Title


[82] SCLAVACKS

CHAPTER IV.

VALLEY OF THE WAAG.

The Sclavacks : their History, Character, Habits, and Appearance. —Monastery of Skalka.—Philosophy of Drunkenness.—Imaginary Dangers. — Castle of Trentsin. — The Legend of the Lovers' Well.—Travelling Expenses in Ilungary.—Trentsin Bath. — Hungarian Tinkers. — Castle Architecture. — Vagh-Besztercze.—Ennobled Jews. —Traveller's Troubles.— Lipsky's Map. — Szulyon. — Hrisco. — Szolna. — Teplitz. — Sophia Bosnyfik.—Catholic Priests : their Hospitality.

THE Sclavacks16 are a branch of that great Sclavish family, which seems, at one period, to have occupied
16It is very desirable that the reader should distinguish care- fully between the names Sclave, Sclavack, and Sclavonian. The name Sclave is given to a whole family, of which the Sclavacks and Sclavonians are only two insignificant members. The first of these —the Sclavacks—occupy a portion of the west and north of Hungary, not distinguished by any particular name; the second, the Sclavonians,—occupy a district between the Danube and Save, formerly an independent country, and although now a part of Hungary, still retaining the name of Sclavonia. I trust the map will enable the reader to understand this subject more perfectly; it is one of particular interest, because Russia, by exerting the influence which similarity of language, and in some parts, similarity of religion, also, gives her over these populations, has hitherto frightened Austria into doing almost anything she likes. One of the favourite dreams of Russian ambition is the re-union of the great Sclavish family into one nation under the crown of Russia.
[83] SCLAVACKS. nearly the whole east of Europe, from the Baltic and Adriatic to the banks of the Wolga. There can be little doubt that the greater part of Hungary was peopled by them, till the fierce Magyars drove them from the fertile plains to the barren mountains, which they still hold. The chief part of that mountainous district between the Danube, the Theiss, and the most northern range of the Carpathians, is peopled by Sclavacks, who still retain their original language (a dialect of the Sclavish, though differing both from the Bohemian and Polish), their national customs and characteristic appearance. Other portions of the same race occupy, in the south of Hungary, the countries now called Croatia and Sclavonia, and extend south, nearly to the ruins of Athens itself. In Hungary, they seem to have experienced the same fate as the British in our own country, where the bleak mountains of Wales, the Highlands of Scotland, and the west-coast of Ireland have preserved the pure blood of Britain's earliest lords ; while Saxon churls, and Norman soldiers appropriated her fairest fields to their own use. Other Selaves are found among the motley population of Hungary, but of a later origin; for instance, the Rusniacks, in the north-east of Hungary, are probably the descendants of a band of Russians who accompanied the Magyars in their first incursions ; and the Serben, and others known under the name of Raatzen, are settlers of a much later date from Servia, Bosnia, and the neighbour [84] SCLAVACKS. ing countries. The greater part of the Sclavacks profess the Catholic religion, though a part are Lutherans, perhaps the descendants of some thousand Bohemian Hussites, who fled from the persecutions which all of that sect experienced in their native country.

It is always difficult to describe the character of a people, perhaps presumptuous for a mere passer by, who does not even speak their language. That his opinions should be received with great caution is unquestionable, but no man can remain any time amongst strangers without remarking many circumstances in their manners and conduct from which he cannot help drawing some conclusions; and as I pretend to do nothing more, I trust, that if in error, no one will be very seriously misled. In Hungary, however, the stranger has better opportunities of seeing and knowing the lower classes, or, I should rather say the peasantry, than in most other countries where the roguish postilion and lying sight-shower alternately rob and mystify the wonder seeking tourist. Here a peasant is always the traveller's coachman, and is often his host, his guide, his huntsman, in short, his frequent cotnpanion.

The Selavack is slow in every thing, and until roused by passion or intoxication, nothing can be more humble than his appearance, more slavish, I would almost say, than his manner. No matter how Stephan abused the driver or beat his horses; [85] SCLAVACKS. it was seldom lie even remonstrated against such proceedings, but it very rarely happened that he slid not repay himself for the abuse by demanding more than the fair charge for his trouble, supported by some false statement ; and frequently, after receiving two or three times the usual present, he would still ask for something more. I notice this particularly, because I do not recollect that I ever once met with such conduct among the Magyars. Woe to the servant who should beat their horses ; but 1 never knew them demand more than was just, and many have with great delicacy avoided looking at the amount of the present till out of sight, or have merely testified their gratitude by a hint to the next peasant to drive his best.

The Sclavack is, after the German, probably the most industrious of the inhabitants of Hungary, and perhaps the only one of whom a manufacturer could be made; but his industry is far from rendering him rich : the soil he labours at is barren, and his small profits are all expended on spirits. Drunkenness is the Sclavack's bane, and leaves him among the worst lodged, worst fed, and worst clothed, of the 11ungarian peasantry. Some philosophers would fain persuade us that were wine and brandy cheap, people would no longer get drunk ; and a traveller in Norway attributes the sobriety of the people there to the abundance of spirits. I am sorry I cannot say as much for the Hungarians. Wine and spirits are cheap enough, but the peasant, no [86] SCLAVACKS. matter of what race, cannot be called sober by any one who respects the truth. Nor indeed, by those whose position necessarily imposes continued hard labour and forbids almost every luxury, is it probable that the agreeable stimulus of intoxicating liquors will be resisted; not at least till an improved education shall have given them a taste for higher enjoyments. Besides, there is another consideration connected with this subject which never seems to have entered into the heads of these pseudo philosophers,— the real solid pleasure of drinking, — if they would but try it occasionally themselves, I am sure they would grow wiser.

