H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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to Hussein Pasha's palace, to speak about the measures that
were to be taken respecting the post-couriers who had been
taken prisoners, and about the further transmission of letters
and dispatches.

Hussein is Pasha of three horse-tails, and known by his en-
ergy in the battle against the Janizaries in 1826, which ended
in their total extinction. In 1828, he long withstood Diebitsch
at Schumla ; but in 1832, he was less successful against Ibra-
him Pasha ' in Syria, after which he got the Pashalic of Wid-

We landed, and were smoked ; but all the goods, even
woolen bags, entirely escaped this fumigation. When this was
over we wandered about the town, which after the rain we had
had was most horribly muddy.

The nearest streets to the landing place were as one com-
plete morass. In some places we saw a sentinal, who had
posted himself on a stone standing out of the mud. I say
posted, but it was in a peculiar position. Properly speaking,

1 In the Revue Britannique, 1838, is a description of the Pasha's se-
raglio. But we heard here that it is entirely fabulous ; and, as far as re-
gards the exterior, we must remark the same thing.


he had squatted down ; his naked knee stuck through a gash
in his trousers. He held his musket in this squatting position,
so that we could not refrain from laughing at him.

In Wicldin we all visited, for the last time in Turkey, a sort
of workmen whose abilities have reached a very high point in
that country, I mean the barbers : they are really marvel-
ous fellows. It is true, they almost cover one's whole face
with soap, and play with one's head as if it were a doll's, but
they have a dexterity and lightness almost incredible. One
fancies it is a feather gliding over the whole face ; but it is the
keen razor. They shave three times in succession, and then
perfume the whole face. Besides, one need not now as a few
years ago, fear that they will shave all the hair of one's head
off, for they now know that the Franks prefer to save theirs ;
they even begin to let their own grow.

In the evening Hussein Pasha sent us a large bundle of the
very latest German newspapers. Hussein takes the " Allge-
meine Zeitung, " * so we begun to know how matters stood in
the country we had passed through. A certain Mladen, and
an ecclesiastic named Lefzkoweza, were at the head of these
movements. It was a real spiritual feast to get these journals
the very best dish that Hussein could have sent us.

We made ourselves quite comfortable. The vessel lay still ;
it had become quite a dead calm somewhat sultry, it is
true ! How well should we not sleep this night !

Again disturbance ! We were awakened by a light, as if
everything were in a flame ! It spread as if the fortress had
fired off its two hundred and eighty cannons. It was a Bulga-
rian thunder-storm ; old Zeus, or Thor, whichever of them yet
reigns in the clouds, rolled away above us. One crash of
thunder came with a deafening peal after the other. The
waves raged, roared, and rattled in one's ears, as the river
Danube rolled them before our eyes. The whole neighbor-
hood every moment revealed itself as in the clear light of day.
We were all awake, and on deck ; the Turks alone slept

1 We found this paper in Athens and Constantinople as well as here.
My fellow-travellers had seen it in Jerusalem and Babylon. It is in
ti uth a paper that has become Allgemein*


quietly, wrapped up in their woolen mantles, with their faces

We had left Widdin, and lay out before the little hamlet
Florentin. Miserable clay hovels stood close by the shore ;
the ruins of a Turkish bathing-house extended into the Dan-
ube, which showed us its first rocks at this place. 1 We saw
velvet-green meadows, with groups of horned cattle and shy
horses. This was a picture that must not be seen by day.
No, but by the cloud-cleaving lightning it is a picture
painted on the glossy light ! The white minaret, the bending
poplar, the frightened and flying horses, the swelling river.
Words cannot give to the description what so animated the



A LITTLE river which falls into the Danube forms the
boundary between Bulgaria and Servia. The whole of this
land appears to be an immense oak forest. Yes, here is the
great region of the Dryads, with mighty mementoes, and a
people's deep songs. The green tree is hallowed in the eyes
of the people. Whoever hews down a tree, say they, takes a
life. The green tree seems of far greater importance to the
man than woman is to him ; she stands in her own house,
humble and serving ; she waits on her husband and his guests
with folded arms, at the lower end of the table, ready to fulfill
their wishes. So is it in the peasant's hovel, and so is it in
the prince's palace.

The different guard-houses lying so close that the soldiers
can cry out to each other, and be heard, showed themselves
directly on the boundaries.

