The Church of Kirchdrauf. —Cholera Troubles in Zips.—The Stadt-Hauptmann of Eperies.—Kaschau.—Austrian Officers.— Stephan's Dismissal.—Mines of Schmolnitz.—Cementwasser. —Gorman Settlers. — Rosenau. —Mustaches.— Castle of Murány.—Wesselényi's Wooing of Szécsi Maria.—Requisites for Travelling in Hungary.—Cavern of Aggtelek.—A Bivouac. —Miskolcz.—Tokay.—The Theiss.--The Wine of Tokay.
WE spent a couple of days very agreeably at
M— in visiting the wonders of the neighbourhood. The old castle of Zips, the stronghold at
times of some of the most formidable enemies of
Austria,—Zápolya, Bethlen, Rákótzy, and Tököly,
— is now a possession of the Csákys, but is fast
falling to ruin. Some parts of it exhibit marks of
considerable beauty ; and, what is rarely the case
in Hungary, a pretty chapel is contained within its
walls. At Kirchdrauf, not far from the castle of
Zips, we visited a beautiful Gothic church, containing some interesting monuments, and belonging to
the chapter of that place. In the sacristy were
some gold sacramental cups, worked in a style that
would not have discredited the chisel of Benvenuto
We visited one of the jovial Dom Herrn, who insisted on our tasting some of the church's Tokay, for these happy prebends have a vineyard on those blessed Hegyalla hills ; and excellent, as I can attest, is the fruit thereof, and very fit to comfort a Dona Herr's stomach in his old age.
We noticed in many parts of this county, but
particularly in this neighbourhood, a great number
of gibbets, from each of which several bodies were
dangling. It appears that in 1831, when the cholera first broke out in Hungary, the Sclavack peasants of the north were fully persuaded they were
poisoned by the nobles, to get rid of them ; and
they in consequence rose in revolt, and committed
the most dreadful excesses. The gentleman who
related these circumstances to us, had been himself
a sufferer. He was seized by the peasants of the
village, among whom he had been, up to that moment, exceedingly popular; dragged from his house
to the public street ; and there beaten for several
successive hours, to make him confess where he had
concealed the poison. At last, wearied with the
In consequence of these riots, Stand Becht,— summary law, by which a man may be tried and executed on the spot where he is apprehended, without even having been put in prison, or allowed to make any preparation for his defence,—was proclaimed, and no less than fifty Sclavack peasants were hung and gibbeted in different parts of the county in consequence. Of course, the barbarism of the people, and the necessity of impressing a wholesome terror on their minds, is the plea urged in extenuation of this horrible exhibition. I leave the reader to decide whether the barbarism of the judges, and the necessity of satisfying their feelings of revenge, would not be nearer the truth. How far the desired effect has been produced may be guessed from the circumstance that, every New-year's day, each body receives a new dress from the relatives and friends of the deceased in the neighbouring villages.
I have frequently heard it repeated, and with the
strongest assurance of its truth, that this rising was
excited by Russian agents, in consequence of the
sympathy and aid which the northern counties of
Hungary afforded to Poland, and which even the
highest Austrian authorities were supposed to have
favoured. What credence should be attached to
such a report, I know not. In countries where secrecy is the system of government, where the police
At Eperies we met with almost the only instance of serious annoyance and incivility which occurred during the whole of our journey through Hungary ; and this is the more remarkable, as a somewhat similar adventure, attended with much more disagreeable consequences, happened to our country-man Townson, nearly half a century before, somewhere in the same neighbourhood. While in a public room of the inn, we observed a number of persons passing and repassing before the window, and occasionally coming into the room, evidently with no other object than that of satisfying an ill-mannered curiosity. Our carriage was subjected to a similar inspection ; and old Stephan grew very angry at the impertinent questions with which he was pestered. In short, all Krfihwinkel was in arms to know who and what we were : and I have no doubt a number of the Eperies wise-heads had set us down for spies, although for what object any one should give himself the trouble of spying at Eperies it would be difficult to conceive.
