Title


[036]

BABAKAY
BABAKAY

CHAPTER II.

DANUBE FROM MOLDOVA TO ORSOVA.

Babakay. -- The Vultures. -- Golumbatz. -- St. George's Cavern. -- The Rapids. -- First Roman Inscription. -- Kazan. -- New Road. -- Sterbeczu Almare. -- Trajan's Tablet. -- Via Trajana. -- Orsova. -- New Orsova. -- The Crusaders. -- Visit to the Pasha. -- The Quarantine. -- The Iron Gates. -- Trajan's Bridge.-- its History and Construction. -- Valley of the Cserna. -- Turkish Aqueduct. -- Mehadia -- its Baths and Bathers.

IT was about eight in the morning, when the good ship Zriny, after bearing us some twenty miles, while yet snug in our berths, dropped her anchor and finished her voyage opposite the little town of Moldova. Preparations were quickly made for our [037] re-embarkation, and before the luggage was well discharged, the passengers of the quarter-deck were comfortably stowed away in a private boat of Count Szechenyi's, and in company with several of the gentlemen employed on the new works, off we set.

The boat was rowed by four stout peasants, lately broken in to the oar, and steered by George Dewer, who has been employed in managing the diving-bell here. After passing the island of Moldova, we came to an interesting point of the river, marked by the Babakay rock, which juts out into the middle of the stream. Babakay is said to mean "repent," in Turkish, and to liavc been applied to this spot, because a jealous old Turk brought over his young bride, whom he suspected of deceiving him, and placing her on this rock, rowed away, answering to her cries only, " Babakay ! Babakay ! " -- Repent! Repent! It is at this point that the new road, of which we shall speak hereafter, commences. On the Hungarian shore the workmen were crowding the hill side, blasting the rocks, wheeling soil, hammering, digging, breaking, in short, busy in all the operations incidental to mountain road making. On the Babakay itself sat three vultures, solemnly looking on at these unaccustomed sights, while on the Servian side nothing was to be seen, save the picturesque towers of the Golumbat as they crumbled away into the Danube below.

One of the vultures, as we drew near, raised itself from its rocky perch, and sailed into the air [038] with great majesty. A shot from one of our party brought him down to the water, while another secured one of his companions before he had time to raise himself and take flight. The larger of them measured nine feet across the wings.

Golumbatz,-- a corruption of columba, the castle of the dove, -- is said to have been the prison of the Greek Empress Helena, and was a point often strongly contested in the earlier periods of Hungarian history. In 1428, it was besieged by King Sigismund, who lost the greater pare of his army in the attempt, and who with difficulty escaped with his own life. It was afterwards taken from the Turks by Corvinus, and held by the Hungarians, together with other fortresses in Servia, for some time.

The river, which had been hitherto wide and open, was now inclosed by high rocks in a narrow bed only two hundred and forty yards in width. From this point the most beautiful portion of the scenery of the Danube commences ; and, however inadequately I may describe it, I can assure the reader that I know of no river scenery in Europe to be compared with it. The Rhine is pretty and highly cultivated; the Danube is wild and awfully grand. It would be little interesting were I to repeat the exclamations of wonder and admiration which burst from us during this journey of about fifty English miles : the whole route is one succession of beauties. The general character of the scenery is that of rocks and woods, sometimes rising precipitously from the [039] banks of the river, sometimes sloping gradually away; while the mighty mass of water now flows calmly on its course, and now rushes in a cataract over the rocks it scarcely covers. I must content myself with noticing a few of the most interesting points. Soon after passing Babakay, the boatman pointed out to us a cavern half-way up the mountain on the Hungarian shore, as tlie identical cave of the Dragon slain by St. George, and where, they say, tlie foul carcass still decays, and, like Virgil's ox, gives birth to a host of winged things. What is certain is, that from this direction, and it is strictly maintained from this very cave, proceeds the Oolumbaizcr Miicken, a peculiar kind of musquito, which often invades the Banat in swarms, to the great injury of the flocks and herds. They attack chiefly the eyes, nose, and ears, and produce such pain as to drive the animals nearly mad, and death usually follows.

Stenka was the first of the rapids we passed, and though in the then state of the water, it was impracticable for our steam-boat, it is not so in general, and indeed, while I now write, the place of debarkation is changed from Moldova to Drcn-kova, a small village a little below the fall. At Drenkova are some remains of a Roman fort, probably one of a series of strong places built by Claudius to protect the river boundaries of the [toman conquests. The second rapids are those of Kozla Mare, situated in the midst of such beautiful [040] scenery, that it is probable the traveller has passed over them while his attention has been occupied by the surrounding objects. Just below this point, on tlie Servian side, may be observed traces of the Ttoman road, of which we shall speak later; and above it, is a plain tablet, bearing this mutilated inscription:--

TR-CAESARE-AVS
AVGVSTO • IMPERATO
PONT-MAX: TE-POT-XXXV
LEG • IIII SCYTH • ET • V • MACEDO.

