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=LIPPINCOTT'S MAGAZINE=

OF

_POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE_.

AUGUST, 1878.

* * * * *

Footnote: Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at
Washington.

* * * * *




ALONG THE DANUBE.

[Illustration: SOMENDRIA.]


Ada-Kalé is a Turkish fortress which seems to spring directly from the
bosom of the Danube at a point where three curious and quarrelsome
races come into contact, and where the Ottoman thought it necessary to
have a foothold even in times of profound peace. To the traveller
from Western Europe no spectacle on the way to Constantinople was so
impressive as this ancient and picturesque fortification, suddenly
affronting the vision with its odd walls, its minarets, its red-capped
sentries, and the yellow sinister faces peering from balconies
suspended above the current. It was the first glimpse of the Orient
which one obtained; it appropriately introduced one to a domain which
is governed by sword and gun; and it was a pretty spot of color in the
midst of the severe and rather solemn scenery of the Danubian stream.
Ada-Kalé is to be razed to the water's edge - so, at least, the treaty
between Russia and Turkey has ordained - and the Servian mountaineers
will no longer see the Crescent flag flying within rifle-shot of the
crags from which, by their heroic devotion in unequal battle, they
long ago banished it.

The Turks occupying this fortress during the recent war evidently
relied upon Fate for their protection, for the walls of Ada-Kalé are
within a stone's throw of the Roumanian shore, and every Mussulman
in the place could have been captured in twenty minutes. I passed by
there one morning on the road from Orsova, on the frontier of Hungary,
to Bucharest, and was somewhat amused to see an elderly Turk seated
in a small boat near the Roumanian bank fishing. Behind him were two
soldiers, who served as oarsmen, and rowed him gently from point to
point when he gave the signal. Scarcely six hundred feet from him
stood a Wallachian sentry, watching his movements in lazy, indifferent
fashion. And this was at the moment that the Turks were bombarding
Kalafat in Roumania from Widdin on the Bulgarian side of the Danube!
Such a spectacle could be witnessed nowhere save in this land, "where
it is always afternoon," where people at times seem to suspend
respiration because they are too idle to breathe, and where even a dog
will protest if you ask him to move quickly out of your path. The old
Turk doubtless fished in silence and calm until the end of the war,
for I never heard of the removal of either himself or his companions.

The journeys by river and by rail from Lower Roumania to the romantic
and broken country surrounding Orsova are extremely interesting. The
Danube-stretches of shimmering water among the reedy lowlands - where
the only sign of life is a quaint craft painted with gaudy colors
becalmed in some nook, or a guardhouse built on piles driven into the
mud - are perhaps a trifle monotonous, but one has only to turn from
them to the people who come on board the steamer to have a rich fund
of enjoyment. Nowhere are types so abundant and various as on the
routes of travel between Bucharest and Rustchuk, or Pesth and
Belgrade. Every complexion, an extraordinary piquancy and variety of
costume, and a bewildering array of languages and dialects, are
set before the careful observer. As for myself, I found a special
enchantment in the scenery of the lower Danube - in the lonely inlets,
the wildernesses of young shoots in the marshes, the flights of
aquatic birds as the sound of the steamer was heard, the long tongues
of land on which the water-buffaloes lay huddled in stupid content,
the tiny hummocks where villages of wattled hovels were assembled. The
Bulgarian shore stands out in bold relief: Sistova, from the river,
is positively beautiful, but the now historical Simnitza seems only
a mud-flat. At night the boats touch upon the Roumanian side for
fuel - the Turks have always been too lazy and vicious to develop the
splendid mineral resources of Bulgaria - and the stout peasants and
their wives trundle thousands of barrows of coal along the swinging
planks. Here is raw life, lusty, full of rude beauty, but utterly
incult. The men and women appear to be merely animals gifted with
speech. The women wear almost no clothing: their matted hair drops
about their shapely shoulders as they toil at their burden, singing
meanwhile some merry chorus. Little tenderness is bestowed on these
creatures, and it was not without a slight twinge of the nerves that
I saw the huge, burly master of the boat's crew now and then bestow a
ringing slap with his open hand upon the neck or cheek of one of the
poor women who stumbled with her load or who hesitated for a moment to
indulge in abuse of a comrade. As the boat moved away these people,
dancing about the heaps of coal in the torchlight, looked not unlike
demons disporting in some gruesome nook of Enchanted Land. When they
were gypsies they did not need the aid of the torches: they were
sufficiently demoniacal without artificial aid.

