Title


[258]

CHAPTER XV.

PRESENT ROUMANIAN LEADERS AND THEIR POLICY.

The King-Customs of the Court-The Queen -Her attainments-Extract from her poetry-Madame Rosetti-Her patriotism and adventures-M. Constantin A. Rosetti-His career and public services-M. Bratiano--Other leaders of public opinion-The party- of progress-Their past foreign and domestic policy-Geographical boundaries-Panslavism and Panroumanism -The future policy of Roumania--Growth by pacific means-(Note : Comparative values of Russian, Turkish, and Roumanian securities) -Roumania and Great Britain-Conclusion.

I.

WE have passed in hasty and imperfect review those features in the national life of Roumania which we believed would be of interest to our readers, and will now endeavour to present to them sketches of a few of the persons of distinction who are forming public opinion, and are the leaders of progress in the country, premising, however, that there are many omissions, due partly to our own ignorance, and partly to the fact that the discussion of the merits and demerits of some of the public men would not have been fitting in this treatise.

By his rank and patriotism, and not least by his extensive knowledge, his Majesty King Charles is entitled to our first consideration. Of his political career we have spoken in our historical summary, and little more need be added. He was born on April 20, 1839, and is therefore about forty-three years of age. On November 15, 1869, he married Pauline Elisabeth, Princess of Wied, who was then about twenty-six years old; but, unfortunately, the sole offspring of their union, a little girl, lies interred in the grounds of the Asyle Helene. The King is a handsome man, rather above the average height, and, so far as his regularly formed features are concerned, he might belong to [259] any nationality of Western Europe. He usually wears a somewhat severe expression, but the moment he begins to converse this at once disappear. His manner is quiet and earnest, although he often warms into enthusiasm, and he I has the happy faculty of placing all with whom. he comes into contact at perfect ease. He possesses a wide range of information, and speaks with evident knowledge on all matters of interest to his subjects or to civilisation. Of course he is well acquainted with his adopted country and its resources, takes a lively interest in its trade and capabilities; and so far as the geographical configuration of Roumania is concerned, he not only knows all about the level country, but has either ridden or walked through every part of the Carpathians. His scientific knowledge is such as one might expect in an educated German, and is chiefly of a practical kind. He is deeply interested in arboriculture, about which lie knows more than many who are entrusted with the care and fate of the vast woods that clothe the mountain districts, and he has often pointed out to such persons errors in their mode of felling timber. In private life the King is hospitable, genial, and very regular in his habits ; he is a devout Catholic, but a constant attendant upon the services of the Greek Church.

But of course our interest in Him is necessarily rather of a public than of a private character. Is he constitutional? or is Europe likely some day to be favoured with a Roumanian coup d'etat ? The answer to these questions is clear and emphatic. Although a Hohenzollern, he is a Constitutional Liberal, we should say of an advanced type. We spoke before of his misunderstandings with his ministers; but even those who were originally opposed to him, and who watched his every act with suspicion, state that he has managed with great tact to steer clear of unconstitutional courses ; indeed, from their own admissions and the facts of history, it is clear that he must have served a very trying apprenticeship in the art of constitutional rule. His demeanour towards his subjects and that of his queen, of whom we shall speak presently, is everything that can be [260] desired, and both are winning their affections more completely year by year.

When the court is at Bucarest a great portion of the king's time is devoted to giving audiences, not only to officials, but to all who desire to know their sovereign, and even to seek his counsel or that of his amiable consort. Two books are kept at the palace, one for callers only, and the other for persons who desire to see and speak with the king or queen, for they give audiences apart. Those who enter their names in the second book must give notice to the `Hofmarschall,' and they are then sent for in turn, and punctuality above all things is insisted upon. The king gives audiences from 1 to 3 or 4 p.m.; the queen for a longer time, and young as she is, for she has not yet attained her fortieth year, she is regarded as the mother of her people, and many there are who come to her for advice or consolation. But we are digressing. If the king interests himself in the civil affairs of Roumania, he is a soldier before everything else. The virtual as well as the nominal head of the army, he always wears uniform, and nothing is too unimportant for his consideration in the organisation of his army. Those who have been in the field with him and much about his person extol his coolness, bravery, and endurance. He has often risked his life in battle, was always to the fore visiting outposts and bivouacs in the most inclement weather, and there can be no doubt that it is to his bravery as a general, and to his tact and patience as a statesman, that Roumania is largely indebted for her independence and her promise in the future.

