Title


[118] A SPECIMEN OF

CHAPTER V.

VALLEY OF THE WAAG.

A Specimen of Vorspann Driving.—The Jew of Tyerhova and Sir Walter Scott.—Diffusion of English Literature.—Valley of Wratna. — A Jewish Landlady. — Sheep and Cattle of Northern Hungary. — The Pupor. — Roads in Arva.— The Alas and the Juden Knipe. — County of Arva.— Castle of Arva. — Peter Varda. — George Thurzo.—Flogging Block.— Rosenberg. — Church of St. Marie.— Inn at St. Miklós. — Cavern of Demenfalva.—Ice Pillars.—Hradek.—Wood Cut- ting and Floating.

ON resuming our journey, we had rather a cu- rious specimen of Vorspann driving. As is very often the case, the horses belonged to two different peasants, and had not only never run together, but one had never before drawn at all. The harness consisted of one thin rope round the neck, and two others attached to the carriage in the form of traces. One of the peasants was upon the box, while the other mounted the near wheeler, seated on his great coat instead of a saddle, and drove the four horses by means of his long whip and the string round the neck of the near leader.

In stopping his horses, the gentlest wo !— by the by, wo and gee! or something very like them, are [119] VORSPANN DRIVING. used in Hungary, as with us—was sufficient for the purpose, but to guide them was another affair. The colt, which was the near leader, did not like drawing, and the others seemed to have different predilections as to the route they should take. As we started out of the village at full gallop,—an Hungarian coachman always starts at a gallop,—we first took off the corner of a cottage roof, then quarrelled with a heap of manure, next rushed up a steep bank, and at last, thanks to the self-willed colt, found ourselves safe in a peasant's court-yard. After some time we regained the road; but it would not do ; one would go this way, and another that. The only plan to keep them together was to continue the gallop ; but the road was now in the dried-up bed of a river, and respect for the springs obliged us to go slowly, so that I, at last, made the other peasant mount the unruly leader, and we got on rather better for the rest of the stage. Such travelling may appear dangerous to those who are not used to it, and who do not know what a carriage can do without overturning; but it is much less so than it appears, for these horses are so unaccustomed to be managed by others, that they have acquired a stock of good sense and a knowledge of the ways, which enables them to take care of themselves as well or better than their masters could do. One of our high-bred, high-fed, and well-guided animals, if once he gets his head, runs he knows not whither,— he sees no danger, and heeds no [120] JEW OF TYERHOVA AND SIR W. SCOTT. check—till a fall brings him to his senses. The Vorspann horse, however, is not troubled with over-breeding or over-feeding; and though he may sometimes prefer a different route to that proposed, or even decline drawing at all, he never plays any of those perilous and foolish tricks which render his English prototype the fear of city aldermen and aged spinsters. The moral of all which is—that the enjoyment of liberty, especially when combined with simplicity and poverty, makes horses, as well as men, wise in the employment of it.

While we were waiting for fresh horses before the little " Judea knipe,"—for by this contemptuous epithet, answering to " Jew's pot-house," Stephan always designated an inn kept by a .Jew, —at the station next Tyerhova, one of the tribe of Israel came up and asked us if we would like to see some curious rocks, only a quarter of an hour from the village. As we followed him to the spot, he asked those questions, as to where we came from, what we were doing, and whither we were going, so common in most countries except our own, where they are avoided, as though every one was doing something of which he was ashamed, and which he desired to conceal. On hearing that we were English, he asked very earnestly if one Walter Scott was yet living, and expressed the greatest regret when he learnt his death. Surprised at such a sentiment from such a man, and suspecting some mistake, I inquired what he knew of [121] DIFFUSION OF ENGLISH LITERATURE. Scott, when he hulled from his pocket a well-thumbed German translation of Ivanhoe, — the very romance of persecuted Judaism, — and assured me he had read that and many others of his works with great pleasure. I do not know that I ever felt more strongly the universal power of genius than when I found the bard of Scotland worshipped by a poor Jew in the mountains of Hungary.

It is astonishing to an Englishman who knows how ignorant even well-informed persons of his own country are of the literature and politics of a great part of the Continent, to find the names of the best authors of England familiar as household words among nations of whose very existence the greater part of that country is scarcely aware. In Hungary, this fact struck me with more force even than in Germany, though the taste for English literature is there immeasurably more advanced than ii- France or Italy. But the Hungarians, with very little literature of their own, and generally possessing a knowledge of several foreign languages, are not only entirely thrown on the resources of others for their mental food, but are thus eminently well provided with the means of enjoying it. In many cases I have found the originals in English, but in general, they are read in excellent German translations. With what ecstatic pleasure have they told me of the new light which English literature opened to them ! with what admiration have they [122] THE VALLEY OF WRATNA. spoken of the strong and vigorous train of thought which pervades our authors, of that scrupulous decency which they observe, of that warm love of nature they express, and of the universal respect in which religion is upheld by them ! A great cause of this extension of English literature, has been the judicious selection and the cheap form in which Galignani and other foreign booksellers have published the standard English works; and, however disadvantageous this traffic may have been to the pockets of British authors, I am quite sure it has been a very important means in establishing and diffusing their own, and their country's reputation. Shakespeare, Byron, Scott, and Bulwer, are the names best known ; and though it may startle the English reader to find the name of a living candidate for fame ranked so high among these immortal dead, yet it must be confessed that the reading Continent has generally placed him there. Whether the English public will confirm the award when time shall have removed the clouds of party prejudice and personal pique which so often obscure our judgment of living genius, I dare not venture to conjecture.