The Sclavack peasant's house is almost always built of the unhewn stems of the pine, covered with straw thatch, carelessly and ill-made ; its interior is not overclean, and the pig, oxen, and goats are on far too familiar terms with the rest of the family. It is rare amongst the Sclavacks to see those neatly fenced farm-yards, large barns, and stables, and well-made corn-stacks, which are so often met with among the Magyars. How far this may depend on the poverty of the soil it is dimcult to say ; that it does not depend on any greater severity of the landlord in one case than in the other, as I have heard insinuated, my own observations convince me.

The Sclavacks are in general about the middle size, strongly formed, of a light complexion, with broad and coarse features half shaded by their long [87] MONASTERY OF SKALKA. flaxen hair. In some particular districts, however, there are found among them singularly fine and handsome men—as a military friend of mine observed, " ready made grenadiers." The peasant women, when young, are sometimes pretty, but hard labour and exposure to the sun soon deprive them of all pretension to comeliness. Altogether, I do not think I like the Sclavacks, but I really can scarcely say why ; perhaps old Stephan infused a little of his gall into my heart. He hated them cordially,—more particularly, he said, because their King sold the country to the Magyars for a white horse. There is some tradition that Swatopluk, the last of their kings, engaged to deliver up the country to Arpád, and a white steed and his trappings were to form a part of the payment :

"For snow-white steed thou gav'st the land ;
For golden bit, the grass;
For the rich saddle, Duna's stream;
Now bring the deed to pass."17

But it is time that we returned to Trentsin. We can leave the Sclavacks to show and speak for themselves as we become better acquainted with them in the course of our journey.

In spite of a burning sun, we walked along the banks of the river Waag to visit Skalka, a monastery at some little distance from Trentsin, said to have been the residence of a St. Benedict, one of the earliest preachers of Christianity in Hungary.

17Bowring, Poetry of the Magyars.
[88] SCLAVACK AMUSEMENTS. We mistook the spot, it appears, and only reached the church, erected many years after by a Count Thurzo, on the rock, where the saint met his martyrdom. The monastery, as we found, next (lay, when we passed it on the opposite side of the river, was concealed from our view by a small wood, under which we lay to rest ourselves; we lost nothing, however, for it is a plain whitewashed building, without any pretension to architectural beauty. The object of our walk was answered; we had a beautiful view of the valley, and were not a little amused with the groups of peasants which every pot-house afforded us. True Sclavacks, they were most of them by this time glorious; even some of the fair sex seem to have yielded to the soft temptation. The fiddle or the bagpipe was hard at work; and though I may have seen more elegant, I never saw more earnest dancing. The Scotchman must not flatter himself that bagpipes, any more than the shepherd's plaid, are peculiar to the " land o' cakes ;" the latter, we shall find common among the W'allacks, and the former is never absent from a Sclavack festival ; and I can assure him that it is quite as grating in the mountains and valleys of Hungary, as among the rocks and rivers of bonny Scotland.

Now had I the brilliant imagination of some travellers, I have no doubt I might make out an interesting story of terror from this simple walk ; might fancy that the knot of rough-looking men who spoke together, and whose eyes seemed to follow us, had [89] IMAGINARY DANGERS. intended some dreadful crimes ; that this coquetish-looking girl had some treacherous meaning in her pretty salutation and side-long glance; or that the man who joined us and spoke German, had some sinister design in offering to show us the nearest way to the town. But I have no imagination, and with the best will can see danger neither in rough-looking peasants, smiling village girls, or civil citizens. The rough peasant has always the good manners to raise his hat to you as you pass him ; the village girl offers you with a smile the Sclavack's greeting, " Praised be Jesus Christus ;" and the citizen, in return for answering all your questions about his town and its neighbourhood, has no more sinister object than that of knowing who you are, where you come from, and what you are doing, a curiosity that I was always very willing to gratify ; yet from such sources do travellers weave wonderful stories of the dangers of travelling in Hungary,— at least I never saw any better sources for them.

Towards sunset we ascended the castle hill, following the stairs cut in the rock which lead down almost to the town, and which are defended by towers and gates in every practicable part. It is not very long since the castle of Trentsin was in part habitable, but uncovered walls soon yield to wet and frost ii- a climate like this, and much has Wien and more is fast tottering to decay.

Fortified by the Romans, the Magyars found the [90] TRENTSIN CASTLE. castle of Terentius a strong fortress when they first arrived in the country ; since then it has at times been a garrison of the crown, at times the seat of its worst enemy. Sometimes its possessors have proudly assumed an almost independent state, under the title of Counts of Trentsin, and Lords of the Waag ; and often has its importance, by exciting the ambitious hopes of its masters, led to their shame and destruction. Under John Zápolya it was besieged and burnt, but having been rebuilt by Alexis Thurzo, it fell a second time into the hands of the Transylvanian leaders. Its most severe trial, and its last, was in 1707 ; when held by the troops of Rákótzy, it was besieged by the royalists, and its garrison reduced to such extremities that they ate up even the dogs, cats, and mice, rather than yield to their opponents. Since that time Trentsin Castle has been dismantled and left in the quiet possession of the Counts Illyeshazy, to whom a great part of the county of Trentsin belongs.

