Nobility in Hungary a Privilege, not a Rank.—Bulla Aurea, similar to our Magna Charta.—Privileges of Nobles.—Tenure of Property not Feudal. — The Insurrection. — Non-payment of Taxes.—Classes of Nobility.—The Magnates.—Count Crachat. —The Gentry.—The "One-house" Nobles—their Hospitality. —The Constituency of Hungary compared to that of other constitutional Nations.—The Costume of the Nobles.

"Nemes ember vagyak !" (I am a nobleman!) proudly answers the mustachioed Magyar when any question of freedom of speech or action is raised ; and, as he does so, he twirls the cherished ornament of his upper lip, strikes together his long spurs, and seems to increase in stature on the announcement of his dignity. Whence flows this pride of rank? Not from the social position conferred by it, for I have seen a noble wear the livery of servitude ; not from wealth, for many of them are as poor as the peasantry ; not from high name or historical recollections, for the reputation of the greater number never extended beyond their native villages, and the ignorance of these at least is so great as to preclude the indulgence of such associations. No ! from none of these—the ordinary attendants [399] BULLA AUREA. upon rank, and for which it is commonly respected, —does the pride of the Magyar arise ; but from the solid advantages of civil and political privileges, which, if less poetical, are much more substantial considerations. In fact, the word " noble" has a meaning altogether different from its signification with us. It answers more to our " freeman," and expresses a right to certain political and civil privileges not enjoyed by the rest of the population.

From the era of the conquest of the country the Hungarian nobles claim to date the origin of their rights and privileges ; but the legal act by which they were secured, and by the terms of which the present monarch at his coronation swore to maintain them, was executed in 1222.

This act, " Sacratissimi Regis Andrew Secundi Decretum," is commonly called the Magna Charta of Hungary, or Bulla A urea, and was obtained from the weakness of Andreas and his Barons by the great body of the inferior nobles in arms, under his son Bela.

So important a document may claim some notice even from the passing traveller. Its principal enactments are the following : -

1. Personal freedom was secured to every noble, by rendering it illegal to imprison him till cited and convicted before the ordinary tribunals.

2. In civil rights, the lesser nobles obtained freedom from taxation ; from the necessity of foreign service, except at the king's expense ; defence [400] BULLA AUREA. against oppression on the part of governors of counties; the descent of property without hinderance to the sons; and, on the failure of male heirs, the appropriation of a quarter to the daughters ; absolute immunity for the widow, even in case of condemnation, and confiscation of the property of the husband; and some minor enactments, apparently directed against the oppression of the great nobles.

3. In ecclesiastical matters, the priesthood were confirmed in the same liberties and immunities as the nobles, and their right to tithes of corn and wine in kind established for ever.

4. Politically, the condition of the lesser nobles was bettered, by being placed more nearly on an equality with the higher nobles ; by the subjection of all to the court of the Palatine, except in cases of life and death, or confiscation, when the King alone could condemn ; by the reservation to themselves of the right of admitting foreigners to place and power ; but, most of all, by the thirty-first and last article,70 by which the right of resistance is fully acknowledged in case the king, or any of his successors, should not observe the terms of this charter.

70The Magna Charta has nearly the same provision. " And the said twenty-five Barons (appointed to watch over the observance of the charter), together with the commonalty of the whole land, may distrain and distress us all the ways possible, namely, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other way they can, till the grievance is redressed according to their judgment; saving harmless our own person, and the person of our queen and children : and, when it is redressed, they shall obey us as before."

From that day to this, the Kings of Hungary have sworn, at their coronation, to observe the conditions of the Bulla Aurea; and it is on this foundation that the chief rights of the Hungarians repose.

Since the year 1687, the last article respecting the right of resistance has been omitted in the coronation oath ; not, as the royal decree says, « "from any objection to its true sense, but lest evil-disposed persons by a false interpretation should make a wrong use of it."

