« PreviousContinue »
three to fifty feet in width.* The silver-lead ores are abundant both in Hungary and Bohemia. Of copper, four-fifths of the quantity produced comes from Hungary. The ore is worked at Oravicza and at other places in the Banat, where a deposit of great value was discovered in the last century. The junction of a number of veins contributed to form a 'bunch' of extraordinary dimensions. The deposit, at its largest part, was 150 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 240 feet in depth, presenting a mineral mass unparalleled probably in the annals of mining.
The accumulations of salt within the limits of the Austrian empire are some of the largest in the world, but its working and sale are state monopolies. The quantity annually raised from the mines is four million cwts., and this amount, large as it is, might be vastly increased. The policy of making so important a necessary of life a government monopoly is believed, as in the case of most other monopolies, to defeat itself. Bulky as the article is, smuggling is carried on in it to an immense extent. Neither mountain barriers nor custom-house barriers prevent a steady contraband traffic, and the Government, here as in other countries, has proved no match for the smuggler. 'The whole line of the frontier,' Mr. Paget wrote in 1837, 'from the Adriatic to the boundaries of Russia, is well adapted for smuggling;- and salt is smuggled along the whole of the frontier.' The salt officers in Hungary told that gentleman that they invariably bought their salt from smugglers, and he doubted if there was a single great proprietor in the south of Hungary who purchased Government salt. Austria and Spain are the two most restrictive nations of Europe, and in both the contrabandist finds his occupation pay better than a legitimate trade. A small percentage on the value of the articles which it is wished to introduce across the frontier generally secures the transit The smuggling trade with Russia is believed to be particularly active.
The cultivation of the vine within the Austrian territories is carried on to a greater extent than, with the exception of France, in any other country in Europe. In France the vine is grown over 0748 geographical square leagues ; in Hungary it covers 6171 geographical square leagues. It stretches with its long green rows over fields infinite in number, and gladdens the hill-sides and even mountain-tops. The smallest proprietor possesses his vineyard, for the water of Hungary is so bad that wine is the common beverage of all; nevertheless, with all its cheap and overflowing pro
* The Felso Banya.
ducc, the country is essentially a sober one. Austria, in regard to the quantity of wine produced, holds the second place among the nations of Europe. The grape is raised on almost every variety of soil, from the slaty, granitic detritus, or volcanic ash of the mountain-side, to sandy plains and rich alluvial mould. In Hungary, which is pre-eminently the wine-growing district of the empire, the best vineyards are generally planted upon hills of some elevation. The Badacsony Mountains, which form a vast amphitheatre round the shores of the Great Lake of Balatan; the arid heights of Menes, which overlook the rich plains of the Banat; and those of the Tokay district, are covered with vines wherever there is a favourable exposure and a suitable soil. This adaptation for the growth of the vine is found in many other parts of the empire. Transylvania is capable of taking a high position as a wine - producing country. It consists almost entirely of hills of no very considerable elevation, and much of the soil is of volcanic origin. The wines made in Transylvania, although said to be excellent, have possessed hitherto only a local reputation, being scarcely known even in the adjoining provinces. They are not so strong as some of the Hungarian wines, but less acid, and they are said to possess considerable body, bouquet, and flavour. Lower Austria and Stvria are also capable of producing excellent wines. The abolition of the duties, which long interposed almost insuperable commercial barriers between Hungary and other parts of the empire, has excited a lively emulation between the different wine-growing provinces, and there is every probability that this branch of the national industry will soon be in a very flourishing state. To communicate a taste for the wines of Hungary, Transylvania, and Lower Austria, by offering them at such prices as may induce other countries to give them a fair trial, ought now to be an object of special importance. What has been said of Transylvania applies equally to Styria, where the high vernal and autumnal temperature is extremely favourable to the production of wines which, from their considerable body, flavour, and cheapness, would probably, if sufficiently known, be largely consumed in the north of Europe. But it is more especially to the wines of Hungary that attention should Ix> directed, for they have been pronounced by one of the most competent judges in Europe to be drier than those of France, more mellow than those of the Rhine, and more piquant than the choicest of Spain.* They are commonly divided into four classes:—1, Liqueur wines; 2, good dry table wines; 3, effer
* 'Notes on the Vineyards of Hungary,' printed anonymously.
vescent vescent wines; and 4, ordinary wines of consumption. The celebrated Tokay wine comes within the first classification, together with some others which are not adapted for general use. It i* among the sound dry table-wines that body, delicacy of flavour, and aroma are to be found in perfection.
The late reduction of the English duties now gives the producers of these wines a fair chance of competing successfully with those of other countries. It was a measure which the Hungarians long earnestly desired, as certain to lead to very extensive transactions with England. They hope to diminish the consumption of home-made wines, of beer, and of ardent spirits, by the middle and labouring classes of this country, in offering them as a substitute at a moderate price a sound and palatable beverage, superior in body to any of the cheap wines of France, and free from all adulteration.* It is at least extremely doubtful whether a considerable portion of what is now commonly sold as low-priced foreign wine is wine at all. The factitious production, of wines both in Germany and France is carried on to an incredible extent. M. de Szemere t accuses the Germans of not only sweetening their wines, but of saturating them with sulphur to diminish their acidity. In many French wines he says all is false—colour, strength, and flavour; and the chemists have attained such skill in their infamous art, that even science is incapable of detecting the spurious from the true. Half the population of Paris, he asserts, drink under the name of wine a mixture that does not contain one drop of the juice of the grape.f
But what are the prospects of a regular supply, and what are the prices for which good Hungarian wines could be sold in England? These wines have been hitherto almost entirely unknown in this country; the choicer sorts may be found in a few private cellars, but the wines of Hungary
* The wines of Hungary are naturally stronger than most of the European -wines, having more alcohol in their composition. They contain also a larger proportion of phosphorus, an element of great importance in the human system.
t 'Noteson Hungarian Wines,' by De Szemere, p. IS.