Kalafat and Turnu-Severinu are small towns which would never have been
much heard of had they not been in the region visited by the war.
Turnu-Severinu is noted, however, as the point where Severinus once
built a mighty tower; and not far from the little hamlet may still
be seen the ruins of Trajan's immemorial bridge. Where the Danube is
twelve hundred yards wide and nearly twenty feet deep, Apollodorus
of Damascus did not hesitate, at Trajan's command, to undertake the
construction of a bridge with twenty stone and wooden arches. He
builded well, for one or two of the stone piers still remain perfect
after a lapse of sixteen centuries, and eleven of them, more or less
ruined, are yet visible at low water. Apollodorus was a man of genius,
as his other work, the Trajan Column, proudly standing in Rome, amply
testifies. No doubt he was richly rewarded by Trajan for constructing
a work which, flanked as it was by noble fortifications, bound the
newly-captured Dacian colony to the Roman empire. What mighty men were
these Romans, who carved their way along the Danube banks, hewing
roads and levelling mountains at the same time that they engaged the
savages of the locality in daily battle! There were indeed giants in
those days.

[Illustration: RUSTCHUK.]

When Ada-Kalé is passed, and pretty Orsova, lying in slumbrous quiet
at the foot of noble mountains, is reached, the last trace of Turkish
domination is left behind. In future years, if the treaty of San
Stefano holds, there will be little evidence of Ottoman lack of
civilization anywhere on the Danube, for the forts of the Turks will
gradually disappear, and the Mussulman cannot for an instant hold
his own among Christians where he has no military advantage. But at
Orsova, although the red fez and voluminous trousers are rarely seen,
the influence of Turkey is keenly felt. It is in these remote
regions of Hungary that the real rage against Russia and the burning
enthusiasm and sympathy for the Turks is most openly expressed. Every
cottage in the neighborhood is filled with crude pictures representing
events of the Hungarian revolution; and the peasants, as they look
upon those reminders of perturbed times, reflect that the Russians
were instrumental in preventing the accomplishment of their dearest
wishes. Here the Hungarian is eminently patriotic: he endeavors as
much as possible to forget that he and his are bound to the empire
of Austria, and he speaks of the German and the Slav who are his
fellow-subjects with a sneer. The people whom one encounters in that
corner of Hungary profess a dense ignorance of the German language,
but if pressed can speak it glibly enough. I won an angry frown and
an unpleasant remark from an innkeeper because I did not know that
Austrian postage-stamps are not good in Hungary. Such melancholy
ignorance of the simplest details of existence seemed to my host meet
subject for reproach.

Orsova became an important point as soon as the Turks and Russians
were at war. The peasants of the Banat stared as they saw long lines
of travellers leaving the steamers which had come from Pesth and
Bazros, and invading the two small inns, which are usually more than
half empty. Englishmen, Russians, Austrian officers sent down to keep
careful watch upon the land, French and Prussian, Swiss and Belgian
military attachés and couriers, journalists, artists, amateur
army-followers, crowded the two long streets and exhausted the market.
Next came a hungry and thirsty mob of refugees from Widdin - Jews,
Greeks and gypsies - and these promenaded their variegated misery on
the river-banks from sunrise until sunset. Then out from Roumanian
land poured thousands of wretched peasants, bare-footed, bareheaded,
dying of starvation, fleeing from Turkish invasion, which, happily,
never assumed large proportions. These poor people slept on the
ground, content with the shelter of house-walls: they subsisted on
unripe fruits and that unfailing fund of mild tobacco which every male
being in all those countries invariably manages to secure. Walking
abroad in Orsova was no easy task, for one was constantly compelled to
step over these poor fugitives, who packed themselves into the sand at
noonday, and managed for a few hours before the cool evening breezes
came to forget their miseries. The vast fleet of river-steamers
belonging to the Austrian company was laid up at Orsova, and dozens
of captains, conversing in the liquid Slav or the graceful Italian or
guttural German, were for ever seated about the doors of the little
cafés smoking long cigars and quaffing beakers of the potent white
wine produced in Austrian vineyards.