Just as we sat down to table, in marched an
81It must be recollected that the magistrates of towns are not freely elected, like those of counties : indeed, in many instances, they deserve to be considered in no higher light than as policemen of Vienna.
The country through which we passed before arriving at Kaschau, is, like most of the north of Hungary, poor and cold, when compared with the south. Hemp and flax are cultivated in large quantities, and the clothing of the people is made almost entirely from these materials.
Kaschau itself, a town of thirteen thousand inhabitants, is decidedly one of the very prettiest places I know anywhere. In winter its gaiety is said to rival that of Pest ; for, owing to the distance of the northern counties from the metropolis, Kaschau assumes the importance of a second capital, and is much resorted to by the nobles as a winter residence. All the usual consequences of the diffusion of wealth are visible here ; handsome houses, well-stocked shops, a good casino, a theatre, and pleasant promenades, are among the outward signs. The greatest ornament of Kaschau, however, is its cathedral. It was begun as early as 1324 by St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, and was brought to its present state by Mathias Corvinus. It is in a chaste Gothic style; in some parts, particularly the west front, exhibiting rich fret-work of great elegance and purity.
In the evening we strolled into the theatre,
where a company of Germans were giving Fra
Witty, however, as this description is, and applicable as in my choler I thought it to the garrison of Kaschau, I am not so unjust as to apply it
to the whole body of Austrian officers. Like most
other officers, they are apt, I believe, to mistake the
swagger of the barrack for the easy manner of good
society ; but I have generally found them polite, and
much less afflicted with the affectations of puppyism
than most others of their class. That there is no
great sympathy between them and the Hungarians,
is beyond a doubt ; they are for the most part
From Kaschau to Schmolnitz nothing of much interest occurred, save an outbreak of poor Stephan's failing, which obliged me to part with him on the spot. At Metzenseif, where we stayed for dinner, it was unluckily fast-day, and nothing could be got to eat save a few hard-boiled eggs ; and whether from the consequent want of a good foundation for his usual quantum, or whether he had been tempted to an excess, I know not, but we had not travelled far before the old soldier manifested strong symptoms of intoxication, and got into a violent quarrel with the coachman. In vain did I endeavour to check hire ; he seemed to have lost all command of himself, and became so insolent and unruly that I was obliged to discharge him next day, though very much to my sorrow. He had excellent qualities, and was besides an original ; but the chance of a scene like this in any private house where we might have been staying, was too much to encounter.
At Schmölnitz we were again in a mining district, and I was glad to avail myself of an opportunity I had missed at Neusohl, of seeing the process of extracting copper from the cementwasser,— water containing a solution of sulphate of copper. The director of the mines, Berg-Talk, appointed an intelligent young practicant to show me all I desired.
The copper is extracted from the cementwasser by making it pass slowly over inclined wooden troughs, in the whole two hundred and twelve yards in length. These are thickly strewed over with pieces of iron ; by which means the sulphuric acid is attracted from the copper, and combines with the iron, forming a soluble sulphate of iron ; while the copper, nearly pure, is deposited in a soft state. It is then scraped off the plates of iron, and sent to be roasted. I did not visit the mines, for it was Saturday evening, and almost all the men had left off work for the week.
The district of Schmölnitz, which includes several mines in its neighbourhood, produces annually
twelve thousand centners of copper, of which one
thousand are said to be obtained from the cementwasser. I find in my note-book thirty thousand
marks of silver set down as the produce of Schmidnitz; but I feel convinced it is enormously above
the real amount, though I have no means at hand
of correcting it. Three thousand is much more
probably the true quantity. The amalgamation pro-
There are said to be several mines of quicksilver worked in this district; but, as I did not hear of them till I had left the place, I cannot state the quantity produced, or the manner of working them ; I fancy, however, they are unimportant, and chiefly in the hands of private individuals. The iron mines of this neighbourhood, particularly those of Count Andrásy, are among the best in Hungary. Antimony and lead are also obtained in the Schmülnitz district.