H.M. Pauline Elizabeth, first Queen of Roumania in the national costume. (From a photograph by Franz Duschek)

H.M. Pauline Elizabeth, first Queen of Roumania in the national costume. (From a photograph by Franz Duschek)

II.

The Queen of Roumania is almost too well known in Europe, through her literary attainments, to need any description here ; still a few particulars concerning her may be of interest to our readers. She is of the middle height, has [261] arid melodious, and although she can speak well on literary and scientific subjects, there is not the slightest pedantry or affectation of learning in her discourse. She is said to speak six languages, and she certainly speaks Roumanian, French, German, and English. We do not know what the other two may be, but if she speaks the four languages here named as fluently and with as little foreign accent as she does our own, she may fairly claim to be an accomplished linguist. All educated Roumanians speak French, and most of them German, besides their own tongue; indeed French is almost the universal language of the middle classes, whilst those who have been educated here, especially the younger men, naturally speak English well, and therefore the Queen is in this respect only somewhat ahead of her more accomplished subjects. But, as we have already stated, she is a poetess, and her verses are often marked by great depth of feeling. She possesses, too, considerable scientific knowledge and great taste in art, and one of tier chief desires is to promote national industry. She sets the example by wearing the national costume (in which her portrait is usually taken) whilst in the country, and requires it to be worn on State occasions, her main object being, we were told, to encourage the peasant women who make these costumes in their own homes. But whilst in these matters, as in her devotion to public duty, the Queen identifies herself with the Roumanian people and their interests, she would not be a German if she had forgotten the 'Fatherland.'

'Land of greenwood and of vine,
Sparkling wavelets of the Rhine,
Hushed thy song, afar thy gleam,
All to me, now, but a dream.

'Oft when I these eyelids close,
Purling sounds haunt my repose,
Vessels in the sunlight's ray,
'Fore the wind, speed on their way.

'Lovely home on German plain
Once my own, but ne'er again,
Thou wilt be to mem'ry dear
Till they place me on my bier.' 1
1 The first three verses of the dedication in Rumanische Dichtungen, by Carmen Sylva (the Queen's nom de plume), Leipzig, W. Friedrich, 1881. Lest our halting verse should prejudice the illustrious authoress, we append the original for those who know German:-
'Du Rebenland, du griiner Wald,
Da Rhein mit deinem Schimmer:
Dein Glanz ist fern, dein Sang verhallt,
Ich bin entflohn für immer!

'Oft, oft schliess' ich die Augcn zu,
Dann hör' ich's singen, rauschen,
Seh' Schiffe zieh'n in sonn'ger Ruh',
Den Wind die Segel bauschen.

Dass ich die schönste Heimath hab'
In deutschen Gau'n besessen,
Das macht, dass ich sie bis zum Grab
Nun nimmer kann vergessen.'
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III.

But her Majesty, who is a Protestant, is not the only lady now living who has made her mark in Roumanian history. There is another of whom we are sure our readers will be glad to hear something, for she is an accomplished Englishwoman, and it is very questionable whether, after all, the Roumanians do not owe their independence as much to her energy and devotion as to any other cause; we mean Madame Rosetti, the wife of the Home Secretary.1 It was mentioned in our historical summary that the patriots of 1848 made their escape to France in that year, and that they returned after the Crimean war in 1856. That is a long story told in a couple of sentences, and but for Madame Rosetti it is probable they would never have escaped, but would have languished and died in a Turkish prison in Bosnia, whilst Roumania might have been at this day a Turkish pashalik or a Russian province. The fact is that all the leaders of the revolution, fifteen in number, were arrested and conveyed on board a Turkish man-of-war lying in the Danube; and Madame Rosetti, whose heroic adventures have formed the theme of a work by Michelet,2 helped them to escape from their captors. As we have already said,