Opposite Orsova lie the Servian Mountains, bold, majestic, inspiring.
Their noble forests and the deep ravines between them are exquisite in
color when the sun flashes along their sides. A few miles below
the point where the Hungarian and Roumanian territories meet
the mountainous region declines into foot-hills, and then to an
uninteresting plain. The Orsovan dell is the culminating point of
all the beauty and grandeur of the Danubian hills. From one eminence
richly laden with vineyards I looked out on a fresh April morning
across a delicious valley filled with pretty farms and white cottages
and ornamented by long rows of shapely poplars. Turning to the right,
I saw Servia's barriers, shutting in from the cold winds the fat
lands of the interior; vast hillsides dotted from point to point with
peaceful villages, in the midst of which white churches with slender
spires arose; and to the left the irregular line of the Roumanian
peaks stood up, jagged and broken, against the horizon. Out from
Orsova runs a rude highway into the rocky and savage back-country. The
celebrated baths of Mehadia, the "hot springs" of the Austro-Hungarian
empire, are yearly frequented by three or four thousand sufferers, who
come from the European capitals to Temesvar, and are thence trundled
in diligences to the water-cure. But the railway is penetrating even
this far-off land, where once brigands delighted to wander, and
Temesvar and Bucharest will be bound together by a daily
"through-service" as regular as that between Pesth and Vienna.

[Illustration: SISTOVA.]

I sat one evening on the balcony of the diminutive inn known as "The
Hungarian Crown," watching the sunbeams on the broad current of the
Danube and listening to the ripple, the plash and the gurgle of the
swollen stream as it rushed impetuously against the banks. A group
of Servians, in canoes light and swift as those of Indians, had made
their way across the river, and were struggling vigorously to prevent
the current from carrying them below a favorable landing-place. These
tall, slender men, with bronzed faces and gleaming eyes, with their
round skull-caps, their gaudy jackets and ornamental leggings, bore
no small resemblance at a distance to certain of our North American
red-skins. Each man had a long knife in his belt, and from experience
I can say that a Servian knife is in itself a complete tool-chest.
With its one tough and keen blade one may skin a sheep, file a saw,
split wood, mend a wagon, defend one's self vigorously if need be,
make a buttonhole and eat one's breakfast. No Servian who adheres to
the ancient costume would consider himself dressed unless the crooked
knife hung from his girdle. Although the country-side along the Danube
is rough, and travellers are said to need protection among the Servian
hills, I could not discover that the inhabitants wore other weapons
than these useful articles of cutlery. Yet they are daring smugglers,
and sometimes openly defy the Hungarian authorities when discovered.
"Ah!" said Master Josef, the head-servant of the Hungarian Crown,
"many a good fight have I seen in mid-stream, the boats grappled
together, knives flashing, and our fellows drawing their pistols. All
that, too, for a few flasks of Negotin, which is a musty red, thick
wine that Heaven would forbid me to recommend to your honorable self
and companions so long as I put in the cellar the pearl dew of yonder
vineyards!" pointing to the vines of Orsova.

While the Servians were anxiously endeavoring to land, and seemed to
be in imminent danger of upsetting, the roll of thunder was heard and
a few drops of rain fell with heavy plash. Master Josef forthwith
began making shutters fast and tying the curtains; "For now we _shall_
have a wind!" quoth he. And it came. As by magic the Servian shore was
blotted out, and before me I could see little save the river, which
seemed transformed into a roaring and foaming ocean. The refugees,
the gypsies, the Jews, the Greeks, scampered in all directions. Then
tremendous echoes awoke among the hills. Peal after peal echoed and
re-echoed, until it seemed as if the cliffs must crack and crumble.
Sheets of rain were blown by the mischievous winds now full upon the
unhappy fugitives, or now descended with seemingly crushing force
on the Servians in their dancing canoes. Then came vivid lightning,
brilliant and instant glances of electricity, disclosing the forests
and hills for a moment, then seeming by their quick departure to
render the obscurity more painful than before. The fiery darts were
hurled by dozens upon the devoted trees, and the tall and graceful
stems were bent like reeds before the rushing of the blast. Cold swept
through the vale, and shadows seemed to follow it. Such contrast
with the luminous, lovely semi-tropical afternoon, in the dreamy
restfulness of which man and beast seemed settling into lethargy, was
crushing. It pained and disturbed the spirit. Master Josef, who never
lost an occasion to cross himself and to do a few turns on a little
rosary of amber beads, came and went in a kind of dazed mood while the
storm was at its height. Just as a blow was struck among the hills
which seemed to make the earth quiver to its centre, the varlet
approached and modestly inquired if the "honorable society" - myself
and chance companions - would visit that very afternoon the famous
chapel in which the crown of Hungary lies buried. I glanced curiously
at him, thinking that possibly the thunder had addled his brain. "Oh,
the honorable society may walk in sunshine all the way to the chapel
at five o'clock," he said with an encouraging grin. "These Danube
storms come and go as quickly as a Tsigane from a hen-roost. See! the
thunder has stopped its howling, and there is not a wink of lightning.
Even the raindrops are so few that one may almost walk between them."

