Title


[001]

BELGRADE
BELGRADE

CHAPTER I.

DANUBE FROM PEST TO MOLDOVA.

The Zriny. -- The Country below Pest. -- Waste Lands. -- An Accident. -- Mohacs. -- Peterwardein. -- Karlowitz. -- The Drave. -- Semlin. -- The Crusaders. -- The Save. -- Belgrade. -- Danube Navigation. -- The Border Guard : their Laws and Organization. -- The Theiss and Temcs. -- Semendria. -- Georgo Dosa. -- Danube Scenery. -- Servia, and Russian Policy.

AFTER a few days' rest at Pest, we again prepared to encounter the fatigues of travel. A remarkably fine steam-boat, the Zririy, which had just been launched, was about to make her first voyage, and we gladly availed ourselves of the opportunity to get down to Moldova. A trial of her powers had [002] been made a few days previously, in an excursion up the river as far as Waitzen, with not less than five hundred persons on board. Count Széchenyi, by directing this little pleasure-trip, to which every one was admitted on paying a zwanzigcr (ten-pcnce), had managed to interest a great number of persons in the success of the new boat; no small matter where steam navigation is still a novelty, and where it was met with countless prejudices which are but yet disappearing. I think I know directors of companies, who would have preferred private tickets, and a party of their own friends ; by which, of course, all the excluded would have been offended. Which was the wiser system I leave my readers to decide. We joined the party to Waitzen, and had an opportunity of seeing the first meeting of two steam-boats which ever took place on the waters of the Danube. The Pannonia was returning from Prcsburg, and met us near the termination of our voyage. Count Hzcehenyi, who was on board the Zriny, was recognised and loudly cheered by both crews, on the occasion of this new advance to the accomplishment of his favourite scheme. I thought the Count's voice faltered, and his eye grew moist, as he exclaimed, "Now I am sure we shall succeed, and Hungary will not be for ever a stranger to Europe."

It was fixed that we should start for Moldova at five in the morning; and so exact were they to the time, that the boat was pushed off between [003] the striking of the clocks of Pest and Buda. This regularity is likely enough to make a change in the national character of all the Danubian populations, at least in respect to punctuality. After one of the fairs, when the steam-boats first began to ply between Semlin and Pest, a large party of Servian and Turkish merchants had taken their places on board, in order to return to Belgrade, ami were duly informed that the vessel would start at five. As this did not happen to suit these worthy people's habits, and as they had no idea that the boat would leave without them, they marched solemnly down to the quay about eight, and, after walking up and down for some time in search of the vessel, they were at last made to understand that she had gone three hours before. Their astonishment and consternation are said to have been most ludicrous; but it was not without its effect, for none of these people bave been too late for the steam-boat from that day to this.

Our party in tlie Zriny was small, but exceedingly agrceahlc ; the Baroness W------and her amiable and pretty daughter, Count Szechenyi on his way to superintend the works near Orsova, two of our own countrymen bound for Constantinople, and ourselves, formed almost the whole of the passengers. The morning was cold and misty, but it soon cleared up into a fine autumn day. On the Pest side, the country is one continued flat, and on the other, the low hills, which extend for [004] some distance from the Blocksberg, soon disappear altogether, and a level plain extended on every side. It would be useless to describe the whole of our route. The scenery has little variety. The flat plain is sometimes raised into small sand-hills covered with vines, the thick woods arc sometimes broken by a little pasture and corn-land surrounding a village or email town; the banks are generally-low ; the river itself deep, wide, and less rapid than above, indeed in every respect much better calculated for navigation ; but, for the rest, a monotonous uniformity pervaded the whole of our first day's journey.

The number of islands in this part of the Danube is very great; some of them of considerable extent, others serving only to ornament the river. As they are mostly low, they are but of little value; the smaller ones are chiefly in wood, the larger are partly swamp and partly pasture. Floating water-mills mark the approach to almost every village. The only craft we met, except the small canoes of the peasants, and the flat-bottomed boats which, on the firing of a gun, came to take off passengers, were the long barge-like vessels from Szegedin. These are clean-built boats, covered in with a kind of deck, and chiefly employed in bringing up corn from the country of the Theiss and Temcs to Post and Vienna. They are commonly towed up the stream by men or horses. I have seen as many as forty-six of the former, and twenty of the latter, [005] employed at one boat. Accidents arc very common among these men; and it is no rare thing to see the body of a man or horse floating down the Danube. The body is probably allowed to proceed to the Black Sea, without any one thinking it worth while to interrupt its course or inquire the cause of death.

None of the towns or villages passed during the first tlay presented anything worthy of remark ; their white-washed cottages and steeples had a look of cleanliness which the interior would hardly bear out, I fear. Among the largest were Foldvar, Faks, Tolna, Baja, and Biita.

