The Sameness of Great Cities -- Emigrants largely from the Country -- Tbe Cities of Austria-Hungary of Special Interest - Cracow, Lemberg, Kronstadt, and Innsbruck, with their Interesting Peculiarities -- Vienna, the Royal City -- A City of Musicians -- The Beautiful Church of St. Stephen -- The Wonders of the Imperial Treasury -- The Ring-Strasse and its Public Buildings -- The Capital of Bohemia -- The Whirligigs of Time -- Where the Bohemian Nobles were executed -- The Karls-Briicke and its Sixteen Arches -- An Interesting Burying-Ground -- The Apostles' Clock, and its Curious Story -- The Three Finest Cities in Europe -- Budapest, the City of Palaces -- A City little known in America -- A Hungarian Testimony to American Life -- The Magnificent Bridges of Budapest -- The Regalia of the Royal Palace -- An Italian City on Austrian Soil -- A City that looks toward America -- Starting for the New World -- What awaits the Emigrant beyond the Seas.
It is to the country that we must go to find the peculiar characteristics which differentiate one land from another. It is almost exclusively, too, from the country districts that the emigrants have come to our American seaports. Fortunate it is for America that her levy of new citizens has come from the country lanes rather than from the city streets of Austria-Hungary, for better brain and better brawn, better morals and more wholesome habits are found among country than city emigrants.
However, it is of interest, perhaps, to write briefly of some of the greater cities of the empire. There are many of especial interest that are little known to Americans who study at home, or for that matter equally unknown to the American tourist - cities like Cracow with its wealth of historic lore, the city where Copernicus was educated, where Peter Vischer wrought, and where scores of less distinguished'men, who have blessed their day and generation, have flourished.
Lemberg, the capital of Galicia, is scarcerly less interesting from the historic or from the modern point of view. Of Zara we have spoken in another chapter. Kronstadt, or Brasso, as it is called by the Hungarians, is a beautiful little city of Transylvania, almost in the· heart of the Carpathians.
Debreczen, the grrat Protestant centre of Hungary, the city of all others most hospitable to Kossuth and his doctrines and where he proclaimed the independence of Hungary, is another interesting city. With its wide streets, its beautiful churches, its university, and its public buildings, it would match, for substantial elegance, any city of its size in America.
On the other side of the Dual Empire is Innsbruck, perhaps the most charmingly situated large town in Europe. The Hofkirche, with its twenty-eight statues of kings and queens and emperors that surround the great marble monument of Emperor Maximilian, is worth crossing the ocean to see. These twenty-eight potentates were the contemporaries and ancestors of Maximilian, and represent the monarchs of all the great countries of Europe. One could study history to admirable advantage if he could spend a whole summer holiday in the Hofkirche of Innsbruck. All these statues were cast by men of talent, the best artists in bronze of their time, Stephen Godl, Gregor Loffler, and others; but two were made by Peter Vischer, the great artist of Nuremberg, and they stand out among all the others, even to the eye of the inexperienced layman in matters artistic, as finer than all the rest.
These are the statues of King Arthur of England and of "Theodoric the Good." The splendid pose of King Arthur, the strong, graceful, and easy way in which he stands upon his legs, and looks out under the visor of his bronze helmet, impresses the most careless tourist.
The other great statue in the Hofkirche of Innsbruck is that of Theodore the Good. He is not so heroic a figure as some of the others. His coat of mail is not so heavy. His jeweled decorations are not so gorgeous or his list of His titles are not so numerous, battles and victories so long; but he stands out in proud Preeminence among all the twenty-eight kings and queens as "the Good." All of them are "Majesties," some of them are dubbed "the Great," but Theodore alone is called "the Good."
The great cities of Austria-Hungary, from the standpoint of population, are, in the order named, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and since the beginning of the Christian era has played a great part in the history of the world, The Romans seized the ancient Celtic settlement which was here established just before the birth of Christ Here Marcus Aureiius died, toward the end of the second century. Here Charlemagne ruled, and Frederick during the Crusades, Vienna was a halting-place for the knights, and an important centre for their operations.