The valley of Wratna, to which our guide led us, is a very narrow pass, the opening of which is closed by a mill and a pretty waterfall, formed by a wild little mountain torrent, which, tumbling, roaring, and gushing over broken rocks and down steep precipices, has at last cut itself a way out, while the mountains above are pinnacled in a more [123] A JEWISH LANDLADY. fantastic manner even than those of Szulyon. We discovered the likeness of all manner of heads, arches, holes, animals, and I know not what besides, the more interesting from their sharp and clear outlines, which they owe to the hard limestone in which they are formed. We may probably thank Scott for the pleasure of this scene; for it is rare that the uneducated have a relish for the beauties of nature, and still rarer that they think of leading others to enjoy that pleasure, except where the traveller's gold has disclosed to the greedy mountaineer more beauties in his native rocks than he himself e'er dreamt of.

As we returned to the inn, the Jewish landlady, of whose really uncommon beauty we had obtained a glance before, notwithstanding old Stephan's rebut%-for, as I said before, he hated pretty women now came to talk to us. Those large black eyes, spite of their quiet coquetry — Jews, Turks, or Christians, women are alike coquettes,—were not come to waste their battery on us, however, without some hope of turning it to profit; for, after a while, their fair possessor expatiated on the bad accommodation we were likely to meet with further on, and offered us, as consolation, some champagne, which she assured us was excellent. It is very probable old Stephan guessed the object of her parley,—and, perhaps, suspected his master's weakness in favour of black eyes,—at any rate, he looked most alarmingly cross when ordered to pay what he grumbled [124] THE PUPOR. at as an exorbitant price for the bottles our pretty Jewess carefully stowed away in the pockets of the carriage.

As we slowly ascended the hill leading from Tyerhova, we picked up a fine salamander, marked with remarkably bright yellow blotches on a black ground.

The sheep in this part of the country are quite different from the merinos we observed in other parts. They are large-boned animals, with a particularly long and coarse wool, and with spiral horns, often turning directly upwards ; in fact, just what Bewick has figured under the name of Wallachian sheep.22 The cattle are of a poor, small, mixed breed, resembling our worst Irish, and very unlike the large white, or dun ox of the plains, which is equal, if not superior in beauty, to that of Rome.

We had now to cross the Pupor, a mountain connecting the two ridges of the Carpathians, between which we had been travelling all along the valley of the Waag, and which that river itself has cut through near Strecsno, and we were therefore provided with six horses and three drivers ; but, notwithstanding the shouting and flogging of the men, which seemed quite as hard work as the dragging of the horses, we progressed but very slowly, and, as we gained the summit, we had only light

22I believe this name is improperly given ; for I have never seen this sheep in Wallachia, nor indeed anywhere but in the northern part of Hungary.
[125] THE ROADS IN ARVA. enough just to perceive the beautiful valley we were entering. Before we finished the descent, the moon had risen, and showed us dimly a narrow gorge hemmed in on each side by precipitous hills, black with the solemn pine, except where the rocks broke through and exposed their bare crags, while the bottom was occupied by a river, from which the road had been robbed as it were, so much did it seem to have encroached on the usual bed of the stream. To our surprise, instead of the tossing and jolting we had endured the whole day, we now found ourselves rolling along as smoothly as over a gravel walk. The only explanation we could get from the peasants was, that we were now in the county of Arva. They probably thought that no one could be ignorant of the fact, that though surrounded on all sides by the worst roads in Hungary, and though one of the poorest and most mountainous counties in the land, Arva without exception was in possession of the very best roads. Such is the fact; probably an abundance of material, and a greater unity in the administration of the county than usual, will account for it.

For two hours we continued along this valley, with scarcely a sign of human habitation till we arrived at Parnicza, where we had determined to pass the night, almost sorry to have quitted a scene which the dim moon-light may perhaps have invested with an interest and romance it might want at another time.

[126] THE JUDEN KNIPE AT PARNICZA.

