Title


[422] THE CARPATHIANS.

CHAPTER XV.

THE NORTHERN CARPATHIANS.

The Carpathians. — The Krivan. — The Lomnitzer Head. — Schmöcks, a Bathing-place.— Excursion to the Valleys of the Kahlbach, and Five Lakes.—A Country Gentleman of the Old School.—Hungarian Freedom compared with English.— A Chamois Hunt.—A Scene in the Mountains.—The Jagers, and their Story of the Bear and the Wood-ranger.—Kesmark and the Tökolys.—The Zipser Prostestants.—Caraffa's Persecutions.—Mysterious Adventure at Leutschau.

FROM Presburg, where the Danube enters Hungary, to Orsova, where it leaves it, one unbroken chain of mountains bounds the western, northern, and eastern limits of the kingdom. In this course, two great mountain offsets are formed : one between the north and west portion, extending on the east nearly to the Theiss ; the other comprising the whole of Transylvania. In the valley of the Waag we were constantly enclosed between branches of the western chain ; at Schemnitz we were in the midst of the western offset ; and we are now about to visit the highest part of the northern range, the Tatra.

On resuming the course of our travels after this digression, I shall at once transport the reader, with- [423] THE KRIVAN. out pausing to describe the route, from Kremnitz to the foot of the Krivan, a short distance only from l:lradek. This Krivan is one of the noblest mountains I ever saw. It is not the absolute elevation of a mountain which impresses the beholder, so much as its position, form, and height, relative to surrounding objects. Though not more than seven thousand eight hundred feet above the level of the sea, the Krivan rises so immediately from the plain, with its conical forth and fine rocky summit, and towers so gloriously above all its neighbours, that it gave me a finer idea of a vast mountain than any other I had before seen. We spent the night at Vichodna, a small village at its base, in hopes either of making some arrangements for an ascent the next day, or, what would have been still better, for joining a great chamois hunt, which we had heard was to take place on the mountain in the course of a week. In both respects we were disappointed ; the hunt was deferred sine die ; and the clouds, which we had so much admired. the day before, as they hung lightly round the hoary monarch's head, or occasionally rolled down his sides, leaving the fine peak clear, now so completely obscured the whole mountain, that we could not even get an outline of its form.

Though the middle of August was scarcely past, we began to feel the cold mountain blasts most painfully ; nor could all our coverings keep us warm as we pushed on towards Lomnitz.

[424] SCHMOCRS.

The highest of the Tatra range, the Lomuitzer Spitze (head), as the Germans call it, was now directly before us ; and we determined to penetrate some of its recesses, and to see something of its hidden, almost unknown beauties.

The lord of these bleak territories entertained us most hospitably, and put us in the way of accomplishing our wishes. About ten miles from Lomnitz, and just at the foot of the mountain, there is a little bathing-place, called Schmucks ; and here it was determined that we should take up our abode, and visit the neighbouring wonders at our leisure. Considerable doubts were expressed as to the possibility of our carriage arriving at its destination ; but, as they said others had preceded it, I ventured to try. Surely, never was a more uncouth road formed ; it was impossible to sit over it, and nothing less than Stephan's skill in hanging to the wheels could have kept the carriage up.

Just at the rise of the mountain, and in a thick forest of pines, of which it may be said to form a part, — for it is built of pine-trees, and roofed with shingles of the same material,—we found Schmucks, a pretty little settlement, which would not be out of place among the squatters of North America.

The pretensions of Schmucks to be called a bathing-place rest on the possession of two or three cold springs, said to contain carbonic acid gas, magnesia, and a little carbonate of iron ; and which, among other excellent qualities, have the reputa- [425] SCHMÖCKS. tion of giving a glorious appetite. The wooden chalets, though rude in appearance, form no bad lodging-rooms : a good restaurateur is always ready to satisfy the appetite which the waters create ; and the whole place, laid out with some little taste, and affording a splendid view over the valley below, is pleasant enough for a short visit. I believe it is more frequented by the healthy than the sick ; for, as a starting-point to visit the Lomnitzer Head and the valleys of the Carpathians, it is decidedly the best that can be selected. We found a large and sociable party collected in this mountain nook, to some of whom we were immediately introduced. Among others was the Countess C--, who, on hearing that our route would lead us by her house, with that hospitality of which we had such frequent proofs, insisted on our making it our resting-place as long as was agreeable to us. As we joined the common table at supper, some hungry travellers came in, who had just returned from a two days' excursion, during which they had mounted the Spitze, and descended on the other side. They did not give a very favourable account of the expedition ; for after the difficulty and danger of the ascent, which they represented as considerable, had been overcome, they were unable to remain more than a few minutes on the summit on account of the intense cold. The people here say, that, of those who attempt the ascent, very few persevere to the end. There is nothing, however, but a good-will [426] THE KAHLBACHER VALLEY. and a stout pair of legs needed : of actual danger there is little, except in case of mists, which are rather common. We had promised to go up if Professor S joined us ; so that we left the undertaking to the last, half in hopes he would not keep his appointment.

