28 OCTOBER 1865, Page 16


A DAY'S extra labour would have made this book in its way almost perfect, but at present it lacks compactness, the compact- ness which is produced by artistic arrangement and the free use of the pen in erasure. That, however, is its greatest defect, and one which, though it diminishes its value as a work of reference, the searcher losing time in collecting scattered morsels of infor- mation, scarcely impairs its value to the general reader. Mr. Boner has the advantage of a subject, the condition of Tran- sylvania, which is little known even to well-informed men, and which has at the same time a special political interest. Nowhere in Austria, perhaps nowhere in the world, are the difficulties of governing a composite people so conspicuous as in this province, nowhere are three races of three civilizations so inextricably mingled, or so incurably averse to amalgamation. Even in the Southern States of America the aversion is only felt by one of two races, the negro welcoming amalgamation, but in Transylvania it is felt by all three in a degree which seems to make civilized government except from above absolutely impossible. Nothing but a firm union among the citizens of each race preserves them from oppression at the hands of a second, and the permanent union of one race against another always ends in mutual hatred. The situation is so curious and so illustrative of the permanent difficulty of the Austrian Government, that we shall try to group together Mr. Boner's statements into a coherent narrative.

Transylvania, then, is the vast province, containing some 23,000 square miles of surface,, or about. two-thirds of Ireland, which lies locked within the embrace of the Carpathians, the range which compasses it about like a wall on every side. Originally occupied by the Dacians, held by the Romans for 150 years, con- quered by the Hungarians sixty years before the Normans invaded Britain, the province has been the object of successive German immigrations, all invited to fill up gaps in the population. The first colonists were summoned by the Hungarian King, received extraordinary privileges, and built in what was almost a desert seven towns, from which the country takes its German name of Siebenburgen, the Seven Burghs. They demanded and obtained municipal rights almost too great for national life, which they defended with extreme pertinacity, were released from the autho- rity of the Vaivode of Transylvania and subject only to that of the Kings of Hungary, were relieved from all the conditions of feudal society, "none being noble and none serf," were permitted to choose their own judges, and obtained the right of electing members in the general Diet. Under the name of Saxons they maintained all these rights down to a very recent period, preserv- ing their independence against two most formidable classes ' of foes, who, under one form or another, never ceased from their attacks. These were the great Hungarian landlords, settled in the plains, and owning vast tracts of land, and the Wallacks, or Roumains, as it is their pride to call themselves, as descendants of l'rajan's colonists, originally the Highlanders of Transylvania, who from time to time descended and settled on the nobles' lands. Towards the Magyars the Saxons had a kindly feeling, which even now they have not lost, reverencing their courage, force of will, and political capacity, and frequently uniting with them against their Kings, but the Wallacks they shot down like wolves. They had of course great provocation, the latter holding the mountaineer and not the lowland notions of meant et tuum, be- lieving it to this day right to take fruit as common property, to steal timber from the forest, and to drive herds on to one's neigh- bour's meadow land. The Wallacks were, however, useful as herds- men, there was plenty of waste land, and being utterly thriftless they multiplied as rapidly as the lower Irish—a fact the more import- ant, because they were opposed to a race who had adopted a habit which has been for ages fatal to their development, and will • Transylvania. By Charles Boner. London : Longmans.

probably arrest their future. Civilization induced the Saxon to value " respectability " above all things, to respectability compe- tence was essential, competence meant the possession of an ade- quate farm, the size of the farms was threatened by the law of equal subdivision, and the deadly habit of limiting families by physical means crept in among them. Unlike the French, who have fixed on three as the normal number for a household, the Saxons of Transylvania limit their children to two, one inheriting realty, one personalty, and as an average of three is required to enable a nation to repair its mortality, their numbers are slowly but perceptibly beginning to decline, till the priests have at last been compelled to take up the subject from the pulpit. The Wallacks are now far the most numerous inhabitants of the country, and are pressing close upon the heels of the Saxons, the numbers being now, Mr. Boner says —Wallacks or Roumains, 1,227,276; Magyars, 536,011; Saxons or Germans, 192,482; Gipsies, 78,923; Jews, 15,573. Nevertheless, in spite of the evil influence of this habit, the vitality of the race, its unity, industry, freedom, and com- parative civilization gave it wealth, and throughout the Turkish wars we hear of its paying taxes which seemed utterly beyond the power of such colonies to yield. Gradually, however, they became impoverished, and gradually also the alliance between them and the Magyar nobles ceased to exist. The Saxons detested the turbulent energy of the nobles, now directed against oppres- sion, now against order, one day expended in protecting them- selves, the next in summoning the Turk to avenge some fancied injury, while on their side the Magyars despised the plodding, wealth-getting, orderly burghers, who cared so little for politics and so richly repaid plunder. This hostility was fomented by political circumatonmq, by the Saxons' habit of turning for aid to Germany, by their devotion to agriculture, and by the increasing numbers of the Wallacks, until it became overt hatred.

"Thera is at this moment in Continental Europe no people, except the Swiss and the Belgians, enjoying such liberties and guaranteed rights as these Germans possessed when they settled in Transylvania. In six hundred years, the progress of the different monarchies leaves them still far behind the political condition in which those men lived. Their presence however, as was observed before, worked no effect on those around them. The difference between them in nature, moral cul- ture, habits, and education, was too great for such a result. Seven cen- turies of neighbourhood have not brought them nearer together. Seven centuries more will not make them friends. The two races are radically unlike, with qualities wholly different, whether for good or evil. The political freedom of the foreigners was for the Hungarian nobleman a restraint ; their order, thrift, industry, were to him a constant reproach, and their distrust of his promises could not but be taken ill. He felt himself aggrieved when they looked westward for support, as they always and very naturally did,—instead of rallying round the standard raised by a Magyar. It was a source of bitter feeling in times lcng past, and it has occasioned still greater bitterness in the present day. I comprehend quite well the feelings of each party, and, from their re- spective points of view, find both quite natural. Deeply regrettable as it is, I do not see how it could be otherwise."