Every country inn in Hungary is provided with an á1sá, or huge barn-like building, which serves as carriage-house and stable, and very often as bedroom too, for the peasants generally sleep in or under their waggons when on a journey. Into this alas the traveller is usually driven—if (luring the day to protect him from heat or cold till the horses arrive,—if at night that his carriage may be safely locked up; and here it seemed probable that we must pass the night, for Stephan declared it impossible to sleep in the inn. Knowing the old hussar's horror of a Jew,—and this he had declared was the most miserable Juden knipe in the world, I thought it best to look for myself, and a miserable place I found it. The house consisted only of two rooms, one in which the family lived and slept, and where the peasants drank and smoked, and the other a gast-zimmer or guest-room, which they offered us. It had no floor but the hardened clay ; no furniture but a table, a bench, and one or two chairs, with two boxes about four feet long, meant for beds. The whole, however, was not so dirty as I had expected, and I thought it at any rate better than the ú1ús. And now Stephan appeared in all his glory, for as soon as he found my choice was fixed he determined to make the best he could of it; and stripping the carriage of its cushions, and pressing into the service every convertible object, by the aid of chairs, bench, and table, he constructed two beds, not only comfortable, but with all the [127] ARVA. neat and heel-like appearance which a poet would say invites one to repose. In the mean time we had been inquiring into the contents of our host's larder; black bread, salt, and spirits, were literally the only articles the house, — or they said the village, — could furnish. Fortunately the pretty Jewess of Tyerhova had pressed a Dutch cheese upon us as well as the wine, and with these and the white bread, of which we always carried a supply, we made a very hearty supper. As glass after glass of the sparkling wine made everything look brighter and more comfortable, bow often did we bless the black-eyed unbeliever for thinking we liked champagne !

The next morning, before mid-day, we arrived at Arva, a little town which gives its name to the most northerly county of Hungary, in which the roads are good and everything else is bad. The greater part of this county once belonged to the powerful family of Thurzo, whose last male heir possessed out of the ninety-seven towns and villages, which the county contains, no less than eighty-two, and these at his death he bequeathed to his daughters and their descendants. Up to the present day this property has never been divided. The joint heirs now amount to upwards of sixty, from whom one is chosen as director, who administers the estate for the common benefit of all. The annual net revenue, when the expenses of administration are deducted, amounts to only 12,000l. [128] THE CASTLE OF ARVA. of which the share of some of the parties is not more than a few shillings yearly.

The castle, which crowns the summit of a conical rock, on the banks of the pretty river Arva, is composed of three stories, or rather distinct castles, built on three different heights directly over cacti other.

ARVA
ARVA

A steep ascent leads to the outer gateway, which opens on a circular road, strongly defended by pierced casemates, now used as prisons. The first castle occupies a flat platform of rock, and contains the chapel and some other buildings still in good repair, and inhabited. On the second part, which is reached by a flight of broad steps, the greatest care has been bestowed, and it still bears [129] CASTLE OF ÁRVA. traces of considerable elegance. Some remains of painting on the outer walls, show that Árva, like many other castles in Hungary, was once painted externally. This part, as well as the upper portion, unfortunately suffered much from fire a few years since ; and though the walls are covered with roofing, which will prevent any very speedy decay, it is much to be regretted that the proprietors of the estates have not the spirit to restore the castle to its former condition. It will indeed be a deep disgrace to the descendants of Thurzo should they allow Árva to fall to decay,—a castle interesting as one of the best specimens of Gothic castellated architecture in Europe, and intimately connected with the history of Hungary, and with the greatness of those from whom the present possessors derive their property. The upper castle is built on the very point of the rock to which it seems to cling for support, and is said to be the most ancient portion of it, though several of the doorways bear the inscription "Impensis Francisci Thurzo, erectu. an. 1561," which, however, probably refers only to some alterations or additions.

In one part of the castle I was shown a recess, not a yard wide, constructed in the thickness of the wall, and so small that a person could only just sit or stand in it, and with no other opening than a hole through which food might be put ; there, it is said, and I believe on good authority, that Mathias Corvinus confined the archbishop of [130] GEORGE THURZO. Kalocsa, Peter Várda, for five years. He is said to have been incensed against this churchman, because of a mistake he had committed in drawing up a treaty with the Turks, of which they took great advantage ; and on discovering which, the haughty Mathias boxed the blunderer's cars and sent him to prison, with the bitter pun " Petro, Arva (in Hungarian, orphan) fuisti, Arva eris, et in Arva morieris."

On returning to the lower castle, one of the bailiffs opened the chapel for me, that I might see what he evidently considered as the chief pride of Arva,—the marble statue and monument of George Thurzo, Count of Arva and Palatine of Hungary. Among the Protestants of Hungary, the name of George Thurzo is held in the highest veneration ; for under his fostering protection the new religion held its synods, elected its superintendants, established its schools, and obtained a degree of power and respect to which it never afterwards reached. Like many other of the early opponents of Roman corruption, however, Thurzo was cruel and bigoted in the support of his own creed, and we find him refusing to others the liberty of conscience he demanded for himself.

A disgusting sight greeted us as we left the castle. Under the gateway, which was as usual hung with instruments of punishment, the flogging board, a low table on which the sufferer is stretched out and fastened down, was laid ready, apparently for immediate use ; two or three Haiduks, in their [131] HUNGARIAN JEWS. gay uniform, standing prepared to operate. At this time, the law still allowed the seigneur, on his own authority, or his bailiff's, to order twenty-five blows, as a summary punishment to the peasant. Happily this law is now no longer in existence; and though flogging is still a legal punishment, it can only be inflicted after a regular trial and condemnation.

