صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

hood, the house, the garden, the town, the country, in which we reside, become successively the objects of our inquiry; till at length, expanding our researches, we investigate the extent and diversity of the globe we inhabit; and mounting aloft, amidst the multitude of worlds that roll around us, we soon are taught to drop all human knowledge, in the adoration of that Being by whose omnipotence the universe was formed, and by whose wisdom it is maintained and directed.

Though the kindred science of astronomy presents objects of the highest interest, and the greatest sublimity, yet it is neither of such general utility as geographical studies, nor does it yield instruction in such various forms of amusement. One of the peculiar features of advantage which the latter science possesses, is the wide field of intellectual acquirement it opens to the view of the young student. For a complete knowledge of it, astronomy and geometry are indispensible; cosmography and topography are integral parts of it; mineralogy, zoology, and every branch of natural history, are necessary auxiliaries; and religion, history, antiquities, commerce, agriculture, and above all, statistics, come successively in review, in the comprehensive pursuit. It is likewise a science that is most appropriately fostered and encouraged, in an age of maritime enterprize, and by a nation of established naval renown, of extended colonial possession, and of unparalleled commercial opulence;-by a people, whose station in Europe is preeminent in nearly every respect, whose merchants are territorial lords of a rich and potent empire in Asia, whose colonies in North America stretch to the limits of European knowledge, whose recent settlements in the opposite hemisphere afford the promise of future civilization and power on the coasts of the southern Pacific, and whose flag is seen on every shore, and on every sea. Knowledge of this kind cannot therefore be too much disseminated among us, and every vehicle for its conveyance to our youth, deserves attention and encouragement.

The author of the work now before us, does not profess to supersede, by his performance, either the elementary books, or the more complete systems, of geography; the problems and details of which are not so often called forth into practical use, as the lighter recollections that are delineated in these volumes. To those who are educated for a naval, a military, or a mercantile life, a more full acquaintance with geography and all its branches, than can be acquired by this work, will be found necesssary; but, in the words of the preface, young persons, of both sexes, at the period of finishing their education, may peruse it with advantage, as a summary of what is most important to be remembered relative to the topics treated of; and it may afford compendious information,

[ocr errors]

to those of maturer years, who are destitute of time and opportunity for copious research."

Dr. Aikin has acquitted himself, in this undertaking, with general ability and accuracy; and we have particularly to praise the ease and ingenuity with which he has modified the incongruous styles of the various authorities, from which he had necessarily to compile this book, into one nearly uniform and distinct diction. As a fair specimen, we extract the account of Hungary, with Transylvania, and the neighbouring provinces, countries less generally known than most other parts of Europe.

This tract of country, though composing a part of the Austrian dominions, possesses sufficient geographical distinction to claim notice as a separate division of Europe. The local circumstances have for many ages given to the greater part of it an uniform independent existence in the catalogue of nations. The exterior parts, indced, have alternately fallen under the dominion of different masters; but a christian kingdom bordering upon a mahometan one, and strongly discriminated from it by perpetual hostility and contrasted manners, has subsisted through all the periods of modern history under the name of the Hungarian.

The boundaries of Hungary and its annexed provinces are, to the north and east, the great Carpathian chain of mountains, stretching from the borders of Moravia to the confines of Transylvania and Moldavia : from that point a branch descends in a southwesterly direction separating the rest of Transylvania and the Bannat of Temeswar from Walachia. This almost reaches the Danube, which river becomes its southern boundary till it is joined by the Save near Belgrade. The Save then separates the Austrian from the Turkish territory almost to the bounds of Croatia. Ridges of mountains and indistinct lines form the western limit, dividing Croatia and Hungary from the German provinces of Austria, up to the confines of Moravia.

The country thus circumscribed lies chiefly between the 45th and 49th degrees of N. latitude: its extent from east to west is more considerable. The districts of which it is composed are, the kingdom of Hungary, occupying all the northern and the principal part, Transylvania on the east; and Croatia, Sclavonia, and the Bannat on the south. "The general character of this portion of Europe is that of a low and level country, as might be inferred from the number of rivers which took their course through it. The Carpathian or Crapach mountains, however, which form its grand northern barrier, imprint upon all the tract called Upper Hungary, a hilly, and in some parts an alpine character; which is also extended to the greater part of Transylvania. Branches from this ridge run southwards in several parts, usually accompanied with mineral treasures, which will in the sequel be particularised.

