Transcriber's Note: To improve readability, dashes between entries in the Table of Contents and in chapter subheadings have been converted to periods.
GERMANY, BOHEMIA, AND HUNGARY,
VISITED IN 1837.
THE REV. G. R. GLEIG, M.A., CHAPLAIN TO THE ROYAL HOSPITAL, CHELSEA.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
LONDON: JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
CHAP. I. The Gulden Krone. Count Thun's Castle and Grounds. Glorious Scenery. The March resumed. Superstitions of the Bohemians not Idolatry. State of Property. Agricultural Population. Kamnitz. The Cow-herds. Stein Jena. Hayde 1
CHAP. II. Our Landlady and Washerwoman. The Einsiedlerstein. Its Dungeons and Hall. Its History. Inscription over the Hermit's Grave. Lose our Way. Guided by a Peasant. His Conversation. Mistaken for Italian Musicians. Gabel 34
CHAP. III. General Appearance of the Place. The Inn. Ludicrous Mistakes. The Public Room. Astonishment of the People at the sight of Englishmen. The Priests. Scene in the Tap-Room. Kindness of the People. Our Fishing Operations. A Chasse, and a Daylight Ball 57
CHAP. IV. Our Landlord becomes our Guide. Peculiar Scenery of this part of Bohemia. A Village Beer-house. Travelling Mechanics. The Torpindas. Toilsome March. Marchovides. Entertainment there 80
CHAP. V. March renewed. Scenery more and more grand. A Population of Weavers. Hochstadt. The Iser. Magnificent River, and capital Trouting. Starkenbach. Kindness of the Inhabitants. Carried to the Chancellor's House. Fish the Iser again. The effect of my sport on a Religious Procession. Supper at the High Bailiff's. Game at Chess. Take leave of our kind Hosts with mutual regret 105
CHAP. VI. The Elbe, a Mountain-stream. We Fish it. Dine on our Fish in a Village Inn. The Young Torpinda. Arnau. The Franciscan Convent. Troutenau. The Wandering Minstrels. March continued. Fish the River. Village Inn, and account of the Torpindas. First Meeting with these formidable People in a Wood. Another Pedestrian Tourist. Aderspach. Excellent Quarters. Remarkable Rocks. The Minstrels again 128
CHAP. VII. Walk to Shatzlar. Magnificent Scenery. Extreme Fatigue. Our Landlord. Early associations awakened by a Scene in the Market-place. Rest for a day. Ascent of Schnee-Koppee. Halt at a Village on the Silesian side 161
CHAP. VIII. Warmbrunn. Objects around. Dilemma. Hirschberg. How Travellers may manage when their Purses grow light. Pass for Russians, and derive great benefit from the arrangement. Lang-Wasser. Greiffenberg. The Prussian Landwehr. Golden Traum. Scene in the Village Inn. Bernstadt. Hernhut. The Hernhuters. Agriculture in Bohemia. Schlukenau. Schandau 179
CHAP. IX. The Diligence from Dresden to Toeplitz. The Field of Kulm. The Battle, and the Monuments that record it 243
CHAP. X. Toeplitz. Its Gaieties. Journey resumed. First View of Prague. General Character of the City. The Hradschin. Cathedral. University. Historical details connected with it. The Reformation in Bohemia 278
CHAP. XI. The Jews' Town. Visits to various Points worth noticing. State of Public Feeling 333
CHAP. XII. Quit Prague. Journey to Bruenn by Koeniggratz. State of the Country. Bruenn. Its Public Buildings. Absence of the Moravian Brethren 353
CHAP. XIII. Country between Bruenn and Vienna. Vienna. Journey to Presburg. Presburg. The Hungarian Constitution 372
GERMANY, BOHEMIA, AND HUNGARY, IN 1837.
THE GULDEN KRONE. COUNT THUN'S CASTLE AND GROUNDS. GLORIOUS SCENERY. THE MARCH RESUMED. SUPERSTITIONS OF THE BOHEMIANS NOT IDOLATRY. STATE OF PROPERTY. OF THE AGRICULTURAL POPULATION. KAMNITZ. THE COW-HERDS. STEIN JENA. HAYDE.
We had quitted home not unprepared for the suspicious looks which innkeepers might be expected to cast upon us, strangely equipped as we were, rude of speech, and so very humble in the style of our travel. We were, therefore, nothing daunted by the somewhat cold reception which our host of the Golden Crown vouchsafed; and boldly questioned him relative to his means of supplying our wants, namely, supper, a bottle of wine, and a good bed-room. The confidence of our tone seemed to restore his; for he forthwith conducted us upstairs; and we were ushered into a snug little apartment, in which stood two beds, a table, a chest of drawers, and four or five chairs. This was all, in the way of lodging, of which we were desirous; and the next point to be settled was supper. What could they produce? Had they any mutton? No. Beef? None. Poultry? Nothing of the sort. What then? Veal, or, as it is elegantly termed, calf's-flesh, which could be served up within the space of an hour and a-half, either gokocht,—that is, boiled, or grebraten,—i.e., roasted. And here let me observe once for all, that he whose taste or whose stomach cannot be satisfied with veal, had better not travel in Germany. For veal is to the Germans what beef is to us,—the everyday diet of such as devour animal food at all; whereas beef they seem to use only at large hotels as materials for soup-making, while mutton is a luxury. Neither is it difficult to account for this. There are no extensive pasturages, even in the mountain districts of Germany, as there are in the Highlands of Scotland, and in the fens of Lincolnshire and Kent. Wherever the land has been cleared of wood, it is laid under the plough; wherever the wood continues, the utmost care is taken to prevent cattle and sheep from breaking in, and so destroying what is the principal fuel of the country. The consequence is, that people cannot afford to rear more cattle than is absolutely necessary for working the land, and supplying the dairies,—nor, indeed, if they could afford it, would the means of doing so be attainable. Hence the poor little calves, while yet in that state of innocence which entitles them among the Irish to the generic appellation of staggering bobs, are in nine cases out of ten transferred to the butcher, whose stall, if it contain nothing else, is sure to furnish an abundant supply of dead animals, which you might easily mistake for cats that have perished by atrophy.
Being fully aware of these important particulars, we expressed neither surprise nor regret when the solemn announcement was made to us, that we might have roasted veal for supper; but having ordered it to be prepared, together with an eyer-kuchen, or egg-souffle, as a supporter, we set about changing our attire preparatory to a ramble through the town. My friend, the Honourable Francis Scott, having kindly introduced me to Count Thun, I sent my card by the waiter to the castle, and learned, to my great disappointment, that the family were all in Prague. It is needless to add, that, in the absence of the owners, I was conducted over the castle and grounds by a very intelligent domestic, or that, returning on another occasion, I stand indebted to its owner for much kindness. I do not think, however, that there is any justification for the practice which too much prevails, of first accepting the hospitality of a stranger, and then describing the mode in which it was dispensed. I content myself, therefore, with stating that everything in the household of Count Thun corresponds to his high rank and cultivated tastes; and that he who has once enjoyed, even for a brief space, as I did, the pleasure of his conversation, will desire few things more earnestly, than that another opportunity of so doing shall occur.
The castle of Tetchen is a very noble thing, and its situation magnificent. It crowns the summit of a rock overhanging the Elbe, and commands, from its windows, one of the most glorious prospects on which, even in this land of glorious scenery, the eye need desire to rest. Originally a baronial hold, it has, in the progress of time and events, gradually changed its character. It now resembles a college or palace, more than a castle. You approach it from the town by a long gallery, walled in on both sides, though open to the sky, and are conducted to an extensive quadrangle, round which the buildings are erected. They do not belong to any particular school, unless that deserve to be so designated, which the Italian architects, some century and a-half ago, introduced, to the decided misfortune of the proprietors, into Germany. Thus, the schloss of which I am speaking, is not only cut up into different suites of apartments, but each suite, besides being accessible by a door that opens to the court, is surrounded along the interior by an open gallery, into which each individual chamber-door opens. The consequence is, that in winter, at least, it must be next to impossible to keep any part of the house warm, for the drafts are endless, and the exposure to the atmosphere is very great.
When we visited Tetchen for the second time, the contents of a very valuable green-house appeared to have been brought forth into the central court. The effect was most striking; for all sorts of rare and sweet-smelling shrubs were there; and flowers of every dye loaded the air with their perfume. The gardens, likewise, which lie under the rock, and in the management of which the count takes great delight, were beautiful. One, indeed, a fruit garden, is yet only in its infancy; but another, which comes between the castle and the market-place, reminded me more of the shady groves of Oxford than of anything which I have observed on the Continent. Count Thun, moreover, having visited England, and seen and justly appreciated, the magnificent parks which form the characteristic charm of our scenery, seems willing, as far as the different situations of the two countries will allow, to walk in our foot-steps. He has enclosed a rich meadow that runs by the bank of the Elbe, and treats it as his demesne. All this is the more praiseworthy on his part, that even in his own day the castle of Tetchen has suffered most of the calamities of war, except an actual siege. Twice during the late struggle, was it seized and occupied as a post, a garrison put into the house, and cannon mounted over the ramparts; nay, the very trees in the garden, which it cost so much pains to cultivate, and such a lapse of time to nourish, were all destined to be cut down. Fortunately, however, an earnest remonstrance from the count procured a suspension of the order, till the enemy should make his approaches; and as this never happened, the trees still survive, to afford the comfort of their shade both to their owner and his visitors. The havoc occasioned by the throwing up of batteries was not, however, to be avoided; and it is only within these three or four years that the mansion has resumed its peaceful character.
