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ment of an indemnity. There was a discussion only upon the quantum of the land, and the form of the indemnity. In the same manner the Chambers wished to extend the franchise, but at the same time to guarantee the independence of the electoral body, and to avoid administrative interference." The Chambers maintain that their only reason for refusing to continue the discussion of laws so important to the future of the country, was the presence of an unconstitutional ministry, whose violent acts announced its intention of exciting social struggles at the risk of a general massacre.
Circumstances over which he had no control prevented Prince Couza from an imitation of the Emperor, which should extend even to perpetrating his coup d'état, on the anniversary of the day selected by our illustrious ally; but in so far as the machinery by which the trick was accomplished was concerned, it was imported direct from Paris.
A vote of want of confidence, which was proposed in the Chambers, was met by the Prime Minister, Mr Cogalnitchano, by a very simple expedient. In order to prevent the vote being taken at the end of the debate, he proceeded to read a paper dissolving the house, on which there was a tumult, which so frightened the Premier, who is not more distinguished for courage than his countrymen generally, that he fairly fled the house, leaving his hat behind him in his hurry; but he had taken the precaution to station soldiers and police outside the building, and they, pouring in, cleared the Chambers in a moment, expelling in a most summary manner the Vice-President, Mr Catargi, and substituting for a division a diversion in the House.
Next, in order that the vote might go smoothly in the desired direction, the Prince issued a decree, placing the press under surveillance, while the police went about beating drums and proclaiming to the people that "all political meetings or
conversations were forbidden, under penalty of imprisonment without form of trial." Having thus cleared the way for a free vote, his Highness submitted to his subjects two complicated projects of law, comprising about a hundred articles, effecting a complete revolution in the constitution which had been guaranteed to the Principalities at the Congress of Paris, and which necessarily involved changes upon which it was impossible to vote a simple yes or no; moreover, so elaborate were they, that, even with the best intentions, it would have been impossible for the peasantry, whom they principally affected, to understand them. However, as the machinery was constructed that did not matter, for the majority of the peasantry did not vote at all-the Administration voted for them. Those who did were asked the simple question, If they wished to become proprietors or not? In the towns all kinds of persons, without any rights strangers, domestics, and children-voted, and often in two or three arrondissements at once. The police went from house to house with two registers of the vote, but refused the negative register, and went away without allowing persons who wished it to vote. The statute which embodied these fundamental changes in the constitution, to respect which Prince Couza had sworn by oaths as sacred as a Roumain can take or a Frenchman can break, established an elective assembly upon the model of the French Legislative Body, and an Upper House or Senate composed of the Metropolitan, the Diocesan Bishops, the President of the Court of Cassation, the senior generals of the army, and sixty-four members selected by the Prince-half of them on the ground of merit, and the other half out of the members of the district councils. The members of this House are paid at the rate of thirty shillings a-day; and in order to keep them in proper order, and duly amenable to the Prince, a third of their number is renewed
every two years. The President of the House of Representatives is named by the Prince, who reserves to himself the supreme control of both Chambers. In him alone is vested the right of initiating new laws; and it is expressly stipulated that if the budget is not voted by the Chamber, it shall be calculated upon the same scale as that of the previous year, and applied irrespective of the vote. The Ministers sit ex officio in the Chambers, and are not responsible. By the 5th article of the statute, they must be listened to whenever they wish to speak. They merely offer projects of law for discussion, but not for approval or rejection.
The electoral system introduced by the Prince is a sort of mixture of every experiment on the suffrages of a population which has ever been tried in France. One result is, that the peasants can vote who pay the capitation tax, which includes nearly them all; while in the towns the qualification is placed so high as to exclude the greater part of the artisans, a class always looked upon by despots as dangerous.* It was not likely that the urban population would have voted in favour of a statute depriving them of the right they had hitherto enjoyed of voting. Yet, that such is the case, is proved by the fact that there is only one-fifth the number of voters in Bucharest now that there were formerly. Perhaps the following order issued to the army had something to do with the docility of the people in the matter of voting :—
"I have dissolved it.
"The whole nation is called upon to declare its will. Your duty is to maintain public order, and to see that the will of the Roumains may be freely expressed. Show yourselves, as always, faithful preservers of order and discipline.
"Having restrained so long-thanks to your unshakable fidelity-bad passions, you will now have the honour, not less great, of contributing, by your loyal and energetic attitude, to give the country liberty at last, and to reduce to impotence those who compromise the honour and the dignity of the country.
"The Minister of War, "GENERAL MANO.'
