Title


[396]

TRANSYLVANIA GROOM AND HOUSEMAID
TRANSYLVANIAN GROOM AND HOUSEMAID

CHAPTER XII.

KLAUSENBURG IN WINTER.

Transylvanian Hospitality. -- Klausenburg. -- Transylvanian Incomes. -- Money Matters. -- The Gipsy Band. -- Our Quarters. -- The Stove. -- The Great Square. -- The Recruiting tarty. -- A Soirée. -- The Clergy. -- The Reformed Church. -- Religious Opinions. -- The Consistory. -- Domestic Service. -- County Meeting. -- Count Betlilen János. -- Progress of Public Opinion. -- The Arch-Duke. -- The Students and Officers. -- Climate. -- Separation of three Counties. -- The Unitarians. -- Habits of Society. -- The Ladies. -- Education. -- Children and Parents. -- Divorces. -- Casino and Smoking. -- Funerals. -- Schools. -- The Theatre.

WINTER set in with all its rigour, and we determined to remain quietly at Klausenburg, at least [397] for some time. I pass over the presentation of introductions and the necessary formalities of making acquaintance. An Englishman, who is only accustomed to the stiff, though well-meant forms of English society, can have little idea how a stranger is received here.

The first fandly we visited, invited us to take our dinner and supper regularly with them when we had no other engagement. "You will find few persons in Klausenburg just at present; the inns are very bad, and therefore, whenever you are not engaged, we shall expect the pleasure of your company at two o'clock for dinner, and at nine for supper." Nor was this a mere ceremony; for if we missed one day, a servant was sure to come the next to invite us. With such a reception I need scarcely say we soon felt ourselves at home at Klausenburg.

But I believe I have never told the reader what sort of a place this Klausenburg is. Well then it is a pretty little town of about twenty-five thousand inhabitants, situated in the valley of the Szamos, and overlooked by hills on every side. It is built round a large square, in the centre of which stands the fine old Gothic cathedral. From this square, almost all the streets run off at right angles. The streets themselves are wide, in the true Magyar taste, and the houses, though handsome, are often of only one story, and never more than two.

The old walls, gates, and towers which formerly [398] guarded the town, are in great part standing, mul I believe they even still close some of them at night. The Szamos does not run through the town, and it is well it does not; for it is a strange unmanageable river, and might carry it away in some of its sudden inundations. On the opposite side of it, however, there exists a part of Klausenburg, if such a title can be given to a collection of miserable huts, which cover the side of the hill. They are, for the most part, holes scraped out of the soft sandstone rock, with a little projecting thatch over the door. This wretched place is inhabited by gipsies and dogs. I unite the two, because, in an excursion I made into this region, I found more of the latter than the former, and it was not without some difficulty that I escaped from them.

Though, generally speaking, Klausenburg can lay no claim to figure as a European capital, yet it possesses some few houses which would make a respectable appearance in London or Paris. It is very rare, however, that their owners occupy the whole of them, -- a part is generally let off to others. Although many of the Transylvanian nobles have immense estates, including twenty or thirty villages, there are very few of them who arc not deeply in debt, and very much harassed for ready money. Six per cent, is the maximum of legal interest, but ten is more generally paid for loans. In matters of business the generality of the Transylvanians are mere children. There is not one in [399] fifty who can tell you the amount of his own income or expenditure. You are often surprised to hear a man of ten thousand acres, talk of receiving only seven or eight hundred pounds a-year in rents, and you are still more surprised when you hear that so small a sum maintains such a household as you see him keeping up. On inquiring a little further into the matter, you find he has not calculated as income or expenditure, all the corn and hay his twenty or thirty horses consume, all the game, poultry, fruit, bread, wine, and fire-wood, used in the fandly: "Oh! that is nothing," he answers, if reminded of these matters ; " that all comes from my own estates." He reckons income what he receives in hard cash; expenditure, what he lays out in hard cash.

In all Transylvania there is not a single banker. A retail tradesman, who has very large affairs with Pest and Vienna, will give money on bills, and undertakes the transmission of considerable sums, for a per ccntage; but of regular bankers there are none. Even this person will not receive deposits of money, unless paid five per cent, for keeping them; for he says they are of no use to him -- he can do nothing with them. Imperfect laws, which render the recovery of debts difficult, is the real source of this inconvenience, but the habits of former times tend much to keep it up. When the country was subject to civil war, or to Turkish invasion, it was then, as it is still in Turkey, considered prudent [400] and economical to hoard up gold, or lay out large sums in plate and jewels, so that in case of an attack, they might be easily hidden, or carried off. The same feeling still exists here, and it is not uncommon for ladies with an income of five hundred pounds per annum, to possess more jewels than an Englishwoman of ten or twenty times that fortune would dream of. The quantities of pearls and diamond's with which some of the Hungarian ladies load their national costume, is quite out of all proportion ; to me they forcibly recalled the Lead-decked dresses of the savages of the South Sea Islands, -- Heaven defend me, though, should they hear that I have said so!

At one of the first dinner parties to which we were invited, the attendance of the gipsy band was ordered, that we might hear some of the Hungarian music in its most original form. The crash of sound which burst upon us, as we entered the dining-room, was almost startling; for be they where they may, gipsy musicians make it a point to spare neither their lungs nor arms, in the service of their patrons. This band was one of the best in the country, and consisted of not less than twenty or thirty members, all of whom were dressed in smart hussar uniforms, and really looked very well. Few of them, if any, knew notes, yet they executed many very difficult pieces of music with considerable accuracy. The favourite popular tune the Rákótzy, -- the Magyar " Scots wha hae," -- was given [401] with groat force. I am more than ever convinced that none but a gipsy band can do it full justice. The effect of the melancholy plaintive sounds with which it begins, increased by the fine discords which the gipsies introduce, and of the wild burst of passion which closes it, must depend as much on the manner of its execution as on the mere composition. It is rather startling to the stranger, on arriving at Klausenburg, that no sooner is he lodged in his inn, than he receives a visit from this gipsy band, who salute liim with their choicest music to do honour to his coming; and it is sometimes a little annoying to find that he cannot get rid of them without paying them most handsomely for their compliment.