On the flat grass plain of Wallachia, with its clayey slope
toward the Danube, lay a miserable clay hovel without win-
dows ; it had a roof and chimney of reeds, but high and

1 A Roman ruin stood on one of these rocks in 1839 ; now it has almost
disappeared. The Pasha has caused the stones to be used in the con-
struction of new buildings.


roomy, as if it were a little tower on the roof ; peasants ir
long skin frocks formed the group here. On the Bulgarian
side, where the scenery had about the same character as in
Wallachia, stood a black house of stone, like our potato cel-
lars. A stout Turk, in a jacket, with a carriage of body like a
pug-dog standing on its hind legs, was the frontier sentinel.
In Servia, on the contrary, were wood-covered mountains ;
every tree worthy of inclosing a Dryad. The guard-house
was a pleasant white house with a red roof; everything near
it looked lively and green. The soldier seemed half warrior
and half herdsman.

" Farewell, Bulgaria's land 1 " we cried ; and glided on
under the Servian forests.

The first town here, little as it was, with its red roofs, and
clean exterior, carried us at once into the midst of Germany.
Nine storks were taking their promenade in the green ver-
dure ; Africa's sunny spirits had, perhaps, lately ridden on
them into the town.

There are songs on the people's lips, as numerous as the
leaves in these woods ; and as the fertile green 'branches re-
mind the Dane of his green islands, so these songs remind
him of his land's ballads. When the Servian sings about
Stojan who could not win the proud sister of Iwan, we think
that we hear one of our Scandinavian ballads ; we think of Sir
Peder who cast the runes. The Servian Stojan wrote four
love letters, threw one into the flames, and said : " Thou shall
not burn, but Iwan's sister, her reason shall burn ! " The
second he threw into the water : " Thou shall not wash away
ihe letter, but wash away her reason ! " The third he gave to
the wind : " Bear not this on thy wings, but fly away with her
reason ! " The fourth he laid under his head, at night, say-
ing: "Not thou shall resl here, bul Iwan's sisler ! " And
when nighl came ihere was a knocking al his door, and she
stood there outside, and cried : " Open, for Heaven's sake !
The flames devour me, the water carries me away with it !
Have pity, open thy door! The storm bears me away!"
And he opened the door to Iwan's proud sister. The Servian
loves his trees as the Swiss loves his mountains as the Dane
loves the sea. The deputalions of the towns assemble annu-


ally with Prince Milosch under the canopy of the trees ; the
trees arch themselves into a hall of justice ! The bride and
bridegroom dance under the tree. The tree stands in the
battle like a giant, and combats against Servia's enemies.
The green, balmy trees arch themselves over the playing chil-
dren. The green, balmy tree is the old man's monument in
death. This woody land is life's green branch on the Osman's
tree, but the branch hangs only by slender tendrils fast to the
almost decayed tree- The branch has struck root and will
grow boldly, like one of the first royal trees of Europe, if it be
allowed to stand. This the Servian Dryads sang as we sailed
past, and when we reposed on the grassy carpet under the
screen of their fragrant fluttering hair.

Above Radejevacz, where the Tartar Hasan left us, accom-
panied by the best wishes that he might reach Constantinople
alive and happily, begins the island of Ostrava with magnifi-
cent woody scenery. It is twelve Italian miles long. 1 The
first large extent of wood we had yet seen on the Wallachian
side was spread before us here. Nay, there even appeared
some cultivated vineyards. It was as if the woody richness
and culture of Servia cast a lustre, not only over the Danube
islands, but even to the Wallachian coast. The birds sang
as I have only heard them sing in the Danish beech woods.
We sailed through a small arm of the Danube ; it was as if
we glided through a delightful wood : the sunlight glanced
between the green branches, and trembled on the rushing
stream. A young Servian girl with red ribbons on her white,
open jacket, and shining coins about her red cap, stood with
her pitcher by the stream. She was a living vignette to the
Servian song : " The young girl went to fetch water ; she bent
down toward it, and then said these words to herself: Poor
child ! O, how beautiful thou art ! With a wreath around thy
brow, thou wouldst look still more beautiful, and dare to love
the herdsman, the young herdsman who goes before his
irove, like the moon before the starry host ! "

With a martial people, where the woman is not an amazon,
but simply woman, she must be silent and humble ; the sub-
ordinate situation of the Servian women does not permit them
1 About the saint number of English miles.


to speak the heart's deepest voice. It reveals itself character-
istically in all their love-songs.