Before supper was over, a second party came in from chamois hunting. One fine two-year old buck was all their bag contained ; but even that is considered good sport with such shy game.

Next morning, provided with a guide, and accompanied by a young artist who was murdering the beauties of nature here, we started for an excursion to the lesser Kahlbacher valley and the Fünf Seen (Five Lakes), two points which all agreed in recommending as the best worth seeing. For the first half-hour, we proceeded by a gentle ascent which brought us to the top of a hill overlooking the great Kahlbacher valley, into which we descended rapidly by a broken foot-track to a small bridge which crosses the Kahlbach, where it forms a pretty water-fall ; and then following the valley lying between the Lomnitzer Spitze on one side, and the Königs Nase (King's Nose) on the other, we arrived at the opening of the lesser valley. A strange wild scene that valley presented ! The blasted pine, the huge masses of shapeless rock, and the angry fretful stream seemed the sole denizens of its solitude. A little further on, the elevation we had reached became evident from the gradual diminution of vegetable growth ; nature [427] THE LOMNITZER HEAD. seemed subdued by the cold blasts from the neighbouring snow mountains, and the plants had shrunk before the winds they were too feeble to resist. A little further, and no vegetation rises more than three or four feet above the surface ; while the only tree which grows is a pine, much like the Scotch fir in leaf, but which, instead of raising itself in the air, spreads its branches in a bush-like form along the ground. This the peasants call the Krumm Holz (deformed wood). Many beautiful plants may still be found ; among others, a tussilago, some rare edums, a gentian, one or two grasses, and an abundance of mosses.

In this valley is the place where the night is usually passed previous to ascending the Spitze ; for which purpose accident has provided an excellent chamber, as a huge sheet of granite has fallen in such a manner as to afford a covering for half a dozen persons. Directly above this point towers the Lomnitzer Head, so clear to-day that it did not seem an hour's walk from us, though it requires at least six or seven to accomplish it.78

The road pointed out by our guide is nearly perpendicular, and lies in a watercourse filled with loose stones. The worst part of our walk ere we reached the Five Lakes was yet to come. Just before us lay a steep ascent covered with fragments of granite of

78I give the elevation of some of the points I mention, as I find them laid down in Schmidl : Schmöcks, 2065 feet; Valley of the Five Lakes, 6309 ; Lomnitzer Spitze, 8133.
[428] VALLEY OF THE FIVE LAKES. every size, from that of a house to a mere pebble, all loose, and rolling from their places with the slightest touch. Though of no great height, it occupied us a good hour, and cost us torn hands and

VALLEY OF THE FIVE LAKES
VALLEY OF THE FIVE LAKES

broken shins, to master it; but it was worth the cost, for, the top once attained, and we found ourselves in the wildest spot that nature ever formed, or imagination ever pictured. Before us was a high range of peaks called the Polnisher Kamm (Polish Comb), the boundary line between Gallicia and [429] VALLEY OF THE FIVE LAKES. Hungary; above these, on the right, the Lomnitzer Spitze reared his head; while on the left was a gigantic wall of granite, apparently separated by some great convulsion of nature from the neighbouring mountain, and standing erect among the broken masses which are every day falling around it. This huge cliff was to me striking in a degree beyond my power to describe; and much as I had before seen of mountain scenery, this was the first really great cliff I had ever looked upon, and it more than equalled all my imagination had pictured. On one side two rocks had been thrown together, in such a position as to form a natural bridge, and its slender outline gave additional effect to the dizzy precipice. The foreground was worthy of the rest of the picture; huge granite blocks, in some parts covered with snow, in others by a dwarf grass and moss, with the cold green waters of the five lakes which give their name to the valley, were all that sparing nature has bestowed on this desert spot.