We saw a great number of wild-fowl at different times. The ducks were in immense flocks; and hawks, particularly a white species, very plentiful. Of the pelicans, which are so common lower down, we saw none; nor did we observe any of the white herons, which yield the beautiful aigrettes, though they are said to be pretty frequent. The solitary beaver, which is common enough above Vienna, is rarely or never found in Hungary. We were told that, on the east bank, the immense tract of land, extending much further than we could sec, is almost useless, from the wet and boggy state in which it is allowed to lie. It is calculated that by embankments and canals it might be all reclaimed at the cost of about four shillings an acre; and, at the lowest calculation, it would let for as much per annum. Yet it still [006] lies waste. The chief proprietors are not above six in number. One has got no money to begin with ; another has already more corn than he can sell; and a third likes to let things remain as they are: and so land, which would maintain a million of men, is left to grow leeches and to breed fevers. Were it not that one set of bad laws renders the title to purchased property so insecure, and another set makes the sale of corn often impossible, of course foreign capital would soon remedy such evils as these.

At Baja, to our no small regret, the ladies left us. Carriages were in waiting; a host of dependants were there to kiss their hands and welcome them home; and, as we passed on, a cloud of dust hid them from our sight, though it did not drive them from our memories.

Soon after leaving Baja, we passed through a canal, cut a few years since to avoid a long and difficult winding of the river.

As it was getting dusk, I bad retired to the cabin to write up my journal: when, soon after we had quitted the canal, a sudden shock threw everything about with great violence, and brought us all on deck to know what was the matter. We found the boat aground, with her prow high and dry on shore. The light of the moon, with a slight mist on the water, had deceived the captain, and led him to think he was on the edge of a sandbank ; to avoid which he put the boat about, [ 007] and ran her straight ashore. It was altogether a sad bungle. In such a light, some one should have been a-head to look out. Fortunately no harm was done; but it prevented us from going on during the night, which had been Count Szechcnyi's first intention. We accordingly came to anchor at Mohacs about eight o'clock, having run one hundred and eighty miles in fifteen hours.

This was the first voyage the captain had ever made; and he was dismissed immediately on his return. I mention this fact, because it shows with what care the interests of the public are watched over by this company: indeed, were it otherwise, it would be impossible to conceive how they could have escaped for so many years under all the disadvantages of a new undertaking, without a single serious accident. Had any loss of life occurred (hiring the first year or two, it is very possible Government, in ite paternal carefulness, would at once have stopped the whole affair. To avoid such a catastrophe, no engines have been employed but those of Bolton and Watt ; nor any engineers but those brought up and recommended by the same house. They have been treated, too, in the most liberal manner. The captains, likewise, are generally very superior men; and it is impossible not to admire the consideration with which Count Szechenyi behaves towards them. They are frequently invited to his table, consulted on every point of difficulty, and their opinions listened to [008] and followed. It is by such means that steam navigation on the Danube has been, at its very commencement, brought to a degree of perfection which it has required many years' experience to effect in other countries.

Mohacs, otherwise an insignificant town, has witnessed two of the most important battles ever fought in Europe; important not only from the number of the combatants, but from their political results. The first of them, in 1520, which witnessed the slaughter of a king, seven bishops, five hundred nobles, and twenty thousand soldiers, not only kid open the whole country to the inroads of the Turks, and established them for nearly a century and a half in its capital, but changed the reigning dynasty of Hungary, and introduced for the first time a German sovereign to the Hungarian throne. By the same blow too Transylvania was separated from Hungary, and remained so for many years. The second, in 1687, undid much of what the first had done: it concluded the splendid victories of the Duke of Lorraine over the Turks ; it opened Transylvania to the Hungarian troops; and prepared the way for the expulsion of the Moslem, which a few years later was finally effected.

After taking in a supply of coals, obtained in this neighbourhood, and said to be of a pretty good quality, we again got our paddles in motion and went gaily on our way. One cannot help wondering at the hidden resources which any new necessity [ 009] discloses. In Hungary, before steam-boats were introduced, there was only one coal-mine known in the whole country. In the short space of time which has elapsed since their first establishment, three others and of better quality have been discovered along the valley of the Danube alone, -- that of Count Sander between Presburg and Pest, another in the neighbourhood of Mohacs, and the best of all at Orawitza near Moldova. There is a bad law in Hungary, which interdicts the cutting down of forests on the plea of maintaining a supply of fire-wood. Of course it is vain to expect a full developement of the mineral riches of the country until this law is abolished.

