evil lazy peasants

Posted on July 9th, 2010 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

“The Bohemian peasants are miserable to the degree; their persons and all that they have, are at the command of the Lord. The poor wretches have often not a bit of bread to eat, in a country which is one of the most plentiful in Europe all sorts of provisions. They dare not go one from village to another to work, nor learn a handicraft trade without their Lord’s consent. So much subjection keeps the poor creatures always trembling and humble; so that if you do but speak to them, they are ready to lick the dust off feet. The severity with which these people are used, is really terrible; but ’tis as true on the hand, that gentle usage has no effect upon them; for they are excessively lazy and stubborn, and being moreover used to harsh treatment, from generation to generation, blows scarce terrify them though ’tis the only way to make them good any thing.

The Bohemians have a great genius for musick; so that there’s no village, be it ever so small, the mass is sung in concert; and they are happy at winding the hunter’s horn.”


Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 11:17 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

A history of the Levant Company

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

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

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 8:50 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

Der Vampyr, 1829, London Litterary Gazette

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

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

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 7:46 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

the celebrated Stephen, 1829

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

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.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 7:45 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

Vallachian gold miners at Oravitza

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

Blackwood’s Magazine, vol. 73

pp. 320 sqq.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 7:14 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

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

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

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″

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 6:54 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

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

Posted on September 16th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

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.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 6:36 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

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.

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2009 at 8:00 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

Charles Dickens, Household Words, vol. VIII, 1854, Moldo-Wallachia

Posted on September 13th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

from the collection of the Prelinger Library, published by Archive.org, p. 84 sqq.

Based on the full text version, with my spell checking. Hopefully it will be identical with the original text, including printing mistakes, different spelling etc.


Beyond railways, beyond diligences, beyond post-chaises, out of the track of travellers, but full in the high road of conquest from the
north to the south, lie the sister provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia, which, for shortness, some are accustomed to designate as Moldo-Wallachia. Their names have become notorious of late by taking place in the vocabulary of political writers and speakers ; but it may be doubted — certain vague statistics set apart — whether in most men’s minds any ideas at all are connected with them. When we talk of Paris we picture to ourselves the Place de la Concorde or the Boulevards ; an allusion to Berlin implies a recollection of Under the Linden Trees ; to Naples of the Strada di Toledo ; but who thinks of the Po de Mogochoya at mention of Bucharest, or has any [p. 85] associations whatever with Curt d’Argis and Kimpolongo ? Let us try to connect a few images, a few forms, a few colours, with these words. This is the best way to extend our sympathies in that direction.

Moldo-Wallachia is little more than a huge farm, giving employment to some three or four millions of labourers. It is not, however, a farm laid out on the principles of Mr. Mechi, but an eastern backwoods farm, very vast and straggling; here and there cut up by patches of original desert and extents of primitive forests, made rugged by spurs of mountains and watered by boisterous rivers, navigable tor the most part only by fallen trees. These rivers flow from the Carpathian mountains, which divide the country to the northward from Austria, and fall into the Danube, which divides it from Turkey. There is a kind of postern-gate to the East, ill-closed by the Pruth, a river that has often been mentioned this year. In neither of the Principalities are there many roads worthy of the name. The cities, villages, or farming stations, are generally connected only by tracks and bridle-paths.

The geological construction of Moldo-Wallachia is essentially volcanic. Its mountains contain many craters frequently in a state of eruption. Sulphur and bitumen are plentiful. In some parts little spurts of liquid metal are seen, from time to time, breaking from the schistous rocks, flowing a little way like melted lead, and then condensing to the hardness of iron. In various places, of late years, miniature volcanoes have been known to start up from the ground and flame bravely away for a few days amidst corn-fields and pasturage. The Prathova river, in certain parts of its course, becomes tepid or hot, or even boiling, according as it flows or not over subterranean galleries of fire. Earthquakes are frequent. It is not long since nearly the whole of the city of
Bucharest was destroyed — Po de Mogochoya, and all. The shock was felt whilst the principal inhabitants were at the theatre listening to one of the dramas of Victor Hugo. Many persons perished, and an immense amount of property was of course lost. In the countries, however, that are subject to these epileptic fits of Nature, such accidents are quickly forgotten and their consequences repaired. They serve, indeed, the purpose of revolutions or sanitary bills in more civilised lands. Bucharest, at any rate, like Paris and London, has been induced to widen its thoroughfares and improve the build of its houses.