It is near this point that the most considerable falls in this part of the Danube begin. They are formed by a succession of three rapids, the Izlás, the Taktalia, and the Greben; in the middle of the latter, on a projecting rock; a small iron cross marks the dangerous pass. The navigation has been somewhat facilitated by a canal cut in the rocky bed of the stream by means of blasting; but much must yet be done before steam-boats can pass over it at all seasons. During high-water, both the steam-boats on the Lower Danube have passed these rapids. The shallowest part is on the Greben, which we passed with seven feet of water, though it has been known with only two. Below the falls the river becomes suddenly wide, and extends itself to sixteen hundred yards. We met during this part of our course one or two Turkish boats slowly toiling up against the stream. A few Servian villages are scattered here and there, [041] and give life to the scene. One founded by Princo Milosch, and named, after his son, Milanovacz, appears to prosper, and shows greater symptoms of comfort than anything we have seen on that side. At Tricula are the remains of three towers, to which tradition assigns a Roman origin.

NEW ROAD ON THE DANUBE BELOW PANEZOVER
NEW ROAD ON THE DANUBE BELOW PANEZOVER

A long reach which presents a beautiful lake-like view, brought us to Kazan (the Kettle), which, as the middle-point between Orsova and Moldova, has been made the residence for the engineers employed in the construction of the new road. Here we left our boat and visited the works then in progress, now happily near completion. The object has been to form a good carriage-road between Moldova and Orsova, in order that vessels may be able to tow up against the stream, and that passengers and goods may be conveyed by carriages without loss of time from one steam-boat to another. In several parts of this track the rocks come close down to the water's edge, so that it was found necessary to form galleries in them, a work of great labour and expense. From Babakay to Alibeg there is six thousand yards of artificial road, and again below Kazan it extends twelve thousand yards. When I saw it, it had been two years begun, and 20,000l. expended. Five hundred men were still employed on it.

A work of this kind would be great in any conn-try ; but in Hungary it may be looked upon as something wonderful, and the greatest credit is due [042] to Count Széchenyi, who has had the entire direction of the works, as well as to Mr. Vasarhely the engineer, that it has been accomplished so speedily and so well. Without it the navigation of the Danube was closed; but with it, in addition to the works contemplated below, there is no impediment of consequence that can oppose an easy and direct communication from Ratisbon, in the very heart of Europe, to the Clack Sea. Nay, the projected railroad between the Danube and the Ilbine will accomplish the union of those two rivers, and thus the great idea of Charlemagne will be fulfilled after the lapse of so many centuries.

As we walked along the new road, our attention was directed to a cave about one hundred yards above the Danube, celebrated in the history of the Turkish wars. It appears that in 1692, the Austrian General Veteran! sent three hundred men under the command of Captain D'Arnan to hold this cavern against the Turks, whose communications on the Danube were in consequence almost cut off, for the position of the cave gave its little garrison the complete command of the passage of the river, which is exceedingly narrow here. The Pasha of Belgrade, roused by the injury this handful of men inflicted on the Turks, sent an overwhelming force against them; but their position, defended with the greatest bravery, was proof against all attacks, except, alas ! that of hunger, which obliged them to capitulate after a siege of forty-five days. [043] Again in 1788, was this little fortress employed against the Moslems. Major Stein held it for twenty-one days, with a still smaller number of troops than before. Some remains of slight outworks are still left before the entrance of the cave. The interior is about one hundred feet long by seventy broad, and has some natural divisions, to which tradition still attaches names and destinations ; as the officers' quarters, the powder magazine, and the provision depot.

STERBECZU ALMARE
THE CLIFF STERBECZU ALMARE

On the opposite side, and not far from this cavern, rises a majestic cliff two thousand one hundred and sixty feet in height from the water's edge. This is the Sterbeczu Almare, the huge bastion of [044] the Danube, a glorious monument of Nature's boldest architecture. After passing Rogach, the narrowest point of the river, where it. is only one hmulred and sixteen yards wide, but sixty deep, and just opposite the little village of Ogradina, we arrived at the great Tablet of Trajan, the most perfect historical monument at present existing on the banks of the Danube. We returned next day to examine this tablet at our leisure; but we were still not permitted to get up to it, as it is on the Servian side, and therefore considered in Sporco. It is cut in the solid rock, a fine hard mountain limestone, and is executed with much elegance. A winged genius on each side supports an oblong tablet protected by the overhanging rock, which has been carved into a rich cornice, surmounted by a Roman eagle. At either end is a dolphin. The inscription, as it has been made out by the engineers, runs thus --