For more than six hundred years past, Vienna has been the seat of the Hapsburg Dynasty, since in I276 Rudolph of Hapsburg defeated Ottokar of Bohemia. More than once Vienna was besieged by the Turks, who insolently set up their battering-rams under its verY walls; and here they were defeated in one of the world's greatest battles by John Sobieski, Poland's greatest king.
But all the memories of Vienna are not warlike, for here some of the greatest musicians of the world have had their home. Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven the Viennese are proud to rank among their former citizens, and some of the world's wellknown architects and artists have also made this city their home. The principal business street boasts the rather lugubrious name of the Graben, or Grave, for it was formerly the deep moat which surrounded the fortifications of the twelfth century. This was afterwards filled up, and has become one of the most lively and attractive shopping streets of Europe.
The Church of St. Stephen is surpassed for size and beauty, or historic interest, by very few cathedrals in the world. In spite of its exceedingly gloomy interior, when the eyes become accustomed to the dim religiovs light, they find architectural and artistic treasures such as are found in few other cathedrals, while the view from the tower, looking off over the historic battle-fields of Lobau, Wagram, and Essling, recalls the bad, brave days of old, when fighting was more the world's business than it is to-day.
The museums, libraries, and treasure chambers of Vienna cannot be exhausted by any hasty visit or brief description. In the Imperial Treasury alone are found a multitude of articles of absorbing historic interest. The crown of Charlemagne, for instance, as well as his swords, his coronation robe, his girdle, and his book of the gospels; the imperial jewels, one of which alone is valued at three hundred thousand dollars, would interest the average traveler, while the scholar and the archaeologist would find more to his liking in the Imperial Museum. Hence are magnificent prehistoric collections from the flint period and the bronze age, and an ethnographical collection that embraces all the ancient nations of the world.
The Zooilogical Museum would delight the student of natural history, and a wonderful Art History Museum, which perhaps surpasses all the others in importance, is found in this impressive old city. Here the student of history and antiquities would be particularly interested in the so-called salt-cellar of Benvenuto Cellini, a remarkable table ornament of pure gold, made by the great artist for Francis I of France. Here, too, is a rock-crystal goblet, from which Philip the Good of Burgundy drank the wine of his native vineyards. The night-gear, so-called, of the Empress Maria Theresa, embracing her toilet articles, breakfast service, and so forth, are some of the treasures of the Art History Museum.
The Ring-Strasse is, on the whole, the most famous and interesting street of Vienna. It is nearly two hundred feet in width, remarkable in that respect among the streets of the Old World; but it is a modern street in an ancient city, for it was constructed only about fifty years ago on the site of the old ramparts, and now completely encircles the city. On this famous street are splendid public buildings, like the Exchange, the University, the Houses of Parliament, and the Palace of Justice.
In this magnificent city Emperor Francis Joseph I has held sway for more than sixty years, occasionally spending a few days at Budapest in a palace even more magnificent than his favorite home in Vienna. It is a source of considerable irritation to the Hungarians that their king spends so little time in their capital, though they have built far him perhaps the finest palace, certainly the one that has the grandest site, of any in Europe.
Something over two hundred miles from Vienna is Prague, the capital of Bohemia. Here we find ourselves in a totally different atmosphere. In Vienna German is spoken largely, and one could easily imagine himself in one of the great capitals of the German Empire.
Karlstein, Old Castle Near Prague
In Prague it would be impossible to make any such mistake, for if you should address a man on the street in German, he would very likely pretend that he did not understand you, and would require an interpreter if you were not facile with your Bohemian. Here, too, we find a great, prosperous city of intense historic interest. This was the early home of martyrs, heroes, scholars, and statesmen. It was once the centre of the greatest Protestant power in Europe. Its streets have more than once been soaked with the blood of the wise and the good.
Under an ancient powder tower, rich in curious carvings, we pass from the "new city," which is only five hundred years old, to the "old city," which is more than twice as ancient; and at once we are in the midst of historic events that stir our blood. There is the old Council House, where in 1621 the twenty-one Protestant nobles of Bohemia were led out to martyrdom; and there is the public square where one by one, throughout a long summer's day, they were beheaded.
