H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

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

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clothes to be very poor ; but everything he had on was so
clean, his hair so smoothly combed, his eyes beamed so hap-
pily, there was something so wise and good in that face, that I
have never seen a child more interesting. I asked him if he
would be a soldier, and he replied : " Yes, we must all be so
here ; but I may one day be an officer, and therefore I mean to
learn all I can ! " There was something so innocent in his
whole behavior, something so noble, that I am certain if I
had been rich I should have adopted that boy.

1 It begins on the first of May, and continues about a fortnight.



308 A POETS BAZAAR.

I told him that he must be an officer, and that he would
certainly become one if he zealously endeavored to improve
himself, and put his trust in God.

On my asking him if he knew Denmark, he bethought him-
self a little, and then answered : " I think it is far from here
near Hamburg ! "

I could not give alms to him ; he seemed to me too nc
ble to receive any. I begged him to pluck me some flow-
ers ; he darted off, and soon brought me a pretty bouquet ; I
took it, and said : " Now I will buy these flowers ! " and so
he came by his payment. He was quite red in the face, but
thanked me prettily. He told me that his name was Adam
Marco ; I took my card out of my pocket, gave it to him, and
said, " When you are an officer, perhaps you may come to
Denmark. If so, ask after me, and I shall rejoice with you
over your good fortune ! Be diligent and trust in God. Who
knows what may happen ? " I shook hands with him. He
stood long, and looked at the vessel which I entered.

Never has any boy made such an impression on me, at a
first meeting, as this ; his noble manners, his sensible, inno-
cent face, were the best patent of nobility. He must be an
officer ; and I give this my mite to help that consummation.
Sure enough, it is borne on the wings of chance ; and I here
bow to every noble, rich Hungarian dame who may perchance
read this book, and perhaps have a friendly thought to spare
for " The Improvisatore," or " Only a Fiddler ; " and I beg
her the poet begs her if he has, unknown to himself, one
rich friend in Hungary or Wallachia, to think of Adam Marco
near Drencova, and help her little countryman forward, if he
deserves it



IX.

A VOYAGE UP THE DANUBE FROM DRENCOVA TO SEMLIN.

IT was morning ; the vessel had long been going at full
speed. We had lost sight of Drencova. Wood-grown rocks
arose on both sides of the river ; a range of clouds hung like



FROM DRENCOVA TO SEMLIN. 309

a hovering bridge over the stream. We sailed in directly under
them ; and the cloud-bridge was no longer steadfast. Do Ob-
eron and Titania yet live? If so, I am sure the elves had made
that bridge for them the night before. It suddenly changed to
a balloon-shaped cloud, as the smoke from the steamer mixed
with it. The country around was picturesquely beautiful. A
rocky cliff stands in the middle of the Danube in the form of
a rhinoceros' horn, and is called Babekey ; the word may be
Turkish, Servian, or Slavonian. In the Servian language it
signifies, " Be still, old one ! " in Turkish, " The rocks'
father ! " in Slavonian, " Repent, old man ! " and this last
explanation agrees with the common legend connected with
the cliff. A jealous husband is said to have placed his wife
there in the midst of the rapid current. The rock is just so
large that one person can conveniently stand there, and if he
be in a fitting humor, enjoy a very beautiful prospect ; for on
the Servian side lies the mountain fortress of Gobulaza, on
a rock standing perpendicularly out of the river, and in the
background dark woods. A part of this fortress is from the
time of the Romans. A hundred years ago it was a robber's
castle ; wild songs and the clash of drinking cups sounded
there in the night, whilst the Danube dashed its wayes against
the solitary cliff Babekey, which often became a life's meta for
many a poor prisoner. We soon passed Moldavia, famous for
its copper mines ; then the hamlet of Basiasch, with its poor
little cloister ; at every place we got a few passengers ; one
of them, from the last named place, was an elderly gentleman,
who seemed to be seal engraver or seal collector, for he walked
about with his sign on his stomach. Above a dozen large
and small seals hung from his watch ; he was a living chari
of the Danube, and I owe the treble explanation of the name
Babekey to him. The name of the little town O-Palanka,
which we approached, he said, was derived from a Slavonian
word signifying a defense with piles ; and gave it as his opir-
ion, that in the time of the Romans the fortification here had
been of that kind. Our only passenger from that place was a
lady, who, at the moment that the vessel laid to, and a man
sprung on board with her trunk, cried out : " No, no ! I will
go by land ! " And she ran like a despairing sheep after the