" Yesterday when we were in quarters, we had an excellent
supper, and we saw a girl, so young and beautiful ; she wore,
tulips in her hair. I gave my noble steed to her, and she
said to it : ' Tell me, thou brown one, is thy master married ? '
And the horse answered with a neigh : ' No, pretty girl, he is
not married ; but in the harvest he thinks of leading thee to
his home ! ' And the glad girl said to the brown steed : ' If
I knew that it was truth, I would immediately melt my
buckles and mount thy halter with them ; I would melt my
necklace to gild thy pure silver ! ' '

Prince Milosch has, during the last few years, collected a
rich treasure of these songs of the country, the lives of
single individuals, and the whole people's heroic deeds. In
the Servian's house, where there often live several married
couples, but under one chief chosen by themselves, and who
manages their fortune and house affairs, the merry music of
the violin and bagpipe sounds in the evening. In every
house there is to be found one who can play and accompany
their heroic songs with the instrument ; in this manner the
children learn their history ; in this manner the elders are
strengthened in their love for their native land. They then
remember their royal time, Belgrade's founder, Stephen
Dussan, Corbelitza, and John Hunyades.

The evening was still and mild. The river Danube runs
here in the same latitude as the Arno; the stars glittered,
and Servia's forest stood high in the transparent air : the
night was so clear that we could sail on with confidence. A
great distance was left behind when I came on deck next
morning : we had just before passed the Turkish fortress
Fet- Islam, on the Servian side ; the roof of the great tower
had quite fallen down ; the laths only were to be seen. It
was a miserable fortress to look at ; a part of the garrison sat
in the holes of the wall, smoked tobacco, and stared after us.
At eight o'clock we were at Gladova. The passengers and
goods were reshipped in a large, handsomely painted boat
with a wooden roof. Here begins the so-called " Iron Gate,'
which by most travellers is described as a part of the Danube


almost impossible to navigate ; there are strong rapids. Here
are mighty whirlpools that have swallowed up boats, and
broken vessels in pieces ; round about in the foaming stream
are to be seen black rocks stretching their crushing fingers
into the air ; but we can, however, pass through the " Iron
Gate." I found the navigation between Orsova and Drencova
far more dangerous.

Our captain placed himself at the bow of the boat, which
was dragged up against the stream by fifty or more Servians
with a rope and iron chain, they walking on a pathway and
hauling it along. A number of river vessels lay under the
shore ; the poor Servians had to spring like gazelles from ship
to ship, haul and haul, then jump into their light boats, and
with the rope around their waists, row themselves and us for-

We kept close in to the Servian coast, for ,in the middle of
the current there were several falls ; the water leapt against
the bow of the boat. The coast in a few places consisted of
low but perpendicular rocks, in which ropes were fixed like a
sort of balustrade, by which our Servians in the small boats
held fast and thus worked against the stream ; they then
sprang again on land, and our boat went like a steamer
against the rapid river. It did not look at all dangerous, but
it was exciting. Old trees hung over the rocks ; the nightin-
gales sang, and our large flag with the double eagle fluttered
in the wind. The most dangerous part of the passage
through the u Iron Gate," begins a little way above the small
town of Gladova. All the passengers went ashore, and only
the captain and two sailors remained behind. It was not the
danger that haunted us, but it was the greenwood that in-
vited us ; here it was fresh, balmy, and beautiful. Servian
soldiers, who had accompanied us from Gladova, took care
that we should not come in contact with the inhabitants of the

The pleasure of treading on land after several days the
short visit in Widdin excepted was a luxury, doubly great
here in the midst of a fragrant wood on a grassy carpet
swarming with flowers. We all plucked a bouquet. High
cliffs covered with bushes rose behind the trees, Ihe golden


laburnums speckled the green woods. We came to a large
tree, and they told us that the former Pasha of Orsova had
taken his breakfast there daily, and then, not unfrequently,
had ordered some Christians to be hung up on these very
branches. Not far from thence stood a Cross ; it was the first
cross in the open field that I had seen since I left Italy ; it
greeted me like a dear holy sign outside the Crescent's land ;
this green, these flowers, and the song of birds ! O ! it was a
festive day in nature ! We wandered amongst Servia's Dryads :
our guard had enough to do to keep our party together ; one
would have a branch with the yellow laburnum, another must
gather flowers, and a third drink at the well ; and we durst
not leave each other. We were obliged to keep pace with the
boat, which, sure enough, got but slowly forward ; it rocked
a little, and was now and then washed by a rough wave
which it cut through. Herdsmen and women whom we met,
fled from us, and regarded us at a respectable distance.