To me, the most interesting part of the old ruins was the lovers' well, sunk through the solid rock, four hundred and fifty-six feet,—and that too by the force of true love. But I must tell the tale as Mednvánsky has recorded it.

"It was in the reign of Mathias Corvinus that Trentsin was in the possession of Stephan Zápolya, a powerful chief, who added much to the strength and magnificence of the noble pile. Like many other castles, however, placed on the summit of [91] THE LOVERS' WELL. rocks, Trentsiu paid dearly for the advantages of its situation, by having no supply of water but what was afforded by cisterns, evidently insufficient to enable a large garrison to support a long siege. To Zápolya this deficiency in his favourite castle was a source of deep disappointment, nor had any one been able to propose an effectual remedy for it."

"Musing one day on this mortification, as he saw his new works nearly completed, he was roused by the announcement of his attendants that a Turkish merchant had arrived, who wished to treat with him for the ransom of some prisoners whom he had captured in the last war, and brought home with him in slavery. As a soldier alive to the courtesies of war, Zapolya at once expressed his willingness to take ransom for all such as still remained in his hands : ` as for those I have given to my followers, they are no longer in my power, any more than the young girl whom my wife has chosen for her handmaid ; for the former, you must treat with their present masters ; for the latter, she is become such a favourite with her mistress, that I am sure no sum would ransom her.'—` But might I not see this maiden?' anxiously demanded the young Turk. The girl was sent for, `Omar !' `Fatime !' burst at the same moment from their lips as they rushed into each other's arms."

"Fatime, it appeared, was the daughter of a Pascha, and the affianced bride of Omar, who lost [92] THE LOVERS' WELL. her in the night when Zápoyla bad attacked the Turkish camp, and her lover, disguised as a merchant, had undertaken this journey in search of her."

"Enraged at the Turk's presumption, Zápolya ordered Fatime back to the Countess's apartments, and, deaf alike to the entreaties and high offers of the lover, positively refused to deprive his wife of an attendant she liked. In vain Omar supplicated, in vain he threw himself passionately at the feet of Zápolya and begged of him his mistress. At last, angered at his perseverance, the haughty lord swore he might more easily obtain water from the rock they stood on than compliance from him : `Try,' said he in scorn, ` and when the rock yields water to your prayers, I give up Fatime, but not till then.' ` On your honour !' exclaimed Omar, springing to his feet, `you give up Fatime, if I obtain water from this rock ?' ` If you do,' said the knight, astonished that the Turk should have understood him literally, ` I pledge my knightly word to release your mistress and all my prisoners ransom free."

"What is impossible to youth and love ? Omar, aided by the captive Turks, set to work, and long and patiently did they labour at the unyielding stone. Three wearisome years were passed, and they saw themselves apparently as far from success as at the commencement, when, almost exhausted with fatigue and despair, the joyful cry of ` Water! water !' burst on their ears. The spring was found —Fatime was free !"

[93] TRAVELLING EXPENSES.

As we prepared to leave Trentsin next morning, a very impertinent waiter—it is a curious fact that whenever the landlord is a rogue, the waiter is impertinent —brought us a most exorbitant bill, at least the double of what we had paid anywhere else. Old Stephan swore all the Sclavacks were rogues, and not worth the white horse their king sold them for ; but as we had no one to appeal to, and had a great horror of a dispute, we paid and started. I find what I then thought so infamous a charge,—and which indeed was so for that country,—amounted to just twenty-four shillings for two days ! While on the subject of expenses I may as well remark that, including everything, we did not lay out more than fifty pounds in the six weeks we occupied in this part of our tour. This includes the servants' wages and living for two persons, and posting constantly with four or six horses. The ordinary price of a dinner for two persons is about half-a-crown. A bottle of indifferent wine about sixpence : supper is the same as dinner. A breakfast of coffee and bread for two, twenty pence ; two beds with clean linen—it is rather cheaper if the traveller is less particular—two shillings and fourpence. Nor must it be supposed that anything was saved by staying in private houses. Stephan, who I rather suspect was anxious that we should leave a good reputation behind us, at least in the servants' hall, always insisted on the propriety of giving something to every servant, however little, [94] TRENTSIN BATH. and as the number of servants is usually very great, we generally gave quite as much as the inn would have cost us. Nor on the whole was Stephan wrong, for in travelling afterwards in company with Hungarian gentlemen, I found them paying nearly at the same rate. I am quite sure the old fellow never kept any of it for himself, though its distribution was left entirely to him : a more honest man I never saw.

From Trentsin our first point was Teplitz,18 or the bath of Trentsin, as it is often called. It is situated about ten miles from Trentsin in a valley jutting off from that of the Waag, and ending in a cul de sac, at the bottom of which the baths are placed. Like every other bathing-place, Teplitz has the cold, bare, whitewashed look, proper to these places, with a promenade and shops full of useless articles, and old cripples and young cripples, and all the other amusing objects, for the love of which healthy people leave their comfortable homes to pass a month in bad lodgings.

