Title


[484]

PUSZTA AT SUNSET
PUSZTA AT SUNSET

CHAPTER XVII.

THE PUSZTA.

The Puszta—its Extent and Formation.—Fertility.—Animals —A Sunset on the Plains.—The Mirage.—Puszta Village.— Horse-mills. — The Puszta Shepherd — his Morality.— The Bunda.—The Shepherd's Dog.—Debreczen —The Magyars — their Pride.—Contempt of other Nations—Idleness.—Excitability. — Dancing. — Music and Popular Poetry. — Selfrespect. —Love of Country.—Hospitality.—The Hungarian Hussars.—Manufactures of Debreczen.—Reformed College.- - Protestantism in Hungary.—Protestant Colleges.—College of Debreczen.—Review.—English Officers in the Austrian Service.—Water Melons.—Beggars.—The Szolga Biro of Szolnok.

As far as Tokay, our route had been ever among smiling valleys and by lovely brooks; we had passed under the shade of magnificent woods, or been cheered by the prospect of cloud-capped mountains : [485] FORMATION OF THE PUSZTA. but the Theiss once crossed, and a scene so different opened upon us, that we could scarcely believe ourselves in the same hemisphere. Our faces were now turned towards Debreczen, and we were fairly launched on the Paszta—or Steppes, as they are called in some other counties—of Hungary.

All that surface of country, from Pest to the borders of Transylvania, and from Belgrade to the vine-bearing hills of Hegyalja, is one vast plain, occupying a space of nearly five thousand square miles. If the geologist will cast his eyes over the map, and observe this plain, surrounded on every side by mountains, and covered with sand and alluvium—if he will then consider the Danube, and see how it spreads over the country, every day changing its course, cutting for itself new chan- nels, and sanding up its former ones, so as some- times to sweep away towns, and at others to leave such as were built on its banks some miles from them,86—I think he will agree with me, that the whole plain has been at different periods the bed of that river and its tributaries, the Theiss and Maros.87

86The Danube now rolls over the spot formerly occupied by the village of Apatin on the Lower Danube ; while, on the Upper, the castle of Steyereck, which formerly overhung the river, is now a mile and a half distant from it.
87Some are of opinion that the whole plain formed one large inland sea at an earlier period of the earth's history ; and it is highly probable. The limestone, similar to that of the Paris basin, which overlays the granite at Margarctha and in many parts of the Little Carpathians, appears to support this opinion. In different parts of the plain, particularly in the neighbourhood of the Theiss, fossil remains of the mammoth, elephant, and fossil deer have been discovered.
[486] FERTILITY OF THE PUSZTA.

The soil of the Puszta, as might be anticipated from its extent, and, l might add, from the nature of the rocks from whose débris it has been formed, is various in its nature and in its powers of production. A considerable portion is a deep sand, easily worked, and yielding fair crops in wet seasons ; a second, found principally in the neighbourhood of the Danube, Theiss, and Temes, is boggy, and much deteriorated in value from the frequent inundations to which it is subject, but capable of the greatest improvement at little cost; and a third is a rich black loam, the fertility of which is almost incre- dible. When the reader reflects that this fruitful plain is bounded on two sides by the largest river in Europe, that it is traversed from north to south by the Theiss, and that it communicates with Tran- sylvania by the Maros, it is almost impossible to cal- culate what a source of wealth it might prove to the country. In any other part of the civilized world we should see it teeming with habitations, and alive with agricultural industry,—the envy of surrounding princes, the granary of Europe. I-Iere, it is the most thinly populated, the worst cultivated, and the least accessible portion of the country. Various causes have contributed to produce this effect. Most of the inhabitants of the plains are 'Magyars, whose [487] WANT OF POPULATION. warlike propensities induced them to take the most active part in the constant wars in which the country was formerly engaged ; for since Arp íd first set foot in Hungary, one thousand years ago, I do not think it has ever enjoyed ten years' peace till towards the middle of the last century. This iii itself must have checked the increase of population. Among the Magyars, too, the number of children is gene- rally small :— why the Irish should be so prolific on starvation, and the Magyars so much the contrary on abundance, is, I must confess, a mystery to me ; but such is the fact. The ease with which land is obtained, its cheapness, the richness of the soil, and the few wants of the people, have also operated to check the progress of improvement in agriculture. The formation of roads, too, is rendered exceedingly difficult by the distance from which the necessary materials would often require to be conveyed ; but still more by the unjust character of the law, which throws the whole burthen of making them on the peasant, thus rendering it impossible to expend so large a capital as would be required for their first formation iii such situations.

The Puszta, however, is neither entirely without inhabitants nor without cultivation. It has cities, towns, and villages ; few and far between, it is true, but generally large and populous where they do occur. On the great road, or rather track, between Tokay and Debreczen, a village occurs almost every three or four hours ; but in some parts, for a whole [488] PECULIARITIES. day, no such welcome sight gladdens the eye of the weary traveller. The scene, however, is not without its interest ; indeed to me it presented so much that was strange, and new, and wonderful, that f felt a real delight in traversing it, and never for a moment experienced the weariness of monotony. On starting from the village where we first changed horses after quitting Tokay, fifty different tracks seemed to direct to as many different points; though, as far as the eye could detect, the end of all must be the flat horizon before us. The track which our coachman followed soon grew fainter and fainter ; and, before a quarter of an hour had elapsed, we could observe no sign by which he could steer his course. The only inanimate objects which broke the uniformity of the scene were an occasional shepherd's hut, the tall beam of a well, or a small tumulus ;88 such as may be observed in different directions throughout the whole of the Puszta.

88Mr. Spencer, in his Circassia," speaks of these tumuli in Hungary, and considers them as sepulchral ; I am rather inclined to believe they are boundary marks between different villages, though some of them are of a larger size than might be thought necessary for such a purpose. They are common all over Ilun- gary, and are called Határ. It is possible that they may some- times have been intended as landmarks for travellers. These must not be confounded with the Römer Sckanzen, or Walls of the Agathyrsi,—long banks of earth traversing extensive districts, the uses of which are not well ascertained. In some parts of the plain large embankments of a recent date may be observed, in- tended to protect the cultivated land from the overflows of some river in the neighbourhood.
[489] ANIMALS.