We passed a sulphur spring ; a poor path led up to it ; per-
haps in a few years a splendid watering-place will stand here,
and the guests promenade under these leafy trees. Our brave
captain sat by the rudder ; the boat rocked like a chip over
surge and eddy, and the old man nodded to us when the
water sprang into the air. The wind whistled in the trees,
and the Dryads sang about an equally brave captain on a
still more dangerous river, that of politics : the Dryads sang
about the land's prince, Milosch, the true Servian. Tree
stands beside tree in this country as in the forests of Amer-
ica; Dryad relates to Dryad what passes in the inclosed
valley, and in the dark thicket. It sounds in our times like a
legend, that on the verge of the plains of Hungary, close by
the swelling Danube, there lives a martial and yet a patri-
archal people whose prince watched his father's herds when a
boy, and as a lad journeyed through the country as a commer-
cial traveller. When black George broke the Turk's chains,
he fought with the people for their freedom ; he was the brav-
est warrior, and the most fortunate conqueror. Black George
fled as a fugitive with the vanquished ; the young warrior re-
tired with his heroes deeper into the dark rocks. The rockj
cavern was then Milosch's royal castle ; there his princess


waited for him ; there she herself roasted the lamb that was
to be placed before him and his friends. He came, but as
a fugitive ; and daring as became a regent's spouse, as the
mother of a hero's child, she stopped him, and asked if they
must perish, if their father-land must fall, and bade him turn
back and he turned to conquer. Europe's princes have ac-
knowledged Milosch as prince. 1 The Turkish soldiers and
pashas in the fortresses of Servia are but a shadow of power,
a shadow wherein Servia's children seek strength. In Mi-
losch's royal castle it is the Princess and her daughters who
wait on the Prince and his guests ; they live in the Prince's
castle as in the peasant's cot ; and the bagpipe and glitter-
ing weapon are the first and most prominent objects we meet



BEFORE us lay the Turkish fortress of Orsova, the seat of a
pasha. The most dangerous part of the " Iron Gate " was
passed ; we approached the first goal of our voyage the
quarantine. We again entered the boat ; the breakfast table
was laid, a leave-taking toast was drunk to the Crescent and
the veiled women.

The Wallachian coast rose, like the Servian, with wood-
grown rocks ; on a projecting tongue of land to the right lies
New Orsova with red painted houses, white minarets, and
green gardens. The largest building, out toward the stream,
they told us was the Pasha's seraglio ; the beautiful women
behind the well-trellised windows regarded our gayly painted
boat, and perhaps fixed their glass on us, they certainly
had one ; they saw what strangers came who would soon be
inclosed like themselves, but in the quarantine, and solitary
without love's communion. They saw us under the fortress
which rises out of the Danube on the Servian side ; they

1 Milosch was obliged to resign on the first of June, 1839. The eldest
on, Milan, obtained the government on the eighth of July, 1839 ; now the
younger son, Michael Milosch, reigns.


saw their master, the Pasha of Orsova, with soldiers out-
side the walls, marching down toward our boat, which now
lay still.

The Pasha, a powerful man about forty years of age, with
blue military surtout, large gold epaulets and fez, greeted us,
and conversed long with Philippovich.

The fortress, which appears ruinous, greeted us with five
cannon-shots as we glided past We now saw the Austrian
city, Old Orsova, and the hamlet of Xupaneck, where the quar-
antine is held ; we were obliged to go quite past Orsova, the
current being so strong, and it was at a great distance up be-
fore they could cross the stream ; this, however, was but the
loss of a few minutes.

The landing place was inclosed with palisades, which
creaked with the numbers of spectators that thronged on it, to
look at us pestilential strangers.

