A WINTER'S JOURNEY Part 5
Hungarian Villages.- Hogs.-Cattle.-Raab.—Cholera -Change of Postilions. Hungarian Roads and “ Turn-outs.” An Accident.-An Overturn. - Game Laws, and Chasses.- Arrival at Buda and Pest. - Break down second.— Christmas Morn .
Change of Costume.– Villages and Houses.— The Steppes.— Overturn third.- Hungarian Auberge— and Gipsies.— Terezianople. Nysotts Peterwardin.— Comparative Sketch of European Posting.– Semlin.
Semlin = Zemun
Zemun (Serbian Cyrillic: Земун, pronounced [zěmuːn]; Hungarian: Zimony) is a municipality of the city of Belgrade. Zemun was a separate town that was absorbed into Belgrade in 1934. The development of New Belgrade in the late 20th century affected the expansion of the continuous urban area of Belgrade.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zemun
You will see by my date that I keep my word. I have just arrived here after a most disagreeable and painful journey, lengthened out by bad weather and bad roads far beyond the usual term. I have just despatched all other business, and the remaining time I have here shall be employed in giving you a sketch of it: more I cannot give, and more it doesn’t not merit.
On the evening of the 22nd, having got my passports and completed my arrangements, I left Vienna a little after nine, and, passing through the Hungarian suburb, was soon on the road to Buda and Pest. One of these arrangements consisted in the engagement of a servant who knew the language and the customs of the country we had to travel through; for I had suffered too much from the want of such assistance to make another attempt without securing it, and I was fortunate enough to engage a man who had acted as courier on several occasions, and who was, as I understood, perfectly acquainted with the road.
The night was bitter cold— it pinched us through all our furs; and the morning found us dragging along the miry road of a fat Hungarian steppe. The Styrian mountains, capped with snow, were on our right, a level plain on our left; while a bright orange horizon in front gave promise of a fine day. It is true that this promise was soon broken, for rain began to fall: but as the wind was in our back it gave us less concern ; and though our progress was not rapid, it was at least uninterrupted.
The Hungarian costume had made its appearance: sheep-skin cloaks, with the fur outside to turn the rain ; pelisses both short and long, of that and other materials; thick felt cloak sand boots, with strange looking, wild, large-brimmed hats, and sometimes handkerchiefs turban wise around the head. The men themselves were ruddy and good-looking. The villages, of which we passed many, though inferior to those of Bavaria and Austria, were formed , though inferior to those of Bavaria and Austria, were formed of decent houses, chiefly wooden.
It could scarcely be matter of surprise that two months of almost continual rain had reduced the whole country, including the village streets, to the condition of a morass, through which the horses waded with difficulty.
HOGS - RAAB
The state of the roads, how ever, seemed to offer no obstacle to the advance of prodigious droves of pigs, or rather heavy swine,of exceeding obesity. They were remarkable for being very hairy, especially about the face and throat, with noses much turned upwards. I can further bear testimony to the excellence of their flesh, having made a capital breakfast at the little commercial town of Weiselburgh, and a dinner at Raab, in which pork was assuredly the principal dish. I have had some reason to believe that the greater number of those animals had come from Servia, where they are fattened in the immense oak forests, and from whence they are sent to supply the markets of Pest and Vienna.
Raab is a town upon the Danube, containing, as I was informed,about thirty thousand souls. We scarcely entered it, but remarked,that a midst oceans of dirt, a disposition at least was evident and an attempt made to cleanse the streets. It was little more,I fear; for the carts which were employed in carting off the mire appeared to have a worse than Augean task to accomplish. I remarked too, that the shops, instead of signs, had representations of the articles in which they dealt painted on the insides of the doors. The suburbs, which were all I saw, resembled what I remember of the Russian towns in the Ukraine and southern provinces; white houses with gavels to the street, and often little yards about them. The villages were also in the same style, the houses being made of mud and white-washed.
