H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

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

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the burning mark vanished from his brow.

Our last guests were highly characteristic real country
nobles ; all in parti-colored jackets of light red or light blue
striped linen ; they all had bare necks and short beards ;
these were to represent innocence and strength. They had
caps with the Hungarian national color, green, yellow, and
red, the one little triangular patch sewed by the side of the
other. They all wore mustaches ending on each side like a
little ram's horn. A young, yellow-visaged Jew made him-
self very conspicuous by them ; he had them so small that
they looked like three hairs well plastered with pomatum : we
could see that in his family's, and in his own opinion, he was
a very fine gentleman. He was a real Hungarian idler !

1 1 give the legend as it was verbally related to me on the spot ; it
founds, however, somewhat different in Mednyanszky's Erzdhlungen, Sagtn
*nd Legenden aus Ungarn* Vorzeit.



THE SWINEHERD. 319

In the afternoon we reached Mohacs, where we were to re-
main until the next morning. The plain near this town has a
sort of fame from the battle between Louis II. of Hungary
and Solyman the Magnificent ; it is immortalized in a painting
belonging to the Bishop's residence outside the town. I
was with the rest on the way thither, but turned back. I
did not care to go so far. I directed my steps to a barber s,
for I was prosaically inclined, and one becomes so on a voy-
age ; yet I must confess that I was extremely sorry I had not
seen the picture, of which the other passengers spoke highly.
But is it not true, that we cannot see everything ? I looked
at another picture in the house of the poor barber ; there hung
a genuine Hungarian piece, of the kind one buys for a penny.
On a sheet of paper, two praying angels hovered in the air,
and under them were two clasped hands with the inscription :
" For our friends ! " by the side of these were two strong fists,
and here was written : "Against our enemies ! "

This was also a picture, and perhaps more characteristic of
Hungary than the painting I should have seen in the Bishop's
mansion, where I did not care to go.

I was tired, fatigued, and weary of the voyage ; and that is
the truth.



XL

THE SWINEHERD.

OUTSIDE that clay and straw-plastered hut sits an old swine-
herd, a real Hungarian, consequently a nobleman. He has
often laid his hand on his heart and said so to himself. The
sun burns hot, therefore he has turned the woolly side of his
sheepskin cloak outward ; his silvery white hair hangs down
his characteristically brown face ; he has got a new piece of
linen, a shirt, and he manages it in his way ; rubs it in with
bacon ; then it keeps longer clean, then it can be turned and
turned again. His grandson, a florid complexioned lad, with
his long, black hair shining with the same sort of pomatum as
the old man uses to his linen, stands close by, leaning on a
staff ; a long leather bag hangs over his shoulder. He is also



32O A POETS BAZAAR.

a swineherd, and is going this evening on board a vessel
which, towed by the steamer Eros, carries a large cargo of
swine to the capital.

" In five days you will be there," says the man ; " when I
was a lad like thee, we took six weeks to it ! We went step
by step, through marshy ways, through woods and over rocks ;
swine that in the first few days were so fat that some of them
burst on the march, became thin and miserable before we
came to the place. Now the world goes forward ! Every-
thing becomes easier."

" We can smoke our pipes," says the young one, " lie in our
skin cloaks in the warm sun ; towns and meadows glide past
us ; the swine fly too, and become fat on the way. That is a
gentleman's life ! "

" Every one has his," says the old one ; " I had mine.
There is mirth in adventure. When I saw the gypsies boiling
and roasting in the wood, I was obliged to be on the lookout
that my best swine did not get into the pot. I have seen
many a merry hour ; I had to think, to turn myself, and, now
and then, to use my fists. On the plain between the rocks,
where, you know, the winds are shut in, I drove my herd : I
drove it over the field where the invisible palace of the winds
is erected. One saw neither house nor roof; the palace of
the winds can only be felt ! I drove the herd through all the
invisible rooms and saloons ; I observed it full well ; the wall
was storm, the door whirlwind ! It is worth while having tried
such things ; it gives one something to talk about. What
have you, who bask in sunshine on the large swimming pigsty,
to relate ? "

And as the old man talks, he rubs his new piece of linen
very eagerly.