As we turned our back on this desolate scene, the contrast was most striking : below us lay the Kahlbacher valley, through which we had just passed, and whose stunted vegetation seemed luxuriant by the contrast with what was before us ; and still further on was the rich plain scattered over with towns79 and villages, yellow with fresh-cut.

79The history of some of these towns is curious, and illustrative enough of the former state of Hungary. Sigmund, whose reign was marked by the loss of so many provinces previously attached to Hungary,—Bessarabia, Moldavia, Dalmatia, and Bosnia, and Halitsch and Wladimir in Gallicia,—when pressed for money to carry on a war against the Venetians, pledged thirteen towns and three estates, commonly called the Sechszelcn Zipser Stgdten,—and among which were some of those we were looking on,—to Wladislaus Jagjel, King of Poland, for the loan of 7,400 florins. Grating as this was to the national pride, and notwithstanding the frequent remonstrances of the Diet, no King of Hungary had found sufficient leisure, or had ever had a sufficient sum at his disposal, to redeem this royal pledge. In the reign of Leopold I., indeed, an Archbishop Széchenyi, had offered to do it at his own expense, on condition of enjoying the revenues for life, but his proposal was refused ; nor was it till 1772, when Russia and Prussia had determined on the dismemberment of Poland, that Maria Theresa laid claim, not only to the Zipser towns, but to Halitsch and Wladimir, lost for more than three centuries, as well as to 0swieczin and Tator, to which no claim but that of spoliation could possibly be laid. Of course they were readily granted ; Hungary recovered her towns, and Austria became the partner in a crime which she is as yet only beginning to repent.
[430] THE ZIPSER TOWNS. corn, and varying its shades at every moment as the fleecy clouds passed across the bright blue sky, The wind blew so excessively cold from the snow, that, although well cloaked, we could not support it for any length of time. As H___, who had wandered away with his sketch-book, did not return, I became anxious for his safety ; and it was not till we had searched some time that we found him seated in a patch of snow, his body wrapped in his cloak, and his mind in his sketch, his face bluer than the mountains he was drawing, and his pipe, whose curling wreaths still lent perfume to the air, the only sign of existence about him. We left the valley of the Five Lakes just in time to escape a [431] A NEW ARRIVAL. drenching ; for the heavy black clouds suddenly collected on the Lomnitzer Spitze, and, rolling down the mountain, completely filled the upper valley with darkness, and then overflowing its sides, seemed to follow our footsteps down the steep declivity. Once in the Kahlbacher valley, however, and we were safe ; the warm sides of the mountain threw a reflected heat into the valley, which dissipated the mists, and shed on us a delightful warmth after the cold we had lately been exposed to.

In the whole of our walk we had observed no rock but granite ; indeed, we were told that the whole of the Tatra range is composed of granite. I n the Kahlbacher valley some efforts at mining had been made ; and it is said that a good vein of copper ore was found, which yielded abundantly, but it was abandoned from want of capital.

At supper we had but a small party : most of the guests of the previous day had left, and their places were scantily filled by an elderly gentleman and his son and daughter-in-law ; the latter a pale and interesting person, who had come to make a short trial of the effects of the mountain air, and invigorating waters of Schmucks on her declining health. The conversation soon became general ; and the old gentleman, who was of the true Magyar cast, and did not like new-fangled ideas and foreign fashions, but stuck to the good old dress and manners of his forefathers, soon began to intimate the superiority of Hungary to England, and every other [432] A GENTLEMAN OF TILE OLD SCHOOL.

A GENTLEMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL
A GENTLEMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL

country on the face of the earth. "Am I not free? Can't I do what I like ? Who dare enter my court?" he burst out as I began to question his right to boast so loudly. " Have not we everything men can desire? Have not we," counting on his fingers,—" have not we plains and mountains,— and woods and meadows, -- gold, silver, copper, and iron,—wood, linen, and silk,—beef, game, and fish, - wine, corn, and tobacco ?—there is nothing but coffee and sugar wanting, and those we could have if we chose to grow them ! Where is there another country like this ? as we say in Latin,

'Felix ergo Hungaria,
Cui Mona data suut varia !'

[433] HUNGARY AND ENGLAND. Nur," he added in a more modest tone, " Nur, kein Geld haben uir nicht,"—only we have got no money.

