Title


[26]

CHAPTER II.

THE DIET OF 1835.

Ball-room Studies.—Chamber of Deputies.—Deák.—Debate on Wesselényi is Process. —Kossúth.—MS. Journal.—Prorogation. —Tour to the Neusiedler Lake.—Posting.—Bauern Post.— Lake.—Ruszt and its Wine.—Prince Eszterházy's Palaces.— Eisenstadt. — Eszterház. — Haydn. — Wild Boy. — Castle of Forchtenstein.—Eszterházy Jowels.—Watchman at Edenburg.

"WHAT, not yet ready?" said young S___, as he entered our room at Presburg, and found us still occupied with dressing and coffee, operations which our German travels had taught us to unite: "it is ten o'clock, and the lower chamber has been sitting this hour past: you must be quick, for they rarely remain later than one."

The fact was, we had been persuaded the night before by some of our wilder friends, whose philosophy taught them, that to know all one must see all,—forgetting that it was still a question whether all was worth knowing,—to visit one of those balls in the suburbs of Presburg, where a few kreutzers give entrance to the gentlemen and the ladies pay nothing. This fashionable re-union for wicked 'prentices and gallant artillery men—the latter always [27] BALL AT THE HECHTEL. the most esteemed on such occasions, in spite of their ugly uniform, because their extra pay gives their fair partners a better chance of a supper,— was held at the sign of the Bechtel, where we found a motley ring of (lancers hard at work—I say hard at work, for such it was; no mincing delicately paced quadrilles, but honest hard waltzing and gallopading, such as fully to excuse the gentlemen for dispensing with their coats, and to afford ample cause for the ladies resting, because they were "ganz nass !" as they elegantly expressed it.

Except some variations,—rather marked ones it is true,—in the conventional modes of society, there is little real difference between the drawing-room and the Bechtel; the same flirtations are to be witnessed in the former as in the latter place, and they are scarcely more decent or less interested ; the dresses too are equally low ; the dancing often worse ; and the whole thing, if possible, less rational, because less amusing. The women were pretty, but apparently rather more addicted to flirting than their beaux seemed willing to permit ; and as some of our party were more gallant than wise, I am not sure but we might have had rather a disagreeable proof of Hungarian mettle had we not beaten a timely retreat. And so our philosophical studies at the Hechtel had detained us till late in the evening, and we found ourselves next morning somewhat behind-hand in keeping our appointment to attend a sitting of the Diet.

[28] CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES.

Making, however, every possible haste to suit the hours of these early legislators, we arrived in pretty good time at the gates of a large plain building, where the meetings of the upper and lower cham- bers of the Hungarian Diet are held. As we ascended the stairs, the hussars—the town police of Presburg—on guard, presented arms to our friend as he wore the national uniform, and gave us admittance to a small gallery which runs half round the building. The lower chamber which we had now entered is a long plain hall, traversed in nearly its whole length by two tables covered with green baize, at which the deputies were seated with pens, ink, and paper before them. At the upper end, there is a raised part occupied by the president, or Personal,6 the vice-president and secretary, and behind these sit the judges of the royal table. The chamber had rather a sombre appearance ; the bare white-washed walls and the black dresses of the members,—they were all in mourning for the Emperor—rendering it much more like our St. Stephens than the brilliant Chambre des Députés of our gayer neighbours.

As we entered the chamber, not a sound was to be heard except the deep impassioned tones of Deák, who was listened to with the greatest attention. Deák is one of the best speakers and has one of the most philosophical heads in the Diet. Heavy and dull in appearance, it is not till he

6Personalis presentim regis, locum tenens.
[29] THE DEBATE. warms with his subject that the man of talent stands declared. He spoke in Hungarian, and I was much struck with the sonorous, emphatic, and singularly clear character of the language. From the number of words ending in consonants, particularly in k, every word is distinctly marked even to the ear of one totally unacquainted with the language. I cannot characterize the Hungarian as either soft or musical, but it is strong, energetic, manly ; the intonation with which it is uttered, gives it in ordinary conversation a melancholy air, but when impassioned nothing can exceed it in boldness.

