Transylvanian Roads. -- A Solitary Inn. -- Drág. -- Zsibo. -- Horse-breeding. -- Old Transylvanian Breed. -- Count Bánffy's Stud. -- English Breed. -- Baron Wesselényi's Stud. -- A Cross. -- Bábolna Arabs -- Interesting Experiment -- Rákótzy. -- Robot. -- Ride to Hadad. -- The Vintage. -- Transylvanian Wines. -- Oak Woods. -- Scotch Farmer. -- A Reformer's Trials. -- State of the Peasantry. -- Urharium. -- Stewards. -- Establishments of the Nobles. -- Social Anomalies. -- Old Fashions. -- The Dinner. -- Drive to Nagy Banya. -- Gipsies. -- Gold Mines. -- Private Speculations. -- Keturn.

BEFORE the winter set in, there was yet a promise of a week or two of fine weather; and we were recommended to avail ourselves of it, to visit some interesting objects in the north of the country.


I believe my duty, as an honest chronicler of my travels, would be to give the reader at least two pages of tirade against the bad roads of Transylvania; for if I do not, how can I convey to him an impression of the misery we siiffcred while we were dragged over or rather through them ? But lest he should grow as tired of hearing of them as we did of travelling on them, I will spare him the infliction, and content myself with saying that we now occupied three days in accomplishing what one day suffices for in summer.

Our first halt was at a lone country inn -- a sort of caravansary in the desert -- for I do not recollect that we had seen a house for two hours before we reached it. About an acre of ground, forming the yard, was enclosed with a strong fence, and held the dwelling-house, the waggon-shed, some stables, and a well. A more solitary spot T have rarely seen; the hills all round were covered with a scanty pasture, the road was only a muddy track, and there were no signs of cultivation or habitation within a circuit of many miles.

At Drag, which we did not reach till sometime after nightfall, we were hospitably entertained by the Seigneur of the place; for we were obliged to have recourse to our letters of introduction here, the inns being really too bad. We were shown at Drag a large Roman statue of Jupiter, without the head, which had been discovered some miles off in the bed of a brook. It was of a rather coarse [213] white marble, probably obtained in the country, and of indifferent workmanship.

One object of the route we had chosen in this excursion, was to enable us to visit Zsibo, the seat of Baron Wesselényi Miklós; and we arrived there on the second evening.

We did not expect to see the Baron himself at Zsibo, for we knew that he was an unwilling absentee. Immediately after the stormy conclusion of the Diet, which we have related in the last chapter. Baron Wesselényi had hastened into Hungary, where, as we have already seen, he was actively employed in serving his country, while, in the meantime his enemies commenced an action against him in Transylvania, for printing the Journal, and other less-important charges. Attacked by a severe illness, at Presburg, Wesselényi was unable to answer the summons of the Court to appear, and, in spite of the certificates of his physicians, he was condemned for contumacy and a warrant of arrest issued against him should he return to Transylvania. Though he still remains free, the chief object was gained, that of driving him from the scene of his greatest influence; for, from that day, he has never been able to return to the country. His establishment, however, was still kept up as before, and his steward was there to show us over it.

Besides other branches of industry, Baron Wesselényi has particularly devoted his attention to the breed of horses. If horse-breeding is a matter of [214] interest to the Hungarian gentry, it is almost a passion among those of Transylvania. I think Bethlen, in his "Ansichten von Siebenbürgen," published at the beginning of this century, gives the names of no less than sixty celebrated studs in this small territory. The original, or rather the oldest breed of Transylvania, is probably that still found in the mountains of the Szekler Land, a small wiry horse, capable of enduring great fatigue, and easily fed, but deficient in size, power, and speed. These horses bear, in many respects, a great resemblance to our Welsh ponies. During the long occupation of the country by the Turks, a considerable intermixture of Arab blood took place, which, though it may have added something to the Trausylvanian horse's speed and beauty, seems to have detracted from his strength and hardihood.

Among a host of other evils, which the connection between Spain and Austria brought on Hungary and Transylvania, one of the most permanent, if not the most serious, was the deterioration of the breed of horses. The Spanish horse, with considerable beauty, -- at least to the unskilled eye, -- with extraordinary docility and a most pompous bearing, is, nevertheless, the very worst horse in Europe. The fashion of the Court, however, of course decided the fashion of the country, and till the present century the Spanish was the most esteemed blood. In fact, it was not ill-adapted to the wants of those times. When to be slow was to be dignified, when [215] all grace centred in a minuet, and beauty took refuge in powder and hoops, it was but right that pomp should have its prancing steeds, which could curvet a whole hour without advancing a mile; but in these waltzing, steaming, matter-of-fact days, nothing less than our full bloods can keep pace with modern restlessness, and they have accordingly been introduced into Transylvania, as well as into most other parts of Europe.

There are still, however, some old-fashioned people who are content to move on as their forefathers did,- -- the Court and its party more especially the bishops, are said to monopolize this privilege in Hungary. To supply this taste some of tlie old studs are still maintained. The most perfect is that of Count Bánffy, at Bonczida, where everything corresponds so well with the historical character of its horses, that I cannot forbear a description of it. The whole of one side of the courtyard of the castle is occupied by a superb stable, ornamented with sculpture, and entered by folding doors. The stable is composed of one vaulted hall, with stalls on either side, and a wide walk down the centre, the floor being boarded with oak. As we entered, the Stall-mcistcr, in long jack-boots, and armed with a coach-whip, received us in due form, and ushered us into the presence of nearly a hundred horses, all with their heads turned towards us, ornamented with ribbons, and attended by grooms in full livery, with bouquets in their hats. After [216] walking up and down this magnificent avenue listening to pedigrees, and admiring the beauty of the gallant steeds, we retired again to the court-yard to see them brought out. Two horses at a time were led to the door in long braided reins, and, on a given signal from the Stall-meister's whip, off they started, curvetting, neighing, and galloping, till they had made the tour of the court, when, at another signal, they came to a dead stand, at a certain spot where they remained as quiet as lambs, to be handled and examined from head to foot. It was impossible to see these horses, aa they proudly stretched themselves out as if to show their points to the greatest advantage, and deny that they had much beauty about them; as for their capability to endure fatigue, I cannot speak, but I fancy they are rarely exposed to such a trial. What is not least important, these horses are said to find a ready sale. A hundred pounds for a pair, as carriage horses, is considered a high price, even for the best of them.