Of animated nature, however, there is no lack ; the constant hum of insects, the screams of birds of prey, and the lowing of cattle, constantly re- minded us during the day that the Puszta is no desert. Sometimes vast herds of cattle, contain- ing many hundred head, may be observed in the distance, looking like so many regiments of soldiers ; for, whether by accident or intention I know not, but they are commonly formed into a long loose line of three or four deep ; and in this order they feed, marching slowly forwards. When the sun is pouring his hottest beams upon the plain, so that the sands seem to dance with the glowing heat, it is inter- esting to watch the poor sheep, and to observe the manner in which Nature teaches them to supply the place of the shady wood. The whole flock ceases from feeding, and collects into a close circle, where each places his head in the shade formed by the body of his neighbour, and thus they protect them- selves from a danger which might otherwise be fatal. Herds of horses, of one or two hundred each, are no uncommon feature in the landscape.

The quantity of large falcons which scour the Puszta may account for the small number of other birds we observed. I have sometimes seen a dozen of them at a time, wheeling round and round over our heads, and screaming out their harsh cries, till every living thing tremblingly sought shelter i-t its most hidden retreat. Sometimes, too, a solitary heron might be detected wading about itt the salt [490] ANIMALS. marshes with which the Puszta abounds.89 Some- times a flock of noisy plovers flew up before us; but of game or small birds we saw very few.

In sandy districts the carless marmot90 is a con- stant source of amusement. This pretty little ani- mal, which is about the size and colour of a squirrel, is exceedingly frequent here. Never more than a few yards from its hole, it is almost impossible to get a shot at it ; for the moment it is alarmed, it runs to the mouth of its burrow, where, if it observes the slightest movement on the part of the intruder, it drops down till he is out of shot, when it may again be seen running about as gay as ever. They are said to be good eating, and are often caught by the shepherds, by pouring water into their burrows.

The feeling of solitude which a vast plain im- presses on the imagination, is to me more solemn than that produced by the boundless ocean, or the trackless forest : nor is this sentiment ever so strongly felt as during the short moments of twilight which follow the setting of the sun. It is just as the bright orb has disappeared below the level of the horizon ; while yet some red tints, like glow- worm traces, mark the pathway he has followed ;

89In many parts of the Puszta there are soda lakes, which dry up in summer, and leave the earth incrusted with soda, which is collected, and re-forms, every three or four days from May to October. It is reckoned that 50,000 cwts. might be collected annually if care were taken.
90I think this is the earth squirrel of some writers,—the spa-mop/tile of F. Cuvier.
[491] SUNSET. just when the busy hum of insects is hushed as by a charm, and stillness fills the air ; when the cold chills of night first creep over the earth ; when comparative darkness has suddenly followed the bright glare of day ;—it is then the stranger feels how alone the is, and how awful such loneliness is where the eye sees no boundary, and the ear detects no sign of living thing.

I would not for the world have destroyed the illusion of the first sunset I witnessed ün the Puszta of Hungary. The close of clay found us far from any human habitation, alone in this desert of luxuriance; without a mark that man had esta- blished his dominion there, save the wheel-marks which guided us on our way, and the shepherds' wells which are sparingly scattered over the whole plain. I have seen the sun set behind the moun- tains of the Rhine as I lay on the tributary Neckar's banks, and the dark bold towers of Heidelberg stood gloriously out against the deep red sky ;—as the ripple of the lagoons kissed the prow of the light gondola, I have seen his last rays throw their golden tints over the magnificence of fallen Venice ;--I have watched the god of day as he sank to rest behind the gorgeous splendour of St. Peter's;—yet never with so strong a feeling of his majesty and power, as when alone on the Puszta of Hungary !

It was on the second morning of our journey, and as we opened our eyes after a troubled doze, [492] THE MIRAGE. that another of the most extraordinary phenomena. of these plains was presented to us. We perceived what appeared to us a new country, and certainly a very different one from that which we had closed our eyes upon the previous night. A few miles before us lay an extensive lake half enveloped in a grey mist. I immediately called to the coach- man to ask what lake it was I saw, as none was to be found on the map, when his loud laugh reminded me that we were in the land of the mirage. And sure enough it proved to be the mirage; for, as we approached, the water vanished, and the same dry plain we had known before was still present to us. On another occasion, when tra- velling over the plains of Wallachia, I witnessed the mirage in a still more striking manner. It was also itt the morning, just as a burning sun was struggling to dissipate the thick mist so com- mon in these climates. I could distinguish, as plainly as ever [ did anything in my life, a serpen- tine piece of water with the most beautiful woods and park-like meadows, and at one end the com- mencement of a village. As we approached, the scene slightly changed ; new points of view gra- dually came out, and the objects first observed vanished away. The village, which I had believed real even after I knew the landscape was mirage, was the first to disappear; the water extended itself, and the back-ground rose higher. Before long, objects beg-an to grow less distinct, and at last [493] PUSZTA VILLAGE. the mist rose from the earth, leaving the view clear along the burning plain, while trees and water were still discernible in the air. The effect was very peculiar : I know nothing it resembled so much as some of the old Italian pictures, in which the lower part is occupied by the earth and its denizens, while the upper is gay with a brilliant throng of heavenly choristers seated on grey clouds, which are as much like the mirage as possible. I believe this phenomenon is explained as a matter of simple reflection ; but, if it is so, the mirage is a mystic mirror, which shapes its images according to its own fancy, for I do not believe that in the whole of Wallachia, there could be found a real scene half so lovely as the mirage presented us with.

Such are some of the more striking pictures pre- sented by the plains ; but there are others of a more cheerful and social character. I have already said the Puszta villages are large ; they sometimes con- tain several thousand inhabitants. Nothing can be more simple or uniform than the plan on which they are built. One long, straight, and most pre- posterously wide street generally forms the whole village ; or it may be that this street is traversed at right angles by another equally long, straight, and wide. Smaller streets are rare; but, when they do occur, it is pretty certain they are all parallel or at right angles with each other. All the cottages are built on the same plan; a gable-end with two small windows, shaded by acacias or walnuts, faces the [494] HORSE-MILLS. street. The houses are beautifully thatched with reeds, and the fences of the court-yard are often formed of the same material. The long one-storied house, roofed with wooden tiles, the best in the village,—unless the Seigneur's chiiteau happens to be there,—and behind which towers the odd half- eastern steeple, is the dwelling of the priest; and, should the traveller find himself benighted in the neighbourhood, its rich and hospitable occupant would welcome the chalice which bestowed on him a guest. A little further, perhaps, stands another house, whose pretensions, if below the priest's, are above those of its neighbours. On the shutters is pasted up some official notice, and before the door stand the stocks. It is the dwelling of the Biro or judge of the village. The IIcjség ház (town-house), the modest school-room, and the little inn, are the only other exceptions to the peasants' cottages. Besides the avenue of trees on each side, and, in wet weather, sundry pools of water, or rather small lakes, the street is often interrupted by the tall pole of a well, or the shed of a horse-mill. These horse-mills are clumsy contrivances; first, a shed is built to cover the heavy horizontal wheel in which the horse works; and then beside it is a small house contain- ing the mill-works. Why they do not use wind- mills instead, it is difficult to say; except that the others are better understood, and require less care. Running water is so scarce on the Puszta, that water-mills are out of the question.