Our second day's route became rather less monotonous. About twelve we passed the embouchure of the Drave, which has all the appearance of a fine navigable river. At present the Drave is little used, but it is impossible not to foresee a brilliant future for it. Extending from the centre of Hungary along the north of Sclavonia and Croatia, and through the whole of Styria, it brings into connection populations so far removed from sea-ports that water-carriage cannot fail to offer them advantages of which a few years will teach them to avail themselves. The scenery was occasionally varied by a ruined castle, or a slight elevation in the surface of the plain, of which the peasants eagerly avail themselves and form into vineyards. The castle of Erdb'd, with its massive round towers, is highly picturesque, [010] but it is fast crumbling to decay. From the mouth of the Drave we have been passing, on the west, the banks of Sclavonia, which appears a rich and highly cultivated country. The people are, like the Croa-tians of a Sclavish race, and belong exclusively to the Greek and Catholic Churches. I believe the only difference between these provinces and the rest of Hungary, at the present time, is their power of excluding Protestants from the possession of land or the enjoyment of any privileges within their boundaries.

At Vukovar we stopped to land some handsome furniture from Vienna. It is said to be astonishing how much furniture and how many carriages have been sent from Pest and Vienna, not only to the southern parts of Hungary, but into Wallachia and Turkey, since the steam-boats have been established. The monastery at Vukovar has a pretty appearance from the river. The town produces some silk.

A short turn of the river now brought us in view of the ruins of Scherengrad; and, a little further on, we came to the castle of Illok a large building, though apparently somewhat neglected. It belongs, as well as immense estates here, to Prince Odescalchi. A low range of hills has accompanied us along the west bank for some distance; and the openings which they sometimes present, disclosing their green valleys, and silver streams, and whitewashed cottages, and fantastic steeples, are [011] most beautiful. It became so dark about seven, that, to avoid accidents, we dropped our anchor opposite O'Futak for the night.

We were scarcely awake next morning when we were roused up to see the fortress of Peter-wardein. Directly above our heads, with curtains, bastions, and towers grinning with artillery after the most approved fashion, was the bill of Peterwardein, and on the opposite side a t$te du pont, and other hard-named outworks in great abundance. Though modern fortifications have very little architectural beauty to boast, the fine situation of this gives it a commanding effect. Petenvardein is, I believe, considered strong; and occupies a position of considerable military importance. It is adapted to contain ten thousand men.

Neusatz, on the opposite side, chiefly inhabited by Greeks, is an important commercial town. A long bend of the river to the north brought us to Karlowitz, a pretty little town situated at the foot of a hill covered with vines down to its very base. A celebrated wine is made here by a mixture of red and white grapes, which from its peculiar colour is called Schiller.

Karlowitz is the seat of the chief of the non-nnited Greek church in Hungary, and contains a lyceura and theological school of that religion. I need scarcely add that it is from this place the celebrated peace of 1699 takes its name. A few [012] miles further brought us to the mouth of the Theiss, which has here -- anil Count Szuchenyi says, throughout its whole course -- much the same width it has at Tokay, a distance of more than two hundred miles in a direct lino, and probably twice that distance by the river. It is navigable for steam vessels the whole of that extent.

We met the Francis the First, the steamer, on this station, returning from Moldova heavily laden with wool, but carrying few passengers. They say the back-freights consist principally of wool, honey, iron, tobacco, and wine; while those down are almost entirely composed of manufactured goods. They have been offered freights of fat pigs from Servia, but have been obliged to decline them till they get some tug-boats at work. Pigs form a very important article of trade between Servia and Vienna ; the immense oak-woods, with which that country is covered, being used almost exclusively for feeding those animals. The Servian pig is a beautiful creature ; and I doubt if Smithfield could show better shapes or better feeding in this particular than the market of a Servian village.

As we approached Semlin the hanks became more flat; and the river, which had hitherto not averaged more than a quarter of a mile in width, acquired a more extended bed.

Semlin is one of those localities which Nature herself has marked out for the position of a town. It occupies the angle formed by the junction of [013] two vast rivers, the Danube and the Save; and it becomes necessarily a depot for supplying the wants of the people occupying their banks. Count Szechenyi tells us that the Save is navigable, and he feels sure it will very soon have its steam-boats as well as the Danube. From the day of their establishment Scnilin may date a new birth. It is at present chiefly supported by its intercourse with Servia, on the opposite bank of the Save; and in consequence, the majority of its ten thousand in habitants belong to that nation. It contains some tolerable streets in the interior, but the part near the Danube looks as miserable as need be ; indeed, the greater portion visible from the steam-boat is the gipsy town, a collection of mud lints on the side of the hill. Until the establishment of steamboats, Semlin was the usual starting-point for Constantinople ; and it was here that quarantine was performed on returning. It is still used by the couriers ; but travellers generally prefer the comfort of a steam-boat to the hardships of a Tatar excursion across the Balkan.