In December we left the inn, and got into very comfortable lodgings, in the house of Dr. P------, with a sunny aspect and a look out into the marketplace. We had altogether four rooms, for which we paid four pounds per month. When we dined at home, which was very seldom, they sent us in a very fair dinner, of five dishes, from the casino, at twenty-pence each.

The weather was intensely cold, and we were obliged to keep large wood-fires in tin; stoves all day long. The windows were double, and the doors fitted pretty well, but we still felt it excessively cold. We were fortunate in having old-fashioned stoves, which opened into the room, and which, if less elegant, arc much more wholesome and comfortable than those which open on the [402] outside. I do really think, of all unwholesome, uncomfortable inventions, the modern Austrian, or Russian stove is the worst. It throws a tremendous heat into the room, of a kind which, to those unaccustomed to it, is almost sure to produce head-ach, and at the same time it offers no vent for foul air. And then, as to regulating the heat, that is next to an impossibility. The late Emperor Francis wittily observed one day, that he believed "it required as much talent to warm a room, as to rule a kingdom," and I really think he was not far from the truth,- -- for those who suffer the heat have no communication with him who makes the fire, nor does the latter ever enter the room to judge how far the heating is needed; in fact he knows about as much of the feelings of those he alternately starves and stews, as an absolute monarch of the wants and necessities of those whom he paternally misrules.

In a house we were staying at for some time, the daraband -- fire-maker -- was deaf and dumb, and all he could be made to understand was, that the rooms required heating. Whenever this poor fellow wished to show his liking to any one, he always did it by keeping the stove hot the whole day. By some means or other, it appeared that we had attracted his especial favour, and we soon found ourselves in danger of being roasted, from pure kindness.

The cause of this daraband's loss of speech and [403] hearing is curious. Till the age of thirty he had full possession of all his faculties; but, at that time he met with a severe fall, which is supposed to have injured the hrain, and which left him quite deaf and dumb, and partly idiotic. When very much excited, however, by passion, he has once or twice been heard to speak, and that too, distinctly and well, but immediately afterwards he relapsed into his former state.

Those who love looking out of windows, would scarcely choose Klausenburg- as a winter's residence. Even in our great square, we found but little variety. The old cathedral was opposite us, and would be a fine building, if its base was not obscured by shops. There is a shabby pillar also, intended to commemorate the visit of the late Emperor to Transylvania ; and these are the only objects of architectural pretension for the eye to rest on. As for variety of colour, there is none. Everything is covered with snow; the bills, the church, the houses, the square itself, are all snow, and when the peasants arc wrapped up in their white sheepskin bundas, they look like snow too.

On one side of the square stands the guard-house, and at eleven precisely every morning, a horrid noise of metal drums brings out the Hungarian grenadier guard, -- and splendid fellows they are too in their tight blue pantaloons, rough greatcoats, and bear-skin caps -- to stand shivering in the cold for half an hour before the mystic signs of

[404] changing guard can be got through. On ordinary days this, with an occasional variety, -- as a horse falling on ttie frozen snow, or a barking dog startling the empty square, a sledge from the country with its four horses shaking their noisy bells as they dash along, or an old aristocratic coach with a pair of long-tailed prancers, and a coachman buried to the nose in bear's skin -- is all that the most industrious window-watcher can discover. As for the pedestrians, they do not deserve looking at, for they are all alike, a mass of fur cloaks, which vary only in their being held more or less closely to the figure, as the weather is warmer or colder.

On market-day, indeed, the scene is somewhat gayer ; the square is filled with small tents and waggons, where the peasants are displaying for sale their liay and corn, and poultry, and fire-wood, and exchanging them for such coarse commodities, chiefly cloth and leather, as they require. Brandy, too, runs away with a large part of their profits; and few of those whom we saw so keen in haggling for a kreuzer in the morning would in a few hours after have sufficient sense left to guide them home.

But the greatest variety the market-day offers, is the recruiting party. Since the violent dissolution of the Diet, and the refusal of the counties to levy soldiers without a vote of supply, the Government has been obliged to resort to recruiting to fill up the regiments. Eight or ten smart young [405] fellows, dressed in hussar uniforms, and preceded by a gipsy band playing the national airs, promenade the town in loose order, talking and laughing with all they meet, and looking so idle and so happy, that it is impossible not to envy them, Every now and then the party halts, forms a circle, and commences what is called the Werbunq, or recruiting dance. It is performed to a favourite Hungarian air, and consists in slightly beating time with the feet, striking together the spurs, and occasionally turning round, the whole party singing all the time. While this was going on, I saw one sly fellow quietly steal from the circle of dancers, and walking outside the group of open-mouthed peasants, enter into conversation with them, and cunningly drop his most dainty baits before all the fish he thought likely to bite. Some of the wiser ones turned away, or pretended not to hear him, but two silly gudgeons were nibbling so long, that I am much mistaken if they were not hooked. And, indeed, it is no wonder; the music, the dancing, the national uniform, and the long spurs -- almost all that constitutes the pride and pleasure of an Hungarian peasant's life, seem within his grasp; and when to these are added the fourteen shillings smart-money, it is enough to upset the sternest virtue. The Hungarian peasant, however, always enlists on the understanding that he is to be a hussar, that he shall have a horse, and wear spurs and blue pantaloons; and bitter are [406]

the poor fellow's tears when, as is often the case, he finds himself on foot, and for his comely national dress, is forced to assume the hated breeches and gaiters of the Austrian infantry.

