Title


[448]

HUNGARIAN LADY
HUNGARIAN LADY IN HER NATIONAL COSTUME

CHAPTER XIV.

THE CARNIVAL IN PEST.

A Ball. -- Ladies' Costume. -- Luxury and Barbarism. -- University of Pest. -- Number of Schools. -- Austrian System of Education -- its Effects. -- Corruption of Justice. -- Delays of the Law. -- Literature. -- Mr. Kölcsy. -- Baron Josika. -- Arts and Artists. -- The Theatre. -- Magyar Language. -- Mr. Körösi and his Expedition to Thibet. -- Trade Companies. -- Popular Jokes. -- Austria, Hungary, and Russia. -- Blunders of Mr. Quin and other English Writers on Hungary. -- The last Ball of the Carnival. -- The Masquerade. -- The breaking up of the Ice.

"WELCOME back to Pest, friends! you are just come in time for all the gaiety." Such was the salutation of Count D------as he met us on the first [449] morning of our return. " I have two halls for you to-night, and several others during the week, I know what you are going to say, that you arE not acquainted with any of these philanthropic ball-givers; but I will arrange all that for you; I will write a note to the Baroness O------to say I shall bring you to her house this evening, and I will there introduce you to everybody you ought to know, so that the whole affair will he settled as ceremoniously as even a ceremonious Englishman could wish !" Although we pleaded hard for a few days' rest, before launching on this sea of pleasure, D------ protested the carnival was too short for a wise man to lose a day of it, and therefore, we had nothing for it but to submit in peace.

About nine the game evening we found ourselves ushered by an hussar, dressed in blue and silver, into a splendid ball-room, brilliant with light and beauty. Our reception was as kind as well-bred hospitality could make it, and on looking round we soon found a number of faces we had met before, and all ready to offer us a kind welcome back.

And now I confess myself fairly puzzled. I suppose I ought to describe this ball, -- but what points am I to seize on, by which to distinguish it from a ball anywhere else? There is not a dress or a costume of any kind, that differs a particle from those of London or Paris; not a dance, save the waltz and quadrille ; not a gait or movement, that is not common to ladies and gentlemen of any other [450] country. There may be some of those fine shades of distinction which the delicate appreciation of a woman's mind might seize and work upon, hut T must confess to my grosser apprehension, the characteristics of good society vary so little in any part of Europe, that but for the furniture of the room, or the language spoken, I should scarcely know a ball in one great capital, from a ball in any other. An elegant suite of rooms, well lighted, a good band of musicians, a number of pretty girls and their mammas, with a proportionate quantity of men, free from the vulgarity of dandyism, ami especially when the whole party is acquainted and all arc perfectly at their ease, are always sufficient to compose a pleasant ball anywhere. On this occasion the presence of a reigning Prince gave the ladies an excuse for displaying their most brilliant parures of diamonds, and the heads of many of them literally blazed with jewellery.

I am afraid the Hungarian ladies must plead guilty to a little more than common affection for these pretty baubles. Nor, indeed, can it be wondered at, for their national costume is so covered with them, and they are allowed by all the world to look so lovely in it, that it is no wonder if they think the jewels have some influence in the matter. And this reminds me that I have not yet said a word about this costume, although to have omitted it would have brought on me a frown from every pair of bright eyes in Hungary. [451] Let me premise, however, that this dress was not worn at the ball at the Baroness O------'s, nor indeed is it ever used, except at court or on public occasions, as the installation of a lord lieutenant or other great ceremony.

The full dress of the Magyar nemes asszony, -- noble Hungarian lady, -- is composed of a tight hodice, laced across the breast with rows of pearls, a full-flowing skirt, with an ample train, a lace apron in front, and a long veil of the same material, hanging from the head to the ground behind. The dross is composed of some rich brocade, or heavy velvet stuff. The head, neck, arms, and waist, are commonly loaded with jewels, and the veil and apron are often richly embroidered, after the Turkish fashion, in gold. The only difference between the married and unmarried is, that the latter have no veil, and, instead of the small cap, from which the veil hangs, their hair is braided with pearls.

But to return to the ball. I was rather amused with the tactics of the Hungarian ladies as I observed them this evening. I had heard that the tone of society in Pest was not so strict as it might be, but I protest it was not only quite as strict, but even a little more so than would have suited my taste. I could not see a symptom even of an innocent flirtation ! and I almost doubt if one could be carried on with any degree of satisfaction; for it is the fashion for two ladies [452] to walk and sit together, so that go to whom you will, there is always a third person in the conversation ; and I refer to any man experienced in such matters, if it is possible to utter sweet nothings with due effect, except as the Germane say, unter vier Augen -- between four eyes. Nor is this custom confined to the young ladies, the dowagers arc equally cautious; not one of them ventures into a ball-room without her friendly guardian. In some cases it was amusing enough to mark how knowingly this choice had been made, -- how the beauty had chosen her contrast in the plain and humble -- how the friend of the pretending was the modest and unassuming.

To us, as strangers, French was the language in which we were commonly addressed, but amongst themselves German was universally used. Some of the younger members of the party spoke English fluently, and one of the little children of the house, only four years old, seemed as well master of it as we were. I am afraid it would not be saying much for the conversation, if I pronounced it as good as is met with in drawing-rooms elsewhere; but in truth, where dancing is so serious a business as here, there is but little time for talking.

The suite of rooms thrown open was handsome and well adapted to the purposes of a ball. The first room was filled with dancers, who slid over the well-polished floors to Strauss' quickest airs; the second, a large drawing-room, was covered [453] with ottomans, lounging chairs, and all the other necessary nothings which make up drawing-room furniture, while the walls were hung with good specimens of English and French engravings; the third room was half boudoir, half study, and its tables groaned beneath the weight, if weight they can be said to have, of heaps of annuals and books of beauty; while the last of the suite was very tastefully disposed as a refreshment-room. The dancing was kept up with great spirit till about twelve o'clock, when a second suite of rooms on the other side of the ball-room was opened, and a supper was laid out to which ample justice was done. Supper over, and the champagne seemed to have lent new wings to the dance; for when we left at two, there were then no symptoms of the party's breaking up.