3IO A POET'S BAZAAR.

wolf that had carried off her young the large, well-nailed
trunk. She was on deck ; at the same moment the steam
whistled out of the blow-pipe ; in her astonishment she re-
mained standing motionless, and held her yellow ticket in her
hand ; the mate took it, and we we went on. " Yes, but I
would rather go by land ! " said the lady. It was the first
time in her life she had ventured on board a steam-vessel ; she
had been over-persuaded ; it was not her own wish. She as-
sured us that she had not slept the night before for thinking
about this voyage. She was going far away, up to the town of
Yucavar, two whole days' voyage ! However, she had only
taken her place as far as Semlin, to ascertain whether she should
be blown into the air or not. She was an economical woman.
She would not pay for the whole voyage at once. She would
first see whether she got over half of it alive !

She had heard of so many dreadful misfortunes with steam-
vessels and steam-carriages, and " they are terrible discover-
ies ! " said she. " O, if it would only not explode with us ! "
and then she looked anxiously on all sides. " The captain
should keep nearer the shore ! " was her meaning, so that
one could at least spring ashore when the vessel blew up.
Our grave .man with the seals now gave a popular lecture on
the nature of the blow-pipe and valve, for her edification ; but
she shook her head, and could not understand a word of it
I then attempted to translate it for her into a still more pop-
ular one, and she appeared to understand me, for at every sen-
tence she said " Yes." " Imagine, Madame," said I, ' that
you have a pot on the fire : the water in it boils very fast, a
large lid covers it as tight as if it were screwed fast ; then the
pot will spring from the hot steam within it, but if it be a light,
loose lid, then the lid tilts up and down, but the pot will not
spring ! " " But God preserve us ! " said the lady ; " when
the lid" and here she pointed to the deck "when the lid
here over the steam-engine tilts up, we shall be tumbled into
the Danube ! " and she took a fast hold of the bulwark.

Toward noon we passed Kubin. A majestic thunder cloud
hung over the town. The clouds formed an Alpine land of
greatness and darkness. The lightning's flash was the moun-"
tain path ; it ran in the boldest zigzag. The thunder rolled



FROM DRENCOVA TO SEMLIN. 3!!

above us, not as the fall of an avalanche ; no, but like the
mountains themselves crashing together. Yet it continued
equally hot as before, the air was oppressively warm. Our
poor lady, however, was still warmer than we. She had
thrown her large shawl around her, so that she could neither
see nor hear, and sat, with a beating heart, waiting for the
great explosion the vessel was to make. I proposed to her to
go down into the ladies' cabin ; but she answered No, with her
hand, for she could not speak otherwise. We darted on rap-
idly against the stream, alongside the endless forests of Servia,
the green color of which began to weary me. I felt a desire
for a view of the mountains of Attica, or even a piece of Jut-
land heath. The storm was quite over when we passed the
Turkish fortress, Semendria. It forms a triangle, is fortified
with walls, and has many towers, mostly square or round, all
ruinous, as well as the circular walls. It was not possible to
suppose that this place represented a fortress built in our time.
On one tower, the roof consisted merely of loose laths ; we
could see the open sky through them. Two Turkish soldiers
sat in an open hole in the turret, and stared after us. They
were the only living beings we saw in all that long ruinous
building. The town itself was insignificant ; a little wooden
minaret, whitewashed over, was the whole ornament of the
place. That oppressive air, that nausea one felt, yes, it
looked as if the fortress itself was " struck all of a heap " with
loathing and tediousness. The waves of the Danube were
quite yellow ; people sat on the deck with umbrellas over their
heads and slept. Everything we touched was glowing hot.
Our lady ordered one glass of water after another ; she took
camphor drops on sugar.

The next place we passed was Panscova, a town of which
they say that it is the custom there for young and old, nay,
even for the poorest, to paint themselves. When the ladies
there weep over a novel or romance, one may reckon all their
real tears ; they will be seen like pink spots on the white
leaves of a book ! The sun went down, it was still quite
sultry : the crescent moon hung directly over the fortress of
Belgrade. On the German side there were strong flashes of
lightning. Lights moved here and there on shore. We shot



312 A POET'S BAZAAR.

past the roaring Sava ; it was quite dark ; some minutes after-
ward we lay still, close to the shore, outside Semlin, the first
Austrian town on our right side ; the river Sava here formed
the boundary toward Servia. Here then we were to leave
the military boundaries, and pass through Hungary itself. All
the steam-vessels remain two days and a night at Semlir. we
had, therefore, plenty of time to say farewell to the last city
with minarets. The lady would not, however, remain the night
over on board the steamer. She had a relation in Semlin ; she
would stay with him, nay, stay away altogether. She there-
fore went ashore the first opportunity.