Baron Wesselényi was the first who undertook to reform these matters, and though he began it with only a very few English marcs and one horse, -- Cato, -- his ordinary stock stud now amounts to about two hundred. We went first of all into the paddock, where we found a promising herd of young things of different ages, from two to five, in excellent condition, and carefully tended by keepers, like sheep by their shepherds. Those which most [217] interested us, were a cross between the English full blood and the small Szekler mare, and an excellent hackney it seems to have produced. The mares were mostly powerful animals, admirably chosen for breeding speed and strength.

On returning to the stables, we found thirty or forty horses up, and in condition for sale or work. There were some of them which left nothing to desire. I remember particularly one, a four years' colt, already nearly sixteen hands high, which looked as much like a hunter as ever I saw a horse. Baron Wesselényi is considered to sell his horses dear. The prices vary from about 40l. for the half-bred Szeklers, to 250l. for thorough-bred entire horses. The four years' old gelding, just alluded to, was estimated at 80l. As soon as English horses become a little more common in this part of the world, I have no doubt that the best of them will be re-exported to England, the price of breeding and rearing being so much less here, and the demand for first-rate horses so far beyond the supply with us. The expense of keeping a horse in condition in this country, for twelve months, I have heard estimated at 10l.

There are now probably not less than twenty studs in Transylvania, with a greater or less infusion of English blood. It is amusing enough to find, that there is a strong connection between breeds of horses and opinions in politics here. A young Liberal, the first thing on coming to his fortune, [218] clears his father's stables of the old stock, and recruits anew from Zsibo: while the Absolutists adhere religiously to the pompous useless steeds of their predecessors. So far does it go, that a man's politics are known by the cut of his horse's tail. As Baron H------ overtook a party of Liberals, returning one dark night from a county-meeting, he was hailed as a friend ; for though they said they could not see his face, they knew by his horse's dock that he was of the right sort.

Before I take leave of the horses, I must say a few words here of the Government studs in Hungary, of which Marshal Marmont has given so particular an account. Bábolna, though not so large as Mezö Hegyes, was particularly interesting, at the time I visited it, from a new importation of Arabs which had just taken place. Bábolna, is a complete military establishment, under the direction of a major of dragoons, aided by a certain number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates. They farm a large estate of more than seven thousand acres, from which they draw their supplies of corn, straw, and hay. The most interesting object to us was the Arab stud, which the major had himself just brought from the interior of Arabia. There were fourteen mares, and nearly as many horses. It is impossible for language to convey an idea of the beauty of some of these creatures. They are small, rarely exceeding fourteen hands ; but their strength and symmetry are perfect. There was one little mare, [219] a bright bay, which caught my eye, and so completely fascinated me, that I could scarcely look at any of the others after. Such depth of shoulder, such bony fore-legs, such loins, and such quarters and hocks, it was never my fortune to see in so small a compass, or in such perfect proportion, before. The major was evidently pleased at my choice, for the bay mare was his favourite also: the more so, perhaps, from the difficulty he had found in getting possession of her. He had heard of her reputation long before he reached the tribe to which she belonged; for, after a defeat, she had borne her master across the sandy wastes without a halt, an incredible distance, and actually arrived at the encampment of the tribe, six hours before any of the others who had commenced their night at the same time. To induce an Arab to part with such a treasure was no easy matter; and long were the negotiations and high the bribes which enabled the major to secure this gem of the desert for his imperial master.

In one part of the establishment, we were shown the summer day-rooms for the breeding stud, immense places, where some hundreds of mares and foals are turned in together, the floors being covered with straw above the horses' knees to protect their feet, and the walls lined with marble troughs, in which they receive their food. Notwithstanding the number let loose together, it is very rarely any accident happens ; indeed, from the constant [220] presence of man with them, nothing can exceed the quietness of these creatures. We went among whole herds of them, and touched them without the least danger. The tenders always carry bread with them, and give a bit to the horse as a reward for good behaviour; and they consequently follow one about, poking their noses into one's hands and pockets with the docility of dogs. I was surprised to hear, that in these large buildings every horse knows his place, though it is quite undivided, and is as tenacious of it as an old bachelor of his chimney corner.

A most interesting experiment is at present under trial at Bábolna. Major Herbert is of opinion, that the size and strength of a horse does not depend on the race, but on the nourishment of the individual animal. In consequence of this opinion, and taking the Arab as the most perfect model of a horse for form and symmetry, he is desirous to confine his stud stock to the Arab blood, and trusts to his system of feeding for supplying the deficiency of size. When I saw Bábolna, he had specimens of four and five years' old horses raised on this system ; and there was certainly a considerable change in their size compared with that of their sires. When this experiment commenced, however, he had no Arab dams in the stud, and the proof was therefore incomplete, for the mixed German and Spanish race, to which the old mares belonged, though faulty enough in other particulars, [221] is not very small. Some of the double crosses -- where the sire, for two generations, was a small Arab -- were nearly fifteen hands, and, in other respects, good in form, and leaning much to the Arab in appearance. The system of feeding is nearly the same as that pursued with our racing stock, -- to let them nibble oats as soon as they ran ; and for the first three or four years, instead of starving them on a bad pasture, to give them the best of everything.

That the experiment will succeed to a certain extent, is, I think, evident, both from what I saw, and from the history of improvements introduced into the breeds of other animals, which have been generally produced by judicious selection and high feeding; but whether the expanded Arab will retain the same symmetry of form, the same relative proportion of bone and body, and, above all, the same hardihood and endurance which distinguish the desert stock, appears very doubtful. The question is -- can the qualities of the English hunter be fed into the Arab form ? Nowhere can the experiment be so perfectly and satisfactorily settled as in one of these institutions, for the amount of food isjixed and weighed, the number on which the experiment is tried renders it independent of exceptions, and, above all, the character and interests of the gentlemen by whom it is conducted, place them above all suspicion of false play. For the present, however, it must be considered under trial. No English [222] sportsman should pass through Hungary without visiting Bábolna. The politeness with which Major Herbert showed us the whole establishment, though we presented ourselves entirely as strangers, and without introduction, requires our special thanks. The destination of the horses raised in the royal studs, is, to improve the breed in the different districts of the Austrian empire, among which they arc distributed. If any remain above the number required for this purpose they are sold to officers for chargersj or even sent to the remount of the regiments.