There in the same Council House is the little low, white-washed cell, in which one cannot stand upright, where they spent their last night on earth in prayer and the singing of joyful psalms; and on the great Charles Bridge, near by, for ten years, their heads were displayed in an iron cage as a terrible warning to all "heretics." But such are the whirligigs of time, the city authorities of today are debating the question of erecting in the very centre of this same square a great monument to John Huss, the chief heretic and reformer of 1621.
In the old Council House where the Protestant nobles were imprisoned on their last night on earth, a great and noble painting, representing John Huss before King Sigismund and the Council of Constance, is the chief ornament. There stands John Huss, the most striking figure on the wonderful canvas, pale and emaciated, to be sure, but resolute still, standing before his enemies who are pronouncing sentence upon him, and saying in every lineament of his firm and noble face, "I cannot recant, so help me God!"
The chief street of Prague is also called the Graben, and like the street of the same name in Vienna was formerly the moat surrounding the citadel.
The Charles Bridge, Prague
with the Hradchin or Citadel, containing the Palaces and Cathedral in the distance
The Karls-Brucke across the Moldau rests on sixteen arches, while many statues and groups of saints adorn the buttresses of the bridge. The sixteenth of May is a great day on the Charles Bridge, for on that day a great multitude of pilgrims, numbering many thousands, flock thither, and especially to the site where a slab of marble marks the exact place where St. John Nepomuc, the patron saint of Bohemia, was thrown into the river more than six hundred years ago, by order of Wenceslas IV, because he would not tell what the Empress had confided to him in the confessional. The legend tells us that his body floated down the Moldau for a long time, with five brilliant stars suspended over it, marking its passage.
Another interesting place which every traveler visits is the old Jewish Burying Ground. These venerable moss-grown stones, covered with Hebrew characters,.mark the last resting-places of many a distinguished son of Abraham. On some of the stones are symbols that tell of the tribe to which the deceased belonged, a pitcher designating the tribe of Levi, two hands the sons of Aaron, and so on. On many of the graves we find piles of small stones, which we learn were placed there, as tokens of respect and affection, by the descendants of those who lie beneath the mound. Close by is one of the oldest synagogues in the world, which tradition tells us was built by the first Jews who escaped from Jerusalem after its final destruction. Of course it has been rebuilt more than once since that ancient day, even if the tradition is correct; and it cannot boast to-day of much beauty to match its historic interest.
Perhaps the object that excites the most present-day interest in Prague is the Apostles' Clock in the tower of the Council House. Once an hour an expectant throng gathers on the sidewalk opposite the Council House; and, when the moment arrives, a skeleton representing Father Time takes hold of a cord, which he pulls with his grim and bony hand, thus ringing a bell. Then two little windows of stained glass mysteriously slide pen, and life-sized figures of the apostles appear. Matthew, John, and all the rest are seen first at the left-hand window. They turn squarely around, and look up and down he street. Then each passes to the second window, turns squarely around once more, looks up and down the street again, and passes on out of sight. The twelve follow in solemn silence, while skeleton Time tolls the bell. Last of all comes Peter, whereupon a cock; which is roosting over the apostles' windows, flaps his wings, and utters a lugubrious crow. The windows close upon the scene, and all is still again for another hour, when the apostles and the skeleton and the rooster go through with the same performances for another gaping crowd.
For a curious story connected with this old clock, that well illustrates the barbarism of those cruel days, I am indebted to an old-time resident of Prague, who vouches for its substantial accuracy. Before Columbus discovered America this clock was built, and even then was the wonder and pride of the city. The skilled mechanician that set it going was induced to build another just like it for a rival city. This greatly angered the Pragueites, who wanted a monopoly of apostle clocks of that sort. So what did they do but catch the inventor and builder, and put out both his eyes, so that he could never make another clock. But this blind Samson, like him of old, had his revenge. He asked to be taken once more to his loved clock, that he might feel of its curious machinery and say a last fond farewell to his handiwork.
Such a reasonable request could hardly be denied, even by the savages who lived in Prague five centuries ago. So the clockmaker was led up into the tower, and he was allowed to take hold once more of the beloved machinery. As soon as he had firmly grasped it, with one tremendous wrench he tore cogs and wheels and balances apart, and in an instant it was a hopeless wreck. There was no other man in the world who could repair the damage; the blind clockmaker alone knew the secret of the mechanism, and for a hundred years it stood idle and useless, a monument to the folly and jealousy of Prague.