This hatred has not been soothed by the favour of late years shown to the Wallacks, who have been petted as against both Saxons and Magyars until they begin to dream of mastery and independence. Of course with three civilizations co-existent ani hating each other justice has become impossible, and its absence falls heavily on the Magyar.

"As no Hungarian will accept office, and as there are too few Saxons for the law courts and other Government offices, Roumains are appointed to them. Of their pat-Hatay, insufficiency of knowledge, and illegal pro- ceedings, there is hardly any one who, in these matters, has not his tale to tell. For this reason, people put up with an injury from the certainty that they will find no redress. Indeed, if I were to enter on the matter more fully, I might fill my volume with instances. The most direct evidence is insufficient to convict. I know a case of a Wallack having been observed in a courtyard at dusk, lurking about the barn. He was seen to go into the hayloft, and afterwards, on being perceived and fol- lowed, he took to flight, but was caught. Directly after, fire broke out on the very spot where he, and where he only, had or could have been. Yet the man was acquitted, his judge being of his own nation. The wood of a Hungarian nobleman was devastated by the Wallacks. He com- plained of it to his lawyer, who was instructed to get an order of prohi- bition. In May, the order came ; but no notice being taken of it, in December the last tree was cut down. In the April following nothing had yet been done ; but as the wood was gone, the delay mattered little. Among sixty cases of complaint for stealing wood from the forest, there was not one conviction. If, however, the complaint be against the gen- tleman, then the verdict, which may be known beforehand, is carried out at once."

There is "perfect lawlessness in the land" upon all questions of property, the most numerous class being in fact upon that point still uncivilized, and owning little land of its own. As to crimes of violence the situation is better, the country being perfectly safe, but theft prevails to a degree which indicates either moral perversion among the people or an absolute necessity for a new tenure. When agriculture is the sole occupation, and a whole population hungers for the land it cannot obtain, agrarian crime,

whether in Transylvania or Ireland, is sure to be common. Jus- tice, however, is impossible under the existing system of adminis- tration, which is centralized to the last degree, and worked by men who are almost obliged to commit frauds in order to live.

"The subordinate Government officers are paid badly, so that, to use the words of my informant, himself holding office, they must steal.' Another allowed that they must defraud in order to live.' A third said, 'We lose annually very considerably by theft.' An overseer (A ufseher) at a mine gets six florins a month. Some men on the smallest salary live well and handsomely. How do they manage it ? Near one salt- mine in full work is another now deserted. Hero organized bands of fifty or sixty men, with outposts as sentinels, regularly steal salt ; and the badly-paid overseers connive at the depredation."

The Saxons are just what they are everywhere, and the Wallacks seem a happy, child-like race, fond of amusement, music, and improvization, holding dances even in the open street, the men in, their shirt sleeves, the girls in white shifts, with the red kretinsa or double apron, one in front and one behind.

"Thus, the skirt looking as if in one piece, the whole has the appear- ance of an ordinary scanty dress. Towards tho north of Transylvania it is otherwise: the two pieces do not meet, except above or on the hip ; and thus the white shift is seen from the waist downward on either side. Its snowy white sleeves are large as a bishop's, and hero the garment is. worn longer than elsewhere, and reaches quite to the ancles. On the head the girls wear a sort of shawl, either red or yellow ; it covers the forehead, and descending on either aide the face, is tied under the chin."

The Wallacks are in fact not so much evil, as Mr. Boner thinks, as half-civilized, and disliking the Magyar whose lands they covet and the Saxons whose orderliness they detest, holding determinately to the Greek Church, and having no bond of union with Austria, they look to the Czar as their real chief, and long for the day when there shall arise a mighty and united Roumain nation. On the other hand the Saxon stands alone, while the Magyar, hating him politically as a German, looks on him socially "as Belgravia looks. on Little Britain." Clearly under such circumstances the first necessity of Transylvania is a strong central government, for if the people are left to fight it out in the local Diet, either one caste will dominate the rest or the three will destroy each other. And Mr. Boner at heart evidently believes that this necessity gives the Kaiser a moral right. Of course this is in bias a German account, but Mr. Boner supports it with numerous facts drawn from his own experience, and he does full justice to the good qualities of the Magyars, complaining only of their almost diseased national pride,. which renders them absolutely incapable of being just to any Go- vernment which does not first of all acknowledge that the habitual exclamation, "'We are Magyars," is in se sufficient basis for a. claim to superiority. His view, though exaggerated, is well worth studying, for it must have at bottom some basis of truth,

and is the one habitually put forward by all Germans.

We have confined ourselves designedly to the political chapters.

of this volume, the information in which admits of condensation, but it contains many of greater interest for the general reader,— accounts of the local wines and capacities for wine-making, of the vast salt mines at Maros Ujvar, with their halls 200 feet high, 240 feet long, and 120 feet broad, chambers which cannot be rivalled by any ever excavated by man, and which Mr. Boner has excel- lently described ; of the gipsies encamped by the gates of every Transylvanian town ; of the practice of divorce, so universal among the Magyart that marriage has almost ceased to exist, of scenery, and of travelling. He describes all in a slightly affected but stilt lucid style, and though his arrangement is confused, his descriptions over concise, and his bias evident, the reader who has mastered his book feels that he knows for the first time something of Transyl-