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An essay by Israel Zangwill


Title:     Budapest
Author: Israel Zangwill [More Titles by Zangwill]

The Millennial Exhibition of Budapest--for which the Directors gave me a season ticket as soon as they heard I was leaving--professes to celebrate the foundation of Hungary; but 896 is a very long time ago, and the event does not seem to have been reported in the newspapers of the period. However, as a Hungarian explained to me, when you are counting by thousands you are not particular to a year or two, so perhaps it was not precisely ten centuries ago that the foundation of Hungary was inaugurated by a national assembly that created "the Constitution of Pusztaszer." After all, have not those irrepressible German savants discovered that Christ was born in the year 6 B.C.? At any rate, there is no doubt that the Magyars did steal a country some time or other in the remote past, or in more political language, did obtain a footing in Europe by ousting the Slav tribes that peopled the great plain bounded by the Carpathians and the Danube and the Tisza. They came from Central Asia, on a late wave of that big "Westward ho!" movement of the Eastern peoples, a race of shepherds changed into an army of mounted archers, and pitched their tents first in Galieia, uniting their seven tribes under the great chief Arpad; but, harassed continually by local tribes with unpronounceable names, they moved farther westwards to their present quarters, where, after a vain but spirited attempt to annex Europe generally, they settled down to comfort and civilisation, ceased to offer white horses to idols, and embraced Christianity.

It seems that land-thieves are called conquerors; and after a thousand years of possession of their stolen goods, the glamour of a divine sanctity gets over the past, and high-minded natives live and die for the country which seems to have been theirs from time immemorial, and in which their holiest feelings are enrooted. What makes national robberies moral is the fact that there is honour among the thieves. The morality of crowds is, in fact, as different from that of individuals as "the psychology of crowds" which has just engaged the attention of an ingenious scientist. Into the original conquerors of a country a miscellaneous assortment of other races always gets absorbed, as the Franks by the Gauls, the Turkish Bulgarians by the Slavs. The Hungarians absorbed into themselves Italians, Germans, and Czechs, and the modern Hungarian is, according to Arminius Vambery, a typical product of the fusion of Europe and Asia, Turanian and Aryan. And that is the sort of way in which after a few centuries we get the chauvinistic cries: "Germany for the Germans," "Poland for the Polish," "Hungary for the Hungarians." In truth, no nation has a right to anything it cannot hold by might. And who shall determine what a nation is? Who are the Americans? Who are the English? "Norman and Saxon and Dane are we." And once upon a time some of us threw up our country and sailed away in the _Mayflower_. For patriotism is not the only bond of brotherhood. Men may be the sons of an idea as well as of a soil. There was a Hungarian girl selling silver at a stall, who had spent four years in Chicago. Never have I heard better American, except it be from a Budapest man who had come back to revisit his native town, and was disgusted with its smallness and slowness. _Per contra_, I met an American girl in Switzerland who had lived much in Germany, and whose English had such a Teutonic intonation that it was difficult to realise she was not speaking German. And language is but typical of the rest. All other national characteristics are imbibed as subtly. What makes a nation is a certain common spirit,--_Volksgeist_, as the German psychologists have christened it,--and this spirit exercises a hypnotic effect over all that comes within its range, moulding and transforming. There is action and reaction. The nation makes the national spirit, and the national spirit makes the nation. The flag, the constitution, the national anthems, the national prejudices, the language, the proverbs--these are the product of the people they produce.

I am inclined to allow more importance to education and environment than to actual birth in a country, and to believe that for a "native," birth is only an etymological necessity. Natives are made as well as born. The "born" native has merely the advantage of prior arrival, and if the "foreign" immigrant is only of a plastic age he may come to love the step-mother-country more than one of her own sons, educated abroad. This consideration would solve every _Uitlander_ question: is the national spirit strong enough to suck in the foreigners? Can the nation digest them, to vary the metaphor--assimilate them to its own substance? I once proposed to a biologist--who flouted it--that a definition of Life might be "the power of converting foreign elements, taken in as food, to one's own substance." Thus, a plant sucks up chemical elements and makes flowers; a man turns them to flesh. Here is a piece of meat: eaten by a dog it runs to tail and teeth, for a cat it makes fur and whiskers, for a bird feathers, for a woman a lovable face. And so the test of life in a nation would be its power of transforming its immigrants into patriots. Only a dead nation is afraid of foreigners.