In our journey through the county of Arva, and indeed generally in the north of Hungary, we were struck with the number of Jews we met; iii fact, we began to think the Emperor of Austria had more right than we suspected to his title of " King of Jerusalem."

They are easily recognised, rather by their peculiarly cunning humility of aspect than by their dress, though it is sufficiently remarkable that, instead of imitating the peasants of the country in which they live, they always make themselves conspicuous by a shabby showy attempt at a more civilized costume. It is melancholy to see the degraded state to which this people are reduced ; nothing can be more wretchedly humble than the salutation of the Arva Jew, nothing can more eloquently proclaim how necessary freedom is to the ennoblement of man. I know not why, but everywhere the mass of the Jews appear filthy and poor. No one can deny their greedy desire for wealth, their industry, and their temperance ; and yet we find them abounding the most in poor countries, [132] HUNGARIAN JEWS. and appearing there the poorest and most miserable. Living by trade, they seem to shun those nations where trade prospers best ; almost everywhere deprived of the rights of citizens, they seek most those countries where they are most despised and persecuted. In England, with the exception of some few great capitalists, the Jews have but little influence on our commerce; in Poland, nothing can be bought or sold without their intervention. Under liberal governments, where they might enjoy protection and justice, they are scarce; but in Turkey, where I have seen an angry Moslem cut off a Jew's ears because he could not bargain with him, every second man you meet is a Jew.

In Hungary, the greater part of the trade is carried on by means of Jews, who, from their command of ready money in a country where that commodity is scarce, enjoy peculiar facilities. The Jew early in spring makes his tour round the country, and bargains beforehand with the gentry for their wool, their wine, their corn, or whatever other produce they may have to dispose of. The temptation of a part, or sometimes the whole, of the cash down, to men who are ever ready to anticipate their incomes, generally assures the Jew an advantageous bargain. It does occasionally happen that the biter is bit, that the noble cheats the Jew—either in refusing to hold to his bargain, or by fulfilling it unfairly, both of which the peculiar state of the Hungarian law allows him to do, with a great chance [133] HUNGARIAN JEWS. at least of impunity. I have heard of a case in which the Jew, after waiting some time for the arrival of a quantity of corn for which he had bargained some months before, received the intelligence that the noble had determined not to sell for less than double the sum agreed on, as the current price had increased so much since his agreement was made, but in consideration of his disappointment the Hebrew was considerately offered the first refusal at the double price. Indignant at such impudent roguery, the Jew, forgetting for once his prudence, reproached the noble in no measured terms, and it was thought very fortunate that he escaped without corporal as well as pecuniary damage. Not very long since a Jew was beaten by a noble at Pest, because lie complained somewhat loudly, that the wool which the other had sent him was in a dirty and unsalable state. Let it not be supposed that these cases are common, they are very rare, and the persons guilty of them are marked with infamy. But such reports, carefully spread by the Jews to keep other dealers out of the market, and the knowledge that the privileges of the noble and the imperfect state of the laws render it extremely difficult to enforce the fulfilment of a contract, have frightened away respectable merchants, and have conspired with other causes to deprive the Hungarians of the advantages which a more regular and direct commerce would confer. It would be as unjust to judge of the character of [134] HUNGARIAN JEWS. the English by the reports of fraudulent bankruptcy cases, as of the Hungarians by these tales of the dishonesty of some of their nobles. They will be a warning, however, to the foreign merchant where the law is insufficient for his protection, to trade only with those whose characters are known to him.

The Jews are also employed by the nobles as men of business, as tenants or middlemen, as distillers and as publicans. From their ability, knowledge of business, and extensive connection, they are, when honest, invaluable in such situations ; but they sometimes deceive the confidence reposed in them, and make away with large sums of money, which are conveyed to some of the tribe in Poland, or other countries, where it is impossible for justice to extract a kreutzer, so close and secret is the connection they maintain amongst each other.

The Jew is no less active in profiting by the vices and necessities of the peasant than by those of the noble. As sure as he gains a settlement in a village, the peasantry become poor. Whenever the peasant is in want of money, whether from the occurrence of misfortune, or to make merry at his marriage feast, or to render due honour to his patron saint, the Jew is always ready to find it for him, — of course at exorbitant interest. All the peasant has to repay with is the next year's crop, and that he willingly pledges, trusting to chance or his landlord's kindness to support hire during the winter. In this way the crop is often sold as soon as [135] HUNGARIAN JEWS. it is sown, and for the rest of the year the peasant finds himself bound hand and foot to his hard creditor. On this account I have known many gentlemen refuse to let a Jew live in their villages, and rather lend money to their peasants themselves where they saw the need of it, and allow them to pay it back in labour.