TABLET OF TRAJAN
TABLET OF TRAJAN

IMP • CAESAR • DIVI • NERVAE • F •
NERVA • TRAIANUS • AUG • GERM •
PONTIF • MAXIMVS • TRIB • P • O • XXX.
[045]

I must confess I was not able to decipher all these letters; but, as it is eight yards from the water, and obscured by tlie smoke winch the fires of the Servian fishermen, who often rest here for the night, have covered it with, it is very possible that those who could examine it nearer might follow the traces of letters which have escaped less favoured observers.4 The work which this tablet is intended to immortalize, was no other than the Via Trajana, as it is called, on some of the Roman coins of that period, and of which the traces are frequently visible on different parts of the rocks between Golumbatz and Orsova, on the Servian bank. For the most part, the traces of the road now remaining are reduced to a narrow ledge, varying from two to six feet in width, cut in the solid rock, at the height of ten feet above the ordinary watermark, and below this ledge, at regular distances, and in four distinct elevations, as seen in the accompanying drawings, are holes of about nine inches square and eighteen deep. Where the rock hangs perpendicularly over the river, the ledge and the holes may be traced very distinctly for a considerable distance without intermission; at other places they are interrupted by a sloping bank, [046] where an artificial road was no longer required ; and at others, where a slight chasm in the rocks made it impossible to continue the ledge, a bridge seems to have been thrown, across. Every one who takes the trouble to examine this subject, must conclude that these holes were, beyond question, intended to receive beams constructed so as to support a part of the road made of wood, for the ledge cut out of the rock was not wide enough, in many parts, even to admit persons on foot, and certainly not horses. Nor can we suppose that the ledge in the rock was onco wider, and that it has been worn away by time, for the tablets remain very perfect, and the holes below seem as fresh as if cut yesterday. It is, then, pretty certain that the Via Trajana was partly only cut in the rock, and partly supported on wooden beams.5 It would thus answer for a towing path as well as for the passage of troops -- the two great objects for which it was probably intended; and, besides costing much less labour, it [047] would have possessed, if this supposition is correct, the advantage of being easily and effectually interrupted in case that pursuit by the barbarians rendered it desirable to cut off the communication.

VIA TRAJANA
VIA TRAJANA

4 For this, as well as for the plan of the remains of Trajan's bridge, I am indebted to a friend in Hungary, who obtained for me copies of the drawings and plans prepared with great care by engineers employed in the survey of the Danube. This inscription had never, I believe, been so fully made out by any other observers.
5 This opinion I had formed from an inspection of the place itself. Need I say how much it was strengthened by the plans subjoined, in which M. Vásárhely has demonstrated the possibility of its existence, and shown the probable manner of its construction. The reader will understand that the wood-work is only supposititious.

ROAD WORKERS RESEMBLANCE TO WALLACK PEASANTS
ROAD WORKERS' RESEMBLANCE TO WALLACK PEASANTS

As we turned from these remains of Roman greatness to the other side of the river, and again got on shore, to examine the progress they were making with the modern road, it was impossible not to be struck with the resemblance of the Wallack peasants, who were engaged on it, to the Dacians of Trojan's column. The dress, the features, and the whole appearance of the Wallacks, were so Dacian, that a man fresh from Rome could scarcely fail to [048] recognise it. They have the same arched nose, deeply sunken eye and long hair, the same sheep-skin cap, the same shirt bound round the waist, and descending to the knee, and the same long loose trowsers which the Roman chain is so often seen encircling at the ankles. It was only required to change the German or Hungarian overlooker in his smart hussar uniform, for the soldier of the Roman legion in his brilliant armour, and we might have supposed ourselves present at the very scene en-acted for a similar purpose on the opposite side of this river seventeen hundred years before!

Orsova, as we saw it next morning, appeared a pretty little village, situated close on the banks of the Danube, and fast rising into importance as the frontier town of Hungary, towards Servia and Wallachia. In addition to the money spent here by travellers, the custom-house and quarantine establishments necessarily give it greater advantages than are possessed by most Hungarian places of its size. At a little distance from the town, too, there is a small covered market, where the Turks and Servians bring their wares for sale ; and though divided by rails, and closely guarded by the quarantine officers in order to prevent contamination, they carry on a considerable traffic in pipe-heads, Turkish sweetmeats, fruits, ornaments, and other small articles. The quarantine establishment was nearly empty at the time we visited Orsova, and we were shown over the whole of it. It cannot be said to [049] be pleasant to pass such a length of time in confinement anywhere; but I know of few places where it would be more tolerable than at Orsova. A small court is attached to each set of apartments; and, attended by a guard, permission is usually granted to walk over the whole place.

