Every movement on the part of the people had for its object, the establishment of a perfect nationality in Bohemia;—the leaning of the court was, perhaps naturally, towards Austrianism. Maximilian, Rodolph II., and for a time Matthias, gave, indeed, no countenance to the latter; but Matthias's constancy seems, in the end, to have been overcome. The Jesuits never ceased to keep in view the ultimate ascendancy of their own order, and they quite understood that to accomplish this, it would be necessary to crush the spirit of independence in Bohemia altogether. Both parties took the alarm; each made its movement to counteract the other, and the results were such as I have described. The Emperor Matthias, supported by the Catholic nobility and the Jesuits of the Clementinum, insisted on nominating his own successor, in the person of Ferdinand II.; the States, to which adhered the Carolinum, and all that were Protestants in Bohemia, protested against so gross a violation of their rights. Then followed an insurrection, the expulsion of the Jesuits from the kingdom, and a demand that neither the university nor any other seminary of education, should again be subject to the control of that order. And finally began that terrible struggle which crushed the liberties, as well civil as religious, of the Bohemians. For Ferdinand, not content to scotch the snake, never rested till it had ceased to be. The Carolinum, with all its endowments, privileges, and libraries, was handed over to its rival. Protestantism was declared to be extinct; and the gibbet, and the stake, and confiscations, and banishments, rendered the decree, in due time, more than an idle boast. There is, probably, no instance on record of an extirpation of a religious creed more absolute than that which the Jesuits effected of Protestantism in Bohemia. It was entirely put out, and has never since so far revived, as to embrace one-hundredth part of the population within the compass of its rays.
From the close of the war the University of Prague assumed the title of the Carlo-Ferdinandian Institution. In one of its branches, indeed,—the Carolinum,—the professors' chairs stood vacant for twelve years, and the building itself was shut up. But at the termination of that period it was reopened, and it has continued ever since to be the seminary in which instruction in the faculties of law and of medicine is communicated. For theology, and moral and abstract philosophy, on the other hand, the student must needs repair to the Clementinum; over which, till the suppression of the order by Joseph II., the Jesuits presided. Nor has the downfall of that most ambitious and subtle body, worked any important change in the constitution of the university. The Carolinum is still the laymen's college; the Clementinum the place of education for the divine,—who seems to be returning, with rapid strides, at least in Prague, to what he used to be while yet Jesuitism was in full vigour.
Such is an outline of the great historical events of which a visit to these two edifices is sure to remind the traveller. Of the buildings themselves, as well as of the system of education that is pursued within their walls, I have very little to say. The Carolinum, entirely remodelled by the Jesuits, retains no resemblance, even in its external features, to what it was at the period when Huss presided over its affairs. It is a handsome pile, doubtless; but all traces of its Gothic architecture are swept away, and in its very dimensions it is changed. The Clementinum, on the contrary, has grown, both in importance and bulk; for it occupies the site of two churches, of a Dominican convent, and of several streets and squares, which were pulled down in order to make room for it. Of its noble halls the interior decoration is altogether Italian; and its library, its museum, its cabinets, and scientific collections, are, at least, worth seeing.
Education in Bohemia, as well as in the other provinces of the Austrian empire, goes on under the strict and unceasing surveillance of the police. The clergy, in spite of what travellers assert to the contrary, have no control over it at all; except so far as they may possess influence enough with the government to recommend such text-books as are adopted in the various seminaries. It was whispered, indeed, in Prague, that since the accession of the present emperor, the clergy have, in this respect, made large strides upwards; and it is very certain that Jesuitism is not what it was some years ago,—a profession which men esteemed it prudent to conceal. But however this may be, as the nomination to vacant chairs in the university is vested in the Board of Education at Vienna, so by the head of the police it is determined by what process eminent philosophers, and divines, and lawyers, shall be fabricated. In like manner the period of attendance on each class,—or, to speak more accurately, the space of time which is necessary to complete an academical course,—is not left either to the discretion of the professors, or to the talent and industry of their pupils. In the first place, the youth, to be admitted, must show that he has attended one of the public schools for three years, at the least. He must bring with him also a slender stock of German, arithmetic, mathematics, Greek, and Latin; which for six years more he labours only to increase. Then comes a fresh distribution of the students, who, throughout these protracted periods, have gone on together; but, who now pass off into the schools of law, and medicine, and divinity, according to the nature of the professions for which they are respectively intended. The candidates for the cope and the judge's chair complete the course in four years more. From the incipient Esculapius six years professional study is demanded. It is worthy of remark, that not a single lecture is delivered in the vernacular language of the country. German is, indeed, employed, where Latin may have grown into disrepute; but the Bohemian is a dialect of which the use seems restricted to the very lowest and most despised of the peasantry.
It would be idle to conceal that the extreme vigilance of the government in these respects, and, still more, its bigoted hostility to everything which might recall the recollection of Bohemian independence, has given great umbrage to the thinking portion of the people. I have conversed with persons in every rank, and I found none who spoke of it except in bitterness. But it is not by these means alone that the house of Austria endeavours to shield its Bohemian subjects from the infection of liberalized opinions. I had intrusted to me, before leaving London, an English book, which I was to forward or deliver to a gentleman of rank in the country. He would not send for it by the hands of a common messenger. He came in person many miles to receive it, "Because," said he, "one does not know what may happen, and it is best to avoid collision with the police." The book was a very harmless one,—it was only the first volume of Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott; but my friend did not consider that it would be prudent to make a parade of its reception. Again, I visited a gentleman in Prague, and found upon his table a number of the Foreign Quarterly Review. There was an article in it which bore upon the existing condition of Bohemia,—an able paper, on the whole, though here and there inaccurate. I conversed with him about it; and, having an hour to spare, I accepted his offer to carry it to my hotel, and there read it. "When you send it back," said he, "be so good as wrap it carefully up in paper. We don't know where we are safe, in this country; and your Foreign Quarterly is not one of the favoured publications which we are licensed to import." What a pitiable state of existence is this,—what a perfect bondage of mind, for which the utmost security to person and property can never make amends.
THE JEWS' TOWN. VISITS TO VARIOUS POINTS WORTH NOTICING. STATE OF PUBLIC FEELING.
I have devoted so much more of space than I had intended to the university, and the associations connected with it, that I must be content to describe in few words, such other objects as appeared to me most deserving of notice in Prague. Prominent among these is the Juden Stadt, or City of the Jews; of which I may state, at the outset, that, of all the extraordinary scenes in which I have ever been an actor, there are few which, more than my visit to the Jews' Quarter of Prague, have left upon my mind so vivid and lasting an impression. Let the reader imagine to himself, if he can, the effect of a sudden transition from the pomp and splendour of a great capital into a suburb of mean and narrow streets, choked up with the litter of old rags, broken furniture, and cast-off clothes hung out for sale; where are aged women asleep in their chairs,—young ones nursing infants, or, it may be, perfecting their own unfinished toilets; men, squalid and filthy, with long beards, flowing robes, and all the other appurtenances which usually belong to their race; children in a state of nudity; turbaned heads, features thoroughly Oriental; tarnished finery, books, music, and musical instruments, scattered about; everything, in short, whether animate or inanimate, as entirely in contrast with what you have just left behind, as you might expect to find it, were you transported suddenly into some region of the earth, of the very existence of which you had previously been ignorant. I have passed through the classic regions of St. Giles, the Seven Dials, and Rag Fair. I have gone, in my youth, under the escort of a police officer, the round of all the most degraded corners of London; yet have I never beheld a sight, which, in all that is calculated to bewilder, if not to outrage, the senses, could bear one moment's comparison with what the Juden Stadt brought before me. I confess that the first feeling excited was a vague idea, that to proceed further might compromise our personal safety. Yet I defy any one who has penetrated but a few yards down the passage, to abstain from going on. There is about you, on all sides, an air of novelty, such as it is impossible to resist; and you march forward, wondering, as you move, whether you be awake or in a dream.
The establishment of a Jewish colony in Prague is said to be coeval with the foundation of the city itself. From age to age, moreover, the sons of Israel have inhabited the same quarter,—namely, a suburb which, running in part along the margin of the Moldau, is approached from the Alt Stadt, by the street of which I have just spoken. Here dwell they, to the number of eight or ten thousand, in a state of complete isolation from the Christian myriads which surround them, inhabiting flats, and in many cases, single apartments, by whole families; and appearing to rejoice in the filth and neglect to which the Christians have consigned them. The streets in their suburb are all narrow and mean, and devoid of ornament; the stalls, with the articles which the chapmen expose upon them, are scattered up and down in utter confusion; the shops—mere recesses—have Hebrew inscriptions over them, and the entire population, when I went among them, seemed to be abroad. One building, and one only, does indeed deserve to be visited: I allude to the synagogue, the oldest of its class, perhaps, in Europe; a strange edifice, above the floor of which the soil has gathered to such a height, that to enter it, you are forced to descend a flight of steps. I must endeavour to describe it, though conscious that description must utterly fail to convey a correct idea of the original.