The English reader can scarcely fail to be struck by the singular coincidence of two countries, so far apart as England and Hungary, having obtained, within seven years of each other,—the English in 1215, the Hungarians in 1222,—through the weakness of their monarchs, the great charters of their liberties. Nor, if he looks a little further, will he be less surprised to find that at that time the Hungarians were equal, if not before us, in enlightened notions of personal freedom, of civil right, and of political privilege. It would be out of our province to investigate the causes which have produced the different results which we observe at the present moment; but I suspect a fair estimate of them would give us little cause for the indulgence of national vanity. The accident of geographical position has often worked mighty results in our favour and against the Hungarians.

The prerogatives of the Hungarian nobles, as they [402] CARDINAL PREROGATIVES. exist at the present day, are commonly divided into two classes, the Cardinal and the non-Cardinal The Cardinal prerogatives are three, and are all derived from the provisions of the Bulla Aurea.

1. The person of the noble is inviolable until tried and condemned, except in cases of high treason, or when taken in the fact. Of course, imprisonment for debt is unheard of. The court of the noble—that is, his house and a certain extent of land about it,—is a sort of sanctuary into which no legal officer can enter without permission. Such privileges, however unnecessary where the Habeas Corpus, the trial by jury, the right of bail, and the freedom of the press,—so many complicated barriers raised by human wit to protect the liberty of the subject against the undue exercise of power,—exist, are nevertheless of infinite value where such is not the case; and they, in fact, answer nearly the same purpose in a much simpler manner. Our only objection to them is, that they are confined to the few. They may sometimes let the guilty escape ; but that is so trifling a fault, compared with the oppression of the innocent, that it is scarcely worth mentioning.

2. The noble is subject to none but his legally crowned king.

3. A noble alone is capable of holding landed property ; for which he is liable neither to tax, tithe, nor toll. The legal tradition of tenure, if I may so call it, supposes the Hungarian noble a [403] TENURE OF PROPERTY. descendant of those who first conquered the country, and among whom it was afterwards divided by the king; and from thence is deduced his right to hold it, without any other condition than the duty of appearing in arms under the banner of his sovereign to defend the country from foreign invasion. We must diverge for a few moments to consider more minutely this Hungarian tenure, and to compare it with the feudal tenure once common in other parts of Europe. The Hungarian noble holds his lands as a gift from the sovereign ; and, on the failure of heirs male,71 it recurs to the donor, to be re-bestowed on some deserving person. This property cannot be legally sold,72 and its disposal is strictly cared

71 Female fiefs, or fiefs common, for, under these, both sons and daughters inherit in equal shares,—do exist ; but they are few in number, and generally small in extent. A striking exception to the latter restriction, however, occurs in the county of Arva, almost the whole of which is a female fief.
72 Notwithstanding this, estates are sold every day ; for a man can mortgage for perpetuity. Although the intention of the law is thus defeated, the title to the property is still insecure; for any member of the family obliged to sell, can at any time redeem the estate by paying the original purchase money, and the sums laid out in improvements. If, for instance, A. B. sold an estate for a thousand pounds to C. D. in the year 1800, any member of A. B.'s family, his nephew's or cousin's descendants, in 1900, may pay the 1000l. together with the "ameliorations," and receive back the estate. In order to provide against this contingency, the sum is commonly entered in the title-deeds as the double of that really given, and the purchaser runs up such a bill for improvements, and the law is so dilatory, that it is often ruinous to take an estate back again. Still thousands of these law-suits are commenced every year, to the benefit of the lawyers, if of nobody else.
[404] HUNGARIAN TENURE for. The sons, on coming of age (twenty-four years), may demand a certain portion as alimony; and, at the death of the father, the estate must be equally divided amongst them all ; a slight advantage only being accorded to one, and that the youngest,—the right of keeping for himself his father's house.73

It has been a matter of dispute whether this is a feudal holding, or whether, in fact, the feudal system ever prevailed in Hungary. The question depends entirely on the meaning attached to the term : if by feudal be meant merely the holding of land under the obligation of military service, it certainly did exist ; but I fancy this would be an incorrect interpretation, for, in every age and country, the holder of landed property has been liable to be called on to defend, either in person or by deputy, both his property and the country of which it forms a part : but if by feudal be understood that system by which the possessor of every estate was obliged to submit himself to some superior, to do homage to him on taking possession of his lands, and make himself liable to a variéty of obligations, in return for which he could demand protection and support, it is in total contradiction to the whole spirit