But to return to Zsibo. Zsibo is one of the very few houses I have yet seen in this part of the world which is really well situated. It occupies a [223] large platform, at a considerable height above the village, and is backed by still higher hills, and surrounded by woods which shelter it from the north. Below it extends, on either side, the valley of the Szamos, and opposite a conical mountain rears its head, the scene of one of the most interesting events in Tranaylvanian history. It was on this mountain that Franz Rákótzy, II. the last native prince of Transylvania, took his stand, and witnessed the final defeat of his forces by the troops of Austria.

Weak and vacillating as Rákótzy was, it is impossible to read his adventurous history without interest, or to reflect on his fall, when deserted by his former friends and adherents, without pity. "Pro patria et libertate," was a noble inscription to place upon his coinage -- but it was sad to think that the coin itself was base : religious freedom was an object well worth contending for -- but it was difficult for one brought up a Jesuit to maintain it consistently ; mildness and justice were good qualities in a ruler, -- but weakness and indecision were destructive to the general. After years of civil war, in which Rákótzy sometimes seemed on the point of ascending the throne of Hungary, sometimes was threathened with annihilation by the quarrels amongst his own friends, he at last ended his troubled life a fugitive in Turkey.

As we were passing from one part of the establishment of Zsibo to another, we crossed a [224] beautiful wood on the banks of the river, which is fenced in on all sides to protect the pheasants, with which it literally swarms, from the wolves and foxes. The proud birds were crowing from their perches on every side of us. The pheasant is yet a stranger in Hungary, and can only be kept in woods appropriated to the purpose of rearing them, where they are carefully fed, and in winter driven under cover, and shut up till the next spring.

On our return by the farm-yard, we observed a very merry group of children and women occupied -- if such lazy work can be called occupation -- in pulling off the outer skins of the maize. A man stood over them to direct them and to enforce their attention -- but what can one man do against the mischief and fun of fifty women and children ? I was very much surprised to hear that these merry workers were sent as substitutes for husbands and fathers in the performances of a day's Robot. If a landlord gets but one hundred days' work such as this, for a year's rent for a farm of thirty acres, it is not very highly paid. I am sure ten of ours would be of more worth. The steward seemed to think this, however, but a very slight misfortune compared with others his master had to suffer: "Probably," he observed, "before the winter is over, these people will have eaten all this corn which they are now so lazily dressing. The harvest has been a scarce one here, and when that is the case, the peasants come on their landlords for support, [225] as if they had a right to it. It has frequently happened that the Baroun has not been able to sell one grain of corn for a whole season, every particle of it having been required to keep his own tenantry alive, and sometimes be has been obliged to buy more in addition." This is a pretty good answer to the stupid accusation of ill treating his peasantry, which had been raised against Baron Wésselenyi ; an answer unneeded, however, for their prosperous and happy state, superior to almost any in the country, and their devoted affection to their master, rendered the accusation itself perfectly ridiculous. One of these very peasants walked all the way from Zsibo to Vienna, to present a petition to the Emperor from some hundred of his fellows, that their lord and benefactor might be restored to them.

We had spent so much time, that the day was well nigh past ere we had finished our drive round Zsibo, and we had still a considerable journey before us. The steward, however, had sent the carriage forward early in the morning, and now offered us some of the half-bred Szeklers, that we might try if their deeds deserved the praises we had bestowed on their appearance. We got over to Hadad, our next station, in little more than two hours, through a woody and hilly country, often presenting views of the most perfect park-like scenery it is possible to fancy. What is the exact distance I know not, but we certainly put our little horses on their mettle, and arrived considerably [226] before the carriage which had started in the morning. One of them, a small mare, with two crosses of English blood, was the most extraordinary trotter of her height I ever saw. She was sold soon after for about 60l. There never was a country more beautifully laid out for riding over than Transylvania ; without high mountains or hard roads, it is just sufficiently hilly to vary the surface, and twenty or thirty miles of uninterrupted springy-turf, glorious for galloping, is no great rarity. The advantage, too, is as great as the pleasure. From Hadad to Klausenburg, which takes always throe days in winter for a carriage, has been ridden, by means of relays of horses, in less than six hours!

We arrived at Hadad at a fortunate moment; they had just begun the vintage, and our host, the young Baron W------ F------, who was a considerable wine-grower, invited us the next day to see his vineyards. The vintage is always a merry scene in every country, apparently rather from the associations connected with its produce than from anything peculiar in the labour itself; unless, indeed, we allow that the beauties of nature, in which the season of the vintage is so rich, has its effect even on the coarse nature of the peasant. I believe that such is the case, and moreover, that many an uncultivated soul which lacks words in which to clothe its feelings, is far more capable of appreciating the glories of God's works than the whole race of maudlin town-bred poets who prate so loudly of them.


After about an hour's gallop across some rich green meadows, in which the beautiful Baroness W------ accompanied us, -- -for the ladies of Transylvania almost rival our own as horse-women -- we arrived at the vineyard, situated on the slope of a small hill. There were about one hundred peasants employed in picking and carrying large baskets of the bright grapes to a small pressing-house near by. Beautiful groups they formed aa we caught sight of them every now and then, half hid among the tall vines: there were young and old, men and women -- the village seemed to have sent out all its forces for the joyous occasion, and in dresses so picturesque too, that the artist's fancy could have desired no happier union of colour, form, or expression.