I like these old-fashioned fellows ! They may have a little more prejudice and pride than is absolutely necessary, but there is always something manly and honest about them ; they remind me of our own old leather-breeched squires,--a fine hard-headed race, whose places are often but poorly filled by their more polished sons. When our old friend, however, would persist in praising the freedom of the Hungarian, in disparagement of what he called the thraldom endured by the Englishman, my nationality fairly got the better of my good manners, and I could not resist the temptation to mystify him a little. Accordingly, I feigned to yield to his arguments ; and we lamented together that people should be so foolish as to think themselves free in a country where the gentry paid taxes,—" though to be sure," I added, " they have a voice in the disposing of them ;" where the noble could not pass along the public roads without being stopped for toll,—" though it could not be denied that the roads were pretty good ;" where a police was suffered to parade openly through the whole country,—" though it was certain it interfered only with rogues ; " where an impertinent press could meddle with every body and everything,—" though it might possibly be useful in checking an abuse of power ; where, in short, no man could get into debt without being made to pay, or could flog his own peasant without being [434] PREPARATION FOR A CHAMOIS AUNT. put in prison ! " At such a climax the old gentleman groaned in spirit, and, I believe, really felt sorry for us ; but it was amusing to see how the eyes of the fair invalid brightened up as my enumeration of the Englishman's miseries increased, and how mischievously she smiled at the profound mystification of her male friends.

Our landlord at Schmucks, who was a good-tempered merry fellow, and withal a keen sportsman, had told me such glorious tales of chamois and roc hunts, and had hinted so strongly the possibility of rousing a bear in the neighbouring woods, that I took fire, and begged he would, if possible, arrange a Jagd (hunt) for us the next day. Nothing could have suited his inclination better: and, though it was late at night, orders were forthwith issued in the kitchen for sundry fowls to be slaughtered, hams to be boiled, and wine and brandy to be safely stowed in strong bottles ; while messengers were sent off to all the villages within ten miles' distance, to collect the most renowned huntsmen—alias vagabonds—in the country to aid in the hunt. Accordingly, almost as soon as it was daylight, and long before we had slept off the fatigues of our mountain-walk, the sound of men and horses, with the snapping off of rifles under the windows, roused us from our slumbers.

The party consisted of ourselves and the landlord, and some eight or ten Jagers. After due consultation, it was determined to beat the mountain bounding the Völker valley, a spot about two hours to the [435] THE VOLKER VALLEY. west of 5ehmücks; and thither accordingly we repaired, some on rough mountain ponies, the rest on foot. In clue time we issued from the pine forest, through which our route at first led us; and struck into a wild valley differing little from that of yesterday. though it was perhaps more barren and less picturesque. As in the other, the bottom was covered with rocks and dwarf pine, while the sides were closely hemmed in by precipitous cliffs. A small lake, fed by a waterfall of no great size at the upper end of the valley, was the throw-off; and there we all collected to receive instructions from our chief huntsman, no longer the landlord, but a grey-bearded peasant, who probably knew better than the chamois themselves where they were to be found, and where they would go to when roused.

The plan of action was laid down thus:—The landlord and ourselves were to ascend a distant part of the mountain, at a point where it was particularly steep and dangerous, and to which the chamois would consequently go for safety. There perched on some point where we could not be seen, and near which the only pathway accessible even to the chamois passed, we were to sit till the game came near. The jagers and treibers (drivers) in the mean time were to make a cast round the other side of the mountain, and, by means of shouting and firing powder to drive the game in our direction ; which would then pass within shot of us, as the rocks are so perpendicular that it is only in a few [436] HIGHLAND HUNTING. places there is footing for it. The prospect of sitting some hours on a peak of the Carpathians, perhaps up to the knees in snow, and certainly exposed to a cold and cutting wind, without daring to speak or move, not to mention the two hours' climbing required to reach this enviable position, or the great probability of disappointment where such shy game was concerned, was scarcely tempting; but highland hunters think all other sport poor in comparison. These men have a dreamy and poetical endurance in their method of hunting, which we, impatient lowland sportsmen, have no idea of. I respect the feeling, and acknowledge in it a genuine love of sport ; but I never could acquire it ; my blood grows cold with such long expectings.