It was morning ; all around lay in broad sunlight. The
country around Semlin is flat ; to the left, a meadow with
guard-houses erected on piles, that the guards on watch may
not be washed away when the Danube rises. To the right,
Semlin, a regular provincial town. Toward the east, the
fortress of Belgrade, with its white minarets, the most charac-
teristic feature in the aspect of the East. The fortress, with its
mosque, stands on the top of a steep rock, and round about
that again is the town stretching down toward the Danube
and Sava, and inclosed on the other side by a large oak wood.
Belgrade has fourteen mosques. The right wing of the town
is occupied by the Turkish part of the inhabitants ; the centre
and left part by the Servians. It was on the twenty-fifth of
February, 1839, that the Servians obtained their free constitu-
tion. The Turks have now only the fortress ; the pasha there
is like a commander or governor. It was in the palace gar-
den here that the noble Greek poet, Rhigas, was shamefully
executed. He was the Beranger of Greece, and in the then
state of Greece, a poet of still greater mark than the French-
man. It was not alone by his songs that he awoke the feeling
of freedom amongst the people, but he employed his means in
educating young Greeks. He had them sent to him to Venice,
where he lived as a merchant. He had them brought up to
feel what their father-land had been. Greece was still under
Turkish sway. Rhigas was delivered to the Turks, who com-
manded him to be sawn in two alive j and this horrible
execution took place here in the pasha's palace yard. Six
hundred and thirty Servians were impaled in the same place



FROM DRENCOVA TOSEMLIN. 313

in 1815. They had all surrendered on the promise of being
pardoned. One of these unfortunate beings lived until the
seventh day after the impalement. The Danube swam with
dead bodies with the bodies of the Servians. The Turks
might have sung in mockery, "It is beautiful to sit by the
river and see the broken weapons of thine enemy glide past ! "

Below, where the Sava falls into the Danube, stands a
decayed tower, Neboisce, " Be without fear ! " The bodies
of the executed were thrown from an aperture in its walls into
the Danube In this tower, in the deepest dungeon, into which
the water forces its way, sat the noble Prince JefFram Obreno-
witsch, brother to Prince Milosch, who in open battle com-
pelled the pasha to deliver his prisoner. The remembrances
connected with the place awakened thoughts of the wood-
demon who pressed his strong legs around Prince Agib's
neck, as the legend informs us. At the sight of that gloomy,
ruinous tower, I fancied I felt the clammy walls press me like
the wood-demon's legs ! What horrors are there not con-
nected with the scene which now lay before me in the bright
est sunshine, with fresh green trees, sunlit minarets, cupolas,
and red-roofed houses !

Servia's first deliverer, Black George, fled through that dark
oak forest, by the river Sava ; this wood and this river were
the scene of one of those tragic combats that live, and will
live in the people's songs. Black George fled with his old
father, the herdsman Petroni ; they already saw the river Sava
and the borders of Austria, and the father was filled with the
anguish of leaving his father-land. He begged his son to sur-
render himself, that they might die together on their native
soil ; and George wavered between filial obedience and the
love of freedom ; the first was about to gain the mastery, when
the shouts of the Bosnians and Turks resounded through the
forest. The son prepared to lift his father on his shoulders,
and swim with him across the river ; but the old man would
not leave that land to which the memories of his life were
bound ; he would rather be hewed down by the wild hordes !
The son then, begged his father's blessing, and the old man
Destowed it upon him, opened his mantle, and bared his
breast. The son shot his bullet into his father's heart, cast



314 ^ POETS BAZAAR.

the body into the Sava, and then swam over the river himself.
It was as though the waves still told me about it ; and the
dark oak forest nodded, saying : " Yes, so it was." Screaming
birds flew out of the open black holes in the tower from
whence the bodies of the Servians had been thrown ; thus do
birds of prey flutter around a place of execution.

