12 OCTOBER 1929, Page 8

Europe Revisited

IV.—Budapest I • [Two years ago the Spectator published a series of articles, called " Europe after Twenty Years," recording impressions re- ceived after a tour through Northern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic Republics, Poland and the Danzig Corridor. The writer of these articles has just returned from a lengthy stay in Central Europe, during which he has had special opportunities of meeting many of the political leaders. Under the above heading, he is contributing a series of articles dealing with Southern Germany, Austria, Hungary and Czechiaslovakia, of which this is the fourth.—ED. Spectator.] THE most interesting way to arrive in a country is by water, if possible, and certainly the best way of entering Hungary is by steamer on the Danube from Vienna. The fourteen hours spent on board give special opportunities of conversation with fellow-passengers and much useful information can be gleaned. Before many hours are passed you realize some of the difficulties of the Hungarian question—one of the danger spots of Europe—where an entire nation feels that it has a grievance and is not prepared to think of any scheme of future European co-operation and reconstruction until that grievance is removed. My stay in Hungary reminded me of my visit to Eastern Prussia and the Danzig Corridor—for in these two places the impartial outsider feels that the last word has not been spoken and that there must be some kind of readjustment of grievances.

It was twenty-five years since my last visit and the contrast between the prosperous pre-War times and to-day is as marked as in Austria, but with a difference, In Austria you are in a country of departed glory which is but a shadow of its former self. In Hungary, too, you are in a country which has been " telescOped " out of all recognition, but you are also in a country which has at last won its age-long fight for independence and is conscious of the fact. In the pre-War days of the Dual-Monarchy, whatever was said to the contrary, Hungary did not give the feeling of a free country ; to-day, in what is left of her, she does, and Austria is as much a foreign country to her as Holland or any other nation. I have been in many countries with national grievances, in Finland and Poland in Czarist days, in Southern Ireland during " the rebellion," in Bohemia and Bosnia under the Dual-Monarchy, but never have I met a nation so entirely possessed with a " grievance complex " as present-day Hungary. Every Hungarian I spoke to without exception in every walk of life talked bitterly of their present status. My first encounter was a few hours after getting on board the Danube steamer at Vienna, as we were steaming past Pressburg, the ancient Hungarian capital, with a thousand years of Hungarian tradition, handed to Czechoslovakia by the Peace Treaty and now known to the world as Bratislava. It served -as the theme for a harangue from a Hungarian fellow-passenger. And even when comparatively close to Budapest one is again reminded of this ever-present grievance, for the Czechoslovakian frontier comes to within twenty-five miles of the national capital.

I wonder who first called the Danube blue ! He certainly possessed a picturesque imagination, for although I have sailed upon its waters on many occasions and have followed its course from Passau, through the Iron Gates, almost to its . mouth in the Black Sea I have never found a trace of blue in its rapidly flowing waters.

That is not to say that the Danube is not a beautiful river, because it is, and to sail between its wide banks through the great plains of Central Europe is a never- to-be-forgotten experience. Here you feel that you have left Western Europe behind as you look at the great herds of cattle and horses, the droves of pigs, the one-storied, straggling villages, the pictureique wooden wells—reminiscent of Russia and the East—the water- wheels and. the ever-present flocks of geese. You arc in Eastern Europe, in a land where agriculture is the chief preoccupation of the populace. To arrive in Budapest by water after dark is a wonderful experience—a shining river, great hills covered with lights, a city of phantom buildings, bridges and myriad lights takes shape as you glide along to the landing-stage.

Whatever its past tribulations or present poverty, Budapest does not depress the spirits on arrival as does Vienna. The visitor sees few outward signs of the hard times the country has been through. Budapest is one of the gayest-looking and cleanest capitals in Europe and it is satisfactory to know that a growing number of Englishmen are visiting it. The Hungarian Government is doing all it can to attract foreigners, the tourist traffic is steadily increasing, and in order to induce visitors to Vienna to include Budapest in their journey a specially reduced Friday-to-Tuesday all-inclusive ticket is provided which is growing in popularity. Three or four days is, of course, .too short a period in which to learn much about. Hungarian conditions, but, anyhow it will fill the visitor with the desire to return to this hospitable country. Budapest is frequently chosen for international conferences, and at the time of my, visit the Esperantists were' in session; and certainly there are few pleasanter big cities, for it is exceptionally well provided with distractions for the visitor in the way of bathing establishments and open-air restaurants. In the Danube, about ten minutes by taxi, is Margaret Island, a kind of public park, consisting chiefly of open-air restaurants, cafés and bathing-beaches. During several months spent in Central Europe this summer I could almost count on the fingers of two hands the meals I had indoors. Why is it that in. England we refuse to eat in the open ? I think if I had to give the chief superficial difference between the British people and their Continental neighbours I would reply that throughout the summer we eat our food in stuffy rooms, while abroad from May to September food is always served out of doors except on rainy days. British people must hate fresh air and love froustiness—despite all the talk to the contrary— or otherwise they would never tolerate such conditions. There are apologists who tell us that our refusal to take our meals out of doors is due to our climate and to the dirt. The British climate is much maligned, for there arc few years in which many weeks could not be spent out of doors. As regards the dirt—I suppose the apologists refer to the smuts caused by the smoke nuisance—I agree with Mr., Gerald Barry, who, in a humorous talk on the wireless the other day on his return froth a Continental holiday, said that if dirt were really the cause of our refusing to eat out of doors, this was an argument against dirt and not against open-air meals. J.

(To be continued.)