[495] THE HARVEST.

In the neighbourhood of the villages a certain portion of the land is cultivated,—perhaps one-tenth of the whole ; and produces rich crops of Kukurutz, or Indian corn, wheat, hemp, flax, tobacco, and wine. The gathering in of these products occupies the scanty population without intermission from the beginning of summer to the end of autumn. Our route did not lead us through the richest part of the plains ; but I do not remember ever to have seen the kukurutz looking better than here. It was just the middle of September, and every hand was occupied in the harvest. Waggon-loads of the bright yellow cones, drawn by the large white oxen, were passed at every step. And what a trial of patience it was to pass those waggons ! There the peasant sits quite composedly in the front of his load, probably fast asleep, and often half drunk : until you are close to him, he will not hear you, shout as you may ; and when at last he does condescend to be aware of your presence, and com- mences vociferating to his four oxen, and plying his whip at the same time to induce them to cede the only part of the road on which your carriage can pass, the time taken by the beasts to comprehend the full force of their master's argument, and the sort of consultation they seem to hold as to whether they shall obey it or not, is sufficient to exhaust the patience of the most patient of men.

The part of the plains left for pasture is occu- pied during the summer months, as we have seen, [496] PUSZTA SHEPHERDS. by immense herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. I n winter these are either brought up into the villages, or stabled in those solitary farms which form an- other striking peculiarity of the Puszta. Far from any beaten track or village the traveller observes a collection of buildings inclosed by a thick wall of mud or straw, with an arched gateway, and contain- ing a large court, surrounded by stables, barns, sheep-houses, and a shepherd's cottage or two. Here the sheep and cattle are wintered, for the sake of saving the draught of fodder ; and here their guardians often remain the whole winter without exchanging a word with any other human beings than those composing their own little domestic community, for the trackless snow renders commu- nication extremely difficult. In summer the shep- herd's life is even more monotonous. IIe often remains out for months together, till winter comes on, and obliges him to seek shelter.

Almost all the inhabitants of the plains, except some few German colonists, are true Magyars ; and nothing is so well adapted to their disposition as the half-slothful, half-adventurous life of a Julian, or Puszta shepherd. IIis dress is the loose linen drawers, and short shirt descending scarcely below the breast, and is sometimes surmounted by the gaily embroidered waistcoat or jacket. IIis feet are protected by long boots or sandals ; and his head by a bat of more than quaker proportions, below which hang two broad plaits of hair. The [497] PUSZTA SHEPHERDS. turned-up brim of the hat serves him for a drink- ing-cup; while the bag, which hangs from a belt round his neck, contains the bread and bacon which forms his scanty meal. Over the whole is generally cast the Bunda or hairy cloak. I must

PUSZTA SHEPHERDS
PUSZTA SHEPHERDS

not forget, however, that his shirt and drawers are black. Before he takes the field for the sea- son, he carefully boils these two articles of dress in hog's lard ; and, anointing his body and head with the same precious unguent, his toilette is finished for the next six months. I feel assured that the penetration of my English readers will never dive into the motive for all this careful preparation, and, [498] THE BUNDA. that they will be little inclined to believe me if I tell them it is cleanliness! Yet so it is ; for the lard effectually protects him against a host of little enemies by which he would otherwise be covered. To complete his accoutrements, he must have a short pipe stuck in his boot-top : and in his belt a tobacco-bag, with a collection of instruments,— not less incomprehensible to the uninitiated than the attendants of a Scotch mull, — intended for striking fire, clearing the pipe, stopping the to- bacco, pricking the ashes, and I know not what fumitory refinements beside.

But the Bunda deserves a more special notice; for in the whole annals of tailoring no garment ever existed better adapted to its purpose, and therefore more worthy of all eulogy, than the Hun- garian Bunda. It is made in the form of a close cloak without collar, and is composed of the skins of the long-woolled Hungarian sheep, which un- dergo some slight process of cleaning, but by no means sufficient to prevent them retaining an odour not of the most aromatic kind. The wool is left perfectly in its natural state. The leather side is often very prettily ornamented : the seams are sewed with various-coloured leather cords, bouquets of flowers are worked in silk on the sides and borders, and a black lamb's-skin from Transylvania adorns the upper part of the back in the form of a cape. To the Puszta shepherd the Bunda is his house, his bed, his all. Rarely in the hottest day of summer, [499] THE SHEPHERD'S MORALITY. or the coldest of winter, does he forsake his woolly friend. Ile needs no change of dress ; a turn of his Bunda renders him insensible to either extreme. Should the sun annoy him as he is lazily watching his dogs hunting the field-mice, or the carless mar- mots, to supply their hungry stomachs,—for, like their masters, they trust chiefly to their own talents for their support,—he turns the wool outside, and, either from philosophy or experience, knows how safely it protects him from the heat. Should early snow on the Carpathians send him chilling blasts be- fore the pastures are eaten bare, and before he can return to his village, he a second time turns the Bunda, but now with the wool inside, and again trusts to the non-conducting power of its shaggy coat. The Guba, woven of coarse wool, presenting much the same appearance, is a cheap but poor imitation of the Bunda.

But the heart of that man is even more curious than his outward coverture. IIe has a system of morality peculiar to himself. I know not why, but nomadic habits seem to confuse ideas of property most strangely in the heads of those accustomed to them : nomadic nations are always thieves ; and the Magyar Juhász, more than half nomadic, is cer- tainly .more than half a rogue. Not that he would break into a house, or that you or I, gentle reader, need have the least fear in his society : but there are certain persons and things which he considers fair game, whenever he can meet with them. [500] A GOOD SIHEPIHERD.

I remember a friend regretting that he could not show us his head-shepherd, who, he said, was a remarkably fine fellow, and well worthy of being sketched as a model of his class.

" When will poor Janos return ?" inquired the Count of his steward ; " I should like the English- men to see him."

" In about six months," was the reply.

I asked the cause of this long absence.

" Why, I believe he robbed and beat a Jew, and they have adjudged him twelve months' imprison- ment for it."

" Of course you will not receive such a man into your service again ?"

"_____ teremtelte ! Why not ?" rejoined the Count. " He was the best shepherd I had, and esteemed quite a Solomon among his fellows for the wisdom and justice with which he settled their disputes. He was the shepherds' arbitrator for miles round. As for Jews and German Hand- werksburschen, János always regarded them as fern nature, to be robbed and beaten by every honest Magyar whenever he could meet with them. IIe protested that, had he killed the Jew, the punish- ment had been too severe ; for there was not a pretty girl in the whole country round but had borne him a child, any one of whom was worth a dozen Jews !"