The Old Synagogue, as it is called, a structure of the twelfth century, is essentially Gothic in the leading points of its architecture, but so loaded with Byzantine ornaments as to resemble no other edifice of a similar date which I, at least, have seen in Europe. It is thoroughly Oriental in its character, fantastic in its proportions, and little likely to be mistaken, under any circumstances, for a Christian church. The interior is not less remarkable, whether we look to the productions of the builder's skill, or to the arrangements which have been made for the purposes of worship and study. A lofty vault, supported upon three Gothic pillars, which spring from the middle of the area, and meet in pointed arches at the roof, it is lighted only by a range of lancet-shaped windows, which being elevated above the floor to the height of forty or fifty feet, throw down a few broken rays upon your head, just sufficient to render the darkness visible, but not to dispel it. By this uncertain glimmer, you perceive, after a while, that walls, and pillars, and roof, are black with the dust of ages; and that every thing around you bears testimony to the gloomy nature of the reverence which these stubborn Israelites pay to the God who has discarded them. Beneath the arch of the pillars there is a raised platform, where desks and stools are placed for the accommodation of the rabbins, and the pupils who come hither to study the Law. At the extremity of the vault stands the altar, the silver candlestick, with its many branches, surmounting it, while from the roof hang seven silver lamps, to "give light," according to the Divine injunction, "over against the candlestick." I exceedingly regretted to find that the day on which I inspected this pile was not a holy season in the Juden Stadt. Some doctors and students there were, on the platform, whose attention seemed engrossed by the occupation in which they were engaged; and their picturesque dresses, flowing beards, and stubborn and haughty expressions of countenance, accorded well with the localities by which they were surrounded. But the business of prayer was not in progress, and the sacred Book of the Law lay hidden.
From the Synagogue we passed into the old cemetery, which lies contiguous to it, and looked round upon a picture of desolation more stern than the dream of the poet has perhaps ever conjured up. Extensive as the plot of ground is, there is not, throughout its compass, one foot of level soil. Graves, trodden partially down, pointed grave-stones that are sloping and falling in every direction,—these, with a wilderness of alder trees, which, whether planted by the hand of man, or sown by the winds of heaven, overshadow the crumbling tombs, constitute altogether a fitting monument to the desolate condition and broken fortunes of the Hebrew race. Yet may you easily enough distinguish, from the devices that are engraved on each of them, the rank and condition of many of those who sleep beneath these grave-stones. The lion of Judah, the upraised hands of the house of Aaron, the Nazarite's bunch of grapes, are all here; while the graves of the rabbins are, as elsewhere, adorned, each with a sort of cenotaph. The Jews have, for some time, ceased to bury in this mass of human dust. It was filled, and filled, till it could contain the bones of no more; and now their dead are carried to a new cemetery, removed a short distance beyond the city walls.
According to their own traditions, the quarter of Prague which the Jews now occupy was possessed by their ancestors long before the destruction of Jerusalem. We may credit this statement or not, just as we please; but it seems admitted, on all hands, that if they dwelt not where we now find them, previous to the foundation of the city, they were among the earliest of the colonists who repaired to it. Many and severe changes of fortune they have indeed undergone. Plundered, oppressed, more than once expelled by violence, they have yet returned, again and again, to the home of their adoption, and they are now treated, if not respectfully, at least mildly, and on the whole, justly, by their Christian rulers. I must add, moreover, to this account of their suburb, that the more wealthy members of their community do not now make their dwellings there. These generally inhabit houses in the better part of the city, and having the command of a large proportion of the floating capital of the country, they receive such marks of deference as the rich, under the most unfavourable circumstances, contrive to exact from the poor.
Among other objects in the Alt Stadt, which make powerful demands on the traveller's notice, the Rath-haus, or ancient Town-hall, and the Thein Kirche, stand conspicuously forward. The former is a quaint, irregular Gothic pile, in a very dilapidated state, of which the Council-chamber is fine, in its degree, and the little chapel curious. It was here, that in 1420, the leaders of the Taborites assembled, their followers being gathered together in the Grosse Ring, or square beneath, and at the tolling of a bell, the whole sallied forth to commit those excesses which, both in Bohemia and elsewhere, have cast such discredit on the dawn of the Reformation. It was in a dungeon beneath the Rath-haus that the Emperor Wenzel IV. suffered, in the year 1403, a fifteen weeks' imprisonment; and it was in the square, on which the windows of the hall look out, that the jousts and tournaments of the knightly age were carried forward. Of the latter again, which fronts the Rath-haus, and so occupies a conspicuous position in the same square, why should I say more than has been said already? Here, in 1458, the states assembled to elect to the vacant throne the virtuous George of Podiebrad; here Huss preached, and John of Rokysan taught; and Tycho Brahe found here the last resting-place which is allotted to mortality. There is a rude monument to him,—a figure in armour, carved in relief, against one of the pillars near the altar; and over it is engraved the astronomer's motto, Esse quam haberi. It is remarkable enough that as in this church the communion was first administered in both elements to the people, so is there still to be found here the single memorial that remains of the privileges which were once so dearly prized, and so hardly won. The service of the Roman Catholic church is performed here in the Bohemian language; and the congregations which attend to take part in it are enormous.
From the Alt Stadt you pass to the Neu Stadt by a street called Graben, across the site of which was, in ancient days, a ditch, but of which, as well as of the rampart that surmounted it, not a trace now remains. It is a clean, airy, well-built portion of Prague, and embraces the old town within a sort of semicircle, of which the extremities reach, on either side, to the Moldau. Here the Military Hospital,—once a college of the Jesuits,—will naturally attract attention, both on account of the elegance of its structure, and the uses to which it is turned. It has a noble facade, which measures upwards of six hundred feet in length, a chapel, a hall, and accommodation for four hundred invalids, whose wants, though attended to, are certainly not prevented with the care which distinguishes a similar institution among ourselves. The old soldiers made, it is true, no complaints. They seemed, on the contrary, perfectly satisfied with their condition,—all, at least, except one,—who, strange to say, had served in the 97th British regiment for seventeen years, ere he entered the service of Austria; and even he said very little. He was a German, had been discharged in consequence of a wound, after fighting in Egypt and the Peninsula, had then entered the Austrian army, and was now enjoying his otium in Prague. I learned from him that the rate of allowance to each man, was a suit of clothes once in four years, one pair of shoes and one pair of soles per annum, a quarter of a pound of meat with twice as much black bread daily, and no wine. Had he gone upon what we should call the out-pension, his subsistence would have amounted to three-pence,—of our money,—per day.
There are several churches and convents in the same quarter of Prague; but none which much repay the trouble of inspecting them. That of St. Emaus is, perhaps, the most interesting, both because it is the oldest, being of the date 1348, and because here some traces of frescoes, which escaped the Hussite violences, may be found. But except for these, and a few of the trophies that were taken at the battle of the White Mountain, it will not strike the visitor as, in any respect, remarkable. It is not here, indeed, nor in the Alt Stadt neither, that the curious in such matters will seek for gratification. He who loves to muse amid the cloisters of a monastery, or delights to recreate himself amid the "Temple's holy gloom," will find the freest scope for the indulgence of his humours, on the opposite side of the Moldau; and as our tastes reverted to that channel, after sufficient time had been devoted to other matters, it may not be amiss if I state some of the occurences that befell during our second visit to the Hradschin and the Strahow.
Not far from the cathedral, and, as a necessary consequence, adjoining to the palace, are two objects which put in strong claims to notice. One is a Loreto chapel, built on the model of that which has so often changed its resting-place; the other is the convent of St. Lawrence, within which the chapel is erected. The latter,—an exact copy of that in the valley of the Misio,—is small, and dark in the interior, the shrine being lighted up only by the lamps which burn continually before the image of the Virgin. It is, however, rich in costly vestments and plate, and richer still in the reverence which the pious pay to it. The convent, again, is large, with fine cloisters, and some tolerable frescoes along the sides of them, and the monks, to do them justice, are exceedingly civil. My young companion expressed a wish to visit their cells, and it was instantly complied with: we were directed to pass round to another door, and there the porter took charge of us.
Our guide,—a squalid creature, with shaven crown, bare legs, sandaled feet, and a grizzly beard,—led us by a long passage first into the refectory. It was a hall of no great dimensions, meanly furnished with deal benches and tables, and surrounded on the walls, with some rude representations of the most loathsome and horrid martyrdoms. The tables were spread with wooden trenchers, each of which had a morsel of rye-bread beside it, and beneath each bench were rows of spit-boxes,—one being set apart for the use of each of the brothers. What the viands might be which were to fill the trenchers, I do not know; but the smell was not inviting, so we quitted the hall, and following our guide up stairs, were introduced into a cell. Its appearance entirely overthrew the theories which my young companion had nourished. A small, but neatly-furnished apartment, with a clean bed, a chest of drawers, and a quantity of flowers on the window-sill, by no means came up to the ideas which he had entertained of monastic asceticism; and when, over and above all this, he found more than a breviary and a crucifix within reach, namely, a sort of pocket-library and a lute, his astonishment found vent in words.
"Are monks allowed to indulge their taste for music?" asked he.
"Oh yes," was the reply; "Brother Franz is a great musician. It is he that always leads in the chanted grace before and after meals."
Brother Franz, however, was not present to answer for himself; so we continued our progress.
We desired to see the chapel; and as we approached it by a back stair, the notes of the organ that swelled along the passage, gave indication that some service was going on. We entered a gallery, whence, from behind the shelter of a screen, we could look down upon the chapel, and those that filled it. The congregation was both numerous and devout, and in the body of the pile, all were engaged in singing a requiem for a departed soul. On a bier in the middle aisle, stood a coffin, having a skull and cross-bones laid upon the pall, and over it hung a priest, whose gestures sufficiently indicated, that for the tenant of that narrow chamber he was supplicating. "This is some recent death?" demanded I; "some person of note is gone to his account, and you are praying that his sins may be pardoned?"
"No, sir," answered the monk, "the individual whose demise we this day commemorate, gave up the ghost an hundred years ago; but we are still bound to say masses for her soul. She has bequeathed property to secure this for ever."
