and Kremnitz was one of those melancholy pictures of desolation, only too common here, a burnt village. It was almost six months since this village had been burnt to the ground, and as yet not a house was rebuilt. Where the unfortunate inhabitants were lodged in the interval, heaven only knows. We saw a few women and children about the place with no covering save a short chemise, and just in the state one might suppose them to have escaped from their beds on the first alarm of fire. In many cases of this kind subscriptions are male to aid the sufferers in rebuilding their houses; in others, the landlord befriends his peasants ; or in some, as here, they are left alone in their misery. Wooden cottages with thatched roofs, surrounded with corn-stacks and stables, offer such tempting food to the devouring element, that a fire once lit can rarely be put out till it has consumed the whole village.

Instead of pursuing the most direct road to Kremnitz, we made a considerable détour for the sake of seeing the opening of the great Schemnitz adit into the valley of the Gran. We found the opening a little beyond Zsarnovia, in a country abundantly supplied both with wood and water ; but, [389] VEIL WORN BY THE PEASANT WOMEN. the working had ceased at this end, though it was still progressing at the other. In this valley of the Gran, which is in some parts so beautiful that I am inclined to compare it with that of the Waag, we more than once observed a curious custom, which, but that the Turks never advanced into this part of Hungary, I should have attributed to their influence, — viz. that of the women veiling the lower part of their faces. The girls conceal only the chin, but the married women the mouth also.


This covering, like the veil of the East, is formed of a long piece of white linen cloth, passed round the head so as to bind it tightly, and then turned [390] KREMNITZ. round the neck, crossing the faco and hanging down over the bosom. It is worthy of remark, that, by the same persons who would consider it immodest to go with the whole face uncovered, the petticoats are worn so short that they do not reach to the top of the boots, and in consequence the brown knees filling up the interval, are exposed without a suspicion of impropriety.

We entered the smoky suburbs of Kremnitz over a pavement almost as bad as that of Schemnitz; one might really believe from the state of the streets, that the inhabitants of these mining towns had their thoughts and interests so deeply buried in the bosom of the earth, as to have quite forgotten to make any arrangements for those who are doomed to wander upon its surface. A fine pair of blue eyes—I always loved blue eyes shaded by black hair—invited us to take up our quarters at the Krone. The best room was occupied ; but then the aforesaid blue eyes made such a pretty apology, and offered us so kindly the use of the room they themselves illuminated, that it was impossible not to find any accommodation good. Our letters of introduction at once laid open to us all that was most worth seeing in Kremnitz. The old Hungarian proverb, that " Kremnitz bath walls of gold, Schemnitz of silver, and Neusohl of copper," had prepared us for greater riches than the mines can now boast of. Though still worked for gold and silver, the richest veins are in a great degree [391] MINES. exhausted ; and of the former workings a considerable part now lies below the water, the pumping machine being no longer used. To clear them would not appear a work of any great difficulty ; but how far it would pay is another question ; for here, as in Schemnitz, the highest veins have ever been the richest. The matrix, or gangs-masse, is entirely quartz, the rock generally greenstone. These mines now produce about 15,000 marks of silver, and 250 marks of gold annually. The washing-floors67 we visited belonged to private companies, who hold the richest and best mines here, and are certainly very superior to those of the Government at Schemnitz. They have not as yet any movement in the upper floors ; but they are aware of the advantage it gives, and are about to introduce it. Kremnitz enjoys a great advantage in a very plea-

67The process used for separating gold and silver from the matrix in which they are held is similar to that used for lead or copper. The metal is for the most part mixed up with the stony mass in such very small particles that it can only be separated perfectly by smelting ; but, to prepare it for this, it is first of all broken by the hammer to about the size of the pieces Macadam recommended for roads. It is then exposed to the stamping-mill, where it passes under huge blocks which fall alternately and reduce it to the consistence of mud; it is next made to pass with water over slanting frames, where the heavy metal-bearing particles rest, while the lighter run off. The smelting removes the remaining stony matter, and separates the gold or silver from the baser metals ; for it is comparatively rare that any metal occurs pure. In addition to this, it is sometimes roasted or exposed to combustion in the open air, to drive off the volatile metals—sulphur and arsenic.
[392] FALL OF MOUNTAIN. tiful supply of water, for which she has to thank an Archbishop of Gran. In former times the primate of Hungary enjoyed the titles of master and assayer of the royal mint, and was therefore in some degree connected with the mines. The patriotic churchman at his own expense carried a watercourse from the county of Thorotz to Kremnitz, nearly fifty English miles, by which to the present day an abundant supply is obtained from the other side of the Kremnitz mountains.