The great river Danube is one of the leading features of this country, to all the waters of which it gives a discharge. It enters Hungary a little to the east of Vienna, and soon washes the walls of Presburg its modern, and of Buda its ancient capital. Somewhat above the latter city it turns short to the south, and penetrates quite through Hungary to the borders of Sclavonia. Then, compelled to a new direction by the influx of the Drave, coming from Carinthia, it turns again to the east.


The junction of the Theiss, which crosses all Hungary from the north, again gives it a southern direction; but the Save, coming in soon after from the west, renews its eastern course, which it holds till it enters the Turkish dominions.

[ocr errors]

Hungary has two considerable lakes; the Platensee, and the Neusidler, both on its western side, south of the Danube. They are accompanied with morasses and marshes, which are also frequent in the tracts of the great rivers.

In climate, Hungary approaches to the southern countries of Europe, although its inland situation exposes it to severe cold in the winter, by which its rivers are often frozen up. Its summer heats are very considerable, and often productive of those diseases which so generally attend high degrees of warmth, accompanied with the effluvia of marshes and stagnant waters. All the rivers, except the Danube, are said to become foetid in the hot season.

Hungary abounds in pastures, which are accounted poor, probably through overstocking or neglect; for the soil can scarcely fail of being rich in a country so well watered. The abundance of its products, indeed, proves that there can be no defect of natural fertility. The hills in Upper Hungary, sheltered to the north by the Carpathian ridge, are favourable to the growth of vines. The wine made in the district about Tokay is of high repute for richness and strength, and is reserved for the luxury of the superior classes throughout Europe. Other parts of Hungary, as well as Transylvania and Croatia, are also productive of wine. The neglect of agriculture has left large tracts overspread with wood, which are stocked with wild animals of various species. The spacious pastures feed numerous herds of horned cattle. Horses are reared in great numbers; but for want of due attention the breed is small. The sheep have generally long spiral horns and hairy fleeces. The rivers abound in fish of the large kinds.

Thus plentifully supplied as these countries are with the wealth of the surface of the earth, they also largely share in the riches contained in its bowels. The mines of the northern part of Hungary and Transyl

vania are the most considerable of the Austrian dominions. At Kremnitz are mines of gold and silver. Shemnitz has valuable mines of the latter metal; and the whole circumjacent country is mineral, yielding copper, antimony, coal, salt, and alum. That beautiful gem, the true opal, is a peculiar product of this part of Hungary, and is found in no other country. The mines of Nayag in Transylvania are rich in gold, together with various other metals. Gold is found in several other parts of that province; and valuable minerals of different kinds accompany the branches which descend from the Carpathian chain into the Bannat. In copper, Hungary and its provinces are accounted richer than any other European country. Its iron mines are inexhaustible; and it would be capable of supplying all the Austrian empire with salt, were it not too distant for carriage. Mineral waters, the usual attendauts on metallic ores, are frequent in Hungary. The art of mining and the processes belonging to metals are conducted with much intelligence in these countries; and a mineralogical school, inferior only to that of Freyberg in Saxony, is established at Shemnitz.

The people inhabiting Hungary and the connected provinces are various in their derivation and language. The original Hungarians des

cended from the ancient Magiars or Ugurs, chiefly inhabit the flat country, and are averse to residence in towns: they speak a dialect approaching to the Finnish. The most numerous are the people of Sclavonian blood and language, who are divided into different tribes and dialects under the several names of Slaves, Slowacks, Rascians, and Croats. The Germans and Transylvanians at the foot of the Carpathean mountains were colonists introduced for the purpose of working the mines. They retain the German language, and generally profess the Lutheran religion. The commerce of the country is chiefly in the hands of Rascians, Greeks and Jews, the latter (last) of whom are numerous. The national farms are mostly held by Armenians, who also are the keepers of inns and coffee-houses. A number of Zigeuner* or gipsies wander about the country in their usual disorderly mode of living. A remarkable species of population is that of a line of husbandmen on the frontier from the Save to the Danube, regimented and trained to arms, who form a kind of living barrier against inroads from the border banditti under the Turkish dominion.