Semlin is historically memorable as the Mala Villa of the first crusaders. The three hundred thousand of the dregs of Europe, who had terrified all Germany with their frightful excesses, at last approached the frontiers of Hungary. The avant-garde, under Walter Sans-avoir, having demanded and obtained permission to pass through the country, arrived at Semlin without impediment; but [014] here sixteen of the men fell into the hands of the peasants and were robbed. When the larger body, under the guidance of Peter the Hermit, arrived, and heard of this mishap, they determined to revenge it by the destruction of Semlin and its garrison of four thousand men. So infamous a treachery soon drew on the crusaders the rage of a people who, but half converted, had not yet learned to hate with duo cordiality all who differed from them in faith; and Peter and his followers thought themselves fortunate to escape as best they could across the Danube. Volkmar, with twelve thousand Bohemians, who Lad advanced no farther than Neutra, were cut to pieces. Of the fifteen thousand Germans who followed the priest Gott-schalk, scarcely three thousand escaped the arrows of the Hungarians; while the two hundred thousand rabble of both sexes and of every age, which brought up the rear under Emiko, panic-struck at the fate of their companions, broke up their camp before the King of Hungary could approach Ung-risch Altenburg, which they were besieging, and dispersed without having even approached the object of their fanatic veneration. It required nothing less than the noble courage, the frankness, and the piety of Godefroy de Bouillon to re-establish a respect for the crusaders or their religion in the minds of the half pagan Hungarians.

We remained but a short time at Semlin, to take in coals, and submit our passports to the inspection [015] of a police officer. Since steam has brought so many strangers down the Danube, Austria has begun to establish the system of passports here; and, if the Hungarians do not look to it they themselves will soon feel its annoyance as well as the foreigners who visit them.

A few minutes after we quitted Semlin, the guns were got reaily and we fired a salute to the garrison of Belgrade, which was returned in due form. This ceremonious politeness to Belgrade seemed rather a testimony of respect to what it had been, than to what it now is, for its glory is sadly fallen. Its hill is still covered with walls, and gates, and towers; but the walls are half down, the gates open, and the towers dismantled. A Pasha still sits in its fortress, but be could no longer defy the best troops of Europe from his stronghold.

As we passed, a few Turks were seen lying lazily along the banks of the river ; others were watering their horses; while, a little further on, a group of Servian women were washing, up to their knees in the water. The town of Belgrade, which lies beyond the fortress, lias a very beautiful appearance, from the number of minarets and domes peeping from out the dark cypresses by which they are surrounded. This was the first glimpse I had ever caught of a minaret, and I can scarcely express the pleasure it gave me; it was something so new, and yet so familiar.

It was near Belgrade, for the first time since [016] we had embarked on the Danube, that a sail had met our eye. The Hungarian never uses the sail, the only means of moving against the stream he is acquainted with is towing: and, though he has seen the sail employed for so many centuries on the opposite side of the same river, he has never thought of applying it himself. It was curious enough to see the Hungarian, Turkish, ami English systems of navigation in use at the same moment: upwards of forty men were toiling to drag a huge barge against a strong stream on the Hungarian bank ; on the Servian, the lattinc sail bore the Turkish boat gaily before the wind ; while, in the middle, the glorious invention of Watt urged on the magnificent Zriny, and threatened to swallow up the crazy craft of the others in her wake. One might have fancied three ages of the world in presence of each other at the same moment.

A new feature in the landscape, and for us a new object of wonder and inquiry, soon caught our eyes. All along the Hungarian bank, at certain distances, perhaps half a mile apart, were small buildings, sometimes made of wood, and raised on posts, or in other situations, mere mud huts, before each of which stood a sentry on duty. They were the stations of the Hungarian military frontier guard.

An institution of so extraordinary a character as that on which we had now fallen, demands a few words of explanation.

[017] From a very early period tlie banks of the Save and Danube, from their frontier position, were infested by bands of Servians and others, who lived in a great measure by war and plunder: many of these were fugitives from the neighbouring countries, and were received by the Hungarians on condition of defending the frontier on which they lived from further incursions.

BORDER GUARD HOUSE
SERBIANS DEFENDING AT THE BORDER GUARD HOUSE

Before the first battle of Mohacs, we hear of some attempts having been made to form these borderers into regiments on one or two points; as the Turks retired and left the frontiers more free, this organization was extended to the newly acquired regions ; and, when at last the whole line fell into the hands of Austria, it was rendered complete, and reduced to a regular system. The last part organized was the Transylvanian borders, which did not take place till 1766. The system, therefore, is one which has grown out of the wants of the [018] times, rather than been created by an inspiration of genius; and the frequent changes which have taken place in the laws by which it is regulated show that experience only has brought it to its present state of efficiency.

The object has been to maintain at the least possible cost a border guard along the whole Turkish frontier of Hungary, which in peace might be employed for the purposes of quarantine and customs, and in war serve as a portion of the standing army. This has been effected so perfectly, that in peace nearly forty thousand men do duty along an extent of eight hundred miles of frontier; and they not only feed and clothe themselves, but pay heavy taxes in money besides, and perform also a considerable quantity of labour without pay. In time of war this guard can furnish, on an emergency, two hundred thousand men in arms.