The country during this day's journey was quite flat; the soil, a fat black loam upon yellowish grey clay, fit, I should think, for anything ; and, in fact, there was a good deal of cultivation, mingled with much larger tracts of unoccupied or pasture-land and forest. The roads, which were only formed of the soil, without metal, and often bordered with pollard willows, were uniformly execrable, axle-deep in mud. In addition to the droves of hogs, we met a number of cattle going to the Vienna market, all grey, gaunt, and lean, with long spreading horns: a Highland cattle-dealer would have said they were of a bad stamp. The sheep, of which we also saw many, were of a far better breed, for they bore strong evidence of a Merino cross
listen); German: Raab; names in other languages) is the most important city of northwest Hungary, the capital of Győr-Moson-Sopron County and Western Transdanubia region, and—halfway between Budapest and Vienna—situated on one of the important roads of Central Europe. It is the sixth largest city in Hungary, and one of its seven main regional centres.
On entering Raab, my attention was arrested by a more painful object : it was a new burying -ground, large, but perfectly full of graves, at the head of each of which stood planted a yellow post about two feet high with a triangular cap on its top. This, I learned, was the burying-ground appropriated to the victims of cholera, when that fell disease almost depopulated Raab: It was a ghastly spectacle. Itis said that two hundred and fifty thousand persons were swept off in Hungary alone.
At this place we took leave of our smart Austrian postilions, with their gallant silver-laced cocked-hats and badges, their red-laced jackets, and their tasseled French horns, on the which they favoured us so often with a flourish or a tune. It is true that the appearance of these functionaries had been getting more shabby for some stages before, but at Raab the change was most mortifying; for, when the horses were yoked, up tottered the vision of an aged man, clad in a ragged wrapper as grey and old as himself, his grey head covered with a grey felt wig, and that with a grey felt hat, whose broad brim up turned upwards like an umbrella surprised by a gust of wind ; and, to our dismay, this Bodach-glass clambered up “with mickle toil,” and floundered into the driving-seat. His age he confessed was eighty-five; and altogether a more unpromising set-out in horses and driver I never saw : yet they belied appearances at first, for they set off at score, and went on at a pace which did not seem to be in them, until a gust of wind blew off the old boy's scraper, and brought us to a stand-still. Much did he seem to doubt whether it were worth while exerting his stiff old carcass to recover his head-gear from the deep mud in which it lay, and it was not until a word from the carriage quickened the current of his cogitations that he got off and replaced it, soaked in mire, upon his head. After this, we went at a far more sober pace; but I must say that this was fully as attributable to the execrable state of the roads as to any diminution in the old man’s zeal.
Imagine a country perfectly flat; the soil, fat earth , a perfect sponge for water, already subjected to the action of two months' rain, and now scarcely elevated above the level of the overflowing Danube,—not a stone to be found in the whole of it; the roads, made solely of this same soil, thrown up from the side ditches, and poached by a very large and constant traffic of carts, carriages, and animals of every description: imagine all this, and you have our exact situation. Nor need I describe how we toiled on, nave
deep, plunging from one hole into another, with the springs jerking to their full stretch at every step, and ourselves scarcely able to keep our seats a moment. Add to this,a night as black as a wolf's mouth, already spitting, and giving ample promise of raining enough to keep up the salutary moisture of the soil, and behold the full sum of our comforts to the next stage, Gönyö, which we fortunately reached without accident.
A bodach (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ˈpɔt̪əx]; plural bodaich "old man; rustic, churl, lout"; Old Irish botach) is a trickster or bogeyman figure in Gaelic folklore and mythology. The bodach "old man" is paired with the cailleach "hag, old woman" in Irish legend.
A postilion or postillion is a person who guides a horse-drawn coach or post chaise while mounted on the horse or one of a pair of horses. By contrast, a coachman controls the horses from the vehicle itself.
Image of the postilion of the late 18th century. Publication of the book "A Century in the text and pictures", Berlin, Germany, 1899
Here we were informed that no horses were to be had; but the postmaster, after a row and explanation with my servant, at length procured them from the peasants, and, by way of making up for the delay, put four to the carriage instead of two which we paid for. And such a turn-out What would the masters of the whip in England have said to it, the dashing drivers of the “Rockets,” and “Comets,” and “Highflyers, “on the Brighton, the Southampton, or the Exeter road? Lean, scraggy, shaggy, small, but unmatched in their dwarfishness, and wild as their brothers and sisters of the steppes, they came in all their native nudity, unprovided with even the small affectation of harness which those of the post-houses generally maintain.