Between the Austrian town Semlin and the river Savatheie
is a meadow, stretching out directly before Belgrade, in which
there is held a sort of market ; two rows of palisades near
each other separate the buyers from the sellers ; the Austrian
watch, and the military officials, pass along this long narrow
way, and observe that no contact takes place ; that the Turk-
ish goods come into quarantine, and that the money is first
washed in vinegar before it is taken on the Austrian frontier.
There is a shouting and gesticulating between the different
people to make themselves understood by each other ; the
wares are spread out, turned, and tumbled about. Swine,
horses, in short, all kinds of cattle are driven into the river.
When they have been well washed in it, they are considered
as being free from contagion ; the whip cracks, the horn
sounds, and the shy animals run in amongst the Turks, and
must then out again into the bath.

Two Greek priests, with dark-blue mantles down to theii
ankles, small hats, and large beards, sat lounging the whole
afternoon under the poplars by the Danube, and looked at our
vessel. Toward evening the chief persons of the good city of
Semlin came on board ; they greeted each other, as we could
see, according to rank ; some got a whole bushel of compli-
ments, they were the very tip-top inhabitants ; others got
gracious compliments by the drachm ; it was quite ridiculous
to see. I thought I was at home ! How mankind resemble
each other everywhere.

Something more novel was the sight here of the long row
of river vessels ; every one of them looked like a Noah's ark.
They were long, very narrow, and with a house (for they are
floating houses) that was large enough to form a whole street
They were all painted over in various colors ; on one stood a
glowing red lion on each side of the door ; on another, grass-
green dragons, with gold crowns on their heads ; most of the



FROM SEMLIN TO MO H ACS. 315

others had pictures of saints. The way in which they ma-
neuvered to get up against the stream was this ; not less than
twenty-one men, one behind the other, took their places on
the roof, which extended over the whole vessel. They hauled
in a rope, bound fast to an anchor placed at a great distance
up in the middle of the stream ; they get forward, but at a
snail's pace. A thunder-cloud stood over the plains of Hun-
gary ; the rain poured down over the homeward-bound Sem-
liners, both over number one in rank, and over numbers two,
three, four as many as you please. Such a stupid cloud
does not know the distinction due to persons ; it drenches
high and low ! After rain comes sunshine ; everything shone
again in the setting sun, the Danube's and Sava's waves, and
Belgrade's minarets. Here the Servian Dryads bade me their
last farewell ; here I heard the last cry at night from the
dwellers on the minarets. When I again come upon deck to-
morrow, there will be nothing on the shore to remind me of
the East ! Here I see the last minaret.



X.

FROM SEMLIN TO MOHACS.

THE day broke, and we still lay outside Semlin ; the whole
district around was enveloped in thick mist ; the Captain
durst not venture to sail up that tortuous river. The wind
blew, the mist became more transparent ; the vessel was set
in motion, we passed green meadows and yellow cliffs. A
number of new passengers had come on board on the previous
evening. They came up from the cabin one after another ;
one with his coffee-cup, another with his hand-book, or a
paper, on which the events of the day were to be noted down.
A few government officers carried on a conversation in Latin,
from which we knew we were in Hungary ; an ecclesiastic,
who heard that I was Danish, began a conversation with me
about Tycho Brahe, Schumacher, and H. C. Orsted ; the man
was very eloquent, had travelled much, and knew the particu-
lars about most places and things. He was an astronomer,
and his name, Wartan Josephl.



316 A POET'S BAZAAR.

It comes pleasantly home to a man's feelings to hear, so far
from his father-land, its, or one of its significant names that
shed a lustre over his country, spoken of with admiration and
affection ; the invisible roots of the soul that hold us to our
home's soil are touched in a strange manner : we become at
once glad and sorrowful. The stranger spoke particularly
about Orsted, and the cordial words sounded like music to
my ear ; and the fertile green meadow I looked upon re-
minded me of summer-Denmark. My heart was told of my
father-land through ear and eye.

Before us lay Karlowitz, with the church of Maria- Fried : at
a distance it reminded me of Rosenberg Palace, in Copenha-
gen : I knew these towers and spires, I knew these fields, and
the green trees. On the following day's voyage it became a
certainty to me that Hungary at least, near the Danube
has quite a Danish character. If we travel on the high-
road between Karlowitz and Peterwardein, then the distance
between both these places is only a walk ; on the contrary, if
we go up the river it is a little voyage, as the Danube makes
one of its most considerable windings here.