Schmolnitz itself is the prettiest of the mining
towns we had yet seen, and the neat and respectable appearance of the people bore evidence
of their German origin. On the Sunday morning, as we were preparing to leave, the streets
were crowded with well-dressed miners coming
from church ; the women still retaining their German costume, though the men were all in hussar
jackets, and booted and spurred as well as the
It had become a matter of urgent necessity to supply the place of old Stephan ; for we were just on the borders of that part of the country where the Sclavacks and Magyars meet, and where the German language is almost unknown. Fortunately a young miner, who spoke all three languages, was persuaded to accompany us as far as Pest, on condition that his fellow-workmen, with whom he had some contract, would let him off. After waiting some time to allow these arrangements to be effected, our miner appeared, dressed in a very neat dark - blue hussar uniform, his boots well cleaned, his mustache freshly stiffened, and with his broad-brimmed hat in hand ready to do good service. The wages that had tempted him from his home were two shillings a-day.
Our road led us through a finely wooded district,
till we arrived on the summit of a hill, below which
a beautiful country was spread out before us. It
took us two hours to descend this hill, over a road
left bad on purpose, I presume, to ease the horses
in holding back ; for, without this aid, it would be
scarcely possible to sustain the weight of a carriage for so long a time. We passed an old castle
belonging to Count AndríLsy, still habitable, but
spoilt by modern repairs; and, soon after, a village
of the same gentleman's, with which no fault could
be found. Nowhere had I seen more neat, nay,
handsome cottages, provided as they were with
large windows and pretty gardens; and the whole
It appeared as if we were now doomed to misfortune ; for no sooner had they begun to unpack the carriage at Rosenau, than we perceived that H___'s colour-box, and portfolio, which held all his sketches, and which were contained in a leathern pocket attached to the back of the carriage, were missing, the pocket having apparently worn itself off in consequence of the jolting over a bad road. The first thing to be done was to send back our miner on foot, to endeavour to find it ; and, if he should not succeed, to request the magistrates to aid him in his search, and to offer a reward at Schmölnitz for its recovery. Though late in the day, this plan was quickly arranged and at once put in execution ; and, as a day or two would be required before he could return, we determined to employ the time in visiting the castle of Mutiny, a short day's journey from Rosenau.
The Sclavack peasant whom the people of the
inn had engaged to take us in his Leiter-wager,
which we preferred, on account of the state of the
roads, to our own carriage, instead of appearing
at five o'clock, the appointed time, was not forthcoming at seven, though he had received a part
of the money beforehand. In this dilemma I bethought me of the terror with which the peasants
regard a Haiduk, and accordingly sent to request
Our road led us through several pretty valleys, watered by clear brooks, and enlivened by the sound of iron-works, and the activity which industry always creates. As we approached Murány, we saw at a considerable distance a huge rock rise precipitously from the valley, which the peasant pointed out as the object of our visit, though we could scarcely perceive the remains of the castle, so small did they appear compared with the stupendous proportions of the rock itself. Just at the foot of the mountain lies the pretty little village of the same name, where a large inn with this inscription over the gateway, " Morantes gaudent Baccho," seemed to promise us good accommodation. We were surprised, therefore, on inquiring for rooms, not only to find that there were none for us, but to receive also very uncivil answers to our questions. We had forgotten that we were travelling in a peasant's waggon, and without a servant ; two things so very much below the dignity of an Hungarian gentleman, who always takes his servant with him, if it is only to fill his pipe, and strike a light for him, that the only wonder is they gave us an answer at all. Having at last obtained an unwilling promise that we should at least have some supper, and having found a guide to show us the way, we bent our steps towards the castle.