Our usual mode of passing the day, after the simple breakfast of one tiny cup of coffee and a slice of bread, was in writing or taking lessons -- S------ in German, and I in Hungarian -- till two, which is the common dinner hour. From five to eight or nine every house is open, and we generally paid our visits to the ladies' drawing-rooms during that time. At nine, we found ourselves hungry, and by no means unwilling to encounter a supper little less ponderous than the dinner, and then our pipes and books finished the day. This was the first time in the course of our Hungarian travels that we had found any real inconvenience in society from not understanding the Magyar language. Tn other places, German is the language commonly spoken, but the Traiisylvanians are too stanch Magyars for that; and I even know some of them who have almost forgotten their German from pure patriotism. Twenty years ago, German nurses and governesses were found in every respectable house; now French, or even English, are almost as common.

A soirée, the first of the season, at the Countess ------'s, to which we were invited, laid open to us something of the social habits of the capital. The invitation was verbal -- they seem to have a horror of [407] writing notes here -- and the time half-past six. In the first room sat a crowd of young ladies without a soul to speak to them, save a stray youth just escaped from college, or some good-tempered old beau who had taken pity on their destitute condition. In the second and third, were the usual complement of card-tables, dowagers, and dandies, with a few pretty women, still in the prime of life, and the sole objects of attention. How it is that this rigid separation should have been established between the maids and matrons, I know not; but T suspect that some coquettish mammas were prudent enough to think that a separation between mother and daughter, at least in their cases, might be for the benefit of both parties, the exhibition of mamma's flirtatious, un peu prononcées, being scarcely adapted to improve her daughter's innocence; and the daughter's fresh colour and youthful charms being certainly not calculated to set off the waning beauties of mamma. The refreshments were altogether exotic. A large table was crowded with tea-urns, cups and saucers, cakes and sweetmeats, bonbons, ices, a large bottle of rum to take with the tea, after the Russian fashion, and I know not what else, of tempting delicacies besides. With some amateur music, to which no one listened, and some honest hard waltzing, in which all took real pleasure, a little scandal, and a little flirting, the party broke up at ten.

With the exception of a slight tendency to the [408] over-gay, the ladies' dresses were just the same as one sees in every other part of Europe; at least, I am sure, I could tell no difference. Dancing seems really more of a passion here than I ever saw it anywhere else; and the greatest misfortune that can happen to a young lady is, to have a paucity of partners. A lady told me the other day, that in her dancing times, she remembered well that she never said her prayers for her "daily bread," without adding "and plenty of partners at the next ball, I beseech thee." How far the prayer might be an appropriate one, I leave Theologians to decide; but I am sure it was a sincere one; and I believe the loss of the daily bread would not have appeared more cruel than the want of partners."

On calling on the Baroness B------ one day, we found her sorrowing that her favourite maid was going to be married."

" I shall never get so good a hairdresser again; and, besides, she has been with me from childhood; and, after all, she was much better off where she was, than as the wife of a poor clergyma."

"What!" I asked, "does a respectable clergyman marry a lady's waiting maid?"

"Oh, yes ! It is the same gentleman you have met at my house in the country; he is a very honest man, and thinks himself very fortunate in getting her. She is quite as well educated, and has picked up rather better manners than the generality of those to whom he could aspire; and, [409] besides, he has probably some hopes that we may help him forward in consequence."

"And shall you receive your former maid at your table, as you lately did the clergyman ?"

"Of course not: lie will come as usual, whenever we are in the country: but his wife will not dream of such a thing. You might have noticed, that although the lower ends of our tables are crowded by our stewards and bailiffs, and dependants of various kinds, their wives are never admitted."

The great body of the Protestant clergy of Transylvania are derived from the poorer classes of society, as the peasants or small tradesmen. Those of the towns, indeed, are often the sons of professors, merchants, or gentlemen of landed property; but these form the exception, not the rule. During the period of their education, they are commonly maintained by assistance from the lord of the village to which they belong, by the charity of the Protestant body at large, or from the funds of the college itself. The latter portion of the time they remain in the schools is in part occupied in teaching, by which they gain something to help out their slender pittance.

The government of the Reformed Chnrches in Transylvania approaches, in some respects, to that of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The whole body of Calvinists is divided into seventeen circles, each circle being governed by a presbyter, notary, two laical curators, and two assistants. The ecclesiastical [410] causes of each circle are judged by the presbyter and twelve clerical assessors. The appeal from the circle courts is to the General Synod, which is composed of the bishop, the presbyters, notaries, two clerical deputies from each circle, and some laical deputies from the Consistory. The Consistory is the great council, or parliament of. the Calvinists, and meets twice a year at Klau-senburg, to decide all the important affairs of the Church. The Consistory is composed of deputies (patroni), chosen thus: -- The members of every church, peasants or others, meet together every four years, and elect two of their own body, who, together with the clergy, assembling from the whole circle, elect two, four, or five deputies (according to the size of the circle) to the Consistory. Besides these deputies, the Consistory is composed of the bishop, first notary, presbyters, notaries of circles, professors of colleges, curators of circles and colleges, and all the lords-lieutenant, privy councillors, and state secretaries belonging to that religion. The Consistory chooses from its own body four presidents, of whom the eldest present always takes the chair. The election of the bishop is nominally made by the Synod, subject to the approval of Government; but the first notary, who succeeds to the bishopric as a matter of course, is chosen by the Synod independently.

The manner of nominating to a cure is this : -- If a village is in want of a clergyman, the seigneur [411] nominates some qualified person; that is, some one who has gone through a course of education, -- like that described in speaking of the college of Enyed, -- and lias been duly ordained; and, if he is approved by the bishop, he, with the consent of the Synod, confirms the nomination. If, however, the peasants object to his induction, or afterwards become discontented with his services, the bishop is obliged to remove him.