"And is her body in that coffin?" demanded I.
"Not at all," was the answer; "these are but representations of what you take them for. That is not a coffin, neither are these a skull and cross-bones."
I could not help smiling, when this avowal was made with such perfect simplicity; and I went away surprised, that any such awkward endeavour to work upon the sympathies of the people, should be considered judicious.
Among other days of the week, we spent a Sunday in Prague; and a regard to truth compels me to state that the contrast which was presented by the mode of observing the Lord's Day there, to what we had witnessed in Protestant Saxony and Protestant Prussia, redounded very little to the honour of the latter countries. I need not observe that nowhere, on the continent of Europe, are the evenings of the Lord's Day devoted to other purposes than those of amusement. Whatever may be the national faith, whether Romish or Reformed, this is universally the case; but while in Saxony and Prussia the laws appear to sanction the total desecration of that day, even to the prosecution of men's ordinary employments, in Prague, and I am bound to add generally in popish Bohemia, no such desecration takes place. After a given hour, all classes put on their merriest bearing, it is true, and the clergy,—in Prague, a curious combination of stiffness and dandyism,—may be met every where; but till that time arrives, the offices of religion appear to engross all thoughts, for the shops are closed, and the streets deserted, except by persons passing to and from their several places of worship. How much more decent, to use no stronger expression, is this, than the sort of scenes which I had occasion to describe in a previous chapter,—how much better calculated to keep alive among the people some sense of religion, some respect at least for its external observances,—not entirely, it is to be hoped, unconnected with a regard for higher things than externals.
Why should I continue these details any further? We visited the theatre, with the music and acting in which we were greatly delighted; we dined on one of the islands in the Moldau, in the open air, in the midst of a crowd, beneath the canopy of heaven, and with a well-managed band to serenade us all the while; we spent an evening greatly to our own satisfaction, under the shade of the trees in the Thiergarten. We climbed the Strahow, inspected the monastery that crowns its summit, admired the fine library, and gazed with reverence on the autograph of Tycho Brahe; we wandered round the ramparts; we surveyed the field of the battle of Prague; we examined more minutely the ground on which Ziska had fought and conquered; we left nothing unexplored, in short, which we found that it was possible to bring within the scope of general observation; nor permitted any matter, concerning which curiosity had been excited, to pass without investigation. The result was a tolerably accurate acquaintance with every remarkable object in the place, not excepting Count Nositz's small but excellent gallery,—one of the most creditable collections of modern growth which I have seen. Neither did we fail to form acquaintance with the people, as well of the humbler as of the more exalted stations; of which the result, in every instance, was, that the favourable impression which had been made upon me, while wandering among the mountains, suffered no diminution. I found them to be,—in the city, not less than among the villages,—a kind-hearted, industrious, and most patient race. I saw, indeed, that they were not without their grounds of discontent, and that they felt their grievances keenly. The higher orders complained because the ancient capital of their native land had sunk into a mere provincial town. They pointed to palaces deserted and falling to decay, and said, with natural bitterness, that it ill became Bohemians of the best blood to prefer the pleasures of Vienna to the duty which they owed to their father-land. They spoke, too, indignantly of the centralizing system, of the ban that had gone forth against their beloved language, of the extinction of their privileges, and the efforts that are making, to blot out the very remembrance of their nationality. "But it will not succeed," was the usual termination of such harangues. "We have no idea of shaking off the yoke. We know that in the present state of Europe, Bohemia could not exist one year as an independent monarchy; but we shall never be content till the laws are everywhere administered in a language which is intelligible to the people, and we and they be permitted to exercise some control over our own affairs." In like manner, the humbler classes,—the shop-keeper, the mechanic, and the artisan,—spoke not unintelligibly of their altered condition, since the native nobility were their best customers, and taxation scarcely reached them. "But we are no longer a people now. The stranger rules us, the shackles are on our wrists;—what can we do?" Then would follow a shrug of the shoulders, a wink of the eye, and a hasty return to the sort of manner which a careless observer might easily mistake for the external proof of content, but which is, in fact, a disguise put on to hide feelings directly the reverse.
QUIT PRAGUE. JOURNEY TO BRUeNN BY KOeNIGGRATZ. STATE OF THE COUNTRY. BRUeNN. ITS PUBLIC BUILDINGS. ABSENCE OF THE MORAVIAN BRETHREN.
"Time runs his ceaseless course," and, agreeably as with us he had passed since our arrival in Prague, we began, after a week's sojourn there, to discover that it would be necessary to move onwards. It had been our anxious wish to proceed at once along the borders of Silesia into Hungary; and at Dresden we had endeavoured to have some such route marked out upon our passport, but we were not successful. For there is extreme jealousy on the part of the Austrian officials abroad, of granting free ingress and egress to and from Hungary; and we were recommended, in consequence, to proceed direct to Vienna, where the Hungarian Chancery would deal with us. We made another effort at Prague to obtain that which in Dresden had been refused us; but it availed us nothing. "We will pass you on to Koeniggratz, if you please," said the chief of police, "where the authorities, being nearer to the frontier, may be more in the habit of setting general regulations at defiance; or you may go to Bruenn, the capital of Moravia, and there fare better." We fancied that there might be something in these suggestions, and resolved to act upon them. Accordingly, having taken a last survey of the lordly city, and provided ourselves with arms,—a precaution which was everywhere pressed upon us, seeing that Hungary was our point of destination,—we committed ourselves to an extra-post, an agreeable and commodious vehicle, which holds two persons, and set out.
I have nothing whatever to say concerning our progress from Prague to the first of the resting places which were marked upon our chart. Not having any object to gain by delay, we performed the larger portion of the journey by night; and, at an early hour in the morning, found ourselves approaching the outer defences of a strongly fortified town. This was Koeniggratz,—a huge barrack, in which two or three battalions of infantry are usually quartered; and which contains, besides a state prison, a Gymnasium, or seminary of public instruction, and some churches. There was not much of promise in all this, neither did the spectacle of chained men working by gangs in the streets, greatly win upon us. We therefore abandoned, without hesitation, all idea of the proposed halt; and having ascertained that the police were immovable; that our passport being marked for Vienna and not for Hungary, they either would not, or could not, sanction a deviation from the beaten track,—we were fain to accept a vise for Bruenn, and to resume our former places in the interior of the diligence. Again, therefore, were we en voyage, at a rate more rapid than is at all agreeable to him who wishes to make acquaintance with a strange people. But for this there was no help; and we took the evil patiently, being comforted by the reflection, that, of the Bohemians we had already seen a great deal more than ever can be seen, except by such as adopt our unpretending system of travel.
From Koeniggratz to Bruenn, you pass through a country for which nature has done a great deal, and which the patient industry of its industrious inhabitants has not failed to improve. It is, generally speaking, a vast plain, with mountains in the distance; and, here and there, a rise and fall on its surface, which produce an exceedingly pleasing effect. There are many villages and small towns along the road-side; and everywhere the fields were, when I saw them, in the highest state of cultivation. Corn and meadow, with an occasional vineyard, spread themselves out before us, and were relieved, from time to time, by the introduction of a wood, disposed, as might almost seem, with a view to heighten the extreme beauty of the landscape. Had I abstained from holding converse with the inhabitants of that fair province, I should have quitted it in the full assurance that they were the most contented and happy people in the world. As it was, a regard to truth compels me to acknowledge that I found them very much the reverse.
It is not, I think, necessary for me to guard myself against the imputation of cherishing any undue preference for the democratic principle in the theory of government. Of all the tyrannies that exist, the tyranny of the mob is the most oppressive; nay, the very excess of freedom which gives to each individual the right of pestering all around him with his impertinences, is surely much more hard to endure than the occasional restraints which a strong police may impose. But an absolute and irresponsible monarchy is not a pleasant government to live under. Where men talk only in whispers; where they feel that their words must be weighed ere they utter them; where their single idea of the powers that be, is of an influence which oppresses, or keeps an eye of unsleeping vigilance upon their movements; where they are not permitted to form any judgment as to what is, or what is not, best for their social condition,—but imbibe, from childhood, one conviction only, that it is their wisdom to obey implicitly,—in such a state of society it is vain to look either for true dignity of individual character, or for the developement of powers which elevate both nations and private men in the scale of human perfectibility. Practically speaking, men may enjoy as much freedom of action as they could desire; and their persons and their property will alike be secured from violence; but there is not, nor can there be, real contentment anywhere,—no, not even in the highest stations of all,—those of the sovereign and his ministers.
I have been much struck in the course of my reading, with the pains which travellers take to assure us that the government of Austria is exceedingly paternal; and that the people who live under it harbour no wish that it should be curtailed in its prerogatives. When this is said both of the rulers and the ruled, as these show themselves in Austria Proper, I am not sure that there is much to be found fault with. The Austrians have always been treated by the house of Hapsburg as children are treated by their father; and being a light-hearted and most unthinking people, they are happy in the preference which is shown to them. But it is certainly not so in other portions of the empire. Of the Italian provinces I need say nothing. Of Hungary I shall not speak now, because other and better opportunities of doing so will arise; but with respect to the Bohemians, the impression left upon my mind is, that the iron has entered deeply into their souls. I have alluded elsewhere to the substance of conversations which I have held with nobles, and priests, and peasants. I have to record now what passed between myself and a fellow-traveller in the diligence,—a medical man, of strong good natural sense, and an education sufficiently enlarged. He was not slow in discovering that I was a foreigner; and on his demanding whence I came, I told him.
"Ah," said he, "you are the native of a free country. Everything which you witness here must surprise and shock you."