The Jews enjoy the privilege of free worship in Hungary, on the payment of a yearly tax of 16,0001. — a disgrace to Hungary as a free and constitutional country, from which it is to be hoped she will soon clear herself. But it ill becomes an Englishman to reproach another land for bigotry in this respect, while he sees the Jews still deprived of political rights in his own country.

We cannot feel astonished at the sentiment of hatred and contempt with which the Hungarian, whether noble or peasant regards the Jew who fawns on hint, submits to his insults, and panders to his vices, that he may the more securely make him his prey : but we cannot help feeling how richly the Christian has deserved this at the Hebrew's hands ; for, by depriving him of the right of citizenship, of the power of enjoying landed property, and even of the feeling of personal security, he has prevented his taking an interest in the welfare of the state he lives in, has obliged him to retain the fruits of his industry in a portable and easily convertible form, has forced him, in short, to be a money-lender whose greatest profit springs from the misery of his [136] KUBIN. neighbours,—a merciless oppression, and indeed a merciless retribution.

As we returned to the valley of the Waag we passed the little town of Kubin, behind which appears the imposing outline of the Kolpan mountain. Kubin, with its gable-ended houses, built like

KUBIN
KUBIN

all the others in Arva of the unhewn sterns of the fir, notched into each other at the corners, and plastered over with mud and whitewashed, is a pretty little place, and H gladly availed himself of the delay of the ever-dilatory Vorspann, to transfer a memorial of its chief street and its modest hemp-dresser to his sketch-book.

Although the soil and climate of Arva are anything but genial, they seen to suit the cultivation of flax and hemp. Of the former, in particular, [137] HEMP OF HUNGARY. a large quantity is produced, which is manufactured into linen in the houses of the peasants, and sold over the whole of Hungary, and even as far as Turkey. The hemp harvest was now going on. It lasts a long time ; for they only draw out at once those stems which happen to be ripe at the time, thereby allowing the others space to grow up and ripen in their turn. When gathered and dried, the hemp is soaked for a fortnight or three weeks in stagnant water, exposed to a hot sun, that its outer bark may putrefy and fall off. When this process is considered perfect, the women go into the filthy ponds which contain the hemp, where they may be seen by the dozen, standing up to the middle in the black mud, handing it out to others on the bank. After drying in the sun, the hemp is next dressed to disencumber it of its now brittle covering, which is effected by passing it frequently under a wooden chopper, fixed in a small frame. The cost of dressing is so great, that half the quantity is given to the dressers for their trouble. I have heard a person connected with the navy of England declare that the Hungarian hemp is both cheaper and better than that of Russia, and that he was sure it would one day drive the other out of the English market.23

23I have heard with very great pleasure that a contract for the supply of the British dock-yards with hemp, is in future likely to be given to an enterprising Vienna merchant, and that the greater part of it will come from Hungary. I hail this as a favourable omen for the commencement of commercial relations between the two countries : and it is not unpleasant to think that our navy will no longer depend for its supplies on a nation which must sooner or later declare itself our enemy, but on one which circumstances and inclination alike induce to be our friend.
[138] LIKAWA.

We required no map to tell us where the boundaries of Arva ceased, for the road seemed of a sudden to come to an end, and from the science of MacAdam, we found ourselves at once literally reduced to the resources of nature ; the road was for the most part a mere track : sometimes we dashed through the brooks which crossed our path, sometimes trusted ourselves to a few pine trunks, carelessly thrown across the stream, and called a bridge. I am not generally nervous in such matters, and yet I can assure the reader I never crossed one of these bridges, which in other parts of the country are only too common, without a very uncomfortable feeling ; nor will he be astonished at this when I tell him that they always tremble, and often crack under the weight of a carriage, and I have even seen holes in them through which a man and horse might easily disappear.

The ruins of Likawa gave additional interest to the wild valley along which we journeyed. This castle was formerly the property of John Corvinus, the natural son of King Mathias, who, though intended as his successor by the father, seems to have yielded, with little opposition, to the accession of Wladislaus ; and, like our own Richard Cromwell, to have contentedly resigned his claim to a throne for the privacy of the peaceful subject.

[139] SZENT MARIA.

The first object worthy of notice which occurred, on regaining our favourite valley of the Waag, to which a few more hours of travelling conducted us, was the little church of Szent Maria, said to have been the first Christian temple erected in Hungary. Though prettily situated, recent alterations have destroyed much of the interest its interior might formerly have had for the antiquary or artist. It is surrounded by a strong wall with parapets and port-holes, probably not without their use when Christianity was struggling with Paganism for the mastery of the land.

