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at times very useful and very necessary. Are we to expect that the person who gives the life of St Austin or of Rousseau in half-a-dozen lines in some compact biographical dictionary, has read the dozen folios of the works of the saint, or the hundred quartos left by the sinner? It is all the better, perhaps, that he should not happen to know any thing whatever about them, as such a knowledge may blemish his work by disproportion. In the division of labour the compiler has his place, and his work is useful. Mr Maunder's little treasuries of knowledge are extremely useful. Every one who consults them admires their business-like, systematic structure; and the reason of their excellence may be traced to the good sense of the person, whoever he was, who edited them, in selecting as his workmen mere compilers, who had no acquirements in the matters they compiled about.
But besides taking a date, a spelling of a name, or some general piece of information, from a mere compilation, people like sometimes to read an original piece by one who has reason for what he is writing about. This he will often find in works of reference by going far back. There is many and many a biography in the alphabetical French
and English which has been all merely bold repetition or abridgment since the days of Moreri. Now Moreri's name is sometimes evil spoken of; for no doubt there is an abundance of all kinds of blunders in that ponderous book of his. Yet if, in the latest French or English authorities which boast of great accuracy and supremacy of method, it be the fact, as it often is, that the life of some eminent person has undergone no change except that of translation and abridgment, or both, since it appeared under the auspices of Moreri, then we are bound to say that we would prefer to take it out of Moreri himself, old-fashioned, ignorant, and cumbrous as he is. And by going to the old authorities we may have something better still. If a memoir was originally written by Peter Bayle, and held in possession the mass of quaint learning and curious bitter criticism which he suspended to it in those bulky, well-crammed notes of his, would any one be for a moment contented with some colourless compendium of it made for that latest biographical dictionary, “carefully compiled from the best and most recent authorities, and arranged according to the most approved models"?
LETTERS FROM THE PRINCIPALITIES.
NO. III.-PRINCE COUZA'S COUP D'ÉTAT.
"Her Majesty has been engaged, in concert with the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia, in an endeavour to bring to effect an amicable arrangement of differences which had arisen between the Hospodar of Moldo-Wallachia and his suzerain, the Sultan. Her Majesty has the satisfaction to inform you that this endeavour has been successful."-Queen's Speech, July 1864.
IT is a serious undertaking in these days of railroads, when we are spoiled by luxurious locomotion, to post from Jassy to Bucharest. The journey usually occupies from forty-eight to sixty hours, according to the state of the roads and rivers. As the first are not macadamised, and the latter are not bridged, the length of the journey is as uncertain in bad weather as a voyage round the Cape, and may even last a week. My companion and myself were fortunate in having the dust, not mud, to contend with, and in a light open carriage passed most successfully over more than two hundred miles of plain.
Though there is scarcely any variety in the scenery, the journey is not so monotonous as might be supposed. In the first place, the speed was great, and the exhilaration it produced lessened the fatigue, and there was a sufficient novelty in the sights and incidents of travel to amuse us. We left Moldavia at Fokshanee, a large Eastern-looking town, containing 23,000 inhabitants, and entered the plains of Wallachia, where the aspect of the people was even more Oriental than that of those we had just left. Villages of detached houses, each surrounded by its own fence, are grouped over the landscape-a few scattered clumps of trees relieve its monotony. Vast expanses of Indian corn tinge with a yellow hue whole tracts of country. Ungainly poles project in all directions, marking the sites of wells. Near these gypsies congregate in huts dug out of the ground, and thatched over. Sometimes the VOL. XCVI.—NO. DLXXXVII.
country is so dry that only certain wells furnish the necessary supply. This happened to be the case when we passed over it. Upon more than one occasion we found the post-station deserted, and went on a voyage of discovery for horses. A sort of instinct seemed to lead our postilions, even by night, to the well they had chosen, though there was no road to guide them, and the wells seemed always exactly like each other. When at last we dug out the postmaster from his gypsy hovel, he was not unfrequently obliged to go on a search for horses, and at the end of an hour or so would come back cracking his whip and driving his herd before him. Then a wild creature would bestride a wheeler and go off with a yell, at a pace that made the carriage rock again, and seem as a sort of rough cradle to its occupants. Now and then we entered a town, and were a source of eager curiosity to the inhabitants. Unable to speak the language, our efforts at post-stations to explain our wishes always caused amusement; and a most inconvenient trick they have got in these provinces, of putting the posthouse outside the town, and as far as possible from any house of public entertainment, does not add to the traveller's comfort.