Trentsin is a favourite resort of the Poles and Bohemians, as well as of the Hungarians of the north, and though said to be useful to the sick,19 has little to attract the healthy.

18Teplitz is a Sclavish word signifying " warm bath," and is therefore like the German "Baden," scarcely a distinguishing name.
19The most active ingredient in the water is sulphur,—the temperature is 30° K. These waters are chiefly recommended in chronic rheumatism, gout, dc.
[95] HUNGARIAN TINKERS.

Regaining the Waag, we continued our route along the valley amid fine crops of hemp, buckwheat, poppies, and potatoes. We passed, at Dubnitz, a large mansion of Count Illyesházy, built like a barrack and placed in the very worst position that could possibly have been chosen, for the valley is here more beautiful than ever, the line of the Carpathians bounding Moravia is within an hour of the river, and the landscape almost perfect ; yet is this mansion placed in a flat, dirty village, without a prospect beyond it.

The roads throughout this valley are excellent, and the horses better than usual, so that we were enabled to keep up a trot without intermission. The English reader may laugh at this idea of good travelling, but to us it was luxurious compared with what we had been used to for the day or two previous.

From the northerly and most mountainous part of this county and from some of the neighbouring districts, are said to come those wandering tinkers, — or I believe I should rather call them pot-menders, for they do not come up to the dignity of tinkers, — who are seen pursuing their poor trade not only in their native country, but in every part of the Austrian dominions. Their chief talent lies in repairing broken earthenware, by binding it together with the wire which they always carry about with them. At certain seasons they return to their own settlements, where the women and children [96] HUNGARIAN TINKERS.

HUNGARIAN TINKERS
HUNGARIAN TINKERS

remain (luring their absence. Excepting the gipsies, these men are the very poorest and most miserable of all the motley population of Hungary. Their language would declare them to he Sclaves, like the rest of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood ; but I must say I think there is something in the expression and in the form of their features which distinguishes them, and seems to indicate some ditlerence of origin.20

20These are the same people of whom Mr. Gleig speaks under the name of Torpindas. Where this writer obtained this name I know not; I have never heard it used in Hungary, nor can I find it in any Hungarian author. Has he not mistaken it for Topf-Linder, pot-mender? At Presburg they are called Trentainer, Draht_/Pechter (wire workers), or sometimes Drolarí.
[97] VAGH BESZTERCZE.

Although very fine men, their tight dress hanging in rags about their spare forms, and their long, shaggy, dark hair escaping from under the broad round hat over their wild features, render them, without exception, the most savage-looking beings I ever saw, and to the casual traveller who meets them among the scenes of more civilized life, and hears them spoken of as Hungarian peasants, they must convey a strange idea of the country they come from. It may be as well to inform these travellers at the outset, that such is not the state of the mass of the Hungarian peasantry.

At Bellus the road leaves the Waag, and crossing a cold highland district, joins it again at Vagh Besztercze, where we arrived towards evening. As we got out of the carriage a miserable beggar presented himself, and welcomed us in tolerable Latin, and in reply to some kreutzers returned a " do gratias, Illustrissime !"

About half a mile beyond the village is another of those ruined castles which are so numerous on the Waag. It is placed on the summit of a sugarloaf-shaped mountain, to which access seems almost impossible, and except by sudden surprise or hunger it was probably never reduced. As a ruin, excepting from its fine position, it has less to attract the artist than many of its fellows. In most of the castellated structures of Hungary, though fully equalling those of any other country in the strength and beauty of their position, in the vastness of their [98] CASTLE ARCHITECTURE. extent, and in their value as military posts of the age to which they belong, I observed few of those delicacies of architecture — coquetries of barbaric taste—with which the Norman and Teutonic knight loved to adorn his favourite stronghold, and which like the stiff collars and stately dress of his "ladye faire," might serve to defend as well as to ornament the fortress they surrounded.

The Hungarian castle has a solid and somewhat heavy appearance ; the walls are rarely parapeted ; the elegant watch-tower, so common on the Rhine, is wanting; the richly mullioned bay-window, the fretted archway and escutcheon-sculptured turret are very scarce ; and, instead of the flat roof of England, every tower is commonly surmounted by a wooden covering very like an extinguisher. I am not quite sure that the flat roof belongs to the castle of these times by right ; iu most of the old pictures of castles, especially the German ones, the roofs are certainly high, and it is probable they did not disappear with us till knocked down by artillery. Formerly, I believe, the watch-tower, and sometimes, perhaps, the keep, had flat roofs.

Vagh Besztercze was once in the possession of two brothers Podmanin, who because they chose rather to fight for themselves than for their king, were discourteously entitled robbers instead of valiant knights. Here too there is a tale of love and war; but much as I like these legends myself, I dare not trouble my readers with the tenth part of [99] ENNOBLED JEWS. what I know, for it is scarcely probable that, without the excitement of the scenery and travelling, he should feel the same interest in them that I did when I heard them on the spot.