A mile below Orsova, and in the middle of the Danube, lies the pretty island of New Orsova, a Turkish fortress, now, alas ! somewhat dilapidated, like everything else Turkish ; though, scarcely a century ago, it was of sufficient strength to have occupied the Emperor Joseph II. a considerable time to batter it effectually from the opposite mountains. It is said to have been at this point that the great crusade of 1396, under the Connetable d'Eu and Sigismund of Hungary, after descending the Danube from Buda to Orsova, passed over to the island, and so across to the Turkish side. One hundred thousand horsemen, among whom were the flower of the French chivalry, seemed to give an assurance of easy victory; and as Sigismund marked their close and well-ordered ranks, he insolently exclaimed, "With such an army, I can brave the world ; their spears would uphold the canopy of heaven itself, should it threaten to fall upon us!" The impious boast was bitterly atoned for. In a very few days the plain of Nicopolis witnessed the complete dispersion of this host, and the noblest and bravest of them dead, or captives in the hands of Bajazeth.

[050]

We were fortunate enough to obtain permission from the Herr Cordons Commandant to visit the Pasha of Orsova; and, accompanied by a customhouse officer, apparently to enable us to smuggle with impunity, and another from the quarantine to prevent our catching the plague in any but the prescribed form, we embarked for the island. About half an hour's row down the stream, brought us under the low and crumbling walls of the fortress; and one of our attendants, acting as interpreter, hailed a magnificent looking fellow, who was lounging about very nonchalantly, -- but who was nevertheless a Turkish sentinel on duty -- and desired him to inform the Pasha of our request for an audience.

THE PASHA'S HOUSE
THE PASHA'S HOUSE

In the meantime we landed, and pursued our way over broken walls and through filled-up ditches to the Pasha's house; and a strange-looking pile we [051] found it. The lower part is formed of a solid tower of stone, probably the remains of some Gothic stronghold, while the upper story is only a wooden box, after the common fashion of Turkish houses, overhanging its base in every direction, and in its turn covered by a vast umbrella-like roof. Our request was courteously received, and we were ushered up a broad flight of steps outside the building', and between long rows of bare-footed servants, to the audience chamber. Here we found the Pasha ready to receive us, and after sundry bows on our parts and pressings of the hand to the heart on his, we took our seats opposite each other, on some very common, rush-bottomed chairs. These were evidently used as a compliment to us; for they appeared a troublesome luxury to our host, whose legs were either dangling awkwardly in mid-air, or perched on the highest stave in anything but an elegant position. He was a handsome good-tempered looking man, of about forty, with a fine red beard curling over his breast. He was far enough from the capital in his snug little island, to dispense with the caricature of a uniform worn in Constantinople, and his costume of embroidered cloth lined with fur, was simple and handsome. He inquired with much anxiety if we had brought our pipes, and seemed very much annoyed at our guides for not having informed us that a recent firman had forbidden any Pasha to offer pipes to strangers. This arrangement had been adopted to relieve the Pashas from [052] the expense of maintaining a great pipe establishment, the cost of which was sufficient to ruin Borne of the poorer of them. I believe it has been given up since. Tt was in vain we protested that we did not smoke in the morning; when the poor Pasha received his splendid chibouque he drew a long whiff or two, but it failed to soothe his wounded sense of hospitality, and he protested lie could not smoke unless we did so too. At last, plague or no plague, he insisted on each of us smoking from his own pipe; nor was it till the pale lemon-coloured amber had been pressed in turn by every lip, and the muddy coffee had been duly drunk, that he felt sufficiently at ease to begin a conversation.

I am not going to give the reader the Pasha's sage remarks -- that is, remarks of my own, which I think sufficiently sage to be palmed off as a Pasha's, -- as many writers in these modern times are apt to do, often too when they have not understood one word of the language spoken; and it is not worth while repeating the commonplaces our interpreter passed between us. The Pasha inquired about the progress of the works at Kazan, whether the bridge was begun at Pest, and how many steam-boats were building, occasionally stopping to assure us how great was his pleasure at our visit, and occasionally bursting into a hearty laugh at the fear our attendants expressed lest we might touch something capable of communicating plague, and that too after [053] smoking the pipe he had just used. As in every Turk, -- and almost in every man who is free from affectation and servility, -- his manners were easy and dignified; and as we took leave, much pleased with our visit, he invited us to go through the town, and gave orders that we should see the mosque and anything else we chose.