The figure has its limits, however: one cannot gulp down too large a piece of meat. And there are things inedible--substances which no stomach can digest. The Americans will never make Yankees of their Chinese. On the other hand, nowhere have I found more ardent patriots than among the Jews. Englishmen in England, Americans in America, Italians in Italy, Frenchmen in France, and only not Russians in Russia because they are not allowed to be, they are rabid Hungarians in Hungary; and if I have caught any enthusiasm for Hungary it is from the lips of a young and brilliant Jew, Vidor Emil, who piloted me about Budapest, and who, under Marmorek Oszkar, another young Jew, built "Old Buda," perhaps the most interesting feature of the Millennial Exhibition. This Jewish patriotism, which loves at once Israel and some other nation, may appear curious and contradictory; but human nature is nothing if not curious and contradictory, and this dual affection has been aptly compared to that of a mother for her different children. And besides, in a contest the love of Israel goes down before the more local patriotism. French and German Jews fought each other in the Franco-German war, and probably it is only persecution that accentuates the consciousness of Jewish brotherhood. Wherever the Jews have perfect equality and have been tempted out of the Ghetto, there the beginnings of disintegration are manifest. And who shall say how much Jewish blood dilutes the nations of the Occident, for all their chauvinistic talk!

Mr. Du Maurier, in his unmentionable novel, suspects, like Lowell, that a drop of it has lurked in every artistic temperament. And, in sober truth, the drain from Israel throughout the centuries has been immense. In every age, in every country, Jews have been sucked up into the more brilliant life around them, exchanging contempt and danger for consideration and peace. I know an English gentleman who goes about in fear and trembling lest it transpire that he is of the race of the apostles, and he be driven out of decent Christian society. _Cherchez le Juif_ is, indeed, no empty cry, whenever a new artistic or journalistic planet swims into our ken. That the Jew rules over the Continental press is not quite so untrue as most anti-Semitic cries. "Have you any Christians on your staff?" I said to the editor of the great Budapest newspaper, "Pesther Lloyd," a fine figure of a man, long-bearded and benevolent, like an ancient sage. He pondered. "I think we have one," he said. On the other hand, there are many German and Austrian papers on which there is only one Jew. And in any case the real meaning of the cry is ludicrously untrue.

For the Jew by no means uses his power to help Jews indiscriminately: there is no secret brotherhood of the synagogue. The Jewish journalists have probably never been in a synagogue, except perhaps as children; they are divorced in thought and temper from the body proper. And the only sense in which their pen can be said to have a Jewish bias is in that complimentary sense which makes the Jew synonymous with the champion of sweetness and light, of liberty and reason. In this sense it is true that the Jew is wielding an insidious influence throughout Europe, like the old apostles among the heathen.