The subject of debate was a remonstrance proposed to be presented to the Emperor against the illegal proceedings of the Government in the case of Baron „Vesselényi, or rather as to the manner in which such remonstrance should be presented, whether immediately from the Diet, or through the mediation of the Palatine. The prosecution of the Baron had excited throughout the whole country, as well as in the Diet, an intense feeling of indignation, as it was considered the most daring attack Government had ever ventured to make upon the right of liberty of speech enjoyed by the Hungarian nobles, and not even the voice of the most unblushing sycophant of the court was raised in defence of its legality.

Baron 1Vesselényi Miklos is a man of great talent and energy, and gifted with the most impassioned [30] THE DEBATE eloquence ; he has distinguished himself chiefly as the leader of the opposition in Transylvania, and acquired the hatred of Government from the victory he gained over them in a chamber more than half of which was nominated by themselves. On the sudden dissolution of the Transylvanian Diet, Wesselényi passed into Hungary, and appeared, when least expected, at a country meeting held in Szatmár, where the electors were met to frame instruc- tions for their deputies, as to the vote they should give on the important question of granting equal rights before the law to the oppressed peasantry. The jealousy felt by the lowest of the nobles against the extension of any of those privileges to the peasants, by the enjoyment of which alone they are distinguished from them, had been fomented to the highest degree. Aware of the vast importance of this question to the future happiness of his country, Wesselényi used his utmost power to convince the electors how closely the true interests of peasant and noble are allied, how certainly the acquisition of just rights by the one would increase the wealth and power of the other, and more than all, how the union of both would consolidate the discordant interests by which Hungary is divided, into one strong and powerful nation. In the name of eight millions of their oppressed countrymen he called on them for justice, he demanded that equal rights before the law should be extended to all, and that the burthens of the State should be borne by them [31] THE DEBATE. equally with the peasants. In the course of his speech he alluded to the policy so universally charged against the Austrian Government in Hungary, of exciting the nobles against the peasants, and the peasants against the nobles; of teaching each to regard the other as their natural enemies, in order by division to weaken both, and thus strengthen herself; and he stigmatized in strong terms so treacherous a policy, the ultimate object of which could only be the degradation and slavery of the whole country. His words were received with cheers ; and, excepting the Vice Ispan (an officer equivalent to our Sheriff), who objected to such language as too strong, no one dreamed of contradicting what all felt to be true. Such, at least, is the account of the matter as it was related to us.

Two months after this meeting7 when Wesselényi had taken his seat as a Hungarian magnate, Government commenced an action against him for these words as treasonable, and put him upon trial for his life. From one end of the country to the other a universal cry of shame arose against so unprecedented an injustice. Remonstrances were prepared in every county ; all business was interrupted at the Diet ; Balogh, the member for Bars,

7Wesselényi disputes the right of Government to proceed against him at all, as by law nothing said at a public meeting can be carried before another tribunal unless the president or some member of that meeting objects to the expression and commences a verbal process, as it is called, at the time the words are uttered.
[32] THE DEBATE. declared in his place, " that lie should not consider himself guilty of any great crime if he adopted the very words of Wesselényi ;" with thoughtless precipitancy he was included in the prosecution ; the whole Diet protested against such an invasion of the freedom of speech ; the county of Bárs declared that Balogh had done no more than express the sentiments of his constituents, who took on themselves all the consequences of his speech ; Government knew not which way to turn; private overtures were made to Wesselényi of immediate pardon if asked, and were indignantly rejected; the chamber drew up a strong remonstrance, and all which the followers of Government dared to do, was to hope that it might be presented to the throne through the mediation of the Palatine.