73The reason assigned for this provision is, that the younger son may be induced to remain in the father's house, a comfort to his aged parents, after all the rest have left to seek their fortunes in the world, and still have a shelter for his head when they die. He cannot, however, claim it till the death of both parents, the widow having a prior right.
[405] NOT FEUDAL. of Hungarian law. Several Kings of Hungary, attracted by the power the feudal system conferred on the monarch in other countries, and either themselves foreigners, or influenced by foreign councillors, did attempt to introduce it, but always met with the most decided opposition. The very prerogative, " An Hungarian noble is subject only to his legally crowned king," seems expressly intended to prevent the possibility of vassalage, or the dependence of one noble upon another. The feudal system, too, contained gradations of rank innumerable, essentially opposed to the principle that all the nobles have the same rights. The tenure of property then in Hungary is not feudal : and although many of the semi-barbarous institutions of the middle ages, which in vulgar parlance we call " feudal," were common to Hungary with the rest of Europe; and although perhaps these same nobles, whilst they rejected the yoke themselves, may have imposed some of its burthens on their peasants ; yet may we safely affirm that as a system feudality never prevailed in Hungary.

The most important among the non-Cardinal prerogatives of the noble are, his exemption from having soldiers quartered upon him, and his exclusive right to sell certain articles within the boundaries of his own estates. We shall now consider how far some of these institutions are adapted to the spirit and wants of the present age.

Every Hungarian noble is born a soldier,—such [406] THE INSURRECTION. is the theory of the constitution ; and, in former times, when directed against the undisciplined hordes of the Moslem, or engaged with similar forces in the border warfare of Poland and Bohemia, well did they maintain the theory. Since that time, however, a great change has taken place; and the events of the last war showed how ill the institutions of former days were fitted for the present time. When the troops of Napoleon advanced on Vienna, the Emperor quitted his capital, sought refuge in Hungary, and called on his faithful Hungarians to place themselves in the breach between him and his victorious enemy. All griefs were instantly forgotten ; in vain Napoleon tempted them by promises of a constitution, of freedom, of nationality; they remained true to their king, and flocked in thousands to his standard. A strange picture they are said to have presented. Here a rusty sabre, there a broken musket; this man seeking arms, that asking for ammunition ; horses and men, alike untrained to service, forming a mass of confusion and disorder which carried the elements of defeat within itself. The first shock was sufficient to scatter to the winds the hereditary defences of the nation. Far be it from us to reproach them for it ; they had nothing but a good-will to help them ; and one rather wonders at the wild enthusiastic loyalty which brought them to the field, than accuses them of want of courage when obliged to quit it.

The insufficiency of the Insurrection, as it is [407] TAXATION. called, however, in its present form was proved beyond a question ; and the next consideration was, how it could be remedied. It was evident to all that either the nobles must be trained and taught the use of arms, be formed into a National Guard, or consent to pay taxes. They have constantly and earnestly demanded the first of these expedients, but the Government as constantly insinuates the necessity of the second. In the mean time Hungary is without defence : for the Government is so jealous of any accession to popular power, and so conscious of the dissatisfaction of the Hungarians with its proceedings, that it will not allow anything like a national arming to take place ; while the Hungarians stoutly maintain their right of defending themselves, and refuse to compound for their personal services by a tax for the support of mercenaries. And a wise, a noble resolution we hold it to be ; for what they want in an army is a defence for Hungary, and not an instrument for the subjection of others, which might in its turn be employed against themselves.