The land acquired by Government, by purchase or exchange, along the whole of this district, has, been divided among the inhabitants, and is held as fiefs on the tenure of military and civil service. A portion of land comprising from thirty-six to fifty acres constitutes an entire fief, the half or quarter constituting half and quarter fiefs. Each of these is bound to furnish, and to maintain and clothe, according to its size, one or more men-at-arms. In order to carry out this plan, the fiefs are given to families composed of several members, of which the eldest is the House-father, and the younger are the [ 019] men-at-arms. The House-father, and his wife, the Home-mother, have the direction of the farm, the care of the house, the duty of providing for the necessities of the whole family, and the right to control them and to watch over their industry and morals. On the other hand, the rest of the men of the family must be consulted on any great changes, as purchases atid sales ; and at the end of the year they may demand an account of the expenditure from the House-father. No man who has been punished for a crime can bo a House-father; and, if he be habitually drunken or immoral, he loses the right which age would otherwise have given him. The family owe him obedience and respect. The fief itself, and the implements and cattle necessary for its cultivation, cannot be sold, and every member of the family has a right in them. A portion of laud, called Uberttmd, -- land over and above the quantity required for the fiefs, -- and any excess of cattle or production, may be sold with the consent of a superior officer. All the members of the family are allowed to marry, and marriage is even held out to them as an honourable duty. When a family becomes rich or too large, its members are allowed to divide, and the party separating receives another fief, either by grant or purchase of Uberland, within the frontier district, which then becomes a feudal fief. Such as leave the frontier service have no right in the property of the family.

[020]

The land is cultivated for the common good of all the members of a family; and the profit, if any remains after the taxes and other expenses are defrayed, is divided among them. No individual is allowed to keep cattle, or to work for his own exclusive profit, ~ at least, without permission of the rest. In most cases, a whole family, consisting of many married couples, with their children, sometimes to the number of fifty individuals, live under the same roof, cultivate the same land, eat at the same table, and obey the same father.

The military duty in time of peace consists in watching the frontiers. For this purpose the man-at-arms repairs to the station for seven days at a time, where the family provide him with food. Besides this, he has the duty of transporting letters, as well as the money and baggage of the regiment, and of performing exercise. For the manual exercise, four days a month is required, from October to March. In spring and autumn the company exercises together for a week; and, at longer intervals, the whole regiment encamps out, and manoeuvres together.

Every family is divided into the invalids, half invalids, enrolled, and youths. Every man of full age, who has not some bodily failing, is enrolled. For the ordinary service the number of men on duty amounts to four thousand one hundred and seventy-nine. In times of disturbance on the Turkish side, or when the plague is drawing near, [021] they are increased to six thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, and in times of still greater danger to ten thousand and sixteen men.

In time of war the borderer must form a part of the regular army, and inarch out of the country if required. The regular disposable force amounts to thirty-four thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven ; but, if the reserve and Landwehr are called out, to one hundred thousand. If driven to the last extremity, they can muster to the amount of two hundred thousand men.1 By means of alarm-fires and bells, this immense force can be summoned together through the whole extent of the frontier in the space of four hours.

1 These numbers are taken from Csaplovic's Gemiilde von Ungarn.

The borderers are divided into seven regiments according to the district they occupy, -- six infantry, and one hussar. Besides these, there is a division of Tschaikistcn, so called from the wooden boxes set on piles, and furnished with open galleries round them, in which they keep guard along the morasses of the Save and Danube, and who do the duty of pontonniers. Like the peasant the border family has to do civil service -- one day per annum for every English acre -- for the state; as in the repair of post-roads and bridges, draining of swamps, regulating rivers, repairing public buildings, &c.: and eight days per annum for the village; as in building churches and school-houses, keeping the village [022] roads in order, cutting wood for the school, and working the farms of widows and orphans.

The borderer's chief tax, besides the furnishing the uniform for a man-at-arms, -- the shoes, arms, and leather-work arc given by Government, as well as twelve shillings a-year in aid of the rest, -- is the land-tax, amounting, for an entire fief, to from fifteen to thirty shillings per annum. Tradesmen, artisans, and Jews, pay according to their property ; from eight shillings to four pounds a-year.

The border officers have many duties peculiar to the position of feudal superiors, which they occupy. They give consent to marriages, their permission is necessary to the sale and transfer of property, real or personal, and, at times, they act as judges and ministers of police. From the mixed nature of the borderers' duty, different descriptions of officers are required, and we accordingly find officers of economy, to direct the farming processes, architects, surveyors, &c. for the care of public property, but the most extraordinary officers, for a military establishment, are the regularly educated regimental midwives, and, under them, the company's and squadron's midwives!