" Go with me to the Danube," says the young ofie ; " there
you shall see a huddle of swine so fat, that they appear as
though each and all would burst. They will not go into the
vessel, we drive them with sticks ; they squeeze themselves
together, place themselves across, stretch themselves on the
ground, crawl on each other's backs, however heavy they may
be. That is a huddle worth seeing. You will laugh till you
shake again. There is a squealing all the musicians ir



FAIR GUESTS. 321

Hungary could not get such tones out of their bagpipes, if
they were to squeeze them ever so hard. Now your shirt
shines so well with the fat pork that you cannot make it look
better. Go with me to the Danube ; I will give you something
to drink, old father. In four days I shall be in the capital ; I
shall see luxury and splendor ; I will buy thee a pair of red
trousers and plated spurs."

And the old swineherd lifts his head proudly, looks with
glistening eyes on the young Magyar, hangs his shirt up on a
hook in the low clay cabin, where there is only a bench, table,
and wooden chest : he nods his head, and mutters, " Nemes-
ember van, nemes-ember en es vagyok /"*



XII.

FAIR GUESTS.

WE leave Mohacs. Our vessel was quite filled with pas-
sengers ; we were above three hundred, and many more were
expected before we reached Pesth. Chests, sacks, bundles,
and packages lay heaped up as high as the boxes of the pad-
dle-wheels, and round about, on deck and under the deck,
people tried to get a place, if not to sit, at least to stand. A
Turkish Jew who had come down from Semlin had the best
of it ; he continued to keep the place he had first taken ; he
sat on a carpet he had spread out, and held a large keg of
wine between his legs. Every moment he drank a toast,
nodded and sang, crowed like a cock, and sighed like a
maiden ; he was the pantaloon for the whole company, and
merry enough he was. A heiduk, or foot-soldier, in red trou-
sers and large white cloak, stood unmoved from morning till
evening, with his back against the captain's cabin, and
smoked his pipe. Some old Jews read aloud to themselves
out of their Hebrew Bibles. Two or three families sat on
some piled-up bundles, and ate bread and onions, as well as
played a game of cards or idled away the time. A young
militaire paid continual court to a girl, whilst two other offi

1 " He is a nobleman ; I also am a nobleman 1 "
21



322 A POET'S BAZAAR.

cers jested with the little Armenian boy Antonius, and, to th
great dismay of Pater Adam, told him that it was not good to
be a monk ! They showed him their sabres, pointed to their
mustaches, set their parti-colored caps on his head. The boy
smiled, and Pater Adam shook his head. There was a merri-
ment, a screaming, a humming, and buzzing, both above and
below. " Mein parapleem ! paraplecm I " screamed a Jew who
had lost his umbrella. " Felix faustumquc sit!" shouted a
black dressed Oskolamestre, who met his colleague ! The
poor damsel who had come with us from Constantinople gave
herself up to tears on account of the great mass of people, and,
as she said, "the horrible company in the second cabin."
One might laugh or cry at it. Everything below was envel-
oped in tobacco smoke. People stood upon each other, but
there were also many who sat, and that not only on the
benches, but on the ends and sides of the tables: they sat
there all day that they might have a sitting place at night
Two young wives of the Jewish faith stood in the midst of the
throng, with their arms around each other's waists, and smelt
of a citron.

There was not much better accommodation in the first cabin,
only that there we were free from tobacco-smoke. The gen-
tlemen sat unceremoniously amongst the ladies, and played
makan, a very high game at hazard. A Semlin trader, in a
green jerkin, and with a black felt hat, which he never took
off, even while he slept, had already played watch and money
away. Champagne corks flew about ; there was a smell of
beefsteaks ! and in the evening it was worse still ; they had
to sleep on tables and benches, nay, under the tables and
benches, even in the cabin windows ; some lay in their clothes,
others made themselves comfortable, and imagined that they
were going to their own good beds at home.

The ladies' cabins were equally overfilled ; a few of the eldest
took courage, and a manly heart, as we call it, and sat down
within the door of our cabin with us ! Others took up their
place on the steps, the one over the other. The whole deck
was one large bed, and here they went to rest with the sun.
One could not take a step without treading on them ! Here
was a murmuring, a sighing, a snoring and we had this foi



PESTH AND OPEN. 323

two nights ! One quite forgot the poetry of nature for every-day
life. New fruitful districts, vine-hills, and large villages with
new and light churches met our view as we darted past. At
length, on the third morning after our departure from Mohacs,
the Hungarian flag 1 was hoisted, Pesth lay before us in
airy mist ! Ofen was hidden by the high mountain of St.
Gerhard, 2 where a flag was hoisted on the summit of the tower
to greet the steamer which brought the fair guests.



XIII.