Another privilege of the Hungarian nobles, still more cherished, is the freedom from taxation which they enjoy. To pay a tax inHungary has so long been the duty of the peasant only, that it has come at last to be considered servile and degrading. It is true that the Diet, at the coronation of the king and queen, votes an honorarium, which is paid entirely by the nobles ; and in like manner, in time of [408] TAXATION. war it has often voted extraordinary subsidies from the nobles ; but these have always been received as favours by the Crown, not demanded as matters of right. The legal fiction on which this right is founded,—that they serve their king in war,—is not tenable for a moment ; indeed it would much better apply to the peasant class, from which the whole sixty thousand efficient troops are now drawn.74 But although it is impossible to advocate the right of any one class of men to the enjoyment of privileges at the expense of the rest of the community, and although we cannot therefore say that it is just that the Hungarian nobles should pay no tax, yet we do feel that the more enlightened of them have some show of reason on their side when they declare that they will only yield up the privilege on obtaining a direct influence on the expenditure of the revenue ; in other words, a budget and a responsible ministry. As for the arguments of the less enlightened,—the men who ask, " What need have we to pay taxes ?"— " Is not the dignity of the Crown amply provided for by the revenues of the Crown ?" — " Are not the troops for foreign service furnished and supported by the peasantry, and do not the peasantry live on our lands ?" —

74Nor do I think that this is any modern innovation, for the very meaning of the word Húszár (hussar) is derived from him (twenty) ; because, by an act of the Diet in 1458, every twenty peasants throughout Hungary were obliged to furnish one horse-soldier properly equipped for service.
[409] TAXATION. " and are not we ready at any time to come forward in defence of our country ?"—we have no sympathy for them. The Austrian exchequer, it is well known, is, and has been for centuries, in a miserably low state ; and, there are no arts — except those of enlightened policy and honest administration — which have not been put in practice to improve it. The Hungarians claim the right of a free import and export on the payment of a five per cent. duty, and the right has been as solemnly acknowledged as it was possible to have been by royal oaths ; yet, in spite of this, no sooner did the Austrian dynasty ascend the throne of Hungary, than a system of indirect taxation was begun, which has gone on increasing to the present moment, when almost every article imported from any other country than Austria pays a duty of sixty per cent. The effects of this system I shall allude to hereafter : I mention it now to show that the Hungarian nobles are taxed most heavily, and in a manner, too, which leaves them no control over either taxation or expenditure, and which produces ten times more evil than the small profit arising from it is worth. Whenever Austria is reproached with this, she always pleads necessity, and the refusal of the Hungarian nobles to contribute in any more direct manner to the burthens of the state. It is time that this paltry policy was laid aside on the one hand, and on the other. Let the Hungarian Diet solemnly pledge itself to contribute [410] GRADES OF NOBILITY. its share to the revenues whenever the king shall grant sufficient guarantees for their just expenditure, and Austria would then be forced to give up a system which, while it crushes Hungary to the ground, is beneficial to none, save the smuggler and the hungry and dishonest bureaucrat.

The monopoly of the sale of wine, bread, and meat, which every noble enjoys within his own villages, is more injurious to the country, and more vexatious to the other classes, than even the nonpayment of taxes; but we shall postpone the consideration of this subject till we come to speak of the municipal institutions, where its discussion will be more appropriate.

If the law has made no distinction in the constitutional rights of the nobles, custom has established in their social position as marked gradations as are to be found in the various classes of society of any other country. The Hungarians maintain, i believe, that the titled nobles date only from the accession of the House of Hapsburg to the throne, and that the magnates of former times were only so from their position as Barons and Counts of the kingdom, that is, great officers of the court, and governors of counties. Even the very titles themselves, Gróf and Baro, are borrowed from the German Graf and Baron.75

75It is well known that these titles are now regularly sold by the Austrian court. I believe the common price of a Count's title is 5000l.; that of a Baron, only 3000l. It will be recollected that Stulz—that prince of London tailors—was created a Baron in the list of Austrian nobles for the consideration of 10,000l. 1 The heraldic distinction of nobility is a coronet. That of a Count bears eleven balls ; of a Baron, seven ; and of a gentleman, two balls and three leaves, something like that of our Marquis. The homagium, or fine for murder, of a magnate, was fixed, at a very early period, at four hundred florins, cart. ; that of a gentleman, at two hundred; and that of a peasant, at forty. I need scarcely add, that, though this homagium still exists, it is not a composition for murder, as some German writers would fain have us believe, when they say an Hungarian noble pays forty florins for murdering his peasant. Murder, be the rank of the party what it may, is punished by death, the homagium being added, as a kind of deodand, to the capital punishment.