Now in all this I can see very little that is remarkable, albeit much that is agreeable; and therefore, with a hint that such things were going on most days of the week, and that we were fortunate enough to he at once admitted into the midst of them, I shall leave them for a while and pass on to other matters. The contrast, however, so rapidly brought before us of the snow-covered Puszta and its skin-clad peasants, with the luxurious capital and its elegant crowds, did strike us most forcibly at this ball. There are few places where the real contrast between excessive luxury and abject misery is so great as in London, but its outward [454] appearance is still greater here. When we looked at the delicate women who filled the salons of the Baroness O------, and thought of the roads they travelled over, the inns they sometimes slept in, and the rude, savage peasantry by whom they were often surrounded, it seemed as if there must be two individuals to occupy such different positions.

Pest has a university, founded as far back as 1635, and enriched by Maria Theresa, Joseph the Second, and Francis, with gifts of large estates, so that its annual revenue amounts to thirty-four thousand pounds. It boasts, at the present time, one hundred and four professors, tutors, and others, and one thousand students. There are libraries, museums, and all the other essentials to a learned institution. Of the professors, there are nine theological, six juridical, thirteen medical, fourteen philosophical, and one each for the Hungarian, German, French, and Italian languages. The moat eminent of these is Professor Schedius, the editor of a splendid new map of Hungary, still in progress, whose name is never mentioned without expressions of admiration and respect.

I have incidentally spoken of schools, and education in several parts of these volumes, but the subject is so important that I trust I shall be excused if I resume as shortly as possible the statistics59 of education in Hungary, that we may see how far the [455] effects, as wo have observed them, answer to what might be expected from them.

59 For moat of these details I am indebted to the often-quoted work, the "Gemälde of Csaplovics."

It was in the reign of Maria Theresa, that a general attempt was first made to extend education into every town and Tillage of Hungary. As early as 1500, the Protestants had made great progress in educating the poor of their own church, hut during the many persecutions to which they had been subject, their schools were destroyed, and the funds converted to other purposes, so that the Hungarians, as a nation, may he said to have been previously without education. The system of Maria Theresa was followed up by Joseph, who, under the name of mixed schools, brought all sects and religions together under the same masters. This was in itself sufficient to excite the opposition of the Hungarians, bigoted and intolerant as they then were ; but even had this difficulty been got over, the mixed schools were condemned to popular hatred by being made the medium for the introduction of the German language, and the consequent destruction of Hungarian nationality. After the death of Joseph, the mixed schools, except in some few places, were given up, and each religion was left to educate its own members after its own fancy, the Catholic, however, alone receiving aid and encouragement from Government.

At the present time there is scarcely a village in Hungary without one or more schools. Where the inhabitants are all of one religion, there are no [456] difficulties to be overcome. Where differences exist, if the separate creeds are too poor to maintain a school each, the poorer attend that of the more powerful, which is commonly Catholic; the Protestant children, however, not being forced to take a part in the religious instruction, which is left to the priest, or, still more commonly, to his capellan or clerk. The education extends to reading, writing, arithmetic, catechism, Klugheits Regela, or moral maxims, and sometimes a little geography, history, and Latin Grammar. These schools are maintained, and the masters chosen, by the peasants themselves, the landlord being obliged to give ground for a school-house, and thirty or forty acres of land for the use of the master. The payment is for the most part in kind and labour. There are normal schools in different parts of the country, for the education of masters for the national schools.60

60 Within these last few years infant schools, on the model of those of England and France, have been instituted, chiefly through the zeal and perseverance of the Countess Theresa Brunswick. As yet, however, though they seem to have succeeded better than could have been expected, they are too recent, and in too small numbers, to have had so beneficial an influence as they seem well capable of exercising.

Besides these national schools, which may be said to be common to all religions, the Catholics have fifty-nine Gymnasia, and six Archigymnasia, in which the course of education lasts six years. These are chiefly under the direction of the Piarists and other religious orders. The easier Latin classics and [457] other common branches of education are taught in those institutions.

They have also six Philosophical schools, where Greek and mathematics are taught; five academies, teaching physics, logic, metaphysics, and law; and several seminaries for training up the priesthood, besides the University of Pest, of which we have already spoken.

Of the Protestants, tho Reformed have the most perfectly organized system of education. Besides the national schools they have many Latin schools for tiie peasantry, in which the course extends over four years; they have gymnasia also, and three great colleges, viz. those of Debreczen, Sáros Patak, and Pápa.

The chief school of the Lutherans is the Lyceum at Preshurg, which possesses sixteen teachers; besides which they have three similar institutions, and eleven gymnasia.

The members of the Greek church are the worst provided of any with the means of education ; but they are said to be rapidly improving in this respect. In addition to the Lyceum of Karlowitz, they have four other institutions of the higher order, and between one and two thousand elementary schools.

Now, with such machinery for educating, what is the state of knowledge in the country at large ? Is it greater or less than that found among the same classes of society in our own country, where the number of schools is much less ? I have no hesitation [458] in saying that it is much lower. To the numerical philosophers -- those who calculate men's intelligence and morality as they would the distance of the stars, -- it may appear paradoxical that schools and education sllould not mean the same thing; yet assuredly they do not. Education may be made the means of training to ignorance as well as to knowledge ; and I know of no better exemplification of this fact than the system of instruction pursued by Austria.

Without entering into the details of this system, let me give the reader the result of a thorough inquiry into it made by one of our countrymen living in Vienna. In answer to my question of what were the effects of the Austrian education, he answered, "In one word -- stultification." "If a student," he continued, " obtains a first class certificate, you may be sure he is a fool; if a second, he may be not more than ordinarily ignorant; but if he get only the lowest, he runs a fair chance of being a clever fellow. The course of study is so laborious, and at the same time the books to be road, the comments to be listened to, and all things to he learnt, are so adapted to shut out every idea of what is great or good, or beautiful, that one who has followed out the system, is not only less wise than before, for what he has learnt; but, from the time that has been occupied, it is impossible also that be should have devoted any attention to the acquisition of better things."