There is an excellent library in the castle of Tetchen, of which the inmates make excellent use. It contains some valuable works in almost all the European languages, with a complete set of the classics; and as the tastes of the owner lead him to make continual accessions to it, the hall set apart for its reception, though of gigantic proportions, threatens shortly to overflow. I must not forget, however, that even by these allusions to the habits of my host, I am touching upon the line which common delicacy seems to me to have prescribed; therefore when I have stated that a brighter picture of domestic affection and happiness has rarely come under my observation than that with which my hurried visit to Tetchen presented me, I pass to other matters, not perhaps in themselves either more important or more interesting, but affording freer scope to remark, because not calculated to jar against individual feeling.
To wander amid these beautiful gardens, and gaze from the summer-house along the course of the Elbe, occupied all the space of time which my companion and I had set apart for the preparation of our evening meal. We accordingly returned to the inn, fully disposed to do justice to the viands which might be served up to us. They were well dressed, and the bottle of Hungarian wine which accompanied them was excellent, so that when we sallied forth again to examine the town, it was in the most benevolent temper of mind imaginable. Every object was seen through a highly favourable medium. The little quiet square and market-place, with its ever-flowing but very dirty fountain, appeared emblematical of the contented and happy lot of the people who dwelt round it. The Elbe, glowing in the rich and varied hues of sunset, had about him a thousand charms, for which language has no power of expression; and finally, the view from a small chapel which stands on the summit of a rock about an English mile below the town—that as it would have delighted even a hungry man, was to us enchanting. Seriously, and without attributing too much to the genial influence of a change of habiliments, and a good supper, I have seldom looked upon a scene altogether so fascinating as that which now lay before me.
Our sleep that night was sound and refreshing. We had ordered breakfast at half-past five, and till five nothing occurred to disturb us; but then the old and well-nigh forgotten habits of the campaigner seemed to come back upon me, for I awoke to a second at the time which I had fixed upon. Up we sprang; arrayed ourselves in our walking-dresses, stowed away our more gentlemanlike habiliments in the knapsacks, and addressed ourselves to breakfast. In Germany, as has been stated elsewhere, this is but a sorry affair of a meal at the best; it consists of nothing more than a cup or two of coffee, with some sweetish cakes; but we took care to order, over and above, a moderate supply of white bread and butter, and we consumed it all, much to our host's surprise and edification. Then came the settling of the bill, which seemed to please him better, and we were once more en route.
Our point to-day was Hayde, a town which our informants described as distant from Tetchen about seven stunden,—that is to say, seven hours' good walking, in other words, from twenty-one to twenty-four English miles. There was nothing in this announcement calculated to alarm us, for we had compassed the day before at least five-and-twenty miles, and though somewhat over-wrought when we first came in, we were now fresh and vigorous. But I am bound to add that either the miles proved more numerous than we had been led to expect, or that we were in bad case for walking. I have seldom suffered more from blistered feet and positive weariness, than I did on my march to Hayde.
The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky, when we quitted Tetchen. The cool air of the morning still, however, blew around us, and the landscape which seemed so fair even in the last glimmering of twilight, appeared now more beautiful than ever. Our route lay up the face of one of the hills by which, on all sides, Tetchen is surrounded, and we saw before us the long and regular sweep of the high road by which it behoved us to travel. For a brief space, however, a foot-way through a succession of green fields, all of them sparkling with the dew, was at our command, and we gratefully availed ourselves of it; for it is one of the advantages which a pedestrian enjoys over the traveller, either in a carriage or on horseback, that, provided he be sure of the direction in which his object lies, he may cast both highways and bridle-paths behind him.
The effect which is produced upon a Protestant traveller by the frequent recurrence, in Catholic countries, of crucifixes, chapels, and images, both by the road-side and elsewhere, has been frequently described. At first, you are affected with a sense almost of awe; which even to the last does not wholly evaporate; especially if you find, as we did this morning, that by the inhabitants, these symbols are held in profound veneration. In passing from Hernskrietchen to Tetchen, such objects had repeatedly crossed our view; and we had seen the country people lift their hats and cross themselves as they neared them. To-day we found a rustic on his knees before a chapel, within which, gaudily painted and dressed, were waxen images of a Virgin and child. Was this idolatry? I cannot believe it. Even if his prayer were addressed to the Virgin, which I have no right to assume that it was, should I be justified in charging this poor man with a breach of the second commandment in the Decalogue, merely because he besought the mother of Christ to intercede for him with her Son and his Redeemer? Absurd and unmeaning such prayers to saints unquestionably are; for where is the ground for believing that they hear us; or even if they do, what right have we to suppose that they can or will presume to interfere in matters which nowise concern them? And when, over and above all this, we found upon a practice in itself so unmeaning, the monstrous doctrine of human merit, then, indeed, that which was originally foolish, becomes presumptuous and wicked. But the accusation of idolatry is by far too grave to be lightly brought against any class of persons whose creed is, in all essential particulars, the same with our own, and who err only in this, that they believe a great deal too much. It is, therefore, to be regretted, that in their zeal to remove error, so many well-intentioned persons should exaggerate the faults which they combat; for, independently of the wound which is thereby inflicted upon Christian charity, prejudices are but confirmed in proportion as indignation is roused. "You may demonstrate to me, if you can, that we are mistaken in supposing that the souls of the faithful hear us; but why allege that we put our trust in them, because we pray to them? Don't you get your ministers to pray for you when you are sick? Don't they pray for you in your churches; and is our purpose in addressing the saints different from yours in your dealings with your pastor? We only beseech the Virgin, or St. John, to do that for us, which you get a man of like passions and frailties with yourself to do for you."
Such is the Roman Catholic's mode of repelling the charge of idolatry which we bring against him; and in good truth I do not see how his argument is to be set aside. But take other grounds with him, and behold how the case stands. "I don't accuse you of idolatry, far from it; but I do assert that you are acting very absurdly. For, first, there is nothing in Scripture which justifies us in believing that the spirits of the deceased are aware of what is passing on earth at all; and secondly, were it otherwise, such creatures could not, unless they possessed the faculty of ubiquity, pay the smallest attention to petitions which are addressed to them at the same time from perhaps an hundred or a thousand different places. If St. John, for example, be at this moment listening to a devotee in the island of Sincapore, how can he hear me who am calling to him out of Bohemia? Our minister, on the other hand, acts but as our mouth-piece, and it is expressly ordered in the New Testament that the church shall pray for her sick members." Now here is a dilemma out of which I cannot understand how the saint-worshipper is to escape. For St. John is either a creature, or he is not. If he be a creature, it is impossible that he can be present in two spots at one and the same moment. He cannot, therefore, attend at once to me, who address him in Bohemia, and to the saint-worshipper who solicits his aid from the banks of the Mississippi. If he can be present with us both, and with tens of thousands besides, then he must possess the attribute of ubiquity, and is, of course, not a creature. In the latter case, what is he? This, then, I humbly conceive to be the weapon with which errors in the Roman Catholic's faith may most appropriately be assailed, for though it inflict a temporary wound upon men's self-love by questioning the powers of discrimination, leaves, at least, their moral and religious intentions unquestioned, and themselves, as a necessary consequence, unfettered by the strongest of all shackles, that of outraged principle.
By the time we had reached the chaussee, or main road, the morning was considerably advanced, and each new hour brought with it a wonderful accession of heat. Not a cloud was in the sky, and for a while, we were entirely destitute of shade. For though here, as elsewhere in Germany, the waysides be planted with rows of trees, the trees were as yet too young to prove essentially useful to the wanderer, and, to add to our misery, we had a long and toilsome ascent before us, with a broad, smooth, macadamised causeway, by which to accomplish it. It is true, that as often as we paused to look round, the glories of that magnificent scene gave us back our courage. Nevertheless, nature in this situation, as she is wont to do in most others, would have her way. We became exceedingly weary, and were fain, on reaching a wood near the summit, to sit down and rest.