The salary of the Transylvanian clergyman is commonly very small. Besides a cottage and plot of ground, -- an entire peasant's fief, -- he receives a voluntary payment, the amount of which is agreed on beforehand, in part from the lord, and in part from the peasants. It is rarely that this is entirely in money. The peasants commonly agree to give a tenth of their corn and wine; and the lord, to a certain quantity of the same articles, adds a sum of money, varying from eight to twelve pounds. This is but a poor pittance for a man of talent and education; and when it is considered that the greater part even of this depends on his pleasing the lord of the village, we shall not be surprised that the clergyman of Transylvania does not occupy so dignified and honoured a position as he ought to do. Though there are, undoubtedly, many men of high character among them, as a class, they are commonly spoken of by the nobles as deficient in independence and self-respect. Nor is this remark to be confined to the Protestants; [412] the Catholics are equally obnoxious to it. The very custom of admitting the priesthood to their tables as daily guests, andable a trait as it may appear in the character of the nobles, without treating them as equals, has a direct tendency to convert them into dependents and flatterers. Even the higher dignitaries of the church are not always free from the like animadversions; and in speaking of ecclesiastical causes, of which they are the judges, I have often heard men of the highest character say, that a few presents and a little cajolery, will help them to unravel a knotty point, or solve a conscientious scruple with astonishing rapidity.

From disregard for the professors of religion to a disregard for religion itself is but a short step, and I am sorry to say it is one which is often made in Transylvania. It is a common thing, among both Catholics and Protestants, for the best informed of the young people -- the old cling to the faith and observances of their forefathers with a fervent and sincere attachment -- to speak of religion as a useful means of influencing mankind, of Christianity as a beautiful moral system ; but there are very few with whom I have spoken seriously on the subject, who have not denied its Divine origin. In fact, they seemed to think infidelity itself a proof of a strong and enlightened mind, and were astonished that any man of sense could really believe the authenticity of miracles.

As might he anticipated from this laxity of belief, [413] bigotry has few devotees. The Catholic party is dominant, and those more immediately favoured by the Court, it is true, are somewhat inclined towards propagandise ; but, with both parties, religion is more a part of politics than of faith. The Protestants are neglected and oppressed because they are Protestants, and such treatment has created among them a considerable bitterness and a strong party spirit. Of course, this is not to be wondered at; persecution is the best cure for indifference; but it is rather startling to see the man with whom one has been arguing over-night for the credibility of Scripture, the next morning heading a meeting of strong Calvinists. "Why, what can you have to do with the Consistory?" I observed to Baron ------, one day when he was canvassing for a full attendance of members at the next assembly, -- "What can you have to do with the Consistory, if you don't believe in religion ?" " I may not believe the dogmas of the Reformed Church," be answered, " and yet have a strong conviction that the princi. pies of the Reformation, the right of free inquiry, and the duty of every man's forming his own opinion, are just and true. What I contend for now is the independence of our schools and colleges with respect to any interference on the part of an absolute and Catholic Government. In that I am as Protestant as the best believer amongst them."

I have been sometimes at a loss whether most to admire or deprecate the treatment and position [414] of servants here. A Transylvanhin servant is commonly the child of his master's peasant, perhaps one who has been left an orphan, and bequeathed to his care, perhaps a playfellow of his little master, who has been taken into the fandly in his very infancy, and there he will probably remain till he can serve no longer. Their wages are small, -- of course I speak of the generality, the very highest classes are the exceptions everywhere, -- those of footmen rarely exceeding four or five pounds a-year, and grooms and coachmen often receiving only one; but then they are all found in clothes, linen, and washing. If a female servant wishes to marry, her mistress provides her a handsome trousseau, and helps to furnish her house; if a man-servant marries, his wife is very likely taken into the fandly, or some out-door place is found for him. When they become too old to serve any longer there is no idea of turning them off, but they are commonly sent to some country house at a distance, and maintained there for their lives. Some gentlemen have dozens of these old pensioners quartered on different estates; as they say, "it costs us but little; for the expense of transporting the corn we receive in rent from our peasants would hardly pay for the trouble, and it keeps these poor fellows very comfortably."

If this has its good side it has also its bad, for I never saw servants more negligent and dirty than those of Transylvania. I believe they do not rob their masters, but they get drunk on their best wines, [415] lame their best horses, and probably disobey their orders five times out of ten. Nor do I think the fandliarity with which they are commonly treated, any more a proof of respect or of kindly feeling, than our distance and reserve of cruelty and pride. The more nearly the servant approaches the master in his rights and position in society, the more necessary it is that reserve should intervene to keep up that deference, without which obedience can hardly be expected. But when the servant is of another caste, and can never approach the sphere of those above him, the case is different, and the more he approaches to the state of the slave, the more he is treated with fandliarity, because there is the less danger of his being tempted to forget his relative position in consequence of it. In America the negroes in the slave-states are treated with infinitely more fandliarity than they are in the others; but it would be absurd on that account to conclude that slavery is preferable to freedom, or that the freeman's master is more cruel than the owner of the slave. In Russia, this contemptuous fandliarity is carried to a still greater extent. A princess of that country was once discovered employing her footman in lacing her stays, and when remonstrated with by her more civilized visitor, answered very composedly, "What can it signify ? he is only a servant." To a modification of the same feeling, I attribute much of the fandliarity with which servants are treated in Transylvania, -- the very [416] praise of a good servant, that " he is faithful as a dog," is enough to prove it; and I cannot, therefore, as many writers have done, from seeing it in other parts of the Continent, hold it up to admiration or imitation. The good servant ought to be too much respected by his master to be treated with fandliarity; for in the dependent position which he necessarily occupies, it could only degrade him to a mean flatterer, or render him disobedient and careless.