Leaving the Baroness in conversation with some of the old peasant women, the Baron beckoned us away, and led us alone to see the pressing process. I could not understand this mystery, but, like a wise man, held my tongue, and submitted, -- and it was well I did. Tn a number of large tubs we found a set of almost naked men dancing barefooted, with all their force, to the music of the bagpipes, on the heaps of fruit which the carriers were throwing into them. I did not wonder we were led to this place alone, for except in some of the Silenic processions of Poussin, I never saw so extraordinary a scene. And it is in this manner the whole wine of this country is prepared ! The Transylvanians, who are [228] singularly delicate as to the cleanliness of their food, declare that every possible impurity is driven off in the fermentation the wine goes through after, and I was not sufficiently cruel to undeceive them. The great object of all this dancing seems to be to break the grapes, for they are afterwards subjected to the press. I need not say that a thousand simple mechanical contrivances might be substituted for this nasty process. It is reckoned that one man can dance about two hours, when his feet become so cold that he is forced to yield his place to another. In cold weather, hot wine is often poured over their legs to enable them to hold out longer, and spirits are allowed almost ad libitum. But the greatest support of the wine-presser is the bagpipe or fiddle, without which he could not continue his dancing half an hour. During the whole time, he dances the regular national step, and accompanies it with a song, which he improvises as he goes on. The usual termination of the vintage is a supper and a dance for the whole village.

Transylvania is a country which will probably one day assume a high rank as a wine-growing district. It is almost entirely laid out in small hills, it is well watered, a great many of its strata are of volcanic origin, and the land itself is rather poor; all circumstances which, united to its geographical position, fit it for the purposes of the winegrower. Although, even at the present time, no less than one-ninth of the whole population is [229] said to live by the cultivation of the vine, nothing can he more careless than the actual method of wine-making. All kinds of grapes are mixed indiscriminately; no care is taken to separate the over-ripe ami those yet green from the others; and the process of pressing is, as I have described it, dirty and careless. The cultivation of the vine is equally neglected or ill-understood. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, however, there are already some score different kinds of wine which enjoy a well-deserved reputation. Their reputation, however, is only provincial, for so little is this country known, that its wines are scarcely heard of, even among the Hungarians. They are mostly white wines, and are remarkable for their bouquet and flavour, as well as for considerable body. They are perhaps, less strong than the generality of the Hungarian, but they are also less acid and thin than some of the finer white wines of that country. It is very characteristic of the state of commerce here, that there is not a single wine merchant in the country, and when at Klansenburg, we found it difficult to get even a tolerable wine to drink. Every gentleman, nay, every respectable tradesman grows his own wine, and he would rather send a hundred miles off for it, than give hard cash to buy it of another on the spot.

Some of the most celebrated wines of Transylvania, and those which it would be most worth the foreigner's while to inquire after, are those of the [230]

Szilágyság, the Kokel, and Maros. The wines of the Szilágyság are celebrated for their strength and durability. They are chiefly white wines of a pleasant flavour, full-bodied, and when new, are very heady. The highest price, in an ordinary year, of the better sorts is about two shillings per eimer (sixteen bottles). The best are those of Tasnád and Szördemeter. In the valley of the Maros, the wines of Rozsamál, Malom-Falva, Czelna, Gurészada, Mácsa, Oklos, and Bábolna, are most sought after; and again, in the valley of the Kokel, or Küküllö, those of Dombo and Bocács. The Kokel wines are less strong than those of the Szilágyság and Maros, but perhaps more wholesome, and equally well-flavoured.

Baron W------, when in France, had engaged a French vignneron to come and stay with him some years, in order to try if he could make champagne from the grapes of Transylvania. We had frequent opportunities of tasting the wine he produced, and though it was much too strong and heavy for champagne, it was sparkling and pleasant, far better than the stuff we had often drunk under that name in other countries.

On our return, we visited a small farm of about three hundred acres, which our host had laid out a year or two before, on the system of rotation crops, and which was under the management of a clever Scotch bailiff. We found the Scotchman, a giant specimen of his countrymen, hard at plough, grumbling [231] of course, as we all do, when abroad, at everything foreign, from the very soil to the people it nourishes. He was very proud, however, to show us his barns, his stacks, his fat oxen, and his huge potatoes, one of which tilled a large dish of itself; but he inveighed most bitterly against the laziness of the poor peasants. He already spoke a jumble of various languages, by means of which, and his heavy fists, he managed to make himself understood by Magyars, Wallacks, and Germans, with all of whom he had to do. A short time previously he had made rather too free a use of this latter organ; for, on some of the peasants attacking one of the Baron's officers, to get at the wine he was distributing to them, the Scotchman rushed in and made such good use of his strength, that some of them were laid up for months after. I could easily believe when I saw him, that a blow from his arm was quite sufficient to annihilate a poor half-starved Wallack peasant.

Though the quantity of labour required by the Scotchman, and the expensive processes by which he cultivated, rendered it doubtful how far his farming would be profitable in the end, the Baron confessed that the amount of produce was enormous, and that he received as much hay and corn from these three hundred acres, as he had formerly received from the fourteen thousand, of which his estate consists. Many of the oak woods through which we passed, were, he said, almost useless. [232] They furnished firewood, gall-nute, acorns for the pigs, and as many casks as he required for his wine, hut of net revenue he derived scarcely anything from them.

About two thousand Merino sheep, which he had just purchased, as a commencement of a flock, promised something hetter. Beyond the first cost, the expense of shepherds, and the gathering of winter keep, he might reckon what they brought in as clear profit, for the land they grazed on was of no other value to him. Should a corn trade ever open with England the case will alter, but at present the low price of wheat, and frequently the impossibility of disposing of it, renders its cultivation a hazard and often a loss. With but little increase of expense, the Baron reckoned he could graze ten thousand sheep, to which number he hoped shortly to increase his flock.