It was five o'clock in the morning when we rumbled into Bucharest, and knocked up the French landlord of the most fashionable hotel in that gay metropolis. Bucharest is too well known and too much visited to need any description. There is no other town where the civilisations of the East 2 A
and the West meet in such close contact and in such singular contrast-where the society, imbued with the habits and associations of Oriental luxury and magnificence, adds to these the refinements and extravagances of Paris, and exaggerates the faults and follies of both. Still here, as at Jassy, the traveller has no reason to complain. The constitution of society is almost exactly the same as in the sister Principality; and though they see, through the medium of jealousy, each other's faults with great distinctness, to the stranger, uninfluenced by prejudice in favour of either, there is very little to choose between them. The vices of both are too painfully distinct to be ignored, the hospitality too lavish and open-handed not to excite the deep regret that their defects should be so apparent. There is no city in Europe which is the centre of more political intrigue than Bucharest. The reason is clear. The principality of which it is the capital seems expressly designed to be the European stumbling-block. Every political agent in Bucharest is conscious that his Government regards the country to which he is accredited in a different light from any other, from the fact that a protectorate exists of a peculiarly compromising character. There are certain stipulations which Prince Couza is bound to observe towards his own people, but which he never does-certain others which he is bound to observe towards the protecting Powers, but which he never does. The protecting Powers themselves have certain obligations to fulfil towards each other, which they endeavour by every means in their power to evade. Everybody from Prince Couza downwards is trying to "do" somebody else. He says himself, with great frankness, that, with no less than five great Powers protecting him, it is very hard if he cannot get his own way; and he has always managed to get it, for he has always succeeded in exciting the jealousy of one, and by these means securing
its support and countenance in his unconstitutional, not to say nefarious, designs. The result is, that he laughs at the remonstrances addressed to him by the other Powers, and their agents are placed in a position correspondingly humiliating. He has duped each protecting Power in turn, so that there is not one of them which even, while it uses him, trusts him. With consummate dexterity he lulls even his great model the French Emperor into security, just at the moment when he has allowed himself to be bribed by Russia for some special job; nor will he shrink from betraying his Muscovite employer a week afterwards in the most unblushing way. A colonel in the Moldavian militia, employed in a subordinate capacity at Galatz, at the moment when, to his intense astonishment, he was elected to his present high position, he got off the billiard-table upon which he usually passed the night, to ascend the thing which, by a figure of speech, is called the throne, at Bucharest, and here he reposes, much to his own satisfaction. He is certainly adapted by Providence, by reason of the impervious nature of his hide, the extreme elasticity of his conscience, and the subtlety of his inventive faculties, to rule over the most thick-skinned, the most unscrupulous, and the cunningest race in Europe. The history of his ascension to the high position he occupies, is characteristic enough. By the constitution guaranteed by the Powers at the Congress of Paris, the Principalities were united by a mere titular union, and public powers were confided in each principality to an elective native hospodar and an elective assembly. As there was no actual provision against one prince for both principalities, however, it was determined to try the experiment in spite of the anticipated opposition of the Porte, and one of the Ghikas was secretly fixed upon as the future prince. Meantime an outsider was selected as first choice; and as it was calculated that the Porte would be cer
tain to reject him, Ghika was kept in reserve. However, the plotters were as usual too clever, and to their dismay the Porte ratified the choice of the Moldavian colonel, whose Florentine father and Greek mother did not add pedigree to his other qualifications.