Early as it was when our journey began, we soon found that we had no chance of getting the road to ourselves. Many wayfarers were already abroad, among whom were several women, loaded like jackasses, with enormous panniers filled with I know not what species of evidently heavy goods. The tasks, indeed, which custom has imposed upon the lower classes of women in Germany, create in a stranger extreme surprise, if not indignation. I have spoken of the effects of this ungallant arrangement as they display themselves in Saxony; and I am bound to add that, in Bohemia, the same system is pursued, and the very same results produced. Besides a large portion of the field-work, such as hoeing, weeding, digging, planting, &c., it has fallen to the Bohemian women's share to be the bearers of all burdens; whether fire-wood be needed from the forest, grass, butter, eggs, and other wares required in the market-place, or trusses of hay lie abroad in the fields which it is necessary to fetch home. The inevitable consequence is, that, generally speaking, a woman ceases to have even a trace of youth about her by the time she has passed thirty. At three or four-and-twenty, she becomes brown and wrinkled, a year or two later, she loses her teeth, and last of all comes the goitre, which, by utterly destroying the symmetry of her form, leaves her, at thirty, little better than a wreck. As to the really old folks, the grandams and maiden aunts of the community, these are, at all moments, in a condition to play with effect the characters of Macbeth's witches; and when, as not unfrequently happens, they judge it expedient to go about bareheaded, the resemblance which they bear to the respectable individuals just alluded to, is complete. Yet in youth, not a few of the girls are extremely pretty; which makes you the more regret that the customs of the country, by subjecting them to such severe hardships, should rob them of their bloom before their time.
Having rested under the shadow of our friendly grove sufficiently long to permit my making a rough sketch of the valley beneath us, we resumed our march, and rounding the hill, opened out a new prospect, scarcely inferior in point of beauty, though widely different in kind, from that which had passed from our gaze. We looked down upon a sort of basin, fertile, and cultivated to the minutest corner, round which, like sentinels on duty, were gathered a succession of mountains, covered to their peaks with foliage. The dark hue of the fir was here beautifully intermixed with the fresher green of the birch and hazel; while occasionally, an enormous rock raised his bald front over all, more after the fashion of a huge ruin, the monument of man's vanity, than of a fabric of nature's creation. But the circumstance which more than all others surprised us, was the density of the population. Of large towns there seem to be, in Bohemia, very few; but every vale and strath is crowded with human dwellings, village succeeding village, and hamlet treading on hamlet, with the most remarkable fecundity. On the other hand, you may strain your eyes in vain in search of those species of habitations which give to our English landscapes their peculiar charm. There is no such thing in all Bohemia,—I question whether there be in all Germany,—as a park; and as to detached farm-houses, they are totally unknown. The nobility inhabit what they term schlosses, that is to say, castles or palaces, which are invariably planted down, either in the very heart of a town or large village, or at most, a gunshot removed from it. No sweeping meadows surround them with their tasteful swells, their umbrageous covers and lordly avenues; no deer troop from glade to glade, or cluster in groups round the stem of some giant oak, their favourite haunt for ages. But up to the very hall-door, or at least to the foundations of the wall, which girdles in the court-yard, perhaps twelve or twenty feet wide, the plough regularly passes. A garden, the graff generally possesses, and his taste in flowers is good; but it almost always happens that his very garden affords no privacy, and that his flowers are huddled together within some narrow space, perhaps in the very court-yard of which I have already spoken as alone dividing his mansion from the open and cultivated fields.
With respect, again, to the condition of the cultivators, that is, in all respects, so different from the state of our agricultural gentlemen at home, that, even at the hazard of saying over again what has been stated a thousand times already, I must describe it at length. In the first place, then, there is no class of persons in Bohemia corresponding to our English farmer. Nobody hires land in order to make a profit out of it; at least nobody for such a purpose hires a large tract of land; but each individual cultivates his own estate, whether it be of wide or of narrow extent. Thus the graff, or prince, though he be the owner of an entire circle, is yet the only farmer within that circle. He does not let an acre of ground to a tenant. But having built what he conceives to be an adequate number of bouerin-hauses, he plants in each of these a bouerman, and pays him for tilling the ground. These bouerin-hauses, again, are all clustered together into villages, so that the bouerman is never without an abundant society adapted to his tastes; and very happily, albeit very rudely, his days and nights appear to be spent.
The land in Bohemia does not, however, belong exclusively to any one order in the community. Many bouermen are owners of their farms, some of them to the extent of one hundred acres and more; while almost every township has its territories, which, like the noble's estate, are cultivated for the benefit of the burgh. But in all cases it is the owner, and not the cultivator, to whom the proceeds of the harvest belong. These are, indeed, gathered in and housed for him by his representatives, who, in addition to some fixed money-payment, for the most part enjoy the privilege of keeping a cow or two on the wastes belonging to the manor; but all the risk and trouble of converting his grain into money attaches to the proprietor of the soil.
Two results spring out of this order of things alike detrimental to the well-being of society. First there does not exist, at least in the agricultural districts, any middle class of society at all, which is everywhere divided into two orders,—the gentry and the peasantry. In cities and large towns the case is, of course, different; for there the cultivation of letters and of trade has its influence on the human mind; and professions hold something like the rank which ought of right to belong to them when they are what is called liberal. But in the country, even the doctor and the priest seldom find their way to a more lordly board than that of the bouerman; and stand, in consequence, at all times, on a level with the miller, the butcher, and the host of the gasthof. Secondly, the nobles, having little ready money at command, possess no means, whatever their inclination may be, materially to improve the condition of their dependants; while their own time being largely engrossed by the cares of buying and selling, they not unfrequently neglect to cultivate those mental powers in which many of them are naturally rich. Numerous exceptions to this latter rule doubtless everywhere prevail; for I am bound to add, that such of the nobility as honoured me with their acquaintance, were men of refined tastes and very enlarged understandings. But the rule itself holds good nevertheless, and would equally do so in any other country where a similar order of things existed.
Through a succession of these villages, most of them inhabited exclusively by bouermen, we made our way, not without exciting, by the novelty of our costume, a large share of public curiosity. As often as we found it necessary, however, to put a question to one of the wonderers, we never failed to meet with a civil reply: indeed, I must do the Bohemians of all ranks the justice to record, that a kinder, more obliging, and less mercenary people, it has never been my fortune to visit. Illustrations of this fact, I shall have occasion in the course of my narrative, to give, though for the present I content myself with stating the fact broadly.
I do not recollect that anything worthy of mention befel till we reached Kamnitz,—an old town, and the centre of a circle,—through which it behoved us to pass, in order to gain first Stein Jena, and ultimately Hayde. The town itself lies in a hollow, and is begirt near at hand by well-wooded hills; but in itself it offers few attractions to the stranger. Narrow and deserted streets, with shops mean and slenderly stocked, tell a tale of stagnant commerce; indeed, I may observe, once for all, of the country towns in Bohemia, that it is not among them that the traveller will find food for reflection, or sources of gratification. Far removed from the sea, with which their single communication is by the Elbe, the Bohemians have slender inducement to apply their energies to trade, which is, in consequence, not perhaps dead,—for there are manufactures of various kinds in the kingdom, and more than one iron foundry, but exceedingly sickly and torpid.
Kamnitz, like other chief towns of circles, has its schloss,—the property of the emperor,—in which the officials and the subordinates at once reside and administer justice. It can boast, likewise, of a large church and a prison; but as there was nothing in the exterior of these buildings which at all excited our admiration, we did not delay to examine them. With respect, again, to other matters, I am aware of only one custom in the place, of which it is worth while to take notice. Kamnitz, it appears, is very much of an agricultural town; that is to say, many owners of small estates dwell there, and many cattle are kept. During the winter months, both here and elsewhere, the cattle never breathe the air of heaven; but are kept mewed up in their stalls, and fed on hay, and other dry fodder. When the hay crop has been gathered in, and the fields are ready for them, they are sent abroad to graze, but always under the guidance of keepers, who, at least in Kamnitz, are strictly professional persons. Their mode of proceeding is this. At early dawn, there is a flourish of cow-horns in the streets,—a signal for opening the stable-door, and leading forth the cattle to pasture. The animals are then collected in the market-place, and handed over to the charge of their appointed keepers, who, two or three in number, drive the herd abroad, and are responsible that they commit no trespass on the growing corn. At night, a similar process takes place. The cattle are led back by the keepers to the market-place: horns are again sounded; upon which each bouerman either comes in person, or sends his deputy to receive the beasts, and so conducts them to their stalls for milking.