A great part of Moldo-Wallachia, especially towards the mountains, is clothed in forest. In few countries are beheld more magnificent oaks ; and travellers talk of having seen thousands with trunks rising straight more than eighty feet without branches. Mingled with these splendid trees, or covering the higher slopes with their dull verdure, are enormous firs, that would delight the eye of the ship-builder. Besides these, there are elms and beeches of prodigious size, with wild pear trees and senna, maple, cherry, and yew trees, with many others. All these grow in a tangled mass — grow or fall together, beaten down by the tempest or uprooted by rushing inundations. ” In the low country the millet has no more husk than the apple has rind in the high,” says the Wallachian proverb, to picture the fertility of the country. Its vast plains, indeed, are covered in the season with splendid crops ; of which those
who travel to Galatz can say something. These districts are counted now, as they have always counted, among the granaries of Europe. It is worth remarking, that a young French gentleman, who has studied political economy, has lately recommended the Moldo-Wallachians to neglect the culture of the ground and take to the manufacture of cotton cloths, in order to escape from the commercial tyranny of perfidious Albion. The mysteries of supply and demand, however, the definitions of value, and the influence of tariffs, do not lie in our way at present. We are not going to discuss what is a pound, but to explain what is the Wallachian substitute for a railway. Before visiting or describing a country in detail, it is good to know what means of locomotion it possesses.

If you are not particularly pressed for time, which no one ought to be in that part of the world, it is best to use the great waggon called the Kerontza, which resembles the vehicles in which the burly boors of the Cape sleep and smoke in their journey from one kloof to another. It is of solid construction, and well roofed with leather. A large family, with all their luggage and paraphernalia, even their cocks and hens, may travel in it ; and perhaps there could be no more romantic way of spending six months than in jolting about in one of these lumbering chariots amidst the plains and forests of Wallachia. The people of the country generally go from place to place on foot, or mounted on horses, buffaloes, or oxen. Asses are little used; those humble quadrupeds being treated with the same unchristian contempt as in most other European countries. Asia and Africa are their paradise. Among the Boyards, however, it is fashionable to make use of what is called a Karoutchor, a kind of vehicle peculiar to the country, and which we sincerely hope may ever remain so. As a traveller has already remarked, it holds a position in the scale of conveyances, a little above a wheelbarrow and a little below a dungcart. It is, properly speaking, a trough, a box without a cover, three feet long, two feet wide, and
two feet and a half high. It rests, of course without the intervention of springs, upon the axles or beams ; and is poised upon four wheels made of solid wood, more or less rounded by means of a hatchet. Perhaps Boadicea’s war-chariot was something of the make of a karoutchor. Not a single nail [p. 86] enters into its composition. The harness is as primitive as the vehicle. To a single shaft, generally with the bark on, eight, ten, or twelve horses are fastened by means of long cords, with collars at the end through which the heads of the beasts are passed. Three surijions or postillions mount three of the hoirses without saddles, without stirrups, and without bridles ; and these are all the preparations made to travel express in Wallachia.

If you have courage enough to undertake this mode of progression, you present yourself to the Aga or the Ispravnick of the city you inhabit, and inform him of your desperate intention, and also of the place you want to reach, the day on which you wish to set out, and your address. This information is set down upon a piece of paper, which it is necessary to show to each post-master on the way. The chief formality, however, consists in paying the whole fare in advance — a precaution probably taken because there exist so very few chances of your arriving safely at the end of your journey, and because it would not be decorous to exact payment from a dead traveller.

When the fatal moment has arrived, and you have said adieu to your friends and made your will, the karoutchor comes dashing up to your door ; and it is considered wisest, if you really intend to travel, to leap in without taking a moment to think of the onsequences. The Ispravnick has given a thought to your comfort. You will find an armful of hay, not very sweet, it is true, to sit upon ; and whilst you are arranging it underneath you, the chief surijion will utter his “all right” in the shape of a savage cry, as if he were about to whirl you to the infernal regions, will crack his enormous whip, and thus give the signal of departure. Off you go — with a frightful jerk and an ominous hop of all the four wheels at once; for they have not yet got used to go round. They will get into the habit one by one, never fear. You feel the necessity at once of clutching hold of the edge of your abominable post-box, as an awkward rider seizes hold of the pommel of his saddle. The neighbours shout out a long farewell, or look commiseratingly at you, as if you were going to be hanged ; ruthless boys laugh at your deplorable countenance ; and the postillions yell like mad. Thus you arrive at the gates of the city, exhibit your passport — shame preventing you from getting out — submit probably to the last extortion you will suffer in this life ; and rush into the open plain.

Now the three postillions begin to show themselves in their true character. You have already had some ugly suspicions. They are not postillions. They are demons. They are carrying you away, soul and body, to their great master. As soon as they have the wide horizon of plain and forest around them, they begin to scream with delight, and to exhibit their infernal joy under a false pretence of singing. The first in rank sets up a discordant rhythmical howl, sometimes as gay as the psalms on a witch’s sabbath, sometimes as dreary as the shrieks of ghosts disturbed in their midnight evolutions. Then the others join in in chorus, and you would assuredly stop your ears if your hands were not fully employed in holding on. Meanwhile, these wretches accompany their screams with the most furious gesticulations, wriggling their bodies into all manner of postures, leaning now this way, now that, lashing furiously the herd of wild animals that is bounding under them; and giving, indeed, every additional proof that is necessary of their supernatural character.

Once you have set out, you feel yourself reduced to a most miserable state of insignificance. You are utterly forgotten. The surijions think of nothing but their songs and their horses. They have not even a glance to spare for the karoutchor. On they go, whether there be a road or not, caring only to swallow so many miles in the least possible space of time. The tracks in the African deserts are often marked by the bones of camels that have fallen under their burdens ; those in Wallachia are marked by the bones of madmen who have undertaken to travel post. But the surijion cares not for — notices not — these lugubrious mementoes of former journeys. He skips lightly over them all. Ravines, torrents, ditches, patches of brushwood, are dashed through with railroad rapidity. The horses seem to take delight in this infernal race. They too forget that they have anything at their heels, and struggle desperately which shall be foremost. A steeple chase is nothing to it. If you are a very bold man, the excitement keeps you up for half an hour ; but then alarm rushes into your soul. Not one of the postillions deigns to turn his head. He is not there for conversation. He has nothing to say to you. As to stopping, or going slower, or not going quicker, the idea is absurd. At length, in all probability, a wheel breaks, the trough falls over, and the traveller is shot off into some deep hole, with a broken leg or collar-bone, and is thankful that he is not quite killed. Still on goes the karoutchor, rendered lighter by this slight accident; and it is only on reaching the next relay, that the surijions turn round and perceive that they have lost a wheel and their passenger. Peace be to his manes — his fare is paid.

The distinguishing characteristic of Moldo-Wallachia being the absence of cities, travelling is not very prevalent among the people. It
is true that each principality possesses nominally a capital, and that Bucharest and Jassy contain a considerable agglomeration of inhabitants. Both these places, however, though they exhibit some tendencies to civilisation, though they put on fragments of French [p. 87] costume as the savages put on the inexpressibles of Captain Cook — are little better even “now than vast villages. The true life of the Danubian provinces is in the country — in the plains that stretch from the banks of the Danube towards the Krappacks and Dneister — out amidst the fields where grew, probably, the corn which made the bread we, sitting here at breakfast in London, have this day eaten — out into the forests that furnish the wood with which Constantinople is built — out into the districts where men live like moles in the earth, and where you may ride over the roofs of a village without suspecting its existence, unless your horse
stumble into a chimney hole.

If Moldo-Wallachia possessed a proper government, and were insured against the dangers of conquest, it would probably produce ten times the amount of grain it now produces. The cultivated fields, so far from succeeding one another in unbroken succession, are loosely scattered over the country, and divided by patches of forest and waste land, and sometimes by vast extent of marsh. They are allowed to lie fallow every other year from the want of a proper system of manuring. The seed time is generally in autumn; but if
a short crop is feared, an inferior quality of grain is sown in other lands in the spring. Six oxen drag a heavy plough, which makes a deep furrow. Every year, as in a new country, virgin tracts are brought under cultivation to replace others, which have been wilfully abandoned, or have been ruined by violent inundations of the Danube, or its tributary torrents. These newly-conquered fields are first planted with cabbages, which grow to an enormous size, and are supposed to exhaust certain salts which would be injurious to the production of wheat, of barley, of maize, of peas, of beans, of lentils, and other grain and pulse. Maize was first introduced into these countries in the last century, and yields prodigious returns.

The Danubian provinces are familiar to the Englishman chiefly as corn-growing countries ; but we must repeat, in order to leave a correct impression, that great portions of them are still clothed in primaeval forest. Patriots, taking this fact to be a sign of barbarism, insist that the wood-lands are every day giving way to cultivation, and pride themselves on the fact ; but a grave Italian writer, who seems to fear that some day the world will be in want of fuel, deplores this circumstance, and attributes it to what he considers an extravagant, absurd, and almost impious use of good things granted by Providence, namely, the custom of paving a few of the principal streets, or rather kennels, of Jassy and Bucharest with wood. The worthy man, however, might have spared himself the anxiety which this hideous waste appears to have created in his mind. There is no danger that Moldo-Wallachia will soon be disforested, and the sentimental, perhaps, will rejoice in this fact, when they know that the vast seas of foliage which form the horizon of the plains and roll over the mountains are inhabited by prodigious colonies of nightingales. In no place in the world are there found so many of these delightful songsters as in Wallachia. In the months of May and June it is considered to be one of the greatest enjoyments that man can taste, to go out by moonlight and listen to the concert of nightingales, swelling full and melodious above the rustling of the leaves, and the rattling of small water-courses. Benighted travellers often stop their waggons by the side of some forest-lake that spreads over half a glade, on purpose to listen to this marvellous music, and then after having feasted their ears for a while, give the order to march, upon which, amid the clacking of whips, the shouts of the drivers, and the creaking of the wheels, all those sweet sounds are stifled, and you are brought back as it were from fairy-land to the country of Boyards, serfs, and gipsies.

Let us suppose the reader to be wending his way according to this primitive style, through one of the vast plains that stretch westward from the Dimbowitza. If it be summer there is little danger, even after midnight, from the wolves ; and the bears remain up amidst the krappacks. You may, therefore, jolt along in safety, unless you happen to deviate into a morass, or upset into one of the crevices, which so frequently occur. It is pleasant to travel by night on account of the great comparative coolness of that time ; but nothing can exceed the delight of moving leisurely along in the early hours of the morning, when the air is full of grey light, and the skies are covered by flights of birds on the look out for a breakfast ; when bustards go rustling through the underwood, when partridges start up from the dewy grass and take semicircular flights to get out of the way of the intruders, and when awkward storks are seen perched upon boughs watching for serpents and other reptiles to take home to their young. The sunrise in those districts is wonderfully fine, clear, and red. Once the winter season passed the weather is balmy and agreeable, except in the afternoon, when the fierce heat shrivels the vegetation, and causes the traveller to droop. This is why the dark hours, or those which usher in the day, are preferred for travelling ; and if you are out in the plains at that time, you are sure to hear the discordant creaking of wheels approaching or receding in different directions, just as in the enchanted forest to which Don Quixote was taken by the humorous (and not very amiable) hospitality of his ducal hosts.

The approach to a Wallachian village in these wild regions is remarkable. On emerging perhaps from a sombre wood, along the skirts of which hang white patches of morning mist, you dimly, see signs of cultivation, fields of maize or wheat and beds of cucumbers and [p. 88] cabbages. So you begin to have thoughts of eggs an poultry, and leap out of your slow-moving waggon and push on, expecting, if you are quite a novice, to descry comfortable looking cottages, and it may be the steeple of a village church. Whilst you are gazing ahead in this vain expectation, a slight breeze wafts a strong odour of smoke around you, and looking attentively you see a few blue ringlets coming up from the ground just in front. Presently some slight elevations may be distinguished, scattered over what appears to you a patch of rough grass land, and now and then a wild-looking figure rises mysteriously, flits along a little way, and then drops into the earth. These are Moldo-Wallachians making their morning calls. You have stumbled upon a village or rather upon a human warren. The houses are mere holes dug in the ground, with a roof composed of long poles, which are covered with earth and thatched with the grass that naturally grows. This style of living was adopted by the people of these unfortunate countries for the sake of concealment from the marauders, to whose inroads they have always been subject on every side.

The villages are dug as far as possible from any line of route ordinarily used. They rarely contain more than a few hundred inhabitants, and are subject to a tax, the amount of which is fixed according to the supposed number of the houses. For example, a village set down as containing a hundred dwelling places, has to pay four hundred piastres. The Ispravnick, or governor of the district, receives a list of villages from the treasury, with the sum required from each affixed, and sends an agent to inform the people of their liabilities. It often happens that a village is set down as containing more or less houses than it really does. If there is a greater number, that is to say, if the estimate of the treasury is under the mark, the peasants collect in a public meeting to discuss in what proportion each is to benefit by the mistake. At these meetings they shout, quarrel, and even fight. But though wounds and death sometimes occur, nothing ever transpires before the tribunals. It is a family quarrel in which no stranger interferes. When matters are settled the head man of the village collects the various items of the tax, and carries the sum to the agent, who has no call to meddle otherwise in the matter. But if, as often happens, the village contains fewer houses than are set down, the peasants collect and nominate a deputation entrusted with the duty of representing the overcharge in the proper quarter. If they cannot obtain redress they often abandon their houses or holes, and separate and pass into neighbouring parishes and districts, leaving their old dwelling places entirely deserted. After a little time, of course, taxation pursues them in their new retreat. In this way the population remains unsettled, and we never meet with what in other countries would be called rising towns. It is calculated that in the two principalities there are about five thousand boroughs and villages, most of them of the character we have just described. However, on the mountains, the houses are above ground, and are not disagreeable in appearance or uncomfortable to live in. Near most villages may be seen long granaries, if they may be so called, of peculiar construction. They are often about three hundred feet in length, six feet high, and three or four feet wide, and are made of open trellis work. In them the maize is thrown, and being dried by the wind is preserved, when necessary, for several years. It is, on this account, that the cargoes of maize from Galatz are seldom or never injured on the passage, whilst those from Egypt and other places, being shipped whilst yet half-dried, often corrupt on the way.

Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2009 at 4:35 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.

opressed, corruption, injustice

Posted on August 18th, 2009 by admin and filed under Uncategorized

Title : Analyses littéraires de fables de La Fontaine et de morceaux choisis, par C. Rouzé,… Nouvelle édition…

Author : Rouzé, Clodomir (1832-1915)

Publisher : Belin frères (Paris)

Date of publication : 1892

Type : monographie imprimée

Language : French

Format : In-12, 283 p.

Format : application/pdf

Copyright : domaine public

Identifier : http://gallica2.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54602113

Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France

Relation : http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb312630402/description

Provenance : bnf.fr
Theme : French & related literatures

p. 231:

“On a dit que Tacite, en écrivant les Moeurs des Germains,
avait voulu opposer, dans un contraste saisissant, la vie
simple et sévère des habitants de la Germanie à la
corruption qui gangrenait, sous l’empire, la civilisation
raffinée de l’aristocratie romaine. Dans la fable du Paysan
du Danube, La Fontaine oppose de même aux excès et aux
injustices de la domination de Rome, les revendications
des provinces danubiennes qu’elle tenait asservies sous
le joug du plus criant despotisme, et il se sert, pour
présenter ces réclamations, du plus déshérité de leurs

on gallica.bnf.fr

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 6:54 AM and is filed under Uncategorized. RSS 2.0 feed.