341. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, 9 August 1798

341. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, 9 August 1798 ⁠* 


In answer to the enquiry of your correspondent in your last Month’s Magazine, respecting the situation of Mohoz. [1]  I find it thus described in an old “Geographical Dictionary,” published the latter end of the last century, by John Augustine Bernard, Fellow of Brazen Nose College, and Public Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxon. [2] 

“Mohacz, Mohatz, a town in the lower Hungary, upon the Danube, between the river Sarwiza to the north, and the Drave to the south; four German miles from either, six from Esseck to the north, and nine from Colocza to the south. This otherwise small place is memorable for two great battles here fought; the first between Lewis king of Hungary, [3]  and Solyman the magnificent, [4]  in 1526: in which that unfortunate Prince Lewis (being about twenty years old) with twenty-five thousand men, fought three hundred thousand Turks; when being overpowered by numbers, twenty-two thousand of the christian army were slain upon the place; five thousand waggons, eighty great cannon, six hundred small ones, with all their tents and baggage, were taken by the victors; and the king, in his flight over the brook Curass, fell into a quagmire, and was swallowed up: after which Solyman took and slew two hundred thousand Hungarians, and got such a footing in this kingdom, that he could never be expelled. This fatal battle was fought October 29. The second in some part retrieves the loss and infamy of the former. The Duke of Loraine [5]  being sent by the emperor [6]  with express orders to pass the Drave and take Esseck, his highness, July 10, 1687, with great difficulty, passed that river, then extremely swelled with rains; but finding the Prime Visier [7]  encamped at Esseck with an army of an hundred thousand men, so strongly, that it was not possible to attack him in that post without the ruin of the christian army, he retreated, and repassed it the 23d of the same month; whereupon the 29th, the Prime Visier passed that river at Esseck, and upon August 12th, there followed a bloody fight, in which the Turks lost one hundred pieces of cannon, twelve mortars, all their ammunition, provisions, tents, baggage, and treasure, and about eight thousand men upon the place of battle; besides what were drowned in passing the river, which could never be known: after which victory, General Dunewalt, [8]  September 30th, found Esseck totally deserted by the Turks, and took possession of it.”

I have been thus minute in copying the above particulars attached to the description of this place, as they record two curious historical facts (one of which is alluded to by your correspondent) which may prove interesting to some of your readers.

Saltzbach, where the celebrated Marshal Turenne [9]  was killed, I apprehend to be the place described in our geographical books and maps — spelt “Sultzbach — a small town in Nortgow (a province of Germany) in the upper palatinate of the Rhine, one mile distant from Amberg to the south-east, which gives the title of a prince to some branches of the palatine family.” The “Encyclopedia Britannica” gives the name of the place “Saspach.” [10] 

In our literary desiderata, a true orthography seems particularly wanted in maps and geographical books, where the names are often so egregiously mis-spelt, as to make it difficult to recognize them as the places meant; and this error, especially in maps, I suspect to be principally owing to surveyors adopting the provincial pronunciation, which, in many instances, is quite foreign to the spelling.

There is too, a shameful neglect in the compilers of our modern gazetteers, which is that of copying the descriptions of places from former publications, without giving themselves the trouble to enquire what alterations may have taken place in the course of time, what improvements may have been made in public buildings, trade, or manufactures, &c. or their decline; by which means error becomes perpetuated from one generation to another. Some curious specimens of which might be selected, that would prove these otherwise useful publications to be, in general, mere catchpennies and the sources of much misinformation. I am, your’s,

S. [11] 

Norwich, August 9, 1798.


* MS: MS has not survived
Previously published: Monthly Magazine, 6 (September 1798), 183–184 [from where the text is taken] under the pseudonym ‘S.’. New attribution to Southey. BACK

[1] Monthly Magazine, 6 (August 1798), 93. BACK

[2] Edmund Bohun (1645–1699; DNB) and John Augustine Bernard (1660/1–after 1713; DNB), A Geographical Dictionary (London, 1693), p. 269. BACK

[3] Louis II (1506–1526; King of Hungary and Bohemia 1516–1526). BACK

[4] Suleiman the Magnificent (1494–1566; Sultan of Ottoman Empire 1520–1566). BACK

[5] Charles V (1643–1690; nominal Duke of Lorraine, 1675–1690). BACK

[6] Leopold I (1640–1705; Holy Roman Emperor, 1658–1705). BACK

[7] Suleyman Pasha, (d. 1687, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, 1685–1687). BACK

[8] Possibly an officer in the forces of Leopold I. BACK

[9] Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne (1611–1675), Marshal of France. BACK

[10] Marshal Turenne was killed in battle with Imperial forces in 1675 at Sasbach in Baden, so the Encyclopedia Britannica was almost correct. But the place described as Sultzbach, near Amberg, was in Bavaria and unconnected to the site of Turenne’s death. BACK

[11] Monthly Magazine adds note: ‘We thank M.I. for a similar answer to the same enquiry.’ BACK