Kamnitz has at one period been a fortified town, though probably that period is very remote,—for against modern artillery a place so situated could not hold out a single day. Its gateways, and some fragments of the old wall, remain,—objects at all times too interesting to be wantonly removed. Beneath a couple of these venerable arches we passed,—first on entering, then on leaving the town,—after which we found ourselves traversing a long and irregular hamlet, which in the form of a suburb lines one side of the road, and so faces a pretty little stream that skirts the other. Crossing the rivulet by a bridge with two arches, we began to climb the hill, on the brow of which Stein Jena is situated, and from which our friend, the young priest of Auffenberg, had given us to understand, that we should obtain one of the most magnificent views in this part of Bohemia. Long and toilsome was this ascent; for though the main road was still beneath our feet, so perfectly had its fabricators set the rules of their art at defiance, that it ran sheer and abrupt, with scarce a trifling deflection, from the base to the summit. The sun, also, beat upon us with a power which we found it extremely uncomfortable to sustain, and our thirst was excessive. And here it may, perhaps, be worth while for the benefit of other pedestrians, to remark, that we began our march, in reference to the victualling department, on an utterly erroneous principle. Breakfasting at half past five or six o'clock in the morning, we made up our minds not to eat a solid meal again till our day's work should be accomplished; in other words, to content ourselves at noon with some slight refreshment, such as a morsel of bread, or a sandwich and a little weak brandy and water, swallowed in the shade of some grove, and to sup heartily when we should come in to our night's quarters, at six or seven o'clock in the evening. The experience of this day sufficed to convince me that in arranging this plan I had not been so successful as the Duke of Wellington used to be with his commissariat. Our bread had become hard and mouldy. Our brandy was as hot as fire, and we could not find a spring of water sufficiently sheltered to cool it. For consistency-sake, however, we twisted down a few mouthfuls, but we could not manage more; and it was unanimously voted, that thenceforth an hour's halt at mid-day in some house of call, would be an arrangement alike conducive to the refreshment of our limbs, and the well-being of our stomachs.
Having reposed about half an hour by the margin of a weedy pond, from which a loud if not an harmonious concert of bull-frogs unceasingly issued, we buckled on our knapsacks once more, and, by a desperate effort, reached Stein Jena about three o'clock in the afternoon. It seldom happens that a natural scene, of which you have been led to form high expectations, does not disappoint you; yet I am bound in justice to acknowledge that in the account which he gave of the view from this point, the interesting curate of Auffenberg used the language of moderation. Elevated to a height of perhaps two thousand feet, we beheld across the valley beneath us, hill above hill arise,—all of them pyramidal, shaggy with forests of pine, beech, and oak, and interlaced one with another, so as to form the wildest yet most graceful combinations. The scene, too, was in one striking respect different from any on which we had yet gazed; namely, that cultivation was almost entirely kept out of view, because our position was such as to throw the depths of the plain behind the screen of their overhanging mountains. It was, indeed, only when we looked to the right, where on a level with ourselves fields of rye were waving, that the fact of our not having wandered into some uncleared and uninhabited region was demonstrated.
Stein Jena itself is a large, straggling, but remarkably neat village, of which the street is on both sides shaded by rows of trees, and where the houses can in many instances boast of being planted within the range of well-kept and tasteful gardens. It was on the top of the common beyond the village, however, that we paused to obtain our view, and to make one of those rude sketches which in such situations the most unpractised hand is induced to attempt; after which we again pushed forward. Ten minutes' walk carried us over the ridge, and then what a spectacle burst upon us! A huge plain was at our feet, green with the most abundant crops of grass and corn, and here and there broken in upon by a tall conical hill, which rose like a thing of art, and stood alone in the level. Surrounding the plain on all sides, were ranges of mountains, those near at hand resembling in their general character the graceful hills upon which we had just turned our backs,—those in the distance more precipitous and rugged, and above all, white along their summits with snow. There needed, in short, but some sheet of water,—a lake or a river winding through the valley, to complete such a picture as Stanfield would love to copy, and the humbler but not less enthusiastic worshipper of nature, gaze upon for hours unwearied. For not only was there wood and pasturage, hill and dale, rock and forest, in abundance,—but the haunts of man, without which a cultivated scene is always incomplete, rose there in abundance. There lay Hayde,—a compact and apparently well-built town; about three miles to the right of it, and nestling back its own cliffs, was Burgstein; while farther off Gabel, Reichstadt, with a countless number of villages besides, told of the busy hands by which these fair fields were tilled and kept in order. Heartily thanking our poetical friend for the instructions which he had communicated to us, and charmed out of all sense of fatigue for the moment, we continued our march, till the shelter of a vast wood received us, at once shutting out the glories of the panorama beneath, and screening us from the sun's rays, which had for some time back beat with inconvenient violence upon us from above.
It was six o'clock when we reached the inn at Hayde, faint, hungry, and foot-sore. Our reception was not very cordial, nor did we this time, I am sorry to say, succeed in perfectly thawing the ice in which the landlady had encased herself; but we took her bad humour patiently, showed her that we were well disposed to be merry, and obtained in five minutes, first a very tolerable apartment, and by-and-by the best room in the house. Perhaps, indeed, it may be as well to state, that our first reception, even in Bohemia, was not always flattering. Yet somehow or another, it invariably came to pass, with the solitary exception of Hayde, where our usual tactics failed us, that before we had been ten minutes under the roof of a Bohemian innkeeper, not only he, but his whole household, were at our devotion. Neither was any marvellous art required to bring this result about. We acted merely as persons of common sense will always act in similar situations. We turned the landlady's ill-humour or stiffness into a joke, spoke bad German, mixed it with French and English, and won her heart by showing that we were neither sensitive nor fastidious. And the landlady's heart being fairly won, all the rest was easy. The husband, as in duty bound, fell into his wife's views, and the servants took their cue from their superiors. In Hayde, however, though we so far gained our end, that a good supper with a comfortable apartment were afforded us, we have no right to boast of our progress in the hostess's affections. She kept cruelly aloof from us during the whole of our sojourn, and made us pay at our departure just twice as much as, for similar fare, we were charged at any other gasthof in Bohemia.
OUR LANDLADY AND WASHERWOMAN. THE EINSIEDLERSTEIN. ITS DUNGEONS AND HALL. ITS HISTORY. INSCRIPTION OVER THE HERMIT'S GRAVE. LOSE OUR WAY. GUIDED BY A PEASANT. HIS CONVERSATION. MISTAKEN FOR ITALIAN MUSICIANS. GABEL.
Hayde, which is a burgh town, having its burgomaster and other civic authorities, contains a population of between two and three thousand souls, and can boast of a large warehouse, or handlung, in which are exhibited and sold the mirrors and other articles in glass that are fabricated at Burgstein. Like most German towns of the same size which I have visited, it is exceedingly clean, and its environs are laid out with a good deal of taste. For the Germans, while in winter they shut themselves up in their houses, all the doors and windows of which are kept hermetically sealed, seem to live, during the summer months, only in the open air. Gardens are, therefore, their delight,—public gardens, where such things exist,—in which the men may smoke and drink their beer, the women sip their coffee, in society; or failing this, slips of soil, close to the highway side, from which they are separated only by a low railing,—so that the owners may behold from their open summer-houses every object that shall pass and repass. And truly it is a pleasant sight to see an entire population made happy by means so simple and so innocent. For of excesses the Bohemians are seldom, if ever, guilty. The men smoke incessantly, it is true, and some of them consume in the course of a holyday a tolerably large allowance of beer. But the beer is either very weak, or their heads are accustomed to it; for it is as rare to behold a Bohemian peasant drunk at a merrymaking or fete, as it is to find, under similar circumstances, an Englishman of the same class sober.
After adjusting our toilet, and giving some linen to be washed, with the distinct understanding that the articles so disposed of should be restored at seven o'clock next morning, we first ate our supper, and then strolled out. The graveyard, removed, as is usually the case in this country, some little way out of town, attracted our attention, and was admired for the extreme neatness with which it was planted and otherwise kept. From the top of an eminence behind the inn, likewise, we obtained a view of the surrounding country, which we should have pronounced fine, had we not previously looked down upon it from Stein Jena; and a public garden, as yet "alone in its glory," was traversed. But we were too much fatigued to attempt more. We returned, therefore, to our apartment; went to bed with the sun, and slept soundly till half-past six o'clock on the following morning.
Lovers' vows, it is said, are like pie-crusts, made to be broken. So I am sure are the promises of Bohemian washerwomen; at least our linen, which ought to have made its appearance at seven, did not arrive till nearly four hours afterwards, and we were compelled to prolong our halt accordingly. At last, however, the slender, but to us invaluable cargo, made its appearance, though still so imperfectly arranged, that the stockings, being quite wet, we were obliged to sling outside our knapsacks, while the damp shirts were left to dry, as they best might, within. But the precious time which our dilatory laundress had wasted, nothing could recall. We therefore felt ourselves under the necessity of confining our day's operations to the inspection of a hermitage, or einsiedlerstein, near Burgstein, with what was described to us as a short and pleasant walk afterwards, as far as Gabel.