[459]

Nor do others give a more favourable report. Even M. St. Mare Girardin, who appears rather as the advocate of the system, states that it is admirably contrived for preventing any develope-mcnt of the higher mental faculties. The Government, in its paternal solicitude, considers the higher branches of knowledge unfit for the tender minds of its children, as it might only lead them to plague their heads about matters which are better left to the direction of their superiors. It has accordingly endeavoured to direct all their energies to the cultivation of material knowledge; and by concentrating their whole force on that, to raise the country to a very high state of material dovelope-ment. Admitting, for a moment, that such an object is a wise and good one, -- how has it been answered? Do we find the Austrian in agriculture, in trade, in commerce, in the fine arts, in science, or in any one thing -- save perhaps, fiddling and waltzing -- before the rest of Europe ? The Government has been foolish enough to believe that it could use the energies of the human mind as it would those of a steam-engine -- it has been ignorant of the well-known fact, that it is only in freedom that the mind can work out anything pre-eminently good, whether in the sciences, in literature, or in the mere mechanical arts.

And yet there are many well-meaning people who recommend the Austrian system to the imitation of England! No, God forbid we should imitate [460] Austria! I allow we are as badly off for education as a people can well bo, but yet it is a thousand times better to remain as we are than to have a half-priest half-police directed system, which would impose such chains on our understandings, that through our whole lives we should never be able to break loose from them. The advocates of the Austrian system forget that there are other sources of knowledge besides books, other teachers amongst us than our pedagogues, and stronger stimulants to knowledge than even their well-soaked birch. It is scarcely possible to live in a populous country like England, with a free press, and a Protestant church, and remain very ignorant. Our ears, our eyes, our every sense conveys knowledge to the mind at every moment, from every object by which we are surrounded. Reading and writing are very useful as the keys to the door of knowledge; but if we are not allowed to use them wlien we have acquired them, we might really be as well without them. Now something of this Austrian system has been introduced into the schools of Hungary, particularly among the Catholics. The press, too, is stifled by an Austrian censorship, and when to this is united the political condition in which the peasantry live, we shall scarcely be astonished that, though they all go to school, and though, many of them can read and write in two or three languages, they are yet much more ignorant, than the English peasant who often cannot read or write his own.

[461]

I know there are many of the Hungarians, -- and some of the wisest among them too, -- who do not desire that the education of the peasantry should proceed any further till they have been placed in a better position as to their civil rights. They fear lest the educated peasant should become aware of tho rights he ought to have, before others have learnt that they ought to grant them to him, and that a revolution rather than a reform might be the consequence. This is a sort of double-edged argument very dangerous to wield, for it may be applied with equal force the other way; and in England we have too often heard of the folly of giving rights to men not educated to use them, to allow it any weight. I suspect there is much more danger, that unless the peasantry do demand their rights, and somewhat loudly too, they will never obtain them. I do not think there is an example in history of an oligarchy -- the very essence of which is selfishness, -- -having yielded up their own privileges, or restored to others their usurped rights, except when they have no longer dared to refuse them. That the Hungarians may form an exception -- a glorious exception, to such blind egoism -- is my most earnest wish ; but I would not on that account neglect the more certain means of accomplishing the end, should that wish remain unfulfilled.

One of my greatest neglects on my former visit to Pest, had been to make some inquiries about the laws and lawyers here. I had no very favourable [402] opinion of them; for I recollected that some years before, when travelling in Austria, I happened to fall in with a very agreeable old gentleman, who proved to bo a general in the Austrian service, and among other subjects our conversation turned on the advantages of the different forms of government in our two countries. In answer to my accusation, that the secrecy and cspionnage of the Austrian Government encouraged corruption in its officers, and that even the administration of justice was open to bribery, he laughed outright at my simplicity, and assured me that the same things took place in England, and everywhere else. Although the general's remark did not convince me of the existence of this corruption in England, it taught me to what an extent it must have prevailed in his own country, before it could have destroyed in his mind all belief even in the purity of justice elsewhere. Bearing this occurrence in mind, I inquired of gome Hungarians the state of the supreme courts of justice in Hungary; for as they do not act during the sitting of the Diet, I had no opportunity of observing them myself. I am sorry to say, I found them but little better than those of Austria, One of my informants said they were not so bad, however, as they used to be; " the judges don't like to take bribes openly now!" Tbe same gentleman mentioned an instance in which one of his own family had bought a judge, with the gift of an estate for the duration of his [463] life. It is the custom for both plaintiffs and defendants to make private visits to the judges previously to trial, in order to instruct them as to the nature of the causes, and we can all guess what arguments on such occasions would be likely to have the most weight. The two highest courts of justice are the Royal Table and Septem-Viral Table,61 the members of both of which, at least the greater number, are appointed by the Crown. If I am not much mistaken, they are removable also at the will of the Crown.

61 The Royal Table is composed of the Personal (president also of the lower chamber of the Diet), two prelates, two barones tabula), the vice-palatine, the vice-judex curiæ), four prothonotaries, the crown-fiscal and three royal, two archiepiscopal, and three supernumerary assessors. In mining causes, a mining assessor is added.
The Septem-Viral (so called because originally composed of seven persons), is now formed of the Palatine as president, five of the higher clergy, ten magnates, and six gentlemen.

The reader may be surprised that I should have taken so much trouble in many parts of this work to point out the corruption which pervades every part of the Austrian administration in Hungary. I have not done so for my own pleasure. It is no delight to me to seek out the deformities of the social system, and to hold them up to public gaze ; but I have felt it in this case a duty to do so, for I believe it is on such facts that the character of a Government depends. I believe that no tyranny could exercise so demoralizing, so debasing an influence [464] on the human mind, as this corruption on the part of those whose station and power in society should fit them to be its guides to what is good and great.