This remonstrance was the subject of debate during the sitting at which we were present. When Deák finished speaking, arid the cheers had subsided, a tall loud-voiced man arose, who was very differently received : a half laugh, half sneer, and a return to private conversation among the deputies, declared him a person not only unpopular, but unrespected by his opponents. It was the renegade from liberalism, P , who, a few months later, was recalled by his constituents and dismissed from his post for not having expressed their sentiments or obeyed their instructions.

Kossúth, a young man of considerable promise, spoke next. He was content with two or three [33] HUNGARIAN ELOQUENCE. sentences, declaring strongly his opinion, and the side on which he should vote. It is often the case that a man rises, expresses in a few words the wishes of his constituents, and sits down, leaving the debate to the more experienced orators.8 Indeed it is in this manner the votes are taken, every member's name being called over in turn, when he simply announces his opinion, or speaks at length, as he pleases. Long speeches, however, are by no means the fashion, and I have heard a man who had spoken for two hours, accused of having committed a most unpardonable offence. What most struck me, and later observations have proved the truth of the remark, was the extraordinary fluency with which every one spoke. Of the higher qualities of their oratory, of course, I cannot speak, for no translation can convey the spirit of the original ; indeed, I am quite sure the best parts were always lost to me, for every now and then my interpreter's eyes glistened, his attention was doubled, and in vain I asked him what was said ; he was too deeply interested to hear me.

Kossúth has been most usefully employed during the Diet. Government, in spite of the law of Hungary, in spite of the protests of the Diet, forbids the publication of the debates, and maintains here, as elsewhere in the Austrian dominions, a strict censorship. That the represented

8The most distinguished speakers in this Diet were Deák, Nagy, Beöthy, and Kölcsey.
[34] KOSSUTH'S MS. JOURNAL. might have some idea as to how their representatives performed their duty, Kossúth undertook to report the debates, which are copied out by innumerable secretaries, and thus circulated in mancript over the whole of Hungary.9 It is extra- ordinary that none of our newspapers, greedy as they are for information, should ever have given any report of these debates; nor, indeed, ever have had a correspondent in Presburg; as for trusting to one in Vienna, it would be as reasonable to expect news of Poland in St. Petersburg : none can be more ignorant of what takes place in Hungary than the Viennese.

9Since the dissolution of the Diet, I regret to say, that this gentleman has been thrown into prison. It is one of the privileges of the Hungarian noble, that he cannot be imprisoned before trial, except in case of high treason; but, in spite of this, M. Kossúth has been deprived of his liberty. I believe his chief guilt, in the eyes of the Government, was his having circulated in MS. in the same manner as he formerly gave publicity to the transactions of the Diet, reports of the county meetings in various parts of Hungary. The additional strength which this plan would have conferred on the municipal or popular power, by the union and combination it would have produced, is immense, and probably alarmed the higher powers. Kossúth is accused of having reported the proceedings of the meetings incorrectly ; and he answers, that not having been present, he only copied what was reported to him. The whole proceedings in this case are considered as arbitrary and unjust in the highest degree, and have excited the greatest indignation throughout the country. Government wished to make the lawyers employed to defend Kossúth promise not to divulge the circumstances of the trial ; not a single member of the bar could be found so base as to obey their behests. Kossúth has been condemned to four years' imprisonment in addition to two years passed in prison previously to trial ! (1839.)
[35] THE DEPUTIES.

Unruly as the meetings for the election of members are said to be, nothing can be more orderly than the meetings of the members themselves. Their uniform gives them an air of considerable dignity. Personal altercation is almost unknown ; and although a tribunal exists for settling at once such cases, should they arise, no instance has occurred for more than forty years. I would not have it understood that the debates are not animated ; it would be difficult they should be otherwise with an enthusiastic and warm-blooded people like the Magyars. But if the Diet is not enlivened by those yells, coughs, shufllings, and catcalls, by which certain senators we know of are accustomed to express their dissent to a proposition, or their impa- tience for dinner,—there is still sufficient difference between the reception of a Nagy, or an A to declare to the merest stranger which is the most heeded and respected, although the other is allowed to speak, however little he may be attended to.