On inquiring at the parsonage for admission, the priest came out ; and addressing us in Latin, brought us the keys and showed us the wonders of his little church. As the good man spoke no German, I was obliged to muster up the recollections of my college days, and was glad to find them fresh enough to enable me to make myself understood, and to comprehend at least a part of his answers in return. The body of the church is by far the oldest part ; few distinctive marks of antiquity have survived the many repairs it has been subject to, except three round arches supported on octagonal pillars, with grotesquely ornamented capitals, in a style which I think

BYZANTINE CAPITAL AT ST. MARIA
BYZANTINE CAPITAL AT ST. MARIA

[140] SZENT MARIA. clearly establishes for it a Byzantine origin. This circumstance is rendered the more interesting, from the fact that the first Hungarians converted to Christianity were baptized in Constantinople ; and it has been matter of bitter controversy, whether the glory of Hungary's original conversion should not be ascribed to the eastern Church. Before the nation itself adopted the new religion, there were, however, a great number of Christian prisoners in Hungary, and amongst others, many Byzantine Creeks ; and it may have been to some of these that the Church of St. Maria owes its origin.

The chancel, of a much later date, is in the pointed Gothic style, with a small niche of very rich workmanship. There is an old picture here of the History of Christ, in compartments, now much injured, but interesting from the circumstance of its being painted on a ground-work of silver foil, which appears through as well in the glories of the saints, as in other parts where the colour has fallen off. There are several inscriptions on the tombstones, which form the pavement of the church ; but they were so obscured by dirt, that it was impossible to decipher them. At St. Miklós, a few miles further on, we had determined to take up our quarters and to reconnoitre the country

GOTHIC NICHE AT ST.MARIA
GOTHIC NICHE AT ST.MARIA

[141] ST. MIKLÓS. round, as we had heard that there was in its vicinity one of those extraordinary caverns which abound in Hungary, and which we wished to visit.

The inn at St. Miklós, notwithstanding its size and promising appearance, was one of the worst we had yet met with. In addition to incivility, we had filth in its worst forms; and in answer to our request for dinner, we got only a sulky reply, that there was nothing in the house. But if the day was uncomfortable, how shall I describe the feverish horrors of the night? Driven from the bed,—for this once I had neglected my precautions,—I in vain sought to repose on chairs or table; and at last I fairly ran away, and wrapping myself in my cloak, slept in the carriage till morning. I make it a matter of conscience to recount these minor miseries, that those who undertake a journey in Hungary, may not feel disappointed if they meet some few disagreeables by the way, though, to say the truth, I am obliged constantly to refer to my note-book, or I should not remember one half of them. So happily is human nature constituted, that mere bodily pains, however they may annoy us at the time, are quickly forgotten ; it is this which makes the recollection of our travels often so much pleasanter than the travels themselves.

Having applied the evening before for permission to visit the cavern of Demenfalva, to a gentleman of the name of Kubin, on whose property it is situated, and having been kindly promised by his [142] DEMENFALVA. lady, who received us in his absence, that she would find us guides, and make every necessary provision for our visiting it, we started for the village of Demenfalva; when, being provided with a guide, we drove on to the cavern, about five miles distant. I shall not easily forget that drive. We were in a light carriage of the country, without springs, and had to pass along the rocky bed of a mountain torrent. It is almost impossible for a carriage of this description to fall over, but it required all our care to avoid falling out; for every turn of the wheel brought it over huge masses of rock, from which it fell down again with a shake that seemed to dislocate every bone in our bodies.

At last we came in sight of the cavern's mouth, —a small hole at a considerable height on the side of a limestone mountain, in a very wild and beautiful valley. Here another guide awaited us, both being as savage-looking fellows as I ever saw, and unfortunately ignorant of any other language than Sclavackish. The entrance, not more than three feet high, opens into a high passage, which descends rather suddenly for several hundred feet, and leads into the first cavern, the roof and floor of which are beset with stalactites and stalagmites, though not of any great size. From thence, we descended by a broken and very rotten ladder into a larger cavern, out of which a low archway conducted us to the great curiosity of Demenfalva, the ice grotto. In the centre of this grotto, which [143] ICE GROTTO OF DEMENFALVA. is rather small, rises a column of beautifully clear ice, about seven feet high, on which the water falls as it drops from the ceiling, and immediately freezes. The floor is one mass of thick ice. Still lower in the same direction is a much larger chamber, where an ice pillar of several feet in thickness reaches from the roof to the floor. It is formed of small irregularly rounded crystals of ice, of about the size of drops of water, which reflected most brilliantly the light of our torches as it fell on them.

ICE GROTTO OF DEMENFALVA
ICE GROTTO OF DEMENFALVA

It is the presence of the ice in this cavern, and the various shapes it puts on, which imparts to Demenfalva its peculiar interest and beauty. We [144] FORMATION OF ICE IN CAVERNS. have already seen it forming the slender column and the stately pillar; a little further on it presents in wonderful exactness, the beautiful appearance of a frozen waterfall ; in one place it hangs in such graceful and delicate folds, that the statuary might borrow it as the beau idéal of his drapery ; while in another it mocks the elaborate fretwork of the Gothic roof. It was singular to observe the apparent uncertainty as to whether ice or solid limestone should result from the water which trickled through the roof ; in one instance, where the roof of the cavern was covered with hard limestone stalactites, the floor was composed of icy stalagmites. It seemed as though the one or the other was indifferently formed. To what this circumstance is owing,—in what respect Demenfalva differs from other caves where limestone deposits take place, but where there is no ice formed, I cannot say. Ice is also found in an old mine at Herrengrund, as well as iii one or two other caverns in Hungary. That of Herrengrund is remarkable as having only begun to form on the miners opening an old shaft, and as having proceeded so fast as to oblige them to discontinue their workings. It is said still to go on increasing, though much is consumed in summer by the inhabitants of Neusohl, for whom it forms a common ice-house, — nay, so well does it answer this purpose, that the greater the heat of the summer the more rapidly is the ice said to increase.