In fact, robbery is a part of the shepherd's duty ; and according to his dexterity in preventing [501] THE SHEPHERD DOG. others from robbing him, or in robbing others in return when robbed, is he valued by his master and respected by his companions. He leaves the farm-house with a certain number of sheep ; these he must bring back, or be punished : if any are stolen, retaliation is the only remedy; and should it not happen to fall on the right head,—Justice is blind, — more is the pity. I f he robs for his master, it is but natural he should sometimes do so for himself. To supply his larder with somewhat better fare than his maize and a scanty portion of bacon affords, a straggler from a neighbour's flock is no unwelcome addition.

It would be unjust to quit the subject of the Puszta shepherd without making due and honour- able mention of his constant companion and friend, the Jukdsz-kutya, — the Hungarian shepherd-dog. The shepherd-dog is commonly white, sometimes inclining to a reddish-brown, and about the size of our Newfoundland dogs. IIis sharp nose, short erect ears, shaggy coat, and bushy tail, give him much the appearance of a wolf; indeed, so great is the resemblance, that I have known an Hun- garian gentleman mistake a wolf for one of his own dogs. Except to their masters, they are so savage that it is unsafe for a stranger to enter the court-yard of an Hungarian cottage without arms. I speak from experience; for as I was walking through the yard of a post-house, where some of these dogs were lying about, apparently asleep, one [502] DEBRECZEN. of them crept after me, and inflicted a severe wound in my leg, of which I still bear the marks. Before I could turn round, the dog was already far off; for, like the wolf, they bite by snapping, but never hang to the object, like the bull-dog or mastiff. Their sagacity in driving and guarding sheep and cattle, and their courage in protecting them from wolves or robbers, are highly praised ; and the shepherd is so well aware of the value of a good one, that it is difficult to induce him to part with it.

It was not till towards the close of the second day that we arrived at Debreczen ; for some rain had fallen, and we could only advance at a foot pace. Debreezen, the capital of the plains, contains a population of fifty thousand inhabitants. It well de- serves the name of " the largest village in Europe," given it by some traveller; for its wide, unpaved streets, its one-storied houses, and the absence of all roads in its neighbourhood, render it very unlike what a European associates with the name of town. In rainy weather the whole street becomes one liquid mass of mud, so that officers quartered on one side the street are obliged to mount their horses and ride across to dinner on the other. Instead of a causeway, they have adopted the expedient of a single wooden plank ; and it is a great amusement of the people, whenever they meet the soldiers (Polish lancers, whom they hate) on this narrow path, to push them off into the sea of mire below.

It is in Debreezen and its neighbourhood that [503] CHARACTER OF THE MAGYARS. the true Magyar character may be most advantage- ously studied. The language is here spoken in its greatest purity, the costume is worn by rich as well as poor, and those national peculiarities which a people always lose by much admixture with others are still prominent at Debreczen.

The pride of the Magyar, which is one of his strongest traits, leads him to look down on every other nation by which he is surrounded with sovereign contempt. All foreigners are either Schwab (German), or Tall* (Italian) ; and it is difficult to imagine the supercilious air with which the Magyar peasant pronounces those two words. As for his more immediate neighbours, it is worse still : for the most miserable Paraszt-ember (poor- man, peasant) of Debreczen would scorn alliance or intercourse with the richest Wallack in the country. 1 remember the Baroness W___ tell- ing nie, that, as she was going to Debreczen some years ago with vorspaun, she was accompanied by her footman, who happened to be a Wallack ; and, in speaking to her, he was overheard by the Magyar coachman using that language. The pea- sant made no observation at the time, but, as they approached the town, he pulled up, and desired the footman to get down ; assuring the lady at the same time that he meant no disrespect to her, but that it was quite impossible that he, a Magyar, should en- dure the disgrace of driving a Wallack into Debrec- zen. Entreaties and threats were alike vain ; the [504] CHARACTER OF THE MAGYARS. peasant declared he would take out his horses if the footman did not get down,—which accordingly he (lid. The Germans are scarcely better treated : it was only the other day, when Count M , an Austrian officer of high rank, was calling on Ma- dame R--, that her little son happening to let fall some plaything he had in his hand, the Count applied his glass to his eye, and politely offered to find it for him. The child, however, though it could hardly speak, had already learned to hate ; and in its sparing vocabulary it found the words " blinder Schwab !" which it launched forth with all the bitterness it could muster, in answer to the polite offer of the astonished Count.

The Magyar is accused of being lazy; and if by that is meant that be has not the Englishman's love of work for its own sake, I believe the charge is merited. A Magyar never moves when he can sit still, and never walks when he can ride. Even riding on horseback seems too much trouble for him ; for he generally puts four horses into his little waggon, and in that state makes his excursions to the next village, or to the market-town. This want of energy is attended, too, with a want of perseverance. The Hungarian is easily disap- pointed and discouraged if an enterprise does not succeed at the first attempt.

The Magyar character has a singular mixture of habitual passiveness and melancholy, mixed up with great susceptibility to excitement. The Magyar's [505] MUSIC OF THE MAGYARS. step is slow and measured, his countenance pensive, and his address imposing and dignified ; yet, once excited, he rushes forward with a precipitation of which his enemies have often felt the force. In success he gives himself up to the most unmea- sured rejoicings ; and his solemnity is looked for in vain when the hot winds lend warmth to his elo- quence, or the giddy dance whirls him round in its mystic maze.

It is wonderful how completely he has imparted his own character to his national music. Nothing can be more sad awl plaintive than the commence- ment of many of the Ilungarian airs. One of the most strongly characteristic of these is the Rákótzy, a march of the times of the revolutions of the Rá- kótzys, whose name it bears. As often happens with a revolutionary air, it has now become the national air of the country ; and great is the honour of the gipsy fiddler who can play the Rákótzy with the true spirit. I could never help fancying it the wail- ing over some recent defeat, mixed with reproaches to the listless or cowardly for their want of pa- triotism. When the quick movement comes too, it seems as if the warrior bard had changed his tone to one of encouragement,—as if he would lead on his audience to enthusiasm, and from en- thusiasm to rapid energetic action, perhaps to wild excess. I give the notes as they have been sent to me ; but I fear sadly that, in the hands of more civilized musicians, they will want much of that [506] THE RÁKÚTZY. wildness and force which imparts to then such a charm as they burst from the gipsy band.


[507] THE RÁKÓTZI.


[508] THE RÁKÓTZI.