Below the castle, just at the foot of the mountain, and at the very edge of the water, stands a modern mansion, ugly as a whitewashed stable, liable to be broken in by the falling rocks from above, and to be washed away by the flood below. This house, together with a large property in the neighbourhood, has been lately bought by a converted Jew of immense wealth. The Austrian government does not, any more than our own, allow the Jews to possess landed estates ; but it so happens, that the greater part of the bankers of Vienna are of the Hebrew nation ; and, as with wealth comes almost naturally the desire for landed property, the Jew is converted to Christianity,—or, at least, is Christened,—and purchases a large property ; perhaps receives a title and becomes an Hungarian nobleman. The Hungarian nobles are extremely indignant that their caste should be thus degraded ; and a degradation it is, that what they hold an honour should be conferred as the reward of hypocritical apostacy ; but they forget that the blame should rest on the cause which produces it—the unjust laws which render religious opinions the ground of political disabilities.

As for the fear so often expressed in Hungary, that the government, by letting in so many foreign [100] SUPPER. speculators, will destroy the Magyar nationality, and convert the country into a German province, or a new Judea, it is too ridiculous to require an answer. A very little knowledge of human nature is sufficient to teach us that the second, if not the first, generation of those whose origin is not considered too reputable, are certain to forget all about it. The Hungarians may rest assured that it will not be the fault of the newly-made nobleman,—be he of what origin or religion he may,—if he does not very soon persuade himself that his ancestors were of the purest Magyar blood, and if he himself does not become the warmest supporter of Magyarism in all its forms.

Before leaving the inn at Besztercze, to stroll along the banks of the river, we had ordered our supper, and desired them to have the floor well washed, as I felt certain from the dirt which covered it, that little quiet could be expected while it remained as we found it. When we returned, old Stephan had got the table spread and the room washed. Our supper consisted, as usual, of thin soup, roasted chickens, and salad, and on the present occasion, an omelette, flavoured with coarse preserve of the common plum. The wine, though rather sour, was strong, and with sugar and mineral water made no unpleasant summer beverage. And this, reader, is the fare you may almost always get in any part of this unknown, and, as you probably imagine, very savage land.

[101] TRAVELLERS' TROUBLES.

Before we had half done supper, I found my presentiment was just, though my precaution had been vain,—we were absolutely covered with fleas. In such cases, the only way to escape the tormentors is to go to bed. Yes, strange as it may appear, in a room full of fleas, you may sleep quite free from them,—that is providing they do not fall down through the ceiling upon you, which will sometimes happen. In the common country inn in Hungary, the bed is a wooden box, about six feet long by two and a half wide, standing on legs two feet high. This box is filled with straw, and thereon is laid a hair mattress. In some places, such is the whole bed ; in others, sheets, and all the other etceteras, are provided; but as they are by no means always of that purity which one could wish,—a witty German says, that Hungarian sheets are of every imaginable shade of colour except white -- almost every one travels with his own sheets, pillow, coverlet, and leathern sheet.

The first thing to render yourself secure is, to have the straw removed and replaced by a fresh supply. If the mattress is not one of the most promising, reject it also, and spread the leathern sheet over the straw, and the linen sheet over that. The great secret is to have the linen sheets much larger than the bed, and to leave them hanging over on all sides, so that it may be quite impossible for the fleas, even supposing them to remain about the bedstead, to get to you. Over the lower sheet you place as usual [102] VILLAGE CEMETERY. your upper sheet find silk wadded coverlet, the lightest and the warmest covering I know. I once remember in Moldavia,—a country infinitely barbarous and dirty,—to have slept undisturbed by these means, in a room where all the three insect plagues which have been given to torment humanity and teach it the utility of cleanliness, abounded in a degree I had no previous conception of.

As soon, therefore, as Stephan had completed these arrangements, we turned into our boxes, smoked our meerschaums, and talked over the events of the day in comfort, and with the sweet confidence of a quiet sleep after it. Only those who have wanted it can know how sweet that confidence is.

The next morning saw us again on our pilgrimage and brought us to a small village,—Prevink, I think,—whose modest burial-ground proclaimed the simplicity of its poor inhabitants. The cemetery, in Hungary, is almost always placed outside the precincts of the village, and is generally ornamented by a chapel and a variety of monuments, which indicate the former relative wealth and importance of its occupants; but here there was no church,—a wooden cross with a rudely painted figure of our Saviour served to sanctify the spot—while each grave was marked by a little cross of wood at its head without a sign or letter to distinguish its unlettered tenant, and many of those crosses were falling to decay and already making place for others, [103] LIPSZKY'S MAP OF HUNGARY. as though willing to encumber the space no longer than was required to fit it for a fresh occupant.

A little beyond Prevink we had ordered the driver to turn off the high road at a given point for the sake of visiting a curious valley we had heard of in the neighbourhood, but he had missed it and gone too far. As I examined the map and made Stephan explain his error, he looked at me with wonder and almost awe. How I a stranger could tell better than he where the road turned off to Szulyon was more than he could conceive. It was one, among many instances I met with, of the extreme minuteness and accuracy of Baron Lipszky's map of Hungary. This map, which would cover the side of a small room, I had got bound up in nine parts of a convenient size, and always carried with me the portion immediately required. By this means I not only gained an intimate knowledge of the geography of Hungary, but was in many instances able to direct those who considered themselves well acquainted with the country. I know no other map equally perfect except, perhaps, Keller's Switzerland, and when the different extent of the countries is considered as well as the difficulties with which Lipszky had to contend in a region so little known, it must be allowed to be a work of no ordinary merit.