"Quite the reverse," was my answer. "I am charmed with the simple manners and apparently comfortable state of your population. I am delighted with the kindness and hospitality which I have received from your gentry; and, above all, I am glad to perceive that you all enjoy as much of practical liberty as the heart of man need desire."
"Where is this practical liberty?" replied he; "is it in the liability of the unprivileged classes to military service?—our total exclusion from the management of our own affairs?—our rigid subjection to the surveillance of the police—the restraint we are compelled to impose on our very speech?—the absence of all tribunals to which, when oppressed by the government, we can appeal?"
He was running on with a still longer list of grievances, when I stopped him. "No," said I, "it is not in these particulars that your practical freedom displays itself,—but in matters much more important, because of daily and hourly recurrence. You go out and come in when you will. You make choice of your own walk in life, and pursue it uninterruptedly. You are safe from injury to person and property. You have privileges, each of you, which no fellow-subject is permitted to invade. Are not these very great blessings, and are you not content?
"Privileges!" replied he, "where are they? Undoubtedly, I am permitted to practise medicine, under certain restrictions, exactly as the bouerman may till his ground, and the artisan fabricate his wares. But my privileges are those only which nature has given, and human laws cannot take away. I may eat when I am hungry, if I can find food; and drink when I am thirsty. But what am I, regarded as a citizen?—a hewer of wood, and drawer of water; a mere drudge. Let my talents and ambition be what they may, I can work out no opening for them. There are no privileges in the empire, except those enjoyed by the nobles; and even the nobles have, in point of fact, no rights which they can call their own."
"What do you mean?" replied I; "if by honest industry you acquire a fortune, you may purchase land, and take a settled station in society. The army is open to you, and the church;—what would you have?"
"I would have what you possess in England," answered he; "room to breathe freely; and a fair field in which to struggle even for the honours of life. The army is open to us, doubtless; but in the army, unless I be of noble descent, I cannot hope to rise above the rank of a captain, at the highest. The church is good for those who are willing to submit to its restraints, and play the hypocrite. I may purchase land, too, doubtless, as you say; but its possession will not confer upon me any, even of the ideal advantages, which are claimed and conceded to the penniless aristocrat. With us the line of nobility is so distinct and broad, that no human being can, unless the accident of birth have placed him on the sunny side of the hedge, overstep it. But this is not all. The nobles not only engross all places of trust, and profit, and honour, but they do not bear their just proportion in the burdens of the state. They pay hardly any taxes; whereas we of the cannaille are very heavily laden with them."
I saw from the tone of my fellow-traveller's discourse that he was exceedingly discontented, and I ventured to ask whether the sentiments to which he gave utterance, were generally entertained in Bohemia?
"By all orders and degrees of men," was his answer. "Even the nobles are dissatisfied, because the king holds his court at Vienna; and for the rest of us, you may depend upon it that we feel our degradation acutely."
"If it be as you represent," said I, "how comes it that there never occurs anything like an attempt to wrest by force from the government what it will not concede to reason?"
We were passing through a small town, or rather village, at the moment, and my companion bid me look out. I did so, and saw two or three groups of cuirassiers lounging about the street.
"These are the emperor's sureties for our good behaviour," observed he, with a smile; "twelve or fourteen thousand men at Prague,—three or four thousand at Koeniggratz,—a regiment at Tabor,—and squadrons scattered, as you see, through all the villages. Our poor peasants would hardly think of uttering a complaint in such a presence; and our nobles don't care to argue points with men who wear the sword."
I could only shrug up my shoulders, for I saw that he was, at least, so far in the right, that troops swarmed everywhere; and, without encouraging him to brood over his own misfortunes, whether real or imaginary, I was content to thank heaven that I had myself been born in a land where such grounds of complaint are unknown.
We stopped to dine at Leutomischl, a small, but prettily-situated town, with a schloss, or chateau, of which the style of architecture is exceedingly striking. It occupies the brow of a rising ground, just over the principal street; and with its profusion of minarets, reminded us rather of some Oriental palace, than of the residence of a Bohemian noble. But we had no time to examine it in detail; for even a German extra post has its appointed season of movement; and our conducteur, though abundantly civil, could not postpone it. Neither did there occur any other incident of which it is worth while to take notice, till, at six on the following morning, Bruenn, the capital of Moravia, received us within its walls.
There is not much in this city, independently of the historical associations which are connected with it, that is likely to detain the traveller many days, or to draw from him, after he has quitted it, a lengthened description of what he may have seen. It is built along the ascent of a steep hill, of which the summit is crowned by the cathedral, a pile distinguished, like the more antique of the Slavonian churches in general, by the great altitude of its nave. It is surrounded by a belt of suburbs, at once more regular in their construction, and much more populous than the town itself. To the north lies the hill of Spielberg, surmounted by a modern and unfinished redoubt, which having taken the place of the ancient citadel, is, and for many years back has been, used chiefly as a state prison. It was here that, during the reign of the Emperor Francis I., the unfortunate Silvio Pellico spent his long and dismal season of captivity. Here, too, Trenck, the famous leader of the Pandours, in the war of succession, suffered imprisonment. Here Mack, long suspected of treachery, underwent a severer punishment than his incapacity deserved; and here still linger captives from various provinces, whose offence, for the most part, is, that they pine to be free. This system of shutting men up in prison, without trial, or the pretence of trial, is very shocking. But I was glad to learn from the few who ventured to speak in a whisper, that the tenants of the dungeons of Spielberg are less numerous now than they used to be, and the time is not, in all probability, distant, when the practice of filling them at the caprice of a minister will be discontinued altogether.
Bruenn is the seat of some of the most extensive as well as valuable manufactories that anywhere exist in the Austrian dominions. The growth of these, it appears, was much fostered by the late emperor, and his memory is, in consequence, held in high veneration by the inhabitants. It is to this circumstance, indeed, more than to the military virtues which he displayed, that the erection of the obelisk on the Franzes Berg is owing; for though the inscription seem commemorative of the triumphs of the army in the later campaigns, the people tell you that Francis is held in honour solely because of the countenance which he gave to the works of peace. The articles produced here are thread, cloths, linen, and glass; and there is a manufactory of porcelain at a village about a mile distant.
It was market-day when we reached the town, and as the windows of our apartment commanded an excellent view of one of the chief streets, the scene which they opened out to us proved at once novel and interesting. Crowds of country people were congregated beneath, in all manner of grotesque costumes; while stalls of every description—some supporting clothes, some laden with fruit, some set out with china, or glass, or articles of cutlery, or shoes,—choked up the thoroughfare, to the manifest inconvenience of the few vehicles which made occasional efforts to pass. The dresses of the women, too, whose business it seemed to be to superintend the sale of the fruit, were strikingly national. They wore, each of them, a sort of jacket-fashioned boddice, made tight to the shape, a petticoat of yellow serge, which reached barely to the mid-calf, bright scarlet stockings, shoes that came up to the ankles, a handkerchief, which, passing over the head, was tied beneath the chin, white buckles, and hips enormously padded. Yet were they, upon the whole, a handsome race, with clear brunette complexions, and dark hazel eyes; and their good nature, as, one after another, they made inroads into our apartment, and pressed upon us their cherries, was something quite unusual. They perfectly succeeded in their object; for we ate many more black-hearts than did either of us any good, and bought a still greater quantity than we dreamed of consuming, simply because we were unable to resist entreaties that were pressed upon us so good humouredly.
Having amused ourselves thus for a while, and laid in a tolerable breakfast, we sallied forth, under the guidance of a valet-du-place, to perambulate the town. We found it surrounded by fortifications; yet exceedingly clean and neat, and its public gardens, beyond the Prague gate, at once extensive and well-arranged. There is a cemetery in the middle of the new town, which is likewise worth visiting, were it only because of its enormous dimensions. And the barrack, with its seven capacious courts, is of prodigious extent. Of the churches, on the contrary, with the exception of the cathedral, much cannot be said in praise; and even the cathedral is more curious than beautiful. It presents an excellent specimen of the kind of ecclesiastical architecture in which the Slavonians of the middle ages delighted. Moreover the Landhaus, or house of meeting for the estates of Moravia,—till the times of Joseph II. a wealthy Augustinian convent,—may be visited with advantage, as may also the Rath-haus and National Museum. Into the citadel, on the other hand, no stranger can be admitted without an order from the governor; and such order, unless the party applying for it bring strong recommendations, is not easily procured.
The great lounge for the fashionables of Bruenn is termed the Franzes Berg. It is a sort of table-land, on the side of that hill which the cathedral and bishop's palace overtop; and is laid out in shady walks, well-ordered terraces, and bowers of most umbrageous shelter. Thither, in the cool of the day, that is, between the hours of six and nine in the evening, the elite of the inhabitants repair, that they may enjoy the pleasures of a crowded promenade, enlivened by the strains of one of the finest military bands to which I have ever listened. As may be supposed, we did not fail to become partakers in the scene, or to relish it greatly; for the music is superb, the view over the valley of the Taia beautiful, and the bearing of the company at once decorous and full of good humour. But having accomplished this, and wandered through the greater number of the streets, having visited the public buildings, and made more than half the circuit of the ramparts, we felt that our business in Bruenn was completed. We accordingly returned to our hotel, and being again refused by the police the coveted vise into Hungary, we made up our minds to pursue our journey on the morrow towards Vienna.