At length, after several generations, a clockmaker was born skillful enough to repair the damage of the blind inventor; and ever since the old clock has been in charge of this man and his descendants, who today have a fine ]ewelry and watchmakers' shop on a corner opposite the Council House, and they alone know the secret of the mechanism of the Apostles' Clock.
A similar story is told of more than one other clock in Europe, but all the legends of the sort started, I imagine, from the Apostles' Clock in the tower of the Council House of Prague, an object which excites more present-day interest than any other one thing in the city.
In Prague, too, there is an Imperial Palace, which has been occupied by many a historic family of the ancient kings of Bohemia, but is seldom honored in these days by a visit from Emperor Francis Joseph.
Before leaving Prague, we should in imagination ascend the White Hill, some three miles to the west of the city, where on the 8th of November, 1620, as we have seen in another chapter, the fatal battle was fought which decided the fate of Protestantisin in Bohemia, as well as the liberties of the people for many succeeding generations.
It would suiprise many of my readers, perhaps, if I should say that, were I asked to choose the three finest cities in Europe, possibly in the world, I should name Stockholm, Geneva, and Budapest; and the greatest of these (the largest, at least) is Budapest.
To be sure, Paris and London and Berlin and Vienna are larger, but none of them has the superb situation of these three cities: Stockholm on its impetuous river flowing into the lovely Malar near by; Geneva spanning the Rhone, skirting its wonderful lake and nestling at the foot of the Alps; Budapest on a more lordly river still, the mighty Danube, flowing through the very heart of the double city, Buda on the one side and Pesth on the other, spanned by some of the noblest bridges in the world, while magnificent palaces, cathedrals, and parliament buildings climb the high banks on either side.
Genoa is called the "City of Palaces," and to Venice the name is sometimes applied; but by right in these days the name belongs rather to Budapest, for Genoa's palaces are dingy and gloomy, Venice's are moth-eaten and rust-corrupted, while Budapest's (and she has more than either of them) are fresh and bright and unstained by time.
I like these three cities, too, because they have few visible slums. There are poor people in them, of course, but little grinding, ragged, filthy, leprous squalor, such as is found in many of the world's great capitals. This is the more remarkable in Budapest, since it ranks as one of the world's largest cities, with well on to a million inhabitants, and in all great aggregations of men we expect to find hopeless, wretched poverty.
"Where are your slums?" I said to a leading citizen of Budapest. "We have none," he replied; and so far as I could see he was right. Everywhere are broad streets, lined with substantial and often elegant buildings, to which the word "palace," if we do not confine it strictly to the residence of royalty, might apply. The curious and beautiful Hungarian architecture, which makes much of brilliant tiling and terra-cotta effects, adds much to the charm of the city, which is constantly surprising one with some new and unexpected architectural delight.
In the matter of up-to-date comforts, and especially electric appliances, Budapest leads all European cities. It is sometimes called "the electric city," and deserves the name. It is brilliantly lighted by electricity, with telephones at every corner; and the electric cars run swiftly through the clean, well-paved streets, and so frequent are the cars that one does not have to " hold on by his eyelids" to keep his place; while the well-ventilated, white-tiled subway that underlies the great city antedated by several years the underground roads of which Boston and New York are justly so proud.
I have dwelt upon these material aspects of Budapest the Beautiful because I think the city and the country of which it is the capital are not known in America as they should be. Several Hungarians complained to me of this, and not without reason. "Many Americans," said one leading statesman, "think Hungary is a province, and not a province of Austria even, but of Germany! This is too much." While I do not think that educated Americans are so ignorant of Hungary, yet it is undoubtedly true that few of us realize what a great, free, independent, proud-spirited, progressive nation is holding one of the outposts of high civilization in southeastern Europe, having rescued one of the fairest countries in the world from Mohammedanism and consequent barbarity.