[145] DEMENFALVA.

As far as I am aware, no satisfactory explanation has been given of this phenomenon. At Demenfalva there was no perceptible draught of air which our lights, if not our feelings, would have indicated; nor, as far as I could judge (my thermometer was broken), was it at all colder here than in Adelsberg or Aggtelek. The stratum, —a compact limestone,—is the same in all those caverns I have seen, and the quantity of moisture differs but little.

After sketching the second ice grotto, we passed onward into a long cavern with a Gothic arched roof, containing a number of stalactite pillars of beautiful forms. The floor was here no longer of stone or ice, but covered with a very fine dry lime dust. Two more caverns of great size, and so high, that the feeble light of our torches lost itself in seeking to define their limits, led us to a narrow passage where the bottom was covered with a soft white mud, common in such places, and called by the Germans, berg muck (mountain milk), and which soon became so deep that it was impossible to proceed further. We returned by the same road, which I should think was about a mile long, having occupied two hours in the cavern.

As for the bones which some travellers speak of as being strewed over the floor of this cave, and from which the peasants have given it the name of the "Dragon's Dole," we could find no traces of them ; and I am inclined to agree with those who [146] HRADEK. think the broken stalactites have been mistaken by the ignorant for bones, and thus given rise to the fiction.

It so happened that while at St. Miklós, accident threw in our way the son of a gentleman at Hradek, Herr v. C , to whom we bad a letter of introduction, which, but for this circumstance, might, like so many others, have remained in my pocket-book and deprived me of the pleasure of a most agreeable acquaintance.

As it was, we were no sooner within sight of the village than a person who had been sent out to meet us, for fear we should have gone to the inn, directed the driver straight to the prefect's house; and no sooner were we there, than the servants were ordered to unpack the carriage and take the things into our rooms, and this almost before we had determined whether we should stay there or merely call and pass on. This point was, however, at once determined by the frank and hospitable manner of our host,—it is difficult to resist unaffected and sincere kindness of heart.

Our host, after allowing us time to rest ourselves, offered to conduct us over the establishment of Hradek, of which he is the chief director. Hradek is a small village, important only as the centre of the trade in wood belonging to the hammer (Exchequer), and entirely inhabited by officers and people in its employment, who are all engaged in the management of the forests, the felling of the timber, and [147] TRANSPORT OF TIMBER. the transportation of the wood to the Danube. In many parts of Hungary, timber is of no value, from the expense of transportation, and that must have been the case here, till Government erected a number of locks in different parts of the Black Waag- one of the sources of this river is called—by means of which a sufficient body of water is obtained to float down large timber from the mountains to Hradek. A great part of the district through which this river passes is in the possession of private individuals, who enjoy the same advantages of transporting their wood as the Government. For all this wood Hradek forms a depót.

The manner in which it is brought to this place is curious enough. The woodman who has been employed during the winter in felling, collects his lot of timber at the water's edge in spring, and, binding with bark or thin branches the end of three trees together, he jumps on to this slender raft and pushes off, leaving the other ends loose that they may the more easily accommodate themselves to the rocks and shallows they must pass over. When he comes to the flood-gates, he strikes his axe firmly into the wood ; and, maintaining his place with its aid, he rushes with his slender craft down the fall produced by the opening of the gates, and so pushing here, and guiding there, floats down to Hradek.

Here, to prevent robbery, the wood is examined, authenticated, and marked ; then it is laid up till a [148] TIMBER TRADE. purchaser is found for it, or Government requires it for public works.

At Hradek, the wood is arranged according to its size, age, and quality, every piece being marked in such a manner, that the man who felled it could at once reclaim it. The whole of the wood from this neighbourhood is pine, and is chiefly used for building-timber. A considerable part is cut up into planks on the spot by very imperfect sawing-mills which we visited. These mills produce three hundred thousand planks per year, of five yards in length each. The quantity of timber felled annually in the forests belonging to Government in the district of Hradek, amounts to about fifty thousand trunks. The wood is generally fifty years old.

The most approved system of forest management in Hungary, where they have certainly the advantage of abundant experience, is that of laying out a wood in different portions—if large enough in fifty—and clearing the whole of one portion every year so as to leave the land fit for replanting the year after. They replant at regular distances from seedlings, Our system of thinning woods is quite unknown. Which plan is the more profitable I know not, but ours has certainly the advantage in beauty, and I suspect also in the formation of finer timber, for I have nowhere seen such magnificent trees as in Old England. The net revenue derived by the Exchequer from Hradek does not amount to more than 6,000l. per annum.