There is another circumstance connected with the administration of justice in Hungary, which is scarcely less grievous -- I mean its long delays. The evil is very great, when delay interferes with the settlement of civil causes; but what shall we say of it when, as here, it prevails equally in criminal cases. Mr. Hallam remarks somewhere, that there is a period in the history of nations, when tbe procrastination of the law, instead of an evil, is the only means afforded to the weak, to protect themselves against the power and violence of the strong. In some cases, this might appear, at first sight, the case in Hungary; but it should not be forgotten, that an act of injustice, of which the execution is thus delayed, though it loses none of its bitterness to the victim, loses greatly in its effect on the public mind. The tyrant obtains his end, but the people are less shocked with the tyranny, because they have long contemplated its possibility. The most striking illustration of this delay which I ever remember to have seen, was at St. Benedek, in the valley of the Gran. About the gates of the castle, I observed a number of very old men in chains; and on inquiring how long ago, and for what crime these greybeards had been put in prison, I found they bad been confined only a few months, though it was for having excited an insurrection of [465] the peasants some fifty years ago that they had been condemned. The process had actually lasted fifty years, and these old men were now condemned to spend the remainder of their lives in prison, for a crime committed in their youth, and of which all recollection had passed away !

A dinner party, to which we were invited soon after our return, introduced us to two of the most distinguished among the modern literati of Hungary, Mr. Kölcsey and Baron Josika.

Kölcsey has all that simplicity of manner about him which so often distinguishes true genius. His poetry is said to be characterised by vigour and originality. At the present moment, he is even more popular as a deputy and orator than as a poet. Of course, a poet must be a Liberal in a country where everything which can excite a poet's affections or fancy is engaged in the cause of Liberalism ; and few have defended it with more eloquence or firmness than Kölcsey.

Although Hungary has boasted poets, even from an early period of her history, of whose works considerable remains still exist; and although T feel sure, that among the people there is an abundant harvest of ancient lyrical and legendary lore still to be gathered, yet it was not till the close of the last, or the commencement of the present century, that Magyar poetry could be said to take a stand with that of the other European nations. During the last half of the past century, Faludi, Ráday, Barcsai, [466] Révai, and some others, prepared the taste for relishing Hungarian song, introduced into it a greater freedom, and showed the capability of the language for a higher strain than it had hitherto been esteemed fit for. But it was Joseph's violent attack on the very existence of the language, which awoke throughout the nation all its sympathy and love for it; and the lyres of the Kisfaludis (Sándor and Károlyi), of a Kazinczi, a Berzsenyi, a Kölcsey, a Vörösmarty, and a host of minor luminaries, responded to the sentiment. Hungarians speak of Kisfaludi Sándor, with a degree of enthusiasm that shows that he has not only hcen able to please the imagination, but has known the secret of touching a nation's heart. Vörösmarty and Klcsey are still living : long may they remain to adorn and elevate the much-loved language of their father-land !

While poetry had been making these rapid advances, it was not to be expected that the influence of the rest of Europe in the cultivation of prose romance, should be entirely lost on Hungary. Several novelists and romance writers have arisen, some of whose works may fairly pretend to more than a temporary existence ; but it is admitted, that Baron Josika Miklós has fairly outstripped all his rivals in this contest. His first work62 was "Abafi," [467] a page from the history of Transylvania, under her native princes. The time chosen is the reign of the weak and vacillating Bathori Zsigmuad. In addition to considerable power in the delineation of character and the illustration of a high moral principle, which Baron Josika always proposes to himself in the plot of his novels, Abafi contains some delightful sketches of the past. The wild romantic life of the border robber stands in bold contrast with the quiet and domestic scenes of the interior of a noble and virtuous household. Old Klausen-burg, too, is brought back in lively colours before us, as history and its present remains assure us it was at that period. "The last Báthori" is another historical romance, which takes Báthori Gábor, Prince of Transylvania, for its hero. The picture of manners during a period (1008 to 1613) of almost constant intestine war, aggravated in some instances by hatred of race, is drawn with vivid colouring. The domestic virtues of the Saxons, among whom a great part of the events take place ; their firm adherence to their rights, and their brave opposition to the tyranny of the Transylvanian princes; the cruel and insulting persecution to which they were subjected, and the lawless violence which was employed against them when there was no longer need of their arms, or purses, are admirably brought into play. Nor, to those who know the country, is it less gratifying to perceive the sentiments of kindliness which have animated an Hungarian writer on [468] a subject in which Hungarian prejudices are singularly strong and susceptible. Of the other works of Baron Josika, I need not speak, as they want the charm of nationality, and that impress of truth and reality, which can alone convey an interest and sympathy to others. From this censure, however, I must exempt "The True Untrue," were it only for the excellent sketch it contains of the feelings and opinions of the gentry of the old school in the person of a county magistrate.

62 A German translation of Josika's works, (1839), now lies before me, in eight vols. 12mo. It consists of "Abafi;" "The Last Báthori;" "The Fickle ;" "Decebalus ;" " The True Untrue;" "The Suttee,"

In the fine arts Hungary has made but little progress. Even in the most wealthy houses paintings are very rare. I believe the only painter born in Hungary, whose name is at all known to history, is Gottfried Mind, called the Cats' Raphael, from his admirable knowledge and delineation of his favourites, the cats. The only living painter of any eminence is Marko, now in Rome, whose beautiful landscapes and classical figures are well known and highly esteemed. In sculpture, I have seen one or two pieces of Ferenczi, which, though not without merit, are far below the estimation in which they are held here. The most extraordinary work of art I have seen in Hungary, ia an alto-relievo in copper, which we were shown while yet in progress. The artist, Szentpeteri, is a poor silversmith, who after a few essays of little importance, has undertaken to copy Le Brun's picture of the battle of Arbela, from an engraving in alto-relievo on copper. The work was about three parts [469] finished, and showed, not only wonderful industry and perseverance, but a degree of talent and taste from which great things might have been produced under proper cultivation. The figures are hammered out from the inside when the metal is so hot as to be easily malleable.63 The artist is an. exceedingly simple unpretending person, whose whole soul seems wrapped up in his work.

63 This work was exhibited in London in 1838, but did not excite so much attention as it merited.

In music, Liszt and Mademoiselle linger place Hungary in more than a respectable position; but they, as well as Marko and Szentpeteri, are obliged to seek in other climes for encouragement and patronage.