As we approached the village, the Baron led the way over some pretty good fences, to show us a field of clover, of which the second crop was just cut. This had been one of his earliest agricultural improvements, for in spite of the quantity of land he possesses, he was formerly often in absolute want of hay and straw for his own horses in winter. On many Transylvanian gentlemen's farms, it is no uncommon thing to hear of horses and cattle dying of starvation, if the winter is severe or a few weeks longer than usual. This crop of clover had been Jooked upon, therefore, as a treasure, and conceive [233] his disappointment to hear one morning, just as the first cutting was ready for the scythe, that the peasants had broken down the fences, turned all the cattle of the village into the field, anil completely destroyed the whole crop. The starved cows devoured this novel luxury so greedily that they almost all died in consequence. Vexed as our friend was at this piece of malice, he was even more astonished the next day to hear that no less than thirty of these same peasants had commenced suits against him for having planted poisonous herbs to kill their cattle ! Ignorance is a sad enemy to improvement.

Baron W------ assured us this was only one of a series of malicious injuries which he had brought on himself by his attempts to improve the state of his own property, and the condition of his peasantry. "I have diminished the time of their labour," he observed; "I have lessened the amount of their payments; I have forbidden my stewards and others to have any peasant punished without a trial before the magistrates of the district, and instead of gratitude, I meet with no thing but injury from them; they look at all these attempts as so many signs of folly and weakness on my part."

On further inquiry we found the peasants of Transylvania in a far worse condition, and much more ignorant than those of Hungary. When Maria Theresa forced the Urbarium on the nobles of [234] Hungary, she published certain Regulations Punkte, founded on nearly the same principles, for the government of the peasants of Transylvania. Whether it was that these Punkte were not adapted to the state of the country, or whether its greater distance from the central power allowed the nobles to evade their adoption, it is certain they never obtained the same force as the Urbarium, nor have any succeeding attempts to improve their condition met with a better result. The Transylvanians say they are ready and anxious to do everything that is right and just, provided only it is done in a constitutional form, through the intervention of the Diet.34 In the mean time the state of the peasantry is a crying evil, and one which, if not speedily remedied by the nobles, will be remedied without their consent, either by the Government or by the people themselves; and I fear the sympathy of Europe will scarcely be in favour of those who oppose such a measure of justice.

34 The Diet of 1837 nominated a commission to prepare an Urbarium for Transylvania, but I cannot yet (1830) hear that anything has been done.

The frightful scones which took place under the leadership of Hora and Kloska, two Wallacks, who in 1784, raised the peasants of Transylvania in revolt, are still fresh in the memory of the Transylvanians, and may serve as a warning of what an injured people are capable, when expectations of redress are held out to them, and then disappointed. [235] It is said that Joseph actually promoted the insurrection of Hora and Kloska, and it is certain that military aid was not sent to repress it so quickly as it might have been; but I do not believe the accusation of intentional excitement. Independently of the improbability that one, whose chief fault was too much openness and honesty, should resort to such base moans, I think the mere belief that the Government was favourable to their claims, and the nobles opposed to them, when aided by the false representations of designing leaders, would be quite sufficient to cause such events among such a population at any time. During the late popular movement it lias been the policy of the opposition to attach the peasantry to their party by any means in their power, and I feel certain that as hopes of amendment have been raised,35 it is now the interest and the duty of the opposition to see that tliese hopes are not deceived, be the sacrifice on their part what it may.

35 I have since heard that on the publication of the Hungarian Urbarium, the peasants, in every village of Transylvania, sent deputies to purchase copies of it for themselves, and paid the priests to translate and explain it, and that there is not a village in Transylvania now without a copy of this act. I have been surprised to hear a member of the Liberal party talk of this as a conspiracy, and declare that the peasants ought to be punished for it! Suuh, I am sure, are not the opinions of the leaders of that party ; if they were, I should be one of the first to say it was high time that the Government interfered to check a liberty which manifested itself only in enslaving others.

Among the greatest evils of which the Transylvanian [236] peasant has to complain, is the absence of any strict and well-defined code of laws to which he can refer, and, in consequence of that deficiency, his almost entire subjection to the arbitrary will of his master, against which he has nothing but custom to urge in defence. The peasant-land too, has never been classed here as in Hungary, according to its powers of production, nor has the size of the peasant's portion, or fief, been ever accurately determined. The amount of labour therefore, cannot bo fairly and legally proportioned to the quantity and value of the land. Nor is the amount of labour itself better regulated. In some parts of the country it is common to require two days a week; in others, and more generally, three are demanded; and in some the landlord takes as much as he can possibly extract out of the half-starved creatures who live under him. Here, too, the flogging-block is in full vigour; every landlord can order any of his tenants or servants, who may displease him, twenty-five lashes on the spot, and it is generally the first resource which occurs to him in any disputes about labour or dues. But it is in the hands of the underlings, the stewards, bailiffs, inspectors, -- a flock of hawks which infest every Hungarian estate, -- that this power becomes a real scourge to the poor peasant. It is the custom to pay these officers an exceedingly small sum in ready money, as a salary, so small indeed that it would be impossible for [237] them to live decently upon it; it is consequently obliged to be made up by the addition of some land, or by the permission to feed a certain number of cattle, or horses, or to sell a certain quantity of corn on their own account. Now to cultivate this land, or to carry this corn to market, labour is required, and this they generally manage to get out of the peasantry without payment, either by threats of punishment for slight or imaginary offences, or by applying for themselves what ought to be given to their masters. Generally both these means are used, -- the master is robbed, and the peasant ill-treated.

From the manner in which estates are commonly divided in Transylvania, it is nearly impossible for the landlords to escape from the clutches of these bailiff's. Every son has an equal share in the male estates, and every child in the female estates of a family. This equality of right in each individual estate, is often the cause of great inconvenience, for the same person might have a few acres only in twenty different villages, when the expense and difficulty of management would exceed the revenue. Of course, the most natural remedy is an equitable division among the members of the family themselves ; and, where this can be effected, it is well ; but, where it cannot, their only remedy is cultivating in common, and dividing the profits. In such cases almost the entire management rests in the hands of the stewards, and this complication, [238] together with the endless law-suits to which it gives rise, is one of the greatest evils to which both the landlord and peasant of Transylvania are subject.