The town, which consists of four streets built in the form of a cross, is as completely Turkish as anything in Constantinople ; it is, in fact, a little epitome of the whole empire. The same filthy narrow streets, the same coffee-houses with their eternal loungers drawing deep draughts of pleasure from the bubbling nargilé or long chibouque, the open shops, the carpeted mosque with its slender minaret, and the pretty burial-ground with its tur-baned head-stones, as arc to be seen in every other part of Turkey;--nay, the very dogs are the same snarling ill-bred mangy curs which the sons of Mahomet use as scavengers wherever their sway is felt. It was amusing to see with what officiousness our quarantine man began to exercise his stick on all the poor animals which crossed his path, but an obstinate hen very nearly got the master of him notwithstanding, and we were obliged to run into another street lest a chance feather from her wing should condemn us to a fortnight's quarantine. Heartily did the good-humoured Turks shake their sides to see half a dozen poor Christians in flight before a cackling hen ! We were allowed, however, [054] to purchase some pipe-heads from Servia, -- more beautiful than any to be found at Constantinople, -- probably from some little arrangement between the Turk and Christian for fleecing the stranger, for as we went away, I saw our guide put one into his own pocket, for which nothing was paid, save a nod of understanding between himself and the merchant.

The most insensible can hardly fail to admire the scenery about Orsova; the island, the Elizabeth Tower on the opposite bank, the Alion with its wooded sides, and the expanse of water itself, are beauties of no common order. From the passing view we had of some Servian peasants, they seemed to resemble the Wallacks in their dress. The women often cover their heads with strings of gold and silver coins till they assume the appearance of scale-helmets.

Another excursion I made from Orsova was to visit the Iron Gates of the Danube, and the remains of Trajan's bridge. As these objects are in Wallachia, it was necessary again to obtain permission, and to be accompanied by quarantine and custom-houso officers. Having provided two light waggons with four horses in each, we followed the banks of the Danube, passed the Island of Orsova, crossed the boundary line of Hungary, and continued along a road cut in the side of the mountain, amidst the most beautiful scenery, till the roar of the waters informed us we were approaching the much-dreaded cataracts of the Iron Gates.

[055]

THE IRON GATES OF THE DANUBE
THE IRON GATES

A bad name is a bad thing ; the Black Sea is still an object of terror at Lloyd's, though its navigation is safer than the generality of European seas, and the Iron Gates were long considered an irresistible bar to commerce on the Danube, though the peasant pilots of Orsova never hesitate, in proper seasons, to shoot them with as clumsy ill-constructed vessels as can well be made. These rapids, for such is their proper designation, continue under different names for about a quarter of a mile, and it is the most eastern portion which is properly called the Iron Gates, or, by the Turks, Demirkapi. At this point a ledge of rocks runs quite across the river, the highest part [056] of which, though just covered in the ordinary state of the water, Is yet sufficiently evident, and produces a fall of several feet, which is followed by an eddy which might prove dangerous to very small craft. The shallowncss of the water is, however, the most serious obstacle, and at certain seasons this is so extreme as to put a stop to navigation entirely. Two plans have been conceived for remedying this evil : and it has been proposed either to blast the rocks, a difficult and expensive process, or to form a canal along the Servian bank. Very fortunately, at this point the rocks, instead of coming down close to the edge of the water, leave a small surface of flat land, round which it is proposed to carry a canal; and here, it is said, remains still exist of a canal made by the Romans for the very same purpose. As I was not able to verify this report by actual inspection, I cannot state it to be positively true; but as the Via Trajana was continued in this direction, and was pretty certainly used as a towing path, I think there can be little doubt of the fact. What obstacle impedes the commencement of this canal I know not, but fortunately the steam navigation is independent of it, for the boats come up to Scala Gladova without impediment, and goods and passengers are thence conveyed by boat or carriage to Orsova, so that, were the road better, the absence of the canal would be of little consequence. Nor is this interruption of so great importance as [057] it would be in any other position, for a delay is necessarily caused, in passing from the one country to the other, by the quarantine, customs, and police regulations.

As we turned back to take a last view of the dreaded pass, a heavy Turkish boat, with its lattine sails approached, and we bad an opportunity, of watching it pass the rapids. The sails were furled and a large oar was put out to aid the helm; the only effects we could observe were, a slight trembling of the mast, a sudden shoot over the rocks, a little reeling in the eddy, and she then passed on her course as tranquilly as though nothing had happened.