"Oh yes, the Jews are very well off in Hungary," said one of the staff of the "Pesther Lloyd." "There are 150,000 Jews in Budapest; they enter all the professions, and supply two members to the House of Magnates, and nine to the Chamber of Deputies, and there are two State Councillors; and you know with us every member of Parliament 'thous' every other in private as an equal. For the laws, liberal as they are, are not so liberal as the spirit of society. I, mere journalist as I am, have the most friendly talks with the Prime Minister, and am a member of the swellest political clubs. We are a good deal like England, by the way: our middle-classes produce our leaders, our aristocracy lacks eloquence and talent, and has only a court influence. Our House of Commons is the most fashionable club. We have no censor, whereas Austria has an oppressive censorship as well as anti-Semitism. In fact, the influence of Vienna has caused a decline in our own tolerant spirit, and at the best of times a Jew needed to have three times the talent of a Christian to make equal progress in any career." A consideration which sufficiently accounts for the superiority of the Jewish remnant. Intolerance and persecution are furnaces which, when they do not destroy, temper and anneal and strengthen. It is as with the bare-footed, half-clad, underfed children of the slums: those that do survive are strong indeed. Let my patriotic cicerone, the Jewish architect, testify. First in all his examinations, a violinist, a bicyclist, a gymnast, he was to be gazetted a premier lieutenant as soon as he had completed his military service. He was a linguist, too (as every travelled Hungarian must be, for Hungarian will carry him nowhere), speaking excellent English and reading our magazines regularly. _Humani nihil a me alienum puto_ might have been his motto. Kossuth himself is said to have had a Jewish grandmother. The Jews are largely responsible for the prosperity of Budapest, as they were for that of Vienna, which now turns round upon them. Fancy a country quarrelling with its coal and iron! And the true wealth of a country is even more in its population than in its dead products. I found the Viennese comic papers full of the old anti-Semitic jokes, hashed up, I have little doubt, by the same journalists who are supposed to judaize the press of Europe. Even so in America, are not the Jewish caricatures in _Puck_ often done by a brother of M. de Blowitz? In something of the same spirit, when the notorious Lueger, whose platform was the extinction of the Jews of Vienna, was up for election as Burgomaster of that town, a poor Jew took a bribe of a couple of florins to vote for him. "God will frustrate him," said the pious Jew. "Meantime I have his money."

The chief surprise of Hungary is its language. Though one knows that Jokai writes in the strange tongue which sticks its verb into the middle of its noun, yet one vaguely thinks of it as of Gaelic or Welsh--something archaic, kept for Eisteddfods and Renaissances--and it is not till one arrives in Hungary that one realises that it is a living, disconcerting reality. The great European languages have affinities with one another: Latin puts one on bowing terms with French and Spanish, Italian and Portuguese; English is not entirely unrelated to German, Dutch, and even Norwegian; old Greek is the key to modern. But in Hungary one comes face to face with an absolutely new language, in which even guesswork is impossible. When "Levelezoe-Lap" means a postcard, and "ara egy napra" means price per day, you feel that it is all up. The nearest relatives of Hungarian are Turkish and Finnish, the Asiatic ancestors of the race having lived between Finns and Turks; and it bears traces of their migrations, and of the great Mongol invasion of Europe by Djingis Khan.

With a language thus handicapped, it was a mistake to have scarcely a word of any other tongue in an Exhibition designed to attract Europe. The only scrap of English I saw was in the "French Theatre," in the show of "Living Pictures," the (London) director of which had forgotten to alter the titles printed beneath the frames. Even in giving the names of foreign authors the Hungarians preserve their habit of placing the Christian name second; so that I saw in the booksellers' windows works by Eliot George, Kock Paul, and Black William.

Hungary is still in the flush of youth, high-spirited, brilliant, enthusiastic, and a little out of perspective in its national consciousness. But who would ever do anything if he saw his true place in the cosmos? The rapid rise of Budapest--unprecedented save in the gold countries--into a capital of European importance, has shed a buoyant optimism, refreshing enough in this jaded century, over the inhabitants of that beautiful city. "We are the Vienna of the future," cried my cicerone, "and already Vienna is feeling our rivalry. The retired Jewish merchants who went there to spend their fortunes are now coming to us; the anti-Semitism of Vienna is at once the cause and the effect of bad business. And Vienna is on the downward grade; we are on the upward. Vienna has never been the capital of Austria,--which is a mere federation of races,--as Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The German is proud of Vienna, yes; but the Czech looks to Prague, the Pole to Cracow, the Austro-Italian swears by Trieste."