PESTH AND OFEN.

HERE is a prospect ! But how shall one paint it with
words, and the sunlight in which it appears. The buildings
along the shores of the river in Pesth seem to be a row of
palaces ; what life and bustle ! Hungarian dandies, trades-
men, both Jews and Greeks, soldiers and peasants, force their
way amongst each other. It is the fair of St. Medardus.
Less, but variegated houses extend along the opposite shore
of the river under the high grass-green mountains ; a few rows
lie in ranks on the mountain side. That is Ofen, the capital
of Hungary; the fortress, the Hungarian Acropolis, lifts its
white walls above the green gardens.

A bridge of boats unites the two towns. What a throng
and tumult ! The bridge rocks as the carriages pass over it.
Soldiers march ; bayonets glitter in the sun ; a procession of
peasants sets out on a pilgrimage. Now, they are on the mid-
dle of the bridge, the cross twinkles, the song reaches us. The
river itself is half-filled with ships and small vessels. Hearken
to the music ! A crowd of boats are rowed up against the

1 The Hungarian flag has a red stripe at the top, a green one at the
bottom, and in the middle a white. In the right field are the rivers Drave,
Save, and Theiss ; in the left field three mountains, Tatra, Fatra, and Matra ;
and above the field is a crown, the cross of which is bent as in the real Hun-
garian royal crown, which was a gift from Pope Sylvester to Stephen the
Holy. None but those who have worn it, are entitled Kings of Hungary.

2 The heathens threw the holy St. Gerhard from this place into the
Danube.



324 A POET'S BAZAAR.

stream ; the Hungarian flag waves by dozens from every boat j
the whole shore is filled with people. What kind of proces
sion is it ? All the persons in the boats are nearly naked, but
with tri-colored caps on. The music clangs, the flags wave,
the oars splash ! What does it all signify ? I ask a young
lady, who is also looking at this merriment, and she explains
to me that it is the military swimming school. Officers and
cadets all swim, as for a wager, down with the stream to St.
Gerhard's mount ; but it is impossible to swim back, and
therefore they row in boats, with flags and music. It has a
gay appearance, and it is characteristic ! All is exultation
all is festivity the church bells ring. It is Whitsunday !

We go on shore, we seek for a hotel. It is large and
splendid ; and it is shamefully dear ! There is no tax here
during the fair time. We wander about in Pesth ; but it is
Vienna, at least, a part of Vienna. The same shops ; the
same diversified, well-painted signs, with portraits and alle-
gories. One feels a desire to stand still. See there, on the
coffee-house, in gilt letters : " Kave-hbs ; " and, underneath, is
a picture, which shows "the heavenly coffee-well." Angels
sit down to table here, and drink coffee ; one of the most
beautiful fetches it from the fountain, where it streams forth,
quite dark-brown, amongst the flowers. In one of the streets
here, is a " Stock-am Eisen" just as in Vienna ; the last rem-
nant of the primitive forest by the Danube. Here every trav-
elling workman struck his nail into the tree, as long as there
was a spot where it could be driven in ; and the tree became
an iron tree, a tree of nails ! Hercules himself had not such
a club.

Not a trace is now to be seen of the overflowing of the Dan-
ube ; every house is erected again ; everything is newer and
more splendid. 1

Ofen has one theatre, Pesth two : the one, and the least of
them, is the national theatre, where they only perform plays
in the Hungarian language. Here are good actors and good
music ; and the house is, as they told me, always well fre-

1 In 1838, there was a dreadful inundation here. The water rose twenty,
nine feet four inches above the usual level. Many persons perished ; cat-
tle were drowned, and houses fell down.



PESTH AND OPEN. 325

quented. This building is also used as a concert saloon. I
heard Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's oratorio of " Saint Paul," in a
Hungarian translation, or, as it is called in Hungarian abbre-
viation, " Pal." The Royal Theatre is large and handsome, but
badly lighted. Emil Devrient, from Saxony, so celebrated in
Germany, was here during my stay, and performed Sancho,
in Raupach's " Die Konigsstochter ein Bettlerweib," ami
jBolingbroke, in Scribe's " Un Verre d'Eau." There was na
ture and truth in this artist's playing ; he shone like a star of
the first magnitude amongst these lesser ones. However, there
were several that one could observe were public favorites, a

Madame , in particular, who appeared to me to have a

high degree of mannerism ; but the worse the lady performed,
the more did the people applaud.