The dislike to any other livery than their national dress is very strong among the servants here; indeed, to such an extent is it carried, that those who wish to have servants in livery are often obliged to hire them at Pest or Vienna. Except the lady's maid, the female servants are commonly dressed like the peasant women, and wear the same substantial boots and bundas.

On the fifth of December, there was a meeting of the county of Klausenburg, the first held since the dissolution of the Diet. This looked as if the Government were inclined to try conciliation, and we heard that all the chiefs of the liberal party were anxious that it should pass off with the greatest quietness, but that they were resolved at the same time to manifest a firm adherence to their rights. The course to ho adopted was determined on at a meeting of the principal nobles at the house of Count Bethlen János, -- the admitted leader of the liberals; -- and it was to assemble and draw up a protest against the dissolution of the Diet, and all the subsequent [417] acts of the executive, and then to separate, with a refusal to act in any way with a Government of which they cannot acknowledge the legality.

The meeting took place in the ball, formerly occupied by the Diet, and which was still fitted up as it had been during the sittings of that assembly, with rows of benches covered with green cloth. The Administrator, the substitute for the Lord-lieutenant who had resigned, took his place with fear and trembling; for he was aware how strong the opposition was against him, and he did not probably feel quite comfortable as to how the meeting might end. After the clerks had read over some documents, among which was the Imperial Ordinance closing the Diet, in Latin, Count Bethlen János rose. Added to an exceedingly fine countenance and striking figure, Bethlen János possesses a voice of greater depth and sweetness than I ever remember to have heard. His manner is calm, but earnest and persuasive in the highest degree. He is generally accused of being too lazy to take such an active share in public affairs as his talents and eloquence demand of him. That could not bo charged against him, however, on this occasion. He had been suffering from ague for several months previously, and was actually under the influence of the fever while he was speaking.

His task was a difficult one. A considerable number of Szolga-birok, magistrates, who had been fairly chosen in 1833, in consequence of the cessation [418] of the county meetings, had not been able to give up their offices, as they were bound to do, at the end of the year, and go through a now election ; they had now been three years in office. All these men were anxious to come forward and resign; but as it was determined that nothing should be done, of course their re-election could not have been made, and probably Government would have appointed a set of corrupt bureaucrats in their places. The quiet dignified manner, and calm reasoning of Count Bethlcn, seemed to have its effect. Some of the friends of Government tried to counteract his wise counsel by stimulating the more uncompromising of the opposition to a violent course -- but it was in vain; the moderates carried the day. A committee was appointed to draw up a protest, and the meeting adjourned. Many of the best speakers had been drawn off by similar meetings having been called together in several other counties. After Bethlen János, the best speakers were Baron Kemény Domokos, Zejk Joseph, and Count Teleki Domokos. The speeches were generally very short, and in consequence the speakers found it frequently necessary to rise and interrupt in order to explain their meaning more fully, which produced some confusion in the debate.

Even among the liberal party, different opinions have been formed as to the prudence and wisdom of the extreme measures of Baron Wesselényi, which led to the violent dissolution of the Diet on the [419] part of the Government. Many of those who had followed his steps while successful, were anxious to escape from the path into which their fears and not their convictions had drawn them. Others, too weak to oppose the torrent in the height of its flow, now began to make themselves heard; and there were many who believed that a more cautious, if less direct, course would have been attended with more favourable results. Perhaps these opinions are right, and on the spot, I was much inclined to agree with them myself; at the same time, it is impossible to deny that the principles of Wesselényi if too advanced both for the Government and the mass of his countrymen, were in themselves noble and high. The attempt to carry them out at that moment may have been imprudent, untimely; but they have bad the effect which all high party principles have, of engendering sentiments of disinterested nationality and generous devotion to the public good, A few years ago, Government would have been right in counting on love of place as stronger than love of principle ; but a public conscience has been called into action; he that could get the most was not the most esteemed -- and as was seen in the moment of action, even men of doubtful conduct no longered dared to leave the straight course, so strong was the public feeling against any dereliction from public duty. For this the country has, in a great measure, to thank Wesselénlyi, and I [420] am not sure that it is not the greatest boon be could have conferred on it.57

57 Later events have still further confirmed this opinion. The Transylvanian Diet was called together again ill 1838, at Hermanstadt, and almost all the points formerly refused were re-demanded, and finally obtained from the Government. The Diet firmly refused to elect the Arch-duke for governor, and he has in consequence loft the country. Many of those gentlemen who gave up their places on the dissolution of the former diet, have been re-elected by the present one, to still higher posts; the election of the president, aud the publication of the debates, have heen yielded without opposition, and it is to be hoped, that in future the country and Government will cordially unite in amending the institutions, and ameliorating the condition of this beautiful country. The first act of the Diet was to appoint a commission for the reform of the laws affecting the peasantry.

Nothing can be conceived more uneasy than the state of society here at the present moment. Politics have completely divided the most intimate friends, so that it is difficult to form even a dinner party without bringing opponents together. The Arch-duke and his small band of officials, together with the whole of the military, are sent to Coventry by the greater part of the nobility. Many ladies not only refuse to attend at his palace, but will not go into society where he is invited. Of course this has no tendency to soften the Archduke's feelings, and many tales arc afloat of the harsh tilings he has said. That he is a most dangerous enemy of constitutional rights is beyond all question. Only a short time since, in answer to a remonstrance from one of the most moderate [421] of the opposition, on the illegality of some ordinance just issued, he observed, "Das erste Gesetz ist des Kaisers Befehl, -- the first law is the Emperor's will," -- a sentiment too absolute to find an echo even within the walls of the Seraglio.