I need scarcely say that the question was carried in favour of the liberal party by a triumphant majority. At one F.M. the sitting was closed, and the deputies retired to their lodgings, changed their uniforms for an ordinary civil costume, and half an hour later we met many of them again round the dinner tables of the Goldene Sonne.

On the morrow, we heard that the Diet was not likely to meet again for some days, or perhaps weeks ; for the strong opposition which had been [36] POSTING IN HUNGARY. offered to the measures of Government had produced a considerable sensation in Vienna ; and it was supposed some time would be taken for the consideration of what measures it would be politic to pursue in consequence.

In the mean time, the weather was too fine to be lost; and we, therefore, determined to make some excursions into the country, and see what we could of this part of Hungary before troubling our heads any further with politics.

It was at six o'clock in the morning, that the smart Presburg post-boy sounded his bugle, to express his impatience at the half hour we had already kept him waiting ere we started for the Neusiedler Lake, in the neighbourhood of which we intended to pass a few days. The journey to the end of the lake might be some sixty miles, and we reckoned to accomplish it by post within the day.

Of all the modes of travelling in Hungary, the post is the most expensive, and to me, at least, the most disagreeable. The supply of horses is scanty, and if the traveller happens to arrive before or after the post wagen, he must generally wait some time before he can obtain the number he requires. There is an awkward rule, too, which it is well a stranger should know. If he arrives at any place with post, he can oblige the post-master to send him on with the same number of horses he arrived with ; but should he, as occurred to us on the pre [37] IMPOSITIONS OF THE POST-MASTERS. sent occasion, feel a wish to leave the post-road, and for that purpose hire private horses, at the next post-station they may refuse him a supply, or oblige him to take as many as they choose.

It was at Gschies we learned this rule ; for the post-master stoutly refused to send us on with a pair of horses, which was all we had previously required, and declared we should either take four or remain where we were. Entirely ignorant as I then was of any other means of getting forward, I at last consented, and desired hint to give us the four horses. "But I have only three in the stable at present," was his cool reply ; "and you may either take those and pay for four, or you may remain where you are till to-morrow, when the others will come home." Nor is this the only instance of gross imposition I could relate. The worst of it is that there is no redress ; in one case I applied to the judge and notary of the village, and though they had the best will to protect me, all they could do was to give me peasants' horses, and so enable me to avoid the like treatment for the rest of the journey.

For the matter of speed, you get on by post at about the rate of five miles an hour, with strong large horses, and post-boys wearing huge cockedhats, each with a plume of feathers worthy a fieldmarshal, and a red coat with purple facings. But if ever the reader should have occasion to go from Vienna to Pest, and is an amateur of driving, I [38] BAUERN POST. recommend him to what is called the bauern post that is, if steam-boats and rail-roads have not, ere this, entirely destroyed it.

The peasants between the frontiers of Hungary and Pest, on the great high road from Vienna, combined to supply relays of horses at a cheaper rate and better than the royal post ; and though at first opposed by Government, they eventually succeeded so well that at present the whole line is supplied by them almost exclusively. The pace at which these men with their four small horses take on a light Vienna carriage is something wonderful, especially when the length of some of their stages is considered. The last stage cannot be less than forty miles from Pest, and with a short pause of about a quarter of an hour to water, they do it for the most part at full gallop, and with the same horses, in four hours. It is glorious to see the wild looking driver, his long black hair floating the wind as be turns round to ask your admiration when his four little clean-boned nags are rattling over hill and hollow in a style which for the first time since he left home shakes an Englishman's blood into quicker circulation. There is certainly a pleasure in rapid motion which has on some men almost an intoxicating effect.

But to return to our five miles an hour. We passed through a well cultivated country chiefly inhabited by Germans, who have crept in upon this side of Hungary from Presburg, nearly to the [39] NEUSIEDLER LAKE. borders of Croatia. The Neusiedler Lake, or the Fertü Tava in Hungarian, which we soon came in sight of, is about twenty-four miles long by twelve broad, varying in depth from nine to thirteen feet. In parts, particularly at the north end, its shores are hilly, and pretty, but on the eastern side they are flat, and terminate in a very extensive marsh, called the Hanság.