The Hungarians of Sclavonian race are a martial and spirited people, inured to war by their proximity to a national foé, and accustomed to the assertion of their national privileges against the tyranny and usurpa tion of their Austrian sovereigns. The government is a monarchy, formerly elective, like that of Poland, but now hereditary in the house of Austria. The states of the kingdom are a kind of aristocratic senate, constitutionally possessed of considerable powers, but ill secured from the force or influence of the monarch. The nobility are very numerous, and possessed all the oppressive authority over the peasantry common to the feudal countries, till it was abridged by the late emperors Joseph and Leopold. The established religion of Hungary is the Roman catholic; but the members of the Greek and Lutheran churches are numerous, and enjoy a toleration. Great numbers of the Hungarian gentry serve in the Austrian army, and form the most esteemed part of the cavalry. The Croats and other borderers are well known as the irregular troops and pillagers in that service.

The present capital of Hungary is Presburg or Posen, a city of small magnitude, finely situated on the Danube. Buda or Offen, the ancient capital, is larger and more populous than Presburg, if Pest, on the opposite bank of the Danube, be included. The latter place is the seat of the only university in Hungary. Several other towns, indeed, possess public schools or colleges; but instruction is in a low state in this country, and its literary reputation is small. The mining towns Kremnitz and Shemnitz are visited by curious travellers, on account of the employment of the inhabitants. Hermanstadt, the capital of Transylvania, is the chief seat of the Saxon colony of that province.

*The Zigeuner are probably the Sigynæ of Herodotus, (Terpsichore § 9.) who, in his time, were the only tribe known to inhabit the vast country North of the Danube, which includes part of Hungary. If so, they have perhaps become wanderers in consequence of being harrassed by the Sclavonians and the Ugurs, or present Hungarians In Herodotus's time they reported themselves to be a colony of Medes. It is said that their genuine langnage is a dialect of the Shanscreet. Rev.

The population of Hungary and its dependencies is estimated at upwards of 7,700,000.' Vol. i. pp. 101-110,

The account of Hungary concludes with a general review of the Austrian powers and dominions, at the time the author composed for the press; but, though his ink is scarcely dry, such have been the political changes, in the situation of that empire in the last few months, that the picture is no longer recognisable, in the curtailed possessions of that once flourishing sovereignty. This observation will apply in numerous other instances; for such is now the strange situation of affairs on the continent of Europe, that it is impossible to conjecture one day, what monarchs are to be dethroned, what kings are to be created, or what spoliated countries are to be parcelled out, on the next.

We have to notice some omissions and inaccuracies, which the author will have an opportunity, we trust, of supplying and correcting in a subsequent edition.

It is improperly said, in the general account of Europe, that the Bay of Biscay interposes itself between France and Spain.' It should have been said, washes the coasts of both countries.

Amongst the islands of Denmark, the large island of Bornholm is entirely omitted, and we think too that the towns of Drontheim in Norway, and Flensburg in Sleswick, were deserving of notice on account of their commercial consequence.

Dr. Aikin is wrong in stating, which he does in two places, that the inconsiderable stream, which, in Holland, retains the name of Rhine, enters the sea near Leyden; it is swallowed up in the sandhills near that city, and never reaches the ocean.

In the article of Germany, no mention is made of the country of Baden, formerly a margraviate, but now erected into a kingdom; nor is either of the Imperial cities Cologne, Augsburg, or Ulm once mentioned.

A mistake likewise occurs in the account of Holland, where the Zuyder Zee is stated to occupy the place of a large tract of land, the Batavian isle of the Romans. The Batavorum insula was the tract of land now called Betuwe, situated between the rivers Lech, Maes, and Waal, by which it is constituted an island; and the Zuyder Zee is an enlargement of a lake of small dimensions, which is mentioned under the name of Flevo, in the old chronicles of Holland.

The city of Mechelen, famous for its manufactories of lace, an archbishopric, and once a province of itself, is not taken notice of in speaking of the Catholic Netherlands; and it is remarkable, that our two archbishoprics, Canterbury aud York, are not mentioned in the account of Great Britain.

Nova Zembla, an appendage to Asiatic Russia, has been passed over, as have the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the bay of Bengal.

« السابقةمتابعة »