He also complained that there is rather a tendency to think of Hungary as subject to Austria, instead of an associated state; and that this tendency is fomented by the Austrian papers, whose references to Hungary insinuate this conception. The Hungarian papers, whose tone would counteract it, not being in German, are not read by the rest of Europe. Hungary had always beaten Austria. She had never been defeated save by allies of Austria. But Hungary, which is so mettlesome and restive in her patriotism, whose great son, Kossuth, would never even accept the compromise with the House of Hapsburg, has yet no compunction in dominating inferior races, in grinding Serbs, Croats and Roumanians into her own pattern. The Hungarians, who are in the minority, are yet moulding these alien nationalities to their own will. But _que voulez-vous?_ The inhabitants of many nations have adopted Christianity, the nations themselves never. Perhaps the next step for the Christian missionaries is to found international Christianity.

Still the Hungarians have the qualities of their defects. Unlike the Turks, their neighbours, they are a race with a future, and Budapest is from one point of view one of the sightliest capitals of Europe. What town has a fairer situation? With Parisian Pesth sitting stately on one bank of the Danube, and Turkish Buda climbing up the hills in a series of hanging gardens crowned by gilt domes and cupolas on the other, the two joined by wonderful bridges, she exhibits an unsurpassed contrast; and at night, when the long stretch of the river is a-twinkle with lights reflected as shining spears, she may even vie with Venice or the Thames Embankment. From the Andrassy Avenue, a beautiful Boulevard, with its cafes and book-shops, and pleasant interludes of flower-beds and fountains, you may get, in a few minutes--crossing the Danube on a great steamer, and ascending the heights of Buda by a funicular railway--to a spot where, seated in an avenue of chestnut trees and looking on the villa-strewn slopes of sleeping hills, or watching the sun set in splendour behind them, you may forget that you are living in a bustling modern town, and one with an Exhibition to boot.

You may dream of the picturesque days when, as shown in Ujvary's great panorama of the sister towns in 1680, Buda was by far "the better half," and Pesth was a tiny spot. You may visit the tomb of Gul Baba, father of the roses, a shrine of pilgrimage to all good Turks. You may find a good quarter of an hour in the Church of St. Matthias, whose spire comes up white amid the green as you turn a corner; a curious monument, that was three centuries a-building; its interior suffused, like St. Mark's, by a golden glow, its coloured windows original in shape, and no two pillars or capitals alike in design, yet all contributing to a quaint unity and harmony. And it is at Buda that the chief national buildings stand, usually flanked by chestnut trees, and the statues in memory of the wars. Here is the War-Office of the Territorial Army (which is distinct from the joint Austro-Hungarian army); here are the Premier's Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and the King's Palace of many windows set on a breezy hill, and now being enlarged at a cost of thirty million florins. Fortunate Francis Joseph, to command such a panorama from his bedroom window: his hanging gardens, that slope towards the Danube, flowing with molten sparkle, spanned by the great suspension bridge and the railway bridges; and broken by the beautiful Margaret Island; the spires and chimneys and cupolas of Pesth, and the mountains of Buda.

Margaret Island is the "Pearl of the Danube," a charming retreat in spring and autumn, when the heat does not force Fashion to the mountains, and famous for its mineral springs, hot and cold. It belongs to the King's cousin, Prince Joseph, and is a white elephant. The cost of gardening this beautiful island is colossal, and though the Prince has just drained a portion which used to be a swamp, the Danube is a standing danger. It is scarcely surprising that he cannot find a purchaser at three million florins. One of the walls of his private garden (which produces celebrated roses) is the remnant of an old cloister. A tramcar runs through the island, giving one tantalising vistas of glorious stretches of woodland. Altogether Budapest would be an ideal place for a honeymoon but for the beauty of the women, which might make the bridegroom dissatisfied.