It is supposed to be this lake which the Emperor Galerius drained into the Danube, and which has been allowed to re-form by the destruction of the Roman works. There is little doubt, I believe, as to the practicability of draining the lake again if it were desired; but, as a neighbouring proprietor observed, it would spoil some glorious snipeshooting. The water is said to have a salt taste, though I must confess I could not perceive it, and to contain sulphate, muriate, and carbonate of soda. It is well supplied with fish, chiefly carp and pike. From the Hanság bog a considerable number of leeches10 are obtained which are exported to France.

About midway down the lake, and close upon its shore, is the little royal free town of Ruszt, a

10 Leeches are found in some other parts of Hungary, but the chief supply of the European markets is obtained from Bessarabia, Servia, and Bulgaria. The leeches are collected in the immense bogs of these countries, and from thence sent to fixed stations, where they remain in tanks till the French and German leechmerchants arrive and transport them by post-carriages to Paris and Hamburg.
[40] RUSZT AND ITS WINE. venerable Hungarian Old Sarum. The poor inhabitants of its one hundred and fifty-two houses send their deputies to the Diet as well as Pest or Presburg. The small hill which rises behind the town constitutes its chief wealth ; for it is here the celebrated Ruszter wine is grown, one of the best of the many good wines of Hungary. From what they gave us in the small inn here, or from what I have tasted in other places of the kind, I should not have formed a very high opinion of its excellence ; but I once met with a specimen in a private house, fully deserving the highest eulogiums of its admirers. It is a strong, rather dry, pale red wine, and possesses an agreeable flavour quite peculiar to itself. Most of the best Ruszter is said to be exported to Breslau, where it fetches a high price.

A little beyond Ruszt is the Margaretha hill, where the stone, so much used in Vienna for building, is quarried. It is a soft new limestone, much like that of the Paris basin, of a good colour, but somewhat loose in texture. In some parts it is quite filled with an Ostrea and Pecten, the latter peculiar to this place, and named from it. It overlies the granite on which the vineyards of Ruszt are formed. The same formation occurs in several parts of the little Carpathians beyond Presburg.

At Eisenstadt, some short distance from the lake, is a palace of the first of the Hungarian magnates, Prince Eszterházy. This palace, though not re [41] PRINCE ESZTERHÁZY'S PALACES. markable for its beauty (it is in a heavy, though florid, Italian style), is well fitted for a princely residence. We walked through suites of apartments innumerable ; but by far the most striking of them was the great ball-room—an elegantly proportioned hall of great size, and richly ornamented in white and gold. This room was last used when the present prince was installed Lord Lieutenant of the county of (Edenburg,—an office hereditary in his family ; and great is still the fame of the almost regal pomp with which he feted the crowds of nobles who flocked around him upon that occasion.

The gardens, laid out in the English style, are very fine, and the hot-houses larger than any I remember to have seen ; even Alton must bow to Eisenstadt. They contain no less than seventy thousand exotics, and are particularly rich in New Holland specimens. One can hardly help lamenting that so much luxury and beauty should be wasted ; for except the inhabitants of Eisenstadt, to whom the gardens are always open, it is rarely the palace or its grounds receive a visitor.

Great as is the splendour of some of our English peers, I almost fear the suspicion of using a traveller's licence, when I tell of Eszterhizy's magnificence. Within a few miles of this same spot, he has three other palaces of equal size.