Be this as it may,—at present they are divided socially into three classes : the magnates, answering to our peers; the untitled nobles, a middle class, answering to our gentry; and the " one house nobles," men possessing the hereditary rights of nobility, but in every other respect—in property, education, and manners,—little above the peasant.

Among the magnates may be found the most polished and refined manners, and the most elaborate education. Many of them, besides enjoying the advantages of domestic tutors of different nations, spend some years in a foreign university and in foreign travel. Their estates, for the most part of immense extent, if yielding them less revenue (rarely exceeding 10,000l) than many of our peers possess, enable them, from the greater cheapness of living, to enjoy full as many luxuries. The splendid [412] THE MAGNATES. scale on which some of the establishments in Hungary are formed, the number of servants and horses kept, — the two great marks of superabundant wealth,—are scarcely equalled amongst us.

Yet it is from this class Hungary has the least to hope for the advancement of her institutions, and the maintenance of her nationality. To the proud and wealthy, the attractions of a court, where their magnificence may find worthy rivals and admirers, are generally irresistible; but they are only dangerous when they remove them far from those with whom their interests and duties ought naturally to bring them into association. It is unfortunate that such is the case in Hungary. Vienna is essentially German : and although Pest may claim all the other attractions of a capital, its palace has never tempted the Emperor to hold his court there ; nor has policy allowed his representative, the Palatine, to assume a splendour which, by creating a personal popularity, might render him obnoxious to the charge of ambition. The wealthier magnates, therefore, flock to Vienna ; and absenteeism here, as elsewhere, has not produced kindly feelings, either in the deserters or the deserted. In the one, the repetition of sneers from those they would imitate, against turbulence and barbarism, has led to a disgraceful neglect of political duties, and an affected contempt for the less wealthy and polished of their fellow- countrymen ; while in the other a bitter animosity [413] THE MAGNATES. has been engendered, which it requires the greatest exertions of the prudent to restrain within due bounds.

Nor is the absentee magnate always the gainer, either in importance or respectability, by his expatriation. The rich Hungarian often renders himself a fair butt for the smart sallies of the Vienna witlings. Who that has been at Vienna does not know Count Crachat ? — a pompous peer, who, on coming to his large fortune, was tempted to Vienna by the smiles of the court ; whose wealth made it desirable to retain him in the capital; whose influence it was thought might be dangerous at home; and from whom an insignificant employment, and the glittering bauble which hangs on his breast, have bought forgetfulness of his native land. Aping the expensive follies of richer men, for which he is only laughed at; ambitious of the honours of office, and finding himself put off with a mere nominal dignity; toiling for distinction in the fickle world of fashion, and being dubbed " le dandy sauvage " for his pains,—poor Crachat, half ruined and supremely ridiculous, still thinks himself a very great man. He affects surprise how Hungarian gentlemen can speak the same 1 arbarous language as the peasantry ; wonders how the people spend their time who live in the wilds of Hungary ; considers the Liberals very noisy troublesome fellows who do not know what they want, and the Diet itself a great bore. As for Pest, he [414] THE GENTRY. supposes it is something like a large village ; has heard that robbery and murder are so common that it is unsafe to walk the streets ; is shocked at the dreadful state of its society, and laments the lot of some poor relatives who are condemned to dwell there !—And from the same class what a glorious contrast might be drawn ! an honourable name, an active patriotism, a pride of nationality, softened by a refined education, and directed by practical good sense ! To such a picture I could prefix a dozen names,—and those not fictitious like that of poor Crachat.