The theatre for the performance of German pieces here, is almost as large as the great theatres of Paris or London ; but it is a gloomy looking place and badly adapted for the transmission of sound. The ordinary company is a pretty good one, and most of the great actors who come to Vienna pay a visit to Pest before their return, so that it is by no means ill supplied. Since we have been here, we have bad Madame Schroeder Devrient and an opera company, and still later, Anchutz, the tragic actor from Vienna. Even our own best tragedians might take lessons from Anchutz in the representation of their own Shakspearean characters.

There is an Hungarian theatre in Buda which I [470] have not seen, and a new theatre is erecting in Pest, which is to be devoted entirely to Hungarian pieces. The establishment of this theatre is looked forward to with the greatest interest, as an object of national importance, from the influence it is calculated to exert in the diffusion and cultivation of the language.

It would not be right to quit this subject without saying a few words relative to this same Magyar language, to which such frequent allusion has been made; and although I do not think my half-dosen lessons in Hungarian give me the right to speak on the matter ex cathedrâ -- albeit, many travellers do so with still less -- I may venture a remark on two or three grammatical peculiarities, which appear to me the most interesting. I have before observed that in proper names the surname precedes the Christian name -- as that of the genus the species in natural history -- and the same rule prevails with some titles. In the use of pronouns, it is singular that they are made to follow instead of precede the noun, and are affixed to it; -- Kalap, a hat, -- Kalap-am, my hat. Both these peculiarities are, I believe, common to the Turkish language also. In like manner, the prepositions are made post-positions ; -- Kalap-am-ba, in my hat. In consequence of this joining together of words the Hungarians can construct a whole sentence in a single word, and the following is often given as an illustration; not that such a word would be [471] used in conversation, but as a proof of how far it may be carried ; -- Ha meg Kö-pe-nye-ge-sit-te-len-nit-teh-het-né-lek -- If I could deprive you of your clothes. In the construction of verbs, there is a difference from those of other European languages, which renders a true knowledge of Hungarian exceedingly difficult to the foreigner. This is the existence of a determinate and indeterminate form of every tense and mood. It is easy enough to understand the principle of it, but exceedingly difficult to apply it correctly. Látok, I see, is in the indeterminate form; látom, I see it, in the determinate. In the same way látott é göz-hajot -- did you see a steam-boat? is indeterminate, -- látta é a göz-hajot -- did you see the steam-boat? -- determinate.

That the Magyars should think the Magyar tongue the sweetest, the strongest, the fullest, the best, -- that they should imagine that poetry can never flow so smoothly, or eloquence speak with such energy as in the Magyar nyelv, ia quite natural; for no one can feel all the beauties of a language which lias not been familiar to his childhood; but they must not bo astonished if a stranger, who has only got into his grammar, does not quite agree with them. That the Magyar is forcible aud energetic, I believe; for it partakes in that of the character of the people. Its sharp and accentuated syllables give it a character of distinctness and precision, and its accurate division into long and [472] short vowels may confer on it a certain facility for versification; but as for its soft and musical qualities, I must confess I could never discover them. The Hungarian ladies say it is the best language in the world for love-making: -- I can only answer, tant pire pour notes autres Strangers.

And à propos of the language, before I entirely quit tbe subject, let me record one of the most single-minded and enthusiastic adventures I ever heard of, and which is intimately connected with it. Nothing puzzles Hungarian historians more than the question as to where the Magyars came from. One traces an analogy between the Magyar language and the Finnish; another makes the Magyars Turks ; others trace them to the mountains of Cir-cassia, and some again throw them back to the wall of China. The assistance which language might afford in this investigation has not been neglected, but hitherto nothing very satisfactory has been made out. The common opinion, however, is in favour of Thibet as the place of their origin, and the Caucasus is supposed to have been a resting-place in the coarse of their western emigration. It was in 1819, that this subject took such strong hold of the mind of a poor Szckler student of the name of Kb'rbsi, that be determined, after finishing his studies, to make a journey into these countries to try if he could not solve this great national question. Though noble, Körösi had no fortune whatsoever, and he consequently knew that he should [473] have to endure all the additional hardships which the greatest poverty could place in the way of a difficult undertaking. To prepare himself to encounter them, for six months previous to setting out, lie subjected himself to the moat severe exercise, literally living on bread and water, and sleeping on the hard ground. As he was starting on his expedition, lie happened to pass through the village of a gentleman with whom I am acquainted, and who met him and invited him to stay and dine with him, "Impossible," said the single-minded student; " I am going to Thibet, the way is long, and I must not tarry on the road, or my life may be too short to accomplish it."

In 1820, Körösi had reached Teheran, having passed through Circassia without having obtained any solution to the question, and from thence he pushed on to Thibet, where he was heard of in 1822. When in Constantinople, in 1836, a gentleman who had travelled much in the East, told me that he had seen Körösi only the year before in Calcutta; that he had then rooms and everything necessary furnished by the East India Company, and that he was actively occupied in compiling lexicons of one or two Thibet languages, of the existence even of which no one had been previously aware. Of the great question, the original seat of the Magyars, this gentleman said he believed that Körösi had not arrived at any satisfactory conclusion. The East India Company had been desirous [474] to engage him in their service at a handsome salary, but he had declined it as of no use to him.

Among other matters which gave life to the winter in Pest, was the occurrence of a little revolution among the cobblers. The trades in Hungary are still, in all the towns, under the control of Companies or Corporations, as they formerly were with us. The consequence is, of course, as in all other close bodies, a great oppression of the weaker members, and it appeared, in the present case, that the master shoemakers had been so hard upon their workmen that the latter had turned out and committed some slight excesses before the burger guard -- a sort of " train-band knights," -- could reduce them to order. All who would not consent to return to their work, were very unceremoniously presented with passports and " recommended to travel."

No one, I believe, who knows anything about the matter, believes that these companies are now of any use -- whatever they may have been in former times -- save to enrich a few bad workmen at the expense of the community at large; but they have managed to turn them to account in Hungary, in a manner I never heard of before. In cases of fire, every company is obliged to attend and give assistance, and to each is assigned a particular duty; to the masons, for instance, the climbing the roofs; and even the surgeons are obliged to be in [475] readiness to relieve those who may have received injury.