The valley of Szulyon, which we had quitted our route to visit, and which we now entered by a narrow pass which left scarcely room for the road and [104] VALLEY OF SZULYON. rivulet, is remarkable for the curious formation of a range of sandstone rocks by which it is bounded on one side. Of a soft and crumbling nature, these rocks have been worn by the weather into a thousand whimsical shapes, which the fancy of the shepherd has endowed with resemblances to men, animals, buildings, and I know not what else of grotesque.

While I-I was sketching, I took my hammer and climbed up some part of the rocks. I found them composed of a very loose coarse sandstone, at times assuming almost the appearance of conglomerate ; in some parts crumbling to the touch, in others resisting the efforts of the hammer. It is to this circumstance the peculiarity in their appearance is owing, the soft parts have been washed away, and the harder have remained. These often occur in the form of long pillars, with slender bases ; often in isolated masses of indefinite forms ; on the whole presenting an exceedingly curious spectacle, though not quite so striking as some traveller finds it, who says, " that he turns round on leaving the valley to ask himself once more if strange magic has not converted into stone a living city, with all its architectural and living wonders."

In passing to the back of the bill I found the sandstone overlaid by limestone. It is said to belong to the Bohemian sandstone formation ; to this I cannot speak.

[105] HRISCO.

As we regained the Waag, we observed for the first time a crop of mangel-wurtzel. It is used as with us for winter fodder. In addition to the common white crops—maize, wheat, oats, and rye —we noticed in this neighbourhood potatoes, lint, and a few hops. It is much too cold for the vine in the greater part of the valley of Waag.

At IIrisco we were obliged to wait an hour and a half for horses, during which time we might have ascended to the old castle which crowns a very precipitous and craggy rock overlooking the village; but as we did not know at what moment the horses might arrive, and were afraid of being late at our destination, we did not venture. As usual, Hrisco has its legend. Dark deeds are said to have been perpetrated within its walls, after which the whole castle was filled at night with howlings, as of afflicted spirits, till at last a monk who reproved the murderer for his crime and was thrust out for his unwelcome words, turned himself into stone beside the door that he might be a constant warning to the hard-hearted Castellan, and even though now long deserted,—for no one has dared to live in Hrisco since that time,—the stony monk stands there still.

It was late when we reached Szolna, an old-fashioned little town, which we entered over a bridge placed across the former foss, and, passing under a low strong archway, and through a narrow street, arrived at last in a handsome square. This [106] SZOLNA. square, which is built round with good stone houses furnished with colonnades, forms just the centre of the town, which consists of one street answering to each side of the square and opening into it at the corners, the whole being enclosed within a strong wall. Almost all the houses in the back streets are built of wood black with age, and are ornamented with overhanging gables towards the street.

Szolna was at one time a place of considerable importance; indeed, the capital of Protestantism in the north of Hungary. A synod was held here in 1610, and soon after an academy was founded, and a printing-press established, from which issued a number of controversial works, still esteemed by the bibliomane for their rarity.

We were put sadly out of temper to-night by the horribly sour wine they gave us to wash down a bad supper. In vain we begged, in vain we offered money for better, the landlady said that the wine was seignorial, and no better dare she sell. As the reader will learn more fully hereafter, the sale of wine and the sale of flesh are rights of the lord of the manor, and here we had a striking proof of the annoyance of this custom. In some cases the innkeeper pays an annual rent for the exclusive privilege of selling wine in a certain town or village, and of course can then poison the poor traveller with as bad wine, and as dear, as he chooses; in other cases, as at Szolna, the lord provides the wine and obliges the innkeeper to sell it at a certain [107] SEIGNORIAL WINE. price which he fixes, and for which the other is accountable after the deduction of one-tenth for spillage, and a certain per tentage for profit. In most instances this is done to obtain a ready and certain sale for an inferior quality of wine of their own growth, but in some also from a desire of protecting the peasant against the extortion of the innkeeper, and to provide him with a wholesome article at a moderate price. In either case the wine is generally very little to be commended ; its consumers are principally the peasants, and what they desire is something cheap and intoxicating: they cannot see the use of drinking what will not make them drunk. The whole blame must not, therefore, be thrown on the privileged order. All this, however, we did not know at the time; they told us the wine was herrschaftlicli (seignorial), and that Prince Eszterhazy was the Grund Derr, whence it followed quite naturally that we most sincerely wished his Highness the misfortune—and no slight one either—of being obliged for one night to drink his own wine.

I have often been surprised that a small quantity of good wine in bottles is not also supplied for the sake of travellers of a better class; for though rarer in Hungary than in many other countries, they are still iii sufficient numbers to make it answer. But the spirit of privilege is sadly opposed to speculation and improvement. At present, when a gentleman makes a two or three days' journey from home, [108] FERRY-BOAT. lie generally carries wine and provisions with him, or makes use of his friends' houses as hotels on the road.

The next morning was Sunday ; and as we prepared to quit Szolna, the people were coming out of church, and marching to their homes with that steady, demure, and somewhat severe look which distinguishes the Protestant, find him where you will.