Many laws of the borderers arc framed in a spirit of paternal kindness; among others those for the encouragement of industry, the inducing to the accumulation of wealth, and the preservation of order and agreement in families, besides institutions for the maintenance of the widows and orphans, and [023] for the education and improvement of the people. Benigni states, that of the children between seven and twelve years old on the Transylvanian frontiers, seven thousand eight hundred and six out of nine thousand and seventy-seven boys, and three thousand four hundred and forty-four out of seven thousand one hundred and three girls, were provided with the elements of education in the border schools. In Hungary the proportion is still higher; probably nine-tenths of the whole can read and write in one or two languages.

The administration of justice seems to be yet more favourably organized. The first tribunal in civil cases is formed by a lieutenant of economy, a sergeant-major of economy, two sergeants and two corporals of economy, and two house-fathers chosen by the colonel. Their judgment must be confirmed by the captain. In criminal cases the court martial, composed, however, of officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, decides.

It is impossible to study this institution, and not be struck with its power and utility, and with the wisdom and philanthropy with which many of its regulations are conceived ; and to a military man, whose idea of the value of a country is in proportion to the amount of applicable force that can be drawn from it and maintained by it, it must appear perfect. But it would be unfair did we not point out some of the objections which the Hungarians themselves urge against it.

[024]

We have seen that an immense military force has been thrown round one-half the circumference of Hungary: -- in what hands does the command of this force lie? from what sources does it draw its supplies? what sympathies and feelings are encouraged in it? -- in other words, what is its nationality? In a constitutional country these are important inquiries.

Every regiment receives its orders directly through its colonel, he again from a general of brigade, and he from the commander of the district, who is under the Hofkriegsrath (the council of war) in Vienna. We have seen that the borderers draw their resources entirely from their own labour, -- for the taxes they pay would more than refund the cost of their arms; and for their nationality, it is enough to say that German is taught exclusively in their schools, German used exclusively as the language of the service, that a great number of the officers are Germans, and that the laws to be referred to, in case the particular laws of the border do not provide for any difficulty, are the laws of the German provinces, to prove that Austrian, not Hungarian, feelings and sympathies are encouraged in the borderers of Hungary. The Hungarian Diet has the right to vote the levy of troops, and the supplies for their support, or to refuse them in case of need; but here is a force, over the levying and supply of which they have no control. We cannot be astonished that this should form one of the [025] gravamina of the Diet, and that it should strongly claim a right to the superintendence of the border guard.

There are some, too, who urge that this border wall is more efficacious and better constructed for keeping Hungarians within their boundaries, than Turks and plague without them, and there arc not wanting those even who regard the whole quarantine system as a great engine of police. In favour of this view of the matter they urge that the cordon lias been more frequently strengthened on the appearance of what Government is apt to consider most pestilential, -- a political fever within the country, than of a plague invasion from without; that personal intercourse is impeded, that an inquisitorial search is authorised, and that even private letters and despatches are opened and examined, though it is well known that smugglers pass the frontiers at every hour of the day. The best answer to these objections, and one very difficult to controvert, is the simple fact that the plague has never entered Hungary since the border organization has been completed, where previously, ever since the first irruption of the Turks across the Danube, scarcely twenty years elapsed without its recurrence, although it has been as frequent and violent as ever in the neighbouring countries.

Considerable cruelty has been urged against the introducers of the border system in some parts of the country, and particularly in Transylvania. It has [026] been told me that the Szeklers, who, according to their old constitution, were not bound to serve out of the country, when ordered to march thought themselves justified in refusing, and were only compelled to submit after a frightful massacre, in which, in many villages, every tenth man, woman, and child, indifferently, was shot by the Imperial troops. Of the actual state of the borders, material or moral, as compared with that of the rest of Hungary, I can say but little from personal observation ; from what I did sec I certainly should not have adjudged them a higher material civilization, and I do not believe that military organization is adapted to produce great moral advancement. From some of those who live in their neighbourhood, T have heard the borderers spoken of as poorer and more miserable than the common peasants, and in the Croatian district one of their own officers declared them to be most notorious thieves. In active service I believe they have proved themselves, both for discipline and courage, on an equality with the best regular troops.

A few miles below Belgrade, another fine river-the Temes, which, though smaller than those we have lately passed, is still navigable, pours its water into the Danube. The Temes runs, for the most art, through a flat country, and its course is consequently tortuous and sluggish, but it has been improved by the Bega canal, which traverses a considerable part of the rich Banat, and joins the Temes, [027] near Temesvar. This is the fourth navigable river, the mouth of which we have passed within a space of fifty miles. Surely never was any country ao blessed by nature with the means of communication as Hungary, -- never have they been more signally neglected.

The hills on the Servian side now became exceedingly pretty. They arc not generally high, but nothing can be imagined more perfectly wild and picturesque. They are covered, down to the very water's edge, with a low natural wood. Here and there are a few houses, or rather huts, with vineyards, and Indian corn, and occasionally, perhaps, something which may he called a village, and has a name, but this is rare. All these hills are capable of cultivation, but insecurity, want of population, and want of capital, keep them wild. The state of Servia, at the present moment, is essentially one of transition, and that too with all its worst features. For many years subject to the Turkish yoke, and suffering more than most other parts of the empire, because frequently the scene of contests -- the first loss after a defeat, the first prize of a victory, -- its population has become so diminished by oppression and emigration, that its whole surface is, at the present day, little more than one vast forest, and its population a collection of swin herds.