These feelings of dislike to the Court and its party, have been strongly called forth by an occurrence which took place in the theatre within these last few days. As a young student was passing out of the theatre, at the same time with a number of officers, he pushed against one of them -- rudely in all probability, and not quite unintentionally, for between officers and students there is a great hatred, -- when the officer and several of his companions drew their swords, attacked the unarmed boy, and wounded him severely. In England, the officers would have been tried for murder; here, they were commended by their superiors, and the student thrown into prison. Now though, for my own part, I fully agree with the Transylvanians in regarding such an act with the greatest horror, it is but just to the Austrian army to give the reasons by which they attempt to justify it. If an Austrian officer receives an insult and does not avenge it, he is looked upon by his comrades as a coward; if he fights a duel, he is broken by his commander; and therefore, to redress his own wrongs the moment they are inflicted is the only-plan by which be can escape dishonour or punishment. It is still difficult to conceive, however, by [422] what sophistry it could be considered fair to use arms against an unarmed man.

Towards the middle of January the cold became excessive. At eight o'clock in the morning of the tenth of that month, the thermometer stood at twenty-two degrees of Reaumur, or fifty degrees of Fahrenheit below freezing. This is a greater degree of cold than has been knoM-n at Klausenburg for many years ; indeed it is colder than a common winter at St. Petersburg. The winter in general, however, is exceedingly severe in Transylvania, and T know no better instance to prove how much other circumstances, besides the latitude, influence the climate of a country. Klausenburg is thirteen degrees south of St. Petersburg, and five degrees south of London; yet, owing to its geographical position, it has five months winter of almost arctic severity. The contrast is rendered still more striking when we recollect that the summers here are so hot as to produce the grape and water-melon in the open air.

This was the first time I ever felt a really painful cold, and on going out I found it affect my eyes severely. The breath froze on the moustache and whiskers, and though I heard of no noses being lost, several ladies had their ears frozen in close carriages, as they were going out to parties. The bread they brought us in the morning was mostly frozen, and we heard that the liqueurs had frozen during the night, and broken their bottles. I was [423] surprised one day to see a peasant, who was talking to another in the square, resting his hand on the head of a roe-buck, which appeared so tame that it stood quietly by his side; but in a few seconds, when the men parted, I was still more astonished to see him set the animal exactly in the same position on his shoulders, and walk oft' with it. In fact all the game and meat was frozen, and required a gradual thawing before it could be used.

A considerable sensation has been excited of late by a report that three counties of Transylvania, formerly belonging to Hungary, are to be restored to that country. The Transylvanians do not seem to relish this plan much; they say these counties arc eminently Protestant and liberal, and if taken away, the opposition would be so much weakened as to be in danger of extinction, -- others, again, hope it may only bo a prelude to an union of the whole of Transylvania to Hungary, which would be a means of strengthening the latter country, and would insure the Transylvanians also a more strict observance of their rights, though the rights themselves might be somewhat restricted by it.

We had a visit one day from Székelly Moses Ur, the professor of Theology in the Unitarian College here. Professor Székelly told me he spent a short time in England some years back, and visited most of the Unitarian congregations. At the Unitarian College in York, he was much astonished at the wealth of the professors; the first "had 300l. a-year," [424] and the two others 1501. each -- "but England," said he, "is a rich country!" "How much have you then, if you consider that such excessive wealth?" I asked.

"We have 30l. a-year each and rooms in the college, and there are few professors here better paid than we are."

Professor Székelly estimates the Unitarians of Transylvania at forty-seven thousand. In the college there are two hundred and thirty students, of whom one hundred are togati, and follow the higher branches of learning, the rest classisten, mere boys. There are professors of Mathematics, Philosophy, History,58 and Theology, besides six preceptors under them. We visited the college and church, Hie latter of which is a handsome building and kept in good order. The form of service is the same as that maintained in all Protestant dissenting churches.

58 The Unitarians have also Gymnasia at Thorda and Keresztur.

Unitarianism was introduced into Transylvania by Isabella, daughter of the King of Poland, and wife of the first Zápolya, and it was under her regency, during the minority of her son, that they obtained equal privileges with the other professors of Christianity. Blandrata, the physician of Isabella, is said to have taught her the doctrines which Servetus was promulgating in Italy. For some time Unitarianism remained the religion of the Court, and of course, it soon became the religion of the courtiers. Since that time, however, many changes have occurred, [425] by none of which have the poor Unitarians gained. Their churches have been taken away from them and given in turns to the Reformed and the Catholics. Their funds have been converted to other purposes ; the great have fallen away and followed new fashions as they arose, and the religion is now almost entirely confined to the middle and lower classes. It is in the mountains of the Székler-land that this simple faith has retained the greatest number of followers. Here, as elsewhere, they are said to be distinguished for their prudence and moderation in politics, their industry and morality in private life, and the superiority of their education to the generality of those of their own class.

The habits of society in Transylvania, in many respects, differ little from those of England about the end of the last century. The ladies usually pass their mornings in attending to the affairs of their households, or in listening over their embroidery to the news of the day which a neighbouring gossip has kindly brought to them. Some of them, it is true, spend these hours at the easel or the drawing-table, and others store their minds with the choicest products of foreign literature. In addition to a pretty good circulating library which Klausenburg already contains, the ladies have lately established a book-club among themselves, in order to insure a better supply of new books. I know many ladies to whom the names and works of all our best classics are fandliar, either in the originals [426] or translations, and there are very few who cannot talk learnedly of Byron and Scott. This may not be thought to show any very great proficiency in literature, but I am afraid if we were to ask English ladies how much they know -- not of Hungarian writers -- but of those nof Germany even, we should often find their knowledge still more shallow.