Just at the southern extremity of the lake stands Eszterház ; a huge building in the most florid Italian [42] PALACE OF ESZTERHÁZ. style, built only in 1700, and already uninhabited for sixty years. Its marble halls, brilliant with gold and painting, are still fresh as when first built. The chamber of Maria Theresa is unchanged since the great Queen reposed there ; the whole interior is in such a state that it might be rendered habitable to-morrow, but the gardens are already overgrown with weeds, and have almost lost their original form ; the numberless pleasure-houses are yielding to the damp position in which they are placed, and are fast crumbling away; while the beautiful theatre, for which an Italian company was formerly maintained, is now stripped of its splendid mirrors, and serves only as a dwelling for the dormant bats, which hang in festoons from its gilded cornices. England is famous for her noble castles, and her rich mansions ; yet we can have little idea of a splendour such as Eszterház must formerly have presented. Crowded as it was by the most beautiful women of four countries,—its three hundredand sixty strangers' rooms filled with guests,—its concerts directed by a Haydn,—its opera supplied by Italian artists,—its gardens ornamented by a gay throng of visitors,—hosts of richly clothed attendants thronging its antechambers, .— and its gates guarded by the grenadiers11 of its princely master,—its magnificence must have exceeded that

11Prince Eszterházy has still one hundred and fifty guards in his own pay and uniform, who do duty at his different castles and palaces.
[43] HAYDN AT ESZTERHAZ. of half the royal courts of Europe ! I know of nothing but Versailles, which gives one so high a notion of the costly splendour of a past age, as Eszterház.

Haydn was for more than thirty years maestro di cape/10 to Prince Eszterházy; and, during that period, lived chiefly with the family. His portrait is still preserved, and it is almost the only picture of much interest the palace contains. Haydn was a very poor and obscure person when he was appointed one of the prince's band; so much so, that no one thought even of giving the necessary orders for his being admitted into the palace. The following anecdote of his introduction to the prince is recounted by Carpani :

"The Maestro Friedberg, a friend and admirer of Haydn, lived with Prince Eszterházy. Regretting that Haydn should be overlooked, he persuaded him to compose a symphony worthy of being performed on the birthday of his highness. Haydn consented ; the day arrived ; the prince, according to custom, took his seat in the midst of his court, and Friedberg distributed the parts of Haydn's symphony to the performers. Scarcely had the musicians got through the first allegro, when the prince interrupted them to ask who was the author of so beautiful a piece. Friedberg dragged the modest trembling Haydn from a corner of the room into which he had crept, and presented him as the fortunate composer. " What," cried the prince, as [44] HAYDN AT ESZTERH'AZY. he came forward, " that Blackymoor!" (clay dn's complexion was none of those which mock the lily's whiteness). " Well, blacks, from henceforth you shall be in my service: what's your name?" "Joseph Haydn." " But you are already one of my band; how is it I never saw you here before? " The modesty of the young composer closed his lips, but the prince soon put him at his ease. " Go and get some clothes suitable to your rank,—don't let me see you any more in such a guise; you are too small ; you look miserable, sir; get some new clothes, a fine wig with flowing curls, a lace collar, and red heels to your shoes. But mind, let your heels be high, that the elevation of your person may harmonize with that of your music. Go, and my attendants will supply you with all you want." . . . The next clay Haydn was travestied into a gentleman. Friedberg often told me of the awkwardness of the poor Maestrino in his new habiliments. He had such a gawky look that everybody burst into a laugh at his first appearance. His reputation, however, as his genius had room to manifest itself, grew daily, and he soon obtained so completely the good-will of his master, that the ex- traordinary favour of wearing his own hair and his simple clothes was granted to his entreaties. The surname of the Blackymoor, however, which the prince had bestowed upon him, stuck to him for years after."

The only part of Eszterház at present occupied [45] PRINCE ESZTERHÁZY'S POSSESSIONS. is the stables, which had just received an importation of twelve beautiful thorough-bred horses from England, with some very promising young stock. An old English groom had been sent out with them and bitterly did be complain of the difficulties he had to encounter before he could convince the beamptcrs—a race of hungry stewards by whom the estates of the nobles are mismanaged and the revenues plundered — of the many little wants and luxuries requisite for English race-horses.