We quitted Hayde without regret; and though still foot-sore with yesterday's travel, contrived to reach Burgstein, which is about three English miles distant, between twelve and one o'clock. It is an inconsiderable village, prettily situated under the felsen, or crags, from which it derives its name; and can boast of its schloss, the residence of Graff Kinsky, as yet a child. Like other buildings of the kind which we had passed in our tour, the schloss at Burgstein resembles a manufactory much more than a nobleman's palace; for it stands close to the high road, is roofed over with flaring red tiles, and shows in its dazzling white front a prodigious number of small windows. Connected with it by an avenue of umbrageous planes, which overshadow, perhaps, a couple of hundred yards of road to the rear, is the mausoleum of the late count,—a most ungraceful pile, evidently constructed after the model of an English dove-cot, and like the schloss, shining in all the splendour of white walls and a scarlet covering. But from such objects the traveller soon turns his eyes away, that he may fix them on the bold and isolated crag, the summit of which is crowned by what he naturally mistakes for masonry; but which, on a more minute inspection, he discovers to be, for the most part, the rock itself. There stands what is now described as the Einsiedlerstein,—that is, the stony dwelling of the hermit; a grievous misnomer surely,—for though the last occupant of that dwelling was doubtless a recluse, its original purpose, which for many ages it served, was that of a strong-hold, or castle. And perhaps nowhere, even in Germany, can a more perfect specimen be pointed out of the sort of nest which used, in the dark ages of feuds and forays, to shelter the robber-knights and barons, to whom forays were at once a business and a pastime.
The Einsiedlerstein, or Hermit's Rock, is a bold and isolated crag, which rises sheer and abrupt out of the plain to the height of, perhaps, one hundred and fifty feet. It is separated from the fells, or rugged hills, which form the northern boundary of the wide vale of Hayde, by a space of about two or three hundred yards; sufficiently wide to place it, in the days of cross-bows and ballistas, pretty well beyond the reach of insult, but by far too narrow to be of the slightest avail against cannon, and even musketry. In the face of the rock a staircase is cut, by which you ascend to a door, of which the key is kept at a cottage close by, where dwells also your cicerone, or guide. The door being opened, you see before you a continuation of the rocky staircase; with this difference in character, however, between what is passed and what is to come,—that whereas you mounted to the threshold under the canopy of heaven, you now move onwards, or rather upwards, through a cavity cut in the face of the solid stone itself. By-and-bye you come to a landing-place, beyond which, at the extremity of a narrow passage, you behold what used to be the armoury of the castle,—an arched hall, chiselled out, like the gallery which leads to it, from the rock. Here are yet the grooves and niches within which warriors, long since dead, used to suspend their spears and battle-axes, their helmets and coats of mail; and here, in the face of the stone, are chiselled out some armorial bearings; probably the devices worn by the lord of the castle on his shield. We find a tiger couchant, for example, not ungracefully executed; a gate or portcullis, I believe in heraldry an honourable device; with the fragments of what have evidently been other symbols, though time has laid on them his defacing fingers so effectually that you cannot trace them out.
From the armoury you proceed round a curvature in the rock, which conducts you into the open air, and gives you a view of the opposite fells, to the dungeon,—a melancholy place, bearing to this hour numberless records of the sufferings and the patience, and even the ingenuity, of those by whom, in old times, it was tenanted. The late Count Kinsky, the proprietor of the castle, caused a breach to be made in the side of the dungeon, which you now enter through an arched passage in the rock, though originally the captive was let down by a rope from above. This arrangement has the two-fold effect of admitting an increase of light into the den, and of affording a ready means of access to such as might scruple to descend, collier-fashion, in a basket. Having passed beneath the arch, you find yourself in a circular cell some twenty feet or more beneath the surface of the earth, and girdled in by walls of solid rock, out of which the hole must, with infinite labour, have been chiselled. These walls are everywhere scratched over with representations of wounded hearts, crucifixes, death's-heads, and even of flowers with broken stems; all of them clearly enough of very old fabrication, though unfortunately none of them dated. How many gallant spirits have here pined and fretted themselves into eternity; how many noble minds and sinewy arms have long confinement and scanty fare, bowed down to this damp floor and withered. What a record of misery and wrong would not these walls give forth, were they for one little hour gifted with the power of speech, like the talking woods in the fairy tale. And yet, evil as the times were, when might, not right, was in the ascendant, they had their redeeming excellencies too. Knightly honour, chivalrous abhorrence of guile, the soul to endure, as well as the temper to inflict; these were the qualities most prized by men, who, born and bred to lives of constant warfare, held danger light, and looked upon peace as inglorious. And then their religious faith! It might be gloomy, it might be wild, it might be altogether misplaced or misdirected,—but it was at least sincere; for it exerted an influence over their most wayward humours; it urged them both to do and to suffer as none but men who believed that they acted aright would have done. Let us not, then, even when standing in the dungeon of a baron's hold, come to the conclusion, that what we call the dark ages were ages of unmitigated wrong. They might produce their tyrants and oppressors, whose power, in proportion as it was resistless, would spread misery around; but they produced also their vindicators of the oppressed; their Bayards and Lancelots, chevalliers sans peur et sans reproche,—of whose spirit of candour, and fair and open and honourable dealing, it might be well if this our intellectual and utilitarian age had inherited even a portion.
It will scarcely be expected that I am to conduct my reader through all the crannies and recesses of the Einsiedlerstein. Sufficient for both our purposes it will be to observe, that everything is in the most perfect state of preservation, and that he who is desirous of obtaining a tolerably accurate notion of the sort of style in which the barons of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries used to live, may find it worth his while to make a journey even as far as Burgstein. Here is the chapel, entire as when last the solemn mass was sung for the spirit of some departed hero. There it is, hollowed out of the rock, with its chancel and its transept, while near it are lodging-rooms of various kinds; and underneath vaulted stables capable of containing perhaps twenty horses. The well, too, that essential ingredient in a strong-hold, still remains, though now it is dry; and on the back of the kitchen fire-place the soot and smoke of other times have left their traces. The only innovations effected, indeed, in the original arrangements of the castle, are those which the hermit began; and which the father of the present lord, the Count Kinsky, of whom I have already spoken, has completed.
The history of the Burgstein, as far as I have been able to trace it, is this. The name being a combination of the words birke and stein, signifies the birchy-rock, an appellation which both now and in remote times, would appear to have justly belonged to it, for its crest is overgrown with birch trees, one at least of which is as fine a specimen of the plant as it would be easy to discover either in Bohemia or elsewhere. Its bold and isolated character seems to have pointed it out as a fit situation for one of those keeps or strong-holds in which even monarchs were, during the middle ages, glad at times to seek refuge, and which constituted the groundwork of their power to chiefs of less elevated rank. So early as the year 1250, a castle accordingly was erected on it, in which the Baron von Ronow, a nobleman of vast influence, held his court, and frequently entertained the King of Bohemia himself, Wenzel I. By the caprice of his grandson, however, it passed into the hands of the Knights Templars, who established there one of their chief colleges, and, according to tradition, enacted many and horrid rites, such as tended not a little to hurry on the ruin of their order. When that catastrophe befel them, the sovereign seems to have restored his prize to a noble of the same lineage with him who willed it away, so that down to the year 1515, we find it in the possession of a long line of Placek von Lippa und Berksteins. But heirs male at length failed, and the heiress marrying a Baron Kollowart, the lordship of this noble keep was transferred to a new line, which transmitted it from father to son in uninterrupted succession, down to the year 1670. To them succeeded, somehow or another, a race of Von Rokortzowas, who again in 1710, made way for the house of Kinsky, and in their possession it has ever since remained, neglected, indeed, till of late, but holding time and decay alike at defiance.
Old chroniclers tell of many a lordly festival having been celebrated within its walls. Repeatedly, too, it has withstood and repelled the attacks of an enemy, once when an army of not less than fifteen thousand men sat down before it, and a second time, when pressed by thirteen thousand. But the invention of gunpowder, and still more effectually the changes in men's manners which followed the discovery of printing, slowly robbed it of its importance, till at last it was deserted by its owners, who transferred their residence to the more commodious, but far less picturesque mansion which they still continue to inhabit. Then began a new race of tenants to occupy the rock, in giving accommodation to whom the Graffs Kinsky doubtless believed that they were benefiting their own souls, and doing their Maker laudable service.
Towards the close of the seventeenth century, while the lordship of the manor yet remained in the hands of the Kokortzowas, a bouerman, or small landed proprietor, distinguished in the circle for his skill in agriculture, suddenly took it into his head to become a hermit, and fixed on the deserted rock as his place of residence. The graefinn—for a female seems then to have exercised the authority of count, gave immediate attention to his wishes; and fitted up, at her own cost, such a cell as the pious bouerman described. There, for some years, dwelt Brother Constantine, telling his beads at stated periods, both by day and night, and living abundantly on the alms which the pious of all classes bestowed upon him. At his decease, an enthusiastic miller stepped forward to fill the vacancy, and Brother Wentzel, so long as the sands of life continued to run, was, to the good people of Birkstein, and the districts around, all that Brother Constantine had been. To him, in 1720, succeeded Brother Antony, or rather two brothers, Antony and Jacob, who dwelt in cheerful community one with another, praying before the same altar, and conversing during the hours of relaxation, but, in strict propriety, occupying separate cells in the rock. In 1735, however, Jacob died, when one Samuel Goerner, a modelist, and perspective maker, took his place. Some ingenious representations of Mount Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre, executed in wood by the hands of Brother Samuel, still remain, and are exhibited to the stranger with becoming pride. And last of all came a weaver, hight Mueller, who at the age of twenty-two, devoted himself to a life of seclusion, and dwelt apart upon the rock up to the year 1785. At that time, the strong arm of power was stretched out, and hermits, as well as many communities of monks, disappeared. Yet Joseph, who seems to have been conscientiously attached to his calling and place of abode, was not driven into exile. Being appointed parish-clerk to the church of Birkstein, he continued to hold the office several years; and dying at an advanced age was, by his own desire, buried in a grave which he had dug out for himself in one of the cells on the rock. Such are the circumstances which have contributed to cast into the shade the ancient and warlike name of this curious piece of architecture, and to describe as a hermit's cell, what was, in point of fact, one of the strongest among the many and strong baronial castles with which Bohemia abounds.