The education of children is for the most part committed to the mother's care. In the richer fandlies she is aided by a governess and a master, in those less rich the whole duty rests on her, but in no case is it left entirely to the care of strangers. Boarding-schools are almost unknown; and the boys are consequently committed to the care of private tutors, often priests or clergymen, till fit to be sent to college. It is a great misfortune that the wholesome lessons which pride so often receives in public schools, cannot be enjoyed by these children. Too often their tutors are little more than their servants, and they are consequently brought up with an overweening idea of their own consequence, and of the inferiority of all around them. Count Széchenyi has given a humorous description of this sort of education, and its effects, which is worth quoting. Although intended for Hungary, and a little exaggerated, there are not wanting instances even in Transylvania to which it might be well applied.

"Many of our children, from their very infancy, have always been attended by a couple of hussars, whose labour has been to praise their little master's [427] every act in hopes of adding a trifle to their wages by their servility -- albeit they have rarely succeeded in that matter. Has the little count walked half a mile -- oh, what a pedestrian he will make ! Has he got through an examination -- private of course, -- and are his parents in office -- what a great man he will turn out some of these days ! If the young gentleman, attended by a handsome suite, pays a visit to his father's estates, everybody is in waiting to receive him, and he sees things only in their holiday dress. Suppose his studies now finished -- that is, his private tutor dismissed -- and he sets out on his travels to gain a knowledge of the 'world.' He pays a visit to Count N------, to Baron M------, to the Vice Ispan II -- -- , and to Squire F------; he passes through a good part of his father-land, finds horses everywhere ordered for him, and is sure to be well received wherever he presents himself, and so between visits to his friends and a few weeks' bathing at Mehadia or Fiired, manages to get through the summer. After a six weeks' residence in Venice and Munich, to complete his knowledge of foreign ' Weltweisheit,' -- world-wisdom -- he returns home, and is appointed to an office already waiting for him. And now he plays the great man; he knows his father-land, has travelled into foreign countries, talks about the English Parliament and the French Chambers, and enlightens his hearers with his opinions on these matters. Then he tells them in how sad a state France is, how her agriculture is [428] fallen, and darkly hints that Great Britain may yet be ruined by her steam-engines and machinery!"

From some of these dangers the education of the women is free. Left entirely to a mother's care, or taught by a foreign governess under her eye, there is little chance of their falling into these errors; nor indeed, as they are excluded from political employment, is it worth the Government's while to interfere for the sake of checking a mental developement which it so much fears in the other sex.

I must do the sons and daughters of Hungary the credit to say, that in no country is the behaviour of the child to the parent more respectful than in Hungary. This partly depends on the habits inculcated in early life. From infancy the child is taught to kiss the parent's hand as its ordinary salutation, and the morning and evening greetings are considered matters of duty, and punctiliously observed even in after life. It is pleasant to see the married daughter kiss the mother's hand and receive her blessing as she leaves for the night, and in the morning to find her in attendance to offer her parent the first salutations on the coming day. Nor is the custom which places the mother at the head of the daughter's table, and which makes her almost mistress of the house when she visits her child, less soothing to the feelings of one who has long been looked up to as the directress of all about her. I have often been surprised to observe the absolute silence maintained by grown-up sons in the presence [429] of their fathers, and I have sometimes been sorry when I have seen them sacrifice, if not their political sentiments, at least the conduct which those sentiments would have dictated, to the feelings and prejudices of old age. Great as is the respect we owe our parents, the duty we owe our country is more sacred still.

Society, at least during the winter, occupies a large share of the ladies' time and attention. After dinner they commonly make their visits; in summer they drive out to the Volts Garten, or some other place in the neighbourhood, and still later either receive visitors at home, or go out to spend the evening with some of their friends. Though more domestic in their habits than the French, they are not such slaves to their firesides as ourselves. It is not thought a misfortune to spend an evening alone, but it is more commonly passed in society.

The conversation of small towns is very apt to run into scandal and tittle-tat tie, and Klausenberg is certainly not free from the imputation; but if the weeds of the social system find a soil for their nourishment here, its flowers are not less plentiful and luxuriant. There are women in Transylvania whose accomplishments and manners would render them the ornament of any society in which they might be placed. Nor is the general tone of conversation much lower in its intellectuality, -- whatever it may be in refinement, -- than in most other countries. I was particularly struck by the freedom [430] with which political and religions discussions were often carried on before ladies here, and by the interest and share they took in it. In Transylvania, I never heard a lady insulted by an apology for speaking in her presence of subjects which interested her husband, father, or brother. Perhaps the next sentence may explain the cause of this.

The position of women in Hungary and Transylvania, with respect to their civil and even political rights is very different from what it is with us. We have already remarked, when speaking of the Diet at Presburg, that the widows of magnates have the right of sending a deputy to sit, though not to speak or vote, in the lower chamber; and in the county meetings, the widows of all nobles can send their representatives to act in their names. Their civil rights, -- that is, of the married women or widows, for the maid remains a minor and ward of her nearest male relation, should she live to the age of Methuselah -- are still more important. An Hungarian lady never loses her maiden name, and even during her husband's life, actions at law regarding her property are conducted in her name. Over her property the husband has by law no right whatsoever; even the management of it she may retain in her own hands, though she rarely or never does so.

In cases of divorce, where the character of the wife is unimpeachcd, the whole of the children are left in the care of the mother till the age of seven, and the girls during their whole lives.

[431]

Divorces are far from uncommon among the Protestants of Transylvania; for except when attended by scandalous disclosures, which is rare, both law and custom mark them as unfortunate rather than disgraceful. They are commonly obtained by the wife against the husband on the plea of ill treatment, inveterate dislike, impossibility of living together, or the employment of threats or force to accomplish the marriage -- any of which are sufficient in law -- and she retains all her property and rights unimpaired. It is curious that very few cases occur in which they do not marry again quite as well as before.