Some of the women wore curious caps of rich, stiff, black lace ; a national dress, now quite out of fashion among the young and gay. I could not help noticing two of these old caps, which met under one of the arcades, and after due salutations commenced a combat of words attended with such mysterious shakes of the head and holding up of the hands, that I am sure nothing but a backsliding of some younger cap could have excited so great an interest.

At a short distance from Szolna we crossed the Waag on a raft of very primitive construction. It was composed of two canoes formed of the trunks of trees hollowed out, much in the manner of that of Robinson Crusoe, between which were placed a row of planks, and on these were launched a carriage, four horses, and about half a dozen people. Forced by necessity and trusting to the knowledge of the peasants who acted as ferrymen, we placed ourselves on this frail bark, and landed very safely on the other side. It must [109] TEPLITZ. require good nerves to cross this place with a carriage in stormy weather.

Turning a little out of the direct road, we reached the village of Teplitz, tempted by a report we had heard that the body of Sophia Bosnyák, the first wife of the Palatine Wesselényi, was preserved in the church there quite fresh.

The memory of this lady is held by the peasants in almost sacred respect. The castle of Strecsno' about a mile from Teplitz, and placed on a high rock just over the Waag, was her usual residence. Sophia is described as one of those mild and loving wives whose deep affection can suffer in silence more easily than upbraid or resent, and Wesselényi as a bold warrior, whose manly beauty and rough virtues had completely won the soft heart of his at first unwilling bride. Often was the young wife left alone in the strong castle to watch for the return of her lord from those wars in which the restless Turk kept Hungary so constantly engaged, and the conclusion of the campaign brought him back the same faithful and tender husband he had left it.

After some time, however, Sophia observed a change in her husband's manner, on his return from absences that became more frequent, and seemed less called for than formerly; till at last the rumour reached even her ears that Wesselényi spent his time more agreeably than in combating the Turks,—in short, that she had a rival in her [110] SOPHIA BOSNYÁK. husband's heart, and that on his next return he intended to change his religion and separate from her for ever. Alarmed at this news, which her own observation but too well confirmed, the poor wife gave way to the bitterness of despair. One evening, when she had wept herself to sleep, thinking of her misfortunes, a bright vision appeared to her which she at once recognised as that of Our Lady of Strecsno, whose picture hung over the altar in the little chapel on the rock, and smiled consolation and peace on the stricken heart. When she awoke, she hastened with naked feet and pilgrim's staff, in spite of the darkness of the night, and the pitiless driving of a winter's storm, to visit the chapel of the Virgin, and to render thanks to her protectress for the comfort she had sent her.

Next morning saw Wesselényi's return ; but the frown had left his brow, the cold look was no longer in his eyes, and as he pressed his Sophia in his arms, she felt herself once more the loved, the happy wife. On the anniversary of that day Sophia ever made her pilgrimage, barefoot and alone, to the shrine of her protectress, and after death she was buried in the little chapel on the rock.

About fifty years later, when the castle and chapel of Strecsno were destroyed in the civil wars of the Tökölys, the body of Sophia was found still whole and fresh. Among the peasants, by whom her memory was revered for her charity and [111] THE PRIEST OF TEPLITZ. benevelence, the body was regarded as that of a saint, and carefully removed to the church of Teplitz. Here it remains to this day, and albeit unsanctioned by Rome, has as many devoted pilgrims, and performs as many miracles as any saint in the calendar.

We sought out the village priest to obtain permission to see the church and its wonders. In so poor a part of the country and so small a village, I expected a priest of corresponding modesty; but the good father of Teplitz seemed in no way to partake of the scarcity of the land. As we were shown into the house by a naked-footed waiting maid, we found a comfortable dwelling, neat and in good order, while the dining-room was set out for dinner, with covers for eighteen or twenty guests, and that not in any meagre style, but with goodly bottles of wine between every two covers, the table spread with a clean table-cloth, and every plate furnished with a napkin.

The priest himself, who received us very politely and spoke German, was a portly man to whom the pleasures of this world did not seem altogether strange. Since I have known more of Hungary, and of the priesthood in particular, I have not been able to understand why the good father did not invite us to dine with him, for of all the hospitable Hungarians, no one is more so than the parish priest. I remember that on another occasion, when travelling with two Hungarians, [112] HOSPITALITY OF we arrived just about nightfall in a village where there was but a very poor inn ; the priest of the parish no sooner heard that strangers were in the village, than he came up to the carriages, and, after merely bowing to us, ordered the coachman to drive into his yard, not supposing that even a verbal invitation was required, so much did he consider it a matter of course that we should remain with him. Now as we were four persons, with two servants, two peasant coachmen and their eight horses ; and, moreover, as three of us were quite unknown, we determined to decline the invitation, fearing that so large a party would inconvenience a poor parish priest, though we were certain the hospitality was heartily offered. Never shall I forget the mournful look of the good man when he clearly comprehended that we declined his courtesy ; he argued on the folly of the thing; assured us his accommodations were good ; and at last seemed so seriously hurt that we were fain to comply. The English reader may wonder what he did with us all. The horses were turned on the village common, to which all such travellers' horses have a right; the peasants slept in the stable, the servants in the carriages, and we were furnished with two as good double-bedded rooms as I could wish to sleep in. After offering us pipes, the priest conducted us to some object in the neighbourhood, which we wished to see ere it grew dark, and on our return we found the table not only well but handsomely spread; [113] THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD. awl the supper, consisting of soup, stewed fowls, vegetables, sweets, and roasted venison, with a dessert, was excellent. The wine, of which our host did not partake,—indeed of the whole supper he ate but slightly,—was better than I had met with for many a day before. I-Iis smart hussar waited on us as footman. The conversation of the priest showed him to be a man of considerable information, and of by no means a bigoted mind ; indeed to me it appeared almost a fault, that he spoke in so slight, ing a manner of some of the observances of his religion, particularly, I remember, the necessity of performing mass on an empty stomach, which he ridiculed as one of those follies useful only to influence an ignorant people. I believe this tone is not very uncommon among the Catholic clergy of the Continent who wish to pass for men of enlightened minds,—at least, in the company of Protestants ; in Italy I heard it more than once. In speaking of persecution for religion, he denounced its injustice with great warmth, and instanced Ireland and O'Connell as an example of the greater wisdom of the present age. The name of O'Connell, throughout all Hungary, we found a watchword among the liberal Catholics, and many were the questions we were asked about his eloquence, talent, and appearance. He seems to be considered a living testimony that Catholicism and even ultraliberalism are by no means inconsistent.