But the Pesth part of Budapest is a disappointment. One expects to feel the first breath of the East, and one gets a modern, a Western, almost an American town, with an electric underground railway and a telephonic newspaper which reads itself out all day long to whosoever will clap the cups to his ears--the old town crier in terms of modern science. But it rounds off the day, poetically enough, with music, so that when I sought to hear the latest news, I was treated to Handel's "Hallelujah." How much more soothing than our own "extra special," with its final crop of horrors! Music, indeed, is ever resounding: the gipsy bands are everywhere playing--Hungarian, not gipsy music, as Liszt imagined, for they never play to "the white men." The splendid "Rakoczi" March, which Berlioz introduced into his "Faust," is, however, of gipsy origin, having been invented, says tradition, by Cinka Panna, the faithful gipsy girl of Rakoczi II., after his defeat. There are also Betjar melodies, the songs of the brigand cavaliers, the romantic robbers who took from the rich to give to the poor, like our Robin Hood.

The Exhibition, which I fear will be a financial failure, is only one of the many celebrations of the Millennium, which include the erection of statues and an Arc de Triomphe, the opening of a canal, the construction of two new bridges, of three or four great public buildings, the inauguration of the splendid new Houses of Parliament--situated like our own on the river-side,--international congresses, historical corteges, and the opening of five hundred new primary schools! This programme is a sufficient guarantee that the Exhibition itself is similarly thorough-going, that it represents every side and department of the national life; and if much of it does not differ from other Exhibitions, or even from Whiteley's Stores, this can only be the more gratifying to the Hungarians, inasmuch as it proves that they have indeed come into step with the general march of European civilisation. For my part I am not sure that I do not prefer Arpad's Hungarians, who believed in one God and one wife, and roved about Europe in the four-wheeled waggons they had invented. And I am certain that in the Exhibition I preferred the beautiful aquarium in the cool dim grotto, which has nothing to do with Hungary, to all the splendours of the Historical Group of Buildings, to the great model steamer, the naval and military pavilions, the very new and very glaring native pictures, and even the wonderful models of the town and the steamer-laden Danube. One great lack in the Exhibition is lavatories. Even at my hotel--a place of gilded saloons--they charged two florins (about 3_s_. 4_d_.) for a plain bath, as if in sheer surprise. In "Old Buda" I could only get a bucket from an old woman in which to wash. And the next day, when I repaired confidently in search of this bucket, there was nothing but a tiny saucepan, the contents of which she poured over my hands, watering a garden-plot at the same time. After the first jet I moved my hands away and said that would do. "No, no," she cried: "if you wash, you must wash properly." And I had to stand still and be poured upon till she was satisfied.

Perhaps the most interesting exhibit is the "ethnographic village," designed to represent the life of the Hungarian provinces, though made rather ridiculous by the rigidity of the waxwork figures, arranged about the quaint and impossibly clean houses in their various occupations, but having the air of "tableaux morts" rather than of "tableaux vivants." The best group was _al fresco_, representing half-naked gipsy-like creatures with coal-black hair squatting outside tents and mud-houses, the women smoking pipes. And this exhibition of unrealities brings me on to the most original feature of the Exhibition, which seems to have escaped all the reporters--to wit, the exhibition of realities. For the committee have hit on a most ingenious notion. The peasants of Hungary marry, and they marry picturesquely. Why should this picturesqueness be wasted, or only be reproduced artificially in comic operas? When a marriage is to be celebrated in any village, let the scene be shifted to the capital: let the wedding-party come up to the Exhibition. Free transit is provided on the railway for the happy couple, the wedding-guests, and all the stage-properties. And so they come up to Budapest,--from Toroczko, Szabolcs, Krasso-Szoereny, and who knows what outlandish places, glad of the opportunity of seeing the great capital,--and they gather in the Exhibition grounds, the lads with flower-wreathed hats and streamers of many-coloured ribbons, the lasses with gay skirts and tall black combs, the old women with lace head-shawls, carrying bundles of house-linen and stockings for the bride; and the sheepish pair are made one, and the peasants dance and then go in procession to the strains of the Rakoczi March, and are photographed with odd spectators (like myself) tacked on, and they sit down to the wedding-dinner under the trees, and the viands are heaped high on the white table-cloths, sun-dappled with the shadows of the moving leaves. And then they visit themselves in waxwork, and go into ecstacies over the stolid representations of their life and their furniture, and they walk about the town--a sort of grown-up school-procession--and go home to thrill the wide-eyed village with tales of the wonderful city.

