Page images
PDF
EPUB

244

FAVOURITE SPRING.

The body of Knes Lasar, after having been for some time hid, was buried here in 1394, remained till 1684, at which period it was taken over to Virdnik in Syrmium, where it remains to this day.

In the cool of the evening the superior took me to a spring of clear delicious water, gushing from rocks environed with trees. A boy with a large crystal goblet, dashed it into the clear lymph, and presented it to me. The superior fell into eulogy of his favourite Valclusa, and I drank not only this but several glasses, with circumstantial criticisms on its excellence; so that the superior seemed delighted at my having rendered such ample justice to the water he so loudly praised. Entre nous,—the excellence of his wine, and the toasts that we had drunk to the health of innumerable loyal and virtuous individuals, rendered me a greater amateur of water-bibbing than usual.

After some time we returned, and saw a lamb roasting for supper in the open air; a hole being dug in the earth, chopped vine-twigs are burnt below it, the crimson glow of which soon roasts

EVENING FESTIVITY.

245

the lamb, and imparts a particular fragrance to the flesh. After supper we went out in the mild dark evening to a mount, where a bonfire blazed and glared on the high square tower of the convent, and cushions were laid for chibouques and coffee. The not unpleasing drone of bagpipes resounded through the woods, and a number of Bulgarians executed their national dance in a circle, taking hold of each other's girdle, and keeping time with the greatest exactness.

CHAPTER XXIII.

Manasia—Has preserved its middle-age character.- Robinson Crusoe.- Wonderful Echo.— Kindness of the people. -Svilainitza.- Posharevatz.-Baby Giantess.

Next day, accompanied by the doctor, and a portion of the party of yesterday, we proceeded to the convent of Manasia, five hours off; our journey being mostly through forests, with the most wretched roads. Sometimes we had to cross streams of considerable depth; at other places the oaks, arching over head, almost excluded the light: at length, on doubling a precipitous promontory of rock, a wide open valley burst upon us, at the extremity of which we saw the donjons and crenellated towers of a perfect feudal castle surrounding and fencing in the domes of an

FEUDAL CHARACTER.

247.

antique church. Again I say, that those who wish to see the castellated monuments of the middle ages just as they were left by the builders, must come to this country. With us in old Europe, they are either modernized or in ruins, and in many of them every tower and gate reflects the taste of a separate period; some edifices showing a grotesque progress from Gothic to Italian, and from Italian to Roman à la Louis Quinze : a succession which corresponds with the portraits within doors, which begin with coats of mail, or padded velvet, and end with bag-wigs and shoebuckles. But here, at Manasia,

“ The battle towers, the donjon keep,

The loophole grates, where captives weep.
The flanking walls that round it sweep,

In yellow lustre shone;">

and we were quietly carried back to the year of our Lord 1400; for this castle and church were built by Stephan, Despot of Servia, the son of Knes Lasar. Stephan, instead of being “the Czar of all the Servian lands and coasts,” became a mere hospodar, who must do as he was bid by his masters, the Turks.

248

ROBINSON CRUSOE.

Manasia being entirely secluded from the world, the monastic establishment was of a humbler and simpler nature than that of Ravanitza, and the monks, good honest men, but mere peasants in cowls.

After dinner, a strong broad-faced monk, whom I recognized as having been of the company at Ravanitza, called for a bumper, and began in a solemn matter-of-fact way, the following speech : “ You are a great traveller in our eyes ; for none of us ever went further than Syrmium. The greatest traveller of your country that we know of was that wonderful navigator, Robinson Crusoe, of York, who, poor man, met with many and great difficulties, but at length, by the blessing of God, was restored to his native country, his family, and his friends. We trust that the Almighty will guard over you, and that you will never, in the course of your voyages and travels, be thrown like him on a desert island; and now we drink your health, and long life to you.” When the toast was drunk, I thanked the company, but added that from the 'revolutions in locomotion, I ran a far greater chance now-a-days of being

« PreviousContinue »