We were not, however, to be tried, at least today; for, as we were waiting till the last of the jagers came up, and the final orders were given, some flakes of snow fell from a dark cloud which was hanging on the top of the Polnischer Grath, and were soon followed by a heavy shower, which at once put a stop to our proceedings,—for the danger of climbing the rocks when slippery from the recent snow, was more than even the hardy jagers dared to undertake. It was the more provoking, as a Polish peasant who had crossed over the mountain from Gallicia, for the sake of gathering the gentian-root, which grows in great abundance here, told us he had seen four head of chamois [437] A SNOW-STORM. cross the valley in the direction of our intended beat only half an hour before we entered it.

Our landlord was not one of the despairing kind however, and, as the mountains refused us a chamois, he determined to beat the woods for a roe ; and accordingly one of the jagers was speedily despatched for some hounds to help the sport. In the mean time the snow-storm continued, and our first care was to seek shelter. Luckily a favourite resort of the goatherds was near at hand,—a huge block of granite forming a natural cave, under which we all crept without difficulty, and lay much at our ease. The jagers in the mean time employed themselves in lighting a fire, and preparing for their lunch. A bit of schwamm, or German tinder, kindled by the flint and steel with which every peasant is provided for lighting his pipe, and placed in a handful of dry moss, was soon fanned into a flame by being moved quickly through the air ; and this having been placed under a living tree, a dwarf pine, inflammable from its turpentine, and the dry spots on which it grows, soon blew up into a goodly blaze. The hatchet-headed walking-sticks were then put in requisition ;—I do not know whether I have mentioned before, that all the peasants of the north of Hungary carry sticks armed at the top with a small, hatchet-head, which I had previously considered only as an ornament, or to be used in defence, but which were now more usefully employed ;—and a dozen similar trees were soon felled and added to [438] A SCENE IN THE CARPATHIANS. the fire, raising a glorious blaze, which set wind and snow at complete defiance. The scene was most picturesque : the rude figures of the jagers, relieved against the fire as they lay enjoying its warmth, or

HUNTING SCENE IN THE CARPATHIANS
HUNTING SCENE IN THE CARPATHIANS

toasting their bits of bacon on its embers,-the masses of rocks reflecting the bright glare,—and, beyond, the blasted pille, and the sharp outlines of the mountain masses now covered with snow, formed a composition worthy of a Salvator's study.

[438a]

THE COMNITZER HEAD, THE HIGHEST OF THE CARPATHIANS
THE COMNITZER HEAD, THE HIGHEST OF THE CARPATHIANS

[439] JAGER'a TALE.

The bottle of Sliwowitz was not forgotten, and, as it passed from mouth to mouth, it seemed to loosen the tongues of those who pressed it, and our companions soon became talkative. They were Germans from an adjoining village, — Lomnitz, Schmi;cks, and many villages in this neighbourhood, are peopled by German colonists,—and united two professions which to us would appear rather incompatible,—they were fiddlers and huntsmen! They had been engaged at a wedding feast in the service of l'pollo all the previous night ; but, when Diana's much-loved summons called them to the woods, fiddles, clarionets, and all, were hastily cast aside, the rusty rifle was thrown gaily over the shoulder, and without sleep or rest they hastened to obey the welcome invitation. Every one had now his tale to tell and his joke to pass. This one had shot a chamois at an unheard-of distance,—the other had tracked a wounded roe I know not how far or how long : but the tale which the jagers took most delight in narrating, was of a wood-ranger and a bear, the incidents of which had occurred only a few weeks previously, and the scene of which we had passed in the morning. As the ranger was quietly pursuing his usual rounds, with his gun unloaded and slung carelessly across his back, he came upon one of those little green glades in the forest—so still, so beautiful, they must be the chosen temples of the sylvan deities! —where a fine young bear stood just before him, [440] THEIR QUESTIONS ABOUT ENGLAND. busy at an ants' nest, whose treasures he was mercilessly rifling. As Bruin turned round to see who was the intruder on his feast, the trembling ranger unslung his piece, and, hastily loading it, discharged it close to the bear's nose. What was his surprise when, instead of beholding the beast stretched at his feet as he expected, he saw him quietly trot away unharmed !—what was his shame when it struck him, that in his fright he had forgotten to load his piece with anything but powder ! Long and loud did the jolly jagers laugh at the wood-ranger's cowardice.

As the conversation became free, they asked us many questions about England, and were very anxious to know something of our peasants—how many days' robot they worked—how they lived—and what taxes they paid? I assured them that our peasants lived better than they did—for they had told me that potatoes and bread was their ordinary fare, and a bit of bacon a luxury ; but that they worked much harder to gain it.

