25 MARCH 1882, Page 21


TEE Carpathian Society is, we suppose, a friendly rival of the Alpine Club. We do not know what constitutes eligibility to the honour of its Fellowships, but sex and celibacy are evidently not among the qualifications. The Fellow who writes this book is a woman, and her male travelling companion, whom she vaguely indicates as "F.," we assume to be her husband. She can write well, and observe accurately; the more the pity that her work should be marred by spurts of "fine-writing," elaborately dull facetiousness, an affectation of knowledge which she does not possess, and a confused medley of seria cum jocis, so that we are sometimes at a loss to know whether she intends to be taken literally, or means only to be funny. The authoress found the trains in Hungary both slow and unpunctual when she left the main lines. This is an inconvenience which is not confined to Hungary, and the experience of the authoress must be either limited or exceptional if she never found her temper tried by it even on British soil. But however that may be, it is not likely that even the proud Magyars will be stung into reforming their railway system by sallies of wit like the following :— " Railway travelling in Hungary has, in fact, frequently been known to produce in the passenger—especially if he happen to have come from Western Europe—a species of temporary insanity ; the particular form which the malady assumes causing the unfortunate sufferer to lose for the nonce all sense of his own individuality, and to imagine himself the Wandering Jew,' destined to go on to all time."

A lady, albeit a Fellow of the Carpathian Society, is not bound to have studied the history of philosophy, or even to 'know much about Talleyrand ; but, on the other hand, she should eschew grand airs and learned allusions, which serve only to expose her ignorance. "Talleyrand," according to our authoress, "says, somewhere in his philosophy, that the tongue was given to man to conceal the thoughts.'" Now, in the first place, Talleyrand was not a writer on philosophy ; in the second place, Talleyrand is not known to have used any expression similar to the one here attributed to him ; thirdly, the germ of the expression, which the authoress has quoted somewhat inaccurately, is traceable to an English writer. "Speech was given to the ordinary sort of men," says South, " whereby to communicate their mind, but to wise men whereby to conceal it." "The true use of speech," says Goldsmith, "is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them." Vol- taire, who probably borrowed the thought from Goldsmith, says, "Men use words to disguise their thoughts." Talleyrand had no more to do with the phrase than Joe Miller had with the innumerable jokes which have made his name proverbial. But a writer on Hungarian matters, though not bound to know much shoat Talleyrand, was certainly bound to know some- thing about Jela6i6, the gallant Ban of Croatia who

• Nagyarlaed; being the Narrative of our Travels through the Highlands and Lowlands of Hungary. By a Fellow of the Carpathian Society. London : Sainp. son Low and Co.

did such good service to the House of Hapsburg in the troubles of 1848-9. The Jela6iC Platz, in Agram, the authoress tells us, is "so called from a Ban of that name who once ruled the province as viceroy." The inscription on the statue of Jela6i6 in the Platz might have enlarged her knowledge of the "Ban of that name," unless the linguistic attainments which she parades on other occasions failed her at Agram. But, in truth, both her linguistic and ethnographic notions are some- what confused. In one place she speaks of the "Illyrian tongue;" in another, she speaks of "Illyrians, Bosnians, Croatians, Hungarians, and uncivilised men from the villages lower down the Save." What she means by the "Illyrian tongue" or by " Illyriaus " is not clear. In modern parlance, the Illyrian tongue is the language spoken in Dalmatia, which is a dialect of Slay. But the authoress does not mean this, nor

yet Albanian, as we infer from an obscure allusion to Max Muller and something which she calls " Windic." And to talk of " Bosnians " and "men from the villages lower down the Save," is the same thing as it would be to talk of "English- men and men from the villages lower down the Thames." In- deed, the authoress displays a real talent for inaccuracy. Her knowledge hardly ever gets beyond the contents of Murray or Baedeker; but Murray and Baedeker fail to keep her straight. "At every turn in the river" (Save), she tells us, "we are reminded of our gradual approach to the East. Women, walking in the roadway, or coming down to the river's bank for water, now wear Tack mashes, and the Anstro- Hungarian traits have almost died out." If the authoress