The "National Casino/' where I was introduced, is very
large ; and, with respect to books and newspapers, extremely
well supplied. What interests the stranger most here, is the
number of different journals and periodicals in the language
of the country. As the most read, and most important Hun-
garian poet, may be mentioned Josika, who has written many
novels. One of these, " The Bohemians in Hungary," is much
praised. The question was put to me, if any Hungarian
work had been translated into Danish ? and I could only an-
swer that I knew but one, " Szechenyi on Horse-racing,"
and added that it had been just translated by one of my dear-
est Danish friends. The Hungarians spoke with great enthu-
siasm of Szechenyi and his many services to Hungary. As
the most interesting of his works, they named " Der Credit."

Szechenyi's portrait was to be seen in all the book-sellers'
shops, and it ornamented our cabin in the steamer, which car-
ried us higher up the Danube. Yet, before we sail again, let
us take a little trip to the other side of Ofen, to Gul-Baba's
grave, by the " Imperial Bath." We bring a greeting from the
East to the Turkish saint ; we bring it from old Stamboul,
from Mohammed's green flag ! Who is he within there, that
lies stretched out on his face, a white felt hat without brim
around his brow ? Did I not see him in the whirling dance,
amongst the Mewlewis in Pera ? It is a dervise ! He has wan-
dered hither on foot, over mountains, through desert wastes, to a



326 A POET'S BAZAAR.

strange people, to the Christians' city ! His pilgrimage is ended.
As a memento thereof, he hangs a parti-colored wooden sword
on the wall, casts himself on his face, and mutters, "There
is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet ! "

It is evening ! the sun sinks red and large ! The son of the
East wanders silently from the grave to the high fortress. He
has sought out the most solitary way, the most remote bastion ;
he bends his head, and says another prayer. The common
man stands at a distance ; stares after the foreign wanderer,
and has his own thoughts ! There is, as he knows, no peace
at night in this place. An hour before midnight, the gigantic
figure of an unhappy spirit, a Turk, glides about here. The
figure lifts the largest of the cannons, shoulders it, and marches
round the walls with it. At the stroke of twelve, it lays the
cannon down in its place, and vanishes. Will the living figure
exchange words here with the dead this night ? It is still on
the bastion, and still in the little tomb where Gul-Baba sleeps.



XIV.

THE DANUBE FROM PESTH TO VIENNA.

THE steamer Maria Anna sails early in the morning to Vi-
enna. We go on board ; the little vessel is over-filled with
passengers. It goes off at a rapid rate, against the stream,
past the bathing-houses, where the palings bend under the
weight of half-naked soldiers, one wrapped in a sheet, others
in shirts ; but now we are past !

Primitive forests once extended along these shores ; a soli-
tary hut, of earth and boughs, stood by the swelling river.
Waitz was the name of its pious hermit ; his memory now lives
only in the name of the town which greets us with its churches
anc promenades. It is Waitzen. The legend states that shortly
before the battle of Mogyrrod, the Princes Geisa and Ladislaus
rode through the forest here together. They spoke of the order
of battle, and the positions of the armies, when Ladislaus sud-
denly cried out, " Did you not see something ? Whilst we spoke
together, an angel came from heaven, and held a crown ovei



FROM PESTH TO VIENNA. 327

your head ! Now, I know you will conquer ! " And Geisa
swore : " If God be with us, and thy vision be fulfilled, I will
build a church on this spot ! " The enemy fled ; and here by
the hermit's cell, in the dark wood, a stag, with burning antlers,
started suddenly forth ; the warriors shot at it, the stag sprang
into the Danube, and disappeared. The church was built by
the side of Waitz's cell ; a town rose round about it, and was
called Waitzen.

Legends and reminiscences are connected with these shores.
Here the scene varies with wood and rock, with green fields
and populous towns. We approach a ruin ; in its days of
power it was once the most fairy-like palace in Europe. Mat-
thew Corvini loved this place : at his command the floors were
spread with marble, the ceiling shone with gold, the walls with
paintings and rich drapery. Every window told a legend or a
heathenish saga ; birds of various plumage flew about in here
in the winter time amongst the palms and oranges of the
South. All has disappeared ; the fox digs his hole where
proud knights danced in rows. The herdsman drives his herd
over the narrow path between the bushes, where artificial foun-
tains splashed on the high terraces. The poet of that time be-
holding it, thought and dreamed of Armida's enchanted garden.
The boat, adorned with oriental splendor, was loosened here
from the little marble haven in the moonlight summer even-
ings. The music sounded, joyous women and brave men
made merry sailing trips, and rejoiced in the evening, and
were gladdened by the grand echo which answered again and
again from Solomon's tower, by the river, a building six stories
in height. All this has disappeared, all is passed ; Echo alone
sits here yet on the ruins, and replies with the unchanged voice
of youth ; yet one name, say the people, it does not repeat,
and that is of the traitor Betdz, who betrayed his king.

