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From The Golden Fairy Book, comprising stories by Moritz Jokai, George Sand, M. Lermontov, Edouard Laboulaye, Xavier Marmier, Émile Souvestre, M.P. Granal, Daniel Dare, Voltaire, Gonzalo Fernandez Francoso, Alexander Dumas, and others; with 110 illustrations by H. R. Millar; D. Appleton & Company, 1894; pp. 69-82.


From the Hungarian of Moritz Jokai.

[MORITZ JOKAI, the most popular of Hungarian writers living, was born at Kormorn, in 1825. His father, who was a lawyer, intended Moritz for the same profession, and at twelve years old the boy began to drive a quill. But his ambition was to be a painter and an author. Often, after office hours, he would write or paint in his own room till day was breaking. His pictures turned out to be failures — though he still makes dashing sketches, full of life and colour — but his writings met with a peculiar stroke of luck. One day his master lighted on a bundle of his papers, looked into them, and was amazed to find his clerk a man of genius. He took the papers to a printer, and had them printed at his own expense. The book caught the public fancy, and Morita, who was now an orphan, took the counsel of his friendly master, and turned from his engrossing to write tales and plays. At the age of twenty-three he married Rosa Laborfabri, the greatest of Hungarian actresses — a step for which his family discarded him, but to which, a year afterwards, he owed his life. The Revolution broke upon the country; Moritz drew his sword to strike a blow for liberty, was present at the surrender of Villagos, was taken prisoner, and was sentenced to be shot. On the eve of the execution, his wife arrived from Pesth; she had sold her jewels to raise money, with which she bribed the guards, and the pair escaped into the woods of Buk, where for some time, in danger of their lives, the lurked in caves and slept on heaps of leaves. Thence they stole to Pesth, where they have ever since resided — in summer, in a pretty house, half buried in its vines and looking from a rising ground across the roofs and steeples of the grand old city; in winter, in a house within the town, where Jokai writes among his books and pictures in a room ablaze with flowers. His works amount to some two hundred volumes; indeed, the modern literature of Hungary is almost wholly his creation; and in everything he writes his original and striking gifts are visible, whether it be a novel in five volumes, or the slightest of amusing trifles, like “Barak Hageb and His Wives.”




From the French of Voltaire

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