[509] MUSIC OF THÉ MAGYARS.

Though scarcely ever musicians themselves, and though, as an art, music is at a very low ebb in the country, yet the Magyars are said to be exceed- ingly susceptible to its influence. The sister art of poetry is, and always has been, much cultivated and esteemed. The (lance, of which we have already spoken, when practised by the peasantry, is com- monly accompanied by the recitation of verses, often composed for the occasion, and adapted to some simple national melody. Mr. I3rasai, of Klan- senburg, has kindly furnished me with several of these airs, as taken down from the peasants them- selves; and I think they are sufficiently charac- teristic to be given here. I have added a very literal translation of the words ; partly because I should make but an indifferent versifier, and partly because I think in this form they are most certain to retain their original characteristics.

I do not claim any great poetical merit for the words; but I think it so great an advantage to allow a people to speak for themselves, and to tell us their own feelings and thoughts in their own way, that I have overlooked the rudeness, and at [510] NATIONAL AIRS. times coarseness, of the compositions themselves. In the original the number and quantity of the syllables are, for the most part, as exactly main- tained throughout as in Latin hexameters and pen- tameters. The rhyme too is well preserved, and, when read by an Hungarian, the verses are ex- ceedingly harmonious. From the difference in the sounds of the letters from those used among us, it will be impossible for the English reader to make anything out of the original.

The first is evidently a dialogue between two lovers ; and it gives no bad idea of the part the woman is expected to play in the domestic economy of the Hungarian peasants, and of what those qualities are which she herself considers the most attractive.

The lover speaks :

Szeretném szántani Hat őkröt hajtani
Hagalambom jöne, Az ekét tartani
Hagalambom jöne, Az ekét tartani.


[511] NATIONAL AIRS.

I.

I should like in the plough,
Six oxen to drive,
If my dove would come,
To hold the plough.

II.

I should like in a sledge
Four horses to drive,
If my rose would come,
To hold up the sledge.

His mistress answers :

III.

Though on Saturday I soak it,
And on Sunday I wash it,
Yet to my dove
I'll give a clean shirt.

IV.

Of flour I begged the loan,
Butter for money I bought,
Yet for my dove
A cake did I bake.

V.

The lover.
I love you, my dove,
As well as new bread ;
I sigh for you
A hundred thousand times a day.

VI.

The mistress.
I love you, I love you ;
But tell it to none,
Till on the church stones
We are sworn to be one.

[512] NATIONAL AIRS.

VII

The lover.
Why should I love
If I hoped not to marry you,
If we could not meet there
Where I so much desire?

In the two next, the air of rakish carelessness after disappointment, is very characteristic of the Magyar. IIe is too proud to show his feeling, and would fain laugh at care to hide his real sorrow.

Egy szem búza két szem rozs
Felontottem járja most
Felöntöttem jarja most.
Ha azt érem jovendöben Taraj didum daj
Vetek a' szathmári földben Taraj didum daj,
Vetek árpát vetek kolest Taraj didum daj,
Ketten aratjukle kedves Taraj didum daj.


[513] NATIONAL AIRS.

I.

One grain of wheat, two grains of rye,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now,
     If I should last till next year,
        Taraj didum daj,
     I will sow barley, I will sow oats,
        Taraj didum daj ;
     And we two together will reap them, love,
        Taraj didum daj.

II.

One grain of wheat, two grains of rye,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now.
     We will bake bread of it,
        Taraj didum daj,
     And eat till we're full, my rose,
        Taraj didum daj.
     Now very soon, very soon,
        Taraj didum daj,
     Very soon, I can kiss you now !
        Taraj didum daj.

III.

One grain of wheat, two grains of rye,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now,
I have poured them in, they are grinding now.
     If I should last till next year,
        Taraj, taraj, daj,
     Till next year if I should last,
        Taraj, taraj, daj,
     My pretty sweetheart I will woo !
        Taraj, taraj, daj.
     If she refuse me, what care I ?
        Taraj, taraj, daj.
     I 'm no great loser even then,
        Taraj, taraj, daj.

[514] NATIONAL AIRS.

Érik mara Beszterczei piros szilva
Enyim leszel kedves Babam két bét mulva
Erik a küszméte Szelidebb a szoke
Erik a vadalma Hamisabb a barna.

I.

Now that the red plum of Besztercze ripens,
In a fortnight more dear Baba will be mine.
    The gooseberry ripens,
    Sweeter is the fair ;
    Ripens the crab,
    Livelier is the brown.

II.

As I went across a certain neighbour's yard,
I happened to look in at the window ;
    There I saw my sweetheart,
    I caught her in another's arms.
    May G— scourge her!
    Oh ! how I do hate her !

III.

And yet she says that she my true love is,
Though all the while she is deceiving me;
[515]     But I believe not in her words.
    Let her stay for ever single ;
    Bad in soul and body
    Are both the fair and brown !

The next is a very popular song, and contains an allusion to the " Mill which grinds sorrow," as well as to several other popular proverbs and super- stitions, some of which I think are common in England. It will be observed that in this, as in most other of these songs, there is rarely much connection between the different verses.

Kis Komárom, nagy Koniárom,
be szép leany ez a' harom,
Be szeretem az egyiket,
harom kozul a' szebbiket,
Kis Komárom, nagy Komárom.

I.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
What pretty lasses are these three !
How I love one of them
The prettiest of all the three !
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

[516] NATIONAL AIRS.

II.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
Near Görgöny there murmurs a mill,
Which, as I hear, doth sorrow grind :
I indeed have a sad sorrow,
There I'll take and grind it up,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

III.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
He who does not greet the Jew,
Is sure to trip across the threshold :
See, comrade, from not having greeted,
Over the threshold thou bast fallen,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

IV.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
No bird is prettier than the swallow,
None than the white-footed young wife,
It bites her white foot
The cold water, she cannot bear it,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

V.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
He who sorrow brought in fashion,
Surely that man God has cursed ;
But as for this G—d d—mn'd sorrow,
It's a fashion I won't follow,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

VI.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
In rotten wood the worm doth grow ;
For an old woman is sorrow fit :
But I of such things never think ;
Like the grasshopper I hop and skip,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

[517] NATIONAL AIRS.

VII.

Little Komárom, great Komárom !
My little lass, how much thou 'rt grown !
What a pity thou art not married !
I would have married, but no one woo'd,
And so I was left forgotten at home,
Little Komárom, great Komárom !

Jaj be szennyes a' kendöje
Talán nincsen szeretoje
Adja ide hogy mossamki
Ugy sem szeret engem senki.

I.

Oh, how dirty is your kerchief !
    Perhaps you have no sweetheart
Give it me, and I will wash it,
    For nobody loves me.