Peterwardein, the strongest fortress of Austria, does not
appear very large, and has nothing of the imposing effect of
Ehrenbreitstein. On our voyage up the river, it looked like a
fortress in aflat country; its outworks appeared to be walli-d
terraces, the one higher than the other, behind which lay
long, barrack-like buildings. When we came to the opposite
side of the fortress, toward the hamlet of Neusats, 1 it offered
something of a nobler and more picturesque character ; the
foundation was on a rock ; it rose on large masses of granite.

All the good folks of Neusats were out in the street, under
the green trees, to look at the steam-vessel ; three large heaps
of goods lay on the shore ; people took leave of and k ;
each other, and the mother fastened the cloak a little closer
around the daughter who was going away ; a cavalier held the
parasol whilst two ladies embraced each other : we had a con-
siderable accession of company on board.

1 In 1738, Neusats was a fishing village, now it is a town of considerable
importance ; between Neusats and Peterwardein is the first bridge acroM
the Danube : it is a bridge of boats.



PROM SEMLIN TO MO H ACS. 317

We sailed in between two green fruitful mountains, and met
two boats rilled to repletion ; there were above a hundred per-
sons in each ; those on board said that they were returning
from a pilgrimage : they sang and rejoiced. It often happens
in dark and bad weather that such boats meet with accidents.
Whilst we were speaking about it, a thunder-cloud rolled like
an avalanche between the mountains ; a shower came over us ;
the Danube swelled as if its Naiads had become angry be-
cause they were bearing the pious men who had come from
the pilgrimage. We shot forward rapidly. One little town
peeped forth after another between the green trees. Small
floating colonies lay on the Danube ; every house was a water-
mill ; the wheel went round, the miller's men hung on each
other's backs by the open shutter-windows to see our vessel,
and the strangers in it. The mirth of an "Eulenspiegel" began
here, and was continued right up to Pesth. The Hungarians
take their hats off at every water-mill they come to, put it un-
der their arm, and grind round with the other hand, which
signifies that the millers grind for their own hats, or, in other
words, what we call steal ; here, as everywhere else, the
jest against the millers was understood and answered, as poor
Eulenspiegel would have answered it : but I need not enter
into particulars.

We lay for a short time outside Illok, an old town which was
almost hidden by a thick, bush-grown cliff; the fortress is com-
pletely destroyed ; a Franciscan monastery extends very pic-
tuiesquely along the summit ; this was the most considerable
we had yet seen on our voyage up the Danube. A new palace
was building for the princely family of Odaskalki.

What a beautiful, picturesque scene the face of nature here
presents ! When in a few years the Danube gets its pano-
ramic views like the Rhine, Illok will then be one of the
places where the beholder will wish to wander between the
green woods under the ivy-covered walls of the monastery ;
but he will not do so ; he will have but the prospect ; nor did
we in reality get more we were all on board, and sailed for-
ward on our way.

At sunset we reached Yucovar : here and in Borova, where
we arrived in the night there came new passengers; the



318 A POET'S BAZAAR.

number increased in the morning when we lay before Dalja.
People streamed to the great Medardus fair from all parts ;
every sleeping place in the vessel was taken, and we had still
a three days' voyage before we reached the end of our journey ;
we had yet to pass Apatin, Mohacs, Baja, Tolna, Paks, Fold-
var, and Ersceny ; seven towns, where we might expect new
guests from each, and all were to go by our vessel.

At Erdod lies a ruin on a high cliff; it is equally as pictur-
esque as the legend connected with it is original. 1 A young
nobleman of the house of Erdod lifted his hand against his
father, struck him in the face, and the old man cursed his son ;
a flaming red mark, like that of Cain, appeared on the son's
brow; it burnt it drove him away up toward the cold
North, through marsh and forest, over mountains and seas, to
ice and snow. All turned away from him wherever he came ;
the mark burnt and burnt. He turned toward the South, to
the merry lively people ; but they feared Cain, they turned
from him. Then despair came on his heart he knew not
where he went. A river rushed under the precipice where he
stood, a knight's castle lay there, illumined by the sinking sun ;
he knew its towers, its spires, and the venerable man, who,
leaning on his jdger passed over the draw-bridge ; he threw
himself at the old man's feet, and with the father's blessing



Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 28 of 31)