I believe some little knowledge of national character may be obtained from common international jokes and stories, and I may therefore give the reader one or two about the Hungarians, current among the Viennese. Whether I have read these or heard them, I really forget; but as I find them in my note-book, I must give them, although they may be quotations from an Austrian Joe Miller.

Once upon a time, the manager of an Hungarian theatre produced what he considered a very line piece of scenery, in which was represented a full moon, in the form of a round, fat, clean-shaved face, which might have suited a Dutch cherub. Instead of the anticipated applause, the luckless manager found his scene received with damning hisses; and it appeared that the popular indignation was more particularly directed against the " pale-faced moon," " the German moon," as they called it. Now as the Hungarians like their moon, as well as everything else, to be quite national, the manager determined to please them, and next night up rose the poor moon with as glorious a pair of mustaches as the fiercest Magyar amongst them could exhibit. Hurrahs burst from every mouth at sight of this reform, and all cried, " Long live our own time Magyar moon, and confusion to all German moons for ever ! " -- The moon had evidently been brought [476] up at court, and had learnt the value of popular prejudices to those who know how to use them against those who hold them.

Another tale against the poor Hungarians had its origin in the hatred they hear to the knee-breeches of the Germans. One of the Hungarian regiments, quartered during summer in the burning plains of Lombardy, was ordered by the colonel to parade in white trousers, which had just been given out, instead of the thick blue tights they had previously worn. The officers, however, found it no easy matter to induce compliance, and one excuse or another was always found for delay, till at last the colonel issued a second order, peremptorily fixing a day for the change, and threatening severe punishment for disobedience. It could no longer be put off, and the men accordingly paraded in whites ; but determined not to be made comfortable in anybody's way but their own, they all wore their thick blues underneath.

Young Baron ------entered our room one morning evidently much excited, and as ho concluded a detail of some new trick the Government had just played the Diet, he exclaimed, " It is time such treachery were ended; we shall never have any good as long as we remain attached to Austria, -- T say national independence, and if any man will raise the banner, I will follow it. Happen what may, we cannot be worse off than we are."

" Quietly, friend," interrupted an older gentleman, [477] who happened to be present; "you do not mean what you say, and if you did, it would he sheer nonsense. The Austrian Government is not ill-intentioned, but it is stupid. It is false and treacherous, I allow, but rather from cowardice than malice; and such speeches as that you have just made, do therefore a great deal of mischief. Recollect that it is only a few months since the Government committed a gross act of cruelty and injustice in throwing into prison, without any trial, a number of young men, because in a debating society at Preslmrg, they had entertained this very subject of national independence ; and, where, to make the matter more ridiculous, they had quarrelled as to whether Széchenyi or Wesselényi should be the king of their new Utopia. A Government so weak as to he frightened out of its senses, and led into acts of the grossest barbarity about so silly an affair as this, should be treated only like a child, and not terrified by bugbears which have no reality. But, if you speak seriously of such a matter, there are one or two points it would be well for you to think over first. You should recollect that Hungary is surrounded by Austria, Russia, and Turkey, none of them countries from which the advocates of freedom could expect much sympathy or assistance. And then," continued the old gentleman, as the Baron was about to interrupt him, "the very nature of the country is such as to render its occupation by an insurgent army [478] almost impossible. Full balf of Hungary, and that the most fruitful half, is an open plain, on which ten thousand regular troops would be able to dissipate all tbe untrained masses you could bring against them. The mountains you might perhaps hold, but your enemies need only leave you there till hunger produced discontent, and discontent treachery, to enable them to secure a bloodless victory."

"As for Russia!" answered the Baron, "she has quite enough to do to check liberalism at home, without interfering with it in Hungary. She could exercise no power here."

"I think you conclude too hastily," I observed, " you know well enough you are divided into several races, and several religions. You know that Russia is constantly at work to undermine the fidelity of the Sclavish and Wallack portion of your population. Of the ten millions of which you consist, no less than four and a half are Sclaves."

" Yes, but allowing your calculation, though I think you overrate it, you must acknowledge that the Sclaves are divided into Sclavacks, Rusniacks, Croatians, and Sclavonians, and that they hate one another quite as cordially as they hate the Magyars, and Russia more than all."

"Skilful intrigue might still do much mischief, aud Russia would be likely enough in secret to promise you all kinds of aid, till she had succeeded in disorganizing the country to such an extent that it could never more stand betwixt her and [479] the objects of her ambition. Fortunately the northern Sclaves are chiefly Catholic, and therefore free from Russian influence on the score of religion; but race and language are strong bonds of union, and if to these be added the dazzle of conquest, and the glory of belonging to a powerful people, they are not to be despised. Nor are the Wallacks, especially if those of Transylvania be taken into the account, a less important element in calculating the weakness of the position you would assume. Their attachment to the Emperor of Russia, as the head of the Russo-Greek church, is beyond question. I know some of the bolder spirits have calculated, that, if driven by Austria to the madness of revolt, all these interests might be conciliated, by at once declaring the whole body of peasantry free from seigneurial jurisdiction, and confirming to them the possession of their land without labour or rent. Such, however, are dangerous expedients, and would scarcely turn to the profit of any."

"There are certainly difficulties in the way, and serious ones, I allow, but men forget these when driven to madness as we are. If Austria does not change her policy she must be content to see Hungary right herself before long."

"You exaggerate, dear Baron," again urged our friend; "things are not quite so bad as you represent them; and as to what fate may have in store for our fatherland in the distant future, we [480] cannot now tell; but as matters stand at present, the advocate of civil war in Hungary must be little less than a madman. The day may come when, by the combinations of European policy, the empire of Austria shall be dismembered, or rather fall to pieces of itself, and Hungary, strong and united, bo able to offer to its king a throne more glorious than that he filled as Emperor of Austria; hut in the mean time, let us content ourselves with those blessings which our present position offers us, and direct our whole efforts to improve our institutions, and render them such as the spirit of the present age requires."