At a short distance beyond Kremnitz we were shown a curious phenomenon, a slide or falling in of a mountain. The crown of the mountain, about six hundred yards long and two hundred wide, had fallen in so as to occasion a valley of considerable depth. We could gain no information as to the date of this occurrence, but to a certain extent it tells its own tale ; for the perpendicular face of the rock is covered with the open mouths of old mining shafts and levels to which no passage now conducts, and which, therefore, must have existed before the catastrophe took place. It has been conjectured that the interior of the mountain had been so much hollowed out by the process of burning the rocks, as noticed at Schemnitz, that, the natural support being removed, some slight earthquake had shaken down the overhanging crust. But T think it more probable that it has been effected by an earthquake of considerable force, which must have first thrown up the rocks, and [393] FALL OF MOUNTAIN. then received them into the chasm it had formed; for on the slope of the hill, down nearly to the town, are scattered some hundred enormous blocks of white quartz—the whole surface of rock exposed by the fall is of the same quartz,—looking more


like the ruins of some Sicilian temple than the ordinary position of masses of rock, and for the appearance of which in such a situation no other solution can be given. On this slope are traces of former buildings, the date of which must certainly have been antecedent to the present position of the masses of stone I have mentioned ; and it is highly probable that they were mining buildings, and that [394] MINT. they were destroyed simultaneously with the mines. Independently of the consideration that the exposed surface bears no marks of any large cavity, the Romans were too skilful miners to have exposed themselves to such an accident. This opinion is further confirmed by the statement of our guide that on the other side of the mountain he believed a similar falling-in to have occurred where no mines ever existed, the space formed by which now serves as a natural reservoir for water.68

In Kremnitz all the gold and silver produced in Hungary is or ought to be coined, whether gained by private individuals or by the Government. The Hungarians always had, and have even to the present day, the greatest horror of their gold and silver leaving the country, and they firmly believe that they should all grow rich if they could but keep it at home; so that many laws have been made at different times with this object in view, and among others one which renders the coining at Kremnitz imperative on the Government. The amount annually coined at Kremnitz is about 250,000l. sterling (2,500,000 florins c. m.) ; but it is probable this is much less than the amount produced, for it is known that a large quantity finds its way to Vienna in

68I find from a note in Engel (Geschichte von Ungarn, pt. iii. p. 61), that, in 1443, a great earthquake occurred in Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia, and that the mines in Hungary were much injured by it; so that it is probable this may fix the date of the fall at Kremnitz.
[395] MINT. bars,—besides the acknowledged 267 marks of gold and 17,812 of silver—of which no account is rendered to the nation. The gold and silver, when brought to Kremnitz, are mixed together in molten masses in different proportions, according to the district whence they come : here they are separated by boiling in sulphuric acid, by which means sulphate of silver is formed while the gold remains pure, and the acid is again separated from the silver by lime.69 The process of coining, allowing for the difference of machinery, is pretty much the same I believe everywhere. The metal is rolled into thin plates, the round pieces punched out, reduced to weight by delicate filing, cleaned in spirits of wine, and then stamped. The stamping-machines now used are new ones made in Vienna from a Prussian model ; but they do not work well, the stamp not falling flat on the coin. This might be remedied by a very simple change in the machinery ; but they say they have no mechanist here capable of doing it, and consequently they will continue to wear out their stamps unnecessarily for some time to come. The silver is mostly coined into pieces of twenty kreutzers (zwanzigers), and the gold into ducats and half-ducats.

69 It is not improbable (as suggested by Hene) that the noble metals, united in this way in different proportions, was called by the Greeks EAEKTPON; for, as far as we know, they were not acquainted with the method of separating them, and therefore could have used pure only what was found in a pure state.

On the morning we were about to leave Kremnitz, the gentleman to whose kindness I had been already indebted for much attention sent down to tell me I might see a Silber-Mick ; which, as it occurs but once a week, and rarely at a convenient time for travellers, was an opportunity not to be missed. I was just in time. Contained in a gigantic caldron was a molten mass of liquid metals, - gold, silver, lead, and copper,—over the surface of which a huge pair of bellows continually drove streams of flame.

The object of this process, which lasts four-and- twenty hours, is to separate the noble from the ignoble metals, which is effected by the oxidation of the latter. At the moment the oxidation is complete, a bright bluish-white metallic lustre spreads itself over the whole surface of the liquid metal, which is hailed with no slight joy by the workmen, as it proclaims that their long and painful task is finished.

The impure metals are then allowed to run off a stream of warm water is passed over the gold and silver to cool them, the solid mass is taken out, cut up into bars, weighed and sent off to the mint, where the gold and silver are separated, as already described, and coined. The smelting-houses of Kremnitz are the best in Hungary: instead of the common bellows, they have the double-cylinder bellows worked by water, which maintains a constant blast ; and the loss of lead, instead of [397] SILBER-BLICK. being twenty hounds to the mark, is reduced to twelve.

And here we shall rest for a little space from our travels, and dedicate a short chapter to an important part of the laws and institutions of Hungary, which, although frequently alluded to, has not yet been fully brought before the reader's notice.


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