REMAINS OF TRAJANS BRIDGE
THE REMAINS OF TRAJAN'S BRIDGE

The banks of the Danube now became flat and uninteresting, -- Scala Gladova, through which our route led us, is a very miserable little Wallachian town only remarkable because the steam-boats stop there,-- and we were very thankful when our twenty miles' drive was over and we found ourselves at the remains of Trajan's bridge. All that is now left of this structure is a solid shapeless mass of masonry on either bank, about twenty feet high, and between that and the river there is, on each side, a broken wall on a level with the top of the banks, apparently forming the piers from which the first arches sprang. On both sides, the banks are of a considerable height above the water. In the bed of the river, and in a direct line between these ruins, the surveyors have traced the remains of [058] thirteen pillars. Not far from the middle, as will be seen by the plan, a kind of island has been formed, which occupies the space of four pillars, and on the northern bank there is a second space; apparently filled up by deposit, which leaves room for one other pillar, thus making, in addition to those on the bank, twenty. The distance between the pillars on either bank is five hundred and sixty-two Vienna klafters, or about three thousand nine [059] hundred English feet. The pillar on the north hank, which I sketched, is not built of hewn stones, but of a mass of shapeless materials joined together with Roman cement- It may have been encased in hewn stone, which has been removed or destroyed. This is all I could observe or learn of the actual state of the remains of Trajan's bridge. The water, though not high, was sufficiently so to prevent even a ripple appearing on the surface, where it flowed over the hidden pillars, but, as may be seen by the plan, in which the upper line indicates the common height of the water, and the lower its state in 1834, the tops of several pillars are sometimes visible. On the Wallachian side, a little before we reached the ruin, we observed the remains of a tower which had been surrounded by a deep and wide fosse. Nothing remains of the tower to indicate its origin or form ; but the fosse, if I remember right, is circular. It was probably intended to defend the passage of the bridge.

REMAINS OF TRAJAN'S BRIDGE - PILLARS
PILLARS OF THE REMAINS OF TRAJAN'S BRIDGE

Now let us inquire, for a moment, what information ancient authorities afford us concerning this great work. Dion Cassius, who was governor of part of Pannonia under Hadrian, the successor of Trajan, wrote a history of liomc down to his own time. A considerable part of this history is lost, and among other portions the account of Trajan's bridge; but an epitome of his works by Ziphilini still exists, which contains a short description of it It was built by Apollodorus, the architect of the Forum [060] Trajanum, and of Trajan's column at Rome, and consisted of twenty piers, each pier being one hundred and fifty Roman feet high, sixty feet thick, and they were one hundred and seventy feet distant from each other. At either end it was protected by towers. The whole work is said to have been built of hewn stone, and the real difficulties of so vast an undertaking are enhanced by a false account of the situation, depth of water, nature of the soil, and other particulars.6

6 I should remark, that this is one of the widest parts of the river, and was, no doubt, on that account, chosen by the architect to allow the force of the sudden floods to which the Danube is subject, on the breaking up of the ice, to waste itself on an extended surface. The bed of the river, instead of answering the description of Dion Cassius, ia sound, and the depth here less than in most other parts.

COIN OF TRAJAN
COIN OF TRAJAN

The second authority is the large copper coin of Trajan, containing on the reverse a bridge. From this coin it would rather appear that the towers were at the entrances of the bridge, and that they had somewhat the appearance of triumphal arches. The figures of men are very discernible on both of them. The arch -- as is often the case in coins bearing figures of buildings, a part being put to represent the whole, -- appears to me, as well as to others who have examined it with me, to be [061] composed of wood, though the piers are undoubtedly of stone.7

7 This opinion, I find, is supported by Marsigli, Fahretti, and Montfaucon, who make very light of the exaggerations of Dion Cassius.

Besides this, we have a third authority in the column of Trajan, whore a part of the bridge is represented in the back ground, and again the upper portion appears, I think, to be decidedly of wood; in fact, the cross bars and rails are exactly like tliose uniting the bridges of boats, by which the Roman army is often seen crossing rivers during their march to Dacia. I need scarcely say, that the idea of the wooden projection of the Via Trajana strengthens the supposition of a similar construction in the Pons Trajani. The bridge was probably begun about 103, A.D. ; it was destroyed about 120. Before we quit the subject, one word on the destruction of the bridge. Hadrian, it appears, anxious to enjoy in peace the conquests of his predecessor, intended to give up the newly-founded province of Dacia ; in consequence, however, of the number of Roman colonists already established there, he was persuaded to retain it; but, as it is said, to prevent the barbarians crossing over into the Thracian provinces, he destroyed the bridge across the Danube. I cannot help thinking that personal feeling had some connection with this affair; it seems at least so impolitic to retain the province, and yet cut off the only safe and sure communication [062] with it, that one is naturally led to look for other motives than those generally ascribed for the destruction of this bridge. Now it appears that Apollodorus had given mortal offence to Hadrian when a young soldier in the camp of Trajan, by desiring him to " paint gourds" (an amusement to which he was addicted), "and not to speak of matters he did not understand," on occasion of some silly remarks offered by the future Emperor concerning the plans which the architect was displaying to his royal master. This insult, sharpened by the jealousy which Hadrian felt of the artist's talents, was never forgiven, and no sooner did he assume the purple than he banished Apollodorus, and finally had him put to death on some false pretence. A man whose cruel revenge was capable of demanding the destruction of a great artist, would scarcely be inclined to spare that artist's most esteemed work, -- his surest claim to the gratitude and remembrance of posterity ; and I think it highly probable, that Trajan's greatest glory fell a sacrifice to Hadrian's meanest passion.

