Departure from Vienna—Scene on board the steamer—Hainburg— Presburg—The “Coronation-mount”—Pesth—Ofen—The steamer Galata— Mohacs—The fortress Peterwardein—Discomfort and bad management on board the steamer—Semlin—Belgrade—Pancsova—Austrian soldiers— The rock Babakay—Drenkova—Falls of the Danube—Alt-Orsova—The “Iron Gate”—Cattle-breeding—Callafat—Vexatious delay.
I had for years cherished the wish to undertake a journey to the Holy Land; years are, indeed, required to familiarise one with the idea of so hazardous an enterprise. When, therefore, my domestic arrangements at length admitted of my absence for at least a year, my chief employment was to prepare myself for this journey. I read many works bearing on the subject, and was moreover fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a gentleman who had travelled in the Holy Land some years before. I was thus enabled to gain much oral information and advice respecting the means of prosecuting my dangerous pilgrimage.
My friends and relations attempted in vain to turn me from my purpose by painting, in the most glowing colours, all the dangers and difficulties which await the traveller in those regions. “Men,” they said, “were obliged gravely to consider if they had physical strength to endure the fatigues of such a journey, and strength of mind bravely to face the dangers of the plague, the climate, the attacks of insects, bad diet, etc. And to think of a woman’s venturing alone, without protection of any kind, into the wide world, across sea and mountain and plain,—it was quite preposterous.” This was the opinion of my friends.
I had nothing to advance in opposition to all this but my firm unchanging determination. My trust in Providence gave me calmness and strength to set my house in every respect in order. I made my will, and arranged all my worldly affairs in such a manner that, in the case of my death (an event which I considered more probable than my safe return), my family should find every thing perfectly arranged.
And thus, on the 22d of March 1842, I commenced my journey from Vienna.
At one o’clock in the afternoon I drove to the Kaisermuhlen (Emperor’s Mills), from which place the steamboats start for Pesth. I was joyfully surprised by the presence of several of my relations and friends, who wished to say farewell once more. The parting was certainly most bitter, for the thought involuntarily obtruded itself, “Should we ever meet again in this world?”
Our mournful meditations were in some degree disturbed by a loud dispute on board the vessel. At the request of a gentleman present, one of the passengers was compelled, instead of flying, as he had intended, with bag and baggage to Hungary, to return to Vienna in company of the police. It appeared he owed the gentleman 1300 florins, and had wished to abscond, but was luckily overtaken before the departure of the boat. This affair was hardly concluded when the bell rang, the wheels began to revolve, and too soon, alas, my dear ones were out of sight!