The Casino at Klausenburg, if less splendid than its elder brother in Pest, is at least equally hospitable : our names were put down, and we were free of it as long as we chose to stay. The ladies complain that their drawing-rooms are sadly deserted since the establishment of the Casino; the attractions of pipes, cards, billiards, conversation, and books, seem to have beat those of beauty. It is rare to go into the Casino of Klauscnburg during the evening and not find its rooms full. If I complained that the Casino of Pest was invaded by the pipe, what shall I say of that of Klausenburg? Its air is one dense cloud of smoke, and it is easy to detect any one who has been there by the smell of his clothes for some time after. Such a smoking nation as this I never saw ; the Germans are novices to them in the art. Reading, writing, walking, or [432] riding, idle or at work, they are never without the pipe. Even in swimming, I have seen a man puffing away quite composedly. A coachman thinks it is a great hardship if he may not smoke as lie is driving a carriage, although it may happen that the smoke blows directly into the face of his mistress. The meerschaum is cherished by the true smoker with as much care as a pet child : when new, he covers it up in a little case of soft leather that it may not be scratched, and he smokes it regularly and with great caution, that it may take an equal colour throughout; and when at last it has obtained the much-esteemed nut-brown hue, with what pride does he exhibit and praise its beauty! A meerschaum, engraved with arms, is one of the common presents between intimate friends; and some of them are worked with exquisite taste and skill. The most common tobacco bag is a part of the skin of the goat, and is often ornamented with rich embroidery.

The most luxurious smoker I ever knew, was a young Transylvanian, who told us that his servant always inserted a lighted pipe into his mouth the first thing in the morning, and that he smoked it out before he awoke. "It is so pleasant," he observed, "to have the proper taste restored to one's mouth before one is sensible even of its want."

I am sorry to say smoking does not confine itself to the Casino or the bachelor's bedroom, but makes its appearance even in the society of ladies. [433]

In some houses, pipes are regularly brought into the drawing-room with coffee after dinner, and I have even heard of a ball supper being finished with smoking. I never knew a lady who did not dislike this custom; but they commonly excuse it by the plea that they could not keep the gentlemen with them if they did not yield to it. It is but justice to say, however, that there are drawing-rooms in Klansenburg from which this abomination is rigidly excluded, and where the gentlemen arc still happy to be allowed to make their bows without a similar permission being extended to their meerschaums.

S------ was present at the funeral of Count R------, and has given me some curious particulars of it. Count R------ was a Protestant, and the greatest part of the ceremony took place in his own house. After a short service, and a general sermon to all those invited to the funeral, the clergyman proceeded to address each one of the mourners separately and by name. He began with the nearest relative, -- in this case the widow, -- and after enlarging on the virtues of the deceased, as a husband and father, pointed out the consolation she might derive from the reflection, and when at last she was quite overcome by her feelings, she was led out by two of her friends, and the next of kin was then addressed in the same way, and so on through the whole company. Such a ceremony, if well conducted, gives the clergyman a great [434] opportunity of correcting the faults and failings of individuals in circumstances when admonition is most kindly received; but as in our own funeral sermons, it too often ends in a mere panegyric of the deceased, without regard to his deserts, or to the edification of the hearers. To speak impartially under such circumstances would often be cruel, and is scarcely possible in any case : in Transylvania it is rendered still more difficult by the handsome present the clergyman commonly receives for his services on the occasion.

I was taken by the Baroness H------ to see a school in which she felt great interest, and in the foundation of which she had taken a considerable share. This school was for children of all religions, and had been established to enable the poor Protestants and others to educate their children without having them tempted to become converts to Catholicism, of which they were in danger in other places. The system pursued was that of Lancaster, and it seemed to succeed well. They only attempt to teach the first elements of education, as far as learning is concerned, but what is of more importance, religious and orderly habits are insisted on. The services of the day arc begun and ended with a prayer and hymn, and the reading of select passages from the Bible. Among the children were Calvin-ists and Unitarians, Catholics, Greeks and Jews, -- the latter only taking no part in the religious acts.

There are other schools for the poorer classes, founded by the Baroness Josika, a lady of great [435] enterprise and public spirit, to whom Klausenburg is indebted for many very useful institutions.

In spite of not understanding a word that was said, I went several times to the theatre as a matter of duty. I cannot say a great deal in favour of the acting, but I really do not think it was worse than is seen in the provincial theatres of most other countries. Klausenburg was the first town that could boast of a regular Magyar theatre, and may therefore claim to have exercised no slight influence in extending and polishing the language. I met Mr. Jancso, the first Hungarian actor who ever distinguished himself, the other day at dinner at the Countess W------'s. He is said to have enjoyed great popularity in his day, and to have fully deserved it. He is now old, and, like so many of our own past favourites, but very ill provided for. Whenever the Countess W------, however, is in town, Jancso is sure of a good dinner, as there is always a cover laid for him at her table.

Having sufficiently recovered from a slight hurt I hud received about the middle of January, which the cold had aggravated into a rather troublesome affair, I began to think of moving; and we accordingly determined to bid adieu to Klausenburg and spend the carnival in Pest. In truth, the unhappy divisions which politics have caused in society renders Klausenburg anything but a pleasant residence just at present. It is idle to say that such matters should have nothing to do with our enjoyments -- where [436] great interests are at stake every legitimate means of exercising moral influence must be employed ; the renegade, the seller of his conscience, must be excluded from the drawing-room, as he is from the senate; must be shunned by the women as he is despised by the men. But necessary as all this may be, it is far from pleasant, and wo therefore determined to bid it farewell, hoping that the moderation of the people, and the returning good sense of the Government, would in a few years restore to Klausenburg its former character of one of the gavest little places in the world.

OLD TOWER AT KLAUSENBERG
OLD TOWER AT KLAUSENBERG

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




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