" But English peasants don't labour so many clays for their lord as we do."

" Nor have they each a portion of land, as you have."

" What ! no land? How can they live, then ?"

It was no easy matter to make them understand the system of landlord and tenant, workman and employer, as existing with us ; so closely was the idea of Dauer and Bauerngrund (peasant and pea- [441] THE ROE HUNT. sants' land) associated in their minds. When I told them of the wealth of our farmers, and of their respectable station in society, and at the same time explained to them that they had no right in the land they occupied, and might be dismissed at will, I believe they thought I was romancing. Nor were they less surprised to hear that the women commonly stay at home when the men go out to work ; for they confessed that their own wives did much more than themselves, and that they belaboured them heartily if they did not obey their orders. For the credit of England, I did not mention how terribly the husbands are henpecked with us, for fear they should think too lowly of them ; of which, I believe, there was some danger, when they heard of hard work and no land.

But the hounds had arrived, and the old huntsman blew his huge cow-horn, and summoned us to the field. The pack was composed of two couple and a half of coarse harriers, which were intended to aid in beating the wood, in giving notice of the direction the game took, and in bringing it back to the place from which it had first broke cover. As for the hounds killing the game, that was never dreamed of; the guns were intended to perform that office. The old huntsman with his hounds started oft to the extremity of the wood, while we were directed to take up our places at certain points where the game would be most likely to pass. I was directed to the highest point :— [442] FAILURE AND RETURN.

"There, just where the dwarf wood commences, behind that rock you can conceal yourself; the roe will probably cross the mountain, pass this open brake as he descends, and come first within the range of your gun." At distances of about a quarter of a mile from each other, the rest took up their stations, and all were still with expectation. Full two hours, resting on my gun behind that said rock, had I amused myself with listening to every falling leaf, and fancying it the starting of a deer,—the diversion being every now and then varied by the pelting of a smart hailstorm, — when at length I thought I caught the sound of a distant horn. I was right enough, it was the huge cow-horn of our old huntsman I recognised : his clear shrill voice, too, as he cheered on the hounds, soon became audible, and then grew more and more distinct ; but, with the best will, not a cry could I distinguish from the hounds, they were mute as death ; and, in despair, I saw them one after another come quietly over the brow of the mountain, beating the thickets on either side,—but, alas ! in vain. The hunt was out, as the jagers said ; the roe must have left the wood : and as it was now evening, and we were wet through, we were glad enough to mount, and gallop as fast as our horses could carry us in the direction of Schmöcks.

A warm bath, a good dinner, a fair quantity of Tokay, and a wood fire in our snug little wood cottage, soon consoled us for the disappointments [443] KESMARK. of the day, and sent us very comfortably to bed, though with the full persuasion that a Gems-jagd was but very slow sport. The next morning was so wet and cloudy, and the prognostications of the mountaineers so unfavourable, from the yesterday's fall of snow, as to the probability of more fine weather this year among the Carpathians, that we determined to leave them and seek a more genial clime. I strongly recommend them, however, to the lover of the grand and beautiful. I will not mention what others say of their wonders,—for I have learned in travelling to place little trust in others' eyes ; but I have myself seen enough, even in this short visit, to say that there are few mountain chains possessing more wild beauty and more savage grandeur than the Tatra of Hungary.

Our route now lay through the county of Zips, passing the towns Kesmark, Leutschau, and Eperies. In Kesmark there is nothing remarkable, except the ruins of an old castle which formerly belonged to the family Tokoly, by whose restless ambition and warlike talents Hungary was involved in a series of civil wars, which, but for Sobiesky's timely aid, would probably have ended in delivering the whole country into the power of the Turks. A curious illustration of the misery inflicted on the peaceable inhabitants of towns, as well by friends as foes, during this disturbed period, is preserved in a journal kept by the judge of the little town of [444] PROTESTANT PERSECUTIONS. Felka, in this neighbourhood. " 1684, March 5th. A council concerning Tatar (one of Tököly's leaders), who has seized six thousand men ; so must we, thirteen towns, pay five thousand thalers, and convey it to the Lord Tüköily in three days, with thirteen waggons.—13th March. Ponevcz is come, and has quartered four hundred cavalry on us, where they remained two nights : next day, sixty men, with one hundred horses. — 12th. The same. -14th. The Germans come again, and have cleared the houses out.— 16th. Two thousand Germans come back from Leibitz and stayed all night: in my house were eighteen horses and seventeen persons. I was obliged to feed them gratis ; and, instead of thanks, they took away my best horse." Further on we read of " five thousand thalers more to Prince Tököly, on account of those natural enemies, the Tartars and Turks. Four thousand men, two hundred horse, and much goods carried off" And again, " All our horses taken away ; from me, six."80