The hermits have not sat in the seats of armed men so long, without leaving numerous traces of their sojourn behind them. Three or four caves are hollowed out in the rock, one of which contains a skull, a rosary, and a narrow stone bedstead, overlaid with moss. In another, besides the usual ornaments, such as crucifixes, &c., we found an image of Brother Antony Mueller, arrayed in his brown robe and hood, with beads, a long gray beard, and bare feet, just as he is stated to have exhibited himself in the land of the living. A third cave, or cell, contains a representation of the same hermit's dead body, as it lay in state,—for to the rock the corpse was carried both for exhibition and interment; and finally, we have his grave,—a small heap of stones, with a stone cross erected over them, and an epitaph inscribed on the rock at his feet. I subjoin the original, and give, for the benefit of such as may not be acquainted with the German, a loose translation.
Du haellst den Tod fuer deinen feind, Du irrst; er ist dein bestest Freund: Er ummt dir alle leibin ab Und legt dich sanft in's stille grab. Befreit dich von dir falschen wilt Und wenn es dir nur selbst gefaellt So fuehst er dich in himmel ein Sag wellcher Freund kaun besser seyn.
Thou holdest death thy foe to be, No foe, but best of friends, is he. He lifts the evil from thy lot, Lays thee where sorrow reacheth not. From the false world he sets the free, And if the progress pleaseth thee, Guides thee to regions of the blest; Of friends, then, is he not the best?
There remains one apartment more, which it would be unjustifiable in me to omit particularly to notice, inasmuch as it holds a high place in the estimation of the good people of Burgstein, and will, if it serve no other purpose, force a smile from such young,—aye, and old persons, too,—as may happen to inspect it. An ingenious mechanic, a workman in the looking-glass manufactory hard by, has constructed a piece of mechanism, in which all the known occupations, trades, and professions, in the world, are described. His machine occupies four galleries that surround an apartment built on purpose to receive it; and in the midst is an elevated platform, on which the spectators take their stand. At first they see only a rude representation of mountains and forests, gardens, fallow fields, standing crops, cows, milk-maids, mills and millers, ploughs, ploughmen, oxen, cities, soldiers, horses, carriages, mines and miners, convents, monks, hermits, &c.,—all in a state of quiescence. The pulling of a few strings, however, gives a totally novel aspect to the face of affairs. Inanimate objects continue, of course, at rest; but no sooner is the clock-work set a-going, than music sounds, soldiers march, carriages rattle about, ploughs travel, miners dig, mills go round, monks toll bells, hermits read and nod their heads, milkmaids ply their occupation visibly and effectively before your eyes,—aye, and the very bird-catcher pops out and in from behind his screen, while a rustic having caught a schoolboy in his apple-tree, applies his rod to the young thief's seat of honour, with all the regularity of a drummer beating time. I defy the gravest person living to abstain from laughter, when this universal bustle begins; for no human being appears to be idle, and no single act seems to be performed in vain.
The Graffs Kinsky seem, for some years back, to have paid a good deal of attention to this noble relic of old times. The late count began a chapel, I think in questionable taste, of which the walls now cover the venerable and vaulted cavity, where knights and barons used to worship long ago. He built, likewise, a sort of summer-house hard by,—of which the flooring, red roof, and whitewashed walls, agree but indifferently with the time-worn bearing of the castle itself. But though he has added these excrescences, and erected a sort of platform in front of the last, whence he and his friends might enjoy, at their pleasure, a view of the surrounding country, he has taken nothing away; and the public are much indebted to him, and to his successor, for the liberality with which they are admitted to behold one of the most curious specimens of baronial architecture, which is anywhere to be found.
Nearly two hours having been spent in examining the different objects just described, we began to feel that food and drink would be acceptable; and our guide,—a civil woman,—having assured us that both were to be procured in the cottage below, to it we adjourned. The bill of fare, however, consisted merely of brown bread,—sour, as all German brown bread is, and made of rye,—of butter and beer. Nobody has a right to complain who has at his disposal a competent supply of good brown bread and butter; but to our unpractised palates, the rye-meal, and sour leaven, were not very inviting. Still we set to work, and aided by a cat, and a fine bold fellow of a dunghill cock, both of whom took post beside us, and insisted on sharing our meal, we made a pretty considerable inroad into the good woman's vivres, whose butter and beer were both of them excellent. This, with a rest of half an hour, made us feel up to our work; so we disbursed our groschen or two, strapped on our packs, and pursued our journey.
Gabel was our point, towards which from Hayde a good chaussee runs; but we had no disposition to retrace our steps to Hayde,—so, trusting in part to the map, in part to the directions which our good-natured hostess gave us, we struck across the country at a venture. Probably we did not commit a greater number of blunders than any other persons similarly circumstanced would have done, but the way seemed at once intricate and interminable. I doubt, indeed, whether we should have succeeded in reaching our destination at all, had we not, by good fortune, overtaken in the heart of a wood an honest countryman, who was journeying towards his home in the fair village of Leipsige, and volunteered to be so far our guide. We found him intelligent enough on his own topic of agriculture, and well inclined to communicate to us his family history; but he knew nothing about either Peter of Prague, or the gypsies, and had never seen either Napoleon or his troops. We were, therefore, forced to take his guidance on his own terms, and had to thank him for probably some errors shunned, and a good deal of anxiety avoided.
Leipsige,—our friend's place of abode,—is a long straggling dorf, which extends, I should conceive, a full mile and a-half, along a valley between the two steep green banks that mark out the course of a pretty little stream. There is a bleach-field in it, and a manufactory of linen thread, neither of which we delayed to examine; for the day was wearing on, and, beautiful as the scenery was through which we had to pass, we were desirous of reaching our halting-place as soon as possible. At last, about six in the evening, after traversing several deep forests, and crossing one or two hills, we beheld before us what seemed to be a town of some size, with a large church built in the Italian style, one schloss or palace just outside the suburbs,—and another, much more imposing both in its architecture and situation, some three-quarters of a mile removed. Concluding that this must be Gabel, we made towards it; though, in order to avoid disappointment, we questioned a well-dressed man whom we overtook, and received from him a satisfactory answer. Our informant, however, was not content to give information only,—he desired to obtain some also. What were we? We did not belong to the country, that was certain; what were we? Italian musicians? Now really I had no conception that in this thoroughly English, or rather Scottish countenance, of mine, there had been so much as one line which could induce even a Bohemian to mistake me for an Italian, and I felt proportionably flattered, more particularly as in attributing to me the qualifications of a musician, he paid as high a compliment to my tastes as his first mistake paid to my features. We made a very low obeisance, and assured him that we were neither Italians nor musicians. What then? Were we stocking-weavers; and did our load consist of stockings? This was too much for our gravity; for the transition appeared to us as complete as could well be, so we laughed heartily. But when we told him the truth, that we were English gentlemen, walking for our own amusement, and desiring to make the acquaintance of his countrymen, his manner became more polite and obliging than ever. He directed us where to find the best accommodations, offered to conduct us to the hotel in person, and would hardly be persuaded that such service was unnecessary. We then parted, we pushing on at a brisk rate for Gabel, and he, as we ascertained by an occasional sly peep to the rear, standing on an eminence that he might stare, as long as possible, after objects such as had never met his gaze before,—a couple of Englishmen.
GENERAL APPEARANCE OF THE PLACE. THE INN. LUDICROUS MISTAKES. THE PUBLIC ROOM. ASTONISHMENT OF THE PEOPLE AT THE SIGHT OF ENGLISHMEN. THE PRIESTS. SCENE IN THE TAP-ROOM. KINDNESS OF THE PEOPLE. OUR FISHING OPERATIONS. A CHASSE, AND A DAYLIGHT BALL.
Gabel, though a place of some extent, and containing a population of three or four thousand souls, possesses no corporate rights. On the contrary, it is subject to the jurisdiction of a noble, whose schloss stands, as I have stated above, close to the suburbs, where it is encircled by a wider space of green than attaches to the dwellings of the Bohemian nobility in general. There is no manufactory in the place, but a great deal of spinning and weaving,—occupations which the people pursue in their own houses; and the streets, with the exception of the market-place, and another which leads from the market-place to the church, are narrow and steep.