In order to facilitate the above mission," an elaborate decree against the press was issued, forbidding "any bill or pamphlet or squib of any kind to be put in circulation at Bucharest, without the authorisation of the Minister of the
Interior, and, in the country, of the prefects of the districts," and entering into the details of a most rigorous press censorship.
violated the constitution can best The extent to which Prince Couza Count Walewski's circular, dated be appreciated by a reference to the 20th August 1858, explaining the principles of the convention which had been agreed upon by the Powers as embodying the system of administration in Moldo-Wallachia.
"I should," says the French Foreign Minister, "make you imperfectly acquainted with the essential characteristics of the Convention of the 19th of August, if I did not add that the principles of 1789, based upon our civil and public right, were fundamentally repro
*A peasant paying 48 piastres (tax) has a vote. The citizens of a town containing from 3000 to 15,000 inhabitants, must pay 80 piastres for the same privilege; and if the town contains more than 15,000 inhabitants, the qualification is 110 piastres.
duced. An elective assembly voting laws and controlling budgets; responsible ministers; equality before the law, and in the matter of taxation; the enjoyment of political and religious liberty; the liberty of the individual guaranteed; the abolition of class privileges-privileges which have been much abused; the principle of 'permanency' introduced into the magistracy,-these are the principal constitutional measures which have been put in force in the Principalities." It will be seen, from the terms of the decrees upon which the people were compelled to vote, how completely the Prince has upset the constitution as thus described in the French despatch; and, in the face of that document, it is somewhat significant that he has acted throughout under the advice and encouragement he received from Paris. Had he not been sure of support he never would have ventured upon a measure so distasteful both to the Russian and Austrian Governments; and it is worthy of note, that while we stood by and looked on, as we generally do nowadays when important political changes are taking place, the Russian Consul-General was the only foreign agent who protested against Prince Couza's proceedings, thereby securing to Russia the gratitude of the boyards and a large section of the population.
Meantime this prince of adventurers, with an effrontery peculiar to his class, not content with perjuring himself and violating the constitution, issues a proclamation to the nation, beginning "Roumains!" which might have been written to order by Emile Girardin, or some other sensation political scribbler of the Boulevards of Paris. After the arbitrary acts of Couza, it reads almost like a burlesque. No sooner had he turned the Assembly out of doors at the point of the bayonet, than he complains of them thus:
"In vain have I given multiplied proofs of my scrupulous respect for par
dignity, its aspirations, and its urgent, "The interests of the country, its necessities, everything has been sacrificed to culpable passions. As a reward of his devotion to the national cause, the elect of the Roumains has only received outrage and calumny; and in spite of the wisdom of a certain number of deputies, a factious oligarchy has unceasingly thwarted my efforts for the public good, and reduced my Government to impotence.
"What has been left to me to do? I have resolved to try a last appeal to the patriotism of the Assembly. I have wished, as the august signataries of the
treaties which have raised Roumania equality and of justice of our epoch dehave wished, as the great principles of mand, I wished that every Roumain should truly possess, as the price of his labour, a portion of the soil.
"How has the Assembly responded to my project of a rural law? You all know. It passed a vote of censure upon the Government. It is a law of equity, upon which are based the hopes of three millions of peasants. It was the idea of the Chief of the State, represented in the persons of his ministers.
"Such a situation could not last long.
"I wish to make you the judges between the Assembly and the elect of the Roumains. With this object I presented to the Assembly a new electoral law, the utility of which is attested by the Convention itself, and which assures the country a more complete and truly national representation.
"The Assembly refused to discuss this law. It only remains for me to appeal to the nation, to citizens of every rank and class.
"Roumains! you are going to be convoked in your parishes. I submit for your acceptance the new law refused by the Assembly, a project of a statute
which will complete the benevolent dispositions of the Convention. Deliberate peaceably and in all liberty.
"For you-for you alone to decide, if the country should be any longer given up to the sterile agitations which for five years have distracted it, compromised its safety, and prevented all pro
"For you to decide whether the Roumain nation is worthy of the public liberties with which I would endow it, and which a privileged majority has refused.
"For you, Roumains, to show to Europe by your wisdom that we merit the high sympathies which are accorded to us.
"For you to prove that we are really united to-day as on the 5th and 24th of January, in the face of a situation on which the prosperity, the future, and the grandeur of Roumania depend.
"ALEXANDER JEAN, COGALNITCHANO, GENERAL MANO, BALANESCO, ORBESCO, Bo
To one accustomed to watch the working of a plebiscite, it will be seen that the modus operandi presents few features of novelty. Some of the proclamations of Couza are almost identical with those I saw posted up in Savoy and Nice when the populations of those provinces were forced by the Italian mayors and syndics to vote against their will in favour of annexation to France. There is the same claptrap about order and freedom, and calm and dignity, with the same sting in the last sentence, reminding the people that if they don't exercise their freewill in the desired direction they will suffer for it. Thus the Minister of the Interior, addressing the population of Bucharest, in a proclamation, winds up thus :
"Inhabitants of Bucharest! Place all your confidence in your Prince. Today he calls you to the exercise of your political rights. To-morrow, thanks to the support of the future Assembly, elected this time by the entire nation, he will give you peace, and moral and material wellbeing.