That America is not any better understood in Hungary than Hungary is in America is shown by a remarkable pamphlet recently published by the secretary to the Hungarian Board of Agriculture, Hon. Joseph Nemeth, who not long ago made extensive travels in America in connection with his department of state. The following was kindly translated for me by Mr. Nemeth himself:
Having associated with several leaders of the American commonwealth, having further come into direct contact with several phases of social life, I found that those plutocratic and commercial vices, from a consideration of which our opinion of America is formed, are only bubbles upon the surface of a mighty river, and those signs of political and administrative corruption which present such an invidious picture of American public life are only the thin mud strata that lie at the bottom. Between them rolls the mighty tide of the great river, ever increasing in volume, holding within its bosom those greater potentialities of a nation's life. To demonstrate the correctness of these opinions it will be sufficient to append the description of two American social institutions, i.e., the Christian Endeavor Society and the Young Men's Christian Association.
Then for several pages this Hungarian statesman gives the history, growth, and principles of the Endeavor movement. It is as gratifying as it is rare to find our country judged abroad by such standards and such institutions. Too many foreigners and foreign papers say and print all the mean and discreditable things they can about the United States: every murder, horrible lynching, celebrated divorce case, and awful railway accident, for the sake of making our country an awful example to all prospective emigrants.
The Bastion of Budapest
On the Buda Side of the Danube
These streets are lined on either side by some of the finest commercial houses to be found in any part of the world, and here can be obtained everything to eat, drink, or wear that the remotest nations can furnish.
The Francis Joseph Bridge, Budapest
To every Hungarian the regalia in the royal palace are of especial interest, for here is the crown of St. Stephen, a relic of majesty more revered than any other crown in the world. It is guarded day and night by soldiers, is never shown to visitors, but once a year, on St. Stephen's Day, the crown is carried in solemn procession through the streets.
Since the present city of Budapest is comparatively modern, one does not expect to find so many objects of historic interest as in other cities, but these are by no means altogether wanting. The Matthias-Kirche, which dates back to the thirteenth century, reminds us of the bitter days of the fightings with the Turks, for it was turned into a mosque during the Turkish domination, and when they were driven out it was restored to its ancient use as a Christian church. Here King Francis Joseph and Queen Elizabeth were crowned in I867, when the right of Hungary to be a separate kingdom was at last conceded by her neighbor Austria.
There are other churches and buildings that date back to the pre-Turkish times, but the chief characteristics of Budapest are of modern interest, the life that pulsates through its streets, the commerce that plies up and down its magnificent river and beneath its splendid bridges, the schools, and the great university. These are all of modern date, but they tell us of the virility, the prowess, and the greater future glories of the Hungarian nation.
One other city of the Dual Monarchy should be mentioned, because it is the city from which the great majority of the emigrants who are seeking new homes in America leave their old home in Europe. Have you ever read Howells's delighful story, "The Lady of the Aroostook"? If you have, you remember that this charming lady sailed on the ship Aroostook from Boston for Triste, or " Try-East," as the captain pronounced it. The political, civil, and domestic life of the United States will be affected not a little by the men, women, and children who start from the wharves of Trieste for the New World across the great ocean. Trieste may well be compared to Liverpool, Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp, and Naples as a recruiting-station for the new American.
It is worth while, then, to know something about this city at the other end of the eighteen days' steam ferry that plies between the United States and Austria.
Trieste is at the very top of the Adriatic Sea, nearly opposite to Venice, on the Austrian coast, and is Austria's only great seaport. It is charmingly situated, too, the rugged granite hills encompassing it around on every side but one, while the usually peaceful waters of the Adriatic lave its shores on the only side that the hills do not guard. I say "usually peaceful," for the Adriatic can be as turbulent as any stretch of ocean blue; and when the Bora sweeps down over the granite hills to the north, let the mariner and the landsman alike beware; for it can blow a ship from its moorings, or overturn a loaded car on the railroad track.
As we wind down the steep descent from the plains of Istria and Carniola, we see fields so stony and barren as to make the rockiest New Hampshire hillside farm look like a fertile oasis. Little patches of soil that could be covered by a good-sized sheet are encircled by a high stone wall, and the railway in the most exposed places is defended by great masses of masonry from the dreaded Bora and the rocks and soil that he sends flying in every direction. One can get from this some idea of what "Boreas," who figures so largely in the classics, must have meant to the ancients who lived on this coast. But Boreas does not often blow; and while we were in Trieste, though it was early December, the weather was mild and gentle.