The estates of Prince Eszterhazy are said to equal the kingdom of Wurtemberg in size; it is certain they contain one hundred and thirty villages, forty towns, and thirty-four castles ! The annual revenue from such vast possessions is said, however, not to amount to 150,0001. per annum, though it is capable of considerable increase. The encumbrances at the present time are greater than with most other Hungarian magnates, few of whom are indebted to a less amount than half their incomes.

I remember some years since an anecdote going the round of the papers to the effect, that Prince Eszterházy bad astonished one of our great agriculturists who bad shown him his flock of two thousand sheep, and asked with some little pride if he could show as many, by telling him that he had more shepherds than the other sheep ! By a reckoning made upon the spot, with one well acquainted with his affairs, we found the saying literally true. The winter flock of Merinos is maintained at [46] WILD BOY OF THE HATSÁG. 250,000, to every hundred of which one shepherd is allowed, thus making the number of shepherds 2,500 ! But, as a spirituelle of the neighbourhood observed when we were discussing these matters, " Les Eszterházys font tout en grand : le feu prince a doté deux cents maitresses, et pensionné cent enfans illégitimes !"

It is not right to leave Eszterház without mention of Hanystock, or the wild man of the Hanság. The Hanság is a bog about twenty miles long, on the borders of which Eszterház is built. About eighty years since in some part of this bog, an extraordinary creature is said to have been found, possessing something of the human form, but with scarcely any other quality which could entitle it to a place among our species. It was three feet high, apparently of about the middle age, strongly built, and said to have had webbed feet and hands. It was unable to utter any articulate sounds, lived entirely on fish and frogs, showed no signs of any passion or feeling, except fear and anger, and was in every respect in the lowest state of brutality. The most curious part of its history is, that no one ever heard of it till accidentally found by a peasant in the bog, when it was brought to Eszterház ; where, after remaining fourteen months, it escaped, and was never heard of again. I believe there is some reason to suspect an imposition ; for an Italian adventurer appeared and disappeared about the same time with Hánystock, and though unable to cite [47] CASTLE OF FORCHTENSTEIN. name or place, I feel pretty certain that a similar occurrence took place in another part of Europe soon after.

FORCHTENSTEIN
FORCHTENSTEIN

A few miles from Eisenstadt and just on the confines of Austria, is a yet more interesting monument, of what we should call feudal greatness, belonging to the Eszterhazy family. The castle of Forchtenstein, built by a Count Eszterházy, is still in a perfect state of preservation. It is placed on a bold rock, and commands a view of the whole country to the north-east and south. It is now used as a prison for Prince Eszterházy's peasantry, —for he is one of the few who retain the right of life and death, the " jus gladii," on his own estates,—and is consequently guarded by a small detachment of very venerable-looking grenadiers.

[48] TURKISH ARMOUR.

The castle is sufficiently modern to have been laid out for the employment of artillery,—as may be seen by the heavy bastions and long curtains ; and is still sufficiently old to bear marks of the Gothic architect about it,—of which the high watch-tower is not the least elegant. The interior has all the inconvenient straitness of a walled-in castle, and the apartments are for the most part small and simple. The most interesting object after the well, which is one hundred and seventy yards deep, and said to have been worked in the solid rock by Turkish prisoners, is the collection of arms. Besides arms sufficient for a regiment of foot and another of horse, which ere this an Eszterházy has equipped and maintained at his own cost ; there is the gala equipment of a troop of cavalry which attended one of the princesses on her wedding-day, thirty pieces of artillery, suits of plain black armour for several hundred men, many curious specimens of early German matchlocks, and a quantity of Turkish arms of almost every description.

One suit of armour is interesting from the tale of rude courtesy attached to it. It formerly belonged to a Count Eszterházy who fell in a battle against the old enemies of Hungary, the Turks. A ball from the Pasha's own pistol had already pierced the Count's cuirass, but, anxious to make more certain of his death, the Moslem leapt from his horse and beat the helmet of the Christian till he broke open his visor, when he discovered in the [49] GENEALOGICAL TREE. fallen foe an old friend by whom he had been most kindly treated when a prisoner in Hungary. Faithful to his friendship, the Turk made the only reparation in his power, for, after treating the body of Eszterházy with every possible mark of respect, he collected the armour in which he had died, and sent it, with the arms, which had caused his death, as a present to his family.