But the other instance of converting realities into spectacles is not so commendable. In the supplementary exhibition of "Old Buda" stands a reproduction of an Old Buda mosque, built of stone, majolica and wood, in a mixture of Turkish and European architecture, with minaret and cupolas, and a small kiosk in the Indian style for a sleeping fakir. Here Moslems and Dervishes assemble to say or dance their prayers; and for a florin you may ascend the gallery and watch them below. The mosque opened on the holy night of Bairam, the most solemn feast of the Mohammedan year, and quite a crowd planked down their silver to listen to the pious worshippers. Is it not shameful? I am happy to say I did not pay for my seat. Even in Budapest I was a _persona gratis_. 'T was certainly a remarkable scene, its solemnity emphasized by the thunder without, that drowned the voice of the mueddin calling to prayer, and by the lightning and rain-torrents that sent the pretty little _al fresco_ waitresses scudding about with their serviettes on their heads to tend the few parties in the leafy square that dined on regardless of diluted wine or under the protection of umbrellas. How the Turks further wetted themselves by complex ablutions in the tank (meydiaeh) in the courtyard without, how they removed their shoes and, entering the mosque, knelt on their carpets facing towards Mecca, and turning their backs on me, a serried array of long-robed figures swaying and falling forward with automatic regularity, and showing pairs of heels not always clean, while the Imam chanted heart-breaking dirges overhead, I shall not detail, for everybody has read of Moslem services. But I do not remember to have come across any accurate description of a service of Dancing Dervishes such as followed the more orthodox ceremonial.

All the mere Mussulmans having retired, the Dervishes sat around cross-legged, forming an oval. Presently they began to say some phrase, presumably Turkish (it sounded like _es "klabbam vivurah"_), which they repeated and repeated and repeated with the same endless, uniform, monotonous intonation, swaying from right to left and from left to right, till I felt the whole universe was this phrase, and nothing else would happen till the end of the world, and the world would never end. At last, when I had reconciled myself to living for ever and ever with this sound in my ears, they broke into a pleasant melody with rhyming stanzas and a refrain of _Hazlee_. Then they started on another word with endless iteration, and then they repeated _Allah, Allah, Allah_, swaying and swaying till the universe began to reel. I became aware that their chief, who was seated on a special red carpet, was counting on a rosary, and I drew relief from the deduction that an end would come. It did, but worse remained behind; for the Dervishes got up and formed a ring round their chief, and began swaying right and left and backwards and forwards, unrestingly, remorselessly, getting quicker and quicker, till there was nothing in the world but swayings this way and that way, back and forth.

At last the movements began to slow down and to sweep over larger curves, and suddenly they stopped altogether, only to recommence as the fanatics started singing a joyous hymn. Alas! thought I, one half the world is a laughing-stock to the other half, if indeed not rather a source of tears. For now the chief, whose fine gloomy Eastern face still haunts me, was bowing to his men, and they were responding with strange raucous cries compounded of the roars of wild beasts and the pants of locomotives. _Hu! Hu!_ they roared in savage unison, _Hu! Hu!_ monotonously, endlessly, making strange motions. Hoarser and more bestial grew the frightful roars, wilder and wilder grew the movements, the head-gear falling off, faces growing black, the chief standing silent with his hand on his breast, but in his pale face a tense look of ever-gathering excitement. And then two of the Dervishes held out a curved sword, and the roars redoubled and the chests heaved with wilder breaths; and suddenly the Chief, throwing off his stocking-wraps, jumped on the blade with his naked feet and balanced himself upon it, the muscles of his face rigid, his teeth clenched. Four times he stood upon the bare sword-edge amid this hellish howling and this mad swaying, the perspiration running down the foreheads of the devotees, some of them foaming at the mouth. And then they moved round in a circle to the right, howling _He! He!_ an Armenian Dervish in a tall brown hat varying it by _Ho! Ho!_ and another worshipper singing in a high voice.