J Paris and Cette are the principal seats of this fraudulent manufacture. This dishonest art, says M. de Szemere, is now so perfect, that even clever chemists can with difficulty distinguish the true wine from the false. Such was the case in a very recent trial. The chemist, after enumerating all the ingredients of ■which the wine was composed, observed that, if one of them had been in a less quantity, he would have been unable to distinguish it from a genuine wine. The prosecuted wine-merchant, who was present, listened attentively to the chemist's evidence, and asked him which ingredient it was. The chemist very imprudently told him; and the accused immediately answered, '1 am very much obliged, Sir; and I don't regret now my forty hogsheads of wine which will be destroyed, because I am now certain of my business.' Not only the strong but the light wines are counterfeited in this way.
are are as little heard of and consumed as those of Asia Minor or the Levant; for of the 2,532,000 gallons annually exported from Hungary, not more than two or three thousand have ever been sent to Great Britain. The cost of bringing Hungarian wines to England has hitherto operated almost as a prohibition, for the lowpriced wines of France could always be sold in England cheaper than those of Hungary. The disadvantages under which the Hungarian producer labours in this respect, however, are in a fair way of being removed. The prime cost of some of the wines well adapted to English tastes is remarkably low. An eimer (equal, according to Mr. Dunlop, to about six dozen bottles).of Hungarian wine of good ordinary quality can, Mr. Fane says, be bought at Pesth for 20s.; but the cost of transporting that quantity to England in the cheapest possible way would be 12s., while the same quantity of common Bordeaux wine, costing in France 27s., could be deposited in London for 3s. The first condition of an important wine-trade between Austria and England must be an improvement in the quality of the ordinary wines. The choicer sorts are made with care, and command high prices; butthe great body of Hungarian proprietors are, it is believed, now alive to the fact that, although they possess the largest and the best district in Europe for grape cultivation, the wine which they produce is by no means so good as it ought to be. The whole system of wine-making has been hitherto extremely rude. Mr. Dunlop, whose admirable Report on the Wine Cultivation of Hungary cannot fail to prove of substantial service to that country in pointing out its many defects as well as the real wants of England and the manner in which they may be supplied, states that the annual production of wine in Hungary cannot be less than from 350,000,000 to 400,000,000 gallons.' The quantity of old wine in the country available for exportation is probably not large; but the stock of choice wines accumulated in the principal towns, such as Ofen,- Pesth, and Presburg, is believed to be immense, as is also that contained in the episcopal and manorial cellars, and in those of the great landed proprietors. 'There are
* The exports of Hungarian wine are in the following proportions to different
Prussia 264,000 gallons.
Poland 312,000 ,,
Russia • .. .. 67,200 ,,
Turkey 144,000 ,,
Switzerland 504,000 ,,
America 624,000 ,,
Switzerland has, it is said, since the vine disease, imported large quantities
of red Hungarian wine for the purpose of converting it into low-priced
clarets and Burgundies. Our countrymen are doubtless well acquainted with
landlords landlords in Hungary,' says M. de Szemere (for Hungary, like England, is the land of large estates), * who produce yearly from 1000 to 20,000 hogsheads of wine. Enormous cellars cut into the mountains extend their dark ramifications like labyrinths or catacombs, where the wines are ranged year by year. It is a kind of aristocratic and family pride to possess a full and rich cellar, and grandchildren drink of the wine produced by their ancestors and gratefully remember the old times.' In these primitive lands ancestral glory consists almost as much in a chronology of casks as in a pedigree of illustrious descent. There faith may be really entertained in old wine, which would certainly be difficult either in Germany or France.
The production of wine in Hungary might of course be greatly increased by enlarging the area of vine-culture. The most sanguine of the wine-growers calculate that England might, with advantage to itself, take from Hungary annually wine to the value of between two and three millions sterling, and one of the most eminent of the Pesth wine-merchants submitted the following statement to Mr. Dunlop :—
'The red wines of this country, being principally of mountain growth, are of good strong quality, so that at least two-thirds of them might be safely exported. There is little of this strong wino drunk in Hungary. In quality there are hardly any so light as the so-called Medoc; but many sorts are capable of competing with some qualities of Bordeaux and Burgundies. Of the white wine more than half grows in the plains of the country, and it is in consequence of this that the (lowland) half is of an inferior quality; but there aro about 8,000,000 eimers of white mountain wines which are well suited for exportation.
'It is no exaggeration to state that, if Hungary now saw a clear way open for the export of her wine, she would make planting arrangements to supply any demand within the bounds of probability from foreign markets, and would equally increase her caro and attention as to the qualities required.'
An English wine-broker of experience lately wrote to a winegrower at Pesth:—
'I calculate that for carefully prepared full-bodied Hungarian wine you ought to receive about 24s. sterling the eimer in your town. This calculation is grounded on the fact that there is no wine, however bad, that can now be produced at 111. per pipe in the growing country. There is at present no wine procurable in Spain' and Portugal, and fit for England, at less than 24?. per pipe—nine eimers make one pipe—and this is of the very commonest quality, whilst the Hungarian wine is of remarkably fine quality. For the "masses " in England, the clarets and even the Burgundies of France are too cold; they do not suit a rainy climate. Hungarian wines, if properly made and prepared, arc the juste milieu, and would at once