means the Austrian side of the river, we can assure her that "the Austro-Hungarian traits" have not " almost " or at all "died out," and that the yackmash has not been seen there for some centuries. If she means the Bosnian bank of the river," the Austro-Hungarian traits," so far from having " almost died out," are only beginning to show themselves ; and even there the yackmash is not commonly worn by the peasantry, a fact attested by the Bosnian proverb, which says, "Go to Bosnia if you would fall in love with your bride." Surprising as it may seem, the authoress appears never to have heard of the Treaty of Berlin, for she is under the impression that Bosnia is still under the administrative rule of "the imperious Infidel." We wonder also where she learnt that there are "thirty-five thousand Jews " in Bosnia. Major Roskiewicz, of the general staff of the Austrian Army, after a careful analysis of the population, estimates the Jews at 5,200. The phrase-

ology of the authoress is also a little perplexing. We have heard of subjects of the Sublime Porte, but "natives of the Sublime Porte" are a race of beings with whom we are not acquainted ; and it is equally new to us that "the Sublime Porte" is remarkable for its "café ec la er,nte."

We must not forget to mention that the authoress claims to have settled, once for all, a vexed and obstinate controversy. The last chapter in her book is entitled "The Impaled Raft," and here is her account of her discovery :—

" Presently, we see, apparently standing alone, with no habitation within sight, a long pole, to which is lashed what appears from a distance to be a human form, and our minds involuntarily revert to the famous newspaper controversy of 'Impaled Bosnian' versus faggot of haricot beans.' There he was sure enough, his black hair standing on end, as well it might, and his loose, Oriental-like garments fluttering in the breeze, with his poor, wizened legs dangling black and helpless. It was a blood-curdling sight, and fain would we have turned our eyes in the contrary direction ; but no ! we would be brave, and view through a field glass this unfortunate rasa—another victim to Mahommedan cruelty and barbarism" [in the year 1881, observe—that is, three years after Mahommedan rule had ceased to exist!] "We would view him in all his ghastly details, in order that we might expose the horrors of the deed throughout the length and breadth of Christendom. Our courage almost fails us ; but we raise the glass, through which we see the sickening picture. Across the heart his epitaph was written in black letters, painted rudely on a narrow strip of board. What are the tragic words ? They are Slavish for Good cheer for man and beast,' and point to a small, one- storied gastina, or wayside ion, amongst a cluster of low bushes ! The resemblance was complete, and the object of our commiseration a veritable fact, until with calm eyes we were able to dissect him limb by limb Plenty more victims to ' impalement ' saw we on our further progress down the Save, but we henceforth witnessed them with atoical indifference, and they no longer awoke our pay, or moved us to tears."

We have quoted this passage at length, as a capital illustra- tion of what passes in Jingo circles for evidence. We do not feel sure whether the authoress means to be taken seriously, or whether this is an additional specimen of the recondite facetious-

ness which abounds in her book. The two leading organs of Jingoism in the London Press have taken her seriously, and,

in utter forgetfulness of Consul Holmes and his "haricot beans," have proclaimed her explanation as the true and final solution of the controversy. Now look at the facts. In the year 1876 three travellers declared that they saw on the Turkish side of the River Save a man impaled on a stake, with his arms tied behind his back, and his hair hanging down his neck. In the year 1881, two travellers saw on the Austrian side of the Save (we can testify that nothing of the kind is to be seen on the Turkish side of the river) something which they mis- took in the distance for an " impailed rah," with "black hair standing on end," but which proved, on closer inspection, to be the familiar wine-bash, a tavern sign which they need not have travelled all the way to Austria-Hungary to see, as the authoress might have learnt from the common English proverb, "Good wine needs no bush." The two travellers forthwith conclude that because they were so foolish as to mistake a tavern sign on Austrian territory for an impaled raia—" another victim to Mahommedan cruelty and barbarism "—therefore no impale- ment could have taken place on Turkish territory five years previously, in the midst of an insurrection where neither side gave quarter ! And on reading this specimen of evidential reasoning the apostles of Jingoism clap their hands, and pro- nounce it conclusive !

It is in no unfriendly spirit to the authoress that we have felt it our duty to point out the manifold defects and violations of good-taste which her book displays. She is capable of much better things, and we hope to meet her again in print, pro- vided she will only avoid the snare of wishing to be considered brilliant and witty. Let her also eschew ecclesiastical topics as much as possible, and thus escape the mistake of speaking of "grand Ambrosial chants," as if Ambrosian music derived its name from the classical food of the gods, and not from a Bishop of the name of Ambrose.