I made numerous inquiries as to the condition of Protestantism in this country, and received answers which were very little satisfactory. From the effects of the persecution at the close of the Thirty Years' War, it has never recovered. Toleration is, indeed, granted to Lutherans, Calvinists, and Jews, under one or other of which denominations, all dissenters from popery are classed; but of the Moravian brethren, not a trace remains, either in the capital or elsewhere. Had I not previously made myself acquainted with the history of this pious sect, the circumstance of their total extirpation would have much surprised me; because the error of the name which has somehow been applied to them, reaches also to our conception of their origin and fortunes. But the truth is, that they were never a numerous body in the land after which they are now called. It was but in the natural course of events that branches should have struck out from Mount Tabor in Bohemia, as well into Moravia as into the border districts of Upper Austria, and these, when the parent tree was cast down, soon withered away. I believe that it is only at Hernhut, in Saxony, and in a few places of Poland and Gallicia, that any remnants of them now exist. At all events, I could discover none at Bruenn, nor could any of those whom I interrogated on the subject, direct me where to look for them.
COUNTRY BETWEEN BRUeNN AND VIENNA. VIENNA. JOURNEY TO PRESBURG. PRESBURG. THE HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTION.
There is not much to praise, there is very little to describe, in the general aspect of the country between Bruenn and Vienna. Here and there it is exceedingly barren and sterile, here and there just as much the reverse; that is, if fields which produce the vine and the maize in large quantities, deserve to be accounted fertile. It is true that if you be a soldier, you will examine, with interest, the ground over which the hostile armies manoeuvred both previous to the battle of Austerlitz and afterwards. If geology be your hobby, in the low but picturesque hills, the far-off roots of nobler mountains, which, in many places, hang over the road, and give to it an exceedingly romantic character, you will find something for the eye to rest upon. Various dilapidated castles, too, that crown these rocks, may possibly arrest the attention of the antiquary; whilst the political economist will find food for reflection in the outward bearing of social life as here it presents itself. For there are no towns of any size or note in all this journey of more than a hundred miles. The villages, moreover, are universally mean, and their inhabitants worthy of the homes which receive them when the day's task is done. On the other hand, some magnificent schlosses present themselves by the way-side, as if in contrast to the squalid hamlets on which they look down; and soldiers swarm everywhere. But as I do not know what could be said of such matters more than will be found in any road-book which has the slightest pretensions to accuracy, I am very little tempted to advert to them at all. Neither can I speak of the aspect of things as it is operated upon by the proximity of Vienna, because night had closed round us long before we became conscious of the heaving of the living vortex. And for the rest, to be delayed at the barrier till our passports had been examined, our baggage searched, and a survey of our persons and features taken, these were trifling grievances to which use had reconciled us, and of which we thought nothing. We drove at once to the Schwan, an excellent though expensive house in the Meal Market, and there, for a brief period, established our head-quarters.
What shall I say of Vienna? Nothing, or next to nothing. I lingered within its walls a week, and no more. I ranged its streets, visited its galleries, lounged through its palaces, its public gardens, and its temples. I stood among the coffins in the vault of the chapel of the Capuchins, where rest the ashes of the Imperial family; I gazed long and fondly, in that of the Augustines, on Canova's exquisite monument to Maria Christina of Saxony. I observed, not without a feeling of pardonable pride, that the Armoury, which is arranged with great taste and skill, contains trophies from almost every European nation, England alone excepted. I saw the chain with which the Turks, in 1529, endeavoured to obstruct the navigation of the Danube. I beheld the innumerable curiosities which are contained in the Arsenal, and lived among the knights and heroes of the middle ages, while gazing on the splendid suits of armour which the Ambras Museum contains. There is no public place which I did not visit, from the Volksgarten to the Prater;—no conspicuous building, beneath the roof of which I failed to enter, from the cathedral to the Invaliden Haus;—no palace which I did not inspect, from that of the Schweitzer Hof to Schoenbrunn. Yet I will not describe any of them. Why? Because the task has been executed so recently, and so well, that nothing could proceed from me save idle repetition; and I do not think that to indulge in such would either redound to my own credit, or add to the edification of my readers.
Of the state of society in this great capital, again, I am not competent to form an opinion. I saw but the exterior of things,—the busy marts, the crowded streets, the shops more capacious and better stocked than any, except those of London, and perhaps of Paris. The music of the bands that played in the public gardens was familiar to me, as well as the countenances and bearing of the joyous throng that listened to them. But of the habits of the individuals who composed these throngs, as they showed themselves within the domestic circle, I can say nothing. I was told, indeed, that the ties of moral obligation are not very rigidly regarded in Vienna; that, with much polish, and all the charms of high-breeding about it, society is, in fact, exceedingly corrupt. This may or may not be true; but to me the single aspect which the Austrian capital wore, was of a vast assemblage of people, whose great business it seemed to be to render life agreeable, and its events, in whatever order they might occur, as free from annoyance as possible.
I am equally incompetent to pass sentence on the state of learning, and the fine arts, in Vienna. I found, indeed, that it was fashionable to pay court to men of acknowledged talent and genius, and that to music and dancing the Viennese are just as much addicted as any other members of the Germanic family. But except from an evening spent at the theatre, I had no opportunity of determining how far they were or were not gifted with a taste more pure than prevails elsewhere. Neither can I tell how the important matters of eating and drinking are conducted, except in hotels and restaurateurs; for the season was unfavourable to making Viennese acquaintances; and had the contrary been the case, the time at my disposal was insufficient. But of cuisine at the Schwan, at the Daums and Kaiserin von Oesterreich, I can give a very favourable report, as well as of the cleanliness and even elegance of their respective eating halls, and the civility of their waiters. What, then, shall I say of Vienna? This, and no more. That to me it presented greater attractions than any other continental capital that I have visited; that I would have willingly spent as many weeks within its walls as I spent days, and that though eager to pass on to a country, to examine into the condition of which, constituted one and the principal object of my journey, I did not make up my mind to quit the city without reluctance. I dare say there is enough in and around it, to call forth the regrets of the right-thinking; but these were matters into which I could not pause to inquire. As I have already said, the exterior of things was all that presented itself to me, and with that I was delighted.
There is a custom in Vienna of demanding your passport when you first make your appearance at the barrier, and requiring you to show yourself, within four-and-twenty hours afterwards, at the police-office. The object of these arrangements is, that you may satisfy the authorities of your solvency, and receive from them a letter of security for such length of time as you propose, or they be willing that you should remain in the city. We attended to the established regulation, of course, and now, having fixed the hour of our departure, endeavoured to obtain from the Hungarian chancery the license, without which it would have been impossible to pass the frontier. It was granted without hesitation, though in terms at once vague and rigid. I stated my business; that I went merely as a traveller, curious to become acquainted with the people and the country, and that not knowing the points which I might be induced to visit, or the length of time which might be required to visit them, I was anxious to receive a passport, as generally and loosely worded as might be. The gentleman to whom I addressed myself was exceedingly polite; but he did not exactly fall into my views. "There is no necessity," said he, "to deviate in your instance from the common order of such things. A passport is required from every traveller at the frontier; but after you are once in Hungary, you may go where you please, and stay as long as you feel disposed, without attracting the slightest notice. I will, therefore, write upon your passport, that you are permitted to visit Pesth and its vicinity for a month, and to return." I thought this odd, but could not, of course, object to it, because I concluded that a person in authority must be a much better judge of what was necessary than I; and I have now given the detail at length, because the sequel will show that what was esteemed perfectly regular in Vienna, had well-nigh told against me in one of the remote provinces.
There is constant communication, as everybody knows, between Vienna, and Pesth, and Constantinople, by steamboats which touch, as they proceed, at almost all the most important places that lie along the banks of the Danube. Our original intention was to have availed ourselves of one of these; but we found on inquiry, that the navigation was intricate, and the channel of the river so low, that hardly any view was to be obtained from the ship's deck. We determined, therefore, to proceed by land as far as Presburg, and to regulate our future movements according to the aspect of things there, and the information which by its inhabitants might be communicated to us. About seven o'clock, on a bright July morning, we accordingly took our seats in a hired carriage, and were swept along through what are called the Marxer lines, beyond the outermost suburbs of the capital. The country round was, for a while, uninteresting enough. A huge plain was before us, which the heat of the weather had scorched into the semblance of a desert; and there were few objects upon it, of which I can say that they much relieved its monotony. Several villages came, indeed, in our way, and near one of them, called Semmering, a large turreted building attracted our attention. It had once been a summer residence of the Emperor; it is now a powder-magazine, and stands, as our postilion informed us, on the same spot which, during the siege of Vienna in 1529, was covered by the tent of the Sultan Solyman. But we had passed this some time, ere the scenery began to improve. When such improvement did commence, however, it was very complete. The road wound inwards so as to bring us parallel with the river, and to open out a fine view of its waters, which being split up into numerous branches, poured themselves over the plain, and enclosed a countless number of islands within their eddies. Among these, our postilion pointed out that on which Napoleon, by the breaking down of his bridge, was, during the progress of the battle of Asperne, reduced to the utmost extremity,—an extremity out of which nothing but the misplaced confidence of his opponents enabled him to escape. It is an extensive flat, covered along its edges by groves of giant willows; while just beyond it, on the continent, the village spires of Asperne and Essling peer forth from amid screens of thick foliage.