Perhaps no part of Hungary has suffered more from persecutions of every kind than the county of Zips. Peopled in a great part by Germans whose settlement dates from a very early period, and who in every part of Hungary seem to have adopted with zeal the doctrines of the Reformation, and whose numbers were increased in the fifteenth century by the followers of Huss when proscribed in

80Klein, Geschichte von Ungarn.
[445] LEUTSCHAU. Bohemia, and in the sixteenth by those of Luther from Saxony, this county suffered from the persecutions and wars to which these doctrines gave rise, perhaps more severely than any other part of Hungary. To those acquainted with Hungarian history it is enough to refer to the Blutsgericht (Court of blood) of Caraíla in Eperies. To the foreigner T shall merely say, that Caraff'a, with the head of a Jesuit and the heart of an Italian, undertook to repress the Protestants by dint of terror ; and he set about the work with such zealous industry, that, by means of outrage and injustice the most flagrant, and rendered more intolerable by the frightful tortures to which he subjected his prisoners, he, if he did not succeed in what he wished, at least obtained a name which is never mentioned in Hungary to this day without horror and disgust.

Leutschau, which we reached a little before sunset, is an old-fashioned German-looking town, with high walls, strong gates, and a fine market-place. After changing horses, and just as we passed out under the Gothic arched gateway, a pretty servantgirl of about eighteen, dressed in her Zipser costume, called to our coachman to stop ; and, coming up to the carriage, asked in German if we were not going to the Countess C —'s. We answered in the affirmative ; when she handed up a large basket of choice flowers, under which were two bottles of Tokay and a letter. Supposing they were intended [446] MYSTERIOUS ADVENTURE

A ZIPSER GIRL
A ZIPSER GIRL

for the Countess, I deposited them carefully in the carriage, and ordered the peasant to drive on ; nor should I have thought more of the matter, had not the address of the letter accidentally caught my eye ; it ran thus :—" To the English travelling gentlemen, on the road to Countess C--'s castle at M--." But, if a little astonished at the address, what was my surprise on opening the letter, to find a long epistle in German, written in a female hand, and signed " Unknown ;" in which, in the name of " the ladies of Hungary," we, " as the representatives of a free nation," " the com- [447] AT LEUTSCHAU. patriots of Shakspeare, Byron, Scott, and Bulwer," were presented with bouquets of flowers and bottles of Tokay, in order to show us the beauty and richness of the land we were visiting, and to strengthen us against the difficulties of our rude journey ! With what eyes we looked at each other as we finished this letter I leave the reader to fancy, when lie reflects that it came from a person unknown, who had never seen us, and that we received it in a place where we had remained only a few minutes, where we had no acquaintance, and where apparently our very names were unknown.

After the first exclamations of surprise were over, we both dropped into a musing silence, in which I would not swear that soft dreams of conquest, fond visions of youth and beauty, may not perchance have floated across our minds ; for, though our fair correspondent had expressly said "she never had seen and probably never should see us," it is hard to cheek the course of a day-dream when vanity leads the way. But, lack-a-day! dreams will end in waking sadness. Spenser was assuredly right :

" lie is not fit for love,
Who is not fit to hold it ;"

and we, alas ! must e'en babble of our bliss when we arrived at M--, and that too before women. Ah, cruel fair !—they insisted on seeing the letter : all, fatal weakness !—we yielded to their commands. Never shall I forget the wicked smile of the [448] THE DISSAPOINTMENT. Countess, as the letter was handed back with a thousand felicitations on our good fortune ; with repeated assurances that she knew the lady well, though of course " the name was inviolable, but," she added, " I may venture to tell you that she is a person of considerable talent, highly respectable, a great admirer of English literature, and one whose good opinion from her advanced age is entitled to great respect ! " Poor wounded vanity was at once banished from the scene, and noble patriotism—how oft the last resource of disappointed vanity !—was forced to take its place. We forthwith felt enchanted that our country's fame should have extended to these distant lands, and should have been reflected, however unworthily, on the humblest of her sons !

Chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18




Text Archive Home | Book Details | Table of Contents