We approached Gran, where Stephen the Holy was born,
and where he now rests in his coffin. In the midst of the
ruined fortress on the cliff a church is building. The town
itself lies flat, between green trees ; from these trees a number
of butterflies flutter over the Danube, as if they were a bevy
of sylphides, of which we only saw the wings. The thought
of sylphides and the name of the town leads me back to the



328 A POET'S BAZAAR.

Sylphide of the North, who flew from the Danish scene to the
world's city, Paris, and enchanted even that critical gentleman,
Jules Janin ; then, at once went on crutches to the baths of the
Pyrenees ; sank from admiration and renown to suffering and
oblivion ! I forget Stephen the Holy's town for Lucile for-
get Gran for Grahn !

Toward evening we reached Comorn ; new passengers
flocked to our steamer. It was now so full that each of us
might be glad if we got a place to sit in at night ; the luxury
of stretching one's weary limbs at full length was too much
to expect. We sat side by side. As there are moving sand
banks in the Danube that sometimes lie here and sometimes
there, we naturally ran on them several times. One passen-
ger knocked against his neighbor, a few old gentlemen fell on
their knees to the floor, and the refreshment tables danced a
mazurka.

The next day's voyage offered only the sight of flat wood-
grown shores, with here and there a water-mill or a village
with a church. We now lay before Presburg. As we neared
the bridge, a " Kellner " (cellar-man or butler) threw a pack
of cards into the river, heaven knows why ! The cards sank
down deep as if they willingly sought the bottom ; one
in particular, but it came up again it was the Queen of
Hearts. She courtesied three times very deeply, and then she
sank. This was our gracious welcome to Presburg. Close to
the place where we landed was a little hill with a walled fence,
whose name is significant it is " Kronungs Berg." The
joyous Hungarians, who are handsome, very handsome, as-
semble round this hill on the day of the King's coronation ;
the tri-colored flag then waves from all the vessels in the
river ; the cannons thunder, and Hungary's King in the same
dress, and with the same crown Stephen the Holy wore, rides
up this hill, and from its summit, with his sword raised against
the four quarters of the world, swears to defend and maintain
his country. Church-bells and trumpets, the cannons, and
people's mouths exultingly shout their " Long life to the
. />rd's anointed ! "

I like this city it is lively and motley. The shops appear
to have been brought from Vienna ! " Yes, here is much t



FROM PESTH TO VIENNA. 329

see," says the burgher ; "go with me to the ruins of the pal-
ace 01; the lofty rock by the Danube. There is a prospect
over the floating bridge, over towns, and corn-land ! Along
the rock there hangs a street with many colored houses, with
balmy trees, and children dance up there in the warm sun."
We wander through the city ; here are old reminiscences, here
are rare legends ! here are also charming roses, and still pret-
tier children. I met quite a little girl ; she had a large bou-
quet. She smiled on me. Seeing a stranger, she stopped,
took one of the prettiest roses, gave it to me, nodded, and
was gone. The rose shall not wither ; it shall bloom in a
poem, and when the little one, herself, in a few years becomes
a full-blown rose, accident may bring her this poem : will
she then remember the stranger to whom she gave the flower ?

We stand in the open square before the town-hall, over the
gate of which there is a picture on the wall painted al fresco.
It represents an old man in a black habit and with a long
beard ; he bends over an open book. What does this picture
signify? What says the legend? It is a tale calculated to
awaken horror. This figure was once one of the most power-
ful councilors of the city ; he was an alchemist and astrol
oger feared and hated. He knew how to appropriate
everything to himself, even the poor widow's little field. And
the poor woman forced her way into the council chamber
where he sat with the mighty of the city ; she lifted her voice
in despair, and demanded of him to take an oath that he had
acted according to law and conscience. And he took the
book, bent over it, read the oath with a hollow voice, raised
his hand, and swore. Then a whirlwind rushed through the
hall, and they all sank to the ground. When it was once more
still and they rose, the perjurer had vanished. The window



Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 29 of 31)