From this period till our arrival at the Hungarian frontier, we never, for any length of time, lost sight of the Danube. Here and there, indeed, the road struck inwards, so as to carry us away, perhaps, an English mile or more, from its banks; but the river, after it reunites, is so broad, and the country rises over it to such a height, that its noble expanse is seldom concealed from you, and that only for a moment. Moreover, the monuments of other days,—old castles, dilapidated towers, with here and there a rude pillar, or block of granite,—became, at each post which we gained in advance, more and more numerous. Near Schwaechat, for example, about ten English miles out of Vienna, and itself a village of some two thousand inhabitants, stands a stone, which marks the spot where Leopold first greeted the chivalrous Sobiesky,—not with the ardour which might have been expected from one in his situation, but coldly and ceremoniously, as if the king, who came to save, were sufficiently honoured by the notice of the emperor whom he had delivered. Next came we to Fischamend, where the traveller will do well to halt, if it be only that he may delight himself, as we did, with the magnificent scene which wooes his gaze from the summit of the scaur that overhangs the Danube. I do not think that I ever beheld a panorama of the sort which enchanted me more. We were elevated, perhaps, three hundred feet above the bed of the river. Its broad, but not limpid waters, measuring, perhaps, half a mile across, laved the very base of the precipice, and swept along by their current a rude barge or two, the only productions of man's industry and skill that broke in upon their loneliness. Beyond was a wide plain, magnificently wooded, with here and there a village, looking forth from its covering of green boughs; while, up and down, the eye rested, either upon a continuance of the same bold scaur; or, more attractive still, on the advanced guard of those mountains amid which I and my fellow-traveller had resolved to make our way. Then there were tower and castle crowning the far-off rocks; there were rich vineyards, closing in to the very brink on which we stood; and, as if to complete the picture, a herd of dun-coloured cattle, oppressed with the excessive sultriness of the day, descended, through a sort of ravine, in a long line, and stood to cool themselves in the Danube. Altogether it was as fair a landscape as the eye of the painter would desire to behold; and we did not leave it, till a few fruitless efforts had been made to transfer some, at least, of its most attractive features to a blank leaf in my journal book.
After leaving Fischamend we passed in succession Regelsbrunn, Deutsch Altenburg, and Hainburg, near the former of which the attention is arrested by what may easily be mistaken for the ruins of a city. It proved, however, on examination, to be the commencement of an ancient wall, which runs from Regelsbrunn all the way to the Neusiedler See; of which the origin is lost in the mists of antiquity, but which is generally supposed to have been thrown up by the Romans. There are still the remains of towers here and there, which give to it, when first beheld, its civic character; and it was, I believe, made use of, so recently as 1683, as a line of defence against the Turks. Moreover Deutsch Altenburg has its objects of interest also;—a tumulus, or mound, sixty feet in altitude, but of a date to which tradition goes not back; while the church of St. John, which crowns an eminence near, is accounted one of the most perfect Gothic edifices in the Austrian dominions. And, last of all, there is Hainburg, with its old castle, and gateways equally old; both exhibiting manifest traces of war on their exterior defences, even to the cannon-balls, which, since the last invasion of the Turks, have been left sticking where they fell. These, meeting you, as it were, one after the other, and forming points of rest to the eye when it has grown weary of ranging over the plain, produce a powerful effect upon your imagination; which is certainly not lessened by the aspect of the living creatures, whether of the human or some inferior species, which begin to gather round you.
I had been prepared by all that fell from those, who, having themselves penetrated into Hungary, were obliging enough, both in Dresden and at Vienna, to give me hints as to my own proceedings, for a state of things, both animate and inanimate, very different from that which had met me in Germany. I knew that the people were much less civilized than the Germans; and that for one, who proposed to wander as I did, alone, and, wherever it might be possible to do so, on foot, arms might be found convenient, perhaps necessary. Yet I did not expect to see a change so complete, in every point of view, as that which became perceptible even before we passed the frontier. There began to meet us, a little way in advance of Deutsch Altenburg, troops of those Torpindas, whom, in the ignorance of our hearts, we had, in Bohemia, mistaken for gipseys. There they were, with their hosen and coarse cloaks, their broad sombrero hats, and matted locks, trudging along, in bands of twelve or fourteen, and looking up with a glance of half cunning, half curiosity, from beneath their shaggy eyebrows. By-and-by came herds of cattle, quite different, both in colour and form, from any which we had previously encountered; and then pigs,—monsters of the first class,—whom men, evidently but one degree removed from barbarism, were driving before them. My young companion and I looked first at one another, and then at the pistols and other weapons which hung about our persons; and, as if the thoughts of each had wandered into the same channel, we smiled and said nothing.
We had quitted Vienna early in the morning; it might be about three in the afternoon when we reached the Custom House,—a station in Wolfsthal, remarkable for nothing except the constant bustle that goes on in its street. In order to reach the village we had been again carried away from the river, through a beautiful valley, hemmed in on either side, by well-wooded hills; one of which bears upon its summit what must have been, in its day, a castle of prodigious strength. We were now clear of that pass, and the process of examination began. In our case it was both brief and simple. We were asked whether our knapsacks contained any prohibited article? We did not even know what was prohibited; but finding that of copper the authorities were chiefly jealous, we answered in the negative, and were permitted to pass. It was not so with a whole string of wagons which came from the opposite direction. One after another they were compelled to discharge their contents, very much, as it seemed, to the inconvenience of the drivers; and not till a rigid examination of each separate bale and package had taken place, was permission given to load again. I could not help thinking that the policy which drew so broad a line of distinction between one portion of a great empire and another, was, to say the least of it, very singular; and I was not slow in being taught that it is very short-sighted too, because exceedingly distasteful both to the Hungarians, whom it injures, and the Austrians, whom it is designed to favour.
Our passports were looked at, of course; stamped with the seal of the official, and returned to us;—after which we pushed on. We crossed the frontier, and became sensible, on the instant, that a new country was before us. To the right, as far as the eye could reach, was one enormous plain. Rich it was, and apparently well cultivated; for, except here and there, where a huge meadow intervened, the whole surface was covered with the most luxuriant corn. Of trees, on the contrary, scarce a sprinkling appeared; there were no groves at all, and even hedge-rows were infrequent. Towards the left, again, there was that sort of character which belongs to a region in which an extensive range of highlands has terminated. Frequent hills and dales were there; grassy knolls, with little valleys running through them; and such a profusion of wood as held out the assurance that, in that direction at least, the eye would not pine in vain for foliage. By-and-by, from behind these knolls, the Danube made his appearance; not broader, certainly, than he had seemed to be at Fischamend, or even above it, but evidently deeper, I think, more rapid;—and altogether, with a degree of majesty about him which attaches to the one object, that gives its peculiar character to a living landscape. The Danube is, indeed, a magnificent river; albeit the people who inhabit his banks are only just beginning to find out that he may be turned to more accounts than that of mere beauty.
The interval between Hainburg and Presburg is but a single post; from Wolfsthal it is less than half that distance; yet, owing to the delay which occurred at the Custom House, five o'clock had struck ere we obtained our first view of this secondary capital of Hungary. Its situation is fine, close to the Danube, at the base and along the ascent of low hills; the crest of which is surmounted by the remains of what was once a royal residence. This latter, the Alba Regali of the chroniclers, is of very ancient date in its foundation. It was enlarged in 1766 by the Empress Maria Theresa, and in 1809 burned to the ground. The Hungarians say, that an Italian regiment in the French service set fire to it wantonly, when evacuating the place. But, however this may be, it gives, even in its ruins, an air of aristocracy to the town; which, though neat and clean, and containing a population of thirty or forty thousand souls, would otherwise present no very striking feature to the eye of the stranger. Indeed, Presburg is a great deal too near the frontier, and maintains a communication too frequent and too regular with Vienna, to have retained almost any marks of its Hungarian origin. You might, both from the structure of the buildings, and the dress and manners of the inhabitants, easily fall into the error of supposing that it belonged to Austria.
We approached Presburg by a good macadamized road, which follows the course of the river, on the opposite bank from that along which the city is built. It was very little thronged either with carriages or horses, and gave few indications, in other respects, that a large, and, as we had been assured, a bustling town, lay but a short way ahead of us. This was the more surprising, that we could discover no evidences of any transfer of the line of commerce from the land to the water; for there was neither barge nor steam-boat to ruffle the bosom of the Danube. But the unfavourable impression created by such an air of stillness was not destined to remain. There is a long bridge of boats, which connects the opposite banks of the river, and affords facilities to the inhabitants of Presburg for passing and repassing. We saw, as we drove on, that it was crowded with people, in their best attire; and the sounds of music, which rose from an inclosure hard by, sufficiently pointed out the nature of the attraction. We had come on a lucky day, for it was a festival, and all the world was abroad, to enjoy the delights of a calm and delicious evening amid the shady walks of the public gardens.
He who goes to Presburg without venturing further, need not flatter himself that he has made any, even the slightest acquaintance with the manners and usages of the Hungarians. The town is not a Hungarian, but a German town; the people are Germans, the language is German, and the style of living is German. It is true, that the historical associations connected with the place are all as thoroughly Hungarian as are those which greet you at Ofen or at Graan; but the living men and women seem to have striven, and striven successfully, to lay aside all the peculiarities which could, by possibility, connect them with the tales of other days. So far we profited by the circumstance that we found at the Sun excellent accommodations; and excellent accommodations are not to be procured at all the hotels in Hungary; yet were we, on the whole, dissatisfied with it. We desired to study human nature under a novel garb, and we found it still clothed as it had been in Austria. Nevertheless, the visits which we paid to the Old Palace, to the Cathedral, and the Koenigsberg, were highly interesting, because of the important page in Hungarian story which they may be regarded as illustrating. What that page contains, it may not be amiss if I take the present opportunity of stating.