The long-conceived designs of Russia against the integrity, and ultimate existence of the Turkish [028] empire, are now no secret. The successive risings in Wallachia, Servia, and Greece, testify how cunningly ami effectually her plans succeeded. Such instruments as Cserny (black) George, were not difficult to find among a people like the Servians, and in a country of woods and mountains, a revolution was no very difficult matter to maintain, especially when excited by a priesthood, whom a similarity of language and religion readily disposed in favour of Russia. These plans have been carried out almost without opposition. The sympathy of Europe requires only the watch-words of Christianity and liberty, which none have used more liberally than the crime-stained and tyrannical, to become engaged in any cause; domestic troubles adroitly taken advantage of, colonial disaffection secretly abetted, and an aristocratic diplomacy, which, if too proud to be bribed, is too ignorant and too indifferent to be efficient, has done the rest. The result we have before us in the separation of these countries from the Ottoman empire, and their almost total dependence on Russia.

But the calculations of the wisest sometimes come to nought. It was easy to excite the hatred of the Wallachians against Turkey, but it was not so easy to make them love the Itussians: it was easy to find a native prince of strong natural powers capable of leading the Servians, but it was hard to make such a prince relish the leading-strings himself. Belgrade has been for some years a great [029] centre of Russian intrigue. Sometimes the Servian population has been excited against its prince, sometimes the prince forced into opposition to the Porte. Now an emissary lias been despatched among the Sclavish populations of Croatia and Bosnia, now among the Greek religionists of the Banat of Hungary, and for such enterprises Belgrade was the starting point. In the mean time, Austria, England, and France have looked on -- the former with fear and trembling -- the two latter with stupid indifference.2 If report may be believed, however, Prince Milosch, a man of much energy and talent, is exerting himself to improve and civilize his country; and though forced in appearance to bow to a power he is too weak to oppose, he docs not find his chain the less galling, nor will he be the less anxious to get rid of it on the first good occasion.3

2 Since our visit, Austria lias sent a very able representative to Belgrade, in the person of M. Milanovitch ; and still later. England, Colonel Hodges.
3 Since this was written, what ia called a constitution has been given to Servia, chiefly through the influence of Kussia. in whose Bands the nomination of the chief members rests. Milosch has resisted, been deposed, driven from the country, and his son placed in his stead. It is exceedingly difficult to arrive at anything like tbe truth on such matters, from the known subserviency of the German papers to Kussia ; but it looks very much as if Russia was playing her old game of disorganizing and ruining, that she herself may in time be called in to settle, and reconstitute -- take possession, if she will -- in any manner that seems to her best.
[030]

Three hours' pleasant sailing along these beautiful frontiers, brought us opposite the fortress of Semendria, another painful monument of Turkey's former greatness, and Turkey's present weakness. Semcndria is singularly built. A perfectly flat position has been chosen, watered on one side by the Danube, and on another by a small river, the Jcsoba, and on the neck of land, between these, a triangular wall of great height has been erected, strengthened at intervals by thirteen towers of various forms. Semcndria was formerly the seat of a Pasha, and it often figures in Hungarian history as an important post in the Border wars. Under Alibeg Pasha, it became a name of terror to the whole country.

It was at the siege of Semendria, in 1513, that George Dosa, a name afterwards so celebrated in Hungarian history, first distinguished himself by cutting off the hand of a Turkish officer, am! taking him prisoner. The king presented him with a golden chain and silver spurs as guerdon for the knightly deed. Poor Dosa's fate was so characteristic of the age, and at the same time so poetically cruel, that we cannot pass it over.

It was in the beginning of the sixteenth century, that Archbishop Bakiits, like a second Peter the hermit, returned from Rome, armed with a papal bull, and tried to set all Hungary in a blaze with his preachings for a new crusade. Constantly as Hungary had been engaged in hostilities [031] with the Moslems since they bad gained Constantinople, these never seem to have partaken so much of the character of religious wars, as of wars of conquest and defence; and, on the present occasion, the call of BakTits seems to have been almost unheeded by the nobles. Among the ignorant and discontented peasantry, however, to whom the desire of escape from servitude, and the anticipation of plunder may have been as strong inducements as the hope of salvation, his success was greater, and in a short time forty thousand of them flocked under his banner to the Rukos plain in the neighbourhood of Pest.