The ignorance of the Transylvanian peasant is of the deepest dye. He is generally superstitious and deceitful, the two greatest signs of ignorance. These qualities are most conspicuous in the Wallack peasantry, but the Magyars are by no means free from them. Schools are extremely rare. It is only here and there that they have been established by the good sense and liberality of the Seigneur, and even then they have often failed for want of a little caution and perseverance in those who have conducted them. The peasants belonging to the Greek church are undoubtedly the most ignorant, those of the Unitarian and Lutheran churches, the best educated.

We entered some of the Magyars' cottages at Hadad, and though they were superior to the Wallack huts of Várhely, they were still very inferior to those we had visited in Hungary. It is rare that the Transylvanian peasant's cottage has more than two rooms, sometimes only one; his furniture is scanty and rude, his crockery coarse, and those little luxuries, which in the Hungarian denoted a something beyond the needful, are rarely seen in Transylvania. There is an air of negligence too about his house; his fence is broken, his stable out of repair, and everywhere there is a want of that [239] thrifty look which declares that a man thinks he has something worth taking care of, and hopes to make it better.

The peasants of the Szilágyság have not the best of characters. Though allowed to be fine, brave, independent fellows, they are reckoned among the most desperate rogues in the country. No Szilágyság man thinks it a disgrace to have been flogged, but, to have shrunk under a flogging.

The life of a country gentleman in Transylvania, though somewhat isolated by his distance from any large capital, and by the badness of the roads, is by no means without its pleasures. For the sportsman, a large stud of horses -- few men have less than from ten to twenty, -- every variety of game from the boar and wolf, to the snipe and partridge, and a boundless range for hunting over, are valuable aids for passing time. If a man likes public business, the county will readily choose him Vice Ispan or magistrate, and the quarterly county-meetings are a constant source of interest, and afford ample opportunity of exercising influence. If agriculture has any charms, some thousands of unfilled acres offer abundant scope for farming, and promise a rich return for capital. If philanthropy has claims on his heart, the peasantry, who look up to him for almost everything, afford a fine scope for its effusions, and a certain reward if judiciously and continuously exercised.

The houses of the richer nobles are large and [240] roomy, and their establishments are conducted on a scale of some splendour. It is true, that they are deficient in many things which we should consider absolute necessaries, but on the other hand they exhibit many luxuries which we should consider extravagant with twice their incomes. It is no uncommon thing, for instance, in a one-storied house with a. thatched-roof and an uncarpeted floor, to be shown into a bed-room where all the washing apparatus and toilet is of solid silver. It is an evcry-day occurrence in a house, where tea and sugar are considered expensive luxuries, to sit down to a dinner of six or eight courses. Bare white-washed walls and rich Vienna furniture; a lady decked in jewels which might dazzle a Court, and a handmaid without shoes and stockings; a carriage and four splendid horses, with a coachman whose skin peeps out between his waitcoat and inexpressibles, are some of the anomalies which, thanks to restrictions on commerce, absence of communication, and a highly artificial civilization in one part of the community, and great barbarism in the other, are still to be found in Transylvania. It is not, however, in such houses as the one in which we were visiting, that such anomalies are to be sought, but rather in those who boast themselves followers of the "good old customs of the good old times." But laugh as we young ones may at those "old times," it is not altogether without reason that the epithet of "good," so pertinaciously clings to them. There [241] is something so sincere and so simple in the manners of those times, -- when an Englishman wishes to express his idea of them he calls them homely, and in that word he understands all that his heart feels to be dearest and best, -- that see them where we may, they have always something to attach and interest us.

In some of the old-fashioned houses in Transylvania, there is still almost a patriarchal simplicity in the habits of the family. An early hour sees all the children, from the eldest to the youngest, -- ay, the married ones too -- proceed in due order of progcniture to the presence of their parents, whose hands they respectfully kiss and from whom they receive the morning blessing. After a simple breakfast of one small cup of coffee and cream, and a slice of dry bread, the family disperses for the business of the day. The children are left to their masters and governesses -- and, oh, what a nuisance those same masters and governesses are; I have heard of no less than six living in one family in the country at the same time. The master of the house takes his meerschaum, ready filled and lighted from the hands of his servant, and sallies out, accompanied by his steward, bailiffs, and overseer, to give directions for the cultivation of his estate, or to settle the lawsuits of his peasantry; or, perhaps, the county-meeting calls him into town, and then he wraps himself up in his bunda, gets into his carriage, and four fat horses [242] convey him to his destination. Or it may be, the doctor has come over to see after the health of the family, and the seigneur takes that opportunity to lead him round the village, that he may bleed and physic all those who have wanted it for the last three months, or who are likely to want it for the next three months to come.36 Or, perhaps, some quarrels amongst the peasantry, or some disobedience to his orders, have provoked the terrible anger of the master, and lie at once assumes the authority of the judge, and condemns and punishes, where he himself is a party in the cause. Or, perhaps, the Jew merchant humbly waits an audience, and with shining gold tempts him to dispose of the coming vintage. And then the stables have to be visited, and the cooper to be hurried for the vintage, and the gipsies in the brickyard to be corrected.

36 A worthy old Baron, now dead, used to have the doctor over every spring and autumn with a waggon-load of herbs. These herbs, duly decocted and distilled, were administered to the whole family and village, which were then considered sound for six months to come.

But, if the occupations of the lord are many, who shall tell the busy cares and troubles oF the lady of the "good old times?" With not less than one hundred mouths to provide food for daily, with no resources of a market-town near at hand, with stores, consequently, of provisions for six months to be taken care of, and these provisions too of a [243] variety37 and quantity such as English housekeepers can form no idea of, and which 1 unfortunately, am very inadequate to describe; with a crowd of servants, including artificers38 of various kinds, to superintend and direct, the multiplicity of her duties may be indistinctly guessed. If somewhat less elegant, and less accomplished than the more fashionable ladies of the capital, these worthy housewives are never deficient in that respectable dignity which a strict performance of the duties of their station confers.