It required a good hour and a half's climb to gain the summit of that rock. Little now remains of the vast castle itself; except some of the outer walls, the casements, and a few broken towers, it is a complete ruin. We passed up the wide steps cut in the solid rock, and entered by a gateway well defended by double towers, the foundations of which are in the stone itself. The great area, which must contain many acres, was covered with grass, which had just been mown ; and in the centre stood a little summer-house, built for the accommodation of picnic parties. Far over distant mountains did the view extend ; nothing but rock and wood on every side, save where the impatient rivulet had cut its stony bed, and fertilized its little valley : and well could we believe our guide, as pointing out on every side favourite resorts of the wolf and bear, he exclaimed, "An excellent hunting country this ; in whiter we are never without wolves, and rarely a summer conies but two or three she-bears drop their cubs in these woods."
So strong a fortress, in the centre of a country
so often the scene of civil war, could hardly have
escaped sharing in the great events of those times ;
and we accordingly find the name of Dlurítny frequently occurring in Hungarian history. At one
time the Diet complains of it as a harbour for
traitors and robbers ; at another, a solemn decree
of the nation indicates it as the safe-guard of the
kingdom, and appoints it as the place where the
As Wesselényi drew up his troops before the
fortress, and surveyed all its natural and artificial
A good general, however, always finds out some
weak points in his enemy's defences; and perhaps
the eyes of Maria had expressed no displeasure at
the handsome face and manly figure of the envoy,
nor probably were the beauty and courage of the
commandress without their influence on Wesselényi's
determination. Certain it is, that next day another
Caught with the romance, but determined to test its sincerity, Maria answered that if the writer's courage equalled his boldness, and he was willing to pursue the fortune he tempted, he might find at midnight a ladder against the northern tower, in which a light would be burning, and where, if he came alone, he might hear further of his suit.
Wesselényi was too good a knight to refuse the
bidding of a " ladye fayre," albeit somewhat of the
most hazardous. At midnight, and alone, he left
his camp ; and, gaining the summit of the rock, found
the promised light in the northern tower. The
ladder hung from an open window, and silently and
cautiously did the lover gain the height : but no
sooner had he sprung into the tower than he found
himself suddenly seized from behind and dragged
to the ground, while a body of armed men entered
the chamber and bound him in chains. Blindfolded he was led forward he knew not whither, till
a harsh voice commanding a halt, thus addressed
the prisoner, " Sir Knight, strategy is fair in love
as well as war ; you have delivered yourself into
the power of your enemies, and it is for them
to dispose of you as they choose ; but the com-
Many are the versions of this history,—for it has been sung by Hungarian poets,82 spun out by German romancers, and told by every peasant to his child, from that day to this, — but all agree that Wesselényi gained the castle and the lady at the same time ; and our guide pointed out to us the northern tower by which, as lie assured us, the Knight entered the castle. It was where the rock is highest
82The most celebrated of these is the " Muranyi Venus" of Gyöngyösi, for which the poet was rewarded by Maria with the princely gift of a whole manor.
After the sudden, and perhaps violent death of Wesselényi, at the moment when he was about to head the insurgent nobles against the false Leopold, Murany was seized by the Crown, contrary to all law and all right. It was afterwards dismantled, and conferred, with the great estates attached to it, on the Judex Curia Kohári ; by marriage with the last of whose descendants it has come into the possession of a member of that luckiest of marrying families, the Coburgs.
As we returned from our ramble, we were not sorry to find that the landlord had formed more favourable notions of our importance ; for he not only offered us a good supper, but found us comfortable beds without further difficulty. His conduct towards us may serve as a lesson to future travellers not to attempt a journey in Hungary without all the due appliances of gentility. A good carriage, and a servant who speaks the language, are absolutely necessary : as for the Swiss fashion of travelling with a blouse and knapsack, I doubt much if the luckless bearer of such plebeian articles would not be beat out of the first village he came to. In fact, none but German Handwerksburschen or Jew pedlars are ever seen in such guise; and every honest Hungarian peasant thinks it an act of patriotism to beat and rob them whenever he has an opportunity.
In most countries a respectable appearance has
its advantages ; but in none does it make more impression than in Hungary. I have heard it often
said, that no one who travels in a certain style
is ever likely to be robbed : nay, I remember
Count B , whose notions of aristocratic privilege, it must be confessed, are not of the most modest order, declaring "that the robbery of a noble
was a thing unheard of in Hungary; that he did
not believe a man of pure blood could be robbed."