They were tied to the carriage and to each other by cords and all manner of indescribable ligaments in such a style,that we could not help entertaining very serious doubts of their getting to the end of the first mile. The box was mounted by a gipsy boy, in robes of unutterable squalidity, and a hat like a monstrous mushroom , who, however, cracked and flourished a long whip in a most knowing manner. But his flourishing and vapouring were soon brought to a close; for, after making a fair start with much difficulty, we had scarcely gone half a mile, when down came one of the wheelers right under the carriage, and the whole concern was thrown into confusion.
“Oh, murder! my horse is killed!” exclaimed the gipsy in his Hungarian dialect ; but still he kept his seat, gazing on the fallen and groaning animal for more than a minute before he dropped into the mud to assist it.
Then, indeed, he did begin to use his knife with a speed and recklessness that made me fear a reunion of the disjointed parts for the purpose of dragging the carriage might prove impossible ; and he hauled and pulled at leg and head with all his might and main, keeping up an accompaniment of lamentation and remonstrance that might have been heard at a mile's distance. Having ascertained that the beast had fallen clear of the wheels, we did not see any good reason to get out knee-deep in mud to do what he was quite equal to ; but it was some time before we could persuade him just to drag one leg out of the way, cause the carriage to move on a few yards, and then apply the whip to his fallen steed. A second lash brought him at once to his feet, and the work of repairing damages commenced. This occupied not far from an hour; but even then, all the indescribable sounds, -the “La-hoh, la-hoh,-Lora,lora,—Wahi,-Hua, hua !” & c. & c.— with which he sought to rouse his cattle to simultaneous exertion, were for sometime intonated in vain, even when combined with frequent additional hints from his whip, and failed to put the carriage in motion. We were three hours in performing ten miles; and, considering the roads and the equipage, the wonder was rather that we performed it at all, than that we were so long about it.
I had indulged a faint hope that the next stage might furnish us with better means of progress : at all events, I was resolved that no remonstrance or bribe should be wanting to secure them. But this was destined to be a night of disappointment and adventures. The horses were, indeed, more decent than any we had for some time seen ; but I could not help remarking to my servant, that the boy whom they gave us as postilion was far too young and too weak to be of use incase of accidents.- Boy, indeed!- we discovered by the light of our lamps, the first time he turned his head, that it was a hunchback urchin of fifty at least, and deaf, as we had occasion afterwards to suspect.
Away we drove, crashing, jolting, and sinking, first on one side, then on the other, in a manner that no springs or wheels, the work of mortal hands, could possibly have long withstood ; for now we found the mud of the road intermingled with huge round stones by way of improvement. In vain we roared out to him to go more softly--to take care ; for a long time he could not or would not hear ; till at length, when we had made half the post, and were driving on the banks of the Danube,“ dark-flowing” enough at that time, and under a sort of hill or rising ground that rose abruptly from them, he pulled up, and,turning his ill-omened countenance towards us as it peeped out from under his enormous hat, he gave us to wit, that we were coming to a “bad step.” It proved no less, indeed.
The country had some what changed its character, and we had reached the foot of certain low hills proceeding from the mountains on our right; and the road had been further destroyed by an attempt to repair it with the round stones they afforded. The consequence was the formation of a succession of irregular heights and holes, the latter of which were partly filled with mud and the said stones. Into these we now plunged to a depth from which the most violent efforts of the horses could scarcely extricate us, and which unsettled the whole machine. At length, in his endeavours, I suppose, to keep as far as possible from the river-side, which was, assuredly, quite close enough and entirely unguarded, he hugged the hill-foot : the right-hand wheels rose on the slope, while the left went right into a huge miry pit. Instead of whipping the horses to extricate the vehicle, unhappy hunchy rather checked them , and over we went on one side, at once,into the thick, fat mud -porridge!