The first impression which the countenance of Prince Couza makes upon the mind of the stranger is, that it is an extremely low-bred one. The next, that he must have a conscience concealed in some part of his person, for he never ventures to look you in the face. The next, that he has put on his best clothes for your especial benefit, and does not feel at all comfortable in them. The next, that you would not care to travel alone with him much by night in the more lonely part of his dominions, if you had bills to any large amount about you. The next, that both by day and night, with boon companions, he would be extremely good company, and ready for any mischief which might be proposed. Then, as you go on talking to him, you find that he is by no means a fool, and that though his policy is shortsighted and unpatriotic, still he has a very definite plan of action, and one sufficiently well adapted to the race he governs. "Set a thief to catch a thief," is a proverb which finds its practical application in these countries, where it would need an expert" like the Prince to plunder successfully the gang of Daco - Roumains, of which he is chief. This is really why he is so unpopular. In this land of sharpers there is no getting round his Highness; therefore they crave for some foreign sprig of royalty who would be a nice pigeon, and allow everybody to feather their nests at his expense. Now, though Couza would discard from his councils any man who refused to peculate, upon the principle that the "official band" would be demoralised by the intrusion of one honest man, yet he limits their plunder, and takes more than the lion's share for himself. Then by
constantly changing them, he prevents any one of them becoming too rich and independent. Thus, since 1858, Prince Couza has changed the entire personnel of his Cabinet twenty times. The reason for this, he will tell you, is, that they do not understand the working of the constitution, and that they are too unscrupulous to be trusted. In fact, if the officials want an innocent foreigner to rule over them, the Prince would like simpleminded strangers as his ministers, who would not perpetually keep trying to take more loot than was due to them. Thus not only has he changed his Cabinet twenty times in five years, but he has changed his whole Chamber three times, because they will keep asking him for a budget. Now this is a sort of impertinence no rightminded Daco - Roumanian ruler can tolerate. The notion of having to account to the Chambers for the revenues of the country, is an idea too absurd to be entertained, although by the terms of the convention, which forms the basis of the constitution, he is bound to do
Since the day he ascended the throne, he has never condescended to give the slightest information to any one as to the destination of the revenues of the country; and when the Chamber becomes inconveniently inquisitive, he dissolves them, finally shutting their mouths for an indefinite period, by the introduction of universal suffrage upon the French system.
The fact is, that constitutional government in these countries would be impossible, even if it were attempted by the most patriotic and conscientious ruler. There is not a population in Europe more totally disqualified for the duties and responsibilities of self-government. No traveller who has ever visited them, or foreigner who has ever resided among them, holds a different opinion. One of the best authorities on the subject is General Kotzebue, who endeavours to take the view most favourable to
them generally, and whose long experience entitles his estimation of the national character and capacities to some weight. "Après avoir passé de longues années dans les Principautés de Moldavie et de Wallachie, après avoir voué une affection sincère à leurs habitans, et les connaissant au fond avec leurs bonnes qualités, j'affirme qu'ils ne peuvent pas se gouverner eux-mêmes."
The first effect of railway and telegraphic communication is to make every country, however uncivilised and retrograde, fancy itself as fit for free institutions as the most advanced with which it is in connection.
The mongrel population of these provinces would have been content to remain badly governed by their own boyards, and tributary to the Porte for an indefinite period, were it not that the nationality idea is continually flashed along the telegraphic wires from Paris to Bucharest. If the fine ladies of Roumania, with the latest bonnets and flounces, could not get to Giurgevo from Paris by steam, we should probably never have heard of this same Roumania. But now they want a court upon the model of the Tuileries, as if a prince modelled after the Parisian Emperor was not enough to satisfy them. After all, it would be as unjust to Couza to deny that he was quite good enough for the race he governs, as to say that the French nation and their ruler were not perfectly matched. One may say of the Hospodar with Cassius, "And why should Couza be a tyrant, then?
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf
But that he sees the Roumains are but sheep. He were no lion were not Roumains hinds."
If you ask Prince Couza to explain to you his policy, he will enter upon the subject with great frankness and a most seductive plausibility. He will begin to describe to you his countrymen in
the blackest possible colours, and having ascribed to their conduct the worst conceivable motives, will make his own appear favourable by the very force of the contrast. "How," he will ask, in the most plaintive terms, plaintive terms, "can I develop the resources of the country, when my Chamber won't vote me money? How can I contract for railways with foreigners, when no bill can pass the House unless every man who votes for it sees his way to making money by it? How can I get a decent Cabinet together, when the very limited class of boyards to which my choice is confined, are perpetually intriguing against each other and against me? How can I protect myself or my country against wholesale robbery, unless I am up to all the moves of the game? What is the good of patriotism, if there is no other patriot in the country but me? I should simply become a victim. I can best serve my country by crushing the class which impede my government, thwart my designs, and bleed the country without benefiting it; so here goes, on the 2d of next December, for a coup d'état on the exact date and on the exact model of my imperial patron and august example, the Emperor Louis Napoleon."
In answer to all which charges the Chambers reply: "Be constitutional, and we will vote at once more liberal laws than you propose; we will introduce a more complete measure for the amelioration of the condition of the peasants, and a more extended electoral law; but we must first be guaranteed against an arbitrary régime, and we refuse to act unless our liberties are secured to us;" at the same time they point to the measures which they have already passed as a proof of the sincerity of their professions. "It was the Assembly which took the initiative of the rural law and of the electoral reform. There was unanimity in the Chamber for declaring the peasants proprietors of a certain amount of land on pay