I suppose we must conclude with Falstaff, that
it is all instinct :—" Beware instinct: the lion will
Great was our delight, on returning to Rosenau, to find the sketches all safe, and once more in our possession. They bad been found by a peasant on his road to market, and were readily returned, without having even been opened.
But we were doomed to new troubles. Our
miner had come back, but not alone : a pretty
little blue-eyed girl accompanied him, as he said,
looking very sheepishly, " to help him to carry the
book !" And just as we were starting, he felt
suddenly so ill, that he was sure he could not hold
out for a long journey. His sweetheart was evidently afraid of losing him if she let him stray
so far away : and what a woman wills we knew
it was no use opposing; so we even consented to
give him his discharge at once. While yet hesitating as to what was to be done in this emergency,
the waiter presented a little Polish boy, who spoke
German, and who was on his way to Pest. The
poor child was not more than fourteen years old,
and had been sent out by his father, a schoolmaster in Gallicia, with nothing but a smattering
of Latin and German, and a long Latin letter, re-
Our horses' heads were now turned towards Aggtelek, a small village about twenty miles off, and remarkable for possessing one of the largest caverns in the world. Torches we had already provided, and guides were soon found to accompany us ; for, unlike Demenfalva, Aggtelek is well known, and is often visited by foreigners as well as by Hungarians. It is not necessary to give a minute account of what has already been often described. The cavern is formed in a lime-stone rock, like all others we know of, and extends to a great distance under ground. It is said to communicate with two small caverns83 which open at ten miles' distance from Aggtelek. In the vastness of its halls, the huge proportions of its columns, and the mysterious windings of its long passages, Aggtelek is superior to anything of the kind I have seen. In some places, too, it is of exquisite beauty. While H___ was making a sketch of the Tauz Saal (Ball-room),
83In these caverns there is said to be ice, as at Denieaihlva, though nothing of the kind is seen at Aggtelek.
As far as I can guess, we followed the great cavern for not less than two or three miles, and during the whole of our route we were presented with a constant succession of beauties, to all of which the imaginations of the peasants have appropriated names and likenesses. The guides could speak only a very few words of German, but among them were " Deutsche Hosen ; " and they did not fail to apply them with a look of most sovereign con- tempt to a curious formation of the stone which imitated with sufficient accuracy a pair of kneebreeches,—in the opinion of every true Magyar, the most ridiculous and despicable covering for humanity ever invented.
When we returned, the sun had already set ; but
My philosophy is fortunately of that practical
kind which always seeks consolation where a particle of it is to be found ; so, sending off' the boy
with the peasants to see if anything eatable could
be found in Aggtelek, we struck a light by the aid
of flint and schwamm, as the jagers had taught
us at Lomnitz, lighted our carriage-lamps, reloaded
our fire-arms, placed them conveniently for use,
routed out a couple of bottles of wine from some
hidden part of our baggage, refilled our pipes, and
indulged in the hopes of a substantial supper and
a pleasant bivouac. In time the little Pole reappeared, accompanied by a stout peasant bearing
two huge earthen pots filled with savoury viands,
which, if not the most delicate, were just as eagerly
devoured as if they had been so. The peasant made
a large fire of dried wood which the neighbouring
forest furnished in. abundance ; and, laying himself
down by it, made us understand that he would
spend the night there to guard us. Probably the
gourd of wine which had been brought from the
village, and which we had given up to him, was
The continual clanking of the prisoners' chains, which never ceased to ring in our ears so long as we tarried in Miskolcz, has left but a disagreeable impression of the place on our memories. It must require long habit before one can feel accustomed to the sight of chained prisoners performing the work at which in happier lands we have seen only free labourers employed. I have witnessed it in Germany and Italy, as well as in Hungary ; but I never could pass those melancholy strings of wretched beings without a feeling of shame that man should expose these moral diseases of his species to the gaze of the whole world, instead of covering them with the veil of secrecy and carefully administering to their cure.