II.

The wind whistles, and the tree cracks ;
    Under it sits a shepherd boy :
Down to the knee his Guba is fringed ;
    A sad song sounds his pipe.

III.

Off I went into the vineyard :
    A hoe I took in my hand,
But I hung it on a tree :
    I drank wine under the shade.

[518] NATIONAL AIRS.

IV.

My glossy locks my shoulders beat,
    They have soil'd my fine linen shirt ;
Wash it, my rose, and make it clean,
    For near thy garden flows the Theiss.

I have not received the music of the last song; but the words are so characteristic of the pride and independence of the wealthy Magyar peasant, that I give them as they are.

I.

Of six herdsmen I'm the master ;
1 'm accosted as " wealthy sir :"
Herds of cattle fill my pastures ;
Six watch-dogs keep guard for me.

II.

When my food in the pot is ready,
My six servants sit round with me;
And we cat our fill of the heap of kása,
As well as the Count with his thirty dishes.

III.

A hundred-florin bay I ride for a hackney ;
Ile prances so, that his feet strike fire ;
Like me he is true Magyar bred ;
On him I can catch the hare with my whip.

IV.

But they say that I've neither table nor chair :
Ferdinand has not so many as I !
I sit where I list on all Balaton's shores,
And I eat and I drink wherever I please.91

91A great number of "Hungarian popular songs," have been translated and published by llr. Bowring in his " Poetry of the Magyars," 1830.
[519] CHARACTER OF THE MAGYARS.

Few people have more legends in song than the Álagyars ; and I have heard that it is a common custom for the young girls of a village to collect in circles round the winter's fire, with their spindles in their hands, and in turns sing the legendary history of their native land, as they have learnt it from their mothers. Great is the honour paid on these occasions to the best story-teller of the party ; and it is not uncommon for the young men, who are privileged to hover round that poetic circle, and oven to obtain a kiss for every time they can pick up the purposely dropped spindle, to choose their wives according to their excellence in the bardic art.

The Magyar peasant has a strong feeling of self- respect, at times bordering perhaps on foolish pride. It is very rarely he will consent to exhibit himself as an actor, and in consequence the country is filled with German players, Bohemian riders, and gipsy musicians ; for, however much he may dislike amusing others, he has not the least objection that others should amuse him. To all this is united a sense of personal decency, and a fastidious deli- cacy in certain matters, scarcely to be found amongst any other people.

The Magyar has a passionate love of country, united to a conviction that no one is so happy and prosperous as himself. The Swiss does not feel a more devoted attachment to his mountains than the Magyar to his plains. Csaplovics tells us that a [520] CHARACTER OF young girl of Debreczen, who was taken for the first time into the mountains of Liptau and Arva, regarded the villages with the utmost astonish- ment; and, on seeing what to her eyes appeared the barrenness and poverty of the scenery, burst out in exclamation, " What ! do men live here too ?"

The " truth in wine" has long been proverbial, and it is nowhere better exemplified than in the Magyar. No sooner does the fear of ridicule for- sake him than he is seized with an irresistible desire to weep over the miseries of his father-land. With high and low, the reign of Corvinus, when Hungary was respected abroad and the peasant protected at home, is the imaginary golden age to which they all refer. Not a mother wails more bitterly over her lost child than the wine-softened Magyar over the fallen glories of the Hunia.

The language and the religion are two important points of nationality with the Magyar. IIe believes that he alone has the true faith—Calvinistie—which lie knows only by the name of May jars vallás ; and that his is the only language understood in heaven, and therefore the only one to be used in prayer. A poor peasant nurse—they are said to be the best nurses in the world—sitting by the bedside of the Countess D—, heard her utter in the excess of pain the common German exclamation, "Ack Gott ! ach Gott !"—" Ah, my lady," observed the poor Magyar, "God forgive me! but how can you ex- [521] THE MAGYARS. pect God to listen to you, and give you ease, if you speak a language he does not understand ?"

Hospitality is a virtue of the Magyar, as well as of every other inhabitant of Hungary ; and, though it is the fashion to consider it rather a necessity of uncivilized life than a quality of polished society, it is nevertheless the parent of a thousand kindly feelings both in the host and guest, which leave their impress in the general character, and which are but ill replaced by the cold egotistical for- malities substituted for it in the intercourse of what is called, par excellence, the world.

In the upper classes the personal pride of the Hungarian character is apt to create jealousies against any one whose superior talent may have placed him above his fellows in public esteem ; and there are few countries in which a great man makes more personal enemies, and has to combat more petty annoyances, than in Hungary.

It is scarcely necessary to say, that, with such dispositions, the Magyar is strongly inclined to conservatism ; he hates new-fangled notions and foreign fashions ; lie always considers it a sufficient condemnation to say, " Not even my grandfather ever heard of such a thing !"

As soldiers, the Hungarians have the reputation of making the best light troops in Europe. The hussar is a smart active fellow, a little vain of his own appearance, and passionately fond of his horse, for whose accommodation he never hesitates to [522] DEBRECZEN. steal, if he thinks he can do it without detection : —he would not be a good hussar unless he did. Iie bears punishment gaily, and both he and his steed will manage to live where many other troops would starve.

Debreczen is celebrated in Hungary as well for its great fairs as for its manufactures, which, if rude, are adapted to the wants of the people. This is the great mart for the produce of the north and cast of Hungary,—cattle, horses, bacon, tobacco, wine, wax, honey, flax, &c.; and a great part of the small traders of Transylvania supply themselves from hence with colonial produce, and the showy fineries of Vienna. No less than twenty-five thou- sand of the I3undas I have so much eulogised are prepared here every year, and expedited to every part of the country. The true IIungarían pipe too is another produce of Debreczen; and a curious aflúir it is, with its short stick and long thin bowl. There is also a large manufactory of soap here, in which the soda collected in the neighbouring dry lakes is chiefly used.

At one end of the over-wide chief street—full twice as wide as any street in London—and con- trasting ill with the one-storied houses which stand on either side, towers the Reformed Church and College of Debreczen ; for Debreczen is not only the capital of Magyarism, but the capital of Cal- vinism also in Hungary. The Protestants of Hun- gary are divided into two classes : the Lutherans, [523] PROTESTANTISM. who adhere to the Confession of Augsburg ; and the Reformed, who follow the doctrines of Calvin. The former are principally found in the north and east of Hungary, and include many Germans and Sclavacks ; the latter are almost entirely Magyars, and chiefly inhabit the towns and villages of the Puszta.