[263] she is an Englishwoman, whose maiden name was Grant, and she had only been married about a year when the revolution broke out. Her first child was born a day or two before her husband and his comrades were arrested, but she at once left her bed, and, taking her infant in her arms, prepared to follow them. First she managed to obtain an interview with the patriots on board the Turkish vessel to which they had been conveyed, and there plans were formed which she skilfully and courageously executed. Disguising herself as a peasant, and carrying her child, she followed them up the Danube to Orsova, communicating with her friends from time to time by signals. At Orsova the prisoners were landed, and whilst they were on shore she succeeded in making their guards intoxicated, and, with the connivance of the authorities, prepared suitable conveyances, in which the patriots made their escape. First they passed through Servia, and reaching Vienna in safety they entered that city the day after the bombardment, and subsequently they made their way through Germany, accompanied by their deliverer, and found a hospitable asylum in Paris. Since her return Madame Rosetti has been as valuable a coadjutor to her husband in his prosperity as she was in his adversity, and she is also a useful and willing adviser to any of her countrymen who, visiting Roumania, may stand in need of her assistance.

1 When the above lines were penned, M. Rosetti was the Home Secretary, although he has since resigned. It was as such that we knew him, and we therefore prefer to leave our account of him and his amiable lady as it was originally written.
2 Legendes democratiques du Nord, Madame Rosetti, p. 279 et seq.

IV.

C.A. Rosetti

Her husband, his Excellency Constantin A. Rosetti, has also reaped the reward of his devotion to his country's welfare. He is of an old boyard family of Italian origin, and in his early youth he was not only a soldier in the national army, but his pen also gained for him a considerable reputation, for he composed and published many interesting Roumanian poems. At the age of about thirty-two years he married the English lady to whom he owes so much, and of his adventures in 1848 we have already twice spoken. Before he permanently took up his residence in Paris after his escape, we believe he spent some time in Constantinople. In Paris he was the companion of Michelet, Quinet, and other [264] leading writers, and with them and his countrymen the brothers Bratiano and Golesco he managed by his patriotic publications to keep the lamp of liberty burning in his own country. Here, too, he is said to have enjoyed the support of our own distinguished statesman, William Ewart Gladstone, who was subsequently made a Roumanian citizen by an Act of the legislature about the year 1861, and whom the Roumanians still regard with feelings of great respect and admiration. On the return of M. Rosetti to Roumania after the Crimean war be founded the `Romanul,' a daily paper which still occupies a high position amongst the journals of the capital, and which remains his property.1 He took a

[265] conspicuous part in the union of the Principalities under Prince Couza, and supported that prince whilst his proceedings were constitutional, but he was one of the most active agents in his deposition, and the only serious objection that has been taken to his acts and those of his colleagues on that occasion is that he employed the army to bring about the prince's overthrow. To this matter, however, we have already referred in our historical summary. In 166 he was one of the provisional government, and was at first by no means favourably disposed towards the present king, who was, we believe, recommended to the Roumanians by the Emperor Napoleon III. In later times, however, he became one of his Majesty's most faithful advisers.

M. Rosetti is about sixty-seven years of age, full of life and energy. His career of hardship has somewhat bowed his physical frame, but it has in no way interfered with his cheerful and kindly disposition. In appearance he is an Italian, has very prominent but mild eyes, and a most thoughtful, somewhat careworn countenance. He is vif, hot and excitable, and not infrequently lets his voice be heard if anything is going wrong in public affairs, and something is very often going wrong in Roumania. He speaks Roumanian, French, and German, and can write English (of which he is fond of interjecting an expressive word now and then when he is speaking in French) fairly well. Unfortunately for scandal mongers, of whom there are a good many in the capital and elsewhere, M. Rosetti lives with great simplicity on the premises of the 'Romanul,' and upon the profits of his paper and his salary ; so they are unable to charge him with peculation, which they would certainly do if he gave them the slightest justification. He is a Radical, and an uncompromising enemy of coups d'etat, and of despotism or unconstitutional proceedings in any form, a man of unflinching honesty and the leader of political thought in his country. In fact, he is a patriot, and his countrymen know and appreciate the fact.