37 Among other objects strange to us, might he mentioned the collection of snails. The large wood-snail is a favourite dish here, and a very good one it is. The snails are drawn out of the shell, cut small with a kind of savoury stuffing, and served up replaced in the shell. As for their being disgusting, it is all fancy. I have seen delicate ladies relish snails exceedingly, who would have shuddered at the sight of a raw oyster. In some parts of Transylvania, instead of eggs and fowls, the peasants pay their tribute in snails and game. One lady's ordinary winter supply was upwards of five thousand snails.
38 In some houses, the weaver and tailor are hired servants; and in most, the cooper, baker, and smith. R 2

At one, the old-fashioned family, even of the present day, assemble in the drawing-room, and proceed to dinner. It is rarely that they sit down without some guest; for, whoever of their acquaintance happens to be travelling near, always manages to drop in about dinner-time, as he knows he will be well-received; indeed, his passing by without stopping, would be considered an insult. And a goodly sight is that hospitable board, for it is [244] crowded by those who might otherwise be ill provided for. Besides the family and guests, all the governesses and masters dine at table; and then there are three or four stewards and secretaries, and the clergyman of the village, or perhaps both clergyman and priest, and the poor schoolmaster, all of whom never dine at home when the seigneur is in the country.

The dinner, instead of being placed on the table, is carried round, that every one may help himself, each dish being first presented to the lady of the house who never fails to take a small portion by way of recommending it to her guests. As for telling the reader of what the dinner is composed, it is impossible ; but I can assure him, that both in quality and quantity, he must be very difficult to please who is not satisfied. The élite of the company retire to the drawing-room, after dinner, to partake of coffee and liqueur, while the inferior guests, who have not the entr&eeacute;e, make their bows and depart. When speaking of the occupations of the ladies of Transylvania, it would be very ungrateful were I to omit their talent in making liqueurs; some of the home-made liqueurs of Transylvania equal the best marasquinos and curaçoas in flavour. A drive out in the cool of the evening in summer, and embroidery, cards, books, and conversation, with the interlude of a gouté composed of fruits, preserves, savoury cold meats, and, now-a-days, tea, and at [245] nine, a supper nearly as large as the dinner, complete the occupations of a day in the country in Transylvania.

But it is high time I returned to our travels. Baron W------ kindly offered to accompany us to Nagy Bánya, just beyond the north frontier of Transylvania, to visit the gold mines there. It is a good day's journey, even in summer, and the only chance of accomplishing it at this season, was by sending on beforehand, half way, a light carriage, so that the horses might be rested, and ready to go forward directly we arrived.

We started on horseback; and after a delightful ride, sometimes winding through fine forests of oak, now crossing a rich green meadow, now losing ourselves and making straight across the country for the nearest village, to inquire our way, and now toiling along a muddy lane where the horses sunk almost up to the middle in the mire, we at last arrived where the carriage was waiting for us. The greatest drawback to the pleasure of such a ride is the danger of injuring one's horse in crossing the rude wooden bridges which are thrown over the brooks in this country. They are composed of unhewn stems of trees laid side by side with a coating of soil over them. From accident or carelessness, nothing is more common than to find a considerable interstice between these stems, which is concealed by the soil, and so becomes a veritable pitfall. My horse put [246] his foot into one of these, and sank up to the shoulder; but, fortunately, he escaped without injury.

In the course of our ride, in a small valley a little off the road, the Baron showed me a colony of gipsies, -- permanent, as he said, in contradistinction to others who are always erratic, -- who occupy a little land, and do him some work for it. The reader may have remarked that T do not hesitate here, as well as in other parts of this Work, to speak of the Czigány of the Hungarians by the English name of gipsies, for it is impossible to doubt their identity. There is the same dark eye and curling black hair, the same olive complexion and small active form. Then their occupations and manner of life, different as are the countries and climates they inhabit, still remain the same; fiddling, fortune-telling, horse-dealing, and tinkering are their favourite employments, -- a vagabond life their greatest joy. Though speaking several tongues, they have all a peculiar language of their own, quite distinct from any other known in Europe. Here, as with us, they have generally a king too, whom they honour and respect, but I have not been able to make out what establishes a right to the gipsy crown. I believe superior wealth, personal cunning, as well as hereditary right, have some influence on their choice.

They first made their appearance in this country from the East, about the year 1423, when King [247] Sigmund granted them permission to settle.39 Joseph the Second tried to turn them to some account, and passed laws which he hoped would force them to give up their wandering life and betake themselves to agriculture. The landlords were obliged to make them small grants of land, and to allow them to build houses at the end of their villages. I have often passed through these Czigány város, gipsy towns, and it is impossible to imagine a more savage scene. Children of both sexes to the age of fourteen, are seen rolling about with a mere shred of covering, and their elders with much less than the most unfastidious decency requires. Filth obstructs the passage into every hut. As the stranger approaches, crowds of black urchins flock round him, and rather demand than beg for charity. The screams of men and women, and the barking of dogs -- for the whole tribe seems to be in a state of constant warfare -- never cease from morning to night. It is rare, however, that when thus settled, they can remain the whole year stationary ; they generally disappear during a part of the summer, and only return when winter obliges them to seek a shelter. Others wander about as they do with us, [248] gaining a livelihood, as accident throws it in their way. They are said to amount to sixty-two thousand three hundred and fifteen in Transylvania.40 The Austrian Government, I believe, is the only one in Europe which has been known to derive any advantage from its gipsies, but by means of the tax for gold washing, to which we shall allude hereafter, it must derive a considerable revenue from this people. They are often taken for soldiers, and are said to make pretty good ones. Most of them are christened and profess some religion, which is always the seigneur's -- not the peasants' -- of the village to which they belong. In fact the gipsies have a most profound respect for aristocracy, and they are said to be the best genealogists in the country.

39 In Hungarian law they are called "new peasants." The name of Pharoah nepek, Pharaoh's people, I imagine has been given either from contempt, or error. The name Czigámy, by which the Hungarians call them, is so like the Zingari, Zigeuner, Gitani, Gipsy, of other nations, that I have no doubt it is the one they originally gave themselves.
40 This enumeration, is taken from a very imperfect statistical work, on Transylvania by Lebrecht, and is, I suspect, exaggerated.