I have often had occasion to notice the civil wars which occupy so prominent a place in I-Iungarian his- tory ; and, as might be expected, no sooner did the Reformed doctrines gain a footing than—whether from sincere belief, or only from a political calcu- lation of the chiefs I know not,—religious differ- ences entered largely into the causes of dispute. At one time England and Holland supported the Protestant insurgents in Hungary : now they were at the very gates of Vienna itself, and religious liberty seemed on the point of being firmly estab- lished ; and now, delivered over to the persecutions of their bitterest enemies, the whole party seemed on the point of utter annihilation. In the reign of Leopold the First, nothing that falsehood and treachery could effect for their destruction was left untried ; and in spite of the treaties of Vienna (1606), and of Linz (1647), in which their liberties had been solemnly guaranteed, it was not till Maria Theresa, in her hour of need, had experienced good proofs of their loyalty, that their existence was fairly acknowledged, and the right of private wor- ship, though still under many degrading restric- [524] PROTESTANT COLLEGES. tions, accorded. In the reign of Joseph they ob- tained still further concessions, and were placed nearly on an equality with the Catholics. They were now allowed to build churches, establish and endow schools, were absolved from Catholic oaths and attendance on Catholic places of worship ; and the male children in mixed marriages, if the father was Protestant, were to be educated in that faith. These, and some other privileges, were con. firmed by Leopold the Second, and are enjoyed by the Hungarians at the present day. They still, however, complain of grievances—particularly of the six weeks' instruction which converts from Catholicism to Protestantism are obliged to under- go, and which exposes them to great annoyances— indeed they claim perfect equality as their right, and without it they will never be satisfied.

The ProtestantsY of the Reformed faith have the best institutions for education of any of the estab- lished religions in Hungary. The chief of these is the College of Debreczen, which was founded in 1792, and contains a library of twenty thousand volumes. T subjoin some remarks on these schools from Csaplovics,92 in which the reader may perhaps perceive the origin of some curious scholastic cus- toms, of which the traces remain in our univer- sities at the present day. " Besides the elementary schools (Triviulschulen), of which there is one in every parish, the Reformed have many well-managed

92Gemiilde von Ungarn, vol. i.
[525] STUDENTS. grammar-schools (Gymnasien), and three great in- stitutions called Colleges, viz. at Debreczen, Sáros Patak, and Pápa. The members of these colleges are divided into two classes, the greater and lesser students; and the greater again into Togati, and non- Togati.

"Those called Togati are such as intend to dedi- cate themselves to the church or to teaching. They have a peculiar black gown, Toga; and a black belt, something like that of the Catholic priests, which they put on to attend church and lectures. The Togati have their lodgings in the college free, about six shillings allowed for candles during the year, and from one or two metzen93 of wheat for bread. Every one has his meals cooked where he likes, which are afterwards brought to his cell by the fags (dies tbaren Schulknaben). Each pays for his own firing. The greatest privilege of the Togati is the right to receive a regular diploma from the college, called a Patens, and duly signed by the rector, empowering them to visit the Reformed parishes far and near on all the great feasts,—as Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide,—where they preach a sermon, and receive a present in money in return, generally from one pound to five. On these occasions a strong Mendicans—a student of an in- ferior class (our sizar)—carries after the Deák Ur (Mr. Latin), who marches as Legatus before, a mighty

93The metzen is about one bushel and three quarters Winchester measure.
[526] STUDENTS bag, which he rarely brings home empty. This is called leq(tiúba jrirni (to go on an embassy)."

As might be expected, the villages containing the mansions of rich Protestant nobles are the most frequented. One old lady used to receive twelve of these Togati every feast ; and, after enter- taining them hospitably, sent each away with a present of one hundred florins (41.) in money, and a bag filled with hams, sausages, corn, and other provisions for the quarter.

Csaplovics continues : " The twelve first of the Togati are called Primarii, or .Turati. Their duty is to observe the conduct of the rest of the students, to see that they keep the college laws, and to point out any irregularities they may discover. In order to have a more strict watch over the students, they have the right to visit the rooms during the night ; on which account no student's door can be locked. Into this college police only those are admitted who have been from six to nine years Togati, who have finished their studies with credit, and who have distinguished themselves by their good con- duct. They are subjected, previously to admission among the Primarii, to the strictest examination, and then take an oath in public to fulfil their duties conscientiously."

The first Primarius is called Senior, and acts as steward of the college, for which he receives 401. a year ; the second is called Contrascriba, and is the attorney-general of the community ; while the [527] OF DEBRECZEN. rest act as private tutors to the other students, with a salary of 31. and three metzen of corn.

" To the class of the non-Togati belong all those who intend to devote themselves to politics—or anything else or nothing else—and are called Pub- likusok (PuGlici). The course of study for this class extends only to four years."

" The lesser students form nine classes, the lowest of which are supplied with teachers chosen from among the Togati.

" The fee for instruction —Z)idactrum — is ac- cording to the wealth of the student : the poorest pay Gs. yearly ; those in more easy circumstances, 12s.; and the richest, 18s. The Togati, who act as private lecturers and tutors, receive from the students, according to their circumstances, from one ducat to many for their instructions ; and it is from this source chiefly that the industrious Togati derive their incomes. The number of the Togati and other students, following the higher branches of science, amounted in 1818, in Debreczen, to five hundred and twenty;94 in S<íros Patak, of Togati alone, to three hundred and sixty-three ; and in Pápa to one hundred and ten : of greater and lesser students in Sáros Patak, the total number was fourteen hundred and twenty."

Though the students of Debreczen have the repu- tation of being rather rough in manner and un- polished in appearance, they are generally staunch

94The whole number at Debreczen is upwards of two thousand.
[528] A REVIEW. Protestants, with a strong love of liberty and a stern adherence to the constitution of their fathers. From the prevalence of the Magyar language in this part of Hungary, they have a decided advan- tage in public speaking over those educated out of the country, or even in those places where Ger- man is the fashionable medium of conversation. I believe they have the reputation of being good Latinists ; which, in Hungary, means rather good speakers and writers of Latin, than good readers and critics of the Latin authors.