We had no difficulty in discovering the inn, to which our informant outside the town had directed us; and we made for it accordingly. The exterior was promising enough; for it had a wide front, many windows, and considerable elevation; so we passed beneath the archway, nothing doubting, and looked round for a door. One on the left stood open, and seeing a staircase before us, we ascended, but soon stopped short when on the landing-place we beheld some men in huge cocked hats, feathers, and swords; while others, in more peaceable attire, were bearing under their arms a parcel of uniforms. "We have mistaken our ground," said I to my companion; "this must be a barrack, or else there is a regiment marching through the town, and these apartments are assigned to them as quarters." Accordingly we hurried back again; and seeing another door, exactly opposite to that which we had first essayed, we pushed it open. We were right this time; for on traversing a narrow passage, we found ourselves in the hall or kitchen.
The hall or kitchen of a third or fourth-rate German inn, may not, perhaps, be familiar to some of my readers; so I will describe it. Imagine, then, an apartment thirty or forty feet long by twenty wide, and perhaps ten or twelve in height. Four or five windows front you as you enter, beside which are arranged, in the old style of our English coffee-rooms, as many deal tables, with benches ranged along three sides of each, and a few chairs covering the other. These leave about half the width of the room free; a portion of which is, however, engrossed by a large temporary closet, while the stove, in the present instance a very capacious machine of the sort, occupies as much more. For there is no visible fire-place any where, and all the cooking that goes forward is conducted at the stove,—or, as the Germans appropriately call it, the oven. Then, again, there is a bench fastened to the side of the oven, where in winter, the wet, and cold, and weary may rest; while finally, at the head of the apartment is a small table, whereon the landlady, almost always one of the inmates of the hall, plies her needle-work and eats her meals.
The hall or coffee-room, when we first looked in, was well nigh empty. One woman, whom we now discovered to be our hostess, was, indeed, sewing at her own table, while another seemed busy in the pantry, but of guests there were only three,—two, manifestly travellers of an humble class; the third, who sat apart with a large glass of beer before him, more deserving of notice. His age might be about sixty. His hair was grizzled; his face, and especially his nose, large and rubicund, and his belly portly. He wore a black frock and dingy white neckcloth; and he made no use of a pipe. All this we noticed while advancing towards the hostess, who, as usual, looked cold upon us for an instant, and then became our sworn ally. Indeed, I do not know that I am justified in laying to that kind creature's charge even a moment's ill-humour; for no sooner had I asked her whether she spoke French or English, than she clasped her hands together, and burst into a laugh, after which her sole anxiety seemed to be lest she should not succeed in making us sufficiently comfortable. But in that she was mistaken. A nicer quarter, in spite of the total absence from it of all approaches to elegance, I never desire to occupy; for all that might be wanting to our fastidious tastes, the real and unaffected kindness of the inmates more than made good.
An apartment was provided for us forthwith; water and other conveniences for dressing were supplied, and supper was ordered. Moreover we were given to understand that the fierce-looking personages whose bearing had impressed us with so much awe, never hurt anybody; inasmuch as they were honest mechanics, a tailor or two, with some musical weavers who composed the town band. Their uniform, it seems, is kept in a spare room in the Hernhause gasthof, and they were in the act of equipping themselves for an evening's performance when we arrived. This was satisfactory enough, because, with all my admiration for the noble profession of arms, I cannot say that I quite enjoy being thrust as a traveller into an inn which happens to be thronged with some hundreds of soldiers on the march; but it was not the only treat that awaited us. My toilet was as yet incomplete, when in walked the landlady, first to demand whether I could speak Latin, and, on my answering in the affirmative, to announce that the priest of the parish was below in the hall, and should be glad to converse with me. I desired her to inform the reverend gentleman that I should make all the haste I could to equip myself; after which I would wait upon him with great pleasure.
Having accomplished the necessary changes in my apparel, and otherwise made myself comfortable, I descended the stairs, and found that the gentleman with the red nose and grizzly head, was none other than the priest who desired to make my acquaintance. Neither his appearance nor his situation,—a conspicuous place in a pot-house, which all the idle and beer-loving members of the community seemed to frequent,—at all prepossessed me in his favour; but I took care to exhibit no symptoms of disgust in my manner, and our conversation began. His reverence spoke horrid Latin, of course; mine, from long disuse, was probably not much better; but as I pronounced all my words according to the accentuation of my schoolboy days, we at least understood one-another. I found him full of curiosity, and wonderfully ill-informed, not only as to the political and intellectual state of England, but even in reference to its geographical situation. But his ignorance manifestly proceeded rather from the lack of opportunity than of the desire to be better informed; for of his questions I began to fear at last that there would be no end.
By this time a whisper was circulating through the town, that two Englishmen were arrived, and as very few of the Gabelites had ever seen an Englishman before, the coffee-room became speedily crowded. Large was then the consumption of beer, and dense and dark the cloud of tobacco-smoke which circled overhead. Yet, to do them justice, the curiosity of these simple people never once prompted them to commit a breach, however trifling, of real good manners. We were, indeed, besought to eat our supper at the table beside the priest, and we readily consented; while by degrees all the vacant spaces were filled up, by another priest, by several well-dressed tradesmen, and, as we afterwards ascertained, by an officer of the Austrian army, who having retired from the service on a pension, had married and settled in the town. But the individual who interested us the most was the postmaster; for whom, as he spoke both English and French fluently, the padre despatched a messenger, and whom we found not only a most agreeable, but a very intelligent and well-informed man. He had travelled much as a merchant; had visited France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and Russia; in the last of which countries he had resided several years as chief clerk to an English house at St. Petersburg.
I do not know that I ever felt myself in a situation more amusing, as well as more perfectly novel, than that which I now occupied. The good people, indeed, seemed so eager to obtain information, that I had few opportunities of adding to my own; yet their curiosity, tinctured as it was, throughout, with the most perfect good humour, and even politeness, highly diverted me, and I did my best to appease it. One circumstance, it is true, affected me painfully. I allude to the discreditable figure cut by the priests; who, it appeared to me, had no business in such a place at all, further, at least, than as casual inquirers. Among all the beer-drinkers present, however, my red-nosed acquaintance and his curate were the most industrious. It was quite edifying to see with what rapidity their pitchers were emptied, and how sedulously the hostess,—uninvited, though certainly unchecked,—replenished them; and when I add, that each pitcher contained a good quart, the amount of fermented liquor swallowed by these thirsty souls may be guessed at. Nor, I regret to add, was the tone of their conversation much out of keeping with their habits in other respects. I inquired into the state of morals in this place, and received, in bad Latin, such an answer as I do not choose to translate, and affected scarcely to understand.
Here then was a palpable illustration of the axiom which has so often been laid down,—that, of all the means that ever were devised to degrade religion in the persons of its teachers, the compulsory celibacy of the clergy is the most effectual. In Hernskrietchen and Auffenberg, it is very true, that no such lamentable results have followed; but what then? At the former place a most deserving man is condemned to spend his days uncheered by any of those domestic endearments the influence of which is felt the most where it is most needed. He does not complain, I admit; he has too much principle and even manliness to complain of that which is irremediable. But who can doubt that he feels his lot bitterly, or that his pastoral duties would be discharged just as faithfully, and far more cheerfully, were it different? So also at the latter place: the curate is yet a youth, full of that fire of enthusiastic self-devotion which, while it burns, more than supplies the place of all social and domestic relations. But how long will this last? And see how the system operates in Gabel, aye, in hundreds and thousands of places similarly circumstanced, where no such enthusiasm is at hand to counteract it.
Here are two clergymen, well stricken in years, for the elder cannot be less than sixty, and the younger but a few years short of it. Their home, as they informed me, is in the cloisters of the church; but such a home! Nobody inhabits it who, except for mercenary reasons, would shed one tear were they to die to-morrow. Of books they possess but a slender store, and were it otherwise, who can always live among his books? Their professional vocations wear down their energies, and they stand in need of relaxation. Where do they seek it? Not in the quiet and happy circle of their own families—for they have none, nor among their neighbours, who may esteem and respect, but will scarce unbend before men who are become masters of their most secret thoughts. They therefore betake themselves to the pot-house, and in drinking and ribald conversation, look for that amusement which, under a better state of things, the Reformed pastor is sure to find in the bosom of his own family, and among his friends. I do not mean to justify the individuals, who, on the contrary, deserve utter reprobation; but surely a system which throws such temptations in men's way cannot be seriously defended by any one who has the interest of religion at heart.
From the priests, as they began, under the influence of repeated potations, to exhibit their true character, I gladly turned away, and addressing myself to the postmaster, learned from him, that the church was a collegiate charge, that it had been burned down about forty years ago, that the people, though poor, were contented, and that he himself was but the successor of his father, who had been postmaster before him. We then began to converse about the late war, upon which he informed me, that Napoleon, on his retreat from Moscow, had passed through Gabel, and breakfasted at the post-house; that fifteen or twenty thousand men occupied the town some time; but that, though there had been some skirmishes and frequent alarms, no battle was fought in the neighbourhood. Finally, he undertook to correct my route, which I showed him; mentioned one or two places as deserving of notice, which were omitted from it; and promised to accompany us some way on the road to Oybin, the point which he advised us to visit on the morrow.