"Children of the Capital of Roumania! Be the first to set the example of tranquillity. For myself, I shall
know how to hinder and to punish all those who try to disturb it.
"The Minister of the Interior, "COGALNITCHANO.'
The only ingenuity in the whole performance is, the invention of Roumania, which, it will be observed, Prince Couza crams down his subjects' throats at every moment.
The great moral which the "children," as he properly calls them, of Roumania should draw from the coup d'état is, that they are much better off under the mild sway of the Turks than the harsh despotism of a Roumain. If the Christians who, under various categories, try to define their mongrel breed, but are still Turkish subjects, would only take warning by the fate of the Roumains, they would be satisfied with King Log, instead of wishing for some King Stork in the form of a Sclavonic savage, to be their ruler. The proof of it is, that the boyards of the Principalities are, for the first time in their lives, clinging to their connection with Turkey as their only safeguard against the tyranny of Couza, which they fear may lead to internal revolution and then to foreign occupation. If they were cut adrift from Turkey, they would have no one to look to or to protect them; so the wise thing for Turkey to do, is to offer them entire separation at her earliest convenience. There never was a time when the Porte might drive a better bargain, nor would there be any proposal more distasteful to a large part of the aristocracy of these provinces, than a severance of the tie which binds them to the Porte. Of course, there are still the ardent youth who would like first to cut the connection with the Sultan, and then the throat of their prince; but all sensible people look upon the Turkish suzerainty as their sheet-anchor, and, in the innocence of their souls, they think that by impressing this fact upon the British public they will gain our sympathies. They are still deluded by
the idea that we have a definite Eastern policy as we had once, and that when the Eastern question opens we shall know what course to take. They imagine we have interests at stake in the East which would induce us to interfere in the destiny of their country; and after having lived upon French flummery and ignored our existence all their lives, they now, when we have determined never more to be of the least use to anybody, appeal to us for help, and think that when they threaten us with a crossing of the Pruth and invasion by the Russian army, we shall make as much fuss as we did last time.
There can be no doubt that the absence of any aristocracy of position, character, and prestige in the country rendered the coup d'état of Prince Couza comparatively an easy matter. It is a great mistake to suppose that all the landed property in Wallachia is in the hands of the boyards. Out of a population of two millions and a half, thirty thousand are landed proprietors, of whom only two thousand are boyards; but there are not above thirty families of grand boyards, and of these only nineteen are above thirty years old, so that, practically, the country is without an aristocracy. In Moldavia, the principal families are equally mushroom and interpenetrated with a Fanariote element that does not improve the tone of the political morality of the community. Had the principal authority been made hereditary instead of elective, a great principle of stability would have been imparted to the institutions; but without primogeniture among the socalled aristocracy, you get here, as in most other countries where that institution does not exist, a wretched fainéant class, who are incapable of governing themselves, whose chief object is to prevent anybody else from governing, and who are as incapable of undertaking the responsibilities of constitutional government as of appreciating its advantages.
It was hardly to be expected, therefore, that Prince Couza could have governed in a strictly constitutional form; but it is this servile imitation of the vice of the age which rouses one's indignation. There were other ways of carrying out his policy without prostituting the name of freedom by using it as a screen for acts of tyranny, and coupling it with equality to secure the co-operation of those classes which are the most dangerous to liberty. It is this mockery of the noblest and highest principles of government that outrages one's moral sense, till one is tempted to prefer a Russian bear, about whom there is no disguise, to these wolves in sheep's clothing, who bring discredit on constitutional government, and are at this moment gulling all Europe, by flaunting before them flags upon which nationality and equality are inscribed, and under cover of which they perform acts of tyranny and despotism unobserved. Better be a highway murderer than a thief in the night; then, at least, one knows how to meet the danger : but as for these midnight assassins that strangle a nation's liberties in the dark, real honest freedom cries aloud at the insidious danger, and the era of responsible government seems farther off than ever; for it has been betrayed and discredited by those who openly professed to respect and admire it, but who have secretly hated and feared it, and have made use of large standing armies to destroy it. As for Prince Couza pretending that his coup d'état had anything to do with the rural law, he announced his intention of a coup d'état for the 2d of December, and it did not take place till the first week of May, when the rural law was proposed; moreover, the fact of the Chambers passing a vote of censure upon a project which he had initiated, was, of course, no excuse for the violent dissolution of the legislative bodies.
But the master-stroke of Couza's policy was his visit to Constantino