[149] HRADEK.

When the wood is sold, two floats of three trees each are united ; and receiving a load of planks above, they are navigated by two men each, with one large oar fixed at either extremity of the raft. In this way they pass as far down the Waag as Rosenberg, where the river becomes wide enough for two such rafts to be united. They now erect a little shelter of planks, and two of the raftmen returning, the other two conduct the double raft through the rapids of the Waag to the wide waters of the Danube, and so on to Pest, or even Semlin.24

As we returned from our walk, supper was already prepared. In Hungary, where people dine at one, supper is still the same cheerful meal it used to be with us, and it has always this advantage over the pompous dinner which now takes place nearly at the same hour, that it is free and unceremonious. As far as the composition of it is concerned, I never could distinguish any difference between supper and dinner ; it begins with soup, passes through the halfdozen courses considered indispensable, and ends with dessert and liqueur.

Many were the questions our host put to us about England. Bulwer's " England and the English " is known everywhere, and Pückler Muskaw has helped to spread an acquaintance with our manners. For

24Some of the English ship-builders employed at Pest, spoke of this wood as of a very good quality ; but declared, that from a want of a regular business-like method, they could get it cheaper from Vienna than liradek.
[150] HUNGARIAN ESTIMATE OF politics, the Algemeine Zeitung is the authority. It is wonderful how eagerly every one asks for information about our Parliament, and I could not help thinking that if some of the honourable members who occasionally make such melancholy exhibitions there, could guess how far and wide their reputation is spread, they would sometimes think twice before they speak. Many seemed to think the House of Commons must needs be the favourite resort of every one, and I have heard young men declare, that they would toil and slave a life long for the pleasure of once seeing, and hearing the debates of that House. Not a single great name in either Chamber, but was familiar to our host. How did Lord Grey look ? What would the Duke of Wellington do? How could Peel hold with the ultra-Tories ? Was O'Connell an honest man ? Did Stanley really believe all he talked about Church property ? And Lord John Russell, " der musz e' mord Berl seyn, der gelet vorwdrús !" These and a thousand others were the inquiries we had to answer, and some of them, I must confess, puzzled us not a little.

I cannot help comparing the state of things at Hradek and elsewhere in 1836, with the account Dr. Bright gives of his experience in 1814; premising, however, that we visited Hungary after twenty years' peace had made the most distant parts of Europe know and sympathise with each other as inhabitants of the same country, while he visited it after a twenty years' war had torn [151] ENGLAND AND ITS POLITICS. asunder every tie, and rendered the nearest neighbours ignorant of everything concerning each other, but that they existed, and were enemies. Dr. Bright states that a mining officer of Kremnitz believed " that Mexico was an English island, and that other clever and agreeable persons could scarcely be convinced that coffee, sugar, and rice, are not the products of Great Britain." Either knowledge must have made most rapid strides, or the Dr. was unfortunate in his acquaintance; for my own part, I should be less surprised to hear what is considered a well-educated Englishman inquire in what part of Peru the gold mines of Kremnitz are situated, than to find even a moderately informed Hungarian ignorant of such facts as those specified. In truth, our ignorance of Hungary is bitterly complained of by the Hungarians : " You are more interested in England about the cause of the South Sea Islands than about us Protestant constitutional Hungarians ; you know more of the negroes in the interior of Africa than you do of a nation in the east of Europe." " This is undoubtedly true, but how can we help it?" was my answer. " Neither your newspapers nor those of Germany dare give us any information on your politics ; for if they do, they know that their Austrian circulation is lost, as they are stopped at the frontiers, and besides the difficulties of travelling in the country, it is by no means easy to procure a passport at Vienna for that purpose." We [152] VALLEY OF THE WAAG both regretted that between two nations who had each so much that the other required, such mutual ignorance should prevail, and we could only hope that steam-navigation would break down the barrier which had hitherto been found insurmountable.

We spent the greater part of the next day at Hradek, and a pretty little place it is, regularly built, with double rows of trees along the street, and a neat grass plat before every house ; nor (lid we leave our hospitable friends without sincere regret—their kindness and attention to us could not be exceeded.

And now, gentle reader, we must take leave of the Waag ; for a little above Hradek it is divided into two streams, called the White and Black Waag, both inconsiderable brooks, which take their rise in different parts of the Carpathians, and here unite to form the river we have so long followed. I know not whether I have infused into you any part of the affection I myself feel for this lovely valley, this wild and wilful stream, these blue mountains, and these legendary castles ; to me they offered scenes so fresh, so romantic, and so unexpected, that I hardly know now whether I judge soundly of what I saw. But when I turn to H —'s sketch-book, I cannot help flattering myself that he fully justifies my passion for the valley of the Waag. Reader, may you be of the same mind !

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