Their skill in horse-shoeing, -- they are the only blacksmiths in tbe country, -- and in brick-making, renders them of considerable value to the landlord. What is the exact state of the law with respect to them, I know not; but I believe they are absolute serfs in Transylvania. I know the settled gipsies cannot legally take permanent service out of the place they were born in, without permission, or without the payment of a certain sum of money.41

41In Wallachia, when I was there, they were sold as slaves in the open market. I believe this law has been since abolished.

They are just as groat beggars here as elsewhere, and just as witty in their modes of begging. A large party of them presented themselves one day at the door of the Countess W------, whom they used to call the mother of the gipsies, from her frequent charities to them, with a most piteous complaint of cold and hunger -- all the children, as usual, naked ; when the chief pulling a sad face, begged hard for relief; "for lie was a poor man," he said, "and it cost him a great deal to clothe so large a family."

Of the most simple moral laws they seem to be entirely ignorant. It is not rare to see them employed as servants in offices considered below the peasant to perform. They never dream of eating with the rest of the household, but receive a morsel in their hands, and devour it where they can. Their dwellings are the merest huts, often without a single article of furniture. Having such difficulty in supporting themselves, as is manifested in their wasted forms, one cannot help wondering how they can maintain the pack of curs which always infest their settlements, and often render it dangerous to approach them. By the rest of the peasantry they are held in most sovereign contempt. As I was travelling along the road one day, after my return from Turkey, my servant turned round as we met a camp of gipsies, and exclaimed, "After all, sir, our negroes are not so ugly as those in Turkey."


On arriving at a village about half-way to Nagy Bánya, we found the servants had laid the table at a miserable cottage, though the best in the place, when quickly despatching the good dinner which was waiting for us, we got into the waggon and hastened on as fast as we could. It was night, however, before we reached our destination; and we had an opportunity of proving the inconveniences of travelling in the dark, in such a country; for, in passing a small overflow, the waggon sunk on one side into a deep hole, and quietly overturned us all into the water. We escaped with no other injury than a good wotting, which we managed to rectify by means of the liqueur-bottle, which S------ had instinctively grasped in the fall, and so secured from injury.

Nagy Bánya, is rather a pretty little town, with a large square and some buildings, so good, that one wonders how they could ever have got there. The country round ic is mountainous, and some of the valleys in the neighbourhood are exceedingly pretty. The mining district, of which Nagy Bánya forms the chief place, extends for a considerable space around it; but, though still rich in ores, it is much less important than some others we have visited. The most interesting of the mines is that of the Kreutzberg, close by the town, which, having been worked by the Romans, and afterwards deserted, has been re-opened within the last eighty years, and now yields a considerable return. We entered it [251] by a fine adit, which will soon be fit for horse waggons. Traces of the beautiful Roman work were visible on every side. We found them working a new vein, or rather an offset from the old one, which was tolerably rich, and seemed to offer good prospects of continuance. The centner of ore contains about eight ounces of silver, and every ounce of silver forty denarii of gold. The Kreutz-berg produces about four marks of gold per month. The matrix is generally porphyry. To free the mine from water, an eight-horse wheel working a pump is kept in constant motion. Not many years since, a skeleton, supposed to be the remains of an ancient miner, together with some tools, and a Roman lamp, was found in this mine.

The most interesting object connected with the Kreutzberg, is a vast cleft which penetrates from the surface to a depth of three hundred and eighty yards, and which extends twelve hundred yards in length, and is six feet wide. When this cleft was produced is not known; but, if I remember rightly, there is reason to believe it was since the time of the Romans.

We visited the smelting-works, which are situated somewhat higher up the valley, and found them in a better condition than almost any others we had seen.

The chief products of these mines, are gold and silver, the amount of which I have seen stated, the former, at four hundred marks per an., the latter, [252] at eighteen thousand marks. Besides these some copper, load, and iron are produced. The officers on the spot could not give us the net amount of these products per an., for the gold and silver arc sent off from Nagy Bánya to Kremnitz every month, in a single mass, and are only separated when they arrive there. Of the mixed metal, they say about twelve hundred marks are produced every month, which would reduce the amount considerably lower than that given above.

Mining is one of those tempting speculations, which it is very hard for persons living in a mining country to resist; yet it is just one of the most dangerous, for those ignorant of its mysteries, to meddle with. To the scientific miner, I have no doubt, Transylvania offers certain wealth; but to a country gentleman, who puts his money into a mine much as he would into a lottery, it is a pretty certain loss. A member of our friend's family had fallen into this snare, and we had intended to visit the mine; but we heard such a poor report of it, that it was not thought worth the time. In fact, a steward, who had been dismissed for dishonesty, had begged to be employed to conduct a mine, which he declared, after a very small outlay for the first year, would not only pay itself, but soon produce a very handsome return. From a mistaken feeling of kindness the request was granted ; and now, after three years' working, no return could be heard of.


On our way back to Hadad the next day, we began to feel extremely hungry, and our horses seemed quite ready for a rest about one o'clock, at which hour we found ourselves near a village where there was no inn. "Never mind," said the Baron, "we have got plenty of cold fowls and ham, and wine; and the coachman has not forgotten some corn for his horses, so that we shall not starve. But, as it would not be pleasant to sit and oat our dinner here, -- (the snow was beginning to fall,) -- we will go to that house," pointing to a gentleman's house at the other end of the village; "for though the master is not at home, and I know him very slightly, I am sure the servants will he very glad to let us in." When we drove up to the door, the servants no sooner heard our wishes, than they opened the dining-room and offered us anything they had, as if it had been a matter of course. The horses were put up in the stable, and the coachman bought some more corn of the bailiff and gave thorn a double feed. The absence of inns renders this kind of hospitality an absolute duty, and no one hesitates to avail himself of it when in need.

Though it was yet scarcely the middle of November, the snow fell so heavily that every one declared it was setting in for winter, and we were glad, therefore, to get back to Klausenburg as quickly as we could. It was melancholy to see the peasants up to the knees in snow, searching for [254] the grapes which were not half gathered. It is reckoned that a great part of this rear's vintage will be entirely lost. By following a longer, but better road, we were enabled to reach Klausenburg in two days, with no other accident than the breaking of some iron-work of the carriage, which we were able to supply by means of ropes.

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