It is the peculiar boast of the Hungarians, that they live under what they are pleased to term, a free constitution. Subject to the sway of the house of Hapsburg only through the accidental lapse of the crown into the female line, they utterly eschew all dependence upon Austria, and would turn with indignation from him who should insinuate that over them the laws of the empire exercise the slightest authority. They are fellow-subjects with the Austrians and Bohemians only so far that the imperial and the regal crowns happen to be worn by the same individual. But there is this marked difference in their respective situations, that whereas over Austria and Bohemia, the emperor exercises an absolute sway, in Hungary he has his prerogatives, beyond the limits of which he is not permitted to pass. He cannot, of his own will and pleasure, enact a new law; he cannot interfere with the privileges of his nobles; he cannot levy a tax, nor impose a new burden upon the nation, till the parliament, or estates, have given him authority to do so. It is because at Presburg the parliament meets, and that there also the ceremony of the coronation is carried through, that I have selected this stage in my narrative for the statement of matters which were not rendered familiar to me till a protracted sojourn in the country gave me opportunities of collecting information, both from its living inhabitants, and from the treasured archives with which its libraries abound.
The tract of territory which, on our maps, we describe as Hungary, is peopled by two distinct races of men;—the Hungarians, who inhabit the great plain of the Danube, of which Cormorn may be regarded as the centre; and the Slavonians, by whom the mountain districts are occupied, as well in Carpatia and Transylvania, as in Croatia and the rugged districts that border upon Styria. Of these, the Hungarians are not considered to amount to more than four millions of souls at the utmost; whereas the numbers of the Slavonians fall not short of six millions.
As is the case elsewhere, however, so has it happened here; the political institutions of the few have been imposed with a strong hand on the many; for the laws that prevail, as well as the machinery created to enforce them, are alike Hungarian. Yet the Hungarians are, so to speak, mere strangers in the land, who owe their original settlement there to the edge of the sword, and by the edge of the sword were long compelled to maintain it.
It seems now to be admitted, that the theory which once connected the conquerors of Pannonia with the Huns, is entirely without foundation. The Hungarians are the descendants of one of those eastern hordes whom the Mongols, in their progress southward, drove from their homes; and who, breaking through Russia, and traversing a large extent of Poland, won a settlement for themselves late in the ninth century, near the sources of the Theiss. Their legends say, that by lineage, they are Magyars, and that they obtained the name which they now bear through an accident. There stood, near the spot where they first permanently encamped, a castle, called in the language of the country, Hung-var, which the strangers won, and converted into a sort of capital. As often as they sallied forth from that castle on predatory or other expeditions, the Slavonians were accustomed to exclaim, "Here come the Hung-varians," and the title thus given at first as a term of mere derision or hostility, came, by-and-by, to be accepted as a national distinction.
I am not prepared to avow either my own acceptance, or my own rejection, of this mode of accounting for the origin of the Hungarian name. There is no good reason to be assigned one way or the other; for nations, like individuals, generally owe their designations to some cause equally simple; but that the Magyars, or Myars, brought with them the elements of that constitution under which it is the boast of their descendants that they still live, is just as easily proved as that we owe our most valuable institutions to the customs and usages of our Saxon forefathers. The Myars, like the Saxons, appear to have lived, during seasons of peace, in obedience to a whole host of petty and independent chiefs. If war broke out, or a foreign expedition was resolved upon, the heads of clans made choice of one of their order to command the rest;—when the exigencies of the moment ceased to operate, the commander fell back into his proper place among his equals. Seven of these tribes are stated to have taken part in the earliest attack on Pannonia. They were led by one Almus, a brave and successful warrior; and soon spread themselves over the whole of the plain; but not for many generations could they count on a permanent cessation from the hostilities with which the mountaineers, driven back, yet unsubdued, continued to harass them. The results were precisely such as occurred in Normandy and England, and every where else, where tribes advanced to a similar pitch of civilization, won settlements by the sword. Arpad, the son of Almus, was chosen to succeed his father; and the foundations were laid both of an hereditary monarchy, and of a power able and willing to place limits to that of the crown.
The best historians inform us, that between Arpad and the heads of tribes, a solemn compact was entered into, which, in addition to other and less important stipulations, contained the following. It was agreed that the order of succession to the throne should be hereditary; that the male line should have the preference; the female not being excluded; but that the inalienable right of the people to elect their own sovereign, should never be called in question. Accordingly, in cases where there is no break in the chain, and the son mounts the throne which the father has bequeathed to him, certain forms are enjoined, of which it cannot be said that they are mere idle ceremonies. The king's title to govern must be solemnly acknowledged by the states; and oaths are at his accession administered, any refusal to accept which would lead to his rejection. Moreover there is an article in this treaty which, in the event of a failure in the royal line, secures to the nation the right of free and unrestricted choice, and the right in question was exercised, to its fullest extent, so early as the beginning of the twelfth century, when the house of Arpad became extinct, and Charles of Anjou, called to the throne by the free voice of the people, laid the foundations of a new dynasty.
While they thus consented, as a measure of prudence, to the establishment among them of an hereditary throne, Arpad's peers were not willing that it should be filled by an absolute monarch. They claimed for themselves, and for their children after them, the right of counselling the prince in every emergency. They stipulated, that neither their persons nor their property, should be at the prince's disposal. Military service they were, indeed, bound to pay; that is, it was their duty to appear in the field when lawfully summoned, and to defend the country from foreign invasion, or internal revolt. But even military service, in the advancement of schemes of conquest, the king could not exact from them; he had no power to lead them across the border, except with their own consent. Then, again, within the limits of their respective estates, each noble was independent; while all situations of general trust and authority under the crown, were claimed by them as their birth-right. Hence the establishment of the palatinate in Hungary Proper, of the ban in Croatia and Slavonia, of the Vayvode in Transylvania, and of the great functionaries, by whatever title designated, each of whom appears to have enjoyed in his own province, rather the privileges of a feudal sovereign, than the powers of a high officer of state.
Such were the commencements of the Hungarian constitution,—an unbending aristocracy from the outset, into the forms of which time has doubtless introduced many changes,—but of which the spirit and the principle continue to this day, precisely what they were nine centuries ago. The first of these innovations occurred when Stephen ascended the throne; and by the open profession of Christianity, gave a different character to the whole order of society. His predecessors had never worn a title more imposing than that of duke; Stephen received from the pope both a royal crown, and the style and dignity connected with it. Moreover, Stephen, by creating bishoprics, and richly endowing both them and the monasteries, very much widened the circle of the nobility; which by the creation of new offices, and the granting of fiefs both by prelates and princes, received from time to time large accessions to its numbers. Then began distinctions to be claimed and recognised, even in the rights and privileges of the privileged classes. The nobles were divided into princes, prelates, barons of the kingdom, and magnates, whose rights, though in some trifling respects different, were yet so much akin as to permit their being treated as political equals. Next to them, yet claiming the essential privileges of nobility, came the king's chief retainers, with the holders of fiefs under the princes and prelates, and the principal retainers of the magnates; and finally, a humbler class followed, who, corresponding to our territorial but untitled aristocracy, are now content to bear the appellation of eidelmen, or gentry. All of these were, in the strictest acceptation of the term, freemen. They owed to the sovereign their right hands in war; and when the exigencies of the state required, such aids in money as they themselves might vote, but without such vote, in solemn comitia granted, there was no authority anywhere to exact from them either a blade of corn, or the most minute coin of the realm.
It was the right of the nobles to assemble and pass resolutions which, when approved of by the king, obtained the force of law. Up to the commencement of the thirteenth century, they used to meet in the open air; and as each brought to the place of assembly as large an armed following as he could muster, it was no unusual circumstance to find as many as eighty thousand men in the field. Such a crowd could effect nothing of its own free will, and was hardly to be managed by any species of influence. At length, in 1235, Bea IV. succeeded in introducing the system of representation which still holds good. By this arrangement, an hereditary seat in the legislature was restricted to the magnates, with whom sat likewise such official personages as prelates and barons of the kingdom. The nobles of inferior rank chose one or more from each county to represent their body, while the clergy were represented by abbots, titular bishops, and dignitaries of an inferior degree. By-and-by, during the reign of Sigismond, in 1386, free towns and royal cities were authorized, in like manner, to choose deputies, and then the framework of the Hungarian legislature became complete.
The Hungarians are never more gratified than when an opportunity offers of instituting a parallel between their houses of parliament and ours; indeed, their taste for comparing is such, that they gravely contend for a perfect similarity of principle between the constitutions of England and of Hungary. It would be as impolitic as unjust, when discussing the question with them, to deny that some such resemblance prevails. Both monarchies are limited monarchies, in which the sovereigns, though invested with absolute power as executors of the law, are just as completely circumscribed by the law, as the meanest of their subjects. It is curious to observe, likewise, how nearly the prerogatives of the one correspond in all essential points with the prerogatives of the other. The persons of both are sacred. Each is, within his own realm, the fountain of honour and of justice; each commands his own army, though by neither may its numbers be increased without a vote of the legislature. And more remarkable still, the king of Hungary, though a Roman Catholic, is the head of the church in Hungary, in the very same sense which we apply to the term, when we speak of the king of England as the head of the English church. In Hungary, the crown appoints absolutely to all bishoprics, abbacies, and even to canonries. Confirmed the choice must be, in the first of these cases, by the Pope, otherwise the spiritual authority attached to the office would be wanting; but the bishop-elect enters at once upon the possession of his temporalties, of which no exercise of papal influence can dispossess him. Moreover, it is in Hungary as it is in England,—the affairs of state are administered in all departments by the king's authority. The king's taxes, the king's duties, the king's escheats and forfeitures, are levied; the harbours are the king's harbours, the courts are the king's courts, the fortresses are the king's fortresses, and the people are the king's lieges. But here the resemblance between the constitutions of the two countries ends, and all endeavour to trace it further is useless.