A great number of banners, as well those taken from the enemy, as those under which the followers of Eszterhazy fought, are hung round the walls. It is characteristic of the times that most of the Hungarian flags bear a painting of the Cross, with a figure of Christ as large as life.

In one room we noticed the genealogical tree of all the Eszterh<ízys, in which it is made out, as clearly as possible, that beginning with Adam, who reclines in a very graceful attitude at the bottom of the tree, they pass through every great name, Jewish as well as Heathen, from Moses to Attila, till they find themselves what they now are, magnates of Hungary. What is still more extraordinary, there is a long series of portraits of these worthies, from Attila inclusive, with their wives and families dressed in the most approved fashion, and continued down to the present century.

It is a pity the noble owner of Forchtenstein does not imbibe a little of that Gothic mania so often ill-directed in England, and restore this castle to its former state. As a national monument of [50] ESZTERHÁZY JEWELS. the taste of the middle ages in Hungary its restoration would be very desirable, and it would possess peculiar attractions, not merely from being the only castle of the kind here, but as a specimen of that mixture of the Asiatic and Gothic, which, in those days, so strongly characterised the habits and customs of the Magyars, and the remains of which even yet distinguish them from the rest of Europe.

The only purpose for which it is at present used, except as a prison, is to contain the treasures of the Prince. Of these I can only speak from report ; for previously to my visit, I (lid not know that in order to see them it is necessary to have two persons present who live at a distance, each of whom has a key, without which the other is of no use, and therefore had not provided against the difficulty.

The splendour of the Eszterházy jewels is no secret in England ; and it is in this good castle those heaps of treasure, which so tempted her Majesty's fair lieges at her coronation, are commonly preserved. It is said that each Prince is obliged to add something to these jewels, and that they can never be sold except to ransom their possessor from captivity among the Turks. When the French entered Hungary, a small party presented themselves before Forchtenstein and demanded its surrender. The grenadiers, however, shut the gates, cut the bridge, and set them at defiance; and, as the enemy had no means of enforcing obedience, Prince Eszterházy saved his jewels. Besides the [51] HUNGARIAN MAGNATES. jewels, there is an extensive collection of ancient Hungarian costumes : among others, if I recollect rightly, one worn by King Mathias Corvinus.

How far the privileges of the Eszterházys, as hereditary Lords Lieutenant, may be constitutional, or how far the right of primogeniture—the majorat —has been wisely extended to a subject of such vast wealth, we leave for others to consider ; but it is impossible to be witness of it, and not to regret that duties, however important, should detain one possessed of so much power away from his country. No country has a greater claim to the exclusive right of her children's services than Hungary at the present moment. Just struggling into notice among the states of modern Europe, exerting all her energies to preserve her liberties and nationality, and at the same time labouring to cast off the chains in which the institutions and laws of a more barbarous age have long bound her, she has full need of the moderating influence which a liberal aristocracy might exercise on her councils, and a just demand on all the support which the wealthy and powerful can afford her. At present, too, a strong suspicion pervades the country, that the highest of her nobles are the most indifferent to her welfare ; a suspicion which, whether just or unjust, ought to be removed at any sacrifice, for one more dangerous to the security of a country can scarcely take possession of a people's mind.

[52] CEDENSBURG.

In the course of our journey back to Presburg, we passed the little town of Edenburg, where a huge watch-tower, the only remains of its fortifications, is still kept in repair. Owing to the wooden tiles with which the houses are commonly roofed in Hungary, the danger of fire is very great ; and, in almost every town, a watchman is consequently employed to give the alarm, and as a sign of his vigilance he is obliged to blow a shrill whistle every quarter of an hour, day and night.

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




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