But it is to be remembered that the more names are blazoned on works of art, the more art becomes deteriorated. In this respect the present collection shows the rapidly progressive march of this evil through twenty-five centuries—a most instructive subject of contemplation.
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Of the chivalry, the gallantry, the splendor, the hospitality, the courage, and the love of liberty of the Hungarian noble or gentleman, no one doubts. Of his ideas of true constitutional freedom, or the zeal with which that or Hungarian independence has been maintained first through Turkish, and then German domination for some hundred years past, doubts may be entertained. Neither do the Hungarian peasantry or people reflect high credit on their “natural superiors.” Something should be deducted for the forced vivacity and straining after effect of the litterateur; but this sketch of a large class of peasantry from Max Schlesinger’s “War in Hungary,” just published in London, must have some foundation in truth—and very like the Red Indians or half-breeds of Spanish America the people look.
“The Csikos is a man who from his birth, somehow or other, finds himself seated upon a foal. Instinctively the boy remains fixed upon the animal’s back, and grows up in his seat as other children do in the cradle.
“The boy grows by degrees to a big horse-herd. To earn his livelihood, he enters the service of some nobleman, or of the Government, who possess in Hungary immense herds of wild horses. These herds range over a tract of many German square miles, for the most part some level plain, with wood, marsh, heath, and moorland; they rove about where they please, multiply, and enjoy freedom of existence. Nevertheless, it is a common error to imagine that these horses, like a pack of wolves in the mountains, are left to themselves and nature, without any care or thought of man. Wild horses, in the proper sense of the term, are in Europe at the present day only met with in Bessarabia; whereas the so-called wild herds in Hungary may rather be compared to the animals ranging in our large parks, which are attended to and watched. The deer are left to the illusion that they enjoy the most unbounded freedom; and the deer-stalker, when in pursuit of his game, readily gives in to the same illusion. Or, to take another simile, the reader has only to picture to himself a well-constituted free state, whether a republic or a monarchy is all one.
“The Csikos has the difficult task of keeping a watchful eye upon these herds. He knows their strength, their habits, the spots they frequent; he knows the birthday of every foal, and when the animal, fit for training, should be taken out of the herd. He has then a hard task upon his hands, compared with which a Grand-Ducal wild-boar hunt is child’s play; for the horse has not only to be taken alive from the midst of the herd, but of course safe and sound in wind and limb. For this purpose, the celebrated whip of the Csikos serves him; probably at some future time a few splendid specimens of this instrument will be exhibited in the Imperial Arsenal at Vienna, beside the sword of Scanderberg and the Swiss ‘morning-stars.’