We obtained a servant here who could speak
Hungarian, and dismissed our little Pole with
A dreary route over a rich but flat and boggy country, intersected by innumerable small rivers, brought us to the foot of a low range of hills, which, stretching far away to the north, terminates towards the south near the little town of Tokay on the Theiss. Everybody has heard of imperial Tokay ; and here we were in the very midst of the vineyards where the King of Wines has established his throne.
Tokay is a small town, insignificant in itself, except as it is connected with the trade in wine. It is
inhabited by a strangely mixed population,—Jews,
Armenians, and Greeks, besides various members of
the indigenous population of Hungary,—and contains churches of no less than six different religions.
The Bodrog and the Theiss, which unite just above
the town, form as fine a river for navigation as the
merchant could desire ; and it is covered with large,
heavy, decked boats, much like those seen on the
Danube. As yet, no steam-boat has been established
on the Theiss; but from the extreme richness of
the productions of the surrounding country, the size
and importance of many of the places on its banks,
and, above all, from the exceedingly bad roads in
its neighbourhood, there can be little doubt that
the establishment of steam navigation will be un-
We were too early to enjoy any of the festivities of the vintage at Tokay, which call all the nobility of the neighbourhood together, and are generally kept up with balls and fetes for at least a fortnight. What the reader will perhaps think less pardonable is, that I can say nothing of the process of making the wine from personal observation ; but I have heard it so often described by persons themselves possessing vineyards,84 that I can probably give more
84I cannot guess how the notion so common in England, that all the Tokay vineyards belong to the Emperor, has arisen. It is so far from being the case, that by far the greater part is in the hands of private individuals, and the Emperor himself is often obliged to purchase his Tokay from others.
The whole of the Hegyalla mountains, extending along the banks of the Bodrog twenty miles north of Tokay, produce the Tokay wine. The finest sorts, however, are grown only in Tokay, Tartzal, Zombor, Tállya, DIád, Keresztur, and some few other villages ; the very finest only on a small hill, the Mézes-Male, in the parish of Tartzal. About Tokay, and I believe along the whole chain, the hills are composed of basalt and trachytic conglomerate, covered with a deep sandy soil. The grapes are of many different kinds, of which the Formint and Champagne are considered the best. The lateness of the vintage, which is not begun here till the 26th of October, when it is finished in other parts of the country, has considerable effect on the quality of the wine.
Three kinds of wine are made at Tokay,—the
Essentz, the Ausbruch, and the Maslas, so called
from the different modes of preparing them. From
the length of time the grapes hang, a great number
of them lose part of their juice, begin to wither, and
become exceedingly sweet. These grapes, when
gathered, are placed on wooden trays, and sorted
one by one with the greatest care, only the finest
being selected ; those which are too much withered,
and those which are unripe, being alike rejected,.
When it is wished to obtain the Essentz, these
grapes are placed in a barrel with holes at the
Tokay should not be drunk till it is some years old; and it is none the worse for twenty years' keeping in a good cellar. Even in Hungary I have known a ducat (ten shillings) given for a pint bottle of good old Tokay. For a fair wine, however, of three or four years old, four shillings the common bottle is a good price, and it may generally be obtained at that rate without difficulty. The expense of transport and duties comes, I think, to about two shillings the bottle more. Great care, however, should be taken in choosing a person to whom it may be safely confided. Two cases, which we intrusted to a merchant of Pest, arrived in England in a state of fermentation, with more than half the bottles broken, and the rest quite spoiled. We have every reason to believe that this arose from a portion of our wine being taken out and the bottles filled up with new wine ; and, though the evidence is not sufficiently strong to justify me in publishing the name of this person, it is more than enough to make inc caution any future traveller to be quite sure of his man before he ventures on giving such a commission. A society for " making known Hungarian wines " has lately been formed at Pest,
85The Eimer contains about as much as sixteen ordinary wine bottles.
Text Archive Home | Book Details | Table of Contents