[Illustration: NICOPOLIS.]

I returned to the balcony from which the storm had driven me, and was
gratified by the sight of the mountain-side studded with pearls, which
a faint glow in the sky was gently touching. The Danube roared and
foamed with malicious glee as the poor Servians were still whirled
about on the water. But presently, through the deep gorges and along
the sombre stream and over the vineyards, the rocks and the roofs of
humble cottages, stole a warm breeze, followed by dazzling sunlight,
which returned in mad haste to atone for the displeasure of the wind
and rain. In a few moments the refugees were again afield, spreading
their drenched garments on the wooden railings, and stalking about in
a condition narrowly approaching nakedness. A gypsy four feet high,
clad in a linen shirt and trousers so wide as to resemble petticoats,
strolled thoughtlessly on the bank singing a plaintive melody, and now
and then turning his brown face skyward as if to salute the sun. This
child of mysterious ancestry, this wanderer from the East, this robber
of roosts and cunning worker in metals, possessed nor hat nor shoes:
his naked breast and his unprotected arms must suffer cold at night,
yet he seemed wonderfully happy. The Jews and Greeks gave him scornful
glances, which he returned with quizzical, provoking smiles. At last
he threw himself down on a plank from which the generous sun was
rapidly drying the rain, and, coiling up as a dog might have done, he
was soon asleep.

With a marine glass I could see distinctly every movement on the
Servian shore. Close to the water's edge nestled a small village of
neat white cottages. Around a little wharf hovered fifty or sixty
stout farmers, mounted on sturdy ponies, watching the arrival of the
Mercur, the Servian steamer from Belgrade and the Sava River. The
Mercur came puffing valiantly forward, as unconcerned as if no
whirlwind had swept across her path, although she must have been in
the narrow and dangerous cañon of the "Iron Gates" when the blast
and the shower were most furious. On the roads leading down the
mountain-sides I saw long processions of squealing and grunting swine,
black, white and gray, all active and self-willed, fighting each other
for the right of way. Before each procession marched a swineherd
playing on a rustic pipe, the sounds from which primitive instrument
seemed to exercise Circean enchantment upon the rude flocks. It was
inexpressibly comical to watch the masses of swine after they had
been enclosed in the "folds" - huge tracts fenced in and provided with
shelters at the corners. Each herd knew its master, and as he passed
to and fro would salute him with a delighted squeal, which died away
into a series of disappointed and cynical groans as soon as the
porkers had discovered that no evening repast was to be offered them.
Good fare do these Servian swine find in the abundant provision
of acorns in the vast forests. The men who spend their lives in
restraining the vagabond instincts of these vulgar animals may perhaps
be thought a collection of brutal hinds; but, on the contrary, they
are fellows of shrewd common sense and much dignity of feeling.
Kara-George, the terror of the Turk at the beginning of this century,
the majestic character who won the admiration of Europe, whose genius
as a soldier was praised by Napoleon the Great, and who freed his
countrymen from bondage, - Kara-George was a swineherd in the woods of
the Schaumadia until the wind of the spirit fanned his brow and called
him from his simple toil to immortalize his homely name.