Even in reference to the kingly office, we soon begin to find ourselves diverging one from another. The crown in Hungary is elective far more decidedly than in England. We, indeed, in the ceremony of our coronation, retain so much of the spirit which animated our Saxon forefathers, that the question is still put to the people,—"Will ye have this prince to reign over you?" and the prince is bound by solemn oath to govern according to law; but the ceremony of a coronation is not so vital among us, as that it might not be passed over with impunity. In Hungary, so tenacious are the magnates on the one hand, and so sensitive the emperor on the other, that he never omits, in his own life-time, to have the heir to the imperial diadem, crowned king in Hungary. The present emperor became king of Hungary three years previous to the death of his father; and now the empress has been crowned at Presburg, so that there may be no link wanting in the chain which holds the several portions of the empire together. Again, the king of Hungary, while he enjoys various privileges, to which the king of England cannot lay claim, is likewise subjected to various restraints, from which the king of England is free. The former, for example, as he appoints arbitrarily to vacant bishoprics, so he inherits the whole of a bishop's professional savings, who may chance to have died intestate. If the bishop possess hereditary property, it goes, of course, at his decease, to his next of kin; but his accumulations, be they great or small, are taken possession of by the crown. And even the making of a will saves but one-third of them. On the other hand, the king of Hungary is watched and restrained in the exercise of his prerogatives, not only by a parliament, jealous of its privileges, but by officers appointed for that purpose. The palatine is a strange compound of king's lieutenant and guardian of the liberties of the nation. He is chosen for life out of four personages proposed to the states by the sovereign; and as in the king's absence he exercises vice-regal powers, so both then, and at other seasons, he mediates between the crown and the people, taking care that the former shall not trench upon the liberties of the latter, nor the latter make any encroachments on the legal prerogatives of the former.
I might specify many other points in which even the parallel between the kingly offices in Hungary and in England fails; but it is not necessary. We have but to pass downwards to the classes below royalty, and all ground of comparison between the institutions of the two countries ceases. The parliament of Hungary is a very different affair from the parliament of England. Its members sit, to be sure, in two chambers, or houses, and enjoy, when assembled, the most absolute freedom of speech; but they meet very rarely, they transact very little business when they do meet, and both in the principle which brings them together, and in their arrangements when assembled, they outrage every notion which we are accustomed to cherish of perfection in such matters. The spirit of the Hungarian constitution requires that the estates should assemble at least once in every five years; the practice of the same constitution leaves the king at liberty to call together, and to dissolve the chambers at pleasure. I have already stated, that to the higher order of nobility, the privilege appertains of meeting, in their own persons, to deliberate on questions affecting the public weal. These,—the princes and magnates,—occupy the same chamber with the prelates and barons of the kingdom. The other chamber is given up to the representatives of the lesser nobles, of the free towns, and of the clergy; and, strange to say, to the proxies of such magnates as may find it inconvenient, personally, to attend in their places. But though there are only two chambers, there are four distinct estates, each of which votes within itself in the first instance, and then carries the result of its scrutiny to the common centre. And finally, while the Upper House is presided over by the palatine, the lower is regulated and kept in order by an official personage who bears the somewhat lengthy title of Personalis presentiae Regiae in judiciis locum tenens. He must be of noble birth, of course, and is likewise President of the High Court of Justiciary. There are not fewer than 661 members in the first of these houses, whereas the last can count upon 236 only.
The representative members of the Hungarian legislature are all paid by their constituents, who again consist of the eidelmen of the several counties. Of these very many are, in point of fact, mere peasants, whom the misfortunes or imprudence of their ancestors have reduced to poverty; but all must have noble blood in their veins,—for it is an honourable descent, and not the possession of lands or houses, which entitles a man to exercise the elective franchise in Hungary. Such poor nobles are, of course, controlled and managed by their wealthier neighbours, who, when the season of an election comes round, deal with them pretty much as our own candidates and their committees deal with the poor voters in boroughs. There is prodigious feasting at the castle,—there is no end of magnanimous declarations,—no lack of brilliant and spirit-stirring speeches; under the influence of which, and of the wine and strong drinks that accompany them, the pauper eidelman becomes a hero in his own eyes. But, alas! political gratitude is not more enduring in Hungary than elsewhere. The crisis has its course, and the scion of a glorious race,—the representative of a family which followed Almus to the Theiss and gave the coronet to Arpad,—goes back to his hovel, and his daily toil, and his filth, and his wretchedness, there to chew the cud of bitter fancy, till the return of an electioneering season shall call him forth once more to act a part upon the stage of life.
My reader will be good enough to believe that while I thus speak of a country,—very much under-peopled by ten millions of souls,—I am referring to the condition of a minute fraction of that population,—of something less than two hundred thousand persons, in whom alone the existence of rights and privileges is by the law recognised. The people,—properly so called,—the peasants who cultivate the soil, the mechanics who construct the dwellings, the artisans who fabricate your household utensils, your wearing apparel, your carriages, your ships, your machinery; these are precisely in the condition of Gurth and Wamba in Sir Walter Scott's romance of Ivanhoe. In the rural districts every man whom you meet, provided he be neither a noble nor a soldier, belongs to somebody. He has no rights of his own. He is a portion of another man's chattels; he is bought and sold with the land, as if he were a horse or an ox. On him, too, all the common burdens of the state are thrown. If the parliament vote an increase of the taxes, it is from the peasants that these taxes are wrung; for the lord takes care, though he himself pay immediately, that he shall be indemnified by the deduction which he makes from his serfs' allowances. It is the same spirit which provides that the peasantry, who make the roads, and by the labour of their hands keep them in repair, shall be the only class of persons of whom toll is anywhere exacted. An eidelman in his chariot passes free through every barrier,—a poor peasant's wagon is stopped at each, till the full amount of mout, as it is called, has been settled. But this is not all. Till the year 1835, each landed proprietor possessed over his peasantry an almost unlimited power of punishment, into his manner of exercising which no human being ever took the trouble to inquire. Accordingly, you still find, as an appendage to each mansion, a prison, with its bolts and chains, and other implements of torture; while the rod was as freely applied to the backs of delinquents, real or imaginary, as ever the whip made acquaintance with the persons of our own negroes in a West Indian sugar-field. It is to Count Chechini, (Szechenzi,) in this, and many other respects, the greatest benefactor to his country which modern times has raised up, that Hungary stands indebted for a law, which, for the first time in the annals of the nation, gives to the poor peasant something like protection against the tyranny of a capricious master. Since the passing of that act there have been established in all the counties regular magistrates, before whom delinquents must be brought, and without whose sanction the punishment of the lash is supposed never to be inflicted. I did not find, however, on inquiry, that much regard was paid in practice to this statute. The nobles still flog their serfs, when the humour takes them, and the serfs are too hopeless of finding redress, by an appeal from one noble to another, ever, except in extreme cases, to think of making it.
Such, in few words, is the Hungarian constitution,—a limited monarchy, doubtless, which secures from the oppression of the sovereign a minute fraction of his subjects, and leaves all the rest to the tender mercies, not of one supreme head, whom motives of policy will render humane, and generally just, but of a band of nobles; who, nursed in the most exaggerated notions of their own importance, look upon all beneath them as mere beasts of burden. To speak of it as akin to the constitution under which we live, is to err entirely. It may, and does, in numerous points, resemble the constitution of England, as it existed under the first of the Tudors; but with that which secures to every Englishman the rights which make him what he is, it has nothing in common. A Hungarian noble is a very great man. A Hungarian eidelman is inferior to him, only if he be less wealthy. A Hungarian peasant is a serf. There is an excellent preparation made, doubtless, for better things in the future, but in its immediate working, the constitution which so orders matters, is to the people a thousand-fold more oppressive than the most absolute despotism.
I have spoken of the solemnity of the king's coronation as taking place at Presburg; I am not sure that it is necessary to describe the ceremony in detail. Like its counterpart among ourselves, it is regarded as the ratification of a covenant between the sovereign and the people, and is performed, amid much pomp, both religious and civil. The monarch elect, attended by his magnates and councillors, repairs to the cathedral, where the officiating prelate administers to him the customary oaths, by which he binds himself to govern according to law, to protect the church, to uphold the privileges of the nobility, and to secure the kingdom against foreign aggression. He is anointed with the holy oil, and undergoes the usual routine of enrobing and crowning; after which he proceeds on horseback, the states of the realm in his train, to the Koenigsberg. It is a circular mound, perhaps fifty feet high, which stands just outside the city, and commands an extensive view over the plain, both eastward and southward. This the king ascends, his nobles, and knights, and dignified clergy being collected in a mass round its base; and, as all are on horseback,—as their dresses are picturesque, their arms and housings costly, and their port chivalrous in the extreme, the spectacle is, perhaps, as grand as can be met with in any part of Europe. Beyond the circle of the privileged classes, again, enormous crowds are gathered,—for the population flocks from far and near to behold the ceremony; and the curious in such matters will doubtless find as much to admire in their grotesque appearance, as in the haughty port and Oriental splendour of their superiors. Meanwhile the king has ridden to the crest of the hill, where, before the bishops, he again gives the pledges which had been exacted from him in the cathedral. Finally, he draws his sword, and making a cut towards each of the cardinal points, thereby denotes, that, let danger come from what quarter it may, he will repel it. Then are medals scattered among the crowd; then is the air rent with shouts, and the princely cavalcade returns to the city in the same order which attended its outward progress.