Изображения страниц

tain a quiet position; he fidgetted and fidgetted with many a laugh and a sacré, till wearied with his own restlessness, he wrapped himself up in his cloak and slept soundly till morning. Still, if the truth must be told, a straw mat and a carpet upon hard boards, forms a very inefficient substitute for a French mattress; and it is only after an apprenticeship of several weeks, that a denizen of the luxurious West does not rise in the morning horribly fatigued with his night's rest. The first object that attracted our attention, on leaving the han, was a fine majestic building, three stories high, appearing like an alp in the midst of molehills, compared with the huts which line the streets of the old town of Belgrade. We were not more surprised on observing this imposing structure, than at the announcement in the German and Slavonian languages, blazoned in broad gilded letters over the principal door of entrance, that here was a coffee-house, restaurateur and billiard-room. Liouli, our cicerone, further informed us, that the same establishment contained a theatre and a hotel; and as we saw the tri-coloured flag waving at the other end, we knew that the French Consul had here taken up his residence. Altogether the structure, and the purposes for which it was erected, gave us great pleasure; it was an evidence that the civilized customs and habits of the West were gaining ground among the Servians; and it told much in favour of the government of Prince Alexander, and the just ideas of the people, when we learned that the building was the private property of the exiled Prince of Servia, Michaeli, who, notwithstanding that he had made himself so odious to the people, through his tyranny and corrupt administrations, still enjoys its revenues. The most striking public building in the town is the new Oriental church erected by Milosh, the first Prince of Servia, an edifice which reflects much credit on the taste of the Prince and the architect. This commendation, however, does not apply to the paintings, which are wretched examples of the national taste; but as these devotees of the Oriental church consider them miracles of art, it affords another illustration of the adage, that ignorance is often more blissful than knowledge. The subject of the paintings on the principal façade, of course, are of a religious character, representing the Trinity and various saints of the Greek calendar; and though I have frequently seen these personages most whimsically clad in Roman Catholic countries, even to the wearing of a hussar jacket and moustachios, as in Hungary; yet, blue pantaloons and Hessian boots with gilded tassels was, certainly, a novel costume for the Evangelists. In the centre is seen the Greek cross surmounted by a coronet and the crescent; the latter, we presume, was placed there by command of the Sultan to remind the Servians of their annual tribute The interior contains paintings of a similar description, attired in a costume equally bizarre, but there was not the slightest vestige of sculpture; the Oriental Church adhering literally to the command: “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image"

On quitting the town for the faubourg, we passed through a ruined gateway which was once surmounted by a tower. Here we found a guard of Turkish soldiers stationed in a species of guard-house built of wood; among a dozen or more lounging about, there was scarcely one whose height exceeded five feet; they were habited in round blue jackets and trousers, which at some distant period had been white, and the usual red fez, and being bare-legged, and their bare feet stuck into a papoosh (slipper), did not add to their military tenue. Our animated Gaul, on seeing such apologies for soldiers, exclaimed at the height of his voice, “Vive la France " which seemed to electrify the lazy Turks, for they sprang to their arms; the officer on duty, startled by the movement and the clang of fire-arms, now issued from an inner shed, and seeing we were Franks, invited us in the most courteous manner into his guard-room, and insisted upon our taking coffee and smoking the friendly tehibouque.

The exclamation of my vivacious companion was the means of introducing us to a remarkably intelligent young officer, Mehmet Effendi, who having studied military tactics in France, spoke French fluently; he endeavoured to make the most of his position, and in apologizing for the slovenly appearance of his men, informed us they were mere boys, a late importation of recruits from Kurdistan, so wild and savage in their manners as to be almost incapable of being tamed down to the discipline of European soldiers, adding, that at Stamboul we should see an army, whose martial appear


ance and complete equipment would be certain to excite our admiration. On parting, he kindly offered to introduce us to his Highness the Pacha, which, with many expressions of gratitude, we accepted, and as we wished to evince our sense of the obligation he conferred, we invited him to sup with us at the German hotel the following evening. We now entered what may be termed the modern town of Belgrade, presenting a visible improvement of the modern Servians on the huts of their fathers; it would also appear that they did not admire the proximity of their former tyrants, the Osmanli; for while the old town everywhere bore the stamp of neglect and ruin, the new town was rapidly assuming a European character. There was one building here surmounted by a colossal statue of Vulcan at work on his anvil, which especially attracted our attention. An edifice of such large dimensions we concluded must be the residence of the reigning Prince; but on inquiry, we learnt it had been built by a German locksmith, one of the first foreigners who settled in Belgrade after Servia had emancipated herself from the rule of the Osmanli. The German was a man of genius, who, in addition to his other employments as architect, engineer, and artizan, carried on a successful trade in pigs with Germany, which enabled him to realize a considerable fortune, to be afterwards dissipated in building and mining specula. tions. However, the worthy locksmith, if he have lost his palace and his money, may at least console himself with the reflection, that so long as the hard stone endures in which the outline of his own burly person was chiselled as the god Vulcan, so long will his name, and the history of his misfortunes, be perpetuated in

Belgrade. A fine carriage-road leads from the new town to the residence of the reigning Prince of Servia, a neat villa such as an English gentleman worth five or six hundred a-year might erect for himself as an appropriate dwelling, admirably adapted as the residence of a petty sovereign of a country whose finances have been severely injured by a long revolutionary war, and the population of which does not exceed a million. What a striking contrast to the palace of King Otho at Athens, built at a cost of three hundred thousand pounds sterling ! whose subjects likewise do not exceed a million, and whose pecuniary resources have been equally exhausted by a protracted struggle for independence. The Servians are, however, decidedly a prudent people, and in nothing have they shown it more, than in the election of their present sovereign, a worthy descendant of the Servian hero, Tzerni George, deservedly popular with his people, who does not make it the chief business of his administration to enrich himself at the expense of the nation, unlike his predecessors Milosh and his son Michaeli, whose rapacity and tyranny cost them the loss

of a throne. After visiting the unpretending residence of the Prince, who was then at Kragouejavatz superintending the arrangement of his farm, we loitered some time on the heights which command a fine view of Belgrade

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »