A history of the Levant Company

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A history of the Levant Company
By Alfred Cecil Wood, 1964

The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Volume 5
By Edwin Ernest Rich, around p. 262

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Der Vampyr, 1829, London Litterary Gazette

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The London Literary Gazzete, no. 658, Saturday, August 29, 1829

p. 572, opera review for “Der Vampyr”, translated from German libret by Wilhelm August Wohlbrück

Carpathians as Krapaks

takes place in Wallachia and Transylvania

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Vampyr

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the celebrated Stephen, 1829

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London literary gazette, Volume 13

pp. 253 sqq.: review of History of Russia and Peter the Great, by General Count Philip de Segur, London, 1829

“Ivan III. wished to be independent out of domains and autocrat within he had therefore numerous enemies among his and his subjects but he succeeded in uniting by turns all these enemies against a one and thus successively subdued the one the other It was necessary for him to Kasan and the Golden Horde to which was yet tributary the great communities Russian republics of Novgorod Pskof Viatka which affected a sovereignty equal to his own lastly the princes kinsmen proud of the appanages which still retained and determined to live in as masters At the same time he had repress Lithuania which was always ready offer to all these hostile ambitions republics and possessors of appanages the protection a sovereignty long the fortunate rival of of Moscow which it had straitened on west the south and even the north by seducing from it successively its great vassals Such were his adversaries For allies he made use at home of his nobles princes and of southern and central Russia inured slavery against his northern subjects were yet free afterwards he employed nobles and his old and new slaves against princes of his blood Lastly his sufficed him against his own boyards when had no longer need of them and whom ceased to fear after the humiliation of other enemies and the creation of a swarm petty nobles his immediate vassals As the Golden Horde and Lithuania his external adversaries he sought enemies for them in Persia in Sweden in Hungary at Vienna and even at Rome but the celebrated Stephen heepodar of Wallachia and Meqghli Ghirei khan of the Crimea who were placed between and in dread of the Golden Horde Turkey and Lithuania were the foes of his foes These then were his natural allies whom he distinguished above all others his Machia velian policy while it incessantly deceived them still contrived to retain them on the side of Bossia and in perpetual hostility with Lithuania till he found the favourable moment for striking it in his tnrn Such were the allies and the opponents of Ivan III.”

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Vallachian gold miners at Oravitza

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Blackwood’s Magazine, vol. 73

pp. 320 sqq.

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Statistics of coal. The geographical and geological distribution of mineral combustibles

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Statistics of coal. The geographical and geological distribution of mineral combustibles or fossil fuel, including also notices and localities of the various mineral bituminous substances, employed in arts and manufactures,
Richard Cowling Taylor, Phyladelphia: J.W.Moore, 193 Chestnut Street, 1848,

p. 320:

“Tertiary lignite beds, worked as Coal–Brown Coal ” in Bessarabia, East Moldavia

p. 568


Wallachia or Valachie in European Turkey but under the Protection of Russia. — Not far from Tchernetz the tertiary beds present the appearance of a pseudo volcano in which the lignite deposits exhibit spontaneous combustion by the decomposition of sulphuret of iron. This combustion occasions a crateriform subsidence. The clay and the sand altered by the fire form scoriaceous masses; stony and even so vitrified as to produce a sort of jasper porcelain [note: M Huot Bulletin de la Soc Geol de France Vol X p 153]

Coal .– Several beds occur in the mountainous parts of Wallachia, towards the northern boundary formed by the primitive Carpathian mountains.

Lignite Bitumin Asphaltum Amber and Fossil Wax occur in the supercretaceous formations of the plains.

Naphtha or Petroleum springs also prevail in this province.

Moldavia — Principality united with Wallachia .– Coal in the bordering Carpathian mountains. Also lignite and bitumen in the plains similar to Wallachia.”

pp. 321-322:
amber in lignite in Wallachia

p. 608:
lack of quality coal in Russia, being imported from England

“The small coal for the sugar refinery business in Russia heretofore has been almost exclusively supplied from England it being the cheapest fuel that the manufacturers can obtain It was stated before a committee of Parliament in 1829 that this branch of manufacture in Russia was mainly dependent on the supply of English coal of the above description The quantity of English coal is annually increasing for the use of gas and sugar works.”

p. 609:
Bessarabia or Eastern Moldavia, the most south western Province of Russia in Europe
Lignite Upon one of the gulfs of the Danube named Yalpong in the lower part of Bessarabia, 50 versts from Ismail and opposite the town of [Bender ?] [sic], a great deposit of lignite was discovered by M. Lichfeldt. This fossil wood may become of great importance in that part of Russia now entirely deprived of forests. It occurs in a tertiary formation lying horizontally between coarse sand and calcareous clay. This lignite exists in the form of fossile masses of a greyish colour but passing in the lower portions into a deep black. In the upper parts are found quantities of the debris of wood, covered with bark; the pieces pressed upon one another and intermixed with the husks of grain. This wood is thought to be that of the lime tree. It lies nearly horizontal, as before stated, its roof being formed of the calcareous clay which is filled with many fossil shells. In the floor is a thin seam of resinous clay also containing shells.”

p. 735:
“Lignites, and fossilized trees, and plants not mined as coal” in Wallachia

p. 713:
“Asphalte or Asphaltum in Moldavia,568 in Wallachia, 568″

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The Mining and smelting magazine, Volume 5, Current review, p. 173, Wallachian Petroleum Company

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The Mining and smelting magazine, Volume 5, 1864, Current review, p. 173

WALLACHIA. — A new company has been formed called the Wallachian Petroleum Company which has for its object the importation of petroleum from a new source which is stated to be fully equal to the Pennsylvanian. The project has been formed by a reconstruction of the Earth Oil Import Company (Limited) The advantage of the efficient transport service organised by the old company will thus be secured together with all the grants and concessions It is mentioned that “the grantees and contractors are under contract with the company for fifteen years to deliver the oil at Ibraila at 5l. per ton in consideration of their sharing with the company in equal moieties the nett profits derived from the sale on this side — an arrangement calculated to insure a large profit to the shareholders and which will prevent the necessity on the part of this company of any but a very small outlay in plant” and that the supply of oil will be “regular and almost unlimited.” The capital is 120,000l. in 12,000 shares of 10l. each, the bulk of which has already been taken.

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Mineral wealth of Wallachia, Mining Magazine, VIII, 1857, p.298

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Mining Magazine, VIII, 1857, p.298

“Mineral wealth of Wallachia

Mercury abounds in the neighbourhood of Pitescti, and among other locations in the district of Gorgia. At Baia, Amina, Kraschne, &c, iron and pyrites are found. The Austrians had undertaken the working of the iron and copper and quicksilver mines when they occupied the principalities, but all is now abandoned. At Gesseni there are coal mines. At Denle and Roche very fine amber is found. There is some bad bitumen at a short distance from Bucharest, but that which has been used in the lame and impotent attempt to make decent trottoirs in the city came from the Dead Sea. Stone is scarce and bad; the sort generally met with is an agglomeration of calcareous and silicious molecules, spongy and coarse in structure, and utterly unable to resist the action of the weather. Hence the tumble-down, dilapidated appearance of all the houses in Bucharest. Chalk is abundant. The rock salt of Wallachia is magnificent, and is found in masses of immense size. Three mines are worked at preset, partly by convicts and partly by free laborers, and from these have been taken every year, time out of memory, more than 20,000,000 okas, an oka being about 2 lbs. 14 ozs, avoirdupois. The mines are monopolized by the Government, and the royalty of them annually is not less than 18,000,000 of piastres, a piastre being about 4d. English money.”

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Vegezzi Ruscalla

Posted on September 14th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

online article, reproduced here with permission from Serban Marin, © Şerban Marin, March 2004, Bucharest, Romania

p. 392

Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla between two Motherlands – Italy and Romania
Alin Ciupală,
University of Bucharest

Generally, the Romanian historiography tends to consider the French cultural and political space as a model for the formation of the Romanians in the 19th century. While the German culture is also acknowledged a certain role settled at a considerable distance and especially in connection with “Junimea”, Italy and Great Britain are neglected almost to oblivion. The efforts made by Ramiro Ortiz or Alexandru Marcu, in their case real works, or more recent attempts referring to the British influence on the Romanian culture[1], only prompted a relative interpretation of the issue by the small number of specialists.

The case of Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla is eloquent on this line. Almost forgotten today and recalled especially by Italianists in their studies, Ruscalla was an enduring friend devoted to the cause of the Romanians, at a time when Romania was in need of voices to make it known in Europe. He inaugurated in Italy the range of Romanophiles, which would include personalities such as Marc Antonio Canini or Angelo de Gubernatis, the good friend of B. P. Hasdeu whom he visited later on in his Câmpina castle.

He was born in Turin, in 1799, in an impoverished family, which pushed him to take his fate in his own hands at an early age. He chose a civil servant career in the diplomatic service[2], the place where he had most probably the opportunity to get in touch with the first information about the Romanians. His diplomatic career obliged him to unravel the meanings of the European policy in an era that heralded the definition of the principle of nationalities, which was later on applied in order to solve the unity of Italy and of Romania.

Like the Romanian militants of 1848, whom he largely knew and was in touch with, Ruscalla was not only a politician, but also a man of letters, the two aspects being happily intermingled in a whole easy to find everywhere in Europe at that time. The climax of his political career came up in 1860, when he was elected deputy in the Italian Parliament. He dedicated the last period of his life especially to the literary activity and the successful attempts to transmit to his elder daughter, Ida Melisurgo-Ruscalla, the sympathy for, and the interest in the Romanians. He passed away in 1885.

Ruscalla embarked upon a lengthy and fruitful series of contacts with the Romanians probably by the beginning of the fourth decade of the 19th century, during a

p. 393

trip to Transilvania and Banat, on which occasion he picked up the basics of the Romanian language. Passionate about Romance philology, the similarities between Italian and Romanian were to arouse his interest, as well as his wish to popularize in his country the Romanian literature unknown there. For that purpose, in November 1845 he asked George Bariţiu[3], the editor of “Gazeta de Transilvania” to which Ruscalla had subscribed, to set him in touch with someone willing to alleviate the difficulties connected with the absence of bibliography.

Actually, our author was perfectly aware of the point of view of the French and German scholars, and now he wanted to get acquainted also with the stand of the Romanian philologists. Bariţiu’s answer inaugurated a friendship continued through letters and direct meetings, as it happened during Bariţiu’s studies in Italy. He had the same relation with another 1848 militant from Transilvania, Alexandru Papiu-Ilarian, whom he had met during the latter’s studies in Padua, and whose paper “The constitutional independence of Transilvania” he published after 1848. From the beginning, the Romanians, too little known, were considered “outposts of the Latin Europe”[4], and similarly the Italian culture did not enjoy much attention from the Romanians, which rendered Ruscalla “twice happy if he could be the instrument likely to arouse the love for the Italian language and literature among the young men in Wallachia.”

His activity of popularization of the Romanian language and literature in Italy was important and it is not yet fully known, because his studies and articles were published in various newspapers and magazines, starting with “Rivista Contemporanea”, which chief editor he was, to magazines quite obscure today. As he himself wrote in a letter to V. Alecsandri, “I started speaking about the Romanians at a time when they were considered Turks, Slavs or Tartars here”[5], and his efforts were constants.

The change in the international policy, as it happened on the occasion of the Peace Congress in Paris, in 1856, when the Romanian and the Italian problems had become European issues, was a new opportunity for Ruscalla to make himself heard speaking in favor of the Romanians. The articles published in “Lo Spetattore” or “Il Mondo Letterario” are a proof thereof[6]. Even later on, when the independence was gained and the Romanian state was proclaimed, the Italian octogenarian carried on, “with the energy of a youngster”[7], the propaganda in favor of the Romanians. Mention would be worthy that today, the theory of the common origin of the two languages, Romanian and Italian, appears to us natural and self-evident, but at that time the situation was not

p. 394

similar at all, and Ruscalla’s pioneering work deserves once again to be considered at its real value.

Apart from the cultural propaganda in favor of the Romanians, Vegezzi Ruscalla provided an intense political activity in his double capacity, that of a publicist and a politician. As a publicist, he backed the national movement of the Romanians in Transilvania against the articles published by the Hungarians in Italy[8], in an epoch when the Government in Vienna had liberalized, after 1861, the political regime, in the attempt to reform the state.

The reform of the electoral law of the Empire gave the Romanians the chance of the Romanian “Dieta” of Sibiu in 1863, a chance which unfortunately failed but which would definitely open up the road to the moment 1867. The Hungarian pressure was directed not only against the Imperial Government, but also against the European diplomatic circles, especially through the media, and Ruscalla tried to offset this action in Italy. In the media confrontation, of whose importance the Romanians had become aware and which they were to use in the case of the Memorandum, their friend from Turin played an important part because he presented a different point of view.

The union of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859 and the emergence of the Romanian state occasioned to our hero an outburst of enthusiasm, which he transmitted to Vasile Alecsandri[9]. Concurrently, he proposed to intervene directly with the Italian Prime Minister, Count of Cavour, whose chief of staff was Ruscalla’s son in law, Constantino Nigra. He drew the attention to the complicate European political situation and recommended to exchange the messages through the Italian Legations in Berlin or Constantinople to prevent their falling into the hands of the Austrian police.

An understanding between Italy and Romania was necessary, in his opinion, especially that “the future is dark, but if the nations advance in unity, if France gets imbued with the importance of the hegemony of the Latin race, we shall surmount the obstacles.” Interesting to note appears the fact that Ruscalla drew the attention to the external policy waged by Napoleon III, ready to yield Romania to Austria, in exchange for the Veneto region[10].

In spite of the support granted by France to the Italian cause, the Italian diplomat remains the same cool observer of the European policy and notes, like his contemporary C. A. Rosetti and in spite of some passionate Francophiles, the danger that accompanies France’s attempt to pursue its interests of a great power. His prudence in relation with the attitude of Emperor Napoleon III is due also to his repeal of the excessive authority of the latter, which displeased him also in the case of Alexandru Ioan Cuza.

His liberal spirit prompted him to oppose the methods through which Cuza censured the press, which explains why, like the Italians, the Romanians rebelled against the Prince in February 1866[11]. The information, learnt also through his son-in-law C. Nigra, who now represented Italy in Paris, was communicated to the Romanian

p. 395

politicians, and he considered himself “happy to be able to contribute to Romania’s development.”

Of the numerous Romanians with whom he was in contact, 1848 militants or from the period of the Constitutional monarchy, some of them being known to him personally, he had a special relation with Vasile Alecsandri. He knew the work of the latter; actually he had translated and published excerpts of it as early as 1855, and had been enticed by the literary gift of the poet. He had also expressed his admiration directly, through letters mediated by Ioan Bălăceanu who had preceded Alecsandri as a diplomat in Italy.

The trip made by the poet to the Peninsula was determined by the diplomatic efforts made by the new ruler Al. I. Cuza to obtain the acknowledgement of the union and of his double election in January 1859. Arriving in Turin and received with all the due honors, V. Alecsandri was introduced in the political Italian circles by Ruscalla who was to back him also in his future missions until 1861. The relation between Ruscalla and Nigra was important because the latter had become one of the decision-makers in the Italian policy, and remained active also after the death of Cavour. The Romanian poet was grateful to his Turin friend both for the unconditional political support granted to him, and the unreserved admiration declared in the articles dedicated to him.

A less known detail is that Alecsandri had enthusiastically embraced Ruscalla’s idea regarding the Italian origin of the poet’s family. Ruscalla’s wife originated in a family called Alessandrini of Monferrat, which made him write in a letter to Alecsandri “we are connected in one more way”[12]. The similarity of the two names was accidental, but what mattered for Vasile Alecsandri was only the substance of the argument advanced by his friend, ultimately a philologist. The intention of Ruscalla was to find one more argument to strengthen an already sound friendship, although it also determined the poet to re-write his biography, even if that stirred the irony of some of his contemporaries. Back to his country, Alecsandri made known the effort of his Italian friend in favor of the cause of the Romanians and had a laudable initiative that we will mention hereafter. If the Romanian had an ally in the person of Ruscalla in the relations with Cavour, the latter also introduced the Italian to Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza who recognized his merits.

In the autumn of the year 1865, Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla requested Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza to be granted the position of unofficial agent, in order to have the possibility to approach “all the ministries, and initiate useful treaties between the two states”[13], which would have conferred more importance to the steps taken by him with the Italian authorities. His arguments were related not only to the sincerity of his feelings towards the Romanians, but also to the political and diplomatic experience in an epoch which announced a new, decisive war between Russia and Austria, with important consequences for the European policy. The rushing events in Romania and

p. 396

the changing of the political regime in Bucharest prevented him from receiving an official answer.

But not the same thing happened with the collaboration between the Moldavian Government of Cuza and Ruscalla on the issue of the Romanian students in Italy. Actually, a review of the Romanophile activity of the Italian cavalier can be the starting point of an investigation of the Italian archives in view of a solid study of the importance of Italy in the formation of the Romanian intellectuality of the 19th century.

The Minister of Religious Affairs and Public Instruction of Moldavia, Cuciureanu, aware of the activity of the Turinese, approached him in May 1861 with the request to accept the position of inspector of the Romanian students sent with scholarships to study in Turin, the first group leaving in the autumn 1860[14]. Ruscalla accepted the proposal and declared himself “always able to satisfy the wishes of your government and to be, in case of need, the advocate and trustee of the young Romanian students”[15]. He said he was willing to take care of the Wallachian students to fulfill in that way “an intimate wish of the two nations of ours.”

Among the students he had already known he mentioned Alexandrescu Urechia, to whom he added later on, in a letter to Vasile Boerescu dated 1863, the names of Vernescu and Rosiu. Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza was to send to him in June 1861 the decree by which he was appointed “the correspondent of Our Government in the relations of the country with the establishments in Italy” as a sign of “gratitude for the brotherly feelings which inspire him for our national interests”[16]. Probably, the person who contributed not only to sending the Romanian students to Italy[17] but also to choosing Ruscalla to act as an inspector with them had been Vasile Alecsandri. The contact with the Romanian students also inspired him to organize a course in Romanian language and literature starting in 1863 at the University of Turin, which he partially published later on[18]. His training as a Romance scholar was completed, also thanks to the documents sent by Romanian friends, with that of a scholar of the Romanian language, maybe the first one to have such interests.

The cultural and didactic activity did not determine him to abandon the political action, enhanced by the outburst of the Russian-Turkish war of 1878-1879, to which Romania, pushed by its wish to obtain its independence, was also a party. In Rome, in 1879, Ruscalla proposed to establish an Italian-Romanian committee[19], to support the cause of the Romanians. Once again he remained faithful to his slogan already quoted by us, chosen as early as his first letter to George Bariţiu: “we are a people of brothers.”

p. 397

The merits of Vegezzi Ruscalla have been severally acknowledged in Romania, where he was designated to represent Romania at Ravenna on the occasion of the celebration of 600 years since the birth of Dante Alighieri[20], declared honorary citizen of Romania through the law of March 8, 1863[21], elected as honorary member of the Romanian Academy in 1869 and decorated with “Steaua României” by King Charles I[22]. In all these occasions Ruscalla succeeded to assert himself as a landmark in the conscience of his Romanian contemporaries. Whether we refer to Dimitrie Bolintineanu who sent him his books and compared the French professor Chasles, another forgotten Romanophile, to Ruscalla[23], or to Titu Maiorescu who encouraged him to read “Anuarul României” of Iaşi, a gymnasium whose director he was[24], or even to Ion Ghica, Alexandru G. Golescu and many others, all of them saw a friend and a model in Ruscalla.

Italian by origin and Romanian through his work, Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla deserves the gratitude not only of his Romanian contemporaries, but also of our own.

For this material, permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use.

Whether you intend to utilize it in scientific purposes, indicate the source: either this web address or the Annuario. Istituto Romeno di cultura e ricerca umanistica 5 (2003), edited by Şerban Marin, Rudolf Dinu, Ion Bulei and Cristian Luca, Bucharest, 2004

No permission is granted for commercial use.

[1] Clara Liliana Dragoş, Anglia-model în cultura română (1800-1850), Bucharest: Tehnică, 1996; idem, Conexiuni româno-engleze şi ideea de Europa, Cluj-Napoca: Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă, 2002.

[2] The most complete biography of G. V. Ruscalla is in Teodor Onciulescu, “G. Vegezzi Ruscalla e i romeni”, Ephemeris daco-romani 9 (1940): 351-445.

[3] Ioan Chindriş, “Scriitori străini în arhive româneşti. Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla”, Manuscriptum 9 (1978), 2: 170-171.

[4] Ibidem: 172.

[5] Scrisori către Vasile Alecsandri (edited by Marta Anineanu), Bucharest: Minerva, 1978: 422.

[6] Alexandru Marcu, Romanticii italieni şi românii, Bucharest: Cultura Naţională, 1924: 94.

[7] Costin Brăescu, L’Italia in Romania, Roma, 1881: 11.

[8] Marcu, op. cit.: 137.

[9] Scrisori către Vasile Alecsandri, cit.: 425; Marcu, V. Alecsandri şi Italia, Bucharest: Cultura Naţională, 1927: 98-99.

[10] Chindriş, op. cit.: 174-175.

[11] Ibidem.

[12] Letter of January 6 ,1858 published by Marcu, op. cit.: 97.

[13] Chindriş, op. cit.: 173.

[14] Arhivele Naţionale Istorice Centrale, fund Ministerul Cultelor şi Instrucţiunii Publice, file 342/1861: 12.

[15] Ibidem: 3.

[16] Ibidem: 14.

[17] Marcu, “Mentorul studenţilor moldoveni de la Torino (1860-1861)”, in În amintirea lui Vasile Pârvan, Bucharest, 1934: 181.

[18] Idem, Romanticii italieni, cit.: 94.

[19] Ibidem: 139.

[20] Ibidem: 94.

[21] Onciulescu, op. cit.: 418.

[22] Brăescu, op. cit.: 11.

[23] Documente şi manuscrise literare (edited by Paul Cornea and Elena Piru), vol. I, Bucharest: Academiei, 1967: 112-115.

[24] Titu Maiorescu, Jurnal şi epistolar (edited by Georgeta Rădulescu-Dulgheru and Domnica Filimon), IV, Bucharest: Minerva, 1983: 155.

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Moldavian Railways, Life and labours of Mr. Brassey (1874), Helps, Arthur, Sir, Galatz Roman

Posted on September 14th, 2009 by admin and filed under Railway

Sir Arthur Helps, Life and labours of Mr. Brassey, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1874

marginalia omitted or between {} when informative

[p. 258]

(A.D. 1858-64.)

Every railway, or group of railways, the construction of which has been mentioned in this work, has been intended to illustrate some special circumstance of railway formation. The Moldavian Railways are now brought forward in order to show the difficulties of negotiation which often precede the construction of railways or any other public works.

In December 1858, M. Adolphe de Herz, then of Frankfort, addressed Mr. Netlam Giles a letter, proposing the formation (through Mr. Brassey), of a company for constructing a railway from the Austrian Carl-Ludwig Rail way, at Lemberg, in Galicia, to Czernowitz

[p. 259]

and the Bukowina frontier of Austria ; and thence, through Moldavia, by Roman to Galatz on the Lower Danube, with branches to Jassy (the capital), and to the salt mines of Okna.

This railway was to be upwards of 500 miles long, and roughly estimated would cost about 6,5oo,ooo l.

In the reply to M. Adolphe de Herz, delay was suggested on the ground that, in the face of the Emperors speech to the Austrian mbassador on the 1st instant, it was utterly impossible to hope that capitalists would at that moment entertain the question of constructing Austrian railways.

It was urged upon M. de Herz that he should not press his project now: ” wait a few weeks : ” it was said, ” we shall either have war or peace : nothing can be worse than the present uncertainty : no one will listen to you now ; not even if you offer diamonds for chalk stones.”

If it were not a too self-evident proposition, one might dilate upon the injury to all good work effected by war, or by the fear of war.

[p. 260]

The Emperor of France, on his fete day, makes a remark, which is not supposed to be friendly, to the Austrian Ambassador, and
immediately a good work, for distant Moldavia, is set aside.

The war between France and Piedmont Austria having terminated, the railway negotiations were re-commenced ; but, as the conditions for a concession of the Moldavian section of the project had been agreed upon in favour of M. Mavrojeny of Jassy, and as no concession had then been demanded from the Austrian Government of the section from Lemberg to Czernowitz and the Bukowina frontier, it was decided that efforts should, in the first instance, be directed towards the construction of the Moldavian {July 1861} section (about 300 miles). Mr. Giles thereupon introduced the project toMessrs. McClean and Stileman, and to Mr. Brassey. Messrs. McClean and Stileman undertook the engineering, and as no surveys existed, Mr. McClean, in that enterprising and liberal spirit which all who know him must recognise, as he, too, has been one of the foremost

[p. 261]

leaders of labour in our time, offered to report upon the line. Accordingly, in September 1861, the whole line from Lemberg to Galatz
was examined by Mr. McClean ; and on November 25, Messrs. McClean and Stileman made a report, recommending the contract for the Moldavian section to be given to Mr. Brassey, Sir Morton Peto, and Mr. Betts at the sum of 2,88o,oool., or 9,6ool.
per mile.

On April 25, 1862, a concession was granted by the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia to M. Mavrojeny and the Prince Leo Sapieha (chairman of the Carl-Ludwig Company), of the Moldavian portion of the above railway (300 miles), with a guarantee
of 6l. per cent, on a capital fixed at 11,584l. per mile.

There was, however, in this concession a condition which rendered it valueless. It was stipulated that the whole 300 miles should
be completed in five years. The Govern ment of the Principalities being only a year old, its credit in the markets of Europe was
not such as to make it in the least degree

[p. 262]

probable that the requisite sum could be raised. Messrs. Glyn, Mr. Brassey and others proposed that the concession should be modified by dividing the line into sections, to be executed successively ; and they offered to provide the funds, and to construct the first section from Galatz to Adjud (80 miles) upon the Government guarantee named above. But the Government refused to modify the
concession. Accordingly, the project in its entirety was laid before the public at the end of June 1862; but they were not attracted by the project, and did not subscribe the requisite capital.

Letter of Prince Sapieha having requested Mr. Brassey s opinion as to the best mode of proceeding, Mr. Brassey addressed to him the following letter :

London : July 1 8, 1862.

Prince, After full consideration of the Moldavian Railway project, it seems that we are both of opinion that there is a serious defect in it ; namely, that it has no junction with your Carl-Ludwig Railway at Lemberg ; and I fear you will have considerable difficulty in obtain
ing the support of the public to an isolated scheme for the Principality of Moldavia.

If a company could be formed for the entire line from

[p. 263]

Lemberg to Galatz, with the branches to Jassy and Okna, it would, I think, be favourably received ; and I venture , to suggest that your Highness endeavour to form a combination with Baron Anselm Rothschild and your friends at Vienna for carrying it out.

You will easily be able to form an approximate idea of the capital required; and should my co-operation as contractor be thought desirable, you may consider I will accept one-third of the contract price which may be agreed upon in shares of the company.

I shall be in Paris tomorrow night, and will make a point of conferring with Mr. Talabot on the subject.

I have the honour to be, &c.,


Baron Anselm de Rothschild and M. Talabot declined to embark in the undertaking, and nothing was done in the matter until June 1863. In that year Messrs. McClean and Stileman, again willing to facilitate the project, made definitive studies of part of the line at their own expense. After protracted negotiations at Bucharest, the promoters of the railway succeeded in making a preliminary arrangement with the Government for a new concession, with a guarantee of 7 1/4 per cent., on a capital fixed at 12,800l. per mile, instead of 6 per cent, on 11,584l/. per mile as originally granted. The line to be

[p. 264]

constructed in independent sections, and the Principalities to subscribe one-fourth of the capital. These conditions were submitted by Mr. Brassey and the other promoters of the railway to the International Financial Society, in August 1863, but they declined to co
operate in the undertaking.

Not daunted by these repeated failures or discouragements, Mr. Brassey and his friends in the winter of that same year, renewed the
negotiations at Bucharest with the hope of obtaining a definitive concession in the terms agreed upon in the preceding June. Meanwhile, however, an adversary had entered the field, the well-known Spanish banker and capitalist, the Marquis Salamanca, who,
with M. Gustave de la Hante, had offered to take the whole line, and relieve the Government from their subscription of one fourth of
the capital. The Government announced their preference of Señor Salamanca’s offer to that of Mr. Brassey, and recommended
the Chamber to accept it. Mr. Giles then said to the reigning Prince Couza, ‘Let Salamanca and De la Hante have the con

[p. 265]

cession. I return to England, and wish your Highness good morning.’ The Prince, however, would not hear of this abrupt departure. What the Prince desired was a fusion between Salamanca s party and Mr. Brassey s. Eventually this was effected ; and a concession granted for the whole line to Salamanca, De la Hante, Mavrojeny, Sapieha, Peto, Brassey, and Betts, upon terms which Mr. Brassey and his friends informed the Government at the time would prove unacceptable to the public.

Then there was a meeting between Mr. Brassey and Salamanca in London. The terms of the concession were, that the concessionaires might issue three fourths of the capital (about 4,ooo,oool.) in bonds, Salamanca’s view being that the line could be made entirely with the proceeds of the bonds, and the shares (whatever they were worth) would be the contractors profit.

The Marquis proposed to issue the bonds at once rand Mr. Brassey said, Mr. Salamanca, before we can issue bonds, the shares

[p. 266]

must be paid up : and I am not prepared to say that we can get these shares placed.

Several schemes were suggested and discussed for getting over this difficulty, none of which however were satisfactory to Mr. Brassey, who, with his characteristic scrupulousness, declined to assent to any course, except that of a bond fide sale of the shares,
or an advance upon them to the extent of the value they represented.

He therefore said to the Marquis, ‘Look here, Mr. Salamanca, if you and your friends will put 500,000l. down on the table any day you like to name, I and my friends will do so too : then the shares will be paid up,’ and there can be no possible objection to the
bonds being issued.

The view taken by the British contractor on this occasion is one which will certainly recommend itself to the public; and it affords
a striking instance of the extreme sensitiveness of Mr. Brassey in those dealings in which the public were concerned. There were further negotiations between Mr. Brassey and Salamanca, but they came to

[p. 267]

nothing. Ultimately, the Marquis obtained another concession on his own account from the Government of the Principalities ; but he
was again unable to carry it out.

Mr. de Herz, the original proposer of the railway, again appears upon the scene. He had settled at Bucharest as the manager of the Roumanian Bank, and had discussed the question of the railway with Prince Couza, who was greatly discouraged on account of
the Marquis s efforts having failed. The Prince asked if Mr. Brassey would recommence negotiations a question which was conveyed to the English promoters of the railway.

Meanwhile, the line from Lemberg to Czernowitz had been constructed, and Mr. Brassey was upon the point of completing the line from Czernowitz to the Moldavian frontier at Suczawa, on behalf of the Lemberg and Czernowitz Company. It was thought desirable that the concession should be demanded by this Company. The Chevalier d’Ofenheim therefore proceeded to Bucharest, and on June 7, 1868, a concession was

[p. 268]

granted to Mr. Brassey and others, nominees of the company, for that part of the original project which extended from the Austrian
frontier to Roman, with branches to Jassy and Botoschani, under the terms of 7 1/2 per cent, upon 14,000l. per mile, with a subvention (as fonds perdus) of 2,5ool. per mile in addition, terms nearly twice as onerous to the Government as those asked on the previous occasion. Mr. Brassey was employed as contractor for the Moldavian lines comprised in the concession to the Lemberg and Czernowitz Company ; and a portion of these lines, namely, those from Roman and Jassy were completed and opened in 1870, in Mr. Brassey’s lifetime.

Thus Mr. Brassey, after negotiations extending over ten years, completed only 360 out of the 500 miles of which the original
project, mooted in 1858, consisted. The remaining 140 miles between Roman and Galatz were conceded to Dr. Strousberg in
1868, no part of which has yet been opened.

The story of this contract affords a notable instance of the quantity of work, in the way of

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negotiation, that Mr. Brassey and other great contractors have had to undertake before the commencement of their labours of construction.

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2009 at 4:45 PM and is filed under Railway. RSS 2.0 feed.

The Dublin Review (1837), review of books

Posted on September 13th, 2009 by admin and filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel

The Dublin Review, vol. III, July&October 1837

p. 215:

This, it must be avowed, is but a scanty description of the most ” magnificent horror” on the Danube. Our voyager affords us no temptation to delay with him until he arrives at Silistria, where the Danube becomes so broad, that to those who coast the Bulgarian side, the Wallachian shore is scarcely visible. The banks now became only a continued series of marshes, fertile, to an awful degree, of musquitoes, sand-flies, and hornets, who, sometimes alternately, sometimes en masse, attacked the unfortunate passengers. At night, the plagues were most numerous, and most tormenting. They entered the cabin in such clouds, as to extinguish all the lights. Their appetite for blood is insatiable. Woe ! to the untanned European who ventures beyond Silistria without a musquito net, for if he escape from their assaults, and the chorus of their hum, to which the weeping of Pandemonium is melody itself, by taking refuge on the deck, it is but passing from Scylla to Charybdis, for there he will probably catch the intermittent fever, another offspring of the

Such was the rapidity of the current beyond Silistria, that even without the assistance of the engine, the steamer was borne onward with astonishing velocity to Hirsova, formerly a fortified town, constructed on a series of rocky eminences, which, in the last war, resisted the siege of the Russians for two months. It is now in ruins, the few habitations which are found there consisting entirely of mud. The rock on which the citadel stood, affords an extensive prospect over the vast plains of Wallachia and Bulgaria, to the chain of the Balkans, plains, blessed with a fine climate and a fertile soil, which industry might enrich with every species of useful produce, but which is now a wilderness. Pelicans and eagles are seen here in great abundance. Braila, the next port visited by the Pannonia, is
a commercial town of considerable importance in Wallachia. It has been recently resorted to by several English vessels. At a short distance beyond it is Galatz, in Moldavia, a town, which though chiefly consisting of mud houses, contains upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants, and has been rising rapidly in importance since the establishment of steam-boats on the Danube.

p. 216

Before that epoch, as we may justly style it, Galatz exhibited a picture of wretchedness. But Mr. Spencer mentions signs of improvement, which, though few, it is delightful to contemplate : an air of animation in the port pretty villas rising on the heights some eight or ten mercantile vessels, chiefly British, lying in the river and two Austrian steamers, one of which, the ” Ferdinando Primo,” trades between Galatz and Constantinople.

” In wandering through the town, I was more pleased with the aspect of the inhabitants than of their dwellings, as they formed a variety of groupes at once picturesque and interesting. In one place, under the verandah of a coffee-house, sat a crowd of Turks, languidly smoking the tchibouque: in another were to be seen, sauntering along the beach, a long range of most primitive-looking carriages, driven by Jews, Turks, Greeks or Moldavians, in their respective costumes, and attended by bare-legged footmen. Here the awkward military were attempting to perform their European evolutions ; and a stranger, on observing them, might deem they were afraid of gunpowder, as they never fired a salute without first making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. There Jews, in their long vestments and high fur caps, were selling their flimsy wares at a profit of cent, per cent., to the crew of an English vessel just released from quarantine ; and, to complete the picture, hundreds of men and boys were breasting the silvery current of the river, unencumbered with the superfluity of bathing dresses, beneath the eyes of numbers of fair ladies, who nevertheless seemed to regard the matter with the most perfect nonchalance.” vol. i. 84-5.

Mr. Spencer embarked on board the Ferdinando for Constantinople. Below Ismael, in the palmy days of Ottoman ascendancy one of the most beautiful and commercial towns in the empire, but now scarcely entitled to a dot on the map, commences the Delta of the Danube a vast sea, thickly studded with swampy islands covered with bulrushes the very type of extreme desolation. Among these islands, the river divides itself into various arms. some say seven, some six five four. The principal is the Suline, which mariners generally use, and the central line of which, according to the treaty of Adrianople, divides the Russian from the Turkish dominions.
Along this arm the Ferdinando was hurried with amazing velocity into the Euxine; the river still preserving its yellow turbid character for an immense distance, as it rolled through the clear dark-blue waters of the sea. It happened that at the moment a thunderstorm came on : the waves rose in mountains the tempest drove the steamer, like a feather, through the surge but she rode gallantly through, and, in a short time, reached Varna. The following morning her voyage to Stamboul was accomplished. Mr. Spencer states, that exclusive of table charges, which are

p. 217

rather high, the sum of eleven pounds sterling would cover the whole of his expenses from Vienna to Constantinople ; and that casting anchor each night at sunset, the tourist might perform the voyage, from one capital to the other, with the greatest ease,
in eight days. In the still imperfect state of things, he may, however, allow four days more for accidents.

The British trade to the Danube is as yet confined to sailing vessels, which proceed no higher than Galatz and Braila. Such is the force of the current, that no wind can contend against it; and it therefore becomes necessary to employ a considerable number of men to drag the vessels to their destination. The shore, unfortunately, is so marshy, and, where it ceases to be a swamp, so rocky, that the labour of these men is tremendous. The Russian authorities afford little encouragement to our enterprise in that quarter ; indeed, at first, they attempted, under the various pretexts of tolls and quarantine laws, to exclude us altogether from the Danube. But, a well-timed and vigorous remonstrance from Lord Palmerston, has put an end to those manoeuvres. Still the upward navigation of the Danube, especially through the embouchures, must be attended with many difficulties, which steam-power alone can overcome. It is certainly possible to cut a canal, or rather as some say, to re-open an old arm of the Danube, now filled up with sand, which, in ancient times, connected that river with the Euxine at Kustendji. The map shews, a little below Silistria, the lake of Rassova, extending thirteen miles in length, communicating with the Danube. From the eastern extremity of that lake to the
coast of the Black Sea, the direct distance does not appear to be quite twenty miles a distance not to be compared to that
through which the Dutch have cut from Amsterdam to the Helder, for their frigates and East India ships, merely to avoid the intricacies of the Zuyderzee. Such a canal, if executed upon an adequate scale, would be attended with great advantages. To
the merchant proceeding from the Bosphorus, it would shorten the way into the Danube by more than two hundred miles ; it would give him solid towing-ground, and would save him altogether from the necessity of passing near the frontiers of Russia. He might go up to George va, or even to Gladova, with ease, or descend to Braila and Galatz, with still more facility. That this great work will be achieved one day, we entertain little doubt ; but that day must be still distant, unless the undertaking be confided to British enterprise, capital, and skill. The natural riches of Moldavia, Wallachia, Servia, and Hungary, not to go farther, would alone justify such a labour, and even repay it, ” beyond the dreams of avarice.”

Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2009 at 11:29 PM and is filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel. RSS 2.0 feed.