Master Josef and his fellows in Orsova did not hate the Servians with
the bitterness manifested toward the Roumanians, yet they considered
them as aliens and as dangerous conspirators against the public weal.
"Who knows at what moment they may go over to the Russians?" was the
constant cry. And in process of time they went, but although Master
Josef had professed the utmost willingness to take up arms on such an
occasion, it does not appear that he did it, doubtless preferring, on
reflection, the quiet of his inn and his flask of white wine in the
courtyard rather than an excursion among the trans-Danubian hills and
the chances of an untoward fate at the point of a Servian knife. It
is not astonishing that the two peoples do not understand each other,
although only a strip of water separates their frontiers for a long
stretch; for the difference in language and in its written form is a
most effectual barrier to intercourse. The Servians learn something of
the Hungarian dialects, since they come to till the rich lands of the
Banat in the summer season. Bulgarians and Servians by thousands find
employment in Hungary in summer, and return home when autumn sets
in. But the dreams and ambitions of the two peoples have nothing in
common. Servia looks longingly to Slavic unification, and is anxious
to secure for herself a predominance in the new nation to be moulded
out of the old scattered elements: Hungary believes that the
consolidation of the Slavs would place her in a dangerous and
humiliating position, and conspires day and night to compass
exactly the reverse of Servian wishes. Thus the two countries are
theoretically at peace and practically at war. While the conflict of
1877 was in progress collisions between Servian and Hungarian were of
almost daily occurrence.

The Hungarian's intolerance of the Slav does not proceed from unworthy
jealousy, but rather from an exaggerated idea of the importance of his
own country, and of the evils which might befall it if the old Serb
stock began to renew its ancient glory. In corners of Hungary, such as
Orsova, the peasant imagines that his native land is the main world,
and that the rest of Europe is an unnecessary and troublesome fringe
around the edges of it. There is a story of a gentleman in Pesth who
went to a dealer in maps and inquired for a _globus_ of Hungary,
showing that he imagined it to be the whole round earth.

[Illustration: THE DANUBE AT TRAJAN'S BRIDGE.]

So fair were the land and the stream after the storm that I lingered
until sunset gazing out over river and on Servian hills, and did not
accept Josef's invitation to visit the chapel of the Hungarian crown
that evening. But next morning, before the sun was high, I wandered
alone in the direction of the Roumanian frontier, and by accident came
upon the chapel. It is a modest structure in a nook surrounded by tall
poplars, and within is a simple chapel with Latin inscriptions. Here
the historic crown reposes, now that there is no longer any use for it
at Presburg, the ancient capital. Here it was brought by pious hands
after the troubles between Austria and Hungary were settled. During
the revolution the sacred bauble was hidden by the command of noblemen
to whom it had been confided, and the servitors who concealed it at
the behest of their masters were slain, lest in an indiscreet moment
they might betray the secret. For thousands of enthusiasts this tiny
chapel is the holiest of shrines, and should trouble come anew upon
Hungary in the present perturbed times, the crown would perhaps
journey once more.

It seems pitiful that the railway should ever invade this
out-of-the-way corner of Europe. But it is already crawling through
the mountains: hundreds of Italian laborers are putting down the
shining rails in woods and glens where no sounds save the song of
birds or the carol of the infrequent passer-by have heretofore been
heard. For the present, however, the old-fashioned, comfortless
diligence keeps the roads: the beribboned postilion winds his merry
horn, and as the afternoon sun is getting low the dusty, antique
vehicle rattles up to the court of the inn, the guard gets down, dusts
the leather casing of the gun which now-a-days he is never compelled
to use: then he touches his square hat, ornamented with a feather, to
the maids and men of the hostelry. When the mails are claimed, the
horses refreshed and the stage is covered with its leathern hood,
postilion and guard sit down together in a cool corner under the
gallery in the courtyard and crack various small flasks of wine. They
smoke their porcelain pipes imported from Vienna with the air of men
of the world who have travelled and who could tell you a thing or two
if they liked. They are never tired of talking of Mehadia, which is
one of their principal stations. The sad-faced nobleman, followed by
the decorous old man-servant in fantastic Magyar livery, who arrived
in the diligence, has been to the baths. The master is vainly seeking
cure, comes every year, and always supplies postilion and guard with
the money to buy flasks of wine. This the postilion tells me and my
fellows, and suggests that the "honorable society" should follow the


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