Among the magnates we must expect the most striking exceptions from the ordinary standard, whether of good or of evil; but it is to the second class, the landed gentry, that the country must look as her main stay and support. With less refinement of manners, and less of that easy address which nothing but living in the world can give, with a less extended education, especially in modern languages, and with perhaps less freedom from national prejudices, the untitled nobility still possess a much greater knowledge of their country, and a much better will to maintain its rights and improve its institutions, than the more brilliant magnates. In the capital they cannot rival the elegance and splendour of the great Counts and Barons; but in the country, surrounded by all those objects which render the life of the country gentleman the happiest in the world, there are few characters [415] THE GENTRY. more respectable than that of the Tekintetes Ur (respectable sir) of Hungary. Though less polished than the same class in our own country, I can assure the reader they have many of the same characteristics. The country squires of half a century back, — the Squire Westerns, ay, and Tom Joneses, too,—might easily find their counterparts in Hungary. Except in England, I know of no other country where this class can be said to exist ; where men of property, from a love of the country and its manly amusements, prefer it as a residence for the whole year, to the greater comforts and luxuries of the town. It must not be concealed, however, that among some of the members of this class in Hungary there is a mass of prejudice, and an obstinate adherence to antiquated privileges, which, if it once saved the constitution from destruction, now threatens sometimes to stifle the young efforts of reform.

There is occasionally to be found among them, too, a coarseness of manner, which was the more annoying to us, because the elders believed it to be of English origin, and attributed it to the spread of Liberal notions ; indeed, I am not quite sure that there was not some idea of sansculotism mixed up with it. I have heard of some young Liberal noblemen, a few years since, dressing like peasants, living in their cottages, and associating with them on terms of equality ; but I never saw anything of the kind, and I always suspected a rustic amour or [416] THE LOWER NOBLES. some such cause to have been at the bottom of these pranks. Even at the present day, however, a greater elegance of manner is still desirable.

Of the Egy hús y Nemes Ember (one house noble), or Fél-sarkantyús (Half-spurred) or Bocskoros (sandalled), as they are nicknamed, I know little, as they rarely speak German, and we had seldom occasion to meet with them. They are chiefly Protestants, and very strongly attached to their faith.76

Ignorance and poverty, united to the enjoyment of exclusive privileges, do not offer the most happy combination for the developement of the best parts of the human character; but yet (hey have by no means extinguished all its brighter qualities amongst these men. The Half-spurs, it is true, are generally a proud, unruly, hard-drinking set of fellows, with higher notions of privilege and power than of right and justice; but they are brave, patriotic, and hospitable in the highest degree. I remember once seeking shelter in the house of one of this class, when the snow and darkness had rendered our further progress impossible that night. Right gladly were we received. The mother, with her son and daughter-in-law and their children, occupied a cottage of only three rooms, besides the kitchen and out-houses. There were two neigh-

76The magnates are almost entirely Catholics, the gentry chiefly Protestants, and the lower nobles commonly of the same religion.
[417] THE LOWER NOBLES. bours, living some twenty miles off, of the same class, who had dropped in, like ourselves, unexpectedly; and, though the accommodation was rather scanty, they managed to provide beds for us all. A good and plentiful supper,--a man must be very poor in Hungary who cannot give his guest an abundant meal,—of several dishes, in which chickens baked and chickens boiled cut a prominent figure, washed down by strong wine, soon put the whole party at their ease. Of Hungarian I unfortunately knew nothing, and they were very indifferent Germans ; but the wine helped conversation, and served instead of a dictionary. They pledged us in deep bumpers,—asked us if wine was made in England,—declared we were right good fellows and worthy to be Hungarians,—vowed we should pay them each a visit in turn,- nay, swore they would take the wheels off the carriage, and never let us out of the house till we could speak Hungarian as well as the best Magyar amongst them.