As the common dinner hour at Pest is two or three o'clock, the time for making calls is between six and eight, On these occasions, it is the custom to dress almost as for an evening party; the ladies in caps and low dresses, the gentlemen in silks and shoes. On paying a visit of this kind at the house of Madame F------, I by chance interrupted a conversation on a little matter of scandal which had just occurred at Milan, between a certain prince and his lady. On being informed of the nature of it, and on expressing my wonder that I had not beard of it before, one of the ladies, a desperate politician and a stanch Austrian, exclaimed, " No, no! we don't publish such matters in our newspapers, as you do !" aud with that she commenced a general attack on England and the English, from which I was evidently expected to defend them. The abuse of [481] the press was the more immediate object of her denunciation ; and very justly did she declaim against the immorality of certain disclosures in a celebrated crim. con. case, which had then just astonished the continental public. Our libels too were not more tenderly handled. " Nay," she continued, "not content with libelling one another, you must come here and libel us. A book, I see, has just been published in England, in which all the ladies of Hungary are spoken of as ignorant and uneducated !" Of course, I had not a word to say then in my defence, but T think I have a fair right now to revenge myself on Mr. Quin for getting me into such a scrape.

Many, I dare say, remember a very agreeably written book, called, "A Steam-boat voyage down the Danube," -- that is, from Pest to below Orsova, and occupying about ten days, during which time the author thinks he has collected information about Hungary which entitles him to pronounce opinions on all sorts of matters, and amongst others, on the education of Hungarian ladies.

On the authority of his not understanding the language in which some young ladies on board the steamer conversed, he affirms not only that they spoke no other language than Hungarian, but that such was generally the case. Now it is a fact;, however little it may be known to Mr. Quin, that the education of Hungarian ladies, as far as languages are concerned, is very much more advanced than [482] that of English or French ladies -- ay, or gentlemen either -- of the same rank. I have passed a considerable time in the country, and have had the opportunity of making the acquaintance of many Hungarian ladies, and I do not know one who speaks only Hungarian, though I do know several who do not speak that language. It is accounted one of the great misfortunes of Hungary, that, instead of Hungarian, German is the common language used in most families; and in the drawing-rooms of the capital, German, French, and even English, are more often heard than Hungarian. If it were not calling in question our author's erudition, -- to which he makes some pretension, -- I would wager that German, and not Hungarian, was the language which so terribly puzzled him. Let me assure Mr. Quin that all Hungarian ladies speak German, most of them French, many English and Italian, besides, what to Mr. Quin might appear barbarous tongues, such as the Magyar, Sclavackish, and Wallachian. And I may remark, enpassant, that it must have been peculiarly difficult for the pretty Countess, who he says spoke neither French nor Italian, to have communicated with the French femme de chambro who accompanied her. And so having vented some of my spleen against Mr. Quin's negligence and want of gallantry, I shall let him off, at least for the present, without exposing any more of the many mischievous blunders with which his amusing book abounds.

[483]

While I am speaking of travellers and their mistakes with respect to Hungary, it might be as well to correct a few others, but the task is so serious a one, that I dare only undertake it for one or two very recent and glaring instances. Most travellers proceed just as far as Vienna, where they hear all sorts of absurd tales of Hungary; or if they go further, they run through the country so hastily, that they can take up only the most crude notions of its men and manners.

One64 of these writers, in many respects very accurate and judicious in his remarks, fancies he saw troops of Hungarian peasants driven by their cruel lords from their homes to make room for hunting-parks or sheep-walks ! The author seems to have got into his head some confused idea made up from the ancient history of the New Forest and the modern history of Irish ejectments, and to have applied it to the landed gentry of Hungary -- why or wherefore it is difficult to imagine. The herds of peasants might have been Bohemians or Croats, probably on a pilgrimage, but were certainly not Hungarians, He does not probably know that the want of peasantry, not the superabundance, is the complaint in Hungary; that the Hungarian peasant possesses his land on a title which places it out of his landlord's power to dispossess him, and that were any such attempt made, the county and the Government would not allow it, because, [484] in losing the peasant they lose the taxes; nay, so strict is the law in this respect, that if a peasant quit his land voluntarily, his lord cannot occupy it himself, but must place another peasant in it as soon as one offers. Besides, when the Hungarian peasant leaves his native village to seek a better settlement, it is always in his own country; for he has a fixed idea that there is not enough to eat and drink anywhere else than in Hungary. Instead of forming hunting-parks, which would be of little use, where every Hungarian gentleman and every officer has the right to sport over at least one half of his neighbour's estates, most of the land-owners are clearing their ground, improving their agriculture, and thinking more of increasing their revenues than of extending their shooting-grounds.

64Austria and the Austrians.

Another traveller65 who enters Hungary but for a few hours, still finds something to say against it. He invites himself to dine with a country gentleman he has never seen in his life, does not find the dinner large enough for the accession his own party has made to the family, misunderstands the customs of the country, and finishes by casting a slur on the hospitality of the most hospitable nation in Europe. But this gentleman has strong political feelings -- not those of the most liberal tendency -- and he cannot pardon a people who talk about liberty and independence, although it is in opposition to a country which be himself calls "a large [485] state prison," and a system of government which he characterises as encouraging whatever has a tendency to keep the human mind in a state of " uninvestigating ignorance."

65Schloss Hainfeld, by Captain B. Hall.

A more serious error, and one which I am sure the author would not have made intentionally, may be found in Mr, Gleig's recent work on Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. Mr. Gleig observes, "In the rural districts every man you meet, provided he be neither a noble nor a soldier, belongs to somebody. He has no rights of his own; he is a portion of another man'a chattels; he is bought and sold with the land, as if he were a horse or an ox." Now I have already said sufficient to show the reader that not one word of this statement is correct. But I appeal to him if it is not painful to see a gentleman of Mr. Gleig's talent, take up, and give currency to so grave an error, which at once deprives a whole nation of any sympathy or respect from the whole of civilized Europe. Then comes the assertion that it is only within the last year that regular county magistrates have been appointed. I have no idea whence such a mistake could have arisen. The county magistracy, as it is at present organized in Hungary, is one of the most ancient institutions of Europe.