The present city of Trieste would be pronounced by the archaeologist as "distressingly modern" yet there has been a town here since early Roman times; and all the stern Dalmatian coast, clear down to the edge of Montenegro, is full of attractions, either for the lover of the past, who would find plenty of most interesting ruins, or for the lover of the present, who would find plenty of interesting men and women and boys and girls.
One singular thing about the city is that it is virtually an Italian city on Austrian soil. It is hard to realize when in Trieste that one is not actually in Italy, whose boundary, to be sure, is but a few miles distant. Italian signs greet one over the shop-doors. Italian waiters serve Italian food at the restaurants. Italian newsboys in shrill tones cry Italian newspapers on the streets. The women dress in the gay colors of their sisters across the border, and the whole city has the life and gayety of a town of the long peninsula.
You can realize that you are in Austria only when you see in the post-office and other public buildings the benign face of the aged emperor, Francis Joseph, looking down at you, or looking up at you, perhaps, from the postage-stamp you have just stuck on the righthand upper corner of the home letter.
Grand Canal, Trieste
But we are more interested in the people who are just leaving Trieste on one of the weekly steamers for America, for they are to be our brothers and sisters in a peculiar and special sense. They have been collected from all parts of the Austrian Empire and from the Balkan States by the industrious steamship agents; and here they are in Trieste, all ready to try their fortunes in the new land, which they have been assured flows with milk and honey for all comers.
What a motley crowd they are, as they wait patiently on the dock for permission to go aboard the steamer They are mostly in their poor best, and their best is poor enough. There is a mother with almost as many in her train as John Rogers is credited with when he went to the stake -- nine small children and one at the breast. There is a buxom belle from Herzegovina, who is already beginning to cast sheep's-eyes at a swain from Croatia who will be her fellow passenger on the long voyage to America. How many matches must be made in the steerage during these voyages!
Let us hope that they will be made in heaven as well as in the steerage, that they will be all love-matches, and that the fellow voyagers will "live happily ever after." For my part I think they are quite as likely to do so as if the match were made in a fashionable ballroom.
Over yonder on the wharf is a group of sturdy young men, brawny and beefy; not over-intellectual, to be sure; but they will help build many a railway and turn many a sod on the virgin fields of our Western prairies. Here and there we see an old man or woman going out with the young folks, but there are very few older than forty in the throng. And what baggage they have to start life with in the New World! Scarcely one trunk among them all. They can carry their worldly possessions on their backs, and toilsomely they lug them up the steep gangway to the ship's deck.
Here is a man with one of Mr. Rockefeller's big, square, tin oil-cans, the most useful of all receptacles in the Eastern world, and in it are his Lares and Penates. There is another with what looks like a bale of rags; but, if we could get at the heart of it, we should doubtless find under the rags a tin plate and cup and knife and spoon, and a few, a very few, articles of clothing. Another man cherishes a big milkcan as one of his treasures, while the dude of the party carries a genuine though secondhand American suit-case.
We traveled with these future fellow citizens for about two days from Trieste to Patras, and, on the whole, I was glad to see them face toward America. For the most part they were sober, hardy, patient sons of the soil. We need them, and they need America. I would not keep them out if I could.
What futures await them? Who can tell? What disillusionments when they find that in America, too, they must work, and work hard, for all they get! What hard treatment in some cases from hard masters! But some will come to the top, where there is always room for the emigrant, from whatever land he hails. Some of them or their children will be our future lawyers and doctors and ministers and merchants and millionaires. Some of them or their children will find their way to the governor's chair, or perhaps will don the Senator's toga. Who can tell?
One thing is certain; they represent not so much America's peril as America's opportunity. Not education alone will save them and save America, as some think. Their children are sure to get an education of some sort. But education and Christianity together, the school and the church, will make this conglomerate mass from a dozen nations worthy citizens of the land of Washington and Lincoln. God grant that our churches and our schools may not fail in their part of this great task!
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