Of these three grades of nobility, making a population of half a million, is formed the real constituency of Hungary.77

It is difficult to calculate how many voters there

77 I have not included in this estimate the clergy, citizens, and inhabitants of the Haiduk towns,—all privileged classes, and sending members to the Diet ; because the right of vote of their members is disallowed, and I consider them as at present excluded. They do not amount to less than 800,000, and, if taken into the calculation, would far out-number in proportion the voters of almost every country in Europe.
[418] HUNGARIAN CONSTITUENCY. are in this number; but as the sons have the right to vote during the life of the father, as soon as they arrive at age, and as widows may send their deputies, I think we may state one-fourth, or 125,000, as about the probable number. The whole population of Hungary proper may be reckoned at 10,000,000, so that the proportion of the represented is one in twenty, if the number of adult males only be considered ; or one in seventy-five, if the whole population be taken. Now, in France the population is 30,000,000; the number of electors is, or was in 1836, 200,000; leaving a proportion of only one in a hundred and fifty. In England, since the reform act, with a population of 25,000,000, the number of voters has been stated at nearly 1,000,000, or one in twenty-five ; but, before the reform, I doubt if the proportion of the represented to the unrepresented was greater than in Hungary. Now, though I do not mean to compare the qualification of birth with that of property,—though I believe the sole advantage consists in that the one is acquirable and the other not,—I have been anxious to show the English reader that it is not so small a proportion of the whole which governs in Hungary as we are led to believe when we hear it called an aristocracy, — not so small as governs in democratic France at the present moment; and as for the argument that the nobles as a class have the power to oppress the peasantry, and that the interests of the one, when opposed to the interests of [419] COSTUME OF THE NOBLES. the other, are sure to be sacrificed, it seems to be so nearly the same case as that of the rich and poor with us, that it is hardly worth speaking of.

It would be an unpardonable sin not to give a particular description of the Hungarian uniform ; for, after the language, it is one of the most cherished of the Magyar's nationalisms ; and is considered so essential to his rank, that I believe the more ignorant scarcely believed us when we told them, that, as English gentlemen, we had no uniform. It has undergone its changes, however, as well as other things ; and its history is almost a type of the people's. In early days it smacked strongly of Turkish taste in the gaiety of its colours, and the quantity of jewels with which it was loaded ; during the reign of Joscea it received a most unnatural and Frenchified cut, and the coat and its wearers were very near losing their nationality together : it has now again assumed its antique proportions and original form ; and, while all its peculiar beauties are preserved, its uncouth inelegancies have been softened down by the simple and refined taste of the present century. It now consists of the Attilla, a frock-coat, reaching nearly to the knee, with a military collar, and covered in front with gold lace ; over this is generally worn, hanging loosely on one shoulder, the Menle, a somewhat larger coat, lined with fur, and with a fur cape. It is generally suspended by some massive jewelled chain. The tight pantaloons and ankle-boots, with the never-failing [420] COSTUME OF THE NOBLES. spurs, form the lower part. The Kalpak, or fur cap, is of innumerable forms, and ornamented by a feather fastened by a rich brooch. The white heron's plume, or aigrette, the rare product of the southern Danube, is the most esteemed. The neck is open, except for a black ribbon loosely passed round it, the ends of which are finished with gold fringe. The sabre is in the shape of the Turkish scimitar : indeed richly ornamented Damascus blades, the spoils of some unsuccessful Moslem invasion, are very often worn, and are highly prized.

The sword-belt is frequently a heavy gold chain, such as our ancient knights wore over their armour. The colours, and in many respects the form, of the Hungarian uniform depend entirely on the taste of the individual, and vary from the simple blue dress of the hussar, with white cotton lace, to the rich stuffs covered with pearls and diamonds, of the Prince Eszterházy.

On the whole, I know of no dress so handsome, so manly, and at the same time so convenient. It is only on gala days that gay and embroidered dresses are used ; on ordinary occasions, as sittings of the Diet, county meetings, and others in which it is customary to wear uniform, dark colours with black silk lace, like that formerly worn by our officers in undress,—and trousers, or Hessian-boots, are commonly used. Many of the old school wear this dress constantly, while others follow the rest of the world in imitating England ; nay, so much is Anglomania [421] COSTUME OF THE NOBLES. now the mode, that a fashionable tailor of Pest never dreams of pleasing his customers without assuring them he makes their coats according to the last pattern received from London.


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