On our return to Orsova, we found that a fisherman had just captured an enormous sturgeon, -- so large that when placed in one of the small waggons of the country, its tail dragged along the ground behind. It was taken to the village fountain, washed, cut up, and speedily sold to the peasants. The sturgeon is said to be abundant in this part of the Danube, and to attain a large size, but it is [063] not equal in delicacy of flavour to the small sturgeon of the Tlieiss. Fresh caviare gourmands may satisfy their longings here as well as in the regions of the Wolga or the Don. In Wallachia, the preparation of the hard caviare is much cared for, and most of that met with at Constantinople is obtained from thence. Nothing can be ruder than the Wallack mode of fishing. A long string of floats stoutly fastened together, support a number of huge hooks which hang at different depths in the water without baits, but so placed as to hook the fish as he swims by. Angling as an amusement is rarely followed in Hungary, but from the quantity of trout met with on the table, I should think it might afford good sport.

It was a fine autumn afternoon when we left Orsova, and following the valley of the Cserna closely hemmed in by its wooded hills, pursued our way to Mehadia. The groups of Wallack women, as we saw them in the evening assembled round their cottage doors, or returning home from the labours of the field, were too peculiar to escape the observation, and sometimes admiration of strangers. Their dress, like the men's, rather Dacian, consists of the homespun linen shirt, fastened close round the neck, and reaching down to the ankles. At the sleeves, and round the collar, it is often prettily embroidered in blue and red. Before and behind they wear a coarse woollen apron of different colours, the lower part of which is commonly a mere fringe [064] and such, with a coloured fillet bound round the head, is the only summer covering of the Wallack women. No dress was ever less adapted to conceal the form; the close-fitting apron seems rather intended to display to the greatest advantage the Venus-like proportions of the figure ; nor are the beauties of the youthful bust less delicately outlined by the tight linen shirt.

We met some twenty or thirty of the Borderers on march to relieve the guard on duty at some distant post, where they would have to remain for a week. They were exceedingly well dressed, and had quite the appearance of regular troopa. In many parts of this valley the road is adorned by avenues of the white mulberry. I think it was under Maria Theresa that the idea of cultivating silk in Hungary was first started, and several attempts were subsequently made in different parts of the country with considerable success. In 1811, Government planted the Banat military frontier with mulberries, in the hope of being able to feed the worm on the tree, but I believe the experiment did not succeed, though it is difficult to say from what cause. A great number of landowners are now planting the mulberry in different parts of Hungary, and it is highly probable that silk will, ere long, be one of the staple commodities of the country.

RUINS OF AN AQUEDUCT
RUINS OF AN AQUEDUCT

Near Topletz are the ruins of an aqueduct, which formerly extended from the baths of Mehadia to [065] Orsova. No one who has seen the Turkish aqueducts near Constantinople, can doubt as to the origin of this one; it is clearly of Turkish and not Roman workmanship. Its object was probably to convey the medicated waters of Mehadia to the village of Orsova which was for many years the residence of a Pasha, and an important Turkish fortress.

About ten miles from Orsova we quitted the main valley, and pursuing the course of the Cserna, entered the valley of Mehadia, in which the baths of Mehadia are situated. It was now past the bathing season, and we were the only strangers [066] there ; but the reader must allow me to transport him back to the gaiety of July, in which month I visited it on another occasion.

The baths consist of a number of handsome buildings round an oval place, furnished with seats, and commonly enlivened by music and loungers. The valley is so exceedingly narrow, that there was but just room to build these houses ; nor have they been erected without a sacrifice of the romantic scenery. The large building to the right was constructed by the Emperor Francis, and it is let out at certain fixed and very moderate prices as an hotel, while the lower part contains baths.

The antiquity of the Hercules Baths are beyond question. Many votive tablets and statues sufficiently attest that they were dedicated to Hercules and that they were known to the Romans as early as the reign of Hadrian, with whom they were in high repute for their medicinal virtues.