They usually couple his name with that of M. Bratiano, who is President of the Council and Minister of Finance, and, [266] so far as temperament is concerned, the very opposite of his colleague. M. Bratiano is a quiet, courteous gentleman, somewhat younger than M. Rosetti. His features are regular and handsome, his beard and hair iron-grey, and his voice even and melodious. He is full of pleasant humour, and has the bearing and manner of an English gentleman ; but although an excellent debater, he is not a good linguist. In Roumania they say, 'Rosetti thinks and Bratiano speaks,' but Bratiano thinks as well as speaks. So completely at one are the two statesmen that many of the uninformed poorer classes who have not seen them believe them to be one person, whom they call Bratiano-Rosetti.,' and whilst we were in Bucarest we saw a caricature (an art in which the Roumanians tale great delight) where the two statesmen were depicted as the Siamese twins.

The aim and policy of M. Bratiano are well expressed in [267] one of his despatches on the question of the Danube, which were made public by that diplomatic phenomenon M. Callimaki-Catargi. ` Our attitude,' he says, `like the whole policy of the ministry to which I belong, has always been, and ever should be, defensive, not offensive.'2

Amongst the other leaders of political thought in Roumania is Prince Demeter Ghika, President of the Senate, a fine burly good-natured gentleman of the old school ; Prince Jon Ghika, at present the Roumanian Ambassador in London, a patriot and a savant, whose sons were educated in England ; M. Statesco, the Foreign Minister, a young and promising statesman ; M. Stourdza, the director of the National Credit Association ; and there are doubtless many others of whom we do not like to speak without a nearer acquaintance, or better information than we possess. One of these is M. Cogalniceanu, a deputy, who has written a good history of Roumania, was a minister under Prince Couza, and we believe the author of the celebrated Act of 1864 which created the peasant proprietary of the country.3

M. Bratiano

M. Bratiano

1 There are daily papers in Bucarest for readers of every nationality resident there, the Ronaanul, Independance Roumaine, Bukarester Tagblatt, &c., all of which are free to say whatever they please - and they say it!
2 Despatch, February 1, 1880.
3 Of the leaders of intellectual thought and industries in Roumania we have already spoken elsewhere.

V.

From men to measures is a natural transition in politics. Although we have endeavoured to show, and do not hesitate to repeat here, that some of the great principles laid down in the Constitution of Roumania are only beginning to be carried out in practice, it is but just to add that the vigour and energy with which the party of progress has of late years developed the resources of the country is a matter of surprise and admiration even to foreigners resident there who are acquainted with our Western methods. The present regime began, as we have already said, in 1875, and since hat time the foreign policy of the party in power first liberated the nation from the last vestige of foreign despotism; when firmly established it as a European kingdom. That

[268] they occasionally male mistakes no one can deny. For example, the recent announcement in the speech from the throne, that Roumania was prepared in the present and future for every sacrifice which it might be necessary to make to ensure in all respects absolute facility of navigation of the Danube, appears to an outsider to have been an error in judgment, if the government were not prepared to hear with equanimity of the threatened departure of the ambassador of a neighbouring State which had put the cap upon its head, and against whose unwarrantable pretensions the remark was directed. But it is easy to be wise after the event, and we admit that it is presumptuous for anyone to criticise hastily any matter that is being tossed about on the troubled sea of Oriental politics. Living as we do on a seagirt isle which is practically unapproachable to an external foe, and having for centuries enjoyed the blessings of freedom we can have no conception of the difficult cards which Roumanian statesmen have to play in the political game in which they are often compelled, much against their desire to participate. From tune to time they hear great international theories propounded for the benefit of their powerful neighbours, to which they are compelled to close their ears however nearly those principles may apply to their own condition. Suppose, for example, some European Power claims new territory on the ground of geographical position. ask the Roumanians, should we be hemmed in as we every side? Why should not the plains on both sides Danube guarded by the Balkans and the Carpathians stitute a strong realm, one and indivisible, with the great flowing as an artery through its centre? The answer Russia! If any of the Great Powers had insisted upon a readjustment in the East, she would have opposed, is not Bulgaria, her last stepping-stone to Constantinople? 'Skobeleff the First, King of Bulgaria' would suit her aims far better. This reminds one of 'Panslavism.' Who will deny the right of adjacent branches of the same race to live under one government? Admitted; but then why not also Panroumanism? In that case considerable portions of [269] Austro-Hungary, Bessarabia, Bulgaria, Servia, would have to be added to the present dominions of King Charles of Roumania ; for there are almost as many Roumanians in those countries as there are within the present boundaries of the kingdom.1