A suspicion has been entertained that the motive for Bakats' zeal was not quite so much ecclesiastical, -- Christian I cannot call it, -- as personal aggrandizement. His excessively ambitious character, the opposition which he had met with from some of the higher nobles, the school in which he had been brought up -- he was secretary to Matbias Corvinus, -- the exciting harangues of some of the clergy, and above all, the choice of George Dosa, a common Szekler soldier, to head this vast multitude, gives strong ground for the suspicion. Be that as it may, no sooner did Dosa receive orders to march his forces against the Turks, than he at once declared war against the nobles; and the peasantry, predisposed by the oppression they had suffered since the death of Mathias, and encouraged by the miserable weakness of his successor, having now [032] thrown off all restraint, and excited by the promises of their leaders, were ready enough to seize an opportunity of revenging their wrongs, and achieving their liberty.

Dosa maintained the field against the Hungarian nobles for nearly six months, during which four hundred of their order fell a sacrifice to popular vengeance, till at last Zilpolya attacked him whilst besieging Tcmesvar, took him prisoner, and completely destroyed his army.

If the peasants had been guilty of cruel excesses, the death of Dosa most amply atoned for them. Not content with the slaughter of seventy thousand peasants, many of them women and children, it was determined to execute their leader in a manner which should strike terror into all future generations of peasants, and the inventive cruelty of a cruel age was taxed for its worst tortures. Dosa was seated on a throne of red-hot iron, a red-hot crown was placed upon his head, and a red-hot sceptre in his band. Forty of his followers had been confined without food for a fortnight; nine of them still survived the starvation, when they were brought before their tortured leader and commanded to feed on him yet living. Those who hesitated were cut down, while the rest tore the flesh from his bones and devoured it greedily. "To it, hounds, ye are of my own training!" was the only remark which escaped the lips of the suffering Dosa. [033]

It was just sunset as we left Semendria, and the broad streaks of red light which fell upon the water, with the deep shadows thrown by the old towers, gave an air of solemn beauty to the picture.

As we advanced beyond this point, the river grew wider and wider, while the banks seemed covered with impenetrable forests and morasses. The solitude and grandeur of this vast wilderness was exceedingly imposing. As T stood almost alone upon the deck towards evening, I could have fancied myself in a new land, an unexplored region. I have never seen the Mississippi, but I do not think that, even in the fastnesses of America, the impression of a new and untrodden land could be more complete than here. On either side of us were thick forests, so thick that the eye searched in vain for some indication that they had ever been visited. The flocks of wildfowl, which covered the water, allowed us to pass near them, apparently-without suspicion of danger; but no sooner did the eagle appear in sight, than they dived away and hid themselves from his searching glance. Everything seemed to say that man was a stranger there.

It was just beyond the island of Osztrova, that we dropped our anchor in the middle of the stream, -- two miles in width here -- let off our steam, and made up for the night.

I and Mr. H----- n walked the deck till deep in the night, discussing the various fates which time [034] might have in store for the nations of the Danube. The ambitious projects of Russia, just then disclosed by the energy and talent of Mr. Urquhart, had opened to us the danger which Hungary, as well as Wallachia, Servia, and the whole of Turkey ran, if those projects were not speedily checked. We knew that the cabinet of Austria, at tirst strongly inimical to Russia, had been so frightened from her propriety by reform in England, and revolution in France, -- a revolution in which she can still see no difference from that of eighty-nine, -- that she had thrown herself into the arms-of her betrayer without the decency of reserve, without the prudence of a contract. At the same moment we saw this same Russia attempting to increase her influence among the Sclavish populations of Hungary by the plea of identity of origin and interest, and to undermine the fidelity of the adherence to the Greek church by the claim of supremacy, and the corruption, of an ignorant priesthood. We saw how, step by step, Russia had approached the frontier of Hungary on the north ; how she had then crept round the east and south; how, during Jill this time, she had played with the absurd fear of Austria on the subject of liberalism, and how in the end, these absurd fears had led that power to suffer her ambitious neighbour to bind one by one her limbs in chains, and finally to threaten her with suffocation should she dare to stir, by closing her mouth -- the Danube. [035]

At the same time we saw the frontier fortresses of Turkey occupied by Russian troops ; -- we saw Wallachia, Moldavia, and Servia, under the name of independence, subjected to the most galling vassalage, with Russia for a Suzerain; -- we saw the Turks themselves dispirited and cowed by their late defeats, and by the desertion of their former friends ; -- we saw their ministers, the paid hirelings of the enemy of their country, obeying only his commands; -- we saw their Sultan alienating the hearts of the most faithful, by well-meant but ill-judged reforms; above all, we saw Europe still careless of the fate of one of the greatest empires of the world, and we trembled lest she should awake but too late to ward off the catastrophe which hung over her. One consolation alone remained ; we knew that if she did awake, the progress of Russia was stopped; we knew that her gigantic power would crumble away, and nothing remain, but the hatred of the world for the falsehood, injustice, and cruelty, by which it had been raised.

Chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 P.S.




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