From June to September these baths are the favourite resort of the Hungarians and Transylva-nians, and, besides receiving occasionally members of every other part of the Austrian dominions, a rich Boyard from Wallachia, an uncouth prince from Servia, and a vagabond Englishman, may often be seen mingling with the gay groups on the evening promenade. An Englishman must almost have ceased to be a wonder now, but it is not very long since some pretty little Banatians were terribly scolded by mamma for running out to get a peep [067] at an islander, a sort of tiling, as they urged in excuse, they had never seen in their lives before, and which they were not a little disappointed to find so much like other human beings.

There are few bathing-places can boast so really beautiful a neighbourhood as this ; for several miles up the valley, where a foot-path has been cut through the woods, nothing can be more exquisitely lovely than the scenery. And then, there are mountains to ascend, a real robber's cave to explore, a little waterfall to visit, besides excursions, to I know not how many wonderful places in the neighbourhood, to he made. But the white precipitous rocks, which make the valley so picturesque, render it excessively close, and in July and August it is scarcely possible to move out in the day-time. These same rocks, however, arc not to be scorned, for they are so high and close as to produce an early sunset, and thus leave a long cool twilight for the promenade. So much greater is the heat in this valley than elsewhere, that the tarantula and scorpion, unknown in other parts of Hungary, arc far from uncommon.

Beautiful, however, as Mehadia is, its beauty will not please for ever; as is often the case witli other beauties, its appearance is useful as an attraction, hut it requires other qualities to keep alive our interest in them. It may be an effectual cure,8 as the [068] doctors vouch, for an infinity of human ills, hut to a healthy man, a long residence there is apt to induce one as bad as any in the list -- ennui. In the morning it is de riqueur to parhoil yourself in the fetid waters, from which you escape so exhausted, that leaning out of the window and watching your neighbour enjoying the same recreation, is all you are capable of. At one tbe gentlemen meet at the table d'hote, -- the ladies generally dine in their own rooms, -- and consume a very indifferent dinner, notwithstanding the eulogies of some travellers just escaped from quarantine diet. Till six the time must still be killed. A little quiet gambling is generally [069] transacted about this time, by such as have a taste for it, and smoking too was a great resource, especially after some cosmopolite Turks had phil-aiithropically established themselves in 0110 corner of the place with a large stock of chibouques and Latakia, to the great edification of all honest Christiana who loved good tobacco. At six, the beau monde makes its appearance, the gipsy band strikes up its joyous notes, and till eight the promenade of Mehadla is gay with music and beauty. A bad German theatre and an occasional ball add to the amusements of those who like them, but there is a want of some common place of re-union, which prevents the society coming together as much as it otherwise would.

8 There arc nine different springs here in use, each varying considerably in the proportions of their mineral contents, as given by chemical analysis. They have all, however, more or less, the same ingredients, of which the cliief are muriates of soda and lime, sulphate of lime, sulphuretted hydrogen gas, nitrogen gas, and carbonic acid gas, except the Hercules bath, which contains 110 sulphuretted hydrogen. The temperature varies in the different springs from 32° to 50° of Reaumur, but a cooling apparatus enables one to regulate the temperature at will. Mehadia is considered in Hungary as tbe very first in the healing powers of its waters. It is particularly recommended in indolent skin diseases, in cases of gout in all its forms, chronic rheumatism, scrofula, chronic diseases of the joints, complicated mercurial affections, old liver complaints, in all that prolific class called Verstopfungen by the Germans, hysteria, hypochondria, and many other of the opprobria medico,. An eye-bath is arranged ao that the eye may be exposed to the hot mineral vapour, and is much used in chronic affections of that organ. Nothing but experience can decide on the credit due to mineral waters in diseases, but on the healthy body I do not think I ever felt any produce a greater effect than these: the weakness and profuse perspiration which follows the bath is extreme. -- Vide Die Hercules Bäder bei Mehadia, von J. G. Schwarzott.

The deficiency of accommodation here is a crying evil, and new arrivals are not unfrequently obliged to sleep on tables and chairs in the public dining-room. On returning to my room one night, rather late, I found the whole passage covered with mattresses on which were stretched some dozen human figures ; many of whom were young and very pretty girls of the middle class, some of them unfortunate cripples, and all freshly arrived, and thankful even for this shelter. In this condition they remained a week before they could procure rooms.

The political economist in such a case would quietly fold his arms and say the supply will be regulated by the demand, and so it might elsewhere, but Mehadia is on the military frontiers, and consequently [070] under the administration of the Kamnier, which, with its usual forethought and good sense refuses permission to any private individual to build an hotel, except on condition that no one shall enter it till all the present accommodations are occupied, for fear of injuring the present proprietors. This is an instance of the advantages accruing from the excessive care of a paternal government: hero it deprives its poor children of a comfortable lodging -- would to God it never deprived them of still more important blessings!

VALLEY OF MEHADIA
VALLEY OF MEHADIA

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




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