I believe I must let the reader into a little secret [114] THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD. which our night's residence in the priest's family disclosed to us ; for it is said to be rather characteristic of the class. In the next room to that in which we slept, we heard the chattering, the stifled laugh, the scolding, and the slap, which declared those mischievous mortals, children, to be not far off. In fact, our host in his younger (lays had yielded to the forbidden temptation ; and instead, as he grew older, of patching up his conscience for heaven by driving away the partner and offspring of his errors, he had installed her in the office of his housekeeper, and given shelter to the children under the convenient title of nephews and nieces. This sort of thing is said to be of not unfrequent occurrence; and the prudent guest of the Hungarian priest should never look too admiringly at any pretty handmaid who may chance to serve his supper; nor ask too particularly as to the parentage of any little tale-tellers he may see about the parsonage,—though I believe of the two, the latter would be the least offensive.

But to return to the priest of Teplitz, who did not ask us to dinner, but conducted us to the church. Service was just about to commence, and the body of the church was crowded with peasants; the married women on one side, with a head dress of white linen, in form much like that of the statues of Nemesis, and the men on the other, while the maidens, with their long bands of braided hair hanging down the back, crowded round the steps of [115] THE MUMMY OF TEPLITZ. the altar. In a side chapel, built in imitation of that of our Lady of Loretto, which—as the priest observed, with a very intelligible smile of incredulity—came from the Holy Land, we found the body of Sophia. The priest unlocked a painted coffin-shaped box, and there lay the mummy in a modern dress of black silk, the face shrunk, and the extremities dry and hard, but the fleshy parts still retaining their soft and flesh-like feeling. Some of the peasants crowded round to catch a glimpse of their favourite saint—the box was reclosed and locked—we thanked the priest for his attention, and passed on our way to visit the castle.

At Kirin, we were obliged to leave the carriage, as the road by the side of the Waag was no longer passable; and following the course of the river on foot for about an hour, we came opposite Strecsno, where we fortunately found the ferry boats ready to start. These, like the others we had before seen, were only canoes joined together by a cord, and pushed over by two men, one placed at either encl. Each canoe, besides these men, contained not less than five or six women, laden with immense sacks. To prevent accidents from the wind, the women knelt down ; and holding the sides to keep themselves steady, remained in that position, quite still, till they arrived at the other side and were allowed to rise.

The Castle of Strecsno is beautifully situated and very extensive. The rock on which it stands is a [116] CASTLE OF STRECSNO. black limestone,21 rising precipitously from the river. Here, as well as at Csejta, we observed a great quantity of recent bones falling down the sides of

STRECSNO
STRECSNO

the mountain with the débris of the rock ; and, in the former instance, we found they proceeded from the interior of the ruins, where we picked some up. They were principally bones of sheep, hares, birds, and other small animals, with a few that might have belonged to oxen or horses. We were quite puzzled to account for their presence ; foxes or wolves, we knew, would have eaten the small
21This point is worth the geologist's examination :. within two hundred yards I observed two different limestones, followed by grauwacke, and that again by granite.
[117] MARGITA. bones and gnawed the larger, which was not the case; and we did not think that any bird of prey could have carried them ; but just as we passed under the ruins, the harsh croaking of a raven caught our ears, and reminded us that Csejta had been similarly tenanted.

As we had left Stephan with the carriage, and the peasants we met spoke only Sclavackish, we were not able to make any inquiries as to the distance to Margita ; a narrow and dangerous pass in the navigation of the Waag, not very far from Strecsno, and which we wished to visit. The Margita is a naive given to three or four rocks in the middle of the river, so called from a luckless maid, whom the jealousy of a cruel step-mother condemned to an untimely grave in this wild spot. Since that time, the wandering spirit of Margita hovers over these rocks, and demands one life every year for the bridegroom she was robbed of; — nor is it without fear and trembling, that the poor float-men, who fully believe the story, approach the spot which may condemn them to a phautoui bride and a watery couch.

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