It was now getting late, and our supper and usual allowance,—a bottle of light wine between us,—being finished, my companion and I rose to wish our friends good night. Numerous hints were on this thrown out, that it was yet early, and that we should be disturbed by the bands of music, one of which was playing at the inn door, another in a gentleman's house hard by; but we would not attend to them. Having strolled through the street once or twice in order to free our lungs, in some measure, from an atmosphere of tobacco, we retired to our apartment, where, in clean and comfortable beds, we slept soundly, till five o'clock next morning.
Something had passed over-night between the postmaster and myself which left an impression on my mind that he had urged us to stay and spend this day with him; so, having finished breakfast by seven o'clock, we left our knapsacks, packed and ready, and strolled down to the post-house. My imagination had, however, run wild, for no such agreement existed; so, after getting a few hints as to distances, roads, and places of call, we returned to the inn. Here, in the tap-room, were assembled host, hostess, and maid, all of them unaffectedly grieving at our threatened departure, and all ready with cogent arguments, such as might tempt us to halt at least one day longer among them. Nor were these without their effect. Mine host happening to inquire into the uses of the instrument which, enveloped in a brown linen case, I carried in my hand, I told him, and he instantly assured me of as good a day's fishing as old Isaac Walton himself need desire. This was enough for me, whose piscatorial propensities threaten, I am afraid, to be as enduring as those of Paley; and laying aside our loads, which had already been buckled on, we restored them to their places in the chamber. But the astonishment of the innkeeper, aye, and of all his household beside, when I exhibited to him my rod, line, and book of flies, no language is adequate to describe. Such things had never come under their admiring gaze before, and their shouts and exclamations were quite amusing. It would have been cruel, after all this, not to give them a specimen of the style in which we insular anglers coax trout to their destruction; so having ordered supper to be ready at eight, and sent a message to the postmaster that I would be glad if he could come and take part of it with us, we sallied forth, under the conduct of our host, in search of the stream.
The first glance which we obtained of this said stream sufficed to assure us that in the gentle craft, the good people of Gabel were altogether unpractised. There was no stream at all, but a ditch, deep, here and there, and dark enough, but measuring not more than two feet across, and everywhere overhung with bushes. They assured me that it was full of fine trout, and I have no reason to doubt them. But as I could not bring myself to adopt their method of catching the said trout, namely, by tying a cord to the end of a stick, and a hook, with a miserable worm on its blade, to the end of the string, my fishing this day amounted to nothing. Yet the day was, on the whole, very agreeably spent, as the following detail will show.
Our host, a fine handsome man of perhaps forty years of age, with a quick eye, and singularly intelligent gestures, informed me, as we set out from home, that I should find, at the water's side, the same Austrian officer who had sat at our table over-night, "For he is a keen sportsman," added he, "and having no other employment, devotes almost all his mornings either to angling or shooting." I was not sorry to be told this, because I naturally concluded that a stream which could afford amusement all the summer over to one fisherman, so determined, would furnish me with sufficient sport for a single day. My astonishment may, therefore, be conceived, when on stepping over, what I mistook for a drain, our host pointed upwards, and exclaimed, "Aye, there he is, hard at it. He's an excellent fisherman, and would die, I really believe, were the opportunity of angling taken away from him." "Where is he?" cried I; "I don't see either a river or a fisherman." "Don't see!" was the answer, "why he is there, there at the bend in the stream." I followed the direction of the speaker's finger with my eye, and beheld, sure enough, a gentleman seated comfortably on the long grass beside some alder bushes, and smoking his pipe. "You don't mean that the angler is there," exclaimed I. "Yes, I do though," replied mine host, "and see, he has just got a bite." Sure enough the sedentary sportsman put forth one of his hands just as these words were uttered, and grasping the butt of a willow wand, seemed to give it a slight hitch in the air; but no results followed. It was quietly laid aside again, and the smoking resumed.
I now turned round, and with a countenance strongly expressive of horror, begged to be informed if this were really the stream. I received an answer in the affirmative, the solemnity of which was too much, first, for the risible faculties of my young companion, and then for my own. We literally roared with laughter. But we checked ourselves as soon as possible, and having explained to our guide how widely different were our notions of angling from his, had the satisfaction to perceive that no offence was given. We now joined the Austrian officer, and found that he had caught nothing; a fortune which did not improve with him during the two or three hours which we loitered away in his company.
There was no fishing to be had, that was clear enough; but we had brought some bread and butter and wine with us, in a contrary expectation, and these we discussed. Of course our brother sportsman joined us in this operation; and we were not slow in discovering, that though we had failed in finding trout, we had stumbled upon an obliging and intelligent companion. He had served in the campaigns of 1812, 13, and 14; was wounded at the battle of Leipsig; passed a year or two in France during the occupation of that country by the Allies, and was therefore proud to say, had been commanded by the Duke of Wellington. Since the peace, he had spent a year or two at Ancona with his regiment, but in consequence of the rupture of a blood-vessel in his lungs, had since been discharged upon a pension. Since retiring from the service, he had married a woman with some little property; and now lived with his father in Gabel, who held, under government, a license for the sale of tobacco, and farmed a small estate, to which our acquaintance was the heir.
Our gallant friend, apparently chagrined that we should have been disappointed in our fishing, proposed a chasse. I stared again, remembering that it was the month of June, and seeing fine crops of corn waving on all sides of me; but as he appeared serious, I offered no objection. We accordingly walked back to the town; and while Mr. Madder,—so the officer was called,—went home to dinner, I and my companions strolled into the church. It is large and commodious, and can boast of numerous pictures, more to be admired for the excellent intentions of the artists, than for the success which has attended their efforts; and the view from the roof is beautiful. But, except in the crypts below, where
Coffins stand round like open presses, Showing the dead in their last dresses,
there was little either within or without the pile deserving of notice. The crypt is, however, a fine one; and the old monks and nobles whom the sexton ruthlessly exposes to view, look out upon you grimly enough from among their blackened and decaying habiliments.
Having allowed Mr. Madder what we conceived to be sufficient time for satisfying his appetite, our host of the Hernhause proposed that we should call upon him; and we went accordingly. A remarkably nice-looking old lady, with two younger ones, received us, and were introduced to us by Mr. Madder as his mother and sisters. Wine and coffee were then produced, of which we were obliged to partake, and a request was modestly urged, that we would exhibit the wonderful fishing-tackle. The whole apparatus was accordingly sent for and displayed, quite as much to the edification of the ladies, as to that of their brother, and considerable progress was made in the good opinion of one of them by a present of a casting-line and a couple of flies.
The tackle being put up, a double-barrelled gun and shooting-pouch were handed to me, the former furnished with a leathern sling, the latter made of undressed deer-skin. I slung them on, and Mr. Madder and the innkeeper being equipped in a similar manner, away we marched. But such shooting! Never surely in the annals of sporting has this day been rivalled, unless, indeed, when some city apprentices escaped from the warehouse in Lad-lane, have penetrated into the marshes beyond Hackney, to wage war upon a solitary hedge-sparrow. A dog we doubtless had, and he was large enough for all useful purposes; for he trotted through the rye with the composure of an elephant, and did spring a partridge from her nest. But the partridge happily escaped from three well-loaded barrels, and we never saw more either of her or her companions. Then went we deep into the woods, following the notes of the cuckoo and the ring-dove, only that we might come forth again with hands unstained by the blood of any such innocent creatures.
I was very much amused with all this for a while, but by degrees it began to grow tiresome; and I proposed that, as the sun wore towards the west, we should return home. My wish was law, to my kind companions; and homewards we turned our faces. But as we drew towards a small house, about three or four English miles from the town, the sounds of music were heard, and we found, on approaching, that it was filled with ladies and gentlemen from Gabel, the younger portion of whom were dancing to the notes of a fiddle, a clarionet, and a bassoon. It was our purpose to mix with the people of Bohemia as much as possible; we therefore expressed a desire to stop short for a minute or two, and to become spectators, if not partners in the frolic. Again were our wishes complied with cheerfully. We joined the merry-making, were well and kindly received, and laying aside our guns and pouches, danced with such of the young ladies as happened to be without partners. Nor did we get away from this pleasant little broad-day ball without doing some violence to the hospitable feelings of its founders.
Dancing seems to be a passion with all orders of people in Bohemia. The very cow-herds dance on the high road, to the music of their own voices, and the universal figure is the waltz. Quadrilles and gallopades have, no doubt, their worshippers among the higher classes; but among the lower, the waltz—most truly called the German waltz,—seems to be all in all. The party to which, for half-an-hour, we attached ourselves, belonged to the middle ranks, that is, to such middle ranks as even Germany produces; for there were present the doctor and his wife, a wealthy brewer and his family, with others of Gabel's magnates, and I believe that I had the honour of dancing with the brewer's daughter.