It happened, while we were at Debreczen, that the regiment quartered in the neighbourhood was united at that place for the annual manwuvres and inspection ; and, as we were walking about the town, we were not a little surprised to recognise under the lancer's jacket and cap an English face,— Captain B.—, whom we had known elsewhere. So unexpected a meeting was pleasant enough for both parties ; and we were happy to avail ourselves of an offer from the colonel, whom we met at supper, to join the review next morning. In all the world no better place for a review can be found than the Debreczeni Puszta, as this part of the plain is called. The regiment was composed en- tirely of Poles from Gallicia; a very rough-looking set, whom we were told it is almost impossible to keep clean and honest. The officers complain much of their drunkenness, dishonesty, and turbu- lence in quarters. In rank, however, they looked [529] ENGLISH OFFICERS. exceedingly well, and their horses still better. They were chiefly mounted from Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania : one hundred guldens c. m. or 101. being about the medium price of each horse for the remounts. It is said to be wonderful how much these horses will support with the poor nourishment they get. Their condition was excellent. The most interesting manoeuvres to us were the false charge, the scattered retreat, and the re-forming of the regiment in order. The whole regiment, four- teen hundred strong, started at full gallop, and in that manner came forward to within a few yards of where we were standing with the colonel ; when, on the word being given, the whole dispersed in the greatest seeming disorder, retreated to the point from which they had advanced, and re-formed them- selves in line in an astonishingly short space of time. The Polish lancers are acknowledged to be excellent horsemen; there was not a man in this regiment who could not pick up his lance from the ground when his horse was at full gallop.

The number of English officers in the Austrian cavalry is not less, I believe, than two hundred— more, probably, than in all the other foreign armies of Europe. It is difficult to find sufficient motives for this preference, unless it be accounted for by the kind manner in which their brother officers receive them, and by the cheapness of provisions in most parts of the Austrian empire. The Govern- ment, too, is said to regard Englishmen generally [530] ENGLISH OFFICERS. rather with an eye of favour. Yet the pay is miserably small, promotion very slow, duty severe, and the quarters often most wretched. I can scarcely conceive a situation oth ring fewer tempta- tions than that of an officer quartered in some village of the plains of Hungary, where he is obliged to put up with half a room in a peasant's cottage, where he is without books or the possibility of getting them, without a soul who can speak a word of any language he understands to converse with, and with no chance of companionship, except by riding twenty or thirty miles to the next detach- ment. The only advantages I know are, that to- bacco and wine are cheap and good, and the officer may hunt, fish, or shoot, wherever and whenever he pleases.

On leaving Debreczen, we turned towards Pest ;- a long journey, occupying at this season of the year, when the horses are generally engaged with the harvest, not less than two days and nights. We were frequently obliged to remain three, four, or five hours waiting for horses before the Biro could be awakened, and the Kis Biro sent to the pastures, horses be caught, brought up to the village, fed, and harnessed to the carriage. It is tedious work, though it is not altogether without its advantages. One morning as we were dozing over this weari- some interval, and just as the sun began to show his pleasant face at the far end of the village, we were roused by a clattering of hoofs, tinkling of [531] WATER-MELONS. bells, neighing of horses, and lowing of cattle, as though a four-footed army were about to take the village by storm. A troop of several hundred horses, and almost as strong a horned corps headed by the parish bull as drum-major, soon came gal- loping by, and then filed off each to his respective quarters, as regularly as so many soldiers to their billets. They had been grazing all the night in the rich Paszta pastures, and were now driven up for the work of the day. Scarcely were the stable- doors fairly opened for the horses and cattle, than the pigs and geese rushed out, and grunting and cackling their satisfaction, they started off to the well-known rendezvous, where their leaders would be ready to show them the best stubble in the parish. We were so much amused with this busy scene, that we did not observe how much we had profited by it till reminded that four fresh horses were already harnessed to the carriage and ready to start.

We were now in the country of water-melons, and just in the season. Although this delicious fruit keeps but a very short time, and can only be eaten fresh, it is an important article of cultivation here. In addition to the number consumed by the men, children, and pigs,—for the latter often come in for their share before all is over,--a great number is sent by the Theiss and Danube to Pest, Pres- burg, and Vienna. At Pest, the September fair is called the Melonen Mark, from the quantity of this [532] WATER-MELONS. fruit brought up the river at that time. A fine water-melon, of the size of a man's head, costs about two pence English money on the plains. It is difficult to convey a notion of the luxury of this fruit in a hot climate, and especially in travelling over dusty roads. Some Hungarian writer considers it a special gift of Providence to the Puszta, to compensate for the bad water found there. The common melons are fine here, and even cheaper than the water-melons.

The wine of the plains is not, to my taste, to be compared to that of other parts of I-Iungary. It is strong, but it is deficient in that flavour which the mountain lends its grapes. The tobacco of the plains is also strong, but considered deficient in aroma.

Among the crops most common here, and most strange to the Englishman's eye, are those of sun- flowers and pumpkins ; the first cultivated for the oil they yield, the second used for fattening the pigs.

As we arrived towards evening on the outskirts of the straggling town of Szolnok, we found the bridge which we had to cross encumbered with a crowd of aged and maimed, before each of whom was a large heap of kukurutz. I have already said it was the time of harvest ; and, as we slowly followed the train of heavily-laden waggons, we observed that every peasant, as he passed a beggar, threw a yellow cone of kukurutz to this heap, and received a poor man's blessing in return. With the characteristic cunning of their class, they knew that [533] SZOLGA-BIRO OF SZOLNOK. when the hand is most full the heart is most open; and, by thus exhibiting their own destitution in glaring contrast with the plenty of their neigh- bours, they managed, without the trouble of sowing or gathering, to reap a sufficient harvest to main- tain them for the winter.

The mention of Szolnok reminds me of one of the many instances of politeness we received from persons to whom we were totally unknown. As we stopped at the town-house, and sent in our assig- nation for fresh horses, the Szolga-biro came out, and, raising his little cap, assured us horses should be procured as soon as possible. He was a good- tempered-looking man, and was evidently so anxious for a chat with the strangers that we did not like to disappoint him. He knew from our assignation that we were Englishmen ; and no sooner did he learn from our conversation that we had taken the trouble to examine the riches and beauties of his native land, and found much to admire and respect, both in the country and its institutions, than he scarce knew how to express his joy. Never was there a people more grateful for sympathy than the Hungarians. IIe would not allow us to leave the town till he had filled the carriage with the choicest peaches, melons, and plums, from his own garden ; not to mention a large loaf of Szolnok bread, which he pronounced, and I believe he was right too, to be the very best in Hungary. It is true, all this might be nothing but the ell et of good-nature : and yet, [534] SZOLGA-BIRO OF SZOLNOK. reader, had you seen the real kindness with which it was done, the interest the good man took in our journey, the sentiments he expressed iii favour of our native land ; had you received all this attention from an individual you never saw before, and whom in all human probability you would never see again; and had you felt that it was to your country rather than to yourself you owed it,—you must be ditler- ently constructed from me if you did not find your- self a happier man than when you entered Szolnok.

But it is high time to finish this chapter, for it was my intention to confine myself to the peculiarities of the Puszta, and 1( am wandering from it;—kindness to the stranger is common to every part of Hungary.

HORSE-MILL
HORSE-MILL

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




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