Large wagons yoked with oxen took our baggage, and were
set in motion ; the passengers followed slowly after, sur-
rounded by soldiers and quarantine officers, each with a long
white stick to keep us at three paces' distance from them ; we
cast a final look toward the stream that had borne us. The
fortress lay in shade, but the trees, roofs, minarets in New
Orsova shone in the most beautiful sunlight. A boat crossed
the stream toward the Pasha's seraglio ; it was the Pasha
who went to visit his wives. We went to our fenced prison,
he to flowery terraces. The lot of man is different in this
world that is the moral of the story.



To lie in quarantine is to exercise one's self in the polypus
department Properly speaking, we all lie in quarantine in
this world, until we get permission to make the great voyage
to heaven. Poets are born poets, they say ; but there are
certainly persons born to lie in quarantine. I have known
travellers who lie a-bed until noon, and before they have


dressed, dawdled, and fiddle-faddled about, it is afternoon )
then they must write letters, or note down what they have seen
ihat same hour the day before, when they lounged through the
galleries ; then they employ a year to see what others see bettei
in a month ; but that is called being well-informed, not doing
things by halves, making one's self acquainted with every-
thing, etc., etc. I call these folks quarantine persons. Piick-
ler Muskau relates of himself, that whilst he was in quarantine
in Malta, he begged that he might remain there a day longer
to finish his work. I am of quite a different nature ; when
travelling, I must bestir myself from morning till evening ; I
must see and see again. I cannot do anything else than pack
whole towns, tribes, mountains, and seas into my mind ; always
taking in, always stowing away ; there is not time to write a sin-
gle song. I am not even disposed to do so ; but it will come,
I well know. It seethes and ferments in me, and when I am
once in the good city of Copenhagen, and get a bodily and
spiritual cold fomentation, the flowers will shoot forth.

Our entry into quarantine was a subject for a painter.
Round about were wood-grown mountains ; and before, a flat,
green plain, where the artist could place the large wagons
filled with our baggage, drawn by white oxen and driven by
Wallachian peasants in white jackets, and colossal hats hang-
ing down over their shoulders. And then the mixed company
of Turks, Greeks, and Franks : Pater Adam in his black dress,
with a hat like a large shield, was not the least picturesque
figure in the group.

Soldiers accompanied us for safe conduct. Our entrance
was the merriest thing imaginable : we saw cannon, naked
walls, large padlocks, rattling keys, quarantine officers, who
stepped respectfully aside, that they might not come in contact
with us. The road, or so called promenade in between the
high walls, was so blank that it excited a momentary sense of
novelty. It is true, there were a few rose hedges, but the
roses themselves as yet lay in quarantine in the green bud :
every leaf reminded us of our quarantine flag. I will not
complain of the lodging, buc only describe it ; nor will I wail
over the board, notwithstanding sour cabbage and Danube
water, with a plentiful supply of fat pork to it, such as we
get here, are not to my taste.


The whole building is a sort of box within box : the inner-
most represents a sort of square garden, the most attractive
object in which is a little summer-house of rough laths with-
out paint, which the green vines have not sufficient courage to
cling fast to ; four ranges of building, in which every window
is double grated, surround this paradise, which one may ven-
ture to see, but not touch ! Round about these ranges of
building there is a large wall ; thus every little chamber within
has a little yard ; the wall has another wall around it, and the
space between is the promenade ! It is much more pleasing
to read about than to experience it. The Englishman (Mr.
Ainsworth) and I took up our quarters together in two small
rooms. A table, a chair, and a wooden pallet, were the furni-
ture assigned to each ; the walls were newly whitewashed.
The sun shone so delightfully on the walls, that we were
almost blinded with its brightness. For guardian we had an
old fellow, Johan, who had been in the battle of Leipsic, and
had been wounded there ; he slept every night in the front
room on our table.

The first day in quarantine goes on excellently well : we
get a good rest after travelling ; the second, third, and fourth
day, we write letters ; the fifth and sixth we become accus-
tomed to the place, and read a good book, if we have one ;
but the seventh day we are dis-accustomed again, and find that
the seventh day, but not the whole seven days, ought to be a
day of rest. I began to find it desperate. Two balmy linden-
trees stood in our yard. I threw my arms around them so
often, that at last I bethought me of climbing one. I did so,

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 26 of 31)