The chief bared his breast, and twirling a heavy-hafted dagger, plunged it into his side. When this had been repeated three or four times, pandemonium ceased. The Holy Man, with an air of supreme exhaustion and supreme ecstasy, reclad himself in his white mantle, and the faithful ones wiped their brows, and re-squatting on the ground exultantly vociferated _Allah_ about a hundred times, nodding their heads, and finally changing their cry into _Bou! Bou!_ After a little singing and a shouting of _Din! Din!_ they pressed their foreheads to the ground with a shout of _Bou!_ and suddenly rose and decamped. Other nights other services, and the hysterical worship sometimes embraces a sort of serpentine skirt-dancing with frenzied twirling. There was no blood from the chief's wounds, but the performance does not seem to me to be jugglery. It seems rather akin to hypnotism. The wild cries and gyrations induce a state of anesthesia, just as by the excitement of battle the soldier is so wrought up that he does not feel his wounds. Even in a sham fight a soldier told me he got to such a pitch that he could have done or suffered anything. As for the blood not running from the wounds, I conjecture that the places had become insensitive by frequent stabbing in the same spot. And this is the miracle that testifies to the saintliness of the Dervish and to the truth of his doctrines! I suspect that much of "the wisdom of the East" is of this character: ancient discoveries of the shady side of human psychology, the grotesque aberrations, trances, hypnotic impressionability, double personalities, ghosts, second-sight, what not. And these being misunderstood have always been supposed to trench on the divine. For what is not normal is not human, and what is not human is superhuman. So runs the simple logic. But hysteria can never be a foundation for a creed, and a true religion must always appeal to the common central facts of human experience.

There was another Exhibition going on, as it always goes on, in the town, for the People's Park has very little verdure and consists almost entirely of side-shows and open-air restaurants. I saw swings and merry-go-rounds, a circus, and a marionette theatre, and heard Punch and Judy discussing their domestic differences in Hungarian, and Toby barking in the same uncouth tongue. The joy with which the public greeted each crack on the head administered by Herr Punch's stick showed me how hopeless it was to write literary plays. For the primitive emotions will always be the most captivating. A fight must ever beat the most subtle psychology; and indeed those writers for whom the drama is the art of manufacturing excitement and suspense must find it difficult to compete with a lottery drawing, a prize-fight, or a horse-race, where the issue is known not even to the organiser of the excitement. And this consideration will show why some books are very successful, the art of which is very little. Nothing is harder in real life than to put your back against the wall on a dark staircase and keep three armed men at bay with your whirling sword. But nothing is easier than for the romantic writer to dip his pen in ink and say that his hero did that. And nothing is more stimulating and exciting for the reader than to imagine the hero doing it; and in his gratitude to the giver of all this beautiful breathlessness he is likely, unless he is an analytical person, to mistake a cheap effect for precious art. But the bulk of humanity must always remain at the Punch-and-Judy stage of art. If only the critics would outgrow it! The clowns in the circus who came on with red noses were a further proof of the sempiternal simplicity of our race; and I could have wished for the heart of that urchin whom I saw trying to peer in under the canvas, and whom, with a reminiscence of the young Gradgrinds, I was about to pay for, when he suddenly produced a florin and many coppers and went in like a man. Sitting in the front row, I had a curious presentiment that the daring bare-backed rider would be thrown at my feet; and sure enough he was, and, as I picked him up, I saw by the perspiration what toil his graceful feats concealed. Poor cavalier! I am sure his pride was more hurt than his person, and he excelled himself in galloping round poised on one toe. When he was recalled after his exit, he tumbled his thanks, giving us complex somersaults in lieu of bows. I sometimes fancy he was a holier person than the Chief of the Dancing Dervishes.

[The end]
Israel Zangwill's essay: Budapest