The last ball of the Carnival is a very important affair here, and for a full week before its occurrence great was the diplomacy employed to arrange it. It is always expected to be the best of the season, and [486] is quite sure to be kept up till late in the morning, so that it is apt to be rather expensive. Still no one dreamt for a moment of not having a ball ; the only question was, who was to give it? The Countess B - declared that she should like to do so, but the Count protested she had given so many, that he could not afford any more. The Baroness W -----, who has such very nice rooms, was not well enough to bear the fatigue, and Mr. H-----, who was always ready to oblige, could not this year, on account of the recent death of a near relative. Happen, however, it must, and the very evening before it was to take place, it was announced with great joy, in the midst of a ball, that the good-natured Countess S------- had consented to take the charge on herself, and she at once asked everybody to come, and to tell those of their friends who were not then present to come also.

It was then near midnight, and, as she told me afterwards, she immediately returned home, summoned her servants, informed them of what was to happen, and set them all to work, so that by neither going to bed herself, nor letting anybody else, before the next evening she had turned the house wrong side upwards, and fitted it for the reception of her crowd of guests.

In the midst of the festivities of the evening, as I was quietly enjoying the scene, I could not help smiling at the conversation of some respectable dowagers near me, who lamented that, after all, the [487] last balls were nothing now to what they used to be in their time -- when they continued till daylight, and when all the ladies and gentlemen, dressed as they were, walked in procession from the ball-room to the church, and began their Lent the moment they finished their Carnival!

I did not wait for the end of this ball, as I wished to see the masquerade at the Redout. The Redouten Saal is a large building on the quay, where the public halls are commonly held. The room is one of the largest T ever saw, and requires I know not how many thousand lights for its illumination. Though rather heavy, it is a beautiful piece of architecture, and does its designer great credit. Instead of the hundred or two well-dressed persons I had just left, I found several thousands collected here, and apparently of every rank, from the pretty milliner to the stately Countess. Although tho higher classes can scarcely be said to share with the middle in their amusements, for they always hold themselves a little on the reserve, they are yet wise enough to attend their puhlic festivities, and not the proudest lady would venture on these occasions to refuse the hand of the humblest apprentice hoy in the dance if invited by him. This condescension on the part of the upper classes is most politic, as it tends strongly to remove from the lower the feelings of envy and hatred, which superior advantages are so apt to create.

As a stranger, I had expected to escape without [488] notice, and had not consequently masked: I was mistaken, however, for during the two or three hours I remained, I had scarcely a moment's rest. One mask or another was constantly seizing me by the arm, and squeaking into my ear a quantity of secrets (with which to the present time I cannot conceive how they became acquainted), and then leaving me just as my astonishment was excited to the highest pitch.

One of the best balls during the Carnival, was that given by the lawyers and law-students, to which all the nobles and citizens were invited. It is common in Vienna to speak of the law-students, or rather the Juraten (as those who have finished their studies are called) as a most rude and unruly get. They are the same persons whom we have seen at Pres-burg filling the floor of the Chamber of Deputies, and certainly exercising their lungs most freely in applauding or hissing whomsoever they pleased. But it is unfair to consider them rude on that account; if they have a right to be there, they do not exercise their privilege one bit more rudely than the gentlemen of the House of Commons with us ; and if they have not a right, why are they not kept silent ? That their presence is not only a great inconvenience but a direct interference with the liberty of debate, I am quite ready to allow, and I cannot understand why the Chamber does not pass a formal law to protect itself from such interference. While it is permitted, however, no [489] one ought to complain that it is exercised. A great number of students were present, but instead of the rude conduct I had heard attributed to them, I observed nothing but the greatest order and propriety. Nor, as I am speaking of balls, should I forget the very pleasant ones given by the Casino every year. In fact, there never was a place better provided with balls than this same Pest, and if a man has any fancy that way, he may dance every night from the beginning of the Carnival to the end.

Der stoss! - Der stoss! - Such was the cry, following the report of a cannon, which we heard one morning through the hotel and in the streets. Hastening out to see what was the matter, we found the ice on the Danube had begun to move, and everybody had Hocked down to the river to speculate as to whether it would go off quietly, or whether there was any prospect of injury from it to the houses on the banks. This breaking up of the ice is a serious matter here. For months it lias formed a road across the river, which becomes now no longer secure, and its great thickness and the quantity formed, render its removal a very long process. When pressed by a flood of water from above, the masses of ice often rise one upon the other, sometimes to the height of a house, and by the obstruction which they cause produce a flood. It is from this circumstance one of the greatest dangers is apprehended to the chain-bridge. What arches, it [490] is asked, can withstand the force of such masses of ice with the weight of the whole Danube pressing upon them? Ice-breakers, however, set at some distance before the bridge, on which the vast masses might break themselves, it is considered would prove effectual preventives against such a danger. The use of cannon to break the ice too, has been suggested, but I should think the newly discovered plan of blasting under water by the aid of galvanism would be more likely to effect the object.

A few days later I had a proof how great an inconvenience this stoss is. General L----- , the commander of the garrison of Buda, had issuer! invitations to all the beau monde of Buda, and Pest also, for a ball. Of course this could not be put off, but the difficulty was, how were the Pest people to get there. The ice was still on the move, that is, it made a progress of some yards every day ; it was already clear from the sides to the distance of twenty yards on each bank, and great spaces of many yards in extent were open. Most of the ladies gave up the ball rather than face the danger, but Madame W------, declared, if any one would join her, she would go, were it only for the credit of the ladies of Pest. A party was soon made up, and of course the gentlemen had no excuse. How the ladies managed I cannot say, but for myself I was taken out of the carriage and carried through a heap of wet mud to a small boat which they pushed across to the ice. There a hand-sledge was [491] in waiting, into which I got, and amidst a good number of crackings and roarings of the ice, I passed over in safety to where another boat conveyed me to a second carriage on the Buda side. If I remember rightly, the ice took three weeks before it was all gone after the first stoss. During the whole of that time, day and night, a watch was set 'who gave the alarm whenever it was in motion, and a gun was fired to warn the people to get off.

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




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