But if Roumanian statesmen are permitted to enjoy their reflections on these interesting political topics, they know that it would be unsafe to publish them, for, as we eve seen, if they venture even to cry too loudly 'Roumania for the Roumanians,' some hectoring neighbour instantly takes the alarm and threatens to withdraw its ambassador; and in case of a fracas between any two such neighbouring States, even the rights which she at present enjoys would hardly be respected. Her policy is therefore tolerably well defined, and it was ably set forth in the royal speech which contained that dangerous reference to Austrian pretensions. Peace is requisite for her, in order that her Parliament may occupy itself in developing the riches of the oil and the economic interests of the country ; but the organisation of a strong defensive army is equally necessary o protect those interests from grasping and despotic States her vicinity, and because, I by the development of all the forces of the nation, Roumania will become an element of order, peace, and progress in Eastern Europe.' In fact, she must make herself, by peaceful measures, what Michael the rave succeeded for a very short time, and from motives of personal ambition, in making her by the sword in his day, the arbiter of surrounding nations, the Belgium of the East, hick no aggressive despot would dare to assail; and she must become sufficiently strong to resist not only inimical at friendly foreign occupations, which have such a demoralising effect upon her people.

On this undertaking her Government has already for some ears past been embarked. It has secured railway property for the State which was in the hands of aliens, has begun to prove watercourses, created national credit institutions, reduced [270] the interest upon the national debt, increased the value of Roumanian securities, and has generally followed, as it still pursues, the ways of peace, retrenchment, and reform.' 2

We have no wish to patronise Roumania even in words, for her best friend is he who tells her to depend entirely on her own resources and develop those herself ; to carve her fortunes, and to shape her ends. But when we look upon her sufferings, reflecting how for ages she has lain beneath the claws of savage enemies, quailed under despots who sucked the lifeblood of the nation, and then compare her constitutional democracy with ours--nay, if alone from a material point of view we weigh the interest. we have in her prosperity, we cannot fail to see that in the East is rising up a Power, in part of our creation, young and weak as yet, but full of hope and promise; and therefore, in concluding this imperfect record of her ' past and present,' we heartily commend her future to the earnest watchfulness of every English friend of liberty.

1 According to some, there are more.

2 Although we have endeavoured as much as possible to avoid burdening this popular treatise with statistics, one set of figures which have been kindly supplied to us by friends at Bucarest and in London is so significant, and indeed of such general interest, that we must claim the reader's indulgence for giving it in extenso. It comprises the values of Russian, Turkish, and Roumanian securities from 1870 to 1880, which are as follows :-

Russian. Six per cents. Turkish. General Five per Cents. Debt. Roumanian. Oppenheim
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
*1877
*1878
1879
1880
83.5 to 94.5
88 to 97
95 to 100
96 to 100.5
97 to 103
95 to 104.5
74 to 100.5
71 to 93
74 to 91
84 to 93
85 to 96
45 to 51
44.5 to 52.5
46.5 to 55
45 to 47
45 to 46.5
23 to 45
11.5 to 23
8.5 to 11.5
8.5 to 12
10.125 to 12
10 to 12.75
75 to 98
86 to 96.5
91 to 104
98 to 104
98 to 108
100 to 109
74 to 106
58 to 91
87 to 105
99 to 110
102 to 112


And in 1881 the prices of the Oppenheim loan ranged from 105 to 116. From these eloquent figures it will be seen that whilst Russia has been stationary, and Turkey has fallen 75 per cent, the condition and security of Roumania has risen, roughly speaking, 25 per cent in the estimation of the financial world daring the last ten years. The two years marked with an asterisk were years of war.



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