The confusion this accident created may be conceived: every article of baggage was displaced, and the contents of the carriage were heaped upon ourselves as we lay heads downwards. Sensible that the mud, which oozed in on all sides, might soon smother us if we did not extricate ourselves, we made an effort, and the servant, who was upper most, contrived to get out. He stepped at once over the knees, and waded to extricate the miserable postboy, who was jammed in his seat, so that without help he might have stuck there till now. Soon after, I got out myself, and only then comprehended the full “agrémens” of our condition.
There lay our carriage, down-hill, the thick mud in which the hood rested, and which was oozing slowly in through all creeks and crannies, alone preventing it from falling over on its top; so that it was plain the efforts of at least half-a-dozen men would be requisite to raise it once more on its wheels; — and foolish enough, in all conscience, we looked, with our miserable hunchbacked postilion alone to aid us. What was to be done?
To remove the things and lighten the carriage, was the first and most obvious measure : but where could we put them?— I had just proposed sending off Hunchback on one of the horses to seek for aid at the first village, when the appearance of two brilliant lights, the sure heralds of an equipage, induced us to hope for more immediate help : - it was, in fact, a carriage-and-four, and we hailed them as they came up, that they might not run over us.
A voice from within called out to know what was the matter, as the postilions drew up : a query of " whether there was room between the hill and our carriage?" was heard in reply to the annunciation of our misfortune.
The stranger's carriage got into motion, drew up to the hill, and us at a rapid pace. “ They are going to passed my servant, with a stop when they pass us,” said rather stupid stare ; but there seemed no such disposition on their part, and I called aloud myself for to stop: they did so,— heard our solicitation and rapidly drove off. Perhaps they possessed little means of assisting us; probably they had no notion of getting head-over-ears in mud in attempt: to us, at all events, the desertion appeared heartless in the extreme,and my servant was not delicatein expressing his disgust and disappointment.
A COMFORTABLE SITUATION.
We now sent Hunchback off for assistance. The nearest village was full five miles distant, so we had nothing to do but to wait as patiently as we might until his return. Placing the servant, therefore, to watch the road, I retired from the rain into the hood of the fallen vehicle; and as misery acquaints us with strange beds, as well as bedfellows, I soon fell asleep, enveloped in a clothing of mud, and reclining on the heterogeneous contents of our discomfited britchka. Not long after, a furious frosty wind drove my servant from his post in beside me, just as the noise of wheels again awakened our hopes. This time it was a large waggon, attended by several men, and we were sure of help: but with them, too, it was only " Hollah! what's that ? what's the matter overturned?”
At short conversation between the waggoner and my servant, and they also, like the Priest and the Levite, “passed by on the other side.” Sleep was now driven away by indignation; so, lighting a candle with my match-box, I groped out my journal, and noted out the incidents of the night as I sat in the floating hood. It reminded me of our friend J.H. who having been stopped and plundered by some banditti in Spain, sat down upon a bank and coolly amused with sketching the group of robbers as they rifled his trunks and portmanteaus before his eyes.
At length, after the lapse of two hours, which us seemed as long as two nights, our ears were greeted by the voice of little Humpy, announcing his arrival with five men to our aid. All was now alertness and hope ; but the business proved to be one of great difficulty; for so deep was the mud that no one standing in it could exert his strength to any advantage, and it was only by applying some sticks which they had luckily brought with them, as shores to maintain the ground that was won inch by inch, that at length the machine was raised a few feet.
The horses were then attached, and by their efforts in dragging,and those of our united party in lifting, the unfortunate britchka was dragged from the slough of despond, where it had lain so long, and placed once more upon its wheels. A sorry sight in truth it was, and sorely battered did we find it. As for ourselves, it is not to be told what figures we were; yet, dripping as we were with mire, in we were forced to get, and in this piggish state did we make up our minds to proceed to Pest, forty-five miles further.
By this time it was broad daylight, and we slowly proceeded to the village, where the amount of our damages were ascertained to consist of one lamp demolished,the hood considerably twisted, and the pin which unites the fore part of the carriage to the perch much crooked. The latter, which was the most material affair, was soon repaired by the village smith, and, after rewarding our friendly assistants, we once more took the road. Had I ever entertained doubts as to the expediency of taking a servant on this part of my journey